Newslinks for Tuesday 26th February 2013
7.15pm Local government: Roll of honour update - Cotswold District Council cuts Council Tax by 5%
5pm Robert Halfon MP to Andrew Lilico: We need tax cuts for the many, not the few
3pm John Penrose MP on Comment: How to save our High Streets and green fields in one go
1pm Jonathan Isaby on Comment: Stop increasing tax on our pints of beer!
11.45am Local government: Roll of Honour: The Conservative councils cutting Council Tax
9.30am Eamonn Butler on Comment: The Chancellor should cut CGT in his Budget. Higher rates have been counter-productive.
Lord Ashcroft on Comment: Liberal Democrats 5% ahead in Eastleigh
Andrew Bridgen MP on Comment: The people who were part of the Mid Staffs failure should not be running the NHS today
Columnist Greg Clark MP: The good news on jobs
MPsETC update: Kevin Foster adopted for Torbay
Italy votes for chaos
City AM on the bleak election result in Europe's fourth biggest economy: "Italian voters left the Eurozone’s third biggest economy a gridlocked political mess yesterday, with a hung parliament clobbering the euro, spooking stock markets, and sending measures of volatility soaring. Pier Luigi Bersani’s centre-left bloc managed to win a majority in the lower house by dint of the electoral system’s generous winner’s bonus. But projections late last night suggested it would be Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right alliance that took the top spot in the senate – though there is no rule that guarantees the winning coalition an overall majority in the upper house. And the emergence of comedian Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement as a major political force puts a further spanner in the works, as Grillo has promised never to work with other parties in a coalition."
- "My advice to the coalition, to Labour and to the City: pay close attention to Italy’s dysfunctional, unpredictable election result: unless something big changes fast, it is the shape of things to come in Britain." - City AM's editor, Allister Heath
Changing their tune AGAIN, Liberal Democrats now say that Rennard was forced to quit as Chief Executive because of sex pest allegations
The Guardian: "Senior Liberal Democrats suggested for the first time on Monday that Lord Rennard had not stood down as the party's chief executive for health reasons, but after pressure from Nick Clegg's office and the then party president over general allegations of sexual impropriety."
The Daily Mail claims that FIVE specific complaints about Lord Rennard were made to Nick Clegg.
- Liberal Democrat officials are to meet Metropolitan Police officers to discuss allegations made against the party's former chief executive Lord Rennard - BBC
- The Liberal Democrats have removed control of a whistleblowing system from the wife of one of Nick Clegg’s key aides and handed it to an independent company - Telegraph
Sexism is rife in Parliament, claims Cathy Newman in The Telegraph
Rachel Sylvester says the Lib Dems' failure to recruit women to its Commons ranks means it is a male-dominated party and has allowed an "inappropriate culture" to develop - The Times (£)
The Telegraph invites the people of Eastleigh to punish the hypocritical Liberal Democrats
Telegraph leader: "Some Lib Dems have brushed this story off as an attempt to disrupt the Eastleigh by-election. In truth, it was the fact that Lord Rennard was permitted to return to public life, not least as a member of the party’s key policy committee, that taxed his accusers beyond endurance. The fortuitous timing should, however, give voters a chance to show precisely what they think of those who cast themselves as progressive crusaders for equality and justice, while failing lamentably to live up to those ideals."
- Times leader (£): "Mr Clegg should also consider the questions that the affair has raised about the claim of the Lib Dems to be a serious political party."
- The Rennard case exposes how the Lib Dems have lacked capacity to deal with all sorts of issues, including economic strategy and the NHS reforms - Steve Richards in The Independent
Marta Andreasen, the former UKIP MEP who has joined the Conservatives, will visit Eastleigh today and warn voters that only maria Hutchings can stop the Lib Dems keeping Chris Huhne's seat - Daily Mail
> Lord Ashcroft's new poll puts the Liberal Democrats on 33%, the Tories on 28%, UKIP on 21%
Tory MPs all agree Labour is to blame for Britain losing its AAA rating - Donald Macintyre for The Independent
George Osborne's message to the Commons, quoted in The Express: “That is the choice for Britain – either we can abandon our efforts to deal with our debt problems and make a difficult situation very much worse, or we can redouble our efforts to overcome our debts and make sure this country can earn its way in the world.”
