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Newslinks for Saturday 7th July 2012

6.30pm WATCH: The Osborne-Balls row put in perspective. Jordanian politician pulls a gun on his opponent during a TV debate‬

6.15pm WATCH: William Hague speaks at Friends of Syria meeting: "No option is off the table".

11am WATCH: Michael Thrasher - Ballots, boundaries and bias. An explanation of why Labour are doing better than the Conservatives under the present voting system

Screen shot 2012-07-07 at 06.16.59
ToryDiary: George Osborne should be backed, not briefed against, for chaining Balls to his record

Tony Lodge on Comment: We rig the market in favour of wind and then want more gas. Our contradictions in energy policy could cost us dear

Local Government:

WATCH: How could our health care system change?

Lords Reform vote week looms: Mark Harper raises the stakes by dismissing Conservative opponents of change as "silly"...

"The Tory rebels say they are not bound by the coalition agreement because it simply commits the government to establish a committee to "bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber". They say this was achieved by a joint parliamentary committee. Harper gives this argument short shrift. "People can play silly games with textual analysis. But the intention was very clear … This is something that was in our manifesto." - The Guardian

...So who are they?  "The Sensibles" - led from the office of Jesse "Captain Sensible" Norman. Eleanor Laing, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Oliver Heald and Charles Walker also star..

NORMAN JESSE"The rebels, who have given themselves the name ‘the Sensibles’, are running an organised vote gathering operation from the office of Jesse Norman MP...Tory MPs said Tuesday’s rebellion will most likely be “slightly larger than the EU referendum vote” in 2010 when 81 Tory MPs defied the Government…One MP said it was “remarkable” and “extremely odd” that the Government whips office had not yet started the traditional ring-round ahead of the key vote. One whip, after being told by an MP of his plans to vote against, replied “thank you”." - Daily Telegraph

...And these Tory rebels are out, loud, proud - and furious with the Liberal Democrats

"Tory MPs reacted with fury yesterday against threats by “treacherous” Lib Dems to “blackmail” them into backing House of Lords reform.Both Lords reform and boundary reviews feature in the agreement which Tories and Lib Dems agreed in 2010 as their programme for joint government. Tory MPs were incensed by apparent Lib Dem attempts to link the two changes. Andrew Griffiths said: “When they have to resort to threats, bullying and blackmail to get Lords reform, it’s clear they have lost the argument.” - Daily Express

The LibDems dig in against a referendum...

"Lib Dem officials also say they will not accept a referendum on Lords reform as a compromise, believing they would not win it. One senior MP said: “We would see voting for a referendum as bad as voting against the bill itself.”… Lib Dems meanwhile say they are baffled as to why their coalition partners are resisting the move so vigorously, pointing out the extended political debate will only make the government look more out of touch with voters’ core economic concerns." - Financial Times (£)

...As Downing Street threatens to let the bill run on...and on...and on...and on...

"Liberal Democrat ministers would have to resign if a vote on House of Lords reform were defeated next week and they attempted to engage in tit-for-tat retaliation over boundaries, government whips have insisted…The Times understands that the Prime Minister will not, as Mr Reeves suggested, abandon the reform legislation on Wednesday morning if the programme motion is defeated. It is likely to be given extensive time for debate in the autumn and the Government would try again later in the year to introduce a timetable motion." - The Times (£)

David Davis: House of Lords reform is a threat to a unique check on excessive power

DAVIS BW"At the moment, the Government’s whole approach to  Lords reform is wrong. Nobody understands why it is being  discussed now.  In 2009, with Britain in recession and the financial crisis  raging, David Cameron described House of Lords reform as a  ‘third- term issue’. At a time when Britain needs jobs and growth, seeing MPs devoting day after day to a fiddly constitutional issue will leave voters baffled." - Daily Mail

Matthew Parris: Clegg’s blackmail is scuppering the coalition

"This is unprincipled opportunism and a kind of betrayal. Making silent threats behind the scenes was one thing. Thumbing your nose in public (as Richard Reeves, Mr Clegg’s departing adviser was deliberately doing in that interview) is another. Yesterday’s remarks by Mr Reeves, that there would be “consequences” for the rest of the Government’s constitutional reform measures if the Lords Bill fails, turned background rumour into an open ultimatum. No one doubts what Mr Reeves meant." - The Times (£)

> Yesterday:

