Protest-hit France 'to halt fuel tax rise' – BBC News

Protest-hit France ‘to halt fuel tax rise’ – BBC News

Image copyright AFP Image caption Central Paris has seen vehicles burned, business premises damaged and hundreds of arrests Fuel tax rises which have led to weeks of violent protests in France have now been postponed for six months.
The move was announced in a televised address by PM Edouard Philippe, who said anyone would have “to be deaf or blind” not to hear or see the anger.
The protests have hit major cities, causing damage and disruption over the past three weekends.
The “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) protests have now grown to reflect more widespread anger at the government. Jobseeker: Macron should help me find work
The “yellow vests” are so called because they have taken to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law.
President Emmanuel Macron was elected last year with an overwhelming mandate for sweeping economic reform, but his popularity has fallen sharply in recent months amid accusations that he is a “president for the rich”.
Four people have died since the unrest began and the resulting violence and vandalism have been widely condemned. What did the prime minister say?
Mr Philippe said that the next planned rise in the so-called carbon tax on vehicle fuel, which had been due to come in on 1 January, would be suspended for six months to allow consultations across the country to see what accompanying measures might be introduced to ease the burden for the worst-off.
He also said planned increases in gas and electricity prices this winter would be halted, and that a toughening of the rules for vehicle emissions tests would also be postponed.
It is a major climbdown by the government of President Macron, who has said the measures are necessary to combat climate change and meet budget deficit reduction targets. Image copyright EPA Image caption Vandalism was rife during the protests in Paris, including here at the Arc de Triomphe
“This anger, you would have to be deaf and blind not to see it, nor hear it,” said Mr Philippe after meeting lawmakers from the governing party La Republique en Marche.
“The French who have donned yellow vests want taxes to drop, and work to pay. That’s also what we want. If I didn’t manage to explain it, if the ruling majority didn’t manage to convince the French, then something must change,” he added in his televised address.
“No tax merits putting the unity of the nation in danger.”
But he said the violence must stop. “If there is another day of protests, it must be declared in advance and must take place calmly.”
He also warned that people should not expect better public services alongside lower taxes. Why the widespread anger?
Mr Macron was elected on a platform of economic reform which would improve the lives of French people via lower unemployment and a kick-started economy.
But many feel that has not emerged. An analysis of the 2018-19 budget carried out by France’s public policy institute, for example, found that incomes for the poorest quarter of households would largely drop or stay the same under the plans.
Middle-income earners would see a modest bump – but the greatest beneficiaries would be those who were already wealthy, in the top 1%. The pattern is worse for retired people – almost all of whom will be worse off. Image copyright EPA Image caption Mr Macron (L) had vowed not to capitulate to street protests Macron’s difficulty
By Hugh Schofield, BBC News, Paris
Will it be enough? That is the first question. Will the yellow vests feel they have won a big enough concession from the government, and therefore call off their protest?
There are plenty of voices that can be heard today saying they want more. Why is it only a suspension of the tax rise, they ask, and not an abolition? What is to guarantee that the government won’t reinstate it next June? Maybe we need to step up the pressure.
But by making a concession, the government does not need to satisfy everyone. It needs only to satisfy a large enough bloc of “moderates” among the gilets jaunes, and wean them away from the barricades.
If that happens, then the movement will lose momentum. And though it won’t be over, the end will be in sight.
My bet would be that this will be what happens. Opinion polls will show a general approval of the government’s concession. The gilets jaunes en masse start to waver. But there’s still a protest by hardliners on Saturday.
Maybe a parting shot, but still – and maybe because of that – a dangerous moment. How has the news been received?
The first question is whether the concession will be enough to satisfy the protesters.
Some have vowed to keep up a blockade at an oil depot in Lorient in the north-west of the country, and there have been calls for further demonstrations on Saturday.
Yellow vest spokesman Benjamin Cauchy said the movement wanted a cancellation – not a postponement – of the taxes.
“The measures announced today do not satisfy us at all, for the simple reason they don’t go far enough,” he told reporter Chris Bockman in Toulouse.
“The French people want a complete political transformation. They want to change the way things have been for the last 30 years.
“We’re sick and tired of taxes being raised and the quality of public services going down. There are more and more people out there who can’t make ends meet each month, more and more people are sleeping rough and yet we continue to raise taxes.
“Where is the money going? Where is it being used?” Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption France fuel protests: Who are the people in the yellow vests?
Fears that violent protests in the capital could continue next weekend have led Paris St Germain to postpone their League 1 home football match on Saturday. PSG v Montpellier off at police request Who are the protesters?
The “gilets jaunes” movement began as a protest against a rise in duties on diesel, which is widely used by French motorists and has long been less heavily taxed than other types of fuel.
The price of diesel, the most commonly used fuel in French cars, has risen by about 23% over the past 12 months to an average of €1.51 (£1.32; $1.71) per litre, its highest point since the early 2000s.
Mr Macron has blamed world oil prices for three-quarters of the price rise, but said higher taxes on fossil fuels were needed to fund renewable energy investments.
The decision to impose a further increase of 6.5 cents on diesel and 2.9 cents on petrol from 1 January 2019 was seen as the final straw for the protesters.
Protesters say Mr Macron is out of touch, particularly with non-city dwellers who rely on their cars. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Changes affecting ambulance drivers are part of a raft of reforms by President Macron
The movement has grown to reflect a range of grievances, including the marginalisation of rural areas, high living costs, and general anger at President Macron’s economic policies.
The protests have no identifiable leadership and gained momentum via social media, encompassing a range of participants from the anarchist far left to the nationalist far right, and plenty of moderates in between.
In recent days, ambulance drivers and students have launched their own protests. Related Topics

