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25 Feb 2012 09:00:03

Newslinks for Saturday 25th February 2012

3pm Sir Andrew Green on Comment: Net migration will fall, despite this week's figures. But will it fall enough for the Government to hit its target?

1.15pm MPsETC: In the wake of Eric Joyce's arrest, is it time for a new understanding of MPs?

12.45pm WATCH: George Eustice MP on workfare opponents: "This is a small number of people orchestrating a campaign... a handful of communists"

ToryDiary: Why the Government is winning the gay marriage debate

Field Mark Feb 2012Mark Field MP on Comment: The new economic thinking is coming from the East

John Moss on Local Government: Some difficult facts about implementing a Mansion Tax

Also on Local Government:

WATCH: William Hague: "We have to intensify the pressure" on the Syrian regime

Osborne insists there will be no cuts to fuel duty

Osborne Large"George Osborne has reportedly ruled out any cuts to fuel duty in next month's budget... Diesel prices hit 143.5p this week and a planned rise in fuel duty in the forthcoming budget has led to calls for protests at Westminster next month. The Chancellor... is set to raise fuel duty by 3p in August, after having deferred the rise from January. But his aides have said that the rise must go ahead as planned, in order to fund business tax cuts demanded by many in the Conservative Party." - Independent | FT (£)

Free Enterprise Group of Tory MPs demand a Budget slashing taxes and red tape to kickstart growth

"The Free Enterprise Group of 36 MPs, most of whom were elected in 2010, is calling for George Osborne to pledge now to cut the 50p top rate of income tax before the General Election. ... Mr Osborne has signalled his tacit support for the exercise by despatching his Parliamentary aide Sajid Javid to take notes at the meeting. The MPs also want to slash red tape that is deterring businesses from hiring. They are calling for firms with fewer than ten employees to be excluded from unfair dismissal laws to encourage them to create jobs." - Daily Mail

  • Osborne's Budget is shaping up to be a battle for the soul of the Coalition - Andrew Grice

> From yesterday - Bruce Anderson: Which of these two budget speeches is Osborne more likely to deliver?

Chris Grayling accuses left-wing activists of hijacking his email account

Grayling-Chris-On-Politics-"Employment minister Chris Grayling said activists used his official Commons account to send complaints to Tesco for giving young people a chance. He said: "I only discovered it when I got an automated reply from Tesco thanking me for my comments." He revealed the scam as he defended giving unemployed youngsters four weeks' unpaid work experience. The hard-left Socialist Workers Party has spearheaded a campaign to target firms taking part, including Tesco." - The Sun

  • Companies get cold feet over ‘slave labour’ work experience - The Times (£)
  • Far-Left groups behind drive to sabotage work experience for young - Daily Telegraph
  • Now Cameron's ex-jobs tsar quits her own company - Independent
  • Burger King leaves work experience scheme for jobless - BBC
  • Jobseekers forced to clean private homes and offices for nothing - Guardian
  • A retreat on workfare would fail our young - Telegraph editorial

> Yesterday on MPsETC: John Hayes displays his passion for apprenticeships in the House Magazine

MPs consider plan to give anti-abortion groups role in pregnancy counselling

"A cross-party group of MPs, set up by the public health minister Anne Milton after last September's vote against proposals by the Tory MP Nadine Dorries, is looking at plans that could give anti-abortion groups an official role. The MPs have been presented with three policy options... One option is to make no change while another resembles Dorries' original proposals, which would have prevented abortion providers such as Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) from providing counselling services." - Guardian

'Bloated' House of Lords will soon have 1,000 members, Mark Harper warns

Harper Mark House wide"Cabinet Office minister Mark Harper launched a provocative attack on the ‘absurd’ Upper House. Mr Harper – Nick Clegg’s deputy at the Cabinet Office – insisted that the Government intends to sweep away centuries of history by replacing it with an elected chamber. He warned fellow Conservatives, who are threatening to rebel against the plans, that the party committed to Lords reform in its election manifesto. He also revealed the Prime Minister is prepared to use the Parliament Act, which allows the Commons to overrule the Lords, to force changes into law even if the Lords refuses to agree." - Daily Mail

