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22 Sep 2013 09:00:14

Newslinks for Sunday 22nd September 2013

Screen shot 2013-09-22 at 21.57.08
10pm Update German Elections: Andrew Marshall's Live Blog: MERKEL WINS THIRD TERM: "Whether it’s a CDU government or a grand coalition, Merkel’s success probably gives her government more wiggle room in terms of any renegotiation with the UK...But there’s a huge gap between CDU and Conservative positions on much of the EU issue."

9pm Update German Elections: Andrew Marshall's Live Blog: MERKEL RULES OUT MINORITY GOVERNMENT: "The CDU is very, very close to an overall majority – but might still be a seat or so short. Merkel has ruled out a minority government, even if she’s only one seat short.

7.30pm Update German Elections: Andrew Marshall's Live Blog: MERKEL MAY WIN OUTRIGHT: "In federal election, CDU/CSU is a seat or so in range of an absolute majority - but its spokespeople being very careful what they say."

Screen shot 2013-09-22 at German Elections: Andrew Marshall's Live Blog: AFD ON THE EDGE OF POLLING FIVE PER CENT


1pm International: Andrew Marshall offers some facts and figures from Germany while we wait for the results...

ToryDiary: Watch Sajid Javid

International: Andrew Marshall previews his live blog on ConservativeHome this evening of Germany's election results - Bundestagswahlen for beginners

Miliband's Labour: Socialism's back!

Screen shot 2013-09-22 at 08.16.30"Taking part in an open-air Q&A session in Brighton,Mr Miliband was asked when he would 'bring back socialism'. The son of Marxist thinker Ralph Miliband replied: 'That's what we are doing, sir. 'It is about fighting the battle for economic equality, for social equality and for gender equality too. 'That is a battle that is not yet won in our country.' " - Mail on Sunday 

Socialism 1) Labour to increase minimum wage fines tenfold

"Ed Miliband has announced plans for a tenfold increase in fines – from £5,000 to £50,000 – for any company that fails to pay the minimum wage as part of a radical manifesto to end exploitation and drive up the skills of millions of British workers. In an interview with the Observer as the Labour conference opens in Brighton, he also pledges a new immigration law to ensure that medium and large companies can only take on a skilled worker from outside the EU if they pay to train a British worker in return." - The Observer

Socialism 2) CBI warns against Miliband moves

Miliband Red Ed"The Labour moves were criticised by business groups. The CBI and the Institute of Directors warned that the minimum wage plans would hit growth and increase the burden on business. John Cridland, the director general of the CBI, writes in The Sunday Telegraph’s business section today that “growth must come first” and warns that if businesses are not allowed to grow, they cannot raise wages. In another policy announcement, Mr Miliband said that large firms would have to train a British apprentice for every worker that they bring from overseas." - Sunday Telegraph

Labour Conference

  • Labour leader will pledge to curb energy bills - Sun on Sunday
  • Labour leader's conference message: standard of living, standard of living, standard of living - Mail on Sunday
  • Miliband interview: "You've got to learn to take the rough with the smooth" - The Observer
  • Miliband interview: My voyage round my father - Mehdi Hasan, Sunday Times Magazine (£)
  • Miliband family Boden-style pictures - Mail on Sunday
  • Jim Murphy: Labour to put education of troops at the heart of defence policy - Sunday Express
  • "It'll be a vile, aggressive election", says Chuka Umunna - Sunday Times (£)
  • Labour to create new offence of disability hate crime - The Observer
  • Fresh allegations of financial irregularity in Falkirk - Sunday Times (£)
  • Kate Hoey presses EU referendum - Sun on Sunday
  • Alan Milburn, Government mobility Tsar, presses for companies to reveal highest and lowest wages - Sunday Times (£)
  • It’s Ed 'Ryanair’ Miliband v David 'Business Class' Cameron - Matthew D'Ancona, Sunday Telegraph

But...Yvette Cooper says "I just want to be the next Home Secretary". Watch your back, Ed!

Screen shot 2013-09-22 at 08.25.31"With three children, the youngest then aged five, she said: "This isn't the right time for me" – but ended the article with a tantalising pay-off: "As for future leadership contests, who knows …"  But [now] Cooper is blunt: "No. I want to be the Home Secretary." And that is that. No coy, 'there's no vacancy' or even that she has 'no ambition to be leader'. Just a flat, outright No." - Independent on Sunday

Attack dog Grayling tears into Labour tax-and-spend

"So, what do Labour want? To penalise the wealth creators. Higher taxes for the rich. To pay for what Labour really desires – an ever bigger welfare state. The Lib Dems do, too. One of the big themes of last week’s conference was higher taxes. They too want to penalise the wealth creators. Both say it’s a red line for any future government. Conservatives want to support wealth and job creators. That’s a red line for us." - Sunday Telegraph

  • Sajid Javid's pre-emptive strike: Labour spending plans leave a £28 billion "black hole" - Sunday Times (£)
  • "How will they fund [these plans]? Ah, yes. The same bankers' bonus tax which miraculously funds their every brainwave." - Sun on Sunday
  • Don't be fooled by Labour's giveaways - Sunday Times (£)

McBride memoirs fall-out: Did Miliband smear Tory opponents?...