Ed Balls branded George Osborne the "downgraded chancellor", echoing the late John Smith's famous description of John Major in 1992 as a "devalued prime minister of a devalued government" after Black Wednesday - Guardian
Alex Brummer in the Daily Mail: "Total state spending and borrowing has not been cut in absolute terms at all. Indeed, the burden of debt, the accumulated amount of borrowing made by governments down the years, is rising relentlessly. It was an understanding of this stark truth that led to Britain losing its AAA credit rating last week. The world’s market monitors finally lost patience with our inability to control our borrowing and lack of economic growth."
In carefully-worded blog John Redwood blames Coalition's tax, banking and infrastructure policies for lack of growth - John Redwood
Janan Ganesh in the FT (£): "Mr Osborne is likely to resist screams to “go for growth” – as though there were some lever that would bring economic vitality if only he would pull it – and prioritise his ailing deficit-reduction plan instead."
Michael Fallon, the business minister, has promised to cut red tape with “no more gold-plating” of European laws - Telegraph
> Yesterday evening's ToryDiary: Michael Fallon launches Thatcherite attack on Labour's failed approach to regulation of banks and the NHS
Osborne's Capital Gains increase 'cut his tax take': Chancellor faces call to slash rate as it fails to create revenue - Daily Mail
"Scrap the April beer hike in the Budget, Chancellor. Or things can only get bitter." - The Sun backs beer drinkers.
20 Tory MPs to demand resignation of NHS chief over Mid Staffs scandal - Telegraph
"Campaigners will today deliver a letter to David Cameron criticising his ‘deeply shameful’ behaviour in backing NHS chief Sir David Nicholson. Patients First and Cure the NHS will accuse the Prime Minister of double standards for vowing to prosecute incompetent hospital staff but not the bureaucrats behind the system." - Daily Mail
Cameron vows to crack down on 'the benefits free-for-all' for migrants coming to Britain
"In a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Express, Mr Cameron also spoke of his “immense frustration” at working with Nick Clegg after his Liberal Democrat deputy reneged on a deal on reforming Parliamentary boundaries. He also vowed to keep Chancellor George Osborne in his post despite Britain losing its cherished AAA credit rating. But he reserved his strongest words for a pledge to go far further in cutting annual net immigration." - Express
David Cameron hints at a peerage for Ann Widdecombe - Express
Backbench Tories taking positions:
- A royal charter will deliver a genuinely independent regulator - Tory MP George Eustice who wanted a statutory press regulator endorses Oliver Letwin's compromise proposal in an article for The Guardian
- A cap on bankers’ bonuses would be lunacy - Norman Lamont in The Telegraph
Boris Johnson has described members of the London Assembly as “great supine protoplasmic invertebrate jellies” after they ejected him from a meeting
"The Mayor of London, who is renowned for his flamboyant rhetoric, had been due to face a two-hour grilling by Assembly members over his £16.5 billion budget for next year, which includes cuts to the fire service and police. But Labour, Green and Lib Dem members voted to bypass the opportunity to question Mr Johnson because his deputy, Victoria Borwick, was not present for the opening statement." - Times (£)
West Coast Main Line franchise fiasco 'to cost at least £50m' - BBC
"MPs said they were concerned that basic mistakes could be repeated in future projects such as the London to Birmingham high-speed HS2 scheme and the London Thameslink project." - Independent
Defence Select Committee concludes that too many "genuine complaints" about bullying, harassment, or sexual offences in the armed services are not being reported - BBC
Plans to reform Britain's arcane libel laws have been thrown into doubt after the House of Lords last night approved amendments introduced to the Defamation Bill by the film producer Lord Puttnam - Independent
Even if Iran gets the Bomb, it won’t be worth going to war - Jack Straw in The Telegraph claims that containment is a better response than conflict in dealing with a country we have long mishandled.
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