5pm Conservative News Links
24 Feb 2012 17:00:23

No. 10 pressing on with NHS reforms and William Hague's recognition of Syrian opposition lead our teatime newslinks

Downing Street says Government would end up in "no man's land" if it abandons NHS bill

10-downing-street"The hard-hitting message indicates that the coalition could be heading for a major clash next week on the NHS. This comes after the Liberal Democrat president said the health and social care bill should have been dropped or "massively changed" last year. In an intensification of the Lib Dems' campaign for wholesale changes to the government's health reforms, Tim Farron called for the removal of proposed new rules on competition in the NHS." - Guardian

  • "Speaking to BBC 2's Daily Politics, Mr Hancock said the NHS had been high on the agenda at a recent party 'away day': "There’s very strong backing, in fact it was one of the things that happened, there’s very strong backing for getting this bill through and the reason is that the bill will improve outcomes and improve things for patients and put power in the hands of doctors."" - Matthew Hancock quoted by PolHome (£)

William Hague announces Britain will recognise the Syrian opposition

  • Hague William New Headshot"He said the international community had to "tighten the diplomatic and economic stranglehold" on the Syrian government, amid growing concern over bloodshed in Homs and other cities. "We will intensify our links with the opposition," Mr Hague said. "I will meet leaders of the Syrian National Council in a few minutes' time, before the main meeting takes place. "We, in common with other nations, will now treat them and recognise them as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people."" - Guardian
  • Sir Malcolm Rifkind urges non-military support: "You can force things which do not require involving yourself in actual conflict. If for example Turkey, Iraq and the Mediterranean airspaces close to Syria, that’s not invading Syria’s own airspace, that is simply saying the countries that surround Syria are refusing to allow any movement of air transport that might actually be providing support for the Syrian regime." - PolHome (£)
  • "The main Syrian opposition group has asked for rebel fighters to be allowed to import weapons." - BBC

Eric Joyce MP charged with three counts of assault

"Joyce, the MP for Falkirk, spent the night in Belgravia police station after he was arrested and removed from the Strangers' Bar on Wednesday evening. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We were called at approximately 10.50pm last night to reports of a disturbance at a bar within the House of Commons. A man aged in his 50s was arrested by officers on suspicion of assault." - Guardian

  • The Eric Joyce case shows that MPs are human too – believe it or not - Dan Hodges

Eurozone crisis latest


  • "The Italian Treasury's borrowing costs fell significantly Friday compared to a month ago as it sold the maximum planned €3 billion ($4.0 billion) in a two-year zero coupon bond, auguring well for next week when euro-zone sovereigns step up their debt issuance." - WSJ
  • "Greek private sector involvement is expected to be launched on Friday as the hunt for holders of Athens’ debt officially begins. Greece must get nearly all of the €206bn of debt held in private hands to take part in the PSI or debt swap in order to start receiving the €130bn of bail-out funds as part of the country’s second rescue." - FT (£)


  • Which tax cuts would be best for the economy? - Coffee House
  • Cameron's message on business is totally muddled - Ruth Porter
  • "GDP fell 0.2% in Q4, unrevised from last month. Production fell 1.4%, construction fell 0.5% with services flat" - The Office for National Statistics
  • Jack Straw is the Sun's hero of the week for saying the European Parliament should be scrapped
  • Argentina’s ‘useful idiot’ Sean Penn should leave Hollywood and move to Buenos Aires - Nile Gardiner
  • "Retired businessman Christopher Tappin is likely to be held in an American prison for a week, his solicitor said today, after he was handed over to US Marshalls for extradition." - Daily Telegraph


23 Feb 2012 17:03:50

David Cameron's Somalia conference and William Hague's Syrian intervention comments lead our teatime newslinks

David Cameron's Somalia conference

Net migration to the UK stuck at 250,000 despite Cameron's tough talk on slashing numbers - Daily Mail

Andrew Lansley appears to reject the possibility of another Cabinet position

LANSLEY-ANDREW-LONG"Responding to speculation that he will be moved in a summer reshuffle, he makes clear that he wants no other job. "I'm not in politics in order to be up the greasy pole or anything like that. I think there is probably nothing more important than to give the NHS the kind of foundation it needs for the future."" - Evening Standard interview

William Hague presses for tougher sanctions against the Syrian regime 

  • Hague William New Headshot"William Hague, the foreign secretary, has signalled plans to step up sanctions in a bid to bring down the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, amid a rising toll of civilian victims. The day after Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were among the 80 killed in an artillery assault on Homs, Hague said he believed president Assad should go, and called for a diplomatic and economic stranglehold to be imposed on the regime. "Time is against the Assad regime," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. "I wish it were faster"." - Guardian
  • Jeremy Brier on Comment: Economic measures will not stop the Syrian regime. Only a military response will work.
  • Assad must pay for Marie Colvin's murder - Con Coughlin

