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26 Apr 2012 08:21:38

Newslinks for Thursday 26th April 2012

5pm In Local government on the Tower Hamlets voter fraud scandal:

4.45pm MPsETC: What is the No Turning Back group? Matthew Barrett profiles the keepers of the Thatcherite flame

3.15pm WATCH: David Cameron addresses Clean Energy summit

11.45am ConHomeUSA newslinks: Romney urged to set out positive vision

Screen Shot 2012-04-26 at 07.39.47ToryDiary: The Spectator's Fraser Nelson makes the case for Boris

Columnist Andrew Lilico: On Green Millenarianism

Quentin Langley on Comment: A tour of the Prime Minister's reshuffle options

Local government:

Britain has plunged into the first double-dip recession since 1975 and is enduring its longest economic slump for a century - Daily Mail


"Ministers can’t blame Labour for ever. Cutting the deficit is right. But that seems the only shot in George Osborne’s locker. The Chancellor looks a one-trick pony lacking the imagination to drag us out of this slump." - The Sun Says

The BBC's Paul Mason and the Daily Mail agree: The Government has no growth plan

  • "A consistent theme throughout this past 12 months has been the absence of a growth plan that actually delivers growth. The Conservatives' instinct was to go for a rapid breakup of labour market impediments to growth: mass exemptions for small businesses from minimum wage rules, reducing entitlement to maternity leave etc and unfair dismissal. This was the focus of the Beecroft report. The Lib Dems stymied it, leaving the government, as Vince Cable said in a leaked letter, without a coherent strategy." - Paul Mason for the BBC
  • Daily Mail leader: "Two years have passed since the election, but there has not been the radical rebalancing of the economy this country so badly needs. Too much money continues to be lavished upon the inefficient, bloated public sector. Businesses continue to be strangled in red tape. The bonfire of the quangos is yet to be ignited."

Osborne must embrace tax reform, faster infrastructure projects and bank lending measures - Alex Brummer in the Daily Mail

Jeremy Warner in The Telegraph argues that the Government is cutting the wrong things: "When you look at where the axe is falling hardest, it is on government investment – spending on schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, affordable housing, and so on. This is the easiest thing to chop, so that’s where the Coalition has acted first. In fact, this form of state spending should be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled, with the money made up by further cuts in entitlements and bureaucracy."

Too many taxes + over-hyped reforms + inflation = Double dip recession ...concludes Allister Heath for City AM

  • Leo McKinstry says the Coalition is too weak to deliver economic reform - Express

Nick Clegg's message to the banks: "Don't unnecessarily hoard capital when businesses need loans. Don't sit on your hands while firms are crying out for cash" - Quoted in The Independent

The government will today unveil a £70bn bonanza of lucrative public sector contracts

Maude Francis 470

"Companies including BAE, Serco, Babcock and Capita have been invited to a Cabinet Office briefing where Francis Maude, cabinet secretary, will present a five year pipeline of bid opportunities in 13 sectors ranging from construction, energy and medical life sciences, which includes NHS drugs and equipment. The total includes £5.4bn of welfare-to-work contracts and £2.6bn of property and facilities management work as well as the retendering of smaller deals such as the provision of travel management for civil servants." - FT (£)

On ConHome yesterday:

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will soon expect some high earners to quiz their partners to find out if they claim child benefit - BBC

Hunt Jeremy red tieJeremy Hunt gets Cameron's full support - Independent | The Sun

Jeremy Hunt could face three investigations after his special adviser resigned for leaking privileged information to the Murdoch empire - Daily Mail

Jeremy Hunt accused of throwing special adviser, Adam Smith, to the wolves - Guardian

  • "The wagons were circled around the minister, and the special adviser was thrown to the wolves. Or, as expressed more brutally but not inaccurately by the veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner to a tumultuous House of Commons yesterday: "When posh boys are in trouble, they sack the servants."" - Independent leader
  • Adam Smith is a quiet man who cared more for sport than media - Telegraph
  • Mr Cameron is in deep trouble. Only complete candour will stop the storm engulfing him - Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail
  • Will Rupert and James Murdoch topple David Cameron? - Peter Oborne in The Telegraph