Cameron under pressure to stage vote on independence

"Frustration is growing in Whitehall that Alex Salmond is "dragging his feet" on sorting out key issues surrounding the 2014 poll, most notably on whether there should be one or two questions. To be able to deliver the SNP Government's preferred time- table, it is thought there is just a matter of months to pin down the technical details of the referendum. By next spring, if agreement has not been reached, then the Prime Minister faces a major political dilemma. Asked if he might have to decide Westminster will legislate to hold an independence referendum in Scotland, a senior Coalition source told The Herald: "Potentially, this is a scenario he may have to face." - Herald Scotland

Andrew Cooper tells the '22: There are reasons to be cheerful

Screen shot 2012-07-07 at 08.50.55"Another reason to be cheerful is the latest private polling for the Conservatives. It raised the spirits when it was presented to the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs last week by Andrew Cooper, No 10's director of strategy and the founder of the polling company Populus. He argues that the headline poll figures, giving Labour a healthy lead, do not reflect the nation's underlying mood. Mid-term blues that afflict most governments do not mean they are heading for defeat, he says." - Andrew Grice, The Independent 

Injured war veterans should keep compensation payments, says Lansley

"Councils will, from October, no longer take the payments into account when assessing how much elderly ex-servicemen can afford to pay towards their care needs. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “Members of our armed forces who are sadly injured in the line of duty shouldn’t have their compensation payments taken away if they need to pay for care.” Ministers are to give councils an extra £3.8million this Parliament to cover care for veterans." - The Sun

  • "Treasury has taken back £1.4bn of money earmarked for health spending which was not spent by the Department of Health" - The Guardian

May battles with Treasury over police commissioner elections

"Plans for elected police commissioners were in "disarray" last night after it emerged that Theresa May had asked the Treasury for money to fund an advertising campaign to encourage stronger candidates to come forward. The Home Secretary's move reflects growing alarm among ministers that the contests for 41 new local police chiefs will be an embarrassing flop with dismal turn-outs in November's elections." - The Independent

  • Proposals for police commissioner elections are "unbelievably flawed", says Simon Weston, Falklands veteran and former commissioner aspirant - The Times (£)

Yesterday: MPsETC - Former East Hampshire MP Michael Mates selected as PCC candidate for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

Clegg flies gay pride flag in Whitehall for first time

Screen shot 2012-07-07 at 08.52.36"The Deputy Prime Minister flew the flag - a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride - to coincide with London’s gay pride event this weekend was a “small but important emblem”. Mr Clegg had to ask special permission from a local council to fly the flag because it is not a national emblem. It comes after Mr Clegg called for churches and other religious premises to be allowed to host gay weddings. Mr Clegg said he was delighted to be “flying this iconic flag in the heart of Whitehall”. - Daily Telegraph

Fresh Start MPs to urge Cameron to take back powers over European Arrest Warrant.  Hague expected to appear at launch of proposals

"On Tuesday, senior MPs including Andrea Leadsom, Chris Heaton Harris and George Eustice will identify reforms to the controversial European arrest warrant as an early priority. Their report is expected to say that a British judge should examine each case to decide whether a Briton should be extradited.  The MPs will also urge Mr Cameron to pull Britain out of the working time directive, which prevents people working more than 48 hours a week." - Daily Mail

Osborne to battle with EU bonus plans...

Osborne at desk
"The chancellor is due to attend a finance ministers meeting on Tuesday at which he is ready to argue that tough European proposals for a 1:1 bonus to pay ratio are the wrong way to tame City remuneration…While Mr Osborne backs restraint in the sector, officials say the chancellor’s position has not shifted on the EU measures, in spite of the Libor furore. “It risks pushing up salaries,” said one Treasury official. “We are not completely convinced it is the right thing to do.” - Financial Times (£)

...As Tory backbenchers continue to brief against the Chancellor...

"George Osborne has trawled the City of London for damaging information about Ed Balls as part of an operation to prove that the shadow chancellor exerted inappropriate pressure while he was a government minister. As Tory MPs express unease about the tactics of Osborne, who is said to be losing his status as the "under the bus" candidate to succeed David Cameron, a Treasury source confirmed that he had approached City figures to ask about Balls." - The Guardian

...Joined by Downing Street

"Downing Street moved to distance David Cameron from the behaviour of his Chancellor yesterday after George Osborne's ill-tempered and personal dispute with Ed Balls over banking regulation…Asked how the bitter exchanges in the Commons helped the cause of an all-party investigation into the banking system, the Prime Minister's spokesman said: "There is always political debate in the House of Commons." But privately, one Downing Street official described the Commons exchanges as "a stupid slanging match"." - The Independent

