Newslinks for Friday 4th January 2013
5pm Catherine Marcus on Comment: No, Laurie Penny, the head of Hastings Police knows what she’s talking about
1.15pm LeftWatch: Three problems with Ed Balls’s new welfare proposal
11.30am Robert Halfon MP on Comment: Let’s bring back the 10p income tax band — in part, with cash from the top rate windfall
Alistair Burt MP on Comment: The prospects for Syria in 2013
Local Government: Camden Council honours Lenin
Also on Local Government, Brandon Lewis MP says that there's no excuse for council tax rises: "In the next few years’, district councils could really see a rise in their income while their government grant falls. This must be the way forward; it means councils will be less reliant on government. It will be easier for them to be more responsive to the demands of local communities, because they will be less responsible to Whitehall."
The Deep End's Heresy of the week: An in/out referendum will not solve all of our problems
David Cameron says no, no, no to Kirchner...
"The renewed demand by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner for the Falklands to be handed back to Argentina elicited a defiant response from the UK and Falkland governments , with David Cameron vowing to do everything he could to protect the islanders' desire to remain British." - Guardian
- The Sun's letter to an Argentinian newspaper: "Hands off!" - The Sun
- How Britain politely took over the Falklands - Ben Macintyre, The Times (£)
...rejects the latest calls for Winter Fuel Allowance to be cut for wealthy pensioners... - Independent
...and claims that egregious health and safety regulations are discouraging companies from offering work experience placements... - Daily Telegraph
..before turning his attention to the NHS
Some measures that Mr Cameron will announce today, taken from the Daily Mail's report:
- "All nurses will have to do hourly rounds of their patients under new rules to be outlined by David Cameron today."
- "The Prime Minister will also demand that every worker in the Health Service – from consultants to hospital porters – receives specialist training in dealing with the one in four patients who suffer from dementia."
- "The government will ensure that every NHS ward will have a ‘dementia champion’ and every NHS organisation a dementia nursing expert."
- "Mr Cameron will also announce plans to extend patient and staff satisfaction surveys across the NHS so every part of it has to pass the ‘friends and family test’, including GP surgeries."
- "In addition, nurses and midwives at the beginning of their career will be given the opportunity to become ‘care makers’, a new initiative to use volunteer ambassadors in hospitals and homes to improve care."
On the comment pages:
- Whoever loses out, Dilnot must be funded somehow - David Lipsey, The Times (£)
- "The health secretary has made an intriguing start in a tough job, by styling himself a patients’ champion" - The Economist
> Today on ToryDiary: David Cameron’s new, tougher love for the NHS
The Mail suggests that Tory voters will be hardest hit by the child benefit cuts
"Figures obtained by the Daily Mail reveal that the Conservative heartlands in the South East will be the biggest losers when the changes come into force on Monday. ... Yesterday, the Treasury admitted more than 300,000 taxpayers – out of an estimated 1.2million who are affected – have not yet been informed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs that they are set to lose out." - Daily Mail
- "In his first budget, George Osborne quite rightly said any tax and benefits system needs to pass three tests: it must be simple; fair; and support work and those who do the right thing. ... We fear the Chancellor may come to bitterly regret how – with his child benefit policy – he has failed on every count." - Daily Mail leader
Doubt over William Hague's proposed war veto
"The Foreign Secretary committed the coalition to a new law that would force governments to go to the House of Commons before sending the Armed Forces into battle. But officials have struggled to draw up a Bill that would give ultimate authority to the Commons while allowing ministers leeway to respond to an emergency." - The Times (£)
Falling university applications prompt tuition fee fears
"The number of Britons applying to study at universities here has fallen for the second year in a row, according to new figures showing a drop of more than 6 per cent. ... They are likely to fuel concerns that school-leavers are being deterred by higher tuition fees, which trebled to £9,000 a year last autumn." - The Times (£)
Chris Grayling inclined to withhold legal aid from prisoners making "trivial claims"
"Mr Grayling has ordered officials to draw up plans to make sure it is only granted in the most serious cases — not when cons want softer mattresses or more access to the phone. ... And he wants minor complaints to be dealt with by the jail or the official prison ombudsman — rather than being dragged through the courts at huge extra cost." - The Sun
Planners shouldn't ignore local concerns over wind farms, says Nick Boles
"In a letter to the department for Energy and Climate Change, Mr Boles warns that the spread of onshore windfarms is ‘bitterly resented’ by affected communities. ... He has very pointedly sided with energy minister John Hayes, who is campaigning to block the approval of future onshore wind farms, against Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey, who insists that they are a cornerstone of Britain’s renewable energy policy." - Daily Mail
The Government has extradited a terror suspect to America; he faces charges that he took part in an Al Qaeda plot to attack the New York subway system - Daily Mail
Small businesses aren't benefitting as much as their larger brethren from the Government's flagship lending scheme
"But the Bank’s latest ‘credit conditions’ survey, published yesterday, showed how lenders continue to have a separate rule book for small firms. ... It said: ‘Overall, credit availability to the corporate sector was reported to have increased significantly [between September and December], the first reported rise in availability for a year. ... ‘This was reflected in a significant increase in availability for medium-sized firms, an increase in availability for large firms and a slight increase for small firms.’" - Daily Mail