Screen shot 2013-09-22 at 08.33.00"On the eve of his party’s conference in Brighton, it was claimed Mr Miliband sent “damaging” e-mails in a plot to attack senior Tories. Former spin doctor Damian McBride suggests Mr Miliband could “have problems” if any e-mails to Labour smear website editor Derek Draper become public. The claim is one of many in Mr McBride’s memoir Power Trip. He was forced to resign as Gordon Brown’s head of strategy in 2009 after he sent Mr Draper e-mails containing lies about Tory MPs." - Sunday Express

...And Tessa Jowell speaks out: Brown's Labour's was tainted by a "corrupt" culture. "It is inconceivable he did not know what Damian was doing."

" 'There was a corrupt culture which had nothing to do with serving the British people but was about personal ambition. I feel sickened it was not just tolerated but encouraged at the heart of government.’ Ms Jowell scoffed at Mr McBride’s claim that Mr Brown was in the dark about his special adviser’s promiscuous use of the dark arts. ‘Whitehall’s ministerial code is absolutely clear – Ministers are responsible for the actions of their special advisers,’ she said." - Mail on Sunday

Twice as many people now back the Conservatives than Labour on the economy

Screen shot 2013-09-22 at 06.24.05
"In a major blow for Labour leader Ed Miliband on the eve of his party conference, the survey found just one in five voters think he has the best policies to manage the recovery. By contrast David Cameron and George Osborne are backed by almost twice as many voters, amid increasing signs that growth is gaining momentum. The surprise surge in support for the Tories comes after two successive quarters of growth, leading Mr Osborne to boast that the economy has ‘turned a corner’." - Mail on Sunday

  • Labour leads Tories in polls, but Miliband's own ratings still in the doldrums - The Observer

UKIP conference: "The best farcical comedy I have seen in years"

Screen shot 2013-09-22 at 08.40.03"Nigel Farage, the party leader, admitted on Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday morning that he was still feeling “pretty hacked off” with Bloom’s behaviour. He added: “On the one hand I want us to be a party of free thinking, I want us to push the boundaries of debate and we’ve been good at that on several issues. “But at the same time I don’t want people saying things that are deeply offensive.” One Conservative MP described the conference at Methodist Central Hall as “the best farcical comedy I have seen in years”. - Sunday Times (£)

Liberal Democrats: It's war! (1) Cabinet Secretary called in to calm Paterson/Davey wind-farm scrap

"Liberal Democrat sources say that Sir Jeremy Heywood was called in after a series of blazing rows between Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey and Tory Environment Secretary Owen Paterson over Mr Davey’s controversial ‘green’ technology. Sources close to the Lib Dem Minister accused Mr Paterson of ‘lying’ over claims that Mr Davey had blocked publication of a report showing that on-shore wind farms can harm rural areas." - Mail on Sunday

Liberal Democrats: It's war! (2) Cable forces enquiry into LibDem conference "dirty tricks" against him

Screen shot 2013-09-22 at 08.41.08"Nick Clegg has launched an inquiry into claims that aides have been involved in a "dirty tricks" campaign against his leadership rival Vince Cable. The Liberal Democrat leader is investigating an allegation that members of the media have been briefed with erroneous information damaging Cable's position in the party. The move followed an angry complaint from an MP during a meeting of the parliamentary party at last week's Lib Dem conference in Glasgow."

  • Pupils on Clegg’s £600m free school meals are no healthier, Government pilot scheme - reveals - Mail on Sunday
  • Mike Hancock MP held over sex claim that ‘broke code of conduct’ - Sunday Express

Hague: British nationals caught up in Kenya terror attack

"British nationals have undoubtedly been caught up in a "callous and cowardly and brutal" Nairobi terror attack which left at least 39 people dead, the foreign secretary said on Saturday evening. William Hague said "we should be ready for that and aware of that" as he revealed a rapid deployment team is being sent to Kenya to help in the aftermath of the atrocity at an upmarket shopping centre in the capital." - The Observer

Cut benefits cap and save £1.2 billion a year, says Chris Skidmore

Skidmore Chris"A fresh benefits crackdown could slash £1.2billion a year off the welfare bill, figures reveal. The saving would come from cutting the £26,000 benefit cap to £17,000 — about the pay a rookie soldier gets before tax. Lowering it to £20,000 would net £735million — four times as much as the £185million a year saved by the current cap. A list of potential savings was uncovered by Tory MP Chris Skidmore." - The Sun on Sunday

  • Philip Davies digs out lags-on-the-run figure - 998 - and labels it a ‘disgrace’ - Sun on Sunday

> Yesterday: ToryDiary - Politics is about more than maths - Conservatives must make the moral case for welfare reform

"Whoever Goved that Goved not at first sight": Education Secretary - send love poems - not sexts 

"Michael Gove, the education secretary, has urged teenagers to stop “sexting” and instead start using a new app to send each other love poems. In backing the initiative, Gove, who read English at Oxford, revealed that his own favourite love poems are Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold and Love by George Herbert. Less romantically he said he also “adored Wendy Cope’s Variation on a Lennon and McCartney Song” to be read or sung to the Beatles tune." - Sunday Times (£)

