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February 2011 newslinks

19 Dec 2011 08:19:36

Newslinks for Monday 19th December 2011

6.30pm Local government: Cumbria now set for Council Tax freeze

6pm WATCH: Osborne: "We need new banks to enter the market to provide consumers and businesses with more choice"

5.15pm Michael Robb on Comment: Vickers banking reforms could make 2012 a very tough year

5pm: Today's teatime newslinks - including the German FM's speech to build bridges with the UK, progress made with the unions over public sector pensions, and Clegg's speech to Demos

5pm WATCH:

4.15pm ToryDiary: David Cameron's Christianity

3.45pm LeftWatch: What are commentators from all sides saying about Ed Miliband's leadership?

3pm WATCH: Nick Clegg: The state should not "encourage the tax system to favour a particular family form"

2.30pm ToryDiary: Downing Street is confident of a public sector pensions deal being reached with the unions

1.30pm JP Floru on Comment: Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong-Il: A tale of two systems

Screen shot 2011-12-19 at 12.44.0912.45pm WATCH: Alistair Darling: The regulatory system on UK banks needs to be much tougher

12.15pm Local government: Green Party councillor defects to Conservatives

Noon ConHomeUSA: Today's top Republican and American political news

ToryDiary: Osborne set to announce historic banking reforms

On our Columnists' page, Bruce Anderson: If we cannot sort the underclass we all deserve to be mugged, robbed and murdered in our beds

Andrea Leadsom MP on Comment: The Prime Minister was right to stand against Brussels, and he might need to again

Local government: 

WATCH: Mandelson: The vetoed EU treaty posed no threat to the UK

Osborne will announce banking reforms today, implementing the Vickers Report "in full" before 2015

Osborne"George Osborne will detail plans today for a wide-ranging overhaul of the structure of Britain's major banks, forcing them to split their high street and investment operations. The aim is to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis when major banks had to be rescued from collapse by a multibillion-pound bailout from the taxpayer. The separation – confirmed yesterday by the Business Secretary, Vince Cable – has been resisted by some of the banks which have claimed the shake-up could cost the sector up to £12bn and warned that the bill could eventually be passed on to customers" - Independent

  • Independent Editorial: 'In bank reform, 'in full' must mean exactly that' - Independent
  • Ben Chu: 'How far and how fast is key to the reforms' - Independent
  • Larry Elliott:'Will Vickers demand banks lift capital ratios just as they need to lend more?' - Guardian
  • Jeff Randall: "While Britain upgrades its sprinkler system, a fireball has already engulfed our neighbours" in Europe - Telegraph
  • The EU says it will not stand in the way of Britain's banking reforms - FT
  • Clegg will warn state-owned banks of "irresponsible" bonus payments - Guardian

> Yesterday WATCH: Cable says John Vickers' recipe for more banking competition will be accepted "in full" (but not quite yet)

As Osborne proceeds with deficit reduction plans, one in 5 Britons fear they will lose their job in the next yearTimes (£)

Britain is expected to contribute £25bn towards a new €urozone bailout fund

"European finance ministers will aim to agree a new €200 billion (£167.7 billion) loan to the International Monetary Fund as part of a deal to save the single currency. Three quarters of the money is expected to come from eurozone members, but Britain will also be asked to provide funds. Figures suggest European Union officials expect British taxpayers to be the second largest contributor. The Prime Minister has repeatedly promised not to provide any extra funding for the IMF for the specific purpose of saving the euro and Britain is already liable for £12 billion of loans and guarantees to Ireland, Greece and Portugal" - Telegraph

BorisThis time next year, the €urozone could be broken up says Boris Johnson, as "hysterical attempts to bubblegum" it together keep failingGuardian

The French aren't really angry with the British, writes Boris, they're cross with the Germans

"The French are really disappointed with Germany; and it is a golden rule of European politics that when France is angry with Germany, Britain gets the blame. That is because a rant against Germany is a very different thing, with a much heavier charge. Sixty-seven years after the war, the French are facing up to the reality that the European experiment has failed to contain German economic might, and that the Germans are unwilling and unable to help other countries cope with the agony of the euro" - Telegraph

