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Newslinks for Thursday 24th January 2012

5pm Nicholas Boys Smith on Comment: High-rise living means crime, stress, delinquency – and social breakdown. Instead, we must Create Streets

2.45pm Local Government: Will UKIP councillors return to the fold?

1.45pm WATCH: Two clips from David Cameron's speech at Davos...

1pm Columnist Garvan Walshe: What Israel’s electoral upset means

12.15pm Comment: Richard Ashworth, the leader of Britain's Conservative MEPs, says that David Cameron's is a vision of Europe we can all share

11.30am ToryDiary: Fraser Nelson is right – the Tories should stop saying that they’re paying down Britain’s debts

ToryDiary: David Cameron will enjoy this morning's newspapers

David Campbell Bannerman MEP on Comment: I now know I made the right decision in leaving UKIP and joining the pro-referendum Conservatives

Roger ScrutonAlso on Comment, Roger Scruton says that border control must be at the heart of any EU renegotiations

In his latest Red, White and Blue column, Henry Hill asks: Why is Labour standing clear of Northern Irish politics?

MPsETC: What is the Bruges Group? Matthew Barrett profiles the long-running Tory Eurosceptic group that helped the Maastricht rebels

On Local Government, Brandon Lewis MP launches a new series on how Conservative councils are saving money, starting with the Forest of Dean

On Thinkers' Corner, Michael Bentley says that the market cannot provide the cultural values we need to flourish.

The Deep End: Shale gas: Good news for Europe, bad news for Putin

Support for David Cameron's speech from Angela Merkel

Cameron Merkel"Downing Street was delighted and surprised as Chancellor Merkel, Europe’s most powerful figure, responded to Mr Cameron’s speech by opening the door to a renegotiation of Britain’s membership terms. ... ‘Germany, and I personally, want Britain to be an important part and an active member of the European Union,’ she said. ‘We are prepared to talk about British wishes but we must always bear in mind that other countries have different wishes and we must find a fair compromise. We will talk intensively with Britain about its individual ideas.’" - Daily Mail

> Yesterday on International: Reaction abroad to Cameron's Europe speech.

...and from various Tory figures...

  • Liam Fox"Conservatives must rally behind the Prime Minister, because yesterday he spoke in the national interest and not just the party interest. We have waited a long time to hear this message – we must not squander the opportunity." - Liam Fox, Daily Mail
  • "...Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, the Cabinet’s Eurosceptic standard-bearer, told the Daily Mail that Mr Cameron’s long-awaited speech on Britain’s future in Europe was ‘bloody marvellous’." - Daily Mail
  • "David Cameron has changed the political landscape by being honest about the problems that the EU faces." - John Redwood, The Times (£)

> Yesterday:

...and from the centre-right newspapers...

  • Mail"After the months of build-up and delay, David Cameron pulled off the seemingly impossible yesterday. He delivered a speech on Europe that not only lived up to the high expectations raised of it, but even exceeded them. ... At a stroke, he wrong-footed Labour, while making the Lib Dems look even more arrogant and remote than before." - Daily Mail leader
  • "...many of the arguments in yesterday’s speech were made in another keynote address, delivered by Margaret Thatcher in Bruges in 1988. ... What even she did not offer, however, was to let the people decide whether they wanted to stay in. In proposing that they should, Mr Cameron has taken an audacious and momentous step, and one deserving of the highest praise." - Daily Telegraph leader
  • "Mr Cameron has not caused a problem, but elucidated one. The rest of Europe must join him in solving it." - Times leader (£)
  • "Some will fear the PM’s big speech could yet turn out to be a cynical stunt — a promise he won’t deliver. ... But Mr Cameron insisted yesterday that he will keep his pledge. ... If he does, one thing is clear — in or out, it WILL finally be our shout." - Sun leader
  • "[David Cameron] will have a powerful and popular proposition to put before voters at the next election: that, if he is returned to No. 10, the question of British sovereignty will finally be decided by the British people. It now falls to the hierarchy of the European Union to give us their best offer." -  Spectator leader

> Today on ToryDiary: David Cameron will enjoy this morning's newspapers

...and from various commentators...

  • "His was a strong speech, a bold speech, and almost certainly the best of David Cameron’s life, delivered with a passion so often missing from his performances." - Max Hastings, Daily Mail
  • "How the Prime Minister outfoxed his foes" - Simon Heffer, Daily Mail
  • "My marks: 8/10 for eloquence, 8/10 for strategy, and (this is where I differ from most commentators) 10/10 for caution." - Matthew Parris, The Times (£)

> Yesterday on Comment: Ian Birrell—a former speechwriter to David Cameron—annotated a copy of the PM's speech

...and the businesspeople who have written to the Times

A letter to The Times signed by 56 industry and City leaders has endorsed Mr Cameron’s promise of a negotiation followed by an 'in-out' referendum within five years. It is 'good for business and good for jobs in Britain', they say." - The Times (£)

But the centre-left newspapers aren't nearly as impressed...