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Former leader Nigel Farage quits UKIP – BBC News

Former leader Nigel Farage quits UKIP 4 December 2018 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image copyright AFP/Getty Images Nigel Farage has quit UKIP, saying the party’s leader Gerard Batten seems to be obsessed with Islam and ex-English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson.
Speaking on LBC radio, the former leader of the Eurosceptic party said he made the decision with a “heavy heart”.
But he said he did not “recognise” the party anymore and it was turning a blind eye to extremist politics.
Mr Batten survived a vote of no confidence on Monday, after he appointed Mr Robinson as an adviser.
However, the party’s ruling body said it did not endorse Mr Robinson’s appointment and he was barred from membership “through his associations”.
Mr Farage – who joined the party’s forerunner, the Anti-Federalist League, in 1992 – said he had worked “tirelessly” for UKIP with the aim of forcing a vote to “get us back our independence” from the EU.
But he said under Mr Batten’s leadership “a lot has changed”.
“[Mr Batten] seems to be pretty obsessed with the issue of Islam, not just Islamic extremism, but Islam, and UKIP wasn’t founded to be a party fighting a religious crusade,” he said.
“[He is] also obsessed with this figure Tommy Robinson…”
Mr Farage said the association of the former EDL leader brought “scuffles” and “violence” to the party, adding: “Many have criminal records, some pretty serious, and all of it has been dragging UKIP away from being an electoral party into a party of street activism.” Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption In October, Mr Batten called Tommy Robinson is a “tremendously brave man”
Mr Batten and Mr Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, are due to appear together at a pro-Brexit march this weekend. Mr Farage said the “image” that will give Brexit is “something that our enemies will use against us for perhaps many years to come”.
“Damaging UKIP is one thing, damaging the Brexit cause is even worse,” he added. “The brand has now been so damaged, so tarnished, that it is not able to pick up and won’t be able to pick up the political opportunity that is there staring it in the face.” ‘Committed to a true Brexit’
After Mr Farage quit the party, Mr Batten said he gave “full credit” to him for the part he played in winning the 2016 EU referendum for the Leave side, but said Mr Farage had “left the party in spirit” after the vote.
Mr Batten also said: “[UKIP] stood on the edge of destruction in February 2018 and Nigel chose to play no part in rescuing it. I am pleased that I was able to do precisely that.
“Under my leadership, the party has been saved financially, recruited thousands of more members, and we have risen in the polls. We are going from strength to strength.”
He added: “I am not going to return like with like in this instance and instead wish Nigel well in his media career. I doubt he will be asking me to go on his show.” Related Topics