David Willetts defends appointment of Les Ebdon in Times interview

WILLETTS READY 4 CHANGE"Offa is, he insists, critical to improving social mobility by widening the type of people who go to the best universities. Mr Willetts not only defends Professor Ebdon but says he, together with Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, chose him. “We were presented with three candidates and Les was the candidate who came from the world of universities and understood it. He will be working within the framework of agreed policy.”" - Full interview at the Times (£)

  • "The courses on offer at his institution do not include traditional degree courses... Instead, there is a less-than-scholastic two-year course in carnival arts — teaching undergraduates how to design costumes and allowing them ‘to take part in Europe’s  largest one-day carnival: the Luton International Carnival’." - Much more in a Daily Mail profile of Ebdon
  • "This week’s worst example of the Lib Dem tail wagging the Tory dog has, however, been the appointment, at Vince Cable’s insistence, of Professor Les Ebdon as director of the Office of Fair Access — the so-called ‘tsar’ whose job is to help youngsters from poor backgrounds go to university." - Simon Heffer

Charles Moore: Free schools are breaking down the barrier to a decent education for all

"[Michael Gove] has built a coalition of advisers and friends who see how much he cares and so want to help him. They are, in that sense, unfashionably ideological. They have a project and – which helps morale – an enemy. They resemble the people, in the early 1980s, many of them Left-wing in origin, who were desperate to break the power of trade union leaders like Arthur Scargill so that ordinary members could regain their rights. They get the feeling that they are winning." - Charles Moore

> From yesterday - WATCH: Michael Gove - my own story as an adopted child

Lib Dem "Equality" Minister Lynne Featherstone: It's not for the Church to decide who can marry

"Lynne Featherstone directly challenges the role of the Church in the debate over homosexual weddings, saying it does not “own” marriage. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Miss Featherstone says the Government has a right to change the definition of marriage and pledges to challenge those who “want to leave tradition alone”." - Daily Telegraph

  • This is not gay rights versus religious beliefs - Lynne Featherstone for the Daily Telegraph

Lib Dem mischief: Tim Farron says NHS Bill should have been axed 'far earlier'

Farron Tim 2

"Tim Farron said it would be “stupid” to ignore the concerns of doctors and other professionals over the proposed changes to the NHS and called on the House of Lords to force the government to back down. ... Mr Farron said: “Lots of us are guilty for allowing it to get as far as it has done now. Basically this should have been dealt with far earlier in the cycle." - Daily Telegraph

  • Tory document warns of chaos if health reforms are dropped - Guardian
  • The Lib Dem carcass-to-be isn't ready to give up just yet - Jonathan Freedland

Eric Joyce's antics may call time on the cheap parliamentary pint - Marina Hyde

  • "A TORY MP caught up in the fracas in a Commons bar that saw Labour's Eric Joyce nicked said yesterday: "I sort of feel sorry for him."" - The Sun

SSE says independence referendum is creating economic "uncertainty"

Salmond-alex-politics-show"SSE, previously known as Scottish and Southern Energy, said it has “no alternative” but to take into account the “additional risk” of separation when deciding whether to press ahead with energy projects north of the Border. Although the company will not declare a moratorium on an estimated £3.5 billion of schemes that are already in the pipeline, the referendum makes it less likely they will get the go-ahead." - Daily Telegraph

> From yesterday - Mark Menzies MP on Comment: In defence of the Union - a cause for common concern

 Graeme Archer: The strange left-wing priorities of Britain's first Green council

Green20party"But imagine you’re Britain’s first Green council. What would you wish to be remembered for? Isn’t it just possible you’d want to make a positive environmental impact on your city? How, then, to explain a key proposal of its flagship budget, to raise the charges on city allotments by an astonishing two thirds? What were they thinking? “Let’s put up tax and make it harder for people without gardens to grow their own vegetables.” Perhaps allotment holders aren’t, like, radical enough." - Graeme Archer for the Daily Telegraph

  • "Greens leader Caroline Lucas has attacked the biggest UK parties and urged members to "have confidence" in the party's future." - BBC

> Yesterday on Local Government: Council Tax freeze agreed for Brighton & Hove

Downing Street endorses tree scrapping at Portcullis House - Independent

Extradited businessman Christopher Tappin says Qatada is better protected by Britain - Daily Telegraph

The World War Three files: For 30 years the papers have been kept secret. Now, the extraordinary story of how Whitehall drew up terrifyingly detailed plans for nuclear armageddon can finally be revealed - Daily Mail


 > 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.