  • Wolfgang Munchau: 'UK will fare better in this Anglo-French spat' - FT
  • John Redwood MP: The French and UK deals compared - John Redwood's Diary
Theresa May reflects on the UK riots this Summer, saying that the rights of the majority should be protected

May"In April, during the Royal Wedding, we showed the world the very best aspects of our society. Three months later we showed them the very worst. That is why we shouldn’t accept the rioters’ excuses or allow them to blame others while refusing to accept any responsibility themselves. The looters and  pillagers need to understand they committed serious crimes – only then can we avoid a  repeat of the terrible scenes of last summer.  Yes, we must listen to the rioters but we must also listen to their victims" - Daily Mail

The Home Affairs Select Committee warn that the situation during the Summer riots would have be worsened if the police were able to use water cannons and rubber bullets - Times (£)

A leaked Home Office Report suggests that 4,328 foreign criminals due to be deported remain 'non-detained', still committing crimes - Daily Mail

Cameron pledges his support to providing welfare and support to injured military personnel, setting up a Cabinet Committee to ensure they receive the necessary assistanceSun

The Guardian has obtained a Ministry of Defence document that reveals 700 top posts will be axed in the next three years, and another 335 before 2020 - Guardian

Cameron reiterates his commitment to tax breaks for married couples as Clegg mocks the Tory view of the family as a 'return to the 50s'

Cleggcam"David Cameron renewed his vow to introduce tax breaks for married couples last night despite a ‘puerile’ attack from Nick Clegg accusing the Conservatives of wanting to return to the 1950s. A source close to the Prime Minister told the Daily Mail his commitment was ‘absolutely safe and unchanged’. He said it had always been clear the Coalition partners differed on the issue, with a special provision in their power sharing agreement for the Lib Dems to abstain" - Daily Mail

  • Melanie Phillips describes Clegg's comments as an "absurd caricature of Mr Cameron’s position ... all because of Tory plans for tax breaks for married couples — an idea which, according to Mr Clegg, is the product of a party that ‘failed to notice social changes until well after they had happened"
  • Matthew d'Ancona: 'David Cameron must now pass the Christopher Hitchens test' and prove he is not "content-free" - Telegraph

> Yesterday ThinkTankCentral: The Centre for Social Justice attacks Clegg for anti-marriage speech

In a speech today, Nick Clegg will insist that plans to reform the House of Lords, including an elected upper house, has the backing of David Cameron

"It had been assumed that the Conservatives in cabinet had little stomach for the change, but Clegg insists he has the backing of Tories at the highest level, including David Cameron and George Osborne. The move also suggests Clegg is willing to rejoin the fight over constitutional reform after his bruising defeat in the AV referendum in May. Clegg said: "The Lords is a standing affront to everything a liberal democracy should be. It is nepotism and patronage rather than merit, it is closed rather than open. It hoards power and people have been trying to reform it for 100 years" - Guardian

The Government aims to cut down waste produced at Christmas due to the expense it creates to dispose of it

"Grant Shapps, the local government minister, will be speaking to executives from Sainsbury’s, Tesco, B&Q and Morrisons, as well as councils and recycling experts to discuss ideas for cutting the bill for festive waste. “Christmas should always be a time for sharing and celebrating but we must remember that every trussed-up turkey, shrink-wrapped sprout and over-packaged pudding adds to the burden [of refuse services] in the new year,” the minister said" - Telegraph

  • If supermarkets don't cut down packaging over the next year, new laws will force them to - Daily Mail

Pensioners living abroad receive £13.4 million a year in Winter Fuel Payments

Mail"Figures uncovered by the Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott show that from 2006  to 2011, 270,585 winter fuel payments totalling £52.9million have been made to pensioners in Gibraltar, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Malta and Cyprus. These are the eight hottest countries in the European Economic Area – the EU plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Lord Oakeshott added: ‘It is farcical to be spraying out winter fuel payment cheques all around the Mediterranean" - Daily Mail

Mandelson warns of the "dangers" for Ed Miliband in straying too far from Tony Blair's winning formulaGuardian

It is too soon to write Ed Miliband off, says Jackie Ashley, "he needs help. All leaders do. Some of the older generation, including his brother, need to rally to the flag"Guardian