Salmond tells rally: There's a natural majority for independence

Screen shot 2013-09-22 at 08.50.11"The Scottish first minister told thousands of pro-independence marchers in Edinburgh that there is a natural majority for Scottish independence. Alex Salmond said: "There is now in this country a natural majority for a Yes vote. The people want a parliament that makes decisions for the people of Scotland." He said he would keep Royal Mail in public hands and ban the bedroom tax in an independent Scotland that he led." - The Observer

Dominic Lawson: If justice is blind, let’s make all defendants wear the veil

"Although I hesitate to challenge such a learned member of the judiciary — and the former justice secretary is also highly experienced in such matters — I find both men guilty of piffle in the first degree. It is simply not true that people require full sight of a person to establish an accurate opinion of her (or his) truthfulness. More, to the extent we base our judgment on observation of a defendant’s physical appearance and mannerisms, we are at best superficial and at worst unjust." - Sunday Times (£)

Merkel "on course for third term"

Screen shot 2013-09-22 at 09.08.35"If, as widely expected, the 59-year old German leader is re-elected for a third term, she will be on course to become Europe's longest-serving female leader, outstripping Margaret Thatcher's claim to the title. Since first coming to power in 2005, Merkel has rejected the comparisons between herself and Britain's "Iron Lady". Indeed, apart from a few biographical details, the similarities between the conservative social democrat and the free marketeer are few and far between. Germans, at least, have long stopped making the comparison." - The Observer

  • A victory for Merkel will only mask Germany's long-term economic problems - Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Sunday Telegraph

News in Brief

And finally: President Mensch?

"Louise Mensch, the former Tory MP, has revealed that she has applied for American citizenship, sparking speculation that she may be considering a foray into American politics. Mensch stepped down as MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire in August last year and moved to New York to be with her husband Peter Mensch, the American rock band manager…Asked whether it was part of a plan to enter American politics, she replied: 'I wouldn’t say ‘Once bitten, twice shy’ but I’ve got no plans to do that at the moment. Nobody needs to be panicking about that just yet.' " - Sunday Times (£)


> Please use the thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been given their own blog. Read our comments policy here.


21 Sep 2013 09:00:20

Newslinks for Saturday 21st September 2013

7.45pm WATCH: Miliband - Blair isn't a war criminal

Screen shot 2013-09-21 at 13.26.486pm Peter Walker on Comment: The consequences of the defenestration of Godfrey Bloom

1pm Mohammed Amin on Comment: "I was phoning homes in West London. From both peoples’ names and from their accents, I could tell that many of the people I was telephoning were from an ethnic minority background. When, in accordance with the canvassing script, I asked them to itemise issues that they felt strongly about, almost all named immigration as their first or second choice without any prompting from me." Immigration is not a racial issue today

ToryDiary: Politics is about more than maths - Conservatives must make the moral case for welfare reform

Nick Wood on Comment: Will Miliband's panda party ever give birth?

Also on Comment: Rory Meakin says We must acknowledge that our planning rules stop homes being built

The ConservativeHome Interview: Andrew Gimson asks Boris Johnson about Costa Concordia, UKIP, tax cuts, Plebgate and how to beat Labour

MailedEd Miliband implicated in smearing opponents...

"Ed Miliband sent potentially damaging emails to a party official plotting to smear opponents, Gordon Brown’s former spin doctor claims in an explosive new book. The allegation from Damian McBride is the latest to link the Labour leader to a toxic culture of spin inside government. The memoir suggests Mr Miliband might ‘have problems’ if his exchanges with Labour insider Derek Draper are revealed." - Daily Mail

  • "Miliband's office said he denied the allegations and had raised concerns over the activities of McBride with Brown in October 2008. A Labour spokesman said: "Ed Miliband was not involved in any plan to smear or spread lies about opponents. Any suggestion he was is totally untrue. He has no recollection about any emails setting up this website or any similar attempt to smear opponents." - The Guardian
  • "Labour leader Ed Miliband knew about the activities of disgraced former spin doctor Damian McBride, Dame Tessa Jowell has claimed. The former Cabinet minister, who served in government under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, has expressed concern that the “awful, evil influence” of Gordon Brown’s former communications chief will now overshadow Labour’s time in government...Dame Tessa described the extracts from the Power Trip book about the "malign and awful" briefings against senior Labour figures as "truly shocking". She insisted that while she was "sure" Mr Miliband, who was a close ally of Mr Brown, was aware of the activities of the then prime minister's special adviser, it would not damage his position now." - Daily Telegraph
  • "Of course Ed Miliband knew all about the dirty tricks carried out by Gordon Brown’s bag carriers against Tony Blair’s people. It doesn’t much matter now. Brown’s regime is just a bad memory. And if we needed evidence of Miliband’s own ruthless self-interest we need only ask his brother. But has Labour moved on? The root cause of their colossal under-achievement during 13 years in office was the energy wasted knifing each other in the back. Yet few personnel have changed. And they could be back in office in 2015." - The Sun Says(£)
  • We tried to knife Cherie but she knifed us - Damian McBride Daily Mail
  • The challenge for Miliband's speech writer - Daily Telegraph


