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Newslinks for Thursday 10th January 2013

7pm WATCH: William Hague says that the UK could start arming Syrian rebels

5pm Local government: Councillors allowances should be abolished not increased

4pm Philip Booth on Comment: Attempts to eliminate risk can have risky consequences

Heywood3.15pm MPsETC: Jeremy Heywood considered the possibility of a Plebgate conspiracy, but left it at that

1.45pm Local government: Academy schools are breaking down social segregation not fueling it

1pm WATCH: Nick Clegg stands up for Britain's membership of the EU during his radio slot

12.30pm Henry Hill writes his first Red, White and Blue column: An opportunity for the Northern Irish Conservatives, if they can take it

11.30am ToryDiary: David Cameron should learn from Nick Clegg — and speak more directly to the public

ToryDiary: Boles is right to say that social justice means new homes. So let's hope his localist housing plan pays off

All-women cabinetAlso on ToryDiary, as part of our series on the Conservatives and women: An All-Women Cabinet of Conservative MPs

Damian Hinds MP and Andrea Leadsom MP on Comment: New Tory thinking on social reform

LeftWatch: The Balls Ultimatum

Peter Walker on Local Government: Met reform is policing model

MerCamAndrew Marshall on International: Listen to Mutti. What Cameron can learn from Merkel and what the Conservatives can learn from the CDU.

The Deep End: Yes, young people really are being bled dry by their elders

David Cameron's thinking on Europe

CAMERON"I understand that [Mr Cameron] intends to argue that Britain needs to remain inside the single market. But he will commit to a renegotiation of Britain’s terms of membership, starting after the next election. Once this process is complete, the British people will be offered a refendum between staying in on the new terms Cameron is confident he can negotiate or leaving the European Union altogether." - from James Forsyth's Coffee House blog post, summarising his own Spectator article

  • The US warns Mr Cameron against an in-out referendum - Daily Mail
  • Hermany Van Rompuy warns that renegotiation may not happen any time soon - The Times (£)

And on the comment pages:

  • "Europe’s dogmatic ruling class remains wedded to its folly" - Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

> Today, by Andrew Marshall on International: Listen to Mutti. What Cameron can learn from Merkel and what the Conservatives can learn from the CDU.

And his thinking on Royal succession

"David Cameron tells MPs that changes to royal succession laws in case William and Kate have a girl have been ‘settled and agreed’ with the Palace after extensive consultation – a gentle swipe back at Prince Charles, who has complained that the changes have been rushed and could have unintended consequences." - the Daily Mail's Ephraim Hardcastle column

  • The Queen formally declares that any future daughter of William and Kate will be a princess - Daily Mail

Mr Cameron is being urged to wear British - The Sun

The Coalition's self-audit comes in for criticism

CC"The audit reveals several areas where ministers have failed to meet promises made in the agreement signed to form the coalition. On each occasion, officials have detailed what has been done, rather than admit outright failure." - Financial Times (£)

  • "So much for the Coalition’s pledge that it would have no truck with Labour-style spin. The only difference is that this lot are so bad at it." - Daily Mail leader
  • "Audits by auditors with an interest in the outcome are not to be taken too seriously." - Guardian leader
  • "[Mr Cameron] and Nick Clegg may talk about the Coalition being only at a halfway stage, but the chances of it fracturing completely — in the Commons as well as the Lords — are now perhaps higher than ever. If someone so reasonable as Lord Strathclyde feels he can take no more, the cracks are really opening up." - Simon Heffer, Daily Mail

The full audit can be read here.

Taxpayers' money is being squandered on Government consultations, claims the Times

"An investigation by The Times has revealed that ministers commissioned nearly 1,000 consultations or policy reviews during the past two years, prompting accusations that they are putting off difficult decisions. ... In a week when the Government boasted about its achievements in a midterm report it emerged that many of the reviews, involving thousands of civil servants working for up to two years, have not been acted on." - The Times (£)

The Chancellor has been denied a change to the RPI measure of inflation

Upturn"The Office for National Statistics has issued a surprise decision to keep key inflation measure the RPI intact while recommending that a new index meeting international standards be published in parallel. ... Expected changes also would have given a boost to the chancellor, George Osborne, and his debt-busting plans, saving the Treasury billions of pounds a year in interest on government bonds." - Guardian

  • "It seems Whitehall hasn’t entirely lost its talent for secrecy – at least not at the Treasury."  Sue Cameron, Daily Telegraph

Will the next Tory manifesto recommend that "for profit" firms establish free schools?

"Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has told friends he has no objections to 'for profit' firms setting up the free schools independent of local authority control he has pioneered since 2010. The controversial idea has been vetoed by the Liberal Democrats, who fear it would be seen as back-door privatisation of the education system. It will not be implemented before the 2015 election, but is now seen as a front-runner for inclusion in the Tory manifesto." - Independent

Covering fire for Michael Gove: an education commission calls for councils to be stripped of their powers over local schools

MG"The call, from a commission chaired by former Ofsted chief inspector Christine Gilbert, said councils should prepare for a system in which all or the majority of secondary schools become academies, operating outside their direct control." - The Times (£)

"To help ensure the changes have positive results, an 'academies commission' independent panel led by Christine Gilbert, a former chief inspector of schools, has made recommendations, to be published on Thursday. These suggest governance of such schools must be improved." - Financial Times (£)

  • "A Whitehall funding blunder has led to individual schools being overpaid up to £1m this academic year for taking part in the coalition’s flagship academies programme." - Financial Times (£)

Nick Boles: "We have to build on previously undeveloped land"

Boles"Nick Boles will dramatically raise the stakes over the housing crisis, saying the Government has a ‘moral’ duty to force councils to find land for development to defend Margaret Thatcher’s dream of a ‘property owning democracy’. ... In a warning shot at green groups and rural campaigners who have opposed the Government’s liberalisation of planning laws, Mr Boles will say ‘we simply can’t squeeze much more out of brownfield sites’ which have been built on before. " - Daily Mail

  • "I was a Nimby once, and my entire family were" - Mr Boles is interviewed in the Daily Telegraph

> Today on ToryDiary: Boles is right to say that social justice means new homes. So let's hope his localist housing plan pays off

Chris Grayling's busy week continues: today he announces plans to build Britain's biggest prison

"Plans to build Britain’s biggest prison while closing five older ones will be unveiled today. ... Justice Secretary Chris Grayling – who has adopted a tough stance on law and order – will insist that, overall, not a single jail place will be lost. ... In addition to the new prison, which will hold 2,000 inmates, it is understood that four so-called mini-jails will be opened, holding 250 inmates each." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Compassionate conservatism from Grayling as he moves to cut re-offending

And the Justice Secretary is praised by the Telegraph for his efforts

Chris Grayling"Mr Grayling has produced the sort of imaginative thinking needed to bring about the public service reforms taxpayers are entitled to expect. He also showed that uncompromisingly Tory policies can emerge despite the constraints of Coalition deal-making – Cabinet colleagues should take note." - Daily Telegraph leader

Theresa May has recruited the Home Office's new permanent secetary from the Foreign Office, passing over candidates from her own department - Financial Times (£)

Ken Clarke suggests that pensioner benefits are on the agenda for 2015

"The scrapping of winter fuel allowance and other pensioner benefits will be an 'agenda item' for the 2015 Conservative manifesto, Kenneth Clarke said yesterday. ... The Cabinet veteran also suggested that David Cameron had been rushed into his election pledge to protect for five years the universal benefits which also include free TV licences and bus passes." - The Times (£)

  • "When incomes rise and the Treasury refuses to raise social security, everyone will complain" - Chris Giles, Financial Times (£)
  • "Nothing in British politics is harder than welfare reform. The dogfight over it is a distraction" - Steve Richards, Independent

> Today on the Deep End: Yes, young people really are being bled dry by their elders

A new smartphone app shows taxpayers how much of their money is spent on benefits - The Sun

> Yesterday:

Grant Shapps hits out at proposals to pay councillors higher allowances

Shapps"Grant Shapps, Chairman of the Conservative Party, claimed it was a 'cynical and sleazy' move by Labour because the Party stands to benefit from higher councillor allowances." - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday on MPsETC: Is Grant Shapps Gandalf in disguise?  He announces candidate selections for 14 new seats