As the Scottish Labour Party elects a new leader, Katie Grant in the Scotsman tells Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson to stop nitpicking, and develop a new direction for her partyScotsman

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28 Feb 2011 09:00:07

Newslinks for Monday 28th February 2011

EU-FLAG 8pm ToryDiary: The European Court of Justice looks set to alienate half all the population tomorrow

5.45pm WATCH: David Cameron tells the Commons: Gaddafi must go now

5.30pm Matthew Sinclair on Comment: Philip Hammond applauds Birmingham Council for waste which Eric Pickles condemned

4.15pm Parliament: David Cameron updates the Commons on the progress of the evacuation of British nationals from Libya and moves against Gaddafi's regime

4pm Paul Goodman on Comment: Why doesn't Fine Gael now form a coalition with Fianna Fail?

3.15pm ToryDiary: What is the job of the Tory Chairman? Is membership growing or falling in your Association? Who are the Coalition's enemies? Is David Cameron giving too many concessions to the Lib Dems? Are Tory MPs TOO rebellious?

Ed Miliband on Marr2.30pm JP Floru on Comment: Ed Miliband prescribes more socialism to cure the squeezed middle

1.45pm WATCH: Ed Miliband says he thinks the Government's economic decisions will clobber lower and middle income families

Noon Guy Opperman MP on Comment: How I am promoting the Big Society as a constituency MP

10.45am: Paul Goodman on Comment: Searchlight's new campaign fails its first test

10.15am ThinkTankCentral: TaxPayers' Alliance restate opposition to High Speed Rail as five-month consultation opens

ToryDiary: Cameron needs a Party Chairman to take the fight to the Coalition's enemies

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Philip Davies MP on Comment: Increased use of CCTV and DNA profiling would actually enhance our freedom

Also on Comment: Steve Baker MP: The Big Society is The New United Kingdom

Seats and Candidates: Dennis Skinner finds himself as Labour's new poster boy (at least in Barnsley)

Leftwatch: Has Ed Balls just stolen the centrepiece of George Osborne's budget?

Local Government:

WATCH: David Cameron pays tribute to the UK military involved in rescuing people from Libya

Cameron urges Gaddafi to "go now"...

David Cameron BBC 2011 "Prime Minister David Cameron urged Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to "go now" as the UK imposed sanctions in an effort to force him from power. The Prime Minister, speaking inside Downing Street, also said that he was "delighted" at the success of a second special forces-led operation to rescue oil workers stuck in the remote Libyan desert... Mr Cameron said: "All of this sends a clear message to this regime: it is time for Colonel Gaddafi to go and to go now. There is no future for Libya that includes him." - Press Association

...as George Osborne freezes his UK assets

"George Osborne has frozen the British-held assets of Muammer Gaddafi and five members of his family, as Treasury officials step up efforts to track down billions of pounds held in bank accounts and commercial property. The UK chancellor’s decision followed a similar move in the US by President Barack Obama and a UN Security Council resolution to freeze the embattled Libyan leader’s assets. Details also emerged on Sunday night of an audacious attempt made in the past week to move uncirculated Libyan banknotes worth £900m out of the UK." - FT (£)

  • Tony Blair in personal plea to Gaddafi to stand down - The Times (£)

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Hague says Government working round-the-clock to rescue remaining Britons in Libya

As a consultation begins, Philip Hammond brands HiSpeed Rail protesters "Nimbys"

Philip Hammond on Marr "Opposition to high-speed rail is driven by “Nimbys” peddling inaccurate scare stories, the Transport Secretary has told The Times ahead of the launch of plans to build a new railway through the heart of rural England... The Government will set out the case for the high-speed railway this morning, including a new business plan, an environmental appraisal and an assessment of alternatives such as upgrading the West Coast Main Line." - The Times (£)

  • The high cost of high-speed rail - FT (£) editorial
  • Without backing, high-speed rail will hit the buffers - Times (£) editorial

> Video from yesterday: Hammond vows to convert opponents of HiSpeed rail plan

...whilst he moots raising motorway speed limit to 80mph

"Motorway speed limits could be raised to 80mph and those on city and town roads be reduced, with the decision on restrictions being made as much on cost as on safety. The Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, said yesterday that decisive factors could include the economic benefits of faster travel as well as environmental concerns." - The Independent