Timesbrown...while Balls admits he was part of Brown's macho cabal

"Ed Balls has admitted to being part of a damaging “macho” cabal around Gordon Brown but denies having known that rival ministers were being smeared. In an interview with The Times, published today, the Shadow Chancellor distances himself from the former Prime Minister and Damian McBride, his spin doctor, who has confessed to a series of political assassinations on behalf of Mr Brown. Mr Balls insists that he had no knowledge of “three hideous smears” against John Reid, Charles Clarke and Ivan Lewis and claims that he resisted attempts by Mr Brown to undermine Alistair Darling, then Chancellor." - The Times(£)

IndependentbedLabour Policy shock 1:Labour pledge to reinstate spare room subsidy

"Ed Miliband pledged to abolish the Coalition’s “vicious and iniquitous bedroom tax” if Labour is returned to power at the next election. In a keynote announcement at the start of his party’s Brighton conference, Mr Miliband said the next manifesto would include a commitment to scrap the benefit cut – which has been condemned for plunging thousands of  council tenants into rent arrears. Mr Miliband said Labour would make up for the £470m the spare room subsidy is meant to save by reversing some of the Government’s tax cuts for businesses and George Osborne’s “shares for rights” scheme. The pledge opens up a clear policy divide between Labour and its Conservative and Liberal Democrat opponents and is likely to be a major issue at the next election." - The Independent

  • Archbishop of Canterbury says delivering welfare changes "challenging" - The Times(£)
>Today: Nick Wood on Comment: Will Miliband's panda party ever give birth?

TelegraphrichLabour policy shock 2: "Boring, snoring" Rachel Reeves make interesting comment: Those earning under £60,000 are "not rich" and won't be taxed more

"People earning as much as £60,000 a year are not “rich” and would not face tax increases under a Labour government, a shadow treasury minister has said. Instead, the “privileged few” on salaries of more than £150,000 should be expected to contribute more, according to Rachel Reeves, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury. Miss Reeves, who is deputy to Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, said Labour had no intention of increasing taxes on anyone apart from those “right at the top” of the income scale. “I think the focus should be on those privileged few right at the top, and that’s not people earning £50,000 or £60,000 a year,” Miss Reeves said in an interview with The Telegraph. “We don’t have any plans or desire to increase taxes amongst people in that band of income.” - Daily Telegraph

GuardianchilddLabour policy shock 3: Child care would be provided for primary school children 8am to 6pm

"Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, made clear that the party would focus on the future with concrete policy announcements. Cooper, who is also shadow minister for women and equalities, told the Guardian in an interview: "Childcare is a top priority for the next election. It's about supporting families, the economy and equality. It's a really important issue for us and we want to go further than we have before." She said childcare should be seen as just as important as other infrastructure investments such as transport, and that Labour would be announcing "a guarantee to every parent that they will be able to get wraparound childcare from 8 to 6 every day." - The Guardian

Godfrey Bloom MEP uses UKIP whip after "sluts comment

"A UKIP politician has had the party whip removed after joking that a group of female activists were "sluts". MEP Godfrey Bloom made the comments while addressing a "women in politics" event at UKIP's annual conference. Challenged afterwards, he said it had been a joke. The remark prompted laughter from some of those present. But UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he believed disciplinary action should be taken, since the row had overshadowed his earlier conference speech." - BBC

  • "Mr Farage accused Mr Bloom of “destroying” the conference. He told delegates: “There is no media coverage of this conference. It’s gone. It’s dead. It’s all about Godfrey hitting a journalist and using an unpleasant word. It’s gone. And we can’t put up with it.” Only hours earlier, Mr Farage had said that he often disagreed with Mr Bloom and other UKIP figures, but that his party should continue to champion free speech. “If the choice is between our being browbeaten through political correctness to stay within the current received wisdoms or to be a party of free debate then be in no doubt we must be the party of radical alternatives and free speech,” he said." - The Times(£)
>Yesterday:ToryDiary: Introducing...UKIP's White Company

Nigel Farage says UKIP could hold balance of power after next election

"At his party’s annual conference in London, the Ukip leader claimed support was growing at such a rate that he had serious hopes of getting a string of MPs elected at the next general election due in 2015. He said that holding the balance of power in a hung Commons was the best way to guarantee an in-or-out referendum on the EU. “I promise you when the next general election comes Labour, the Conservatives and Lib Dems will promise a referendum,” said Mr Farage. “The only way you will get a referendum is to make sure there are enough Ukip MPs in Westminster in 2015 holding the balance of power. There will be a referendum then.” - Daily Express

  • "The conference included addresses on energy policy, the economy and foreign affairs included appearances from Digby Jones, the former head of the CBI, Mark Littlewood, the head of the Institute for Economic Affairs, and Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester. Mr Farage is trying to find a balance between encouraging candidates to speak their minds, which he believes voters find attractive, while presenting an increasingly professional face." - Daily Telegraph
  • Police probe into conference assault stalled - Daily Telegraph
OsborneRecovery leads to lower Government borrowing

"After a run of disappointing government borrowing figures the Treasury can take a little comfort from the latest data for August. The deficit in the month, excluding special factors like transfers from the Bank of England and changes to the Royal Mail pension fund, was lower than in the same month last year. And on the same basis, borrowing of £46.8bn in the financial year to date ( April-to-August) was a couple of billion lower than in the same period in 2012. Borrowing for the 2012-13 year has been revised down again to £115.7bn. So, the chancellor could well undershoot the Office for Budget Responsibility's forecast for this year of £120bn." - BBC

