Text message pals Ed Miliband and Vince Cable are both on the bill for Monday’s CBI Conference in London. Publicity-shy London Mayor Boris Johnson is up after the Business Secretary and the Labour Party leader, no doubt keeping it typically low-key.
Elsewhere on Monday, four people are due to stand trial at Southwark Crown Court on computer hacking charges. Peter David Gibson, Ashley Rhodes and Christopher Whitehead and a defendant who cannot be named are allegedly linked to the controversial online groups LulzSec and Anonymous. Their trial is expected to run for four to five weeks.
If the BBC’s own schedules are to be believed, Monday will also witness the return of Jeremy Paxman to the Newsnight studio. The abrasive anchor issued a terse statement in the wake of Director-General George Entwistle’s November 10 resignation over an inaccurate Newsnight report, lambasting ‘cowards and incompetents’ at the Beeb.
Outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will face one of his last tests as head of the Church of England on Tuesday as the General Synod continues its Final Approval debate on the consecration of women bishops. The vote was delayed in July to allow the consideration of a late amendment, and is unlike to be the last word on this long-running dispute. Williams gives his final Synod address on Wednesday.
Eurozone Finance Ministers convene for another extraordinary meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, hot on the heels of news that the eurozone is back in recession. A decision on whether to grant troubled Greece its latest tranche of aid is expected.
In Parliamentary news, the Treasury Committee is set to grill the authors of two Bank of England liquidity reviews on Tuesday. Appearing are Ian Plenderleith, former member of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee and Bill Winters, former co-chief executive of JP Morgan Investment Bank, whose reports – published at the start of the month – said that the 2008 crisis caught the BofE by surprise.
The National Union of Students has called for a major demonstration in London on Wednesday to criticise the Government’s agenda. Announcing the demo in June, President Liam Burns raised youth unemployment, a broken property market and changes to education as major drivers for the disquiet. The student population has been particularly active since the Coalition’s decision to treble undergraduate fees, which finally came into effect in September.
There could be further shocking revelations in the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal on Wednesday when ITV screens a second documentary on the disgraced star by Mark William-Thomas. William-Thomas, a former police detective, was also behind the Newsnight investigation that was fatefully shelved last year.
Thursday is the deadline for the government’s formal response to the ECHR’s ruling that Britain violates European human rights law by having a blanket ban on prisoners voting. The attorney general, Dominic Grieve, warned that the UK could be thrown out of the Council of Europe if it doesn’t change the law, but David Cameron has categorically said, much to Eurosceptics’ delight, that prisoners will never get the vote under his government. The official response is expected to cut the deadline close.
As human rights legislation is tested in the UK, everyone will be hoping for a little more harmony as European heads of state meet in Brussels for an extraordinary budget summit. With a schedule including discussion of the newest appointment to the European Central Bank’s executive board and the EU’s seven-year, €1tn, budget, the Commission has called for a showing of ‘true European spirit’.
That European spirit is precisely what was missing when England’s U21 football team beat their Serbian counterparts in Belgrade earlier this year. The match was marred by racist chanting aimed at England players, and ended with a brawl between players and officials from both teams. UEFA’s Control and Disciplinary body is meeting to discuss punishment for the racial abuse and the improper conduct.
On Friday one of Britain’s favourite broadcasters sits down in Glasgow with one of our most headline-grabbing politicians for a public discussion about the future of the country. In an event organised by the charity INSP, Jon Snow unpicks Alex Salmond’s vision for an independent Scotland and its implications for the UK. A pro-union conversation takes place two weeks later with former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling.
Meanwhile in Germany, the great and good of European finance descend on Frankfurt for the annual European Banking Congress. Participants engage in discussions on continental banking issues and how they affect politics and the financial markets. European Central Bank president Mario Draghi delivers the keynote speech.
And one man who could teach European governments a thing or two about cutting through a bloated state and trimming unwanted fat takes centre stage on Saturday night in the Manchester Arena. Two years after losing his boxing license for cocaine use, and having battled alcoholism, depression and weight problems, Ricky Hatton stages his comeback fight against the Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko. The British fighter is hoping he can begin the long road to becoming a world champion again with a win in his hometown.
On Sunday, separatist tensions in Europe look set to flare up again as Catalan voters go to the polls to vote in regional elections. The regional leader Artur Mas called the early elections in September after the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy refused to grant Catalonia fiscal autonomy. ‘The time has come for Catalonia to exercise its right to self-determination,’ he said, and, during a crippling recession with soaring unemployment, his message will likely ring true with many.
Further south, in another recession-hit country, Italy starts its own electoral process as the Partido Democratico, well-placed to win next year’s planned general election, holds its leadership contest. Party secretary Pier Luigi Bersani and Florence mayor Matteo Renzi are the candidates fighting for a chance become the country’s next President.