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Newslinks for Wednesday 31st July 2013

8pm WATCH: Peter Cruddas after his libel victory: "No-one in the Conservative Party wanted to listen to my side of the story"

Football3.30pm MPsETC: AFC Bluebirds soar in double victory

1.45pm MPsETC: Selection results published for European election regional candidate lists

1pm On ToryDiary, Cameron, Osborne and May soar up our Cabinet league table"Compared to the last Cabinet league table we published, the latest is notable for its buoyancy. Of the 30 ministers (and one London mayor) rated by ConservativeHome readers, 17 have seen their numbers improve, 9 have remained more or less flat, and only 4 have declined in any significant way. Even Nick Clegg has seen his net satisfaction rating increase."

11.30am Lord Ashcroft on Comment: As Peter Cruddas wins a resounding High Court victory against The Sunday Times, the Party needs to learn major lessons from this debacle

10am ToryDiary: Shapps admits that Labour has policies, but warns that they’d be terrible for the country

ToryDiary: Over half of Conservative members support Cameron's anti-porn net plans

Henry Hill's latest Red, White and Blue column: Scottish ‘militant separatist’ extradited to UK to face terror charges


On LeftWatch, Mark Wallace draws attention to Labour's Posh Boys (and Girls)"I was lucky enough to go to RGS Newcastle. But the fact that my fellow old boys include Labour Peer Lord (formerly Sir Jeremy) Beecham and Ian Lucas, Labour MP for Wrexham, should suggest that Labour is being quite hypocritical in trying to cast it as a negative – and a Tory negative at that."

A teacher writes under the pseudonym Joe Baron on Comment: "F**k off, you c**t!" "Your mum sucks c**k!" A morning in the life of a teacher

Local Government: Lib Dems attack 20 mph speed limit

The Deep End: Banks would behave better if more of their own money was at risk

Cameron keeps pressing underperforming hospitals to do better

Cameron"David Cameron is demanding action at 36 NHS wards where patients said they would advise loved ones to avoid treatment. ... He spoke as a Trip Advisor-style NHS website released its first monthly poll results. One A&E — at Chase Farm, North London — got a minus rating. ... The PM, on holiday in Portugal, said: 'I expect action to be taken where patients and staff say standards are not good.'" - The Sun

"Patient groups have condemned one of the Prime Minister’s key health initiatives as a £150 million waste of money that made it impossible to compare hospitals." - The Times (£)

  • "Are you listening, Andy Burnham? NHS patients have been given a voice" - Chris Skidmore, Daily Telgraph
  • "The only option is to bring in the private sector, they suggest: the NHS pound will go further, and state-provided services will be reinvigorated by competition. But where is the evidence?" - Guardian editorial
  • "The vital thing is not to abandon attempts at reform, but to think of ways to do it better." - Daily Telegraph editorial

Frack attack! Lord Howell under fire for advocating fracking in the "desolate" North East

Fracking"A Tory peer provoked a storm of criticism yesterday by suggesting fracking should be concentrated in the North East of England because it is ‘desolate’. ... Lord Howell, the father-in-law of Chancellor George Osborne, said ‘beautiful rural areas’ further south should be spared the disruption caused by the controversial method of shale gas extraction. ... The peer later apologised for ‘any offence caused’ but his comments are embarrassing for the Conservatives, who must gain seats in the North to have any hope of winning the 2015 election." - Daily Mail

"Downing Street immediately sought to distance itself from the comments, which threaten to further alienate voters in the North." - Daily Telegraph

  • "He is just plain wrong. I was born and raised in the North East, I know it is one of the most beautiful, varied and geographically dramatic parts of the country." - David Skelton, Daily Telegraph
  • "The 'desolate' North might actually be the best place to introduce fracking, since it would bring about a return to prosperity" - Daily Telegraph editorial
  • "A Nimby? No, I'm fighting to save the Britain I love" - Griff Rhys Jones, Daily Mail
  • "The fracking debate is more about power than energy" - Hamish McRae, The Independent

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Tory Peer comes under fire for recommending fracking in the "desolate" North East