  • "Coalition hopes of slashing government borrowing before the next election are being boosted by a robust economic recovery. Data from the Office for National Statistics shows the deficit stood at £13.3billion in August, compared to £14.2billion in the same month last year." - Daily Mail

CharlesmooreCharles Moore on why ConservativeHome conferences are better than Conservative Party Conferences

"Could it be different? Yesterday I rang up Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP for Clacton, and his party’s most ardent advocate of wider democracy. He will not be going to this year’s Tory conference, he told me: scarcely anyone from his association has been for 10 years now. He wants a conference for two things – sharing campaigning tips and discussing policies – and he expects to find neither in Manchester. A conference organised by the ConservativeHome website is much more likely to offer value." - Charles Moore Daily Telegraph

Matthew Parris calls for the return of Sunny Dave

"I persist in thinking, though, that another part of the answer lies in remembering what Britain warmed to in Early Cameron: a message of liking 21st-century Britain; of sympathy for hardship; and of confidence in the individual and in family; belief in a caring society where public-spiritedness was not expressed only through the institutions of the State. All right. You’ve got me cornered. I liked the Big Society. I’m sorry
the language seems to have been dropped. I want to see Mr Cameron return unapologetically to the tree, the clouds, the huskies — yes, even the hoodies — and, most of all, the blue sky. Last week Nick Clegg tried to cast the Conservatives in their ancient role of panto villains. For the party to confirm a stereotype that David Cameron has come so far in rejecting would be to walk straight into the Left’s trap." - Matthew Parris The Times (£)

News in brief

  • Chinese Communists ask Mandelson for tips - TheTimes(£)
  • Ex MSP Bill Walker jailed - BBC
  • Cameron's sister in law apologises over picture  - The Times (£)
  • Unions are too big and too political says Miliband ally - Daily Telegraph
  • MEP denies switching to English Democrats - BBC
  • Faith school "selecting wealthy pupils by back door" - Daily Telegraph


> Please use the thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been given their own blog. Read our comments policy here.

20 Sep 2013 08:28:34

Newslinks for Friday 20th September 2013

5.30pm LeftWatch: "One of the underlying statistics in today's Sun poll left me absolutely gobsmacked: a massive 71 per cent of voters claim it isn’t clear what [Miliband] stands for - up ten per cent from last year. That should trouble the Labour operation deeply." The more Ed talks, the less people understand

Screen shot 2013-09-20 at 17.27.20
4.30pm WATCH: Thwack! UKIP's Godfrey Bloom hits Michael Crick on the head with a newspaper

3pm Local Government: Councillors must declare trade union membership

2pm Maria Borelius on Comment: "The European Commission: endless speeches with verbose legalities, people babbling, talking to no one in particular, autocratic rants from various pompous eurocrats – all translated by some 10-15 interpreters. It was sometimes pure Monty Python." the European Commission." Why I was wrong about the Euro, am no longer a Europhile - and why Europe needs reform

Screen shot 2013-09-20 at 11.38.12
Noon ToryDiary: Introducing...UKIP's White Company

11am MPsETC: And the winner of the Conservative awayday quiz was...

10.30am Local Government: Council by-election results from yesterday

ToryDiary: The lesson of Damian McBride's memoirs is that Labour is the Nasty Party

Also on ToryDiary: Coming for Party Conference - a ConHome redesign

DaleIain Dale's Friday Diary reports on the bonking couple who were to blame for Lib Dem cock-ups

Andrew Lilico on Comment: "We wear jeans when our pals wear jeans, bikinis when our pals wear bikinis, nose-rings when our pals wear nose-rings, and veils when our pals wear veils. Saying veils should be banned because some women wear them to try to fit in makes no more sense than saying nose-rings should be banned." Why we should not ban veils

Local Government: "Here in Britain tolerance, decency and respect for others are embedded deep within our psyche. Our warmth and hospitality, our willingness to welcome other views and embrace other ways of life are what has made Britain a beacon of hope around the world. Now a few voices from the fringes try and challenge those values. "Pickles on Britishness - condemning hate merchants of the UAF and the EDL 

The Deep End: Heresy of the week: There’s only one political divide that really matters and you’re probably on the wrong side of it

McBride memoir lays bare the poisonous culture in Labour's Downing Street

Screen shot 2013-09-20 at 08.42.48
"The spin doctor says he routinely discredited opponents by tipping off newspapers about ‘drug use, spousal abuse, alcoholism and extra-marital affairs’.  Coming from a figure so central to Mr Brown’s political operation, the book will hugely embarrass Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, the former prime minister’s two closest allies. The pair were in constant contact with Mr McBride, raising urgent questions over what they knew of his brutal tactics." - Daily Mail 

  • Ivan Lewis, Charles Clarke and John Reid among the victims - Daily Mail
  • Brown picked Miliband over Balls - Daily Mail 
  • Did the two Eds really not know? Or did they just not care? - Daily Mail Leader
  • Emails released from inside the Blair bunker - The Guardian