Unruly youngsters must be sent to boot camps to learn respect, declares Gove

Michael Gove serious 2010 "Youngsters need the rigour of a military-style education because they have ‘no self-discipline or sense of purpose’, the Education Secretary said. Michael Gove attacked the declining virtues of the young yesterday, as he announced £1.5million funding to draft battle-hardened troops into ‘boot camps’ for unruly pupils. He believes war veterans are needed to drill respect into troubled teenagers and provide them with role models." - Daily Mail

David Cameron "rebukes Liam Fox over 'bigging up' of Iran's nuclear ambitions"

"David Cameron, the Prime Minister, and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, are understood to be unhappy about the Defence Secretary’s hawkish statements on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Sources said Mr Cameron was worried that high-profile warnings about the Iranian nuclear programme could strengthen the domestic position of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime by lending it credibility." - Daily Telegraph

Coalition parties train to fight each other in May local elections offensive

"The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives will spend their spring conferences planning how to attack each other’s policies as the coalition partners’ gloves come off before the local elections in May. Members of Nick Clegg’s party have been invited to attend workshops with names such as Inspired! Winning against the Tories and Defending Against the Conservatives in 2011, The Times can reveal... A Conservative spokesman said that there would be similar sessions at its spring forum in Cardiff this weekend." - The Times (£)

Boris Johnson: Why we must oppose AV - which, lest we forget, was Gordon Brown's Gaddafi-style last gasp self-preservation attempt (and let's have a referendum on Lisbon while we're at it)

Boris Johnson smiling "It seems unlikely that in the next few weeks the AV campaign will mobilise the masses in the way that we have seen in North Africa... The whole thing threatens to be a bit of a damp squib. Which is a shame, because the more closely people focus on what is being put to the people on May 5, the more clearly they should see that this is a gigantic fraud... It is bonkers to be pursuing the last manoeuvre of a cornered Gordon Brown. By all means let us have a referendum – the one we were promised, on the Lisbon EU Treaty." - Boris Johnson writing in the Daily Telegraph

  • Boris Johnson says Bob Diamond should "think very carefully" before accepting bonus... - ITN
  • ...as the London Mayor asks Barclays to double bike hire backing - Bloomberg

Daily Mail: Overseas aid should share the burden of the cuts

"We welcome news that the Coalition is to stop aid to 16 relatively well-off countries — including economic superpower China and oil-rich Russia... Bewilderingly, though, the Coalition’s review of international aid has concluded that payments to India — a nation with three times as many billionaires as we have and its own space programme — will be maintained... The International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, admits that his constituents ‘go ballistic’ that aid is not facing the same cuts as practically every other Whitehall department. He should listen to them." - Daily Mail editorial

> Video from yesterday: Andrew Mitchell defends UK aid spending in India

John Redwood: It’s refreshing to hear an apology

"Why have Caroline Spelman, Michael Gove, Liam Fox and William Hague all had to say sorry in the last few weeks? Each case is different... The only common current is they each illustrate the need for Ministers to involve themselves in the detail as well as the main decision." - John Redwood's Diary

David Miliband rounds on Cameron for his attack on state multiculturalism...

David Miliband 2010 "David Miliband has made a rare intervention into frontline British politics to warn David Cameron his recent attack on state multiculturalism risks pushing people with concerns about race and immigration into "latent hostility or active enmity". In a Guardian article, the former foreign secretary says the prime minister's "muscular liberalism" offers little to people who are craving what he calls a "greater sense of security" in an ever changing world." - The Guardian

..as Ed Miliband warns of "cost of living crisis"

"Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, will warn today of a "cost of living crisis" that will leave middle-income earners struggling even if the economy recovers. A report launched today is expected to claim that average pay will be no higher in 2015 than it was in 2003. Allowing for inflation, the Resolution Foundation suggests that the median wages of full-time employees will be £25,559 in 2015 – compared with £25,570 in 2003." - The Independent

  • Labour calls for VAT rise on fuel to be scrapped - The Mirror
  • Mandelson tells Labour to consider future Lib Dem deal - City AM

