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Newslinks for Saturday 1st December 2012

9.45pm ToryDiary: Has Tory support for Leveson-style regulation softened?

4.30pm LISTEN: Norman Lamb MP: The regulatory model for the care sector "is not actually yet fit for purpose"

2.30pm ToryDiary: Boris Johnson tells George Osborne the top rate of tax "needs to be looked at"

Screen shot 2012-11-30 at 13.53.54ToryDiary: A twitch of a tentacle from Octopus Osborne puts Neil O’Brien in post

Angie Bray MP on Comment: It is un-Conservative to make the many pay for the sins of the few - including with alcohol pricing

Also on Comment, Philip Booth: The problem is not that companies pay too little tax, but that they pay too much

MPsETC: Martin Callanan MEP's monthly report focuses on the failed EU budget summit and plans for a new President of Europe

Also on MPsETC: A productive day in Parliament - with progress on banning illegal scrap metal dealing

John Bald on Local government: Higher education is not improving

Boris tells George Osborne to cut the top rate of tax

JOHNSON BORIS 8"Boris Johnson has suggested that the higher rates of income tax should be reduced ahead of the Government’s Autumn Statement next week. On a business trip to India, Mr Johnson... said business leaders had expressed concern over Britain’s tax regime. ... Speaking yesterday on the final day of his tour, Mr Johnson said: “You’ve got tax rates here of only 30 per cent – a point George Osborne might like to brood on."" - Daily Telegraph

  • George Osborne has no alternative but to cut taxes - Simon Heffer for the Daily Mail

> Yesterday: 

Osborne Number11

Osborne to freeze benefits for jobless

"George Osborne is preparing to unveil a new round of welfare cuts and £3 billion of savings to PFI deals in next week’s Autumn Statement. The Chancellor and Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, were last night thought to have agreed to freeze some out-of-work benefit payments next year. The move will not affect pensioners. The criteria for new benefit claimants are also expected to be tightened next year." - Daily Telegraph

  • Welfare State has ballooned to over 12 times its original size, figures reveal as Chancellor prepares benefits freeze - Daily Mail

Osborne devolving billions from Whitehall to the town hall

"George Osborne is attempting to strip Whitehall of up to £58bn of business support funding and place it in local hands in the biggest act of financial devolution England has ever seen." - FT (£)

George Osborne hires Policy Exchange's Neil O’Brien to try and attract new voters

"George Osborne has sent an unequivocal message that Conservatives have to work harder to reach out beyond traditional voters by hiring a leading thinktank boss who has warned that the party is still seen as the champion of the rich. Neil O'Brien, the director of the centre-right Policy Exchange and who grew up in Huddersfield, is to offer the chancellor policy advice across the political landscape with a particular focus on how to reach voters in the north of England." - Guardian

> Today on ToryDiaryA twitch of a tentacle from Octopus Osborne puts Neil O’Brien in post

> Yesterday on ToryDiaryGeorge Osborne appoints Neil O'Brien as new adviser and opens door to a more blue collar, northern conservatism

Charles Moore: Our crisis would have been far deeper without Quantitative Easing

"QE is a very alarming device, but in wars, alarming devices are needed, and we have been in an economic war since 2008. We have to keep calm and carry on. Next year, Mark Carney will fly in from cautious Toronto where QE has not been needed, and replace Sir Mervyn. Things will get exciting if he does not agree with the way the Old Country is fighting the war." - Charles Moore for the Daily Telegraph

Continued Leveson fallout 1: Hague says we can’t preach freedom to world if we adopt regulation

Hague William Syria"William Hague has warned that a “Leveson law” would curb Britain’s ability to address other countries on the importance of free speech. The Foreign Secretary told Cabinet ministers that Russia, in particular, would pounce on any moves by the Government to legislate for a new press regulator... A new law would limit Britain’s ability to speak out over cases such as the jailing of the Pussy Riot protesters" - Times (£)

  • "Tory blushes deepen over activities of Conservative Friends of Russia" - Guardian
  • Russian embassy staff instructed to deepen 'co-operation' with troubled Conservative Friends of Russia - Guardian

Continued Leveson fallout 2: Newspaper editors to meet Maria Miller

MILLER-MARIA"The culture secretary is challenging newspapers to draw up a better model for self-regulation than the one they put to the Leveson Inquiry. Newspaper editors will meet Maria Miller on Tuesday to discuss their response to the Leveson report. Their plan was criticised in the report for being insufficiently independent. Mrs Miller says the "gauntlet has been thrown down" to newspapers to demonstrate how they could regulate themselves without legislation." - BBC

  • Newspaper bosses told to prove they can sort out press without a new law - Times (£)

Continued Leveson fallout 3: Clegg and Miliband oppose Cameron's response

Clegg reshuffle2"Mr Clegg and Ed Miliband are furious with the Prime Minister for suggesting that a draft Bill to be drawn up in line with Lord Justice Leveson's proposals would merely be a wrecking device to show how difficult it would be to turn them into law. ... The Deputy Prime Minister will work to ensure the draft Bill is a serious attempt to provide a workable system of press regulation." - Independent

  • Battle lines are drawn as ideological split over Leveson grows wider - Independent

Continued Leveson fallout 4: Ed Miliband U-turns, drops call for government watchdog Ofcom to oversee new Press rules