Labour suspends MP Eric Joyce over assault allegations

"The Labour MP Eric Joyce has been suspended from the party after allegations of an assault in a House of Commons bar. Joyce remains MP for Falkirk but cannot take the Labour whip in the Commons until the completion of a police investigation into the incident. Scotland Yard confirmed that officers detained a man in his 50s after being called to reports of an incident at a bar within the Palace of Westminster at around 10.50pm on Wednesday. He was taken into custody at a central London police station." - Guardian

  • Eric Joyce, and what the Commons drinking culture tells us about the life of an MP - James Kirkup

Eurozone predicted to contract by 0.3% in 2012

Eurozone"The European Commission has predicted that the eurozone economy will contract by 0.3% in 2012. In its previous forecast in November, it said that the economy would grow by 0.5%. "The unexpected stalling of the recovery in late 2011 is set to extend into the first two quarters of 2012," the Commission said." - BBC


  • "Grayling’s stock is on the rise. If Cameron wishes to promote a right-winger to the Cabinet in his post-Olympics reshuffle who has strong managerial skills, he will be a very strong candidate." - James Forsyth
  • Council workers face third year of pay freezes - BBC
  • Head of discredited health watchdog quits ahead of critical report - Daily Mail
  • "Following consultation, the Government has today announced there will be no charge on graduates repaying their loans early" - BIS website
  • Could Clegg kill the NHS bill? - New Statesman
  • "Ballot papers have been sent out in the Plaid Cymru leadership election. ... Lord Elis-Thomas, Elin Jones and Leanne Wood will attend a final campaign hustings in Neath on Thursday evening." - BBC

And finally... Sir George Young says he was "disappointed" that singer Adele's acceptance speech was cut short at the Brit Awards - BBC


Posted on 23 Feb 2012 17:06:53 in February 2011 Newslinks | Permalink | Comments (0)

22 Feb 2012 17:01:23

Reactions to PMQs and a review of the UK-US extradition treaty lead our teatime newslinks

Reactions to PMQs

PMQs 22nd February

Theresa May to review UK extradition treaty with US

May Theresa Abu Qatada"Theresa May, the home secretary, will conduct a "proper, sober, thoughtful review" into Britain's extradition treaty with the US amid anger at a series of deportations, David Cameron has announced. The prime minister told MPs the home secretary would take account of the views of parliamentarians after he was asked about the case of Christopher Tappin. The retired company director from Kent is due to be flown to the US on Friday to face allegations of selling arms to Iran. Tappin, 65, admits shipping batteries that can be used in Hawk air defence missiles but says he thought they were for use in the car industry. He said he had no idea about their eventual destination."- Guardian

Last quarter 2011 party donations revealed

"The Conservatives received £3.2m in party donations in the last three months of 2011, according to figures from the Electoral Commission. Labour received £2.3m in donations, while the Lib Dems received £1.07m. UKIP got the most donations of the smaller parties, £151,000, more than twice that of the Scottish National Party on £50,964." - BBC

Cristina Kirchner told to leave Falkland Islanders alone, by Argentina's intellectuals - Daily Telegraph

Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin killed in Syria

  • Colvin Marie"Marie Colvin, who has been killed in the Syrian city of Homs, was without doubt one of the finest foreign correspondents of her generation, and also one of the most fearless. In the 25 years or so years that I have known Marie she was invariably to be found on the front line of the world's most dangerous conflicts, laughing off the very real risks she faced as though it was just another day in the office." - Con Coughlin
  • "My last meetings with the foreign correspondent Marie Colvin... were in Tripoli, just after Colonel Gaddafi’s compound fell to the revolution. We were all trying (and failing) to find drivers. There was virtually no traffic on the roads that day. Marie had no difficulty. She and her regular colleague Paul Conroy, the photographer, who has been injured today, swept up to my hotel on the back of a rebel machine-gun Landrover, having already been taken on a guided tour of the front line." - Andrew Gilligan



Posted on 22 Feb 2012 17:04:56 in February 2011 Newslinks | Permalink | Comments (0)

21 Feb 2012 17:04:05

The latest borrowing figures and criticism of government work experience schemes lead our teatime newslinks