Miliband urged to be more emotional and less geeky - as polls draw level

Labour Rose Wilting"Ed Miliband needs to ‘emotionally connect with the public’, a senior ally warned last night after a shock poll revealed Labour’s lead over the Tories has evaporated. Shadow Cabinet minister Michael Dugher said Labour needed to stop acting like a ‘think-tank’ and spend more time talking about issues the public cares about. His remarks, just before the Labour conference in Brighton begins on Sunday, came as a YouGov poll put the two parties level on 36 per cent." - Daily Mail

Hunt: I wouldn't want to be treated by a doctor wearing a veil 

"Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has made it clear that he would not personally want to be treated by a doctor or nurse wearing a veil. The cabinet minister insisted patients should have the right to demand medics remove their veils. He said: ‘Certainly, if I was a patient myself, I’d want to be able to see the face of the doctor or nurse who was treating me."" - Daily Mail

UKIP open jubilant conference - as they threaten to put Labour in government

Farage Nigel Eating Cakes"Cameron’s reluctance to bang the Tory drum was understandable at first, when the feasibility of coalition was in doubt. But now, for the first time in modern history, the Conservatives have a serious rival on the Right in the form of Ukip – and it’s a threat strong enough to put them into Opposition in 2015. Cameron has two jobs: first, to govern, and second, to tell people the reasons why they should prefer Conservative-only government." - Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

Philip Dunne: The Lib Dem plans for downgrading Trident would delight Britain's enemies

"I see three immediate doctrinal problems with a part-time deterrent. The first: any aggressors would know our boats are unarmed. The second: a submarine at a quay side being “re-rolled” is a target not a deterrent. And third: what is the trigger point for this “surge”? These moves could actually escalate a crisis and remove the ultimate reason for having a deterrent in the first place: the ability to strike back. A coherent deterrent? I don’t think so." - Daily Telegraph

Education 1) A quarter of pupils fail to pass English tests

Gove"A quarter of children leaving primary school failed to reach the expected level in new tests for spelling and grammar introduced by Michael Gove. Boys aged 11 struggled more with the test, with almost a third unable to spell a series of two and three-syllable words and to add capital letters, commas or full stops to short sentences. One in five girls, who have long outperformed boys, especially in English, did not reach the threshold." - The Times (£)

Education 2) £15m bill for teachers who actually work for trade unions

"Hundreds of teachers are spending all or part of their time on union work, costing taxpayers £15million a year. Some union representatives are paid teaching salaries of up to £70,000 yet many have not taken a class for years, a survey has shown.  Their salaries are paid by local authorities and schools receive no extra money to cover for the union reps – meaning  they have less to spend on educating pupils." - Daily Mail

Smoking to be banned in prisons

"Smoking is to be banned in all prisons in England and Wales in a move that runs the risk of rioting by inmates, The Times has learnt. A pilot project barring lighting up in all parts of jails, including exercise yards, will begin in spring next year. It will then be introduced in other prisons during a 12-month period." - The Times (£)

News in brief


> Please use the thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been given their own blog. Read our comments policy here.

19 Sep 2013 08:29:18

Newslinks for Thursday 19th September 2013

6pm From Sue Cameron in the Daily Telegraph: Sorry, but police and political cover-ups won’t cut it any more.

5pm From Michael Crick in the Spectator: Why are the police still investigating Plebgate a year on?

4pm From Matthew Parris in the Times (£): I wish I had trusted my instincts on Plebgate

3pm From Charles Moore in the Daily Telegraph: Mitchell - a lie gone round the world before truth had its cycle clips on

2.30pm Local Government: Spare room subsidy cut is saving far more than thought as many come off benefits altogether

2pm From Robert Harris in the Sunday Times (£): They lynched Mitchell, they can lynch you

1pm From Simon Heffer in the Daily Mail: When the police lie about politicians, we should all be very worried

Noon From John Kampfner in the Guardian: I know from experience that the police can make things up

11am From Matthew D'Ancona in the Sunday Telegraph: The sacrifice of Mitchell sets a dangerous precedent

10am From Ken MacDonald in the Times (£): Mitchell’s long wait for justice is an outrage

9.30am ToryDiary: Yes, it's Mitchell Is Innocent Day on ConservativeHome

Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 09.32.21
ToryDiary: Andrew Mitchell should be returned to the Cabinet at the first opportunity

MPsETC: Today's Tory MPs awayday will be told that the 40/40 strategy is now a 50/40 strategy

Culture Column: Paul Goodman on Gordon Confesses - or: an hour in Gordon Brown's hell

Chris Grayling MP on Comment: Here are the reforms I'm announcing today to support and manage offenders

Cllr David Millican on Local Government: Transparency and probity lacking with Ealing’s Labour politicians

The Deep End: Time for a grown-up debate on early years education

Fleet Street follows up ConservativeHome's exclusive revealing the Party's membership of 134,000

Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 08.51.39"Conservative Party membership has almost halved since David Cameron became party leader in 2005....Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps wants to send MPs a league table of their own constituency's standing - in order to "concentrate a few minds". The Conservative figures were released after a campaign by the influential website ConservativeHome, which is run by former Conservative MP Paul Goodman. Writing on the website, Mr Goodman called the release of the figures "a victory for ConservativeHome", adding: "But, more importantly, it is a victory for good sense - and the party's interests." - BBC

