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Newslinks for Easter Monday 2013

10pm LeftWatch: Di Canio admires Mussolini. Mussolini admired Marx. Lenin admired Mussolini. Which makes Di Canio on a minute...

6pm Local Government: Council byelection results from Thursday

5.15pm ToryDiary: The Big Bang that happened today

1pm ToryDiary: Are we sticking to the plan in Afghanistan? The generals seem to have their worries…

11.30am WATCH: The Lib Dems' Steve Webb on today's welfare reforms: "All governments would have to be making these sorts of changes"


ToryDiary: The Guardian’s and Mirror’s front pages are overblown, but…

Soren Dayton writes this week's Foreign Policy column: When it comes to foreign policy, Republicans will focus on defending America’s economic interests

Neil Carmichael MP on Comment: The Coalition has rightly embraced Lord Heseltine's industrial policy

Local Government: Staffordshire Council slashes sickness absence

The Deep End: If you’re reading this, then you’re probably WEIRD

The Government's welfare policies fall into the spotlight...

Guardian"In April a raft of changes take effect which together represent the biggest contraction in Britain’s welfare state since its foundation in the 1940s." - Financial Times (£)

The Guardian calls it "the day Britain changes," as a "new world heaves into view this week with sweeping changes in the fields of welfare, justice, health and tax"

  • "The changes to the NHS and welfare cuts that come into effect are a significant but very cautious step towards revamping Britain’s public services. As has often been the case, the achievements of the Coalition fall short of Conservative ambitions – and those ambitions have been undone by bad politics." - Daily Telegraph editorial
  • This welfare revolution could hinge on a single word: fairness - Bruce Anderson, Daily Telegraph
  • We have to talk about why some people agree with benefit cuts - John Harris, Guardian ministers, including George Osborne and IDS, push back against Labour's criticisms...

"...if you listened to the shrill voices of the Left you’d think that every change to the welfare system, and any attempt to save money, marks the beginning of the end of the world. ... In reality, we are just restoring the original principles of the welfare state: that those who can work must work, and a life on benefits must not be more attractive than working." - George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith, Daily Telegraph

SJ"George Osborne has thrown down the gauntlet to Ed Balls over benefit reforms that come into force today. ... The Chancellor has demanded his Labour shadow publicly reveal which of the cuts his party would reverse. ... In a letter to Mr Balls, Treasury Economic Secretary Sajid Javid said: 'Since you became shadow Chancellor, Labour have opposed every single saving we are making to live within our means.'" - The Sun 

  • "Ed Miliband’s party endlessly whinges about cuts to hand-outs. ... Except the benefits bill is still rising." - Sun editorial
  • Labour's addiction to welfare hurts us all - Peter McKay, Daily Mail

...and against Church leaders

"Relations between the Government and Church leaders grew increasingly tense yesterday after a fresh attack on the shake-up of the welfare system. ... Ministers, angered at being accused of 'unjustly' targeting those in poverty, hit back, implying that the attack was unfair and suggesting that Church leaders and charities had held back from criticising Labour when in power." - The Times (£)

> Yesterday:

Tim Montgomerie: Christians must put families first, not politics

TM"Throughout the Bible poverty is discussed in relational terms. We are urged, for example, to offer a special compassion to widows, orphans and others who don’t have extended families to care for them. Instead of a Church that follows this teaching, however, we have some Christians who seem determined to exclude gay people from family life and others who seem to prefer the welfare state to love our neighbour, rather than for us actually to obey this commandment ourselves." - Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

There's disgruntlement about the Government's NHS reforms, too: GPs could profit from their links to private companies

"Many of the GPs handed control over NHS budgets from today have financial interests in private health companies. ... Some have already ‘awarded themselves’ contracts worth tens of thousands of pounds." - Daily Mail

  • NHS"It beggars belief that the Government has introduced this travesty into the NHS in the guise of a reform. For in any other walk of life, such an institutionalised conflict of interest would be called by its proper name — corruption." - Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail
  • "A new day dawns for the health service" - Dan Poulter, Daily Telegraph
  • "Farewell to the NHS, 1948-2013" - Owen Jones, Independent
  • Politicians must respect the independence of the health service, says the chair of NHS England -The Times (£)