Strong borrowing figures put Osborne on track to beat deficit forecast

  • Osborne-Headshot"For the first time in months, there's some good news for George Osborne. Today's borrowing figures put him on track to easily undershoot the Office for Budget Responsibility's deficit forecast of £127bn and, after passing the £1 trillion mark last month, public sector net debt (£988.7bn or 63 per cent of GDP) is back below this symbolic threshold." - New Statesman
  • "But if today's public finance figures show anything, it's the capacity for far more savings to be made by the government machine. It is spending £9 billion less, without even meaning to. Imagine how much more savings could be found if the government were to deliberately try to save more — and use the money cut taxes and get the economy growing again." - Fraser Nelson
  • Full pdf report from the Office for National Statistics

Clegg dismisses criticism of government work experience schemes

  • Clegg Thumbs Up"Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has dismissed criticism that a government work experience scheme amounts to "slave labour". The "sector-based work academy scheme" allows people on unemployment benefit to work for firms and charities for a period without losing payments. Critics claim large companies including Tesco are using it for cheap Labour." - BBC
  • "Supermarket giant Tesco offered today to pay youngsters on a  Government work experience scheme amid continuing controversy over the programme." - Independent
  • "As our own Martin Bright has pointed out, these schemes rely on the good will of employers. If that good will isn't maintained, then even the most worthwhile schemes — and this Work Experience scheme is fundamentally worthwhile — can be whittled down to naught." - Peter Hoskin
  • Unpaid 'work experience' is a depressing solution to youth unemployment - Daniel Knowles
  • In 1997 Polly Toynbee backed the workfare schemes she now vehemently opposes - Guido Fakes

2012 London mayoral candidates debate for the first time

  • Johnson Boris Pointing"Boris said: "I thought it was good and a lot of central points came out. We simply do not have any explanation of how Livingstone will fund his promises." So was it round one to Boris, Ken or Paddick? I asked. He said: "It was good from my point of view in the sense that we didn't hear anything from Ken on how he would fund his promises. I thought it was a good outcome."" - Full report from the Guardian
  • Lib Dems fight reduction of their party political broadcasts in London - Guardian
  • Ken Livingstone's fares cut will save Londoners little more than a tenth of what he claims - Andrew Gilligan
  • Local government: Evening Standard exposes massive fraud in Mayoral vote

Liberal Democrats trail Ukip by 3 per cent in YouGov poll of Northern voters - Political Scrapbook

Michael Gove condemns "chilling atmosphere towards freedom of expression"

  • Gove on Marr"Mr Gove warned that “judges, celebrities, and the establishment” are danger of “taking over from the press as arbiters of what a free press should be, imposing either soft or hard regulation”. He called for “the maximum amount of freedom of expression and the maximum amount of freedom of speech”." - More at PoliticsHome
  • "He also made an impassioned defence of the union between Scotland and the rest of the UK, saying that arguments for greater English representation, including the West Lothian question, was "entirely the wrong attitude."" - Huffington Post

Europe news

  • Eurozone
  • ToryDiary: Cameron hopeful that deepening relationship with Italy, Poland and Spain can accelerate EU economic reform
  • "George Osborne has welcomed the £100bn deal thrashed out by eurozone finance ministers to bail out Greece, saying it would allow Europe to move on." - George Osborne
  • "The Greek cabinet is to meet for talks on launching the painful reform process stipulated by creditors in return for a massive bailout and debt write-down." - BBC
  • "The deal includes a list of requirements which Greece must meet next week to get final approval for the bailout, including passing a supplementary budget with €3.3bn in cuts this year, cuts to minimum wage and further liberalisaiton. Parts of this package may still have to go through the deeply divided Greek parliament, so expect more riots in the streets." - Mats Persson
  • "Greece is now officially a ward of the international community. It has no real independence when it comes to fiscal policy any more, and if everything goes according to plan, it’s not going to have any independence for many, many years to come." - Felix Salmon


Posted on 21 Feb 2012 17:10:01 in February 2011 Newslinks | Permalink | Comments (0)

20 Feb 2012 17:01:21

David Cameron's health summit and Les Ebdon's university appointment lead our teatime newslinks

Andrew Lansley heckled on the way to David Cameron's health "summit"

Appointment of Les Ebdon as university admissions "tsar" criticised

  • CABLE Vincent"Les Ebdon has been formally announced as head of the university fair access body, despite the opposition of MPs on the committee examining his selection." - BBC
  • "Ebdon represents the mindset that has done so much damage to British education in the past 50 years." - James Forsyth
  • "The Les Ebdon saga illustrates another consequence of the Chris Huhne resignation. Vince Cable‘s position in the coalition is enhanced by being the last big beast left below DPM level." - Gary Gibbon
  • "Tory MP for Hertsmere James Clappison asked: "What confidence can students and universities and parents have in this appointee if the select committee does not have confidence in him? "What confidence can the public have in this appointment when the select committee says in its conclusion... 'we were not convinced of Prof Ebdon's description of the root causes of the obstacles to accessing universities'?" - Yorkshire Post
  • Russell Group attacks university admissions targets - Daily Telegraph
  • "An A from Eton is worth less than an A from Scumbag Comprehensive, and Oxbridge admissions tutors know it" - Daniel Knowles

