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Newslinks for Thursday 20th September 2012

King8.15pm WATCH: Mervyn King: It could be "acceptable" for the government to miss its debt target

6.15pm ThinkTankCentral: The Government needs to succeed in its Red Tape Challenge — and quick

6pm What does the government's new workplace pension scheme mean? WATCH the DWP video, alongside which we have pasted some quotes from IDS and pensions minister Steve Webb.

5.30pm Cllr Phil Taylor on Comment: The left don't want you to hear Sir Michael Wilshaw

4.15pm ToryDiary: What will Chris Grayling be able to achieve in Coalition?

2.30pm WATCH: The Ofsted Chief Inspector says that schools aren't using the Pupil Premium properly

Scrap12.30pm ToryDiary: The seven government departments David Cameron should scrap at the next reshuffle

10.45am Local government:

ToryDiary: Tough and smug beats weak and weird. So no wonder Cameron's beating Miliband

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

Columnist Andrew Lilico: Over the very long haul, all that really matters is technology and religion

Chris Philp on Comment: A freeze in benefits will cut the deficit and increase the incentive to work

Local Government: Richmond Council defies Government on conservatories

The Deep End: How eating sweets can boost your IQ

Chris Grayling: "I want to be the Tough Justice Secretary"

Grayling"In his first interview in the job, Mr Grayling sensationally declared that Britain has 'lost confidence' in its courts and prisons. ... And the Tory Right-winger promised to rebuild the public’s faith with a raft of tough new actions including ripping up another of Ken Clarke’s plans — to reduce the number of prisoners by 6,000. ... Instead, Mr Grayling vowed to accelerate a radical rehabilitation revolution to halt the appalling re-offending rate that sees around one in two former prisoners committing new crimes. ... [He adds] 'In very many cases yes, prison works. But I don’t think it works well enough.'" - Sun

  • "It would be tough to find a greater contrast to Ken Clarke than his successor." - Sun editorial
  • "Grayling must prove Ken Clarke wrong." - Daily Mail editorial

But Ken Clarke has his say too (on "secret courts")

"Now, as the Guardian editorial writers have pointed out, I am indeed "instinctively liberal". I am a firm believer in open justice, and an opponent of closed justice in any normal circumstances. But I am also an opponent of legal purism, and have no time for institutionalised mythmaking – whether from the authoritarian right or the liberal left. I am quite convinced that allowing the national security elements of these cases to be heard in strictly limited closed hearings is an improvement on the present situation, which is a judicial vacuum." - Ken Clarke, Guardian

George Osborne may need to find £14 billion more cuts, says IPPR think-tank - Guardian

The Tories are planning to target Ed Miliband — and could go "ad hominem"

Osborne"David Cameron has sanctioned a relentless focus on Ed Miliband’s leadership qualities in the run-up to the election, as a poll suggested on Wednesday that voters do not warm to the Labour leader. ... Conservative strategists say they have no qualms about making 'ad hominem' attacks on Mr Miliband, saying Labour did the same thing with Tory leaders including Mr Cameron, William Hague and Michael Howard." - Financial Times (£)

Anti-rape campaigners protest outside Downing St, urging David Cameron to do more for rape victims - Daily Mail

No.10's "Nudge" unit is to sell its expertise to Australia - BBC

IDS warns that an independent Scotland couldn't pay its benefits bill — and angers Alex Salmond

IDS"Scotland’s furious First Minister Alex Salmond last night threatened to quit referendum talks over the 'nonsensical and offensive' remarks. ... But speaking in Glasgow, IDS said: 'This isn’t scaremongering, it’s reality.' He pointed out that spending on benefits is six per cent higher north of the border than in England because of mass unemployment." - Sun

The UK Border Agency has worked through a backlog of half a million asylum claims left from the Labour years — 40,000 have been depoted - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday, by Matthew Goodwin on Comment: If the Conservatives want to win younger voters, they should ease up on immigration control

Hunt paves way for U-turn on casualty unit closures - Independent

The number of civil servants paid over £150,000 a year has fallen by 37 per cent in two years

Maude"A spokesman for [Francis] Maude told The Daily Telegraph: “We’ve always been determined to spend taxpayers’ money more carefully. ... 'While we want to continue to attract the very best into public office we are now ensuring that salaries of that level are all approved by ministers. ... We are also publishing more information so the public can – unlike before - scrutinise the salaries of senior officials in the civil service and quangos.'" - Daily Telegraph

The Goverment is still working on plans for a flat-rate, more generous pension, assure ministers

"Plans for a flat rate, more generous basic state pension are still being worked out, Steve Webb, pensions minister, admitted on Wednesday, while insisting the government remained committed to the policy. ... The Financial Times revealed this week that the prime minister had ordered a rethink of the state pension shake-up amid concerns that key groups of Tory voters could be among those losing out under the new arrangements." - Financial Times (£)