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Cameron puts in strong performance at PMQs while Jeremy Hunt enjoys full support from Tory MPs

Alex Salmond has conceded he had agreed to lobby UK ministers to support News International’s multi-billion takeover of BSkyB, insisting that anyone who questioned his actions “shouldn’t be in politics”- Scotsman

Rupert Murdoch disclosed that he had met the Prime Minister on at least five more occasions than David Cameron has previously admitted

"The chairman and chief executive of News Corporation provided details of diary entries to the Leveson Inquiry which showed that the two men had met on at least seven occasions since Mr Cameron became Prime Minister. Downing Street has previously acknowledged only that the Prime Minister had met the media tycoon twice since May 2010... On Wednesday night it emerged that only one-to-one or “substantial” meetings were disclosed officially, whereas Mr Murdoch recorded meetings at social dinners and other events." - Telegraph

  • Rupert Murdoch has admitted being a “great admirer” of Margaret Thatcher, but denied ever asking her for any help in expanding his media empire - Telegraph
  • Murdoch claimed yesterday that former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown became “unbalanced” when his press empire switched sides to support the Tories at the last election - Express
  • Murdoch under fire for calling Ivan Cameron "retarded" - Daily Mail | Express

PM to tell meeting of 23 countries that UK is spearheading green revolution - Guardian

  • David Cameron opening clean energy summit - Renewable energy sources must become "financially sustainable" if they are to meet the world's needs - BBC

The controversial bill cutting legal aid in England and Wales has survived a last-ditch attack in the Lords and is now set to become law - BBC

Two-thirds of voters, regardless of party, class and age reject city mayors - Guardian

Mark Hoban slams EU budget request

Hoban-Mark-150p"Mark Hoban, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said that the draft budget conflicted with economic reality in Europe. “It is unacceptable for the Commission to propose an inflation-busting budget increase when governments across Europe are making difficult decisions on public spending,” Mr Hoban said at the European Parliament. The Brussels executive “must improve its financial discipline”, he added." - Times (£)

> Yesterday's MPsETC: There's one place in Europe which is a stranger to austerity. Guess where?

Sayeeda Warsi says she's ready to lead Tory attempt to win support of minority voters - Tim Shipman in the Daily Mail

Foodbank handouts double as more families end up on the breadline - Guardian

And finally... Should Cameron get a tattoo to deal with posh boy image?

In the FT (£), Robert Shrimsley uncovers some secret Downing Street strategising: "On balance we do not think a tattoo is a good idea; especially not a full-arm depiction of the home secretary surrounded by immigration queues at Heathrow. But if you are determined to persist with it, we recommend against henna tattoos. It is true they fade in a month but this might suggest a lack of conviction."


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25 Apr 2012 08:35:24

Newslinks for Wednesday 25th April 2012

3.15pm MPsETC: There's one place in Europe which is a stranger to austerity. Guess where?

1.30pm WATCH: Louise Mensch MP says local newspapers should be subsidied by a 1% tax on BSkyB and Virgin

1.15pm ToryDiary: Cameron puts in strong performance at PMQs while Jeremy Hunt enjoys full support from Tory MPs

11.45am ConHomeUSA: Romney kicks off general election campaign

Osborne conservatives.com11am Columnist Andrew Lilico: Some quick reactions on the return to recession

10am ToryDiary on -0.2% growth data: Attention Mr Osborne! Britain's economic recovery begins when the €urozone breaks up

ToryDiary: New video reminds us of Ken Livingstone's Far Left agenda

Columnist Jill Kirby: Can Cameron get his government back on track?

Christopher Pincher MP on Comment: We need an energy bill - and new nuclear power stations - as a matter of urgency

Also on Comment: Polling project alert from Lord Ashcroft --- Ethnic Minority Voters And The Conservative Party

Euro meltdown

Martin Callanan MEP on MPsETC: Europe has put an expensive sticking plaster on the €urozone but its fundamental weaknesses remain

Local government: 3,097 council staff earning over £100,000

WATCH: Jeremy Hunt insists Lord Leveson should hear his side of evidence before we all rush to judgment

WATCH: Ed Miliband says he wants to be known as a politician who doesn't make promises that he can't keep