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Missing special needs support ‘a national scandal’ – BBC News

Missing special needs support ‘a national scandal’ By Hannah Richardson BBC News education reporter 4 December 2018 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image copyright Getty Images Thousands of children missing out on support for diagnosed special educational needs in England is a “national scandal”, Ofsted has said.
There are 2,060 children in 2018 who have education, health and care plans (EHCs) setting out their needs, but who receive no support at all.
Some parents said a child is only assessed when they are excluded.
Ofsted chief, Amanda Spielman, also raised the issue of children disappearing from education. ‘Disturbing’
Ms Spielman says: “Too often, children who have been assessed still do not receive the services they need.”
She uses her annual report to expose what she describes as a “bleak picture” of too many children “failed by the education system”.
The report raises concerns about support for the 1.3 million pupils with special needs.
She says between 2010 and 2017, the number of children with a plan designating their needs, but who received no provision, had increased fivefold.
It had been above 4,000 in 2017, but has now been reduced to 2,060.
The Department for Education says some of these young people will be in the process of moving between schools or colleges.
“One child with Send [special educational needs and disability] not receiving the help they need is disturbing enough, but thousands is a national scandal,” says Ms Spielman, England’s chief inspector of schools. Special needs cash shortfall ‘leaves thousands of pupils unplaced’
The report also says: “Most disconcerting is that the whereabouts of some of our most vulnerable children is unknown.”
It revisits serious concerns that some pupils are being moved off the school roll illegally, because they may be seen as difficult to teach.
The report suggests 10,000 pupils cannot be accounted for and may have been “off-rolled” by schools in Years 10 and 11, because they did not appear on the pupil list of another state school. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Kirsty Mitchell’s son’s behaviour led to exclusion
It acknowledges many of these may have switched to independent schools, moved elsewhere or have been taken out for home schooling.
But, it says, it is unlikely that all of this number would fit into these categories. Battle for support
The report says that compounding the difficulties faced by children with Send and their parents is that demand for EHC needs assessments from local authorities has risen by a half since 2015.
In 2017, 45,200 children and young people were assessed, while 14,600 were refused an assessment.
EHC assessments and plans were introduced in 2014 amid a shake-up designed to streamline and reduce the burden on the special needs education system.
They replaced statements of special educational needs which were carried out by local authorities.
Many parents complained of the long and difficult battles they had to get their child’s needs “statemented”. Image copyright Getty Images
But campaigners say the same issues are being faced with EHCs.
At the same time, the costs of supporting more children with lower levels of special needs were handed back to schools, which have been facing budget pressures of their own.
There was also a stated intention to reduce the number of children diagnosed with lower levels of special needs. ‘Truly wrong’
Some believe these are part of the reasons why the EHC assessment and plan system has come under pressure.
Both local councils and head teachers have been grappling with huge rises in demand for high needs support – those children with the highest level of need.
The report says: “Too often, the identification of Send is inaccurate or comes too late. This only exacerbates children’s needs and puts even greater strain on the need for services.
“Often the worst hand is dealt to those who do not quite meet the threshold for an EHC plan.
“Understandably, parents feel that to do the best for their children they must go to extreme lengths to secure an EHC plan, which not every child will need.
“Something is truly wrong when parents repeatedly tell inspectors that they have to fight to get the help and support that their child needs. That is completely contrary to the ethos of the Send reforms.”
Last month, representatives of local authorities told MPs of the funding problems they face in their high needs budgets.
Surrey County Council revealed it faced £30m in pressures on its high needs budget for this year, adding this was enough to trigger formal restrictions on any further spending at the council.
The Ofsted report is published as the school watchdog in Wales, Estyn, publishes its annual report .
Inspectors say secondary schools in Wales could do better, with only half judged good or excellent.
A Department for Education spokesman said the report “shows we have a robust education system – one where parents can feel assured that the vast majority of schools, early years providers, children’s homes and local authorities provide a high level of education and care for young people, regardless of their circumstances”.
“One of the key functions of a good regulator is that it highlights areas of concern and we will work with Ofsted, schools, local authorities and others to address the issues this report picks out.”
Head teachers union, the Association of School and College Leaders, said funding pressures were making it more difficult to give children the individual support to help them to overcome challenges they face.
And that means schools are less able offer the early intervention which prevents challenging behaviour escalating to the point of an exclusion.
Has your child missed out on support for special education needs? Tell us about your experiences by emailing
Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways: WhatsApp: +44 7555 173285