Ministers encouraged to cut employers' National Insurance contributions, so that more businesses can set-up pension schemes
"The stark survey by the Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA) suggests most small firms can no longer afford to fund decent pensions, leaving millions of workers facing dependency on benefits in old age. ... The ACA says ministers should cut employers’ National Insurance contributions to give firms more scope to boost their workers’ pension pots." - Daily Mail
- A quarter of over-65s are putting off retirement, suggests survey - Daily Mail
And encouraged, also, to tackle "profiteering" rail companies
"Fat-cat rail bosses were accused by MP watchdogs today of ‘profiteering’ as millions of train passengers are hit with inflation-busting fare rises. ... The charges came in a damning report by the House of Commons Transport Select committee which urged the Government to ‘shine a light on complacent management, waste, and profiteering.’" - Daily Mail
Lord Heseltine takes his devolutionary ideas to Birmingham
"Lord Heseltine has backed a scheme that could lead to Greater Birmingham becoming the test bed for his plan to strip Whitehall of up to £58bn of business support funding and place it in local hands. ... The former Tory deputy prime minister visited Birmingham on Thursday to launch a three-month project to review how the city region would handle a big devolution of funding and powers to stimulate economic growth." - Financial Times (£)
Tory council floats idea of cutting benefits for overweight claimants who do not exercise enough
"Cutting benefits for the obese was suggested by Westminster council and the Local Government Information Unit, a council-funded think-tank. ... Philippa Roe, leader of the flagship Tory authority, said: ‘This report contains exactly the sort of bright, forward-thinking and radical ideas that need to be looked at.’ ... The document suggested that financial pressure on the jobless and unhealthy could begin this spring when control of state public health programmes shifts to town halls." - Daily Mail
- Labour research suggests that Tory councils make more from parking charges than Labour ones - BBC
> Yesterday on Local Government: Westminster Council proposes docking benefits from the fat
"Two-thirds of local authorities in England are from April planning to demand council tax payments from working-age households which are currently exempt, according to new research." - Guardian
> Today, by Brandon Lewis MP on Local Government: There's no excuse for council tax rises
The Independent asks, "Who said the nasty party had gone away?"
"It would be nonsensical to suggest the Government should rise above politics. But there are depths to which it is irresponsible to sink and the deliberate encouragement of erroneous social divisions is one of them. The attempt to carve society into those that work and those that live on their coat-tails is both simplistic and disingenuous; it is no strategy for a Government with a good case for reining in welfare." - Independent leader
- TUC-commissioned poll suggests "public ignorance" about benefit levels - Independent
Philip Stephens: The parties of the right have forsaken centrist broad appeal
"Whatever happened to conservative pragmatism? Ideology used to belong to parties of the left. The right concerned itself with the exercise of power. On either side of the Atlantic politics has been turned on its head. The conservatives are now the utopian zealots forsaking centrist broad appeal for ideological absolutism. Liberals and social democrats are the new realists." - Philip Stevens, Financial Times (£)
"The logic of David Cameron's cry for optimism is: vote Labour" - Gaby Hinsliff, Guardian
Ed Balls announces a new jobs guarantee for the long-term unemployed
"When times are tough it cannot be right that we subsidise the pension contributions of the top 2 per cent of earners at more than double the rate of people on average incomes paying the basic rate of tax. £1 billion a year would fund a compulsory jobs guarantee initially for all those out of work for 24 months or more – which we would seek to reduce to 18 or 12 months over time." - Ed Balls, PoliticsHome
- "Making welfare simple is fiendishly complex" - Daily Telegraph leader
"Labour joined calls yesterday for an independent authority to tackle complaints about bullying, harassment and unfair treatment within the military." - The Times (£)
Diane Abbott outlines plan to curb fast food shops - Guardian
Dan Hodges: Ed Miliband's relatively successful 2012 may have laid the ground for a dismal 2013
"The third – and by far the most dangerous – problem facing Miliband surrounds Labour’s policy on the economy. It’s hard to find anyone in the party who believes it has a settled and credible economic offer. Miliband confidantes admit they don’t have a strategy if the economy begins to recover, and that they will have to shift position." - Dan Hodges, Daily Telegraph
Brits would be willing to give up their job for a £1 million lump sum... - Daily Mail
...as it emerges that around 300,000 of us have homes worth over £1million, a 50,000 increase over the past year - Daily Mail
- YouGov survey finds that more people are struggling to pay their housing costs - Financial Times (£)
The Republicans' John Boehner has been re-elected as Speaker of the House, despite disgruntlement in his own party - Daily Mail
- "Mr Boehner is being actively undermined by both wings of his party, but he remains an essential player in the horsetrading ahead." - Times leader (£)
> Yesterday on the The Deep End: How much longer can America afford to be the world’s policeman?
And finally... Brussels' self-congratulatory lessons for kids
"Brussels has been accused of 'brainwashing' kids by sending glossy brochures to schools claiming the euro has been a triumph. ... Despite three years of constant crisis, the pamphlet declares the single currency has led to a 'better-performing economy' and 'sounder public finances'." - The Sun
> Today, the Deep End's Heresy of the week: An in/out referendum will not solve all of our problems
> Yesterday on ToryDiary: If Cameron pledges an In/Out referendum, says Daniel Hannan, peace will proclaim olives of endless age
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