Cameron wants to give Jeremy Hunt the chance to answer the charges against him when he appears before the Leveson inquiry shortly - Independent


"Jeremy Hunt was supposedly the impartial government arbitrator tasked with deciding whether to allow News Corp to take control of BSkyB. But dozens of devastating emails between Mr Hunt’s office and James Murdoch’s chief lobbyist Frederic Michel have laid bare an astonishing secret relationship between the media empire and the minister." - Daily Mail

Despite repeated public assurances of neutrality, an explosive cache of emails released to the Leveson Inquiry suggested Mr Hunt always backed the plan - The Sun

Jeremy Hunt hits back

"Mr Hunt’s allies said that he had been misrepresented in the e-mails from Mr Michel, who admitted in a statement to the inquiry that references to conversations with “JH” were shorthand for the Culture Secretary’s team. Most of the contact was with Mr Hunt’s advisers Adam Smith and John Zeff, he said. “It’s pretty clear that the e-mails were exaggerations and embellishments and not an accurate portrayal of what happened,” a friend of the Culture Secretary said." - Times (£)

> See Hunt's statement within yesterday's Rolling blog (7.30pm update)

Harriet Harman MP has called for the resignation of her government counterpart, Jeremy Hunt - ITV

Jeremy Hunt's cosy relations with News Corp executives shocked even cynical Leveson watchers - Tom Watson MP for The Guardian

James Murdoch DID discuss BSkyB takeover with David Cameron... over a Christmas dinner at Rebekah Brooks's house - Daily Mail

Comment on Jeremy Hunt

Screen Shot 2012-04-25 at 07.32.05

  • Times leader (£): "At best, his office was providing a running commentary on a deal on which Mr Hunt was supposed to be adjudicating. At worst, he was betraying the confidences in government, offering market sensitive information to the bidder and helping to frame remedies that would help to secure the bid. These are the questions that Mr Hunt must now answer."
  • The Independent leader: "Even if Mr Hunt was not in direct contact with News International himself, he must take responsibility for the wholly inappropriate activities of his staff. After all, this was no single incident, this was pages and pages of emails, an entire relationship of such staggering impropriety as to leave Mr Hunt yesterday charged with acting as a "cheerleader" for News Corp within the Government."
  • "The coalition’s strange, cack-handed relationship with the media – either far too close, or far too distant – is an extraordinary paradox. Cameron and his advisers are slaves to the school of media manipulation that began with Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Cameron is a former PR man himself. Yet they have fallen into every possible trap. It is truly baffling." - Allister Heath in City AM
  • "Now that the true extent of his cosying up to Rupert Murdoch has been exposed, the questions about Mr Cameron’s style are morphing into ones about his judgment and are coming perilously close to touching on his integrity." - Benedict Brogan in The Telegraph

Salmond Alex Oct 2011Alex Salmond is also accused of secret Murdoch deal - The Herald

The government borrowed £126bn in 2011/12, bang in line with the Office for Budget Responsibility's forecast in the March budget, and far below the £136.8bn deficit run up last year - Guardian

  • Britain's debt soared to a record £1.02TRILLION yesterday - The Sun
  • The Chancellor told MPs that sticking with Labour’s plans would have meant borrowing £200billion more and paying £36billion extra debt interest by 2015 - The Express

Osborne is preparing to climb down on plans to impose VAT on improvements to churches and cathedrals - Telegraph

Theresa May has insisted that she had “unambiguous” legal advice from governement lawyers about Abu Qatada’s appeal deadline to the European Court of Human Rights - Times (£)

Good teaching ‘stops pupils going off rails’: Gove praises power of traditional subjects - Daily Mail

You'd never know it from the biased BBC, but the housing benefit bill's going UP not DOWN

BBC Labour megaphone
"There are no cuts to the housing benefit budget, only cuts to the projected increase. I should like to place a dunce’s hat on Mr Naughtie’s head and make him repeat that three times a day. It may also astonish him and his BBC colleagues  to learn that overall there  has been no cut in public spending, though, of course, some individual departments have suffered." - Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail

> Yesterday's Local government blog: Shapps complains to BBC over Newham coverage

More than half of sickness benefit claimants given an official health test were found to be capable of working - Express

Two years into its term [the Coalition's] reforms seem half-hearted and agonisingly slow. And it is lily-livered on central issues such as immigration and Europe - The Sun Says

David Aaronovitch in The Times (£): "A critique of the Cameronian settlement has been coalescing for some time now. It too is expulsive, though its scapegoats vary slightly from the French. It doesn’t want any more money spent on bailouts through the IMF, it blames Europe for many of our ills, it loves not migration and it wants to stop the world and step off."

