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Newslinks for Friday 21st September 2012

7.15pm A question to start the weekend with: who will Homer Simpson vote for in the US Presidential election? WATCH this video for the answer

5pm MPsETC: Crime and welfare feature prominently in Tories' Corby campaign

4.45pm Glynn Brailsford on Comment: Red tape doesn’t just hold back businesses — it can also prevent access to medicine

2.15pm WATCH: David Cameron pays tribute to Pcs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes

Cameron2pm WATCH: David Cameron: What Andrew Mitchell said and did was wrong, and it's right that he's apologised

1pm WATCH: Keith Vaz MP, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, says that G4S should be put on a "high-risk register"

12.45pm Local government: Council byelection results from yesterday

11am Columnist Andrew Lilico: It's time to promise a referendum and seek an electoral pact with UKIP

Andrew Mitchell10.15am MPsETC: Andrew Mitchell apologises for his altercation with a Downing St police officer

ToryDiary: George has a friend in Merv

Comment:

On our parliamentary pages, Martin Callanan MEP writes from Strasbourg: European leaders think that a corner has been turned — it hasn't

Local Government: Pickles says: "Put out more flags"

The Deep End: Heresy of the week: Meritocracy doesn’t work anymore

Andrew Mitchell accused of a "foul-mouthed rant" against Downing St policemen

Mitchell cover"[Mr Mitchell] exploded with fury when armed police guarding No10 refused to open the street’s famous gates. ... The PC targeted by the tirade reported to his superiors that Mitchell told him: 'Best you learn your f***ing place. You don’t run this f***ing government. ... You’re f***ing plebs.' ... Mr Mitchell last night admitted he flew off the handle and was abusive. But he firmly denied using the word “plebs”. ... In the end he got off his bike and began pushing it — then launched his four-letter tirade. ... The Prime Minister was informed and has given Mr Mitchell a severe dressing down." - Sun

  • "He says he will apologise in person today. That’s not good enough. He should resign." - Sun editorial

Mervyn King says that, in certain global circumstances, it could be "acceptable" for George Osborne to miss his debt target

"It would be 'acceptable' for George Osborne to miss his key debt target if the global economic slowdown was to blame, the Governor of the Bank of England said yesterday. ... The intervention by Sir Mervyn King offers the Chancellor vital cover for a looming political and financial embarrassment." - The Times (£) 

> Yesterday's video to WATCH: Mervyn King: It could be "acceptable" for the government to miss its debt target

Lords a-leaping 1): Lord Fink called for a change in tax laws to make the UK compete with offshore havens

"Lord Fink, the Tory donor and hedge fund chief, disclosed in an interview that he had lobbied George Osborne for a cut in taxes on invisible earnings so that he and other hedge funders no longer feel obliged to set up companies in places such as the Cayman Islands." - Guardian

Lords a-leaping 2): Lord Young questions whether the UK is actually in recession

Lord Young"He said: 'I have experienced every recession since 1955 and I have never known a recession where employment goes up and at a time when the population is growing. ... I am not sure the Government can actually measure the economy any more. The internet has had such a tremendous effect on business the last few years.'" - Daily Telegraph

Expect council opposition to the government's new planning reforms, warns Nick Boles

The Prime Minister wants the limits doubled to 20ft and 26ft for a three-year period only. On Tuesday night, Tory-run Richmond council voted to oppose the new rules, saying neighbours would be powerless to block large extensions. ... Sutton, a neighbouring south-west London council run by the Lib Dems, joined the opposition, calling the reform a ‘recipe for disaster’ ... Mr Boles denied he was worried that town halls would block the policy, but he accepted that some would do so. - Daily Mail

  • Planning free-for-all is a blueprint for discord - Daily Mail editorial

> Yesterday on Local Government: Richmond Council defies Government on conservatories

And one council is leading a legal challenge over the GCSE fiasco - The Times (£)

> Yesterday:

Iain Duncan Smith hits back at the Universal Credit doubters (again)

"Flanked by his ministers and senior advisers, Mr Duncan Smith flatly dismissed claims – said to be shared in the Treasury and Downing Street – that the cost of the reform is at risk of spiralling. ... He revealed he had appointed what he called a ‘red team’ of independent consultants and advisers who are updating him on the progress of the project. Insisting he would not be deterred or demoralised, he pointed out he had been leader of the Tory party and survived." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday:

G4S should be put on a government blacklist, says the Home Affairs select committee - Sun

In a speech to UKIP's autumn conference, Nigel Farage will offer to enter into a pact with the Tories at the next election

Farage"But he will demand in return the promise of an in-or-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. ... Mr Farage will caution: 'Because the people have been let down so many times before, we want that deal written in blood.'" - Daily Express

The Treasury is impeding a solution on social care, claims a Lib Dem MP who was sacked in the reshuffle

"The Treasury’s view is simple: kick the can down the road despite our rising elderly population. There's no sense of urgency. No recognition that left unreformed there is no incentive for families to plan and prepare. ... In the view of mandarins, there is no need for change, and certainly not yet. That has been the Treasury line every time a reform plan has popped its head above the parapet." - Paul Burstow, Daily Telegraph

