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Newslinks for Wednesday 17th October 2012

8.30pm On ToryDiary, Paul Goodman says that this evening's 1922 Committee meeting was divided 50/50 over Andrew Mitchell — but there's no mood in the '22 Executive for the Chief Whip to go now

7.30pm Robert Halfon MP on Comment: Let’s give White Van Conservatism wheels – scrap the 3p fuel tax rise!

5.30pm Majority Conservatism: The next Tory manifesto must be equal to the challenges facing Britain

4.15pm ToryDiary: The public finances under Margaret Thatcher and under the Coalition — compared

2.30pm WATCH: This week's PMQs in full

14.15pm Columnist Andrew Lilico: The Hayekian argument for Scottish independence

Mitchell13.45 ToryDiary: The Mitch-hunt tramples across PMQs

11.45am WATCH: Mark Hoban on the latest employment figures: "We can't be complacent"

11.15am ToryDiary: It’s the same encouraging story on employment — only better

Tory Diary: David Cameron should take Alastair Campbell's advice on strategic communication

Columnist Jill Kirby: Childcare policy should start with children

Robert Buckland MP on Comment: Our approach to tackling serious and complex fraud needs a reassessment 

Wrong modernisationMajority Conservatism: The next phase of modernisation needs to focus on the economy and blue collar Britain

Local Government: What Eric Pickles did during the conference break

The Deep End: Liberalism is a parasite that has killed its host

WATCH: The second Presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, in full

American "disappointment" at Theresa May's decision not to extradite Gary McKinnon...

"Louis Susman, the American Ambassador in London, was left fuming when he learned of Theresa May’s dramatic halting of Gary’s removal shortly before she rose to deliver her statement to the Commons yesterday lunchtime. ... Last night, the US State Department said the American government was examining the decision. ... A spokesman said it was 'disappointed by the decision to deny Gary McKinnon’s extradition to face long overdue justice in the United States'." - Daily Mail

  • "Britain’s security relationship with the US is 'on probation' because of concerns in Washington about intelligence secrets being made public by courts in the UK, a parliamentary committee was told yesterday." - The Times (£)

...Yet Ms May is riding high nevertheless...

May"Some excitable MPs compare the McKinnon decision to the moment in the movie Love Actually when a British PM stands up to Washington. A minister confides: ‘She’ll definitely stand if there’s a leadership election.’ Boris v Theresa might be a political attraction on a par with Muhammad Ali and George Foreman’s 1974 ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in Zaire." - Ephraim Hardcastle column, Daily Mail

  • "The Home Secretary’s announcement at 12.36pm was that rare thing, a parliamentary surprise – a genuine ‘abracadabra’ moment." - Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • "The Home Secretary has done what no British minister has dared to do for at least two decades — stand up to Uncle Sam." - Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • "Theresa May was right to stand up for Gary McKinnon." - Sun editorial
  • "My son Gary McKinnon has won justice at last" - Janis Sharp, Guardian

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: "If you want someone to act quickly and theatrically then Theresa May is not your kind of politician. She is Britain's Mrs Merkel: unshowy, not particularly flamboyant but reliable, steady, solid and very hard-working."

...Although not every British press outlet is so enthusiastic

  • "To that end, Mrs May described the McKinnon affair as 'exceptional'. Still, it would be no surprise if its implications return to haunt future occupants of her post." - Daily Telegraph editorial
  • "Given Mr McKinnon’s mental state, and the fact that the damage was done in the US, many people are already assuming that he will not be prosecuted [in the UK]. Yet it will be important for this country to show that it will not become a refuge for hackers who penetrate the Pentagon, whatever their motives." - Times (£) editorial
  • "The success of his campaign to stay in Britain is cause to celebrate, but Mrs May's pick 'n' mix approach is dismaying. Rights are for everyone, or they are not rights at all." - Guardian editorial