The Government's new task force to promote HS2

HS2"Ministers will on Wednesday launch a counter-attack in the row over the £50bn High Speed 2 rail project, arguing that the line will boost jobs, skills and housing across Britain. ... Lord Deighton, the former Olympics chief charged with giving momentum and focus to the sprawling national infrastructure plan, will convene a task force charged with 'maxing out the benefits' from Britain’s biggest public project." - Financial Times

  • "He admits the government has been 'policy heavy, delivery light'" - Infrastructure Minister Lord Deighton is interviewed in the Financial Times
  • "Britons are venturing outside their homes less, government figures have revealed." - The Independent

Ministers urged to considering new benefit curbs for migrants

"David Cameron is being urged to stop EU migrants claiming benefits during their first two years in Britain in a radical move to tighten Brussels labour laws. ... The option is one of several presented to a government review by a left-wing think-tank. Others include capping the numbers of foreign jobseekers, reserving more jobs for British workers and excluding the poorest EU nations altogether." - The Times (£)

High Court dismisses legal challenge against the "spare room subsidy"

Gavel"Ten families dealing with disability have lost their attempt to overturn the government's 'bedroom tax' on the basis that it was highly discriminatory and contrary to article 14 of the European convention on human rights. ... Two high court judges ruled that courts should not 'micro-manage' policy decisions and that £30m in discretionary housing payments granted local authorities enough flexibility to deal with shortfalls." - The Guardian

  • Disability benefits in Scotland account for a fifth more spending than in England - Daily Mail

> Yesterday on Local Government: Cutting the spare room subsidy will help the disabled in overcrowded housing

IDS versus the BBC (again)

IDS"The BBC was accused of ‘blatant Left-wing bias’ after bosses attacked one of their most respected journalists for a programme exposing the truth about the bloated welfare state. ... Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith reacted angrily to the ruling, telling the Daily Mail last night that the programme had been ‘thoughtful’ and ‘intelligent’." - Daily Mail

  • "Far from ensuring balance, the committee is effectively saying that opposition to welfare cuts should be compulsory for all BBC presenters." - Daily Mail editorial
  • "Any review of the media cannot ignore BBC dominance, and any review of the BBC’s charter cannot ignore online publishing" - Times editorial (£)

Shapps versus Labour and Miliband (as always)

"Labour will today be accused of ‘loving to talk Britain down’ by Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps. ... Setting out his party’s lines of attack before the next general election, he will say that leader Ed Miliband and shadow chancellor Ed Balls are ‘on the wrong side of every argument’. ... Mr Shapps will also claim that a Labour government would quickly increase Britain’s budget deficit and raise mortgage rates." - Daily Mail

The Sun admits that the Tories are on a good run, as it sets out its values ahead of a new paywalled service

The Sun

"The Tories are trying hard to dig us out of the economic mire. ... But that didn’t stop us giving them a kicking when they tried to tax working people’s pasties. ... At the moment they’re on a good run — an improving economy, reductions in immigration, crime and unemployment and the expulsion of Abu Qatada. ... But it could all change." - The Sun 

Rapists could benefit from a loophole created by Coalition policies

"Thousands of rapists could escape conviction after a loophole in Home Office legislation left police powerless to hold on to the DNA of potential suspects. ... Genetic material from people arrested but later released for serious sexual and violent crimes is automatically being destroyed because safeguards promised by the Prime Minister will not come in law for another four months." - The Times (£)

"The Big Society lives on in Welby’s Wonga plan," says Daniel Finkelstein

DF"The Left's campaign on payday loans is precisely to use legislation to put Wonga out of business, probably by capping interest rates in a way that makes its business model impossible. Competing with Wonga is a free-market alternative to such regulation. It is a Big Society idea." - Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

  • "Why I support Justin Welby's battle with Wonga" - Jacob Rees-Mogg, Daily Telegraph

Cable hails the Office of Fair Trading's crackdown on payday lenders

"Fifteen top payday lenders have quit rather than prove they do not rip off hard-up families, it emerged yesterday. ... Business Secretary Vince Cable said: 'It shows tough enforcement is having a real effect. I look to the remaining 35 lenders to fix the problems in their practices or face further sanctions.'" - The Sun