Economy, tax, pensions and health are the four most important issues for voters - YouGov

It’s not immoral to try to reduce your tax bill - Adam Afriyie MP in The Times (£)

WIDDECOMBEinGARDENAn elected House of Lords would inevitably challenge the House of Commons - Ann Widdecombe in The Express

Twitter users tell David Cameron how to 'keep it real' after Tory backbencher calls him an 'arrogant posh boy - Daily Mail

Queueing at Heathrow is becoming a major economic problem - Telegraph leader

Ed Miliband insists he intends to be "methodical" as Labour leader and not make rash promises - to win over a public that has lost trust in politics - BBC

  • A new Hansard Society survey confirms that loss of faith in public life - with 42% interested in politics, down 16% on 2010 and the lowest figure since the audit was first carried out - BBC
  • "A year ago 72 per cent of Liberal Democrat voters said that they were interested in politics but that has now fallen to just 50 per cent. The number of Conservative supporters interested in politics has fallen to 65 per cent while Labour support has dropped 12 points to 48 per cent." - Independent

Balls Ed 225Ed Balls seizes on anti-austerity feeling across Europe - FT (£)

"Last week the French electorate said no to more austerity and the Dutch government fell for the same reason. Spain faces a similar crisis, and the streets of Athens hold untold dangers. Even in Britain polls suggest an electorate unconvinced by the longevity of what by any standards is mild austerity." - Simon Jenkins in The Guardian

Dan Hannan in The Telegraph: "It is now clear to almost everyone that the euro is a recessionary mechanism. It is causing deflation and emigration in the southern states, and threatens massive tax rises in the north."

FT leader (£): "The Dutch case is a horrific display of Europe’s self-harming. In rpressurised states with no fiscal space, deficit cuts are of course imperative, but countries that can should let deficits widen to buoy aggregate demand in the eurozone until the recovery is firm."

Britain must find £900m in additional EU payments - Telegraph | BBC

Labour's Lord Winston said Mr Livingstone was “a tricky sort of customer” who had “espoused some disastrous causes” - The Sun

Britain has world's third highest proportion of sexually active teens - Guardian


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24 Apr 2012 08:11:05

Newslinks for Tuesday 24th April 2012


5.15pm Local Government: Shapps complains to BBC over Newham coverage


1pm Oliver Heald MP on Comment: A reformed House of Lords should be indirectly elected

11.45am ConHomeUSA: Romney and Rubio campaign together in sign of things to come?

10.15am Local Government: Sir Robin Wales does have a choice

ToryDiary: Bernard Jenkin and the Public Administration Committee say the Government is failing to think strategically

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 07.32.56Mark Reckless MP: Prime Minister - Yes, you can legally deport Qatada

Local Government: Huge interest in right to buy - but why is the Government not promoting it?

WATCH: Dutch PM quits over budget crisis

Cameron waters down claim on ECHR Qatada deadline

"The Prime Minister claimed that the European Court of Human Rights ‘told’ the Home Office that the time limit for the radical Islamist to appeal against deportation would expire last Monday at midnight. His claims were met with surprise in the Home Office and sparked accusations from Labour that he lied - forcing Mr Cameron to back track." - Daily Mail

  • Conservatives eight points adrift in new Guardian/ICM poll - The Guardian
  • YouGov finds Boris and Livingstone neck and neck - The Guardian

> Yesterday:

Nadine Dories assails the Prime Minister and the Chancellor as "two arrogant posh boys"

"The MP for Mid Bedfordshire said: “There is a very tight, narrow clique of a certain group of people and what they do is act as a barrier and prevent Cameron and Osborne and others from actually really understanding or knowing what is happening in the rest of the country. “I think that not only are Cameron and Osborne two posh boys who don't know the price of milk, but they are two arrogant posh boys who show no remorse, no contrition, and no passion to want to understand the lives of others - and that is their real crime.” - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday WATCH: Nadine Dorries tells the BBC that Cameron and Osborne are "two arrogant posh boys who don't know the price of milk - who show no remorse, no contrition and no passion to want to understand the lives of others".