And about their energy policies

Meter"A green tax that comes into effect today will drive tens of thousands of families into fuel poverty, experts warn. ... The ‘carbon price floor’ is designed to ensure suppliers use less gas, coal and oil – but has been described as a ‘stealth poll tax’ on individuals and businesses." - Daily Mail

"Families will be paying almost £300 a year in green energy taxes by 2020. ... [But] Energy Secretary Ed Davey insisted last night that households will be better off thanks to the benefits of electricity-saving initiatives." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday, by Matthew Sinclair on The Thinkers' Corner: The three elements of good climate policy

"Family incomes will shrink by as much as £5,000 over the next year compared with 2010 amid a cost-of-living crisis" - The Times (£)

No.10 rushes to back George Osborne...

George Osborne"Senior sources close to the Prime Minister dismissed calls from some Tories for the Chancellor to make way for either Foreign Secretary William Hague or Defence Secretary Philip Hammond if economic growth continues to flatline. ... Tory high command is quietly encouraged by positive signs in the economy, and believes new business tax cuts taking effect this week will help kickstart growth." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: If you exclude North Sea oil and the City, Britain IS recovering his changes to financial regulation are finally introduced

"The UK's banking regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), has been abolished and replaced with two successor organisations. ... The regulator changes see the Bank of England - which gains a new governor, Mark Carney, in July - gain much more control over the functioning of the financial system and are the biggest changes to the central bank since it was given its independence in 1997." - BBC

The Financial Times highlights the cyber-threat facing the UK

"For years, the primary concern of Britain’s security services has been facing down the threat from jihadism, an obligation that is unlikely to change for some time. But the British government is now asking the services to find space for another growing challenge – the threat posed to UK businesses and institutions from cyber espionage." - Financial Times editorial (£)

General warns against further troop cuts in Afghanistan

Cameron"Cutting the numbers of British troops this summer in Afghanistan would be 'unforgivable' and 'endanger' hard-won progress at a highly critical time, the most senior UK commander in the country, Lieutenant-General Nick Carter, has stressed." - Independent

The deputy leader of Horsham District Council has defected to Ukip - Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail

> Yesterday, by Joe Armitage on Comment: The cheap populism and economic illiteracy of UKIP

Labour questions Grant Shapps' living arrangements

GS"Labour seized on an apparent gaffe by Grant Shapps as he defended cuts to the ‘spare room subsidy’ for those in social housing – after he insisted his own children had to share a bedroom. ... But Labour aides questioned why that was the case, when official records suggest Mr Shapps lives in a four-bedroom house with his wife and their daughter and two sons." - Daily Mail

"Vaz said that he was very surprised that the police report had been leaked and that Mitchell was right to feel that he had been badly treated by the police" - Guardian

Now David Miliband has quit his directorship of Sunderland Football Club, in protest at the politics of new manager Paolo Di Canio - Daily Mail

Surprise, surprise: the NUT attacks Michael Gove's curriculum proposals

"Teachers slammed Michael Gove’s 'pub quiz curriculum' yesterday, warning that it would fail to inspire pupils. ... The National Union of Teachers said the Education Secretary’s new programme forced pupils to learn 'facts by rote'." - The Sun

  • "It is time the majority of teachers who do care about the children stood up to the union bully boys." - Daily Telegraph editorial
  • The ability of children to read, write and count is too important an issue to be left to the self-indulgence on display at the NUT’s Easter conference."- A Times editorial (£) about Michael Gove's plans rto test 6-year-olds on their reading and arithmetic

And finally 1)... The perfect souvenir for any departing minister

Red Box"More than 40 former ministers have paid almost £1,000 each for red ministerial boxes since 2010. ... Anyone who has held a ministerial post can buy the distinctive briefcases, which are embossed with their owner’s name and title in gold leaf. A Whitehall source said the practice, which has been going on since the early 1990s, is partly designed to stop the boxes mysteriously disappearing." - The Times (£)

And finally 2)... Don't forget it's April Fools' Day

"But today, ending months of speculation and rumour, this newspaper announces a groundbreaking development in the modern history of the media: a pair of web-connected "augmented reality" spectacles that will beam its journalism directly into the wearer's visual field, enabling users to see the world through the Guardian's eyes at all times."  - The Guardian, among other newspapers playing tricks today


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