Newslinks for Friday 29th July 2011
6.45pm Local government: Boris's magnificent Olympics speech in Trafalgar Square
4.15pm Local government: A year on the Boris Bikes triumph as the BBC sneers
11am Steve Baker MP on Comment: Egypt teeters, exposing lessons for the UK
Tim Montgomerie on Comment: Radio 4's Today programme, BBC1's evening news bulletins and Question Time voted most impactful media platforms
Also on Local government: Two year tenancy limit will be exception for new social tenants
The Countryside Alliance's Sarah Lee on ThinkTankCentral: HS2 is too expensive, but the human and environmental cost is even more devastating
Unions warn that strikes are 'inevitable' over extra pension payments - Telegraph
Treasury figures show £800m real terms drop in NHS spending, breaking Cameron pledge
"The Institute for Fiscal Studies gave a cautious endorsement of the Labour interpretation of the figures. It said that "NHS (Health)" spending had increased in cash terms but had fallen, or at the very least been frozen, in real terms." - Guardian
While The Telegraph reports desperate attempts to save money: 'NHS managers are deliberately delaying operations as they wait for patients either to die or go private in order to save money'
Cameron's Big Society bank vision has become a reality
"The bank, now relaunched as Big Society Capital, will receive £600 million in equity capital in the coming months - £400 million from dormant bank accounts and £200 million from the big four UK high street banks. The money will go to socially orientated financial organisations who will in turn give it to charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups." - Sky
"Sir Ronald Cohen, one of the pioneers of venture capital in Britain and interim chairman of Big Society Capital, rightly claims that the [social investment] sector is on the cusp of a revolution. Social impact bonds, which pay out dividends to investors according to the meeting of social targets, are just one of the new ideas being tried out by a new wave of social enterprises, often making use of the skills of former City professionals." -Times leader (£)
Controversial plans to end "council houses for life" in England look set to be watered down
"Under laws passing through Parliament, social tenants could face eviction after just two years in their home. But Housing Minister Grant Shapps has instructed regulators to ensure that the minimum period is five years in all but the most extreme circumstances." - BBC
Philip Hammond: Britain’s economic geography will be transformed when high-speed rail is rolled out
"Today, the Government’s consultation on HS2 comes to an end, after one of the largest and most wide-ranging public engagement exercises undertaken in this country. The rail network that we are proposing from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds would slash journey times and improve connectivity in a way unmatched since the building of motorways in the 1960s and 1970s." - Philip Hammond in The Telegraph
John Randall, a Tory Deputy Chief Whip, and Nick Hurd, a Cabinet Office minister, becomes latest frontbench Tories to oppose HS2 - Times (£)
An extra 300million plastic bags were handed out by supermarkets last year, despite promises by the Coalition to slash numbers - Daily Mail
"Supermarkets were threatened with a 5p tax on plastic bags yesterday - for failing to cut back on their use. Shock figures showed 6.8 billion plastic bags were handed out last year - 333million up on 2009." - The Sun
In the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts gives three cheers for Steve Hilton: "We need more Steve Hilton-style thinking in Downing Street. Anyone who comes up with suggestions for shrinking the state is worth listening to – even if he wears dodgy T-shirts."
John Kampfner in The Independent questions Hilton's deregulatory instincts: "The young generation may be less wedded to a Whitehall-knows-best approach; suspicion of private enterprise may have been overcome in the 1980s. But the financial crash has not turned us into manic deregulators. Rather the reverse. It has revived a traditional notion of fairness, one that politicians – and their advisers – play with at their peril."
> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Five things you should know about Steve Hilton
Allister Heath: Don't believe Cable's spin on red tape
"The claim that 130 out of the 257 rules covering retail firms will go, and 30 be simplified, is meaningless. All the really big stuff (Sunday opening limits, labour market rules and so on) aren’t included, that list in reality is much longer – and there’s lots more red tape coming that it is hugely more important and costly than all of the semi-trivial rules that are being abolished put together." - Allister Heath in City AM
- Vince Cable yesterday dismissed calls for a tax cut to kick-start the stalled economy as "voodoo economics" - Scotsman
- Lacklustre growth has provoked renewed attacks on the government’s plans to slash the deficit - Economist
Majority objected to badger cull before policy was approved - Independent
If immigrants settling in Britain do not share its language, how can they fully participate in its democracy? - Telegraph leader
Stewart Jackson MP writing in the Peterborough Evening Telegraph (no link): "The latest high profile case involves a woman arguing that her husband has a “right” to come to the UK from India, even though he speaks no English – and refuses to learn – in contravention of tougher government policy, because of an alleged infringement of his human rights! I may be old fashioned, but British citizenship is a privilege and not a right and in order to be a good citizen, the ability to speak English should be compulsory, not least to aid the individual in integrating into his or her new community and country. If it’s good enough for Canada and Australia, why not the UK? The Government must scrap this Act and bring in a British Bill of Rights, not least in order to restore the faith and trust that most British taxpayers could and should have in our legal system. The patience of the British people is wearing rather thin."
The conflict with Gaddafi will drag on unless Britain firms up its support for the insurgents - Sir Malcolm Rifkind in The Telegraph
UK 'helps dictator buy 16 Paris homes': African leader accused of stealing millions in aid - Daily Mail
After Murdoch, Cameron has great great goals, says Peter Oborne
"It is already clear at this stage of the Cameron Government that three great challenges lie ahead. One is confronting the deficit; one is reforming the welfare state; and one is the restoration, under Michael Gove, of our profoundly damaged education system. If he achieves one of these targets, he will have led a decent government by recent standards. If he achieves two, he can be proud of having led one of the best governments of recent times. If three, Cameron will indeed have claims to have been a truly great prime minister." - Peter Oborne in The Telegraph
The government's 'sustainable' new planning policy will sacrifice our countryside to market forces - Simon Jenkins in The Guardian
Election campaign left Conservatives £6m in debt - Independent
> Yesterday's ToryDiary: The Conservatives spent £49,205,000 during 2010
Labour MP Tom Watson is to ask a Commons committee to recall three key News International figures to give more evidence about phone hacking - BBC
A drugs revolution must start with cannabis
"The bankruptcy of prohibition is becoming ever more apparent as it fails to keep up with the plethora of “legal highs”. As one is banned, ten more emerge. There will be no need to go to dark alleys in Brixton soon: the internet will offer people everything they want. Some form of legalisation — in which users are no longer criminalised but the market is regulated — is inevitable for some substances. So we might as well start thinking about how to do it now." - Anushka Asthana in The Times (£)
And finally... Civil servants make tens of thousands of web visits to 'sexymp', sports and betting sites on taxpayers' time and money
"Tory MP Nick de Bois, a member of the Commons Public Administration Committee, expressed surprise that civil servants had ‘so much time on their hands’ to browse ‘rather bizarre sites’. He added: ‘There is a serious point. We are in the middle of tough times and this does not hint at the sort of culture that drives the best value or best effort on behalf of taxpayers.’" - Daily Mail
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