Locals complain about David Willetts' grand designs for a house he owns - Daily Mail

A sacked minister writes about being reshuffled out of government for The Spectator

"Tentatively, I turn up at Dave’s office. His flunkies, who usually don’t give you the time of day on your rare visits to the No. 10 bunker, are eerily fawning. Dave bounces out of his sofa, the air permeated with an uncharacteristic whiff of contrition. Something is definitely up. ‘Thanks for coming. Look there’s something I really need to tell you and I’m afraid it’s not good news.’ ‘What on earth is it?’ I simper." - The Spectator

30 Tory MPs write to the Daily Telegraph to express their concern over university admissions

"In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, 30 Conservatives warn that pressure on tutors to recruit more undergraduates from poor backgrounds “undermines our universities”. The signatories include two ministerial aides, who are officially members of the Government appointed by the Conservative leadership. ... The MPs say the Tories must take a “different long-term approach” from the Liberal Democrats, seen as driving the reforms to university admissions." - Daily Telegraph 

Paul Goodman: The PM would be a fool to ignore the threat from UKIP

Paul"[Nigel Farage] is a tough old thing who gives his turbulent party momentum by sheer force of character. His contempt for Messrs Cameron and Osborne would curdle low-fat milk but, significantly, doesn’t extend to the older generation of senior Conservative politicians, of whom he speaks with guarded respect. His plan is evident: to gain the In/Out EU referendum that would split the Conservatives in half, and to realign British politics, much as the Common Market referendum of 1975 did." - Paul Goodman, Daily Telegraph

  • Nigel Farage says disillusioned Tory donors are turning to Ukip - Guardian

Jesse Norman: There's room for the government to raise capital spending

"After all, projected public investment levels remain low, the UK can borrow at zero or near-zero real interest rates and there is spare capacity in key sectors and in the labour market, as shown by the blight of youth unemployment. ... Given the present obsession with labels, one might call this 'Plan A + Capex': maintaining fiscal consolidation while significantly raising capital investment. The government has made important steps in this direction through the national infrastructure plan. To this one might add the need for a new generation of good public housing." - Jesse Norman, Financial Times (£)

"A government with ominous intent" — Polly Tonybee and David Walker give their verdict on the Coalition so far - Guardian

The head of Otsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, warns that bright pupils are losing out from the "curse of mixed-ability classes without mixed-ability teaching" - Daily Mail

A Commons report warns that the Government's electric car grants are doing little more than helping affluent families to buy a second vehicle - Daily Mail

Nick Clegg apologises over his tuition fees pledge

Clegg

"In a message filmed in his south-west London home, to be shown as a party political broadcast next week, Mr Clegg insisted he would ‘never again’ make a pledge unless he was totally clear it could be met. ... He went on: ‘There’s no easy way to say this: we made a pledge, we didn’t stick to it – and for that I am sorry.’" - Daily Mail

  • "Now let me get that straight. Nick Clegg isn’t apologising for his policies – in fact, he isn’t even apologising for breaking his promise. He is apologising for having made a promise, and is promising (yes, promising) not to make promises again. If you’re confused, don’t worry – so is everybody else, including Clegg himself." - Allister Heath, City AM
  • "'Clegg or no Clegg?' is a proxy question for the deeper one: 'Liberal or not liberal?' If the party is to be liberal, it has to be Clegg. If not, it should be almost anyone but." - Richard Reeves (Mr Clegg's former adviser) in the New Statesman

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

> Yesterday:

The Deputy Prime Minister also confirms new guidlines over domestic abuse

"The changes will not be written into law, as there is no specific offence of domestic violence, but the Government’s definition – which all public bodies will be expected to apply – will be broadened to include ‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality’." - Daily Mail

Ed Davey calls for rewards for those communities that have windfarms situtated nearby

"'Far too often, host communities have seen the wind farms but not the windfall,' he will say. 'We are sensitive to the controversy around onshore wind and we want to ensure that people benefit from having wind farms sited near to them. ... This new call for evidence will look at ways to reward host communities and ensure that wider investment, employment and social benefits are felt locally.'" - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday on Local Government: Lib Dem councillors oppose plan to allow more conservatories

Workers in the finance and insurance sector shared a £13 billion bonus pot last year — although that's down on the £19 billion of 2007/08 - Daily Mail

The number of private sector workers without a pension scheme is at it lowest since records began - Daily Mail

Diesel drivers are being ripped off, says AA - Daily Telegraph

Coop supermarket to offer "do-it-yourself" divorce packages for £99 - Daily Mail

And finally... Mitt Romney continues trying to limit the damage, assuring America that he "supports the 100 per cent" - Daily Mail

> Yesterday: WATCH those Romney videos here and here

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