Europe news

  • Eurozone"After months of haggling and heartache, the euro zone is finally set to push ahead with a new, enhanced rescue deal for Greece Monday that will avert—at least for the present—the threat of a potentially catastrophic default." - WSJ
  • "Athens needs the 130bn euros (£110bn; $170bn) in order to avoid bankruptcy next month, when loans must be repaid. The rescue plan would also write off 100bn euros of debt, with private lenders accepting a 70% reduction in what Greece owes them. In return, they would receive cash and new bonds, expected to mature in 30 years' time." - BBC

Theresa May to split up UK Border Agency - BBC

Police Commissioner elections

"Labour Uncut has learned that party officials have extended the deadline for applications for Labour candidates hoping to become Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs). ... Perhaps the most closely fought contest will be in Merseyside where two former Labour ministers are set to go head-to-head. Jane Kennedy and Peter Kilfoyle... Other former Labour ministers who have announced their candidacies include Paddy Tipping, a former deputy leader of the house (Nottinghamshire) and former DWP minister James Plaskitt (Warwickshire)." - LabourUncut


  • BROKENSHIRE JAMES ON SKYSecurity minister James Brokenshire admits he will not sleep easy until after Olympics - Daily Telegraph
  • "Armed forces reservists are being called up to boost security for this summer's London Olympics." - BBC
  • "The Ministry of Defence spent £290m on specialist consultants last year while making thousands of military and civilian personnel redundant, new figures show." - Guardian
  • The Guardian is exploring opening a hotel - Harry's Place
  • Maude or Grayling to replace Ken Clarke…say Ken’s own civil servants - Crash Bang Wallace


Posted on 20 Feb 2012 17:03:08 in February 2011 Newslinks | Permalink | Comments (0)

17 Feb 2012 16:57:24

Today's 5pm newslinks include the all-smiles Cameron/ Sarkozy press conference


Screen Shot 2012-02-17 at 16.52.22

  • It was all smiles and handshakes as the Prime Minister and the French President could not stop complimenting each other during their joint press conference in France - Telegraph
  • "The Prime Minister came close to giving an endorsement to the French president, who is trailing behind Socialist rival François Hollande, saying he "wished him well"" - Evening Standard
  • "Mr Cameron said of the election: “I wish him well,” then added “I want to take the chance to wish him well in the battles ahead. “Were it not for the leadership of the President, Libya would not be free to chose its own future… When you look at the foreign and defence policy issues today I don’t think there has been closer French-British co-operation than at any time since the Second World War.”" - Times (£)
  • The Prime Minister and the French President put their difference on Europe aside today to sign a deal worth more than £500million on nuclear strategy - Express | Video
  • David Cameron took a quarter of his cabinet with him to Paris - Sky

May Theresa in blackTheresa May to travel to Jordan to resolve Abu Qatada issue

  • Theresa May is to travel to Jordan in an effort to strike a deal over the deportation of Abu Qatada - BBC | Guardian
  • Hate cleric could still remain in Britain for years - Telegraph
  • Senior Tory MPs are muttering about why does Britain not just suspend its membership of the ECHR, deport these people and then re-join - James Forsyth

Economic news

  • Prospect examines stronger-than-expected retail sales data.
  • New figures uncovered by Labour Uncut reveal that investment in the UK by foreign companies has plummeted by a third

More on Scotland

  • Earlier today Bruce Anderson gave a big thumbs up to Cameron's Scottish speech. Over at Prospect David Torrance has joined in the praise: "The tone was pitch-perfect, but then that’s always been one of David Cameron’s strengths. His Edinburgh speech covered all the bases and anticipated likely criticisms; it targeted the head and the heart."
  • Cameron's offer to Salmond makes him look weak - Melanie Phillips
  • The New Statesman thinks "an Eton-educated millionaire" is Salmond's perfect English PM.
  • The Lords constititution committee said there is a "profound difference" between independence and devolution max and having them as options on the same referendum paper would "conflate" two "distinct constitutional outcomes" - BBC

BMA fears introduction of new 111 health phone number is being rushed - Daily Mail

Britain is to supply £2 million-worth of aid to Syrian civilians - Independent

Miliband Ed GreenEd Miliband vows to put NHS at heart of next election campaign

  • Ed Miliband today: "Before he became Prime Minister, David Cameron concealed his plans for creeping privatisation of our National Health Service. So people didn't get a vote on these plans at the last election. But I give you my word that if he goes ahead, they will be a defining issue at the next."
  • "It's worth noting that the NHS is only a middling priority for the public at the moment" - Pete Hoskin