  • Balls fights back over Osborne Vadera credit note - Financial Times (£)
  • Downing Street slaps down Dominic Grieve's fears that inquiry could prejudice criminal probe - Daily Telegraph
  • Bankers face the prospect of jail as Serious Fraud Office launches criminal probe into interest-rate fixing at Barclays - The Times (£)
  • Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans says Barclays debate was "worst I have ever seen" - Daily Mail

Charles Moore: If the Chancellor won’t focus on the economy, give the job to someone who will

Screen shot 2012-07-07 at 09.01.50"But Mr Osborne is not a prosecuting barrister. He is the Chancellor. He is responsible for the economy. The economy is in a mess. This is not, primarily, his fault, but it is his job. He should spend all his waking hours trying to put things right. Associates of Mr Osborne say that he is the only one around who is good at putting the boot into political opponents. That may be so, but if that is how he wants to spend his time, he should stop running a great department of state, and take a Cabinet sinecure." - Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

  • The Investigation into the banking industry should not deteriorate into a party-political row - Times (£) Editorial
  • The bankers think they're above the law. So where's the politician who will break them? - Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail
  • The banking scandal marks the end of a dangerous moral experiment - Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi, The Times (£)

> Yesterday:

Care costs to be capped for elderly, but decisions deferred on payment.  Osborne concerned about the bill.

"Ministers are expected to put on record their commitment to the principle of introducing a “cap” on the amount individuals pay for care during their lives to prevent costs reaching “catastrophic” levels. However, the Coalition will risk angering charities and campaigners by deferring for at least a year a decision on how to pay for the reforms. Pensioners will almost certainly see no benefit before the next general election.' - Daily Telegraph

Dominic "Judge Jeffreys" Grieve cracks down on soft sentences

GRIEVE DOMINIC"The number of soft sentences increased on appeal rose by almost 50 per cent last year. Nearly 100 jail terms or community punishments handed down by judges were later deemed unduly lenient after the Attorney General, the Government’s most senior legal adviser, intervened. It is the largest number of sentences reconsidered for five years and a significant increase on the 65 reported the previous year. Among the sentences deemed too soft was one handed to a ringleader in last summer’s riots, who had his four-year sentence nearly doubled." - Daily Express

Mitchell says that aid to India programme may go

"Officials are resistant to carrying on the controversial aid programme as British voters struggle with a double-dip recession and the spectre of domestic spending cuts continuing into the next parliament. Andrew Mitchell, development secretary, said the UK’s position had not changed but admitted the aid programme to India was finite. “We will not be in India forever – we have said we are walking the last mile – but we have not set out any end date for our bilateral programme,” he told the Financial Times." - Financial Times (£)

Gove wants to rank pupils in his new O-level

"Teenagers could be given national rankings according to their scores in the new ‘O-levels’ being introduced by the Government, it emerged yesterday. Certificates for the replacements for GCSEs in the core subjects of English, maths and science would go beyond a simple grade. They are likely to include the student’s overall position as well as a graph showing the overall distribution of scores." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday: Local Government - Michael Gove has not attacked school governors

Grayling pushes for new crackdown on benefit tourists

GRAYLING CHRIS NW"Employment Minister Chris Grayling said he was “optimistic” that a high level meeting of EU states in London yesterday had started a process towards a more common- sense approach across Europe. He called the meeting of fellow ministers amid concern at attempts by the European Commission and European Court to overturn rules designed to ensure certain welfare benefits are paid only to people who genuinely live in their countries and seek to work and contribute to the social security systems." - Daily Express

Hague says that failing to impose sanctions against Assad allows Syria's brutal regime to carry on killing

"Britain yesterday warned countries which are refusing to impose sanctions on Syria that they are effectively allowing killings of civilians to continue. At a meeting in Paris of Western and Arab states that back the rebel uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, Foreign Secretary William Hague's blunt message was aimed mainly at staunch Syrian allies China and Russia. He said: 'There is no way of sitting on the sidelines on this." - Daily Mail

Chief of General Staff defends army reduction plans - Financial Times (£)

British democracy "in terminal decline" - Guardian

Four former Labour Ministers launch ideas campaign - The Independent

Prescott accused of snubbing Dalai Lama by ignoring criticisms of China's human rights record to make regular diplomatic visits - Daily Mail

Evidence for the rise of identikit questions planted by the Whips - Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

George W.Bush spends forgoes July 4 celebrations to visit an orphanage in Zambia - Daily Mail

Rain Goddess Spelman won't stop now: the deluge will continue until September - Daily Express

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