  • Independent"Hopes of a fudge to come are, at best, cold comfort. Five years of uncertainty on so fundamental an issue would be damaging at any time. With the economy flatlining, they are potentially catastrophic." - Independent leader
  • "But the prospect of repatriating real powers from Brussels may prove fanciful. ... The notion of the UK unpicking old treaties and enjoying access to the market without observing its laws will provoke disbelief not only in France, which has never shared the UK’s liberal take on Europe, but Germany, which broadly does." - Financial Times leader (£)
  • "Most likely Mr Cameron will be left securing cosmetic concessions. He then has to follow Harold Wilson in 1975, and claim these are something much more – or else actually start the march to the door. Either way, the promise of seeking a popular mandate for a radically reformed Europe disappears in the haze." - Guardian leader
  • "Whether you regard Mr Cameron’s gamble as a sincere attempt to reform and improve Europe or a cynical ploy to head off party opposition to his leadership, he does not seem to be a man with a plan." - Peter Mandelson, Financial Times (£)

...and neither is Nigel Farage...

Farage"In a mere 15 months, the Prime Minister has done a complete U-turn from the shambles of that October to now telling the people that he is the man to deliver their wishes for a change in our relationship with the EU. Why should we believe him, especially when he has the power to offer an In/Out referendum in this parliament?" - Nigel Farage, Independent

> Today, by David Campbell Bannerman MEP on Comment: I now know I made the right decision in leaving UKIP and joining the pro-referendum Conservatives

...nor Peter Oborne...

"The Prime Minister has moved the bomb, but he has not defused it. It remains in the room, ticking away. It is simply in a different place, and the circumstances have changed: Mr Cameron, by committing the Tories to an in-out referendum, has greatly increased the likelihood that Britain will eventually leave the European Union, while a formal split within the Conservative Party over Europe now looks almost certain." - Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

...nor the French

French flag"President Hollande rejected any renegotiation to satisfy Mr Cameron’s demands. 'Europe must be taken as it is,' the French President said. 'We can help it evolve tomorrow, but we can’t offer to reduce it or diminish it on the ground of [Britain] staying in it.'" - The Times (£)

The New Statesman says that "Lord Ashcroft is right to warn the Tories not to bang on about Europe" - New Statesman

> Yesterday, by Lord Ashcroft on Comment: So we've got a Europe policy – now all we need is a Tory government

Both Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg distance themselves from an In/Out referendum

Flag 2"The next general election campaign took dramatic shape yesterday after Ed Miliband set himself against an 'in-out' referendum on Europe. ... Nick Clegg also critcised the offer of a referendum in 2017 for opening 'years of grinding uncertainty' about Britain’s future EU membership." - The Times (£)

  • Ed Miliband unnerves colleagues by rejecting in-out EU referendum - Guardian

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Ed Miliband issues the Anti People’s Pledge in PMQs

The newspapers report yesterday's encouraging employment figures

"The number of people in work is at a record high of almost 30million. ... At the same time, unemployment dropped by 185,000, the biggest annual fall for more than a decade, to 2.49million. This is around the same level as when David Cameron entered Downing Street in May 2010." - Daily Mail

And yesterday's A-level annnoucement

MG"The exam system in England faces the biggest upheaval in its history after Michael Gove confirmed plans to shake up A levels and GCSEs in the same year. ... Pupils taking A levels will be examined once, at the end of their two-year course. AS levels, a stepping stone to the full A level for the past 12 years, will become a stand-alone qualification." - The Times (£)

Yet another immigration backlog

"Border inspectors have discovered a new backlog of 16,000 immigrants who have not yet been told whether they can remain in Britain with their spouse, raising fresh concern over the operations of the UK Border Agency. ... The Home Office said the agency was 'taking action' to deal with historic backlogs and had a “transformation plan” that would put it on a surer footing." - Financial Times (£)

  • "Immigrants are being granted permission to settle in Britain despite having ‘zero income and no employment’, a government inspector warned last night." - Daily Mail

> Today, by Roger Scruton on Comment: Border control must be at the heart of any EU renegotiations

The Tory leadership is making a final push to secure the boundary reforms

Boundary"Andrew Lansley, the leader of the House of Commons, urged backbench MPs to help the Government to keep changes to constituency boundaries. ... The Commons will vote on Tuesday to try to overturn a vote by peers which effectively pushed any change to after the expected 2015 election. ... Mr Lansley is understood to have told a meeting of the 1922 committee that the peers’ intervention was 'constitutionally' unjustified because they are unelected." - Daily Telegraph

Philip Hammond raises further concerns about same-sex marriage legislation

"Mr Hammond made clear his opposition last May, insisting gay marriage was ‘not a priority’ for voters. ... But he went further when replying to a letter from a student in his constituency last week. ... He wrote: ... ‘I do not believe there is a compelling reason to prioritise legislation to go further at the present time and I have concerns about the robustness of the protections for religious organisations that are being put in place.’" - Daily Mail