David Cameron to expand a scheme to help unemployed people set up businesses

Cameron"The Prime Minister will expand a scheme to help jobless entrepreneurs in a drive to see more than 40,000 people start companies. ... Under the scheme, people will get business advice from the moment they become unemployed, rather than having to wait at least half a year under the current system. ... Those who can present a credible idea for a company will get access to a mentor, as well as £1,000 in cash over six months and the offer of a £1,000 unsecured loan." - Daily Telegraph

Mr Cameron held back "dozens of communications" with Rebekah Brooks from the Leveson Inquiry

"David Cameron held back dozens of communications between himself and Rebekah Brooks from the Leveson Inquiry on legal advice, it emerged yesterday. ... Downing Street confirmed that the Prime Minister did not hand over the content of texts and emails of a social nature with the former News of the World editor since they did not fall within Lord Justice Leveson’s remit." - Daily Mail

  • The catfight that rocked Downing Street - Daily Mail

Michael Gove turns his attention towards A-Levels

"Mr Gove is said to be developing an Advanced Baccalaureate which would see students studying a mixture of A-level subjects, writing a 5,000-word essay and undertaking voluntary work. ... If his proposals are enacted it would mean the entire exam system for secondary schools will have been replaced in the space of thee years." - Daily Mail 

  • The pace of reform must be stepped up to tackle mediocrity in our education system - James O'Shaughnessy, Daily Telegraph

George Osborne is still considering freezing working-age benefits for two years

Osborne"At least £1 billion could be saved by freezing benefits for one year from next April, following the latest inflation figures. ... But George Osborne is still considering freezing working age benefits for two years as part of his attempts to curb the welfare bill. A Treasury spokesman yesterday said a decision on uprating would be made later this year, in time for the autumn statement." - The Times (£)

  • Lib Dem outrage at benefits freeze plan - Independent
  • State pensioners set for a £2.69 a week increase in their pensions next year - Daily Mail

Cameron and Osborne to meet with Clegg and Alexander today about energy policy - Guardian

Andrew Mitchell set to face the 1922 Committee, with some Tory MPs calling for him to quit

"Mr Mitchell’s faces three dramatic trials of strength today, beginning with a full bore assault from Labour MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons. ... Disgruntled Tories are then expected to speak out against him at a meeting of the 1922 Committee. ... Most critically he will receive a delegation of the men in grey suits, led by Chairman Graham Brady, after the meeting, a regular head to head which could nonetheless seal his fate." - Daily Mail

Greg Clark urges banks to clean up their staff

"'This is a big moment for the leadership of our banks,' Mr Clark told the Financial Times, noting that the government was setting up a new regime of regulation, sanctions and bonus control. ... 'If people have been implicated in scandals for which they have been responsible or if senior people think they have inherited people who don’t get the importance of restoring the reputation of their sector, certainly they should move out.'" - Financial Times (£)

Francis Maude speaks out against over-regulation of the press

MAude"Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he highlights the vital role of a free press in the democratic process, and warns that freedom itself is threatened when curbs are put on the work of responsible journalists. 'This is a group that has historically exposed the lies, the corruption, and the ineffectiveness of people in power,' Mr Maude writes. 'I’m talking about the fourth estate — the media — which has an almost sacred role in holding governments to account.'" - Daily Telegraph

  • "But as we consider the regulation of the media and the legal right to privacy it is worth reflecting on how the Savile scandal happened. It happened because the aura of Sir Jimmy’s celebrity protected him from scrutiny by the press." - Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

Dominic Grieve working towards new Hillsborough inquests

"Britain’s top law officer yesterday paved the way for new inquests to be held into the 96 deaths at Hillsborough. ... Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC said he was taking the ‘exceptional’ step of applying to the High Court to have the original verdicts of accidental death quashed." - Daily Mail 

Convictions for benefit fraud have risen by 40 per cent in the past two years

"Figures showed that 9,861 benefit cheats were convicted in 2011-12, up by 40 per cent on the 7,040 tally of 2009-2010, the last full year of the Labour government ... The DWP said the increase in convictions was the result of a more aggressive stance and investigators having more powers." - Daily Mail

  • Around 450,000 disabled people could lose up to £58 a week under Universal Credit, claims report - Guardian
  • Up to 66 applicants are chasing every shop job, says the Joseph Rowntree Foundation - Sun

