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Newslinks for Tuesday 12th February 2013

Pancake6.30pm WATCH: MPs, peers and journalists take part in the Parliamentary pancake race

4.45pm ToryDiary: The draft Royal Charter on press regulation, unveiled

2.15pm WATCH: William Hague condemns North Korea's latest nuclear test

2pm Local government: Bournemouth freezes Council Tax

Noon LeftWatch: Balls v Miliband - Round 12 (at least). This time, the fight's over an EU referendum - again

11.30am Robert Buckland MP and David Burrowes MP on Comment: Why we need to change the law on child neglect

ToryDiary: George Osborne is becoming a locus for Tory discontent – the party leadership should be wary

Greg Clark MP writes the latest Letter from a Treasury Minister: The five principles that should shape the Government's response to bankers' bonuses

Michael PortilloOn Comment, Michael Portillo writes about manifestos in the age of limited choice: "We may have passed through trauma, but this is no 1945. No party will propose a brave new world. Voters may wish to judge the manifestos by their earthy realism. In that sense, the party that promises least may offer most." 

Also on Comment, by Lord Ashcroft: Electoral Commission rejects SNP's biased referendum question

Local Government: London Assembly Conservatives want bigger Council Tax cut from Boris

The Deep End: Conservatism and the city – or why urban policy shouldn't be left to the left 

WATCH: David Cameron pays tribute to Pope Benedict XVI

Tories turn on George Osborne's Inheritance Tax freeze

Osborne"Lord Forsyth, an adviser on tax to Mr Osborne before the election, said it was ‘very disappointing’ that by freezing the threshold at £325,000, the Chancellor broke a promise made while in opposition to raise it to £1million. ... As criticism grew over the freeze – intended to help fund reforms of the social care system – former Tory leadership contender David Davis said it would impact ordinary people, especially in the South East of England, where house prices were high." - Daily Mail

  • "More than 120,000 pensioners will miss out on state assistance with their long-term care every year thanks to the Government’s decision to ignore the findings of an independent commission, a think-tank said yesterday." - Daily Mail

> Today on ToryDiary: George Osborne is becoming a locus for Tory discontent – the party leadership should be wary

> Yesterday:

The newspapers respond to the social care package in their editorials...

  • NEwspapers"First gay marriage, now inheritance tax. For the second time in less than a fortnight, grass-roots Tories feel betrayed by the Government over an issue they see as central to their philosophy as the party of the traditional family." - Daily Mail leader
  • "It is deeply unfortunate, as we said yesterday, that some of the cost to the state will be met by freezing inheritance tax thresholds. ... But while these measures are far from perfect, they will at least provide some small measure of certainty for those approaching retirement, and increase the chance that a proper market in care insurance will evolve." - Daily Telegraph leader
  • "The journey to mend social care will be long but at least this is a first step." - Times leader (£)
  • "A well-intentioned drive to reform the funding of care in the UK is based on contradictory principles: to help those who cannot afford to pay for the care they need and to protect those who can from having to use their wealth to do so. Sadly, government policy has been distorted by the second principle." - Financial Times leader (£)
  • "Inheritance tax freeze proves Osborne is not a master strategist after all" - Independent leader
  • "Elderly care will remain more of a bad than a good news story through the ageing years ahead, but it would be churlish not acknowledge Monday's progress." - Guardian leader

...and elsewhere on their comment pages

  • SG"Surrounded by clever civil servants whom he fears know more about economics than he does, and forever warned what he can and can’t do, George Osborne has changed from Tory radical advocating lower taxes to Tory pragmatist embracing higher ones." - Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • "The man who was once cheered to the rafters by the Tory party faithful — when he stopped Gordon Brown calling a general election by proposing an inheritance tax cut — is now booed by the voters and was this week forced to announce that he inheritance tax threshold would stay flat until 2019 to pay for reform of social care" - Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)
  • "This new policy is imperfect but the coalition deserves congratulations. At last, following decades of dithering, procrastination and debate, we have finally begun to tackle the crisis in social care for the elderly." - Ros Altmann, The Times (£)
  • "While the rich and their press fume over inheritance tax betrayal, the danger is that voters think money has been found to cure the care crisis, when nothing new has been added." - Polly Toynbee, Guardian
  • "What is absent from the debate is any attempt to find a truly long-term solution, both in terms of improving the quality of care homes and the development of some form of social insurance ... that will ensure today’s youngsters can look forward to a dignified old age and won’t have to rely on what will by then be a busted state to provide it." - Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph

David Cameron says that Parliament helped secure the EU budget cut

"Eurosceptic Tory MPs and the Labour party strengthened Britain's position at last week's European summit after they defied the government to vote in favour of a real terms cut in the EU budget last year, David Cameron said." - Guardian

> Yesterday:

Damian Green announces new recruitment rules for the police – and predicts a foreign chief for the Met

Met"New police recruits will not have to serve as a bobby on the beat for the first time in Britain as the rule forcing them to be join as a PC was scrapped today. ... The 'brightest and best' will instead enter at superintendent level as part of an overhaul of recruitment rules unveiled by policing minister Damian Green. ... Damian Green predicted there would be a foreign Metropolitan Police Commissioner in 'years rather than decades'." - Daily Mail

  • "Police officers who moonlight outside their normal hours will have to declare their second jobs for the first time, ministers will tell MPs today. ... Policing minister Damian Green is expected to unveil the plans as part of a new code of conduct to try to raise professional standards." - Daily Mail

"Theresa May, has said revelations that police used the identities of dead children will be investigated by an independent police chief with an expertise in corruption" - Guardian

Immigration from Romania and Bulgaria? Now it's Mark Harper's turn to avoid predictions...

"To fury at Westminster, the Immigration Minister snubbed four MPs who asked him to reveal the figures – saying he did not want to scare people. ... Mark Harper said it would not be ‘helpful’ to let the public know what to expect when border controls are lifted in less than 11 months." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday on the Deep End: Incredibly stupid questions of our time: No. 1 – Is immigration good or bad for Britain?

Government asked to do more to support nuclear energy

Nuclear"EDF Energy has asked the Treasury to guarantee some of the costs of the new nuclear reactors it will build in the UK, in a move likely to spark controversy for a government that has pledged not to provide public subsidies for the industry." - Financial Times (£)

Boris faces a court battle to reform London's fire service

"Boris Johnson’s plans to reform the capital’s fire service are heading for the courts after the London Fire Authority defied the mayor’s order to put the cuts to public consultation." - Financial Times (£) 

Sir Jim Paice urges councils to consider culling foxes - Daily Telegraph

Nick Clegg declines to apologise for Chris Huhne

Clegg"On a visit to Eastleigh College, when asked to apologise to the public for Huhne’s actions, Mr Clegg said: ‘Chris Huhne needs to speak for himself. I don’t think anyone would think it was anyone’s responsibility other than Chris Huhne’s.’ ... While Eric Pickles, the Tory Communities Secretary, who was also in Eastleigh campaigning, said he felt ‘personally let down’ by Huhne, both sides have pledged to fight a clean campaign." - Daily Mail

  • "Chris Huhne’s ex-wife confided in her daughter after he forced her to take his speeding points, a court heard today." - The Sun
  • Lib Dems face national test in Eastleigh - Financial Times (£)
  • Tory candidate accused of looking up Wikipedia for her Eastleigh campaign - Independent

> Yesterday, by Grant Shapps on Comment: Eastleigh residents deserve an MP they can trust, who is on their side

Vince Cable to George Osborne: hands off my budget

"Vince Cable has escalated political tensions over the next round of spending cuts by publicly warning George Osborne to keep his hands off parts of the business department budget that are focused on promoting growth. ... The business secretary is becoming increasingly frustrated at what he sees as Mr Osborne’s approach to deficit reduction, including targeting his department for further cuts and refusing to countenance extra borrowing for capital projects." - Financial Times (£)

Ed's warning for Ed over an EU referendum

Ed BAlls"Ed Balls risked plunging Labour into civil war over Europe yesterday by declaring the party would be 'stupid' to rule out an EU referendum. ... The Shadow Chancellor insisted it was vital they did not let themselves 'be caricatured as an anti-referendum party'." - The Sun

> Yesterday on LeftWatch: Ed Miliband's relationship with the far left

Labour's 12-point lead in the latest Guardian/ICM poll - Guardian

Will Labour back a press regulator supported by Royal Charter?