Edward Timpson warns councils: buck up, or we'll take adoption away from you

"Children’s Minister Edward Timpson will today outline plans to create new powers for ministers to intervene in councils which fail to recruit more adoptive parents and consider the needs of children nationally. ... They could be stripped of their role recruiting and assessing potential parents and instead required to deal with voluntary agencies to find them." - Daily Mail

"The Government’s flagship energy-saving scheme was branded a 'rip-off' last night — as it emerged that families face eye-watering interest rates." - The Sun

People should be able to stick with a favourite GP after moving house, according to Government review - Daily Telegraph

  • Cameron's patient ratings system could cost £600 million - Daily Telegraph

Sajid Javid is interviewed in The Spectator: "I'm still a Thatcherite"

Sajid"What will particularly cheer the party, though, is Javid’s heavy hint that the coalition will not raise taxes again. ... This isn’t the end of Javid’s tax agenda. ‘I’m still a Thatcherite,’ he boasts. ‘I believe in a smaller state and I believe in not just lower taxes but flatter taxes, simpler taxes.’" - James Forsyth, The Spectator

Could Labour drop their demands for statutory underpinning of press regulation?

"Labour has postponed its plan to force a Commons vote on the Leveson report amid signs that it might drop its demand for statutory underpinning of a new press regulator. ... Harriet Harman, the Shadow Culture Secretary, said the party did not want to rule out options in cross-party talks, including the Conservative idea of underpinning a press regulator with a Royal Charter." - The Times (£)

  • But... "[Harriet Harman] said the problem was no one knew how a royal charter would work in relation to the press. 'It's a bit like Dolly the sheep, it might look like a sheep, but we do not know if it will do all the thing that a sheep is supposed to do,' she said." - Guardian

Chuka Umunna leads calls for a "full investigation" into blacklisting in the construction industry

"MPs have called for a 'full government investigation' into blacklisting in the construction industry after The Times revealed that trade union officials helped to block their own members from work. ... Labour used an Opposition Day debate to call for construction companies to apologise for the 'secret, insidious, shameful practice' which Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary, said was a national scandal." - The Times (£)

Andy Burnham warns that "production line" hospitals are failing the eldery

Burnham"Andy Burnham says there is a 'deep' problem in the NHS that requires a comprehensive overhaul of treatment. ... Writing on The Daily Telegraph website, Mr Burnham concedes that a report into the Mid Staffordshire NHS trust scandal, due later this month, will find that 'regulatory failures' led to the deaths of hundreds of elderly people. He claims that the problems were down not to poor nursing standards but systemic issues." - Daily Telegraph

Scottish support for independence has slumped to 23 per cent - The Times (£)

Northern Ireland considers a "border poll"

"The largest unionist party in Northern Ireland has said it may support Sinn Féin’s call for a poll on the province’s constitutional future as it could bolster the link with Britain rather than lead to a vote for a united Ireland." - Financial Times (£)

> Today, in his latest Red, White and Blue column, Henry Hill asks: Why is Labour standing clear of Northern Irish politics?

Last year, the resisdents of Rochdale spent the equivalent of "£340 for every man, woman and child in the town" on high stakes betting machines - Daily Mail

Policy Exchange suggests that terrace homes replace high-rise tower blocks

High rise"Modernist tower blocks should be demolished and replaced with streets of terrace houses and low-rise flats that people actually want to live in, an influential Conservative thinktank will claim on Thursday. ... [Policy Exchange] quotes wide-ranging research showing ... that [high-rise housing] is linked to problems including crime and poor health in communities, stress and neurosis among tenants and hyperactivity and juvenile delinquency in their children." - Guardian

"Nearly one in three leading employers are forced to leave graduate jobs open because they are unable to find suitable candidates to fill them" - Daily Mail

The number of stay-at-home fathers has reached a record level - Daily Mail

And another record: it now costs, on average, £222,500 to raise a child to the age of 21 - Daily Mail

And finally 1)... civil servants, or cyberslackers?

"Cyberslacking civil servants are spending thousands of hours browsing shopping, social networking and sports websites at the office. ... Whitehall officials found time last year to log on to Facebook, Twitter and Sky Sports millions of times, official figures have revealed. ... However, a spokesman said it was part of civil servants work to ‘engage with the public’ on these sites." - Daily Mail

And finally 2)... one last bit of reaction to David Cameron's Europe speech

Blazing Saddles"[Tony Blair] compared Mr Cameron’s negotiating strategy to a scene in Blazing Saddles, the satirical Western comedy directed by Mel Brooks, where a character threatens to shoot himself in the head. ... Mr Blair, who was speaking from Davos in Switzerland, also said it was 'pretty mad' to suggest that Britain could potentially leave the EU." - Daily Telegraph


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