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New warden wanted for Lihou Island – BBC News

New warden wanted for Lihou Island 4 December 2018 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image caption Lihou offers outdoor activities including climbing, abseiling, coasteering, rock jumping and archery A tiny island which comes with its own natural swimming pool needs a new warden.
The successful applicant will have Lihou – about 500m off the west coast of Guernsey – to themselves.
The job offers the chance to live off grid, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with a tractor for a company car.
Duties include maintaining the island’s only house and looking after the nature reserve’s wildlife. Image copyright Guy Brown Image caption Lihou is owned by the States of Guernsey, but needs a warden to maintain and run the island’s only house
The new warden would need to have “fresh ideas” and be looking for new challenges, according to the incumbent, Richard Curtis. Image caption The house on Lihou has a borehole providing water and solar panels for electricity
Lihou is only accessible by walking across a causeway at low tide, and can be cut off for days at a time.
The house was built in the 1960s but became derelict a few decades later, before being rebuilt and refurbished by the Lihou Charitable Trust in 2005. Image copyright Visit Guernsey Image caption On the western tip, a natural swimming pool – or “Venus Pool” – has formed in the coastline, with the sea topping it up on each passing tide
Mr Curtis, who is moving to France, said it had been “a privilege” to do the job for 14 years.
The island is under the administration of nearby Guernsey, although the new warden will be employed by the trust. Image caption Situated 500m from the west coast of Guernsey, the island has spectacular sunsets
The island has a rich history, with monks from Mont St Michel the earliest known settlers.
They built a monastery in the 12th Century – the remains of which can still be seen – as they tried to convert Guernsey’s pagan community.
Lihou was also used for target practice by occupying German soldiers during World War Two, with more than 100 pieces of ordnance found buried beneath the soil in the last few decades. Related Topics

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Michelle Obama: ‘I still have imposter syndrome’ – BBC News

Queen and I bonded over sore feet – Obama
“We don’t have any choice but to make sure we elders are giving our young people a reason to hope.”
Imposter syndrome is a term used to describe feelings of insecurity or self-doubt, despite there being no evidence to support such a belief.
During her talk, Mrs Obama also recalled her and President Barack Obama’s visit to meet the Queen. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption When Michelle Obama hugged the Queen
“I had all this protocol buzzing in my head and I was like ‘don’t trip down the stairs and don’t touch anybody, whatever you do’.
“And so the Queen says ‘just get in, sit wherever’ and she’s telling you one thing and you’re remembering protocol and she says ‘Oh it’s all rubbish, just get in’.”
Earlier on Monday, Mrs Obama paid a return visit to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson secondary school in Islington, north London, which she visited in 2009, when her husband was US president.
Mr Obama served two terms in the White House. Mrs Obama is a lawyer and has led charity initiatives including Let Girls Learn, to promote education for girls around the world. Her wisdom for young women?
At the Southbank Centre, Mrs Obama described her experience of black women being caricatured, saying: “The size of our hips, our style, our swag, it becomes co-opted but then we are demonised.
“My advice to young women in that you have to start by getting those demons out of your head. The questions I ask myself – ‘am I good enough?’ – that haunts us, because the messages that are sent from the time we are little is: maybe you are not, don’t reach too high, don’t talk too loud.”
The former first lady said this was true for women and working-class people, and “profound for women of colour”, as people in power tried to make them feel they did not “belong”.
“Here is the secret,” she added. “I have been at probably every powerful table that you can think of, I have worked at non-profits, I have been at foundations, I have worked in corporations, served on corporate boards, I have been at G-summits, I have sat in at the UN; they are not that smart.” Related Topics

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