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Newslinks for Thursday 18th July 2013

6pm Local Government:Lib Dems call for ancient Egyptian curse on Northampton Borough Council

5pm Sarah Macken: Health cuts in Wales are putting patients lives at risk

4pm Andrew Lilico on Comment: On morality and markets

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 15.32.1112.15pm LeftWatch: Len McCluskey answers ConHome's question - his power over Labour will continue

11.30am Benedict Rogers on Comment: Cameron and Hague should press for justice in North Korea

10.45am Local Government: There is a shortage of adopters: The trouble is that the "adoption myths" are still often the reality

9.30am James Wharton MP on Comment: Speeches, breaks, showers, drinks, bluff and unofficial whipping. How Labour and the LibDems filibustered my EU referendum bill last night

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 07.51.03ToryDiary: IDS, the one-man labour party - in the real sense of the word

In our weekly Culture Column, Nick Pickles probes the gap that can exist between our values and our practices. Cruel Britannia – harrowing lessons from distant, and recent, history

Nick de Bois MP on Comment: Is anyone bold enough to champion the further NHS reforms we need - and save the service from bankruptcy?

Also on Comment: Tom Gash - More haste, less speed. Could rapid reform actually undermine the drive to outsource public services?

Local Government: Pickles to reward staff with money-saving ideas

The Deep End: Do governments really want their people to do the right thing?

Economy 1) Out of work benefit claims fall at fastest pace in three years

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 07.52.41“Britain’s labour market is improving gradually as the economy revives, with more people going into full-time employment and fewer claiming unemployment benefits. Official data released on Wednesday paint a generally positive picture of the labour market, although long-term unemployment continues to creep up in a sign of the recession’s lasting damage. Economists were cheered by the fastest fall in three years in the number of people on unemployment benefits” – Financial Times

  • Working families are sick of forking out for freeloaders - Leo McKinstry, Daily Express

> Yesterday:

Economy 2) Mark Carney switches strategy at Bank of England

“The Bank of England retreated yesterday from its flagship quantitative easing programme as a means of stimulating the economy, signalling a more “mixed” strategy including guiding markets. Minutes of the July Monetary Policy Committee meeting…provided evidence of the radical change that Mark Carney, the new governor, has instigated in the BoE within days of his arrival, sweeping aside four years of supporting the economy through a QE programme of asset purchases and replacing it with a range of other measures, centred on guiding financial markets” – Financial Times

Reform 1) Elderly care revolution as Government announces state-backed insurance system

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 07.55.18“Ministers will today publish plans for a universal state-backed insurance system for elderly care in England, the biggest shakeup in the system of support in six decades which promises to cap costs for one in eight poorer pensioners and cut bills for the wealthy by up to a fifth. The current postcode lottery of care, which means elderly people in different parts of the country receive widely differing levels of public assistance, will be swept away in 2016 and replaced by a national level of eligibility and the opening of a government-backed ‘care account’ for individuals to pay for care, the government says” - The Guardian

Reform 2) 'Whistleblower-in-chief' reveals plan to fix NHS: make you the inspector

"Sir Mike Richards said he wanted patients, relatives of patients and carers to volunteer for new, larger inspection teams that will also include more junior doctors and nurses than before. New inspections of 18 hospital trusts will take place by Christmas, with all 116 acute hospitals in England inspected under the new regulatory regime by the end of 2015." - The Independent

  • The labyrinthine management structures of the NHS and BBC stymie change - Steve Richards, The Independent

> Today: Nick de Bois MP on Comment - Is anyone bold enough to champion the further NHS reforms we need - and save the service from bankruptcy?

> Yesterday:

In the Commons, Cameron is pressed on Lynton Crosby’s tobacco industry links…

Crosby Lynton“David Cameron came under pressure on Wednesday to clarify his election strategist’s links to the tobacco industry as Labour questioned why the government had dropped plans for plain cigarette packaging. The prime minister said the decision to abandon the plans was made by him and the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, alone, repeating his line that he had not been ‘lobbied’ by Lynton Crosby over the issue. Mr Crosby, a renowned election strategist, also runs a company called Crosby Textor, which – it has gradually transpired – has clients in tobacco, alcohol, oil, airports and property development” – Financial Times

  • Health advisers quit over scrapping of minimum alcohol price - Daily Telegraph

…but Quentin Letts says PMQs was like watching a terrible punishment beating…

“This time last year David Cameron staggered into the summer recess like a boxer with a minced nose. But yesterday, as MPs hollered and howled at their last Prime Minister’s Questions until early September, it was Edward Miliband whose sponge men watched with concern. Cameron creamed him” – Daily Mail

> Yesterday: ToryDiary - Andrew Gimson sketches Prime Minister's Questions: David Cameron and Ed Miliband are a disgrace to public life

…and Peter Oborne says almost everything is coming right for Cameron

OBORNE“The Tories are rising in the polls, while the Opposition is in disarray. Economic indicators are more cheerful. Relationships at the heart of Government are harmonious. David Cameron personally, and the Government corporately, is stronger than at any stage since the Coalition honeymoon in 2010” – Daily Telegraph

Meanwhile, the Lobbying Bill will trap only a tiny minority

“A promised clean-up of political lobbyists will require only a small minority to disclose their clients, it emerged yesterday...So-called consultant lobbyists will be required to sign up to an official register and provide quarterly reports on their clients, said ministers introducing the legislation. But exemptions for in-house lobbyists, or those working for companies whose main business is not lobbying, will mean that most of those paid to influence ministers will not be covered” – The Times (£)