Political news in brief

  • How minister earnt £2m in EU farm subsidies which his department tried to cover up - Daily Mail
  • BMA attacks health bill's 'power to GPs' pledge - The Guardian
  • Lib Dem peer Baroness Williams calls for NHS reform plans to be opposed - The Times (£)
  • New "gold standard" for care homes - The Independent
  • Labour "doubled kids on the sick" - The Sun
  • Jeremy Hunt stakes his reputation on local television - The Guardian
  • Today sees first product placement on British TV - Daily Telegraph

Fine Gael-Labour coalition to follow Irish election win with EU talks on loan

"One of the most dramatic elections in Irish history is expected to produce a record majority of more than 50 seats in the Dáil for a Fine Gael-Labour coalition. Enda Kenny, the Fine Gael leader, has pledged that one of his first acts as prime minister will be to seek a lower interest rate on loans to Ireland to shore up its banking system and keep public services running." - The Guardian

  • Gerry Adams leads party’s surge as Sinn Fein become a significant force in the Dail - Belfast Telegraph

> Zoe Healy on International yesterday: Fine Gael's big Irish victory

And finally... Bob Crow calls for tax on sending emails

Bob Crow "Bob Crow, the Left-wing trade union leader, has suggested that emails should be subject to taxes in order to pay off the deficit. The General Secretary of the militant Rail, Maritime and Transport union was booed as he outlined his idea for a 1p tax on each email during an appearance on a late night comedy show. He said that rather than cutting public services, the Government should tax email traffic and scrap the replacement for the Trident nuclear defence system." - Daily Telegraph

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27 Feb 2011 08:53:36

Newslinks for Sunday 27th February 2011

7.45pm Zoe Healy on International: Fine Gael's big Irish victory

6.15pm WATCH:

Cameron Thoughtful2pm WATCH: In 25 minute interview with Al Jazeera David Cameron rejects In/Out referendum on EU, says drug legalisation would create more problems than it would solve; and identifies fall of Berlin Wall as defining world event in his political development.

10.30am ToryDiary: Hague says Government working round-the-clock to rescue remaining Britons in Libya

ToryDiary: What questions should feature in this month's grassroots survey?

ThinkTankCentral: Families £4,250 worse off this year as inflation becomes bigger issue than cuts

Ed Hall on Comment: First Past The Post is a simple, comprehensible and - most importantly - fair electoral system

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Seats and candidates: Labour set for massive victory in Barnsley Central and No2AV campaign launches anti-Clegg poster

Glyn Gaskarth on Local government: Will those in non-jobs find real jobs?

WATCH: Hammond vows to convert opponents of HiSpeed rail plan

The UK is to stop direct aid to 16 countries, including Russia, China and Iraq

"Resources will be focused on the 27 countries that account for three-quarters of the world's maternal mortality and malaria deaths, such as Ghana and Afghanistan. By 2014, 30% of UK aid is expected to go to war-torn and unstable countries. The report confirms that direct aid to countries including Iraq and Kosovo will stop, whilst aid to India will be frozen." - BBC

Liam Fox: Libya crisis shows why we're right on defence reform

Fox Thumbs Up "As we have seen in Libya in the past 96 hours the UK still has the military capability to protect British interests. At a time when the commercial sector was unable or unwilling to fly, the Government used a range of military assets, including Royal Navy warships each with a detachment of Royal Marines and C-130 Hercules aircraft to evacuate hundreds of Britons and citizens from a dozen other countries. In fact, British Armed Forces have been leading the way with HMS Cumberland being the first military asset from any country to enter and evacuate citizens from the Libyan city of Benghazi." - Liam Fox in The Sunday Telegraph

But, writes Patrick Mercer MP in the Sunday Express: Defence cuts have left us too weak to help our own people

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: The RAF flies over 150 civilians out of Libya

TODAY'S MUST-READ: John Rentoul charts the twists and turns of Cameron's foreign policy