  • "In a release to the ConservativeHome website the party said there are now 134,000 constituency members, down from the 253,600 who voted in the 2005 leadership contest. They suggested that the total membership figure was 174,000 after friends, donors who are not members, and young Tories were taken into account. However the true membership figure for 2005 is also likely to have
    been higher as it can be assumed that not all eligible members voted in the leadership election." - The Independent
  • Shapps"Mr Shapps said: ‘Today, in a world where you can choose between the traditional town hall meeting or a debate on Facebook, individuals are opting to create their own patterns of association, membership and sense of belonging. If parties are to build from the ground up, we must do the same." - Daily Mail
  • "Senior constituency figures have warned of an exodus of members to the benefit of the eurosceptic UK Independence party, which has been performing strongly in elections and opinion polls. Former MP Paul Goodman, who spearheaded the ConservativeHome campaign for the figure to be published, suggested it was part of a move towards more openness on the issue." - The Guardian
  • "The party had earlier this year refused to release the figures amid claims that the number may have fallen below 100,000. Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP, has previously warned that the party is “haemorrhaging" members because of David Cameron and his “remote clique” at Westminster." - Daily Telegraph

YougovConservatives neck-and-neck with Labour on YouGov first time for 18 months

"Latest YouGov / The Sun results 18th September - Con 36%, Lab 36%, LD 10%, UKIP 12%; APP -21 Today's YouGov/Sun results (September 17-18) show the Conservatives and Labour neck-and-neck for the first time since February 29-March 1 2012, 18 months ago." - YouGov

  • "Ed Miliband faced a fresh leadership crisis last night after The Sun’s exclusive poll showed young voters prefer David Cameron’s Tories. The PM has opened up a two point lead on his embattled rival among 18-to 24-year-olds — the so-called “Generation Y”. The bruising news comes as Ed prepares for the start of Labour’s autumn conference on Sunday. In contrast, David Cameron has plenty to celebrate. As well as closing the overall gap on Labour, Tory support is at its strongest since April 2012." - The Sun
  • Ed Miliband is doing very well - Peter Oborne Daily Telegraph
>Today: MPsETC: Today's Tory MPs awayday will be told that the 40/40 strategy is now a 50/40 strategy

MayOperation Alice: Jack Straw challenge Theresa May over the delays

"Former Home Secretary Jack Straw has urged Theresa May to seek answers over the police inquiry into the so-called plebgate incident in Downing Street. Scotland Yard has been investigating the row a year ago between police and then Tory Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell. In a letter to the the current home secretary, Labour MP Mr Straw says she should find out why the probe had "inordinate and unjustified delays"." - BBC

>Today: ToryDiary: Andrew Mitchell should be returned to the Cabinet at the first opportunity

ClegglogoClegg boasts of blocking popular Conservative policies...

"Nick Clegg delivered what was branded an ‘electoral suicide note’ last night as he boasted of blocking a string of 16 Tory policies. The Deputy Prime Minister pointed out how he had prevented the Government from cutting inheritance tax, scrapping the Human Rights Act and reining in green energy. In an attempt to echo Margaret Thatcher’s famous declaration, Mr Clegg cried ‘no, no, no’ as he cast the Liberal Democrats as a perpetual brake on Conservative excess." - Daily Mail

  • "Nick Clegg has ushered in a new era of brittle coalition politics as he denounced Tory "dogma" and reeled off a list of controversial policies blocked by the Liberal Democrats in what he characterised as an "endless battle" with their partners in government." - The Guardian
  • "We got a lot of talk about what he doesn’t like — which mainly seemed to be his Conservative coalition colleagues. And there were his boasts — that he’d blocked reform of the European Convention on Human Rights and kept the green levies. They may have got a big cheer from Lib Dems in the hall but in the real world they are disastrous policies." - The Sun Says
>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Nick Clegg turns up the volume

Guardianwomen...while his Party worries about its problem with women...

"The Liberal Democrats may have to consider introducing positive discrimination to boost their number of female MPs after the next election and combat a "deeply frustrating" lack of women in parliament, one of the party's cabinet ministers has said. The party has traditionally rejected all-women shortlists as out of keeping with its values, but Ed Davey told the Guardian that the Lib Dem record on female MPs was "not good enough" and alternatives may have to be considered after 2015." - The Guardian

...and military chiefs warn against "reckless" Lib Dem defence policies

"Plans by the Liberal Democrats to halve the Trident nuclear deterrent are a “reckless gamble with the UK’s national security”, a cross-party group of Britain’s most senior military and defence figures warn today. The coalition party’s “hare-brained” proposal to deploy two submarines with unarmed missiles — rather than replace a fleet of four fully-weaponised vessels — could even result in a pre-emptive strike against the country, they claim." - The Times (£)

HuntHunt to put failing hospitals under new management

"Managers from top-performing NHS hospitals are to be sent into failing ones in England to try to improve them. Bonus payments will be available to trusts if their managers and senior doctors raise standards at failing sites, in a move that has echoes of the "super-heads" scheme for schools. Eleven trusts were put in special measures in July following a review into trusts with high death rates." - BBC

Hospitals ban staff from wearing face veils

"At least 17 NHS hospitals have banned front line staff from wearing the veil, The Telegraph has learned, as ministers called for new guidelines to ensure all patients can have “face to face” contact with those who care for them...Dr Dan Poulter, the health minister, has ordered a review of all current health care guidance on the issue and asked clinical regulators to draw up clear rules to ban the wearing of the face veil by health care staff while they are in contact with patients." - Daily Telegraph

BorisSome Conservatives criticise £600 million free school meals plan...