Select Committee attack 1) There is a lack of strategy being set by Number 10

JENKIN Bernard"The string of controversies and embarrassments that have recently beset the government is due in part to a lack of strategy being set by Number 10, according to a damning report by a committee of MPs. The report, by the public administration select committee, concludes that nobody is in charge of setting the government’s strategic objectives, and this is damaging its ability to achieve its aims. Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee, said: “There is a failure in this government to think strategically.” - Financial Times (£)

Select Committee Attack 2) Ministers "got £2.6bn savings bid wrong"

"Ministers have been accused of over-estimating how much cash will be saved by axing quangos. The Government has vowed to get rid of at least 262 of the semi-public bodies by the next election. But just 72 have been closed in the past two years. Now Westminster’s public accounts committee has cast doubt on how much the Government says it will save the taxpayer. According to the Cabinet Office, £2.6billion will be cut from staff and admin costs." - The Sun

  • The Coalition needs a big hitter to knock out bad news - George Parker, Financial Times (£)
  • David Cameron may be a posh boy, but he's the best the Conservatives can do - Tim Bale, The Guardian
  • What do you want to do with all that power, Mr Cameron? - Philip Stephens, Financial Times (£)
  • When our rulers are so out of touch, no wonder voters fall for extremists' snake-oil solutions - Ian Birrell, Daily Mail

Osborne defends new IMF loan...

"The Chancellor rejected attacks from some of his Tory colleagues who said he was wrong to offer another £10 billion to help steady the eurozone. The Government said last week that it was prepared to increase exposure to the IMF to £40 billion as part of a wider international effort to enlarge the fund. Some Tory MPs have said British taxpayers should not be asked to help support the single European currency." - Daily Telegraph

...but is accused of "state-sponsored money laundering" from the Tory backbenches

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 07.55.53"A string of Conservative MPs queued up to warn that the money – which raises Britain’s exposure to the IMF to £40billion – would be used to fund a backdoor bailout of the euro. During angry exchanges, Tory backbencher Stewart Jackson said the decision amounted to ‘state-sponsored money laundering’. Mr Jackson said the cash would be used to ‘prop up the doomed project of the euro’, and asked: ‘Why is the Chancellor throwing good money after bad?’ - Daily Mail

The Coalition's debt reduction strategy is too timid - Daily Telegraph Editorial

Warsi targets ethnic minority voters with 'core Tory values'

"The Prime Minister will today launch a major campaign to target ‘aspirational’ ethnic minority voters in the suburbs after warnings that he can’t win at the next election without them. Tory Chairman Baroness Warsi has revealed the party aims to woo female and older Asian voters who share the party’s views but who have traditionally voted Labour." - Daily Mail

Gaia theory scientist James Lovelock admits he was 'alarmist' about the impact of climate change - Daily Mail

Lords reform on the ropes as committee slams Clegg’s ‘mess’

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 07.59.45"The Deputy Prime Minister’s central claim about an elected senate — that it would not change the balance of power with the Commons — was demolished by a committee of peers and MPs. Even though the committee gave its backing to proposals for a 450-strong chamber, 80 per cent of it elected by proportional representation, it was split down the middle on a series of pivotal issues around the effect on the Commons." - The Times (£)

> Yesterday:

Chris Huhne’s lover Carina Trimingham sold tale of Nick Clegg dalliances - Daily Telegraph

Markets take fright at Hollande’s election lead as Dutch government steps down over budget impasse

Screen shot 2012-04-24 at 04.45.35"Europe’s economy took another dramatic lurch downwards yesterday as investors found fresh reason to doubt whether the Continent’s politicians will be capable of resolving the sovereign debt crisis that continues to plague the single currency bloc. Stock markets reacted badly to a deluge of disappointing economic data, the victory of the Socialist candidate François Hollande in the first round of the French presidential election and the collapse of the Dutch government." - The Independent

Cameron denies snubbing Hollande as Whitehall looks to build bridges - The Independent

"I'm no fan of a nanny state, but how much more evidence do we need before we start protecting children from depraved imagery?"