Budget watchdog backs more immigration

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 07.58.50“David Cameron’s clampdown on immigration will harm growth and reverse the savings made by years of austerity, his own budget watchdog warned yesterday. Foreigners who come to live in Britain often pay more taxes, need less support from the State and are better qualified to work, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility…Maintaining curbs to prevent foreigners settling in the UK will reduce the number of working-age residents who pay tax and support the elderly, the OBR warned” – The Times (£)

Churches and gay rights activist alike mark 'watershed' moment as gay marriage is legalised

"The Queen, who is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, gave her formal approval to the Bill – one of the most radical pieces of social legislation of her reign – this afternoon...The Roman Catholic Church described it as a “watershed” in English law and said that it marked a “profound social change”. Ben Summerskill chief executive of Stonewall, said the move would “bring joy to tens of thousands of gay couples and their friends and families.” - Daily Telegraph

Outsourcing firms “cream profits off public sector”

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 07.59.50“Private companies providing public services are routinely ‘gaming the system’ to make money for their shareholders at the expense of the taxpayer, a major new study finds today. An analysis of the Government’s controversial £100bn ‘outsourcing’ programmes, such as its scheme to help the unemployed back into work, found private firms ‘creaming off’ easy cases where they could make profits while ‘parking’ problematic ones” - The Independent

> Today: Tom Gash on Comment: More haste, less speed. Could rapid reform actually undermine the drive to outsource public services?

Maria Miller declares war on BBC sexism…

“Culture Secretary Maria Miller has delivered an extraordinary attack on the BBC’s sexist sports coverage. In a scathing letter to the director-general Lord Hall, she expressed her anger at presenter John Inverdale’s remarks about Wimbledon singles champion Marion Bartoli. Mrs Miller, who also called for better coverage of women’s sport, demanded updates on ‘further action that is likely to be taken’ over the comments, which prompted hundreds of complaints to the BBC” – Daily Mail

…As senior Tories mock woman MP’s leopard-print outfit...

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 08.02.29“Senior Tory MPs mocked a former minister’s striking leopard-print outfit behind her back at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday. Cheryl Gillan, the former  Welsh Secretary, was called to ask David Cameron about plans for the controversial HS2 high-speed rail line, which she bitterly opposes. As she spoke, Keith Simpson, parliamentary aide to Foreign Secretary William Hague, was heard to make roaring noises while clawing the air like a big cat” – Daily Mail

…And Cameron is told he is running out of time to achieve gender equality…

“David Cameron has been warned that he is running out of time to meet his pledge that a third of his ministers would be women. Before the last election, the Conservative party leader said that he would make good on the promise by the end of his first term in office. It may be a target that he now regrets. Just four full members of the current Cabinet are female” – The Times (£)


The Telegraph says: Save Willetts for the nation!

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 08.03.18"As a product of King Edward’s in Birmingham rather than Eton or St Paul’s, Mr Willetts has never been a part of the Cameron set. But there are other ministers, inside and outside the Cabinet, who have made far less of a contribution to the Tory cause. If the Prime Minister does choose to replace him, the loss will be entirely his own." - Daily Telegraph Editorial

Heathrow dithering leaves us stuck on the runway

“Still visible at Maplin Sands in Essex are the first piles driven for a massive new London airport, approved by Parliament under Ted Heath’s government in 1973 – and scrapped on Labour’s return to power the following year. In the 40 years since, enough rival plans have been put forward to fill an aircraft hangar with maps and drawings. But while politicians have dithered and bickered, none has had the guts to make a decision. Yesterday, Heathrow bosses put forward three more sets of proposals to add to the mountain on the desk of Sir Howard Davies, the economist chairing the latest leisurely inquiry into increasing airport capacity in the South East” – Daily Mail Comment

Nick Herbert condemns Government’s planning policies

Herbert Nick Jan 2012“A former Tory minister denounced the government’s planning policies as an ‘environmental disaster’ yesterday. Nick Herbert said new planning rules are leading to a ‘greenfield first’ building that is concreting over the countryside. Warning that the Tories have ‘reneged’ on their manifesto pledge to give local people a say over new building in their neighbourhoods, he declared: ‘Localism is dead’” – Daily Mail

Prime Minister snubs train for a helicopter

“David Cameron spent thousands of pounds of public money on a 140-mile helicopter flight to Lincoln instead of taking a car or train. The Prime Minister snubbed public transport and travelled by military aircraft to attend a question-and-answer session with factory workers. Last night green campaigners said there was ‘no justification’ for using a helicopter for such a short journey” – Daily Mail

Lady Thatcher made five attempts to get knighthood for Jimmy Savile

“Margaret Thatcher made repeated attempts to win a knighthood for Jimmy Savile despite warnings about his ‘manner of life’. The former prime minister made at least five requests for the now-disgraced DJ to be considered for the top honour, but senior civil servants voiced fears about his ‘strange and complex’ private life. Previously unseen documents from the Cabinet Office reveal the extent of unease about the BBC presenter, almost three decades before he was finally unmasked as a predatory paedophile” – Daily Mail

News in brief

  • School meal kills 22 children in India – Guardian
  • Scientists estimate heat wave has killed 760 people – The Times (£)
  • Body of missing actor Paul Bhattacharjee found near cliffs in East Sussex – Daily Mail
  • Taleban chief to Malala: “I wish we hadn’t shot you” – The Times (£)
  • Nelson Mandela celebrates 95th birthday with 95 cup cakes – The Sun
  • Botox boss wins the Apprentice – The Times (£)

And finally…queue here for the Royal baby!

“The entrance to the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, where the Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth, has become a media circus beyond compare. There may be nothing to say just yet, but the whole scene provides a delightfully British comedy of manners for the waiting world” – Robert Hardman, Daily Mail


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