24 Feb 2012 08:29:56

Newslinks for Friday 24th February 2012

6pm Local Government: Stirling and Three Rivers latest Council Tax cutters

5pm No. 10 pressing on with NHS reforms and William Hague's recognition of Syrian opposition lead our teatime newslinks

4.45pm Health Minister Simon Burns MP on Comment: The NHS is improving all the time. But to continue to improve, we must press on with reform.

2pm Local Government: Council Tax freeze agreed for Brighton & Hove

1.15pm Brandon Lewis MP on Comment: It's time to improve our railway stations

Noon ConHomeUSA: Polling shows a Romney-Santorum toss-up in Michigan

11am Local Government: Watch Boris's Age UK hustings speech

Screen shot 2012-02-24 at 10.17.2110am WATCH: Michael Gove - my own story as an adopted child

Q: "Do you ever want to trace your birth mother?"

A: "If I were to try to trace my birth mother I would in a way be suggesting to my mum that somehow the love that she's given me isn't complete."

ToryDiary: The Times reports Number 10 "negotiating" new community punishments with Clarke.  Could Cameron break up the Ministry of Justice?

Columnist Bruce Anderson: Which of these two budget speeches is Osborne more likely to deliver?

Mark Menzies MP on Comment: In defence of the Union - a cause for common concern

Local Government:

HAYES JOHNMPsETC: John Hayes displays his passion for apprenticeships in the House Magazine - while referring to St Augustine, Aquinas, Hegel, Burke...

WATCH: Ten years of Policy Exchange

Cameron's back to work tsar quits...

"Emma Harrison dramatically quit yesterday following a string of fraud allegations against her firm. She said she was stepping down immediately as the Prime Minister’s ‘family champion’ to avoid becoming a ‘distraction’. Her company A4e, which earns hundreds of millions of pounds from Government contracts, is at the centre of two police investigations." - Daily Mail

Expelled former UKIP MEP Nikki Sinclair arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud the European Parliament - Daily Mail

More Prime Minister news and comment:

  • Five Cameron summits in a fortnight, three this week, one yesterday (on Somalia) - Daily Mail
  • "David Cameron signalled his support for attacks [on Somalia] as part of an international effort against the fanatics. But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Western air strikes would "not be a good idea"." - The Sun
  • Business chiefs welcome Cameron speech - Financial Times (£)
  • "David Cameron yesterday gave a typically bold defence of profit-makers, but he missed an opportunity. He could have – should have – put the A4e scandal into perspective, and explained that this is part of the process. There will be scandals along the way, but that is the price of reform. If a thousand flowers bloom, a few weeds are certain to crop up as well.  Fraud is a grim fact of human life…The main difference is that the private sector is significantly better at uncovering it." - Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: WATCH - Cameron gives upbeat assessment of Somalia's prospects at London conference

...And Downing Street officials step in.  Prime Minister pressing longer curfews and more tag plans on Ministry of Justice.