Cameron At Lecturn "Cameron's foreign policy, or lack thereof, is perhaps more important. To start with the formative issue, he only just supported the Iraq war. He classified himself as one of "the confused and uncertain", who voted "grudgingly, unhappily, unenthusiastically" for military action. Since then, he has stuck to his principles with the constancy of a pinball. Some of his best friends are liberal interventionists, and he is an admirer of Tony Blair, but in a speech in Pakistan in 2008 he said: "I am a liberal Conservative, not a neo-conservative". In the same speech, he preferred cliché to meaning: "We should accept that we cannot impose democracy at the barrel of a gun; that we cannot drop democracy from 10,000ft and we shouldn't try." Did that mean policy in Afghanistan and Iraq had been mistaken; or just Iraq; or just the democracy bit? During the election campaign last year, he was a muscular interventionist pledging whatever it took to get the job done in Afghanistan, and to protect defence spending from the worst of the cuts. Soon after he was elected, he had spun on a bayonet-point to do the one thing that the interventionists thought was an open invitation to the Taliban to fight on: namely to set a deadline for British troops to pull out of Afghanistan. Then he as good as declared that the main aim of foreign policy was trade promotion." - John Rentoul in the Independent on Sunday

"It is not fair to say that [Cameron] came to office without one, but it is reasonable to suggest that his foreign policy could be summarised on the back of an envelope. 1) Concentrate on domestic affairs. 2) Get out of Afghanistan as soon as we decently can and avoid any further foreign entanglements. 3) Hope Europe does not throw up anything which provokes my backwoodsmen. 4) Demonstrate the compassionate side of my Conservatism by maintaining the aid budget. 5) Sell more stuff abroad. 6) Concentrate on domestic affairs." - Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer

"Our world-class defence firms can be left to flog their own kit. British foreign policy means protecting our people and promoting democracy. Without being suspected of ulterior motives. The days of flogging tear gas to Arab autocrats should be well and truly over." - Fraser Nelson in the News of the World (£)

  • Janet Daley says we must decide whether to give active help to those who want freedom, or to consign them to the Middle Ages - The Sunday Telegraph
  • George Walden: Selling arms will always backfire on Britain - Independent on Sunday
  • Margareta Pagano: Cameron shoots himself in the UK-armed foot - Independent on Sunday
  • We must never again reduce foreign policy to the pursuit of profit - Ed Miliband for The Observer
  • Paul Wolfowitz: Libya’s oil curse has stained the West’s hands - The Sunday Times (£)

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Matthew D'Ancona clocks the decline of Hague and the rise of Osborne - "the real Deputy Prime Minister"

Labour plan to paint Coalition as "incompetent"

Forsyth James "Labour’s strategy over the past few months has been to paint the Coalition as incompetent and ideological. But Ed Miliband’s team knows the incompetence charge is the far more potent one. They remember how the Tory Party never recovered from Black Wednesday, despite the years of economic prosperity that followed, and so are determined to use every opportunity to undermine the Coalition’s reputation for effectiveness. They believe that once the Coalition is seen as incompetent, it will be impossible for it to command public support for the cuts or its reform programme. Their line will be: Would you trust this lot to get it right?" - James Forsyth in the Mail on Sunday

Ministers say high-speed rail will make Birmingham the new Lyon - The Sunday Telegraph

"Our proposed high-speed network would bring central London to within 49 minutes of central Birmingham, to within 80 minutes of Leeds and just 73 minutes of Manchester. High-speed services would provide a huge uplift in capacity on key routes between the North and London, and, as passengers transfer to the new line, valuable capacity will be released on the existing network for commuter and freight services." - Philip Hammond in the Independent on Sunday

Chris Patten's powers as new Chairman of BBC Trust

PATTEN Chris "The chairman of the BBC Trust has a powerful position, but Patten won’t be able to interfere with day-to-day editorial decisions. Where he’ll be able to make an impact is by commissioning reports on, for example, how the BBC covers business or reports on religion. He’ll then be able to force programme-makers to absorb the lessons." - Tim Montgomerie in The Sunday Telegraph

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: David Cameron's Today joke (and what can we expect from Chris Patten?)