Claire Perry"How much more evidence do we need that it is time to take action to protect the nation’s children?…I am no fan of a nanny state, and as pro-freedom as the next person. But we don’t accept that argument with any other kind of media, where a combination of industry and government and consumer bodies work together for the benefit of all." - Claire Perry MP, Daily Mail

Security/liberty issue 1) Theresa May faces questioning on "snooper's charter" - Sky News

Security/liberty issue 2) Government revives plan for greater data-sharing between agencies - The Guardian

Security/libery issue 3) Former GCHQ head calls for greater surveillance of Facebook and Twitter - The Independent


23 Apr 2012 08:50:08

Newslinks for St George's Day 2012

7.30pm ToryDiary: Conservative vote share at lowest with ICM since the election. Labour's at highest since before the Iraq War

6pm WATCH: Osborne explains IMF decision to the Commons

3pm ToryDiary: Cameron waves the stars and stripes as he makes the case for elected Mayors

Screen shot 2012-04-23 at WATCH: Nadine Dorries tells the BBC that Cameron and Osborne are "two arrogant posh boys who don't know the price of milk - who show no remorse, no contrition and no passion to want to understand the lives of others".

1.15pm LISTEN: Cameron - "It's been a difficult few months"

12.45pm Local Government: Boris lead down to 2%

Noon ConHomeUSA newslinks: Romney's healthcare plan may be more revolutionary than Obama's

11am ToryDiary: If a referendum on the Lords, why not one on the EU?

10am Columnist Andrew Lilico: It's not stubborn oppositionalism to oppose fundamentally anti-Conservative long-lasting constitutional changes

ToryDiary: "The British people know I'll get some things right and some things wrong - the key thing is my average doesn't fall too low"

Columnist Bruce Anderson: The attacks on David Cameron's Downing Street operation are a thinly-disguised attack on him

Screen shot 2012-04-23 at 06.56.32On St George's Day, Sunder Katwala writes on Comment: It's time for an English national anthem from England's rugby team

Local Government: Cameron goes to Bristol to campaign for the "exciting democratic change" of city mayors

ThinkTankCentral: According to a new Bow Group report, almost 50% of black students believe that their pathway to government is blocked by discrimination

WATCH: Convicted fraudster LibDem donor Michael Brown is on his way back to the UK

Coming soon: the next stage in the spending scaleback

Screen shot 2012-04-23 at 05.03.28"Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, will announce on Monday that he is ordering departments to set aside five per cent of their current budgets in addition to the unprecedented spending cuts already set out. Treasury officials are hoping that the news will reassure investors that the Coalition is keeping a tight grip on Government spending as the economy enters an uncertain period." - Daily Telegraph

Bank of England Governor 1) Osborne pledges transparency on Bank chief - Financial Times (£)

Bank of England Governor 2) Pot calls kettle black: "The Chancellor must clear up the deep confusion at the heart of the bill about who is responsible for what in the run-up to and during a financial crisis." - Ed Balls, Financial Times (£)

IMF encourages Europe's economic suicide - Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph

Prime Minister to urge elected Mayors today

"David Cameron is expected to herald the beginning of a new era of local accountability in the UK, suggesting in a speech to activists in Bristol that Britain “stands on the brink of exciting democratic change”, ahead of mayoral referendums on May 3.  With plebiscites to be held in 10 regional cities on whether to introduce executive-style mayors, the prime minister will urge residents to vote “yes”, as a way of making their cities “more prominent, more powerful, more prosperous” – rejecting claims that more elected mayors represent a “trivial restructure”." - Financial Times (£)

  • "Civil servants are throwing their weight around because Cameron has neither the toughness nor the weight to challenge them." - Leo McKinstry, Daily Express
  • Governments need to be seen to be in control - John Redwood's Blog
  • Helena Bonham-Carter says that her friend David Cameron is ‘not a Conservative, actually’ - Daily Mail

> Yesterday: Majority Conservatism - Not Woodwind Conservatism. Not Brass Conservatism. But Full Orchestra Conservatism.