Rupert Murdoch backs staff and says Sun on Sunday 'to launch soon' - Sun

"By cancelling the suspensions of the arrested Sun journalists he will have quelled the rebellion in the ranks. And by pledging to launch the Sun on Sunday he will have given the staff a sense of a long-term commitment to the paper and his UK empire." - Roy Greenslade


  • Edwina Currie reduces struggling mother to tears live on the radio by putting her debts down to living 'a very good life indeed' - Daily Mail
  • Treasury estimates 100 senior civil servants may have been paid through companies - FT (£)
  • Ken Livingstone has provoked fresh controversy, after telling an audience: "Hang a banker a week until the others improve." - Guardian | Sun
  • Gordon Brown has earned more than £1.4m since he quit as Prime Minister - Huffington Post


Posted on 17 Feb 2012 16:57:24 | Permalink | Comments (0)

16 Feb 2012 17:00:10

Reactions to David Cameron's Scottish speech and meeting with Alex Salmond lead our teatime newslinks

David Cameron's Scottish independence speech - and meeting with Salmond

Cameron Scots independence 270

David Cameron, on his meeting with Salmond

"I believe that we need to put a straightforward and simple and fair and legal question to the Scottish people in good time, which is to ask the straightforward question: 'Do you want to stay in the United Kingdom' - and I hope that's what people will vote for - 'or do you want to leave the United Kingdom?' I think we need to get on with that … and on those issues I'm afraid we haven't made much progress, which is frustrating."


  • "Mr Cameron is trying to put himself above party politics, attempting to persuade Scots the Union is not a Conservative cause. As he admits, the Tory brand is still fairly toxic in Scotland" - James Kirkup
  • "... any changes to the devolution settlement which further disadvantage England risk sparking off a rise in English nationalism." - James Forsyth
  • "Cameron offers a hint of Real Home Rule incentive but, welcome as this may be, one cannot escape the thought that a) it's not a concrete proposal yet and b) Cameron may not be in any position to offer this anyway, far less guarantee it." - Alex Massie
  • "By making a positive case for the union, Cameron signalled that all of the unionist parties will now fight the independence referendum on the basis of the strength of the United Kingdom and its potential, rather than through a negative campaign about how a weak, powerless and vulnerable Scotland couldn’t go it alone." - Nick Pearce
  • The PM's trip to Edinburgh highlights the lack of unionist fire in the modern Conservative Party - Ben Duckworth

Vince Cable's university access "tsar" row continues

Greek crisis

  • Greek protests"European governments are considering cutting interest rates on emergency loans to Greece and using contributions from the European Central Bank to plug a new financing gap in the second bailout program for Athens, two people familiar with the discussions said." - Bloomberg
  • "The president of the group of eurozone finance ministers said a decision to supply Greece with a new €130bn bail-out would not be made until next week, representing yet another delay in the fractious and prolonged process to help the indebted country avoid a messy default." - FT (£)
  • Germany's smear campaign against Greece - Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
  • Leaving the euro isn't a punishment: it's Greece's last chance for recovery - Daniel Hannan

In brief:


Posted on 16 Feb 2012 16:58:36 in February 2011 Newslinks | Permalink | Comments (0)

15 Feb 2012 17:00:15

Reactions to the latest unemployment figures and inflation forecasts lead our teatime newslinks

Latest unemployment figures released

  • "UK unemployment rose by 48,000 to 2.67 million in the three months to December, official figures have shown, the smallest rise in almost a year. Women made up two-thirds of that increase and there was a new record in the number of people working part-time who want full-time jobs. The unemployment rate edged up to 8.4%, the Office for National Statistics said, the highest for 16 years. There was also a new record for the number of jobless young people." - BBC
  • WATCH: Lord Freud: "The number of people long-term sick coming back into the workforce is terribly encouraging"


  • "Part of the reason that the rise in employment has failed to reduce unemployment is that those people benefiting are those who used to be outside the labour market: in particular, old people and immigrants. The number of over-65s in work has risen by 55,000 since the election — accounting for almost half of the overall increase in employment." - Jonathan Jones
  • Balls Ed PortraitEd Balls: "The Government spokespeople have sounded very complacent today. The fact is we’ve seen a big rise in women’s unemployment, we’ve seen a shift from full-time to part-time work, public job cuts outweigh the private jobs created by 12 to one, and a big rise in long-term unemployment for young people, and if we don’t act, we will pay a long term price as a society" - PolHome (£)
  • Sam Gyimah MP: "I am aware of the reality and that is why we’re taking a lot of measures. For example, let’s start on cost of living – the reason why we’ve frozen council tax, the reason why we put so much emphasis on keeping interest rates low is because we know there are a lot of people who are having a tough time and one of their biggest costs is obviously their mortgage." - PolHome (£)
  • "For the first time since the Great Recession began in the second quarter of 2008, the UK has a higher unemployment rate than the United States." - Will Straw