Cameron-and-police-officer"David Cameron is planning tough new community punishments under which criminals face draconian restrictions on their movements. Offenders would be sentenced to “virtual prison”, curfewed for 16 hours a day with the threat of being taken back to court if they break the terms of their house arrest. Judges and magistrates would also be given powers to confiscate criminals’ passports and driving licences as part of the sentence. No 10 officials set out the plans during negotiations with Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, over toughening up non-custodial sentences." - The Times (£)

More law and order news and comment:

  • All three heads of the main agencies charged with tackling white-collar crime will have left their posts by the end of the year - Financial Times (£)
  • Philip Davies MP discovers that Freed mentally-ill patients have committed 200 crimes - The Sun
  • May locks them up, Clarke lets them out (but she also lets them in) - The Times (£)

Net migration into Britain rose to 250,000 last year

Screen shot 2012-02-24 at 08.00.46
"Britain's population soared by a quarter of a million in just 12 months thanks to immigration, official figures revealed yesterday... The figure has shot up from 235,000 for the year to June 2010, just after the Coalition came to power. The data, which shatters the Government’s promise to slash immigration, comes as the UK’s population races towards 70 million. Fewer people are emigrating while increasing numbers continue to settle here." - Daily Express

  • "The PM must do whatever it takes to bring this figure down, tightening border controls and cracking down on non-EU visas." - Sun Editorial

Prime Minister's father-in-law plan to force through Lords reform

"Peers have threatened to repeatedly send reform legislation back to the Commons, and even block other legislation in protest. But Mr Cameron is considering preventing that by including a reform Bill in the Queen’s Speech, expected in May, passing it through the Commons and then suspending it when the Lords rejects it for the first time. The Government would announce at that stage that it intends to use the Parliament Act to force the proposals into law at the start of the next session in 2013." - Daily Mail

“There are too many ****ing Tories in here" - Joyce's words before he allegedly head-butted Stuart Andrew and punched a Labour Whip.  He faces three assault charges.

Screen shot 2012-02-24 at 04.29.14“There was blood spilled. It was like the Wild West in there,” one MP said. Mr Joyce was suspended from the Labour Party ­yesterday pending a police investigation into assault allegations. The 51-year-old backbencher, a former Scottish judo champion, was alleged to have head-butted and punched Tory MP Stuart Andrew in Parliament’s Strangers’ Bar, which is subsidised by taxpayers…Witnesses said five Commons security officials struggled to restrain him and a glass door was smashed as they hauled him away." - Daily Express

Commons booze n' violence Fleet Street special:

  • Labour MP fisticuffs history: Paul Farrelly brawled with newspaper seller. Bob Marshall-Andrews and Jim Dowd had to be pulled apart - Daily Express
  • "In the old days, violence among MPs was almost as common as it is on Friday night in a British city centre. I recall an MP, still in the Commons, who decked a Scottish reporter after he didn't like something the chap had written. Tom Swain, a former miner and fairground boxer, once slugged Norman Tebbit – at the back of the chamber, in full view of everyone. A press reception held by Eric Pickles ended in a punch-up." - Simon Hoggart, The Guardian
  • The arrest of the MP Eric Joyce has shone a light on Parliament’s drinking culture - The Times Editorial (£)
  • Canning missed rival Castlereagh in Putney Heath pistol duel and was wounded in the thigh by the latter's third shot - Financial Times (£)

Hague joins local rally against NHS cuts

"William Hague is to join a mass protest against NHS cuts — despite publicly backing Andrew Lansley's health reforms.  The demo is in the Foreign Secretary's North Yorkshire constituency on May 5. Mr Hague opposes plans to cut kids' care and maternity services at Friarage Hospital in Northallerton. The Richmond MP will add-ress up to 5,000 protesters at a rally and march in the town." - The Sun

  • Lib Dem peers table package of amendments to health bill - The Guardian

I'll make it illegal to block mixed-race adoption, says Gove

Michael Gove pensive 2010"The law is to be changed to stop councils blocking mixed-race adoptions as part of radical reforms to ensure children are removed from unfit parents more quickly. Education Secretary Michael Gove said there was ‘horrifying’ evidence that youngsters were being left in dangerous homes for too long.  Mr Gove, who was adopted at four months, said he wants many more children to be adopted before the age of one." - Daily Mail

Chancellor "moves on wealthy who dodge paying homes taxes"

"George Osborne is set to disappoint Liberal Democrats who are pressing him to deliver a massive windfall in the Budget from tighter stamp duty rules. The Chancellor is poised to make it harder to move properties offshore and so dodge tax by transferring ownership into companies — but the sums recouped will fall far short of the near £1 billion a year that Nick Clegg’s team is looking for to help to fund tax cuts for low earners." - The Times (£)


