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Newslinks for Thursday 28th February 2013

EASTLEIGH BY-ELECTION: LIBDEMS WIN --- TORIES COME THIRD BEHIND UKIP

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4pm Robert Buckland MP on Comment: The Justice and Security Bill strikes the correct balance between openness and the need to preserve our national security

11.30am ToryDiary: There are three groups of Tory MPs when it comes to economic policy. George Osborne aims to please two of them.

Aa8c0d4fedcfa945a85b38b0c284930811.30am Local government: Survey finds 41% of councils planning Council Tax rises

ToryDiary: Tory HQ think they can keep Labour to 35% of the national vote but that if UKIP splinter the Tory vote that'll be enough to install Miliband as PM

Steve Barclay MP on Comment: Foreign doctors working in the NHS should be able to speak English to a safe standard

Spencer Pitfield on Comment: Immigration and education on the Conservative Policy Forum's agenda

Columnist Henry Hill: Will the defections that never were shake Northern Ireland's Conservatives from their complacency?

Local government: Right to buy sales double - but are still too low

The Deep End: Lower taxes for the working poor would be better than a living wage

UK objections over-ruled and EU agrees cap on bankers' bonuses - BBC

"Mayor of London Boris Johnson was the only major politician to make a public stand for Britain’s financial services industry. Last week he told City A.M. that the EU “should stop butting in” on bankers’ pay and said the reforms could “undermine London’s international competitiveness”." - City AM

A71be04a133b82794038c64247bb3a39David Davis warns of "crisis" for Cameron if Tories lose Eastleigh - Telegraph

"David Cameron's leadership will be in crisis if the Conservatives come third in the Eastleigh byelection behind the Liberal Democrats and Ukip, the prominent rightwing Tory David Davis has warned. His remarks, before the critical by-election for the coalition partners, reflect Conservative concern that the main route to an overall majority at the next election will be blocked if Tories cannot capture a string of Liberal Democrat seats." - Guardian

Conservatives could finish third in the Eastleigh by-election - Telegraph

Ukip could challenge Lib Dems and Tories for second 'photo finish' predicted in by-election - Independent

Comment on Eastleigh:

  • Everyone's a winner if the Lib Dems win Eastleigh - Steve Richards in The Independent
  • Nick Clegg deserves to be punished in Eastleigh by-election - Telegraph leader
  • Times leader (£): "If the Conservatives cannot capture a Liberal Democrat seat in circumstances in which the incumbent MP has pleaded guilty to a crime that may result in his being imprisoned, it begins to look difficult to see how the Conservative Party can improve on its 2010 performance."
  • The latest YouGov poll gives Labour a 43% to 32% lead but Cameron leads Miliband by 34% to 22% as best PM - PDF

> Yesterday's LeftWatch: What happens if Nick Clegg resigns?

Cameron yesterday launched a furious attack on the Labour candidate in today's Eastleigh by-election for his "appalling" wish that Margaret Thatcher had been killed by the IRA - Express

Clegg on MarrClegg changes his story again on Lord Rennard

"Nick Clegg warned Lord Rennard four years ago to put a stop to his “inappropriate” behaviour towards women, it emerged yesterday. Mr Clegg also conceded that the former Lib Dem chief executive was effectively forced out of his job over concerns about sexual impropriety, and not just ill health as was stated at the time." - Times (£)

Matthew Parris in The Times (£): "Who can now doubt that if at the outset the Lib Dem leader had issued a one-sentence statement — “I have set up two inquiries to find out what, if anything, went wrong; I shall be making no further public comment until they report; meanwhile it must be noted that Lord Rennard continues to protest his innocence” — then he’d be in a better place now?"

  • From Lloyd George to Jeremy Thorpe, there's something in Liberal DNA that breeds sex scandals - Dominic Sandbrook in the Daily Mail
  • Clegg accused of ignoring formal requests for help from alleged sex abuse victims of the late Lib Dem MP, Cyril Smith - Guardian

COUNCIL TAXMore than 40% of councils in England are planning to increase council tax this year - BBC

Eric Pickles commented: "‘This survey confirms that council tax will effectively be frozen again this year, with an average change across England of just a mere 0.8 per cent. This is a tax cut in real terms." Quoted in the Daily Mail.

"Labour said the decision by so many councils to turn their backs on the Coalition’s offer to fund a freeze was an “embarrassment” for the Coalition. Clive Betts MP, the Labour chairman of the communities and local government committee, said the increase would be “difficult” to understand for hard-pressed families." - Telegraph

David Cameron pledged to go "further and faster" in reducing the deficit after the UK was stripped of its coveted AAA credit rating - Guardian

The economy DID grow in 2012 - but only by just 0.2% - Daily Mail

Official figures on the British public finances are no longer to be trusted - Chris Giles in the FT (£)

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: You're just like Gordon Brown. Cameron begins new push to paint Ed Miliband as an unrepentant big spender.

OSBORNE GEORGE NWTory MPs give Chancellor a list of tax cuts --- but offer little help with spending restraint

"In a pre-Budget private meeting attended by about 80 backbench MPs, the chancellor was repeatedly pressed to use any available money to cut fuel, beer and air passenger duties, and green levies that force up energy bills. Others pressed Mr Osborne to cut capital gains tax, at least temporarily, to kickstart the housing market, while some Tory MPs have also been urging the leadership to cut corporation tax for small- and medium-sized businesses." - FT (£)

Osborne sympathetic to Tory MPs on petrol duty and green levies - Spectator

UnknownPM considers making cigarette packets display graphic images of disease - Daily Mail

"The prime minister, who is a former smoker, told MPs that he was looking "across the piece" at ideas which could also include imposing a ban on smoking in cars when children are present. Cameron cited rules in Australia where tobacco companies are banned from placing their company logo on cigarette packets, which are instead covered with pictures of body parts diseased by smoking. These include colour photographs of feet damaged by gangrene and pictures of eyes blinded by smoking." - Guardian

David Cameron’s plans for a minimum price for alcohol will “penalise” responsible consumers without reducing problem drinking, according to the officials who would be expected to enforce the rules - Telegraph

David Cameron is holding talks with Latvian leaders in what is thought to be the first bilateral visit by a British prime minister to the country - Belfast Telegraph

I'll ban IVF for prisoners, says Grayling: Justice Secretary vows to take on Strasbourg judges - Daily Mail

Kenneth Clarke's plans for secret courts savaged by 702 lawyers - Guardian

...but Mr Clarke himself insists that all "right-thinking citizens" should support his proposals - Telegraph

Major John June 2012John Major will claim that being a Ministerial Special Adviser is often a way of filling the gap between university and becoming an MP “without touching the real world at the sides” - Telegraph

Professionalising school governorships threatens the volunteering spirit of David Cameron’s Big Society - Telegraph leader

Public Accounts Committee: The Ministry of Defence has bought billions of pounds worth of equipment that it does not need - BBC

The Joint Committee on National Security Strategy has said that the National Security Council had failed to scrutinise a number of "very central and uncomfortable questions" - BBC

Peter Oborne: Ed Miliband should sack Ed Balls after the Shadow Chancellor failed to take advantage of AAA downgrade - Telegraph

NHS hospitals last night stood accused of fiddling figures to mask the numbers of patients dying needlessly - Daily Mail

Once written off, Republican moderates are finding voice again – at least on social issues - Heather Long in The Guardian

Martha Lane Fox told yesterday how she is to become the Baroness of Soho — and joked her peerage should get her “free cocktails and nipple tassels” - The Sun

And finally... David Cameron to be dropped from switching on Christmas lights in Witney because he is 'too costly' from a security point of view - Telegraph

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