Sir Mervyn King says the economy will "zigzag" in 2012

King Mervyn

  • "The UK economy will "zigzag" this year, dipping in and out of growth, but avoid going back into recession, Bank of England chief Sir Mervyn King has said. The Bank's quarterly inflation report predicts the economy will grow by 1.2% and forecasts inflation will continue to fall in the coming months. However, it now predicts inflation will decline to 1.8% by 2014, not as low as the previous estimate of 1.3%." - BBC
  • Sir Mervyn King: "Substantial headwinds are hampering our recovery and re-balancing. Further falls in inflation are in prospect as the effect of external factors waive, and a weak near-term output adds to the margin of slack in the economy." - PolHome (£)
  • Details of the inflation report - Bank of England
  • Post-Moody's, King backs Osborne - Peter Hoskin

Senior Lib Dems warn against war in Iran

Clegg on Marr with poppy"Few noticed at the time, but the Lib Dems were the only one of the three main parties to explicitly oppose war with Iran in their 2010 manifesto. "[W]e oppose military action against Iran and believe those calling for such action undermine the growing reform movement in Iran," read a passage on page 68. Yet, in apparent breach of this pledge, Clegg told the House Magazine earlier this month that "you don't in a situation like this take any options off the table". - The New Statesman quotes senior Lib Dems warning against war with Iran, and disagreeing with their leader.

In brief:

  • WATCH: Martin Callanan MEP: A default and devaluation "is the only way to salvage something from the Greek economy"
  • Minimum pricing, maximum controversy - Peter Hoskin
  • Hans Blix: How do we stop Iran getting the bomb? - New Statesman
  • Johnson Boris On TubeBoris' election leaflets fail to mention that he's a Conservative - LabourList
  • 70% say Lib Dems on right course, highest figure since July 2010 - Lib Dem Voice
  • German economic policies are destroying Europe. It is time somebody told them - Daniel Knowles
  • "MPs from the Commons defence committee are set to visit the Falklands at a time of rising tensions with Argentina over the islands' future. The trip was agreed in late 2011, but Labour member Thomas Docherty said it was "not a ramping-up thing". He said it was "an appropriate place" for the committee to visit given the presence of British troops there. The last visit was in 1999." - BBC


Posted on 15 Feb 2012 17:28:30 in February 2011 Newslinks | Permalink | Comments (0)

14 Feb 2012 17:01:47

Reactions to Britain's negative credit rating outlook and falling inflation figures lead our teatime newslinks

Moody's give Britain negative credit rating outlook

ConservativeHome coverage: 

MPs react:

  • Osborne growth figures ivGeorge Osborne: "For me it was a reality check for the whole political system that Britain has to deal with its debts, that we can't waver in the path of dealing with our debts... It's yet another reminder that Britain doesn't have some easy route out of the economic problems that have accumulated over the last decade. It's got to confront those problems head on and that's precisely what I intend to do." - PolHome (£)
  • Danny Alexander: "We are emerging from the deepest financial crisis this country has ever seen - we learned from the OBR that our economy is 15% smaller than it otherwise would have been without this crisis. There’s no easy answer to this, there’s no quick fix." - PolHome (£)
  • Alistair Darling: "Now, obviously George Osborne's in a bit of difficultly; he said this wasn't going to happen to us; he set great store by not losing the absolute top notch rating." - PolHome (£)

Blog reactions:

  • Balls Ed Feb 2010 2"Labour doesn't stand a chance of being elected while the economy is in the dumps. What voters are looking for at the moment is stability, not optimism. George Osborne and David Cameron still seem to offer that. Ed Balls and Ed Miliband, tainted by association with Gordon Brown, don't. Far from hurting George Osborne, this morning's news will actually strengthen his position. It's when things start getting better that the Conservatives ought to start worrying." - Daniel Knowles
  • With Britain's credit rating on negative outlook, the Chancellor's reputation is on the line - George Eaton
  • Ruth Lea, Art Laffer and MPs including Liz Truss and Dom Raab offer proposals to get the economy moving again, for Coffee House
  • Labour's plan would have cost us our AAA rating - Peter Hoskin
  • The BBC is killing Britain's recovery - James Delingpole