Police called in over sex selection abortions. Nadine Dorries calls on NHS watchdog to act  - Daily Telegraph

The Commons agrees 5.2% increase in benefits as millions prepare for wage freezes - Daily Mail

Former poet laureate warns that two thirds of rural England will be at the "mercy of developers" - Daily Telegraph

Blue Labour guru Maurice Glasman drops plan to write Sun on Sunday column on the advice of Ed Miliband - The Guardian

And finally…Samantha Cameron pounds the streets in black tracksuit bottoms, a black t-shirt and green hooded top - Daily Mail


> 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.

23 Feb 2012 08:28:58

Newslinks for Thursday 23rd February 2012

5.45pm Local government: D-Day for Brighton & Hove Council Tax

5pm David Cameron's Somalia conference and William Hague's Syrian intervention comments lead our teatime newslinks

3.30pm Harriett Baldwin MP on Comment: We're getting closer to the day when every Ethiopian child has clean water and a nutritious meal

2pm Jeremy Brier on Comment: Economic measures will not stop the Syrian regime. Only a military response will work.

Screen Shot 2012-02-23 at 11.47.5911.45am WATCH: Cameron gives upbeat assessment of Somalia's prospects at London conference

11.45am ConHomeUSA: Race tilts back towards Romney after Santorum gets poor reviews for debate performance

10.45am Local government: In Peterborough two more Tory councillors quit as Council Tax rise approved

10am On ToryDiary Paul Goodman warns of a "backlash from natural Conservative voters" if spending isn't cut further - and in consequence there's too much budget tax-rise pain to bear

ToryDiary: What are your views on House of Lords reform?

In the eighth part of our Building A Conservative Majority series Tim Montgomerie calls for George Osborne to announce Shock-and-awe" tax cuts in next month's Budget, financed by a triple source of January's surplus, faster spending cuts... and wealth taxes

Columnist Andrew Lilico: The British government should not participate in legal torture

FLIGHT Howard 2Lord Flight on Comment: Deficit financing might get a lot harder so Osborne should cut faster now

Local government: Claims that Boris Johnson has cut the number of police officers are untrue. They're up by 1,000...

Also on Local government, Cllr Susan Hall, the Leader of the Conservative opposition on Harrow Council, describes her council's failure to produce an intelligible pay policy

Conservatives may agree to new taxes on expensive properties if Lib Dems agree to simpler employment laws - Daily Mail

The Times (£), however, reports that "Lib Dem ministers believe that they have killed off an attempt to allow companies to dismiss employees without explanation."

  • "Union leaders condemned Liam Fox, former Conservative defence secretary, and his allies as “zombie adherents to unrepentant Thatcherism’’ after the MP warned in Wednesday’s Financial Times that it was “too difficult to hire and fire” workers." - FT (£)

Tim Montgomerie: Osborne should announce "shock-and-awe" tax cuts in Budget

Montgomerie Tim on This Week"The Chancellor must deliver significant tax cuts both for industry and families facing an equally significant squeeze on living standards. The Lib Dems are urging him to give tax relief to the lower paid by increasing taxes on the wealthy. The Tory Right, led by Liam Fox, is calling for tax cuts to be financed by deeper and faster cuts in public spending. My advice to the Chancellor is to embrace both, so that he can afford a shock- and-awe reduction in the tax burden — without deviating from his central mission of cutting the deficit." - Tim Montgomerie in The Times (£)

"Osborne is committed to the Clegg/Laws tax policy. It is in the Coalition agreement. More cautiously, he has advanced some of the same case as Fox. I would not be surprised if, in the Budget, both sides get quite a lot of what they want." - Steve Richards in The Independent

"If there are better ways of allocating taxes and spending to get more growth for the same amount of deficit reduction, both the politics and practicalities behove [Osborne] to try" - FT leader (£)

  • Tory Right wants tax cuts - Express
  • In The Telegraph, Iain Martin says Tory leadership only responds to pressure: "The Treasury has begun making noises about so-called supply-side reforms that might make hiring new workers easier for firms. But ministers and MPs on the Tory Right believe that unless Mr Osborne is cajoled, he will opt for footling measures that would have little impact. During the rebellions on Europe, the Right discovered that to have a real impact on the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, it must apply public pressure. Force, several ministers have said to me, is the only language that the leadership understands. Liam Fox has this week intensified that pressure – expect to see it grow further as the Tories increasingly fall out of love with life in a coalition."