The remixed Clegg apology goes viral — and the proceeds will go to charity

Clegg"With the spoof video rapidly threatening to overshadow his apology completely, Mr Clegg tried to salvage something from the situation by agreeing to let The Poke release the song as a charity single. ... Responding to the website’s request on Twitter, Mr Clegg said ‘permission granted’, as long as the proceeds went to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, of which his wife Miriam is a patron." - Daily Mail

"All Lib Dems have a 'collective responsibility' for breaking their near-impossible promise to scrap tuition fees, David Laws has said." - Daily Telegraph

  • Mr Clegg's YouTube apology was admirable - Daily Telegraph editorial
  • Sir Menzies Campbell: The Lib Dems should stand by Clegg - Menzies Campbell, Guardian
  • This was Nick Clegg's chance to save his skin. He failed - Polly Toynbee, Guardian

> Yesterday on LeftWatch: Senior Tories increasingly see Clegg as a drag on whole Coalition, not just Lib Dems

David Laws advises the Coalition parties to stop bickering

"In an exclusive article for The Sun David Laws has revealed a summer of bitter rows pushed the Coalition to 'the edge of a cliff'. ... The newly-returned Cabinet Office Minister writes: “I have seen how easy it is for both parties to constantly block rather than deliver and build on ideas. There must be no more "nothing for nothing" politics.'" - Sun

Tim Farron: It's right that the Lib Dems talk to Labour

"Tim Farron, the Lib Dem MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said a 'confidence and supply' arrangement with Labour 'might be an option' in the event of another hung Parliament in 2015." - Daily Telegraph

Plastic bagWill Lib Dems back a plastic bag levy? Probably, yes...

"Pressure is mounting on ministers to introduce a plastic bag levy after a poll revealed most shoppers support the idea. ... More than half of those questioned – 56 per cent – believe  it is reasonable to pay a small fee for disposable bags. ... Liberal Democrat activists will get the chance to back a bag levy tomorrow following a motion put forward by Baroness Parminter, co-chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Parliamentary Party Committee." - Daily Mail

The Times's Philip Collins says that the Lib Dems need to become serious about government, not turn to Vince Cable

"It beggars belief that the Lib Dems could be contemplating installing the man who is, more than anyone else, chucking away the opportunity that power has brought. ... If he gets a hero’s reception the party is voting for frivolity." - Philip Collins, The Times (£)

  • Nick Clegg still has time to make a gracious exit as Liberal Democrat leader - with head held high - Mary Ann Sieghart, Independent

In interview with the Independent, Harriet Harman turns on the Lib Dems

"Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, has slapped down figures in her own party who are hoping to pave the way for a Lib-Lab coalition by wooing the Liberal Democrats. ... She told The Independent: 'There will be no cosying up to the Lib Dems. No nods and winks. No political games. No hidden agenda aiming for a future coalition.'" - Independent

Labour's John Mann urges all parties to return donations from non-residents and non-domiciles

"Yesterday, a member of the Treasury Select Committee called for the parties to return this money — which totals £1.3 million — and follow through with plans to clear up the law surrounding party political funding. ... John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, said ... 'Most people thought the law had been enforced already. The advice from the Electoral Commission is, you can’t take donations from people who don’t pay tax. That money should be paid back immediately and in full.'" - The Times (£)

Fraser Nelson: Our politics are bursting with life — it's the parties that are dying

Fraser Nelson"The decay of British politics is now horribly evident from the sorry state of party conferences, which have become festivals for the professional political class. Some 30,000 delegates attended the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Tory conferences last year, but less than a quarter were card-carrying members." - Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

The Office for National Statistics' latest happiness survey finds evidence of a "squeezed middle"

"It found that the poorest people are the least happy, while people in the higher tax bracket are the most satisfied. ... However, there is also a 'squeezed middle' of people on middle incomes who appear slightly less happy than those lower down or higher up in the earnings league table." - Daily Mail

Scottish public sector pay to rise by 1 per cent in 2013 - Financial Times (£)

A Warwick University professor claims that universities are taking on foreign students who "wouldn't scrape a GCSE", all because they want the cash - Daily Mail

After the birth of a Camp Bastion baby, military chiefs are suggesting that women soliders take pregnancy tests before being deployed - Daily Mail

A pair of grim, statistical health stories...

  • "One in three cancer sufferers over 70 is diagnosed only after they turn up in casualty ... In many cases, the patient’s tumours were so advanced by the time they sought help at an A&E department that they were untreatable." - Daily Mail
  • "Sloppy NHS care after operations is costing the lives of thousands of patients, research shows. ... Nearly four in 100 people having common forms of surgery die as a result – twice as many as once thought." - Daily Mail

The average rural property comes with a £30,000 "premium" attached - Daily Mail

The first US party to pick a female presidential candidate will win in 2016, says Louise Mensch - Louise Mensch, The Times (£)

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