Falling inflation figures


  • Chart of the day, from the New Statesman
  • "Inflation fell sharply in January as the impact of last year's VAT rise was no longer shown in the figures. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation fell to 3.6% in January, down from 4.2% in December, according to the Office for National Statistics." - BBC
  • "When inflation was going up double-quick, the ‘wrong track’ numbers went up. But when the pace of inflation slowed, the ‘right track’ numbers increased. It is for this reason that the Tories are quietly confident that this year will see an uptick in economic confidence." - James Forsyth
  • "So when the economy is growing slowly, we should have higher inflation, and when it is growing faster, lower inflation. It makes sense to me. So given our slowing growth, should we really celebrate the fact that inflation is falling too?" - Daniel Knowles

Baroness Warsi's "militant secularism" speech

  • Warsi CardiffFull speech at PolHome (£)
  • "Britain is under threat from a rising tide of "militant secularisation", a cabinet minister has warned. Religion is being "sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere", Conservative co-chairwoman Baroness Warsi wrote in an article for the Daily Telegraph." - BBC
  • "Calls by a British minister to follow the pope's example and reject "intolerant secularisation" to make Europe more confident in its Christianity have made the Vatican "really happy", a spokesman said. Lady Warsi, the Conservative party chairman, will make her comments in a speech at the Vatican on Tuesday as she leads a delegation of six ministers set to hold talks with Catholic officials and meet the pope on Wednesday." - Guardian
  • "A Muslim Asian woman could embarrass liberals into taking religion seriously" - Cristina Odone

In brief:

Posted on 14 Feb 2012 17:03:56 in February 2011 Newslinks | Permalink | Comments (0)

13 Feb 2012 17:00:32

Three LibDem wins - marriage tax break, university access, Abu Qatada - lead our 5pm links



(1) The U-turn on tax breaks for married couples shows the Lib Dems are still throwing their scanty weight around - Nick Wood

(2) Appointment of Les Ebdon as universities access tsar: "Vince Cable has been given the green light to give a top job to an academic who champions "Mickey Mouse" courses - after Downing Street admitted they won't block it. The move will anger MPs, who have blasted the Business Secretary's decision to make Professor Les Ebdon a university watchdog." - From The Sun's Kevin Schofield

(3) And Abu Qatada: "Clegg’s party, while proclaiming its devotion to civil liberties, has ended up in the paradoxical position of protecting a Muslim zealot who despises everything about western freedom, whether it be democracy or gay rights.  In the name of tolerance, the Lib Dems are promoting the most savage form of intolerance." - Leo McKinstry


Downing Street insists it is still looking at possibility of deporting Abu Qatada - Telegraph

But, warns Ben Brogan, has Cameron raised expectations but overpromised?

"Sixty of Britian’s best cops will have to watch terror chief Abu Qatada when he is freed from jail today – at a cost of £10,000 a week to the taxpayer. The eye watering price for the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling is revealed by London Mayor Boris Johnson, who also heaped more pressure on the PM to overrule it and send the cleric straight back to Jordan." - The Sun's Tom Newton-Dunn


  • Reacting to Abu Qatada's release, Robert Halfon MP says UK should suspend ECHR membership until Court returns to its founding principles - ConHome Audio
  • Peter Bone MP quoted by The Guardian: "Send him back to Jordan and worry about the consequences of the European Court later. Other countries have done this in the past: Italy's done it, they put their national interests first. They put the interests of saving the lives of men, women, and children in Italy before the so called rights of an extremist terrorist and nothing really happened to Italy and I think we can take a leaf out of what the Italians did and we should act in that way. Send him home."
  • Nadine Dorries MP tweets: "Can anyone enlighten? What's the worst thing the ECHR will do to us if we send Abu Quatada straight to Jordan? Kick us out? #bringiton"

Salmond Alex Blue TieScottish independence referendum

  • Scottish Secretary Michael Moore meets Alex salmond to discuss timing of independence referendum, number of questions and whether 16 and 17 year-olds should be able to vote - BBC
  • David Cameron will travel to Scotland on Thursday for talks with Alex Salmond about the independence referendum - Guardian
  • Salmond claims ‘modest progress’ made in talks with Moore - Scotsman
  • Norman Tebbit points out that the rest of the UK might have to rejoin the EU (if it wanted to) if Scotland broke up the UK.