David Cameron condemns rhetoric of anti-business snobbery

Cameron Libya"David Cameron will signal his determination to produce a pro-growth budget by saying he is sick of the dangerous anti-business snobbery creeping into national debate, promising his focus is economic expansion and reducing joblessness among young people. In a speech to the Business in the Community charity, attended by the Prince of Wales, Cameron will mount a fierce defence of business." - Guardian

  • Cameron's speech will highlight some of the work that big business does to help society - Reuters
  • Property developers gave £500,000 to Tories over past six months - Telegraph

RBS will announce a pay freeze for up to 27,000 staff this morning, including all of its investment bankers and thousands of other executives, in a move designed to signal to the public and the government that it is embracing austerity - CityAM

David Cameron letting Government get too close to big business, says David Davis - Telegraph | Scotsman

Davis 470

"The former shadow Home Secretary David Davis has accused David Cameron of "shamelessly courting" the media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Mr Davis, the Conservative MP for Haltemprice and Howden, urged the Leveson Inquiry into press standards to look "as much at the behaviour of political leaders as at the behaviour of newspaper editors"." - Independent

Andrew Lansley wins battle to keep NHS risk assessment under wraps - Guardian

  • George Osborne fears NHS will need big bailout - Independent
  • "Andrew Lansley, has asked officials to look into claims that some doctors are granting women illegal abortions based solely on the sex of their unborn baby" - Guardian
  • The Telegraph is the source of the abortions story: "Doctors at British clinics have been secretly filmed agreeing to terminate foetuses purely because they are either male or female. Clinicians admitted they were prepared to falsify paperwork to arrange the abortions even though it is illegal to conduct such “sex-selection” procedures."
  • One way to save is to give everyone a statement of their NHS costs - Dr Phillip Lee MP in The Times (£)
  • NHS nurses and care workers should sign up to a new code of conduct which guarantees that elderly patients are treated with dignity and respec - Telegraph

David Cameron wants independence referendum in September 2013 - Telegraph

"Pro-UK parties have always preferred 2013 because it is a year without another election and follows on from the 2012 Olympics. The SNP preferred a later referendum to follow on from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn in 2014." - Scotsman

HUNT JEREMY NWJeremy Hunt: Gay football stars should come out and set an example to rest of society - Daily Mail

  • "Promising gay footballers don't pursue a career in the game due to the homophobia that surrounds it, the Culture Secretary said yesterday" - Sun

> Yesterday's video: Homophobia can be tackled through football as "it reaches the parts that politicians can't, says Hunt

Cameron backs cycle campaign as calls grow for greater funding - Times (£)

The PM needs to knock heads together in Downing Street and to find a way of giving greater coherence to his administration - Sue Cameron in The Telegraph describes dysfunctionality in 10 Downing Street

David Cameron is set to ignite fresh anger at Britain’s soaring overseas handouts bill today by pledging millions of pounds to war-torn Somalia

  • "He will unveil an extra £33million in aid to the country, infamous as a breeding ground for terrorism. The gift means that UK payouts to Somalia will rise to nearly £220million in the next three years" - Express
  • Somalia's future to be discussed at London conference - BBC

The BBC as well as Rupert Murdoch cannot have too much media power - Lord Fowler in The Guardian

Ken Livingstone rejects Thames estuary airport - FT (£)

Jack Straw calls for European Parliament to be scrapped and replaced with an assembly made up of MPs from existing national parliaments - Express

Screen Shot 2012-02-23 at 07.12.39A man, understood to be Falkirk's Labour MP Eric Joyce, has been arrested on suspicion of assault after a disturbance at Parliament - BBC

"A Labour MP was arrested late last night for assault after allegedly headbutting a Tory rival in a House of Commons bar. Witnesses allege Eric Joyce, 51, launched an unprovoked attack on Stuart Andrew, 40. It is claimed Joyce, MP for Falkirk, had to be held back by several Labour colleagues. A source said: "Stuart was given a Glasgow kiss."" - The Sun

And finally... Channel Five wants Sally Bercow back on the small screen soon - 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.