The Office for Budget Responsibility admits its own failings

"In its Forecast evaluation report (FER) released [yesterday], the OBR said: 'Fiscal consolidation may also have done more to slow growth than we assumed.' ... However, spending cuts and tax increases were not the only reason for the OBR's forecasts falling short of the mark. ... 'Along with many other forecasters, we significantly overestimated economic growth over the past two years,' the report said." - Daily Telegraph

London could make a case for taking greater control of the taxes it generates, say experts - Financial Times (£)

Criticism of the Foreign Office's inconsistent approach towards human rights

FCO"A Foreign Affairs Committee report found that diplomats allow some countries to get away with abuses that are held against other states. ... In particular the Foreign Office has exhibited an inexplicable willingness to maintain normal relations with Bahrain, the Gulf kingdom which has faced down pro-democracy protests from its Shia Muslim majority." - Daily Telegraph

  • Britain's Ambassador to Chile caught up in Twitter storm after a jibe at Argentina's expense - Sun
  • Britian is to close its consulate in Basra - The Times (£)

It is time to stop wasting billions on government projects, says Richard Bacon MP - Richard Bacon MP, Daily Telegraph

Nick Clegg mocks Grant Shapps — and slaps down the idea of a "cash for boundaries" deal

"Mr Clegg yesterday slapped down the idea and insisted that all 50 Liberal Democrat MPs will vote against boundary changes in retaliation for the Conservatives' failure to support House of Lords reform. ... He went on to mock Mr Shapps with a reference to the MP’s controversial history of running a business under an alias that sold advice on how to make a quick fortune. ... 'I suppose finally that's a get-rich-quick scheme which he is actually prepared to put his name to,"' Mr Clegg said." - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday's question to The Jury: Would Cable or Clegg be a better Lib Dem leader for the Tories?

Danny Alexander warns that the cost of borrowing would soon shoot up in an independent Scotland - Financial Times (£)

Prince Charles's letters to New Labour will not be published

PRince Charles"Last month three judges ruled that there was an overwhelming public interest in releasing the letters, sent by the Prince to seven departments in Tony Blair’s government, to shine a light on the way the heir to the throne lobbied ministers on a weekly basis. ... Mr Grieve overturned their decision, saying there was an 'exceptional case' for him to use his veto to prevent the Prince’s 'most deeply held and personal beliefs' becoming public." - Daily Telegraph

Labour calls for tougher lobbying rules - Guardian

Mary Riddell: Ed Miliband is planning to get tough with his party - Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph

Alastair Campbell says that politicians should welcome social media, despite its unruliness - Alastair Campbell, The Times (£)

Former High Court judge and former Sky News executive to lead reviews into the BBC over Jimmy Savile - Daily Mail

  • David Cameron has "not ruled out" an independent inquiry into the Savile case - Daily Telegraph

Ofcom is considering scrapping the two tier system of first- and second-class post - Daily Mail

Barack Obama edges a tetchy Presidential debate

Romney

"Clearly coming with a different game plan after his lacklustre performance in Denver, Obama assailed Romney on his tax rate, his tax plan, his stance on the auto bailout and his plans to stand up to China. ... The pair even appeared physically aggressive, coming toe-to-toe as they angrily gestured on the red-carpetted stage and showed their passion through their body language." - Daily Mail

"The CNN/ORC International survey indicates 46% of debate watches say Obama won the debate, while 39% say Romney fared better. The seven-point margin falls within the poll's sampling error." - CNN

> Yesterday on International: Romney is in contention because he's not the grotesque caricature of Democrat propaganda

And finally... Jeremy Hunt fails to amuse the Queen

"He then told her: 'I read about a Japanese tourist who said afterwards how wonderful our Queen must be to take part in that as they would never get their emperor to jump out of the plane.' ... There was a brief 'tumbleweed' moment as the Queen smiled and shrugged her shoulders politely as she turned and moved on. ... The still smiling minister was then approached by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, who in typically blunt fashion, asked him 'who are you?'." - Daily Telegraph

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