"Plans to hand free school meals to the under-8s across the country were mired in chaos last night after senior Tories denounced the proposal to pay for the lunches of affluent children...London Mayor Boris Johnson rejected the plans, saying that better-off families should pay for their children’s food. 'I am in no means against getting parents who can pay for to pay for it,’ said Mr Johnson. ‘I have no problem with the concept of dinner money.’ " - Daily Mail

  • "Jonathan Simons, chair of Governors and co-founder of the Greenwich Free School, spoke for many educational professionals when he urged head teachers to be allowed to spend any spare cash. "A head might decide that the money would be better spent on free breakfast clubs, ironically not an option under this year plan." Mr Simons, who is also head of education at the Policy Exchange think tank, added: "Allocating more funds to the pupil premium would hand some of the poorest children in the UK and additional £500 each." - The Independent

...but others say "take ownership"

"Henry Dimbleby, who proposed the idea...said that Michael Gove, the Tory Education Secretary, is “passionate” about the plan....Some Conservatives have already sought to take ownership of the policy. Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow, who has campaigned on living standards, urged his party to “own this policy and shout about it from the rooftops”." - The Times (£)

>Today:The Deep End: Time for a grown-up debate on early years education

OsborneThere's no housing boom Osborne tells IOD...

"George Osborne on Wednesday insisted he was not inflating a housing bubble, despite official data showing property prices in England have broken through their pre-crisis peak. The chancellor told an audience at the Institute of Directors annual conference that there was no housing boom under way even though the ONS data showed the average price of a UK house has now surpassed its peak of five years ago with the average price reaching £245,000. Osborne said he was "alert to the risks but let's not pretend there's a housing boom"." - The Guardian

...while Boris tells them the economy has had its "Costa Cordia moment"

"Speaking at the Institute of Directors annual convention on Wednesday, the mayor of London said: "It's fair to say that the UK economy has finally reached its Costa Concordia moment. "Because after two-and-half years of parbuckling the labour is complete and the rotation has been accomplished and though the damage is still, I think, manifest and the caissons have not yet been entirely drained of debt, I think you would agree that the keel is off the rocks and at last we can feel motion, relief." - The Guardian

PCCs setting new police performance targets

"Police forces in England and Wales have been set 178 performance targets by police and crime commissioners, despite a Home Office vow to cut red tape. Last week Home Secretary Theresa May told senior police officers they "have only one target, to reduce crime". BBC analysis shows 18 of the 41 PCCs have set targets or performance measures and others broader objectives." - BBC

UKIP attacks health tourism

"Migrants from outside the EU would have to have medical insurance to enter the UK under plans by the UK Independence Party to curb "health tourism". UKIP says the current system in which hospitals recover costs from foreigners not entitled to free care is not working, with abuses being ignored." - BBC

  • "Council house applicants whose parents or grandparents were born locally should be given priority on waiting lists, according to a new policy from the UK Independence Party." - The Guardian

IndependentbedSpare room subsidy cut increasing rent arrears

"More than 50,000 people affected by the so-called bedroom tax have fallen behind on rent and face eviction, figures given to The Independent show. The statistics reveal the scale of debt created by the Government’s under-occupancy charge, as one council house tenant in three has been pushed into rent arrears since it was introduced in April." - The Independent

Tory councillor urges David Attenborough to kill himself

"Ealing councillor Phil Taylor, responding to an article by the broadcaster blaming too many people and not enough land for Africa’s food shortages, tweeted: “I do wish this silly old fart would take a one-way trip to Switzerland. Practice what you preach.” - The Independent

>Today: Local Government: Cllr David Millican Transparency and probity lacking with Ealing’s Labour politicians

WoodwardEd Miliband's millionaires outed

"The probe was carried out by this quarter’s edition of Spectator Life magazine ED’S MILLIONAIRES: Harriet Harman, Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper, Liam Byrne, Hilary Benn, Emily Thornberry, Chuka Umunna, Jon Cruddas, Tom Baldwin, Sir Charles Allen, Neil Kinnock, Glenys Kinnock, Roland Rudd, Margaret Hodge, Shaun Woodward, Michael Meacher, John Mills, Assem Allam, Andrew Rosenfeld and Tristram Hunt." - The Sun

Jacob Rees-Mogg attacks Plastic Bag Tax

"The endless supply of free plastic bags is a small part of this convenience: customers do not need to remember their shopping bags and have an easy way of transporting goods both from the shop to their car and then into their homes. That an administration wants to make something that is easy more difficult is entirely the wrong approach to governing. The aim ought always to be to help people to lead their lives as free from state intervention as possible. Nothing should be stopped that is essentially trivial for the minor convenience of the ruling class or because of a desire of politicians to burnish their caring credentials." - Jacob Rees-Mogg Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Labour veteran demands EU referendum be rejected - Guardian
  • Salmond refuses to debate Darling - The Sun
  • Privatised Royal Mail "will bring seven day service" - Guardian
  • Tony Blair's daughter held at gunpoint - The Times (£)


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