Clegg criticises the Home Office's "Go Home" vans

Clegg"The Deputy Prime Minister challenged the Immigration minister Mark Harper's scheme, and said the controversial billboards in north London were not a 'clever way of dealing with this issue'." - The Independent

Labour accuses Gove of overspending on consultants

"Michael Gove’s department is breaking its own agreed spending deals with the Treasury by going £114m over budget through its use of private-sector consultants and contractors, Labour claims. ... The Department for Education (DfE) last night insisted the overspend was “essential” and approved by the Cabinet Office." - The Independent

  • "If free schools and academies open abroad, our children will suffer" - Fiona Millar, The Guardian

Select Committee Report 1) The decline in physical education

"The education select committee questioned more than 300 primary and secondary school teachers, less than half of whom claimed that their pupils have two hour of sports education each week. ... Just 43 per cent said that their students enjoyed two hours of physical work a week, compared to 90 per cent in the academic year 2007 - 2008, when the sports survey was carried out under Labour's government." - Daily Mail

Select Committee Report 2) Concern for accident victims

Accident ahead"The Ministry of Justice is consulting on proposals that would increase the number of disputed compensation cases heard by small claims courts – where claimants have to pay their own legal fees even if they win. ... However, in a report published on Wednesday the parliamentary transport committee cautions that 'access to justice is likely to be impaired' if the changes go through." - Financial Times

Lords Committee Report: Fix our corporate tax system

"The House of Lords committee on economic affairs issued a report on Wednesday that called for more transparency, greater oversight and a review of tax rules, including the 'generous' relief on interest payments that it said could lead to British businesses taking on excessive debt." - Financial Times

Three-quarters of business leaders want an EU referendum... but most want to stay in

Flags"A survey of nearly 4,000 company bosses in the UK shows more than three-quarters back giving the public a say on membership of the European Union. ... It also reveals that British business is becoming more Eurosceptic with growing support for quitting the EU altogether or withdrawing and securing new trade agreements. ... However, the majority - or 61.4 per cent of those asked in the British Chambers of Commerce poll - wants Britain to remain in the EU with powers transferred from Brussels to Westminster." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: The PM shames Labour's referendum filibusterers - but lets their Lib Dem allies off the hook

Gus O'Donnell accused of "cashing in" after landing a new job

"Former Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell has been accused of ‘cashing in’ on his Government connections by accepting a top role with a private consultancy. ... Critics say there is a conflict of interest in his new job as chairman of Frontier Economics, which has been working on Heathrow Airport’s third runway bid." - Daily Mail

News in brief 

  • Almost a quarter of boys in state schools are classed as having special educational needs - Daily Mail
  • A fifth of graduates are unemployed or in unsalaried or low-paid posts six months after leaving university - Daily Mail
  • BritanniaOne in four British adults do not recognise Britannia, the face of the country - Daily Mail
  • Vicky Pryce stripped of official honour after jail sentence - Daily Mail
  • Barclays has £2billion wiped from its value, after it reveals emegency plans to plug a gap in its finances - Daily Mail
  • American court rules: Bradley Manning isn't a traitor, but he is a spy - Daily Mail
  • 22 law firms are among the clients of private detectives jailed for hacking - The Sun
  • A third soldier has died after Territorial Army SAS selection tests - The Sun
  • Report questions the SNP’s pension guarantees - Financial Times
  • The Bank of England helped sell looted Nazi gold - Financial Times
  • Poll suggests voters are tiring of coalition - The Independent
  • Another polls suggests the public doesn't trust newspapers to reglate themselves - The Independent
  • Buyers of second homes in Wales could pay higher stamp duty - The Times (£)

And finally...John Prescott, traffic cop

"He may not look like your conventional hero. But when a huge traffic jam sent tempers fraying in the weekend heat, it was John Prescott to the rescue. ... The former deputy prime minister surprised fellow motorists when he jumped from his car and stood in the middle of the road to direct the traffic." - Daily Mail


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