Miliband E Bradford West"Ed Miliband is preparing to drop his backing for Lord Leveson’s plan for broadcasting watchdog Ofcom to oversee the regulation of the press. Despite demanding David Cameron implement the Leveson Report in its ‘entirety’, the Labour party now says it will not insist that Ofcom be given legal powers over a new self-regulation process." - Daily Mail

  • Forcing journalists to sign contracts with sources would be "unworkable" - Daily Telegraph

Continued Leveson fallout 5: Comment roundup

Leveson screenshot

  • Cameron is right about Leveson. This is a Rubicon we must not cross - Sir Simon Jenkins for the Guardian
  • "Labour and the Left’s stance on Leveson isn’t motivated by high principle; it’s motivated by a desire for political retribution" - Dan Hodges for the Daily Telegraph
  • The misdeeds of the press were criminal - Sir Max Hastings for the FT (£)
  • Phone hacking was criminal, but emotion has no place in the Leveson debate. Press freedom matters to all of us - Matthew Syed for the Times (£)
  • I feel for the victims of press intrusion, but some principles must remain sacred - Shami Chakrabarti for the Independent
  • Why should I answer to David Cameron? - Ian Hislop for the Independent
  • The Leveson Report is not just a wake-up call for Fleet Street – it is an exhaustive and generally commendable blueprint for its future - Daily Telegraph editorial
  • Political class out of tune with the public - Daily Mail editorial
  • Lord Justice Leveson’s proposed changes to data protection law are worrying - Times (£) editorial

> Coverage from yesterday:

Nick Boles blames Labour's immigration policies for plans to concrete over countryside

BOLES-COLOUR"Mr Boles said that nearly half the new households required were accounted for by immigration, saying that the previous administration had “allowed the population of this country to expand dramatically”. It comes after Mr Boles alarmed conservationists earlier this week when he suggested the total area of land under development should be increased by a third to ease the housing shortage." - Daily Telegraph

Justine Greening halts £21m of aid for Rwanda over links to Congo rebels

Greening Justine"Britain is withholding £21 million of aid to Rwanda amid concerns that the state is supporting rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). International Development Secretary Justine Greening said the money, which was due to be handed over next month, would not be released because president Paul Kagame’s regime had breached agreements." - Scotsman

  • Andrew Mitchell criticised by MPs for Rwanda aid decision - Daily Telegraph
  • "So long as Kagame remains in power Rwanda should receive not a penny more in foreign aid." - Daily Express editorial

Government "U-turn" as flood budget rises £120m

"The Government was accused of making yet another U-turn by announcing a £120m boost to flood defences after cutting the annual budget by £95m. ... Of the extra £120m fund announced yesterday, £35m will be available in 2013-2014, meaning there will still be a £60m shortfall on previous investment levels. The remaining £85m has been allocated to the following year." - Independent

Government to give green light to mass exploration for shale gas - Independent

Liberal Democrats by-election result is 'worst ever by a major political party'

LibDemDead"The Liberal Democrats’ showing in the Rotherham by-election is the worst performance ever by a major political party, experts say, while support for the UK Independence Party (Ukip) dramatically increased. Support for Nick Clegg’s party at the by-election slumped to eighth behind behind the BNP, Respect and the English Democrats." - Daily Telegraph

  • Have the wheels come off the Lib Dem by-election battle bus? - Andrew Hawkins for the Daily Telegraph

Nigel Farage: UKIP is now Britain's third party

Farage on Sky"The leader of Ukip, Nigel Farage, has claimed that his party has now displaced the Liberal Democrats as the "third force" in British politics after it performed strongly in three byelections. ... "There is an upward trend. And I think the Ukip message is resonating with voters and not just Tory voters. There are plenty of voters, particularly in the north of England, coming to us from Labour and the Lib Dems."" - Guardian

  • "[T]he notion that the Tories could in some way associate themselves with [UKIP] is eccentric; internal contradictions would doom the relationship." - Janan Ganesh for the FT (£)
  • "Michael Gove has a talent for building alliances. Not only is he warmly-regarded by Ukip types but he has also contrived to be the favourite Tory of many Lib Dem ministers.  This means that in theory he would be well placed to win back many Ukippers to the Tory fold and yet still be able to form a post-election coalition with Lib Dems (if, heaven forbid, that is what the arithmetic demands)." - Patrick O'Flynn for the Daily Express
  • With Ukip's surge, do we still have a progressive majority? - John Harris for the Guardian
  • Now Rotherham claim there were multiple reasons children were taken from UKIP foster parents - Guardian

> Yesterday:

Matthew Parris: Here’s what to do in the Middle East: nothing - Times (£)

  • America must back urgent talks in the Middle East - William Hague and Laurent Fabius (Foreign Minister of France) for the Times (£)

Alex Salmond refuses to give up "McLeveson" role as FM bids to lead press regulation in Scotland

Salmond Alex iv"Salmond is defying calls to abandon his bid to introduce a new press regulation regime to Scotland, dubbed “McLeveson”. The First Minister indicated that he would be involved in cross-party talks to set up a Scottish regulatory system in response to the Leveson Inquiry, despite opposition calls for the discussions to be led by Nicola Sturgeon." - Scotsman

Investigate eBay over tax payments, says Margaret Hodge - Guardian

Care homes' finances could face inspection - BBC

SAS sniper Sgt Danny Nightingale pays tribute to "hero" wife - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday - David T Breaker on Comment: There must be an investigation into the Sgt Nightingale case

US heading for point when 'military pursuit of al-Qaida should end' - Guardian

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