"Labour is set to ditch its opposition to State muzzling of the Press, the Tories claimed yesterday. ... They and the Lib Dems may back Conservative proposals for a Royal Charter, which would be independent of MPs and the newspaper industry." - The Sun

  • "David Cameron on Monday clashed with the Hacked Off campaign at a private meeting in Downing Street when he set out plans – to be published on Tuesday morning – for a Royal Charter to oversee the independent self-regulation of the press without the support of any statute." - Guardian

"Labour is demanding a new investigation into the use of smear tactics involving Education Secretary Michael Gove’s Department for Education on a social networking site" - Independent

Rachel Reeves wants faster infrastructure development

RR"Labour will use on Tuesday a Commons debate to urge George Osborne to accelerate infrastructure development, claiming that less than a fifth of projects listed in a national plan were under construction. ... Rachel Reeves, shadow treasury chief secretary, wants the coalition to focus on building affordable homes and has called for a review of why it is taking so long to bring infrastructure plans to fruition." - Financial Times (£) 

More hospitals under scrutiny

"Inspection squads were yesterday ordered into nine more NHS trusts as it emerged 6,410 patients may have died needlessly. ... NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said the new probe was 'to assure patients, public and Parliament that these hospitals understand why they have a high mortality'." - The Sun

> Yesterday, by Paul Abbott on Comment: Where is the 38 Degrees campaign on Mid Staffs?

Horsemeat keeps getting everywhere

Horse"The food fraud scandal escalated last night when Tesco admitted the ‘minced beef’ in its frozen bolognese is up to 100 per cent horsemeat. ... The value range ready-meal was made by Comigel, a French firm also linked to contaminated products at Findus and Aldi." - Daily Mail

"A shocking 70,000 horses are 'unaccounted for' in Northern Ireland, sparking fears some may have ended up in food, Labour claimed last night." - The Sun

  • "Environment Secretary Owen Paterson continues to act like a man being buffeted by events rather than controlling them. ... It’s time to get a grip, minister." - Sun leader
  • "Making a ready meal should not be as complex as creating an iPhone" - Hugo Rifkind, The Times (£)
  • "Horsemeat: Regulation doesn’t taste so bad now, does it?" - Steve Richards, Independent

"More than 120,000 cyber-attacks are launched every day against computers in Britain" - Daily Mail

RBS chief defends his pay package - Daily Mail

  • "Royal Bank of Scotland was involved in a £200 million tax avoidance scheme that abused tax breaks for research into diseases such as flu, HIV and malaria." - The Times (£)

> Today, by Greg Clark MP: The five principles that should shape the Government's response to bankers' bonuses

An independent Scotland could seek a currency union with the UK

Scotland"An independent Scotland could take a stake in the Bank of England as part of a formal currency union with the remaining UK that would allow shared use of the pound and co-ordinated financial regulation, according to economists advising the Scottish government." - Financial Times (£)

> Today, by Lord Ashcroft on Comment: Electoral Commission rejects SNP's biased referendum question

Barack Obama's State of the Union address will focus on gun control - Daily Mail

The Pope resigns due to his failing "strength of mind and body" - every paper, everywhere

> Today's video to WATCH: David Cameron pays tribute to Pope Benedict XVI

And finally... The Sun shines a light on David Cameron's hair

CAMERON"The Prime Minister tries to hide his growing bald spot yesterday — with a comical spot of backcombing. ... As well as his usual left-to-right quiff, Mr Cameron also fluffed his hair backwards over the bare patch — creating TWO partings." - The Sun

  • "Horse on menu but PM's hair is mane event" - Simon Hoggart, Guardian

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