If Murdoch gets BSkyB, it will be a victory for monopoly capitalism - Will Hutton in The Observer

Political in Brief:

  • Labour 8% ahead in latest YouGov/ Sunday Times poll, Government approval rating = Minus 25% - YouGov
  • Liberal Democrat ministers asked for 'tithe' as party faces financial crisis - Observer

Peers and MPs blow £500k on Westminster art spree - Mail on Sunday

Ed Balls urges the government to ditch the recent VAT rise on petrol to ease motorists’ misery amid fears fuel costs could hit £1.40 a litre

"In an interview with The Sunday Times, Balls urged immediate action, warning that Britain was facing a “cost-of-living crisis”. “Filling up a family car now costs £65-£75. World oil prices are already very high, and the chancellor has chosen, at this very moment, to raise fuel prices further, by pushing up Vat. I am urging him to reverse that increase,” he said." - The Sunday Times (£)

Huge numbers would support anti-immigration, patriotic party if it rejected violence

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"A Populus poll found that 48% of the population would consider supporting a new anti-immigration party committed to challenging Islamist extremism, and would support policies to make it statutory for all public buildings to fly the flag of St George or the union flag." - Observer | Mail on Sunday

> Read ConservativeHome's diagnosis of the 'ANTI' voter

Barack Obama catches up with Republicans on gay marriage - Toby Harnden in The Sunday Telegraph

And finally... Larry the let-down?

Screen shot 2011-02-27 at 08.54.21 "We were promised a killer instinct and a readiness to clean up politics. Well, Downing Street, anyway. But as with some of his ministerial colleagues, the move into government has caused Larry the Cat to lose his way. The nation's premier pet is more interested in catnapping than rat-catching." - Independent on Sunday

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26 Feb 2011 08:58:09

Newslinks for Saturday 26th February 2011

9.15pm ToryDiary: Matthew D'Ancona clocks the decline of Hague and the rise of Osborne - "the real Deputy Prime Minister"

7.30pm ToryDiary: The RAF flies over 150 civilians out of Libya

Screen shot 2011-02-26 at 19.19.13 7.15pm ToryDiary: David Cameron's Radio 4 joke (and what can we expect from Chris Patten?)

4.30pm WATCH: Saif Gaddafi: Libyan massacre reports are "a joke"

1.15pm LISTEN Right wing politicians are better looking than their left wing counterparts according to a new Swedish study.  So who are the most attractive MPs?  Bill Cash and Stephen Pound debate the issue.

10.45am Paul Goodman on Comment: George Bush and the neo-cons haven't been proved right about the Middle East

ToryDiary: Cameron won't strive to keep Bercow alive

Screen shot 2011-02-26 at 08.43.17
Comment -

Jim McConalogue: The EU's hypocrisy over the Egyptian regime (and Britain's role in it)

Mike Weatherley MP: How a new competition seeks to promote live music and the preservation of intellectual property rights

Local Government:

WATCH: Gadaffi defiant in Libya speech

Cameron moves to grip Libya crisis as the papers probe his Middle East tour

Screen shot 2011-02-26 at 08.36.29
"David Cameron moved to regain lost ground over his handling of the Libyan crisis by leading calls for sanctions, asset freezes and war crimes tribunals against Colonel Gaddafi.  The prime minister has faced criticism over the ponderous pace of the Foreign Office rescue of stranded Britons in Libya since he left on a four-day tour of the Gulf to strike energy and defence deals. The trip had been planned well before the unrest across the Middle East." - The Guardian

"European governments had last night reached a consensus on the need for sanctions on the Gaddafi clan and instructed officials to announce detailed measures early next week. Amid divisions and foot-dragging by Italy…the EU and its foreign minister, Baroness Ashton, have been criticised for failing to act quickly. Endorsing the move to "restrictive measures" against Col Gaddafi, Lady Ashton insisted: "We are putting as much pressure as possible to try to stop the violence in Libya"." - Daily Telegraph

"For the first time the prime minister’s near obsession with promoting trade was confronted with one of the awkward dilemmas of statesmanship – the short-term rewards and long-term perils of doing business with authoritarian regimes.  As he moved between meetings with military juntas, wealthy sultans and the leaders of an uprising, Mr Cameron insisted there was “no contradiction” between fostering commerce and security, and promoting freedom. But it was clear the trip gave him pause for thought." - Financial Times

Middle East Comment -

Screen shot 2011-02-26 at 09.00.48 "No sooner had the John Simpsons and George Alagiahs left the excited nights in Tahrir Square in Cairo, than a vast crowd, almost unreported in the West, turned out there to hear Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, who had just flown in from Qatar after years of exile…Next stop for our cameras was Bahrain, and now to Libya – or rather, to