Clegg warns party he won't go to war over Lords reform...

"Nick Clegg has sent a clear warning to his party that he is not prepared to put the Coalition at risk to force through reform of the House of Lords against opposition from Conservative sceptics. In a move that may infuriate Liberal Democrat activists, the Deputy Prime Minister has made it clear that he is not prepared to give David Cameron an ultimatum that Liberal Democrats will withhold support from Tory plans to cut the size of the House of Commons if they do not get their way on Lords reform." - The Independent

...As Tory supporters of change rally

Dan Poulter"Dan Poulter, Tory MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, who sat on the committee considering the proposals, is to write to fellow Conservatives urging them to drop their opposition. Mr Poulter, who will be joined by other supporters of an elected Lords from the 2010 intake of MPs, said: “The House of Lords is undemocratic, lacking transparency and in need of reform.  The Government should not be put off from doing the right thing by a vocal but small minority of MPs.” - The Times (£)

  • "A YouGov poll commissioned by Unlock Democracy found that 69% of voters support a reformed House of Lords. The poll found that just 5% of voters favour the status quo – a fully appointed second chamber." - The Guardian
  • Mark Harper says that peers will get no payoff under reforms - Financial Times (£)
  • Clegg needs to find an exit route from Lords reform - Mary Ann Sieghart, The Independent

> Yesterday:

LibDems will keep convicted fraudster's £2.4m

"Michael Brown, the convicted fraudster who is the Liberal Democrats’ largest donor, was finally facing justice last night after four years on the run. He is expected to be in a British jail within ten days after he was deported to Spain from the Dominican Republic, where he had been living a lavish lifestyle with stolen millions.But last night Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg continued to insist the Lib Dems will not repay the £2.4million of ill-gotten gains Brown gave his party in 2005." - Daily Mail

State should pay for care of the terminally ill so they can die at home, says Burnham - Daily Mail 

Foreign aid law pledge kicked into long grass

"Controversial plans to enshrine in law how much Britain spends on aid will not be included in next month’s Queen’s Speech – even though the legislation has been drawn up. David Cameron promised in the Tory manifesto to make it the law that governments must spend at least 0.7 per cent of Britain’s output on foreign aid." - Daily Mail 

Taxpayers will pay for Straw's legal defence - The Independent

Nick Herbert: The state is a bad parent

Herbert Home Office
"The State is like a bad parent, repeatedly tolerating criminal behaviour, the policing minister is to say today. Nick Herbert says that by failing to set boundaries, the criminal justice system reinforces the poor parenting many offenders have already suffered. Billions are spent on prisons and probation rather than intervening earlier to prevent criminals drifting into a cycle of repeat offending.  Mr Herbert will say in a speech in Washington that the authorities must act immediately someone offends to make them realise that they will be punished." - The Times (£)

  • Theresa May considering new public enquiry into death of Stephen Lawrence - The Guardian
  • Brodie Clark claims that Britain ‘will have to axe full passport checks’ - The Times (£)

Ministers claiming strict curbs on online pornography would breach web users’ civil liberties - Daily Mail

Sarkozy faces defeat as Hollande wins first round

Screen shot 2012-04-23 at 08.00.54"France is on course to return only its second left-wing president in half a century after Nicolas Sarkozy lost yesterday to François Hollande in the first round of the presidential election. The President came second, on about 27.1 per cent of the vote, with nearly all ballots counted. He was more than a point behind Mr Hollande, 57, who styled himself as the calm antithesis to Mr Sarkozy…The most striking outcome was the near 18.2 per cent scored by Marine Le Pen, of the far-Right National Front, the highest vote registered by the anti-immigrant party. Another big protest vote went to Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a fiery anti-capitalist who won 11.1 per cent." - The  Times (£)

> Yesterday: International - Prospect of President Hollande and collapse of Dutch government raise new questions about €urozone's future

Welsh voters could be given right to recall AMs and force by-elections - Wales Online

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt lays into Alliance Party - Belfast Telegraph

Weakening passion for the Cross of St George has been blamed on racist thugs for sullying its image - The Sun

Scots take more pride in Billy Connolly than the Queen, says survey - Scotsman


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