22 Feb 2012 08:38:22

Newslinks for Wednesday 22nd February 2012

8pm WATCH: Lib Dem MP Andrew George: "Although we've made [the NHS reforms] less bad, I'm not persuaded the Bill should go through"

HALFON-robert6pm Robert Halfon MP on Comment: The Sri Lankan government must stop persecuting Tamils and acting like a rogue nation

5.30pm Local government: Chorley to cut Council Tax by 1%

5pm Reactions to PMQs and a review of the UK-US extradition treaty lead our teatime newslinks

3.45pm LISTEN: Jeremy Hunt: Homophobia can be tackled through football as "it reaches the parts that politicians can't reach"

2.30pm Andrew Laird on ThinkTankCentral: The Government should pilot schools run by companies on a social enterprise model

2.15pm WATCH: David Cameron: Labour's NHS stance makes them "rank opportunists, not fit to run Opposition, not fit for Government"

PMQs 22nd February1pm ToryDiary: PMQs: Ed Miliband scores victory against Cameron as he highlights the Government's NHS isolation

11.45am ConHomeUSA: Key debate takes place tonight as Romney retakes poll lead in Michigan

11.30am Local government: Wirral proposes 3% Council Tax cut

ToryDiary: We need to think less about raising tax and more about cutting spending. And never mind a High Pay Commission - let's have a Lower Spending Commission.

GladiatorsPart 7 of our Building a Conservative Majority series: This is our best opportunity in a generation to oust Liberal Democrat MPs. We must pour resources into LibCon marginals and select Conservative candidates quickly once the boundary review is finalised.

Columnist Jill Kirby: If the Liberal Democrats can't govern like team players, there's little reason to vote for them

Iain Stewart MP: The English think they're being robbed by the Scots. The Scots think they're being robbed by the English. But what's the truth?

Lord Ashcroft: How VC hero Johnson Beharry inspired and motivated London students

Local government: Brentwood to cut the Council Tax by 2.1%

VIDEO: Chris Grayling accuses anti-capitalist campaigners of trying to wreck Coalition's work programme

David Cameron writes for The Sun about racism in football

"Today in Downing Street I'm bringing together leading figures from right across the game to reaffirm our vigilance against racism — and all forms of discrimination. I am absolutely clear: we will not let recent events drag us back to the bad old days of the past." - The Sun

Liam Fox calls for faster, deeper spending cuts to fund tax cuts for business and jobs - BBC | FT (£)

Fox Liam Apr11 470

Yesterday evening's ToryDiary: "In his most important intervention since resigning as Defence Secretary Liam Fox has issued a coded warning that the Coalition's deficit reduction strategy could be at risk if action is not taken to accelerate economic growth... In recommending faster cuts Dr Fox puts himself in sync with the Tory grassroots."

  • The Sun agrees: "The economy needs a jump-start: A tax cut for families who can no longer afford to fill up the car. A tax break to encourage firms to hire."
  • Allister Heath in City AM: "Osborne ought to consider either slashing corporation tax to 20p as quickly as possible (from 26p today) or cutting employers’ national insurance contributions, reducing the cost of labour and increasing its demand."

David Laws also calls for George Osborne to bring forward tax cuts, but financed by new taxes on the top 5% - Writing in The Guardian the Lib Dem also describes Mr Osborne as "a very strong chancellor who gets the big decisions right".

The FT (£) says the Treasury is looking again at a mansions tax.