MoD under attack over its procurement programmes

"The Ministry of Defence's biggest procurement programmes are £6.6billion over budget and woefully late, a damning report reveals today. ... The price tag for the aircraft carriers, helicopters, fighter jets and other equipment has risen by 12 per cent since they were ordered, the National Audit Office said." - Daily Mail

"Fresh doubts over the armed forces' ability to cope with protracted conflicts are raised today in a report exposing "critical gaps" in air operations." - Independent

Bruce Anderson tips Jesse Norman as a possible Conservative leader

"His abilities are bound to earn a place in government, and rapid advancement thereafter. By 2020, he will have at least as much Cabinet experience as William Hague did in 1997. It is not certain that he will succeed David Cameron, but Jesse Norman is a Member to watch." - Bruce Anderson, The Spectator

Camilla Cavenish: Private sector bureaucracy is undermining the Big Society

"The Big Society is dead as a phrase. Few understood it; others resented the implication that the Government was trying to claim credit for their good works. But the fact remains that big state organisations are not good at turning lives around, unlike the best charities and social enterprises. The Government machine has dismally failed to identify and help these organisations. But it must find ways to stop Big becoming the enemy of Good." - Camilla Cavendish, The Times (£)

Nick Clegg's radio career starts today

Mic"Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will hold the first of his new weekly radio phone-ins today as he seeks to reconnect with voters. The Liberal Democrat leader will take calls from listeners to London's LBC radio with presenter Nick Ferrari from 9am." - ITV News

Two Lib Dem ministers have two ideas for funding old-age care

 "Norman Lamb, the Care and Support Minister, said people could enter into deals under which they receive a smaller payout on retirement. ... The rest would go towards an insurance scheme to cover their needs in old age, such as care home fees and home help costs. ... Steve Webb, the Pensions Minister, suggested that the elderly could free up cash by moving into smaller homes." - Daily Mail

Friends of Ed Balls tell Kevin Maguire: He'd quit if he was demoted

ED bALLS“Allies of the shadow chancellor whisper that he’d take his bat and balls away and retire to the back benches rather than swallow demotion to another portfolio.” - Kevin Maguire, New Statesman

"Mr Balls' aides dismissed the claims about an ultimatum as 'rubbish'. ... But evidence is growing the Labour leadership is keen to accommodate David Miliband on the front bench. And Ed Miliband yesterday said the rift in their relationship was healed, adding: 'I wouldn't take it as indication about a change in his view he's not coming back to the shadow cabinet, but the door is open.'" - Daily Mail

> Today on LeftWatch: The Balls Ultimatum

> Yesterday:

Various left-wing figures write to the Guardian to make the case for a Lib-Lab coalition - Guardian

The sacked Ukip youth leader

"The leader of Ukip’s youth organisation has been stripped of his post by the party leadership, after expressing his support for gay marriage on national radio." - Independent

  • The Ukip MEP Marta Andreasen has been threatened with deselection - Daily Telegraph

How the Met plans to meet its budget cuts

Met"Britain's biggest police force is to axe 800 detectives and close 65 nicks, it was revealed yesterday. ... London’s Met also plans to sell its famous New Scotland Yard HQ — and offer services in Post Offices, large stores and cafes." - The Sun

> Today, by Peter Walker on Local Government: Met reform is policing model

White Britons are now in a minority in four towns and cities across the country - The Sun

"The income from a £100,000 pension pot has more than halved in the past 18 years, a damning study reveals today." - Daily Mail

"The number of mothers with small children who are working full-time has ballooned by a quarter since the credit crunch began" - Daily Mail

> Yesterday:

The union flag flies over Belfast City Hall to mark the Duchess of Cambridge's birthday - Daily Mail

Andrew Marr is recovering in hospital after suffering a stroke - Daily Mail

And finally... did Dominic Grieve chuck Damian Green off a bridge?

MB"Undergraduates working for Cherwell, the Oxford University newspaper, have discovered a report from 35 years ago describing how a bunch of hooray henries set upon the President of the Oxford University Students Union and threw him off a bridge. ... The victim was Damian Green, now the Home Office minister responsible for overseeing the police. One of the undergraduates accused of being implicated was Dominic Grieve, today’s Attorney General." - Independent

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