NHS Bill

CleggNickDeclaringClegg backs Lansley: "Andrew Lansley is the architect of the NHS bill. He cares passionately about the NHS. He's the right man for the job and he must see it through" - Quoted by the BBC

  • Downing Street spokesman insists ministers are fully supportive of Andrew Lansley - Independent
  • Clegg is the poacher who did much to hinder the NHS Bill last year but is now a gamekeeper who may be damaged by its continued progress - Pete Hoskin

Cameron and Clegg order review of public sector bonuses - ConHome video

"Cabinet ministers have been ordered to carry out a review of bonus structures in their departments and associated quangos as David Cameron seeks to prevent further public anger over “excessive” rewards in the public sector. Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, and Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, have written to all government departments asking them to examine their bonus structures." - FT (£)

Labour has 12% lead over Labour in London but Boris has 2% lead over Ken - UK Polling Report


- New Statesman graph

Harry Phibbs: "Factors which may have shifted support to Boris in the last month include the cut in the Council Tax precept, diminishing trust in Livingstone's pledge to cut fares and offence at Livingstone's remark about the Conservatives being "riddled" with gays."

Guido thinks Boris' big lead among older voters means he's more likely to get out the vote.

Full poll at the London Evening Standard. The newspapers leader-writers comment: "Mr Livingstone leads his rival on three out of four critical issues. But remarkably, fewer than half of those surveyed, 44 per cent, believe that Ken Livingstone would deliver on his campaign promises."

The Economist on expensive London.


  • Nick Clegg is urging firms to join a £1bn government scheme offering them cash to take on and train young people - BBC
  • Project Merlin has received a considerable blow after it was revealed the top five banks missed their targets for lending to small businesses - Metro | Douglas Carswell MP
  • Russian-born oil billionaire donated £8,500 to Conservatives - Telegraph
  • Civil war inside The Sun as Trevor Kavanagh takes on Rupert Murdoch's managers - Roy Greenslade
  • German Finance Minister supports Greek default, but Merkel does not - Open Europe

Posted on 13 Feb 2012 17:00:32 | Permalink | Comments (0)

10 Feb 2012 17:05:36

The row over the Government's Health Bill and reactions to a council meeting prayer ruling lead our teatime newslinks

Drop the Health Bill row


Bideford Council prayer ruling

  • Bideford council chamberRobert Kaye on Comment: If today's ruling is not appealed, the Government should give local authorities the power to hold prayers at council meetings
  • Local government: Government will ensure ban on prayers at council meetings is overturned
  • Eric Pickles: "Christianity plays an important part in the culture, heritage and fabric of our nation. Public authorities - be it Parliament or a parish council - should have the right to say prayers before meetings if they wish. The right to worship is a fundamental and hard-fought British liberty." - PolHome (£)
  • ReesMoggParliamentJacob Rees-Mogg MP: "It seems to me a peculiar judgement. If you think the legal year starts with a religious service, the Church of England – of which I’m not a member – is the established church, we have Bishops in the House of Lords, prayers before sittings of the Commons and the Lords and the Queen is crowned in a religious ceremony." - PolHome (£)
  • Andrew Selous MP: "I’m very disturbed to learn about this ruling I hope it is challenged and I for one would fight very strongly to keep prayers in the House of Commons and I hope no one thinks of a legal challenge to the leader or the House for having prayers." - PolHome (£)
  • Labour MP Chris Bryant: "It can’t affect the Commons because the biggest quibble is local authorities don’t have the power of competency. He [the judge] is saying that people should not allowed to pray; well in that sense they shouldn’t be able to drink water, even though they do in meetings" - PolHome (£)
  • There's something very un-English about the secular zealots fighting council prayers - Ed West

Greek austerity

Greek protests

  • "There is only one way of interpreting the set of fresh demands tabled by eurozone finance ministers last night in return for agreeing a new €130bn bailout for Greece – that they are now quite deliberately trying to push Greece out of the euro." - Jeremy Warner
  • "Euro-zone finance ministers didn't approve a second bailout that Greece needs to stay afloat, saying Greece's parliament must first approve the new austerity measures before they will sign off on the loan deal. Meanwhile, some major unions in Greece protested the austerity measures that the country's political leaders had agreed on by launching a 48-hour strike." - WSJ Europe (£)
  • "Thousands of striking Greek workers have marched to parliament to demonstrate against wage cuts included in a new €3.3bn austerity package that eurozone finance ministers rejected as incomplete on Thursday." - FT (£)
  • "Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Marilisa Xenogiannakopoulou, a member of the Pasok socialist party, resigned her post" - Bloomberg
  • For Greece this is only be the beginning - Mats Persson

In Brief:

  • "David Cameron has hit back at Argentina over its plans to protest against British "militarisation" of the Falklands, saying islanders would have London's backing for as long as they wished to remain British." - ITN
  • Ed Miliband's new definition of the "squeezed middle" - LabourList
  • Tax breaks for domestic staff? Does David Cameron really want to subsidise the butler? - Cristina Odone


Posted on 10 Feb 2012 17:05:22 in February 2011 Newslinks | Permalink | Comments (0)

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