Mark Reckless and Chris Chope lead Tory rebellion against Osborne's child benefit cut for 40p taxpayers

"Conservative rebels warned Chancellor George Osborne that unless he alters the plans to protect one-earner families, they will take the extraordinary step of attempting to vote down Budget legislation. It is almost unheard of for MPs to try to amend or bring down their own side’s finance Bills, and a defeat would raise questions about the survival of the Government." - Daily Mail

Reckless MarkWriting on his blog, Mark Reckless MP: "The policy is particularly toxic for colleagues who want to see the government do more to promote marriage and the traditional family, given the lack of movement so far on the government’s promise to recognise marriage in the tax system. However, the policy is also objectionable for those who want the tax system to be neutral between personal choices, since it clobbers single earner householders, most usually with a stay-at-home Mum, relative to dual-earner couples."

The Daily Mail warns Osborne about the IMF bailing out the €urozone

"The simple fact is that the IMF should not even be involved. Its role is to help countries that lack the economic means to survive – not to prop up a Franco-German ideology. Mr Osborne must tell the IMF to stop abusing its position and get its hand out of this nation’s pocket." - Daily Mail leader

  • British ministers doubt that the €130bn (£109bn) bailout for Greece will prove enough to rescue the country's stricken economy and suspect it will eventually leave the euro - Independent
  • "Britain is to contribute up to £1billion to help Greece remain within the euro despite warnings the latest bailout will fail to save the country’s shattered economy" - Daily Mail

Gove on MarrMichael Gove waded into the battle over independence yesterday, telling the English to lay off the Scots - Scotsman

  • SNP embarrassed by support from Rupert Murdoch - Alan Cochrane in The Telegraph

The Leveson Inquiry is ‘chilling’ free speech, warns Gove - The Sun

Cameron has defended the government's plans for spreading wind farms across the country - HuffPo


> Scrapping windfarm subsidies is one of the ideas in ConHome's Building A Majority series

More than fifty Tory MPs ready to oppose Lords reform - Times (£)

Downing Street was yesterday forced to deny claims that Ken Clarke's Ministry of Justice will be axed in a shake-up - The Sun

  • Cameron's inner circle are privately worried about a lack of distinctive candidates standing for the Conservative Party in police commissioner elections - HuffPo

GRAY IN PARLIAMENTTwo Tory MPs add to pressure on Andrew Lansley

  • James Gray questions need for NHS Bill - Telegraph
  • Mark Field calls for publication of risk register - PoliticsHome

Lib Dem party activists table motion calling for entire section of the bill extending competition in the health service to be scrapped - Guardian

"Nick Clegg is likely to demand further concessions over plans to increase competition in the NHS in an attempt to head off a new Liberal Democrat revolt over the Health Bill" - Times (£)

  • Voluntary sector leader Sir Stephen Bubb backs NHS Bill in OpEd for The Times (£)
  • The Conservative Party has leapt on new figures showing there are more midwives and doctors now than before the general election as "clear proof that the NHS is moving forwards under the Coalition" - Telegraph | Twitter

"The more distinctive the Deputy Prime Minister makes himself, the more Tories wonder why the Prime Minister isn’t doing the same" - Benedict Brogan in The Telegraph

  • More and more of Cameron's modernisation instincts have been kicked into the long grass - Mark Stuart for the Yorkshire Post

If you want a job, 'slave labour' at Tesco isn't a bad place to start - Christina Patterson in The Independent

HefferSimonAfter Labour's obsession with multiculturalism, the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has at last said that the culture of the majority will once more be given pre-eminence in society - Simon Heffer in the Daily Mail

In reorganisation of the Borders Agency really the solution to immigration? - Simon Jenkins in The Guardian is sceptical.

Tory MP Nadine Dorries claims the reason women are still under-represented in Parliament is that politics 'simply doesn't appeal to the majority of young women' - Nadine Dorries MP for PoliticsHome

MPs are calling on the government to simplify the law in England and Wales on missing people who are presumed dead - BBC

Let teachers run John Lewis-style schools for profit, says Policy Exchange - Guardian

Samantha Cameron uses Downing Street reception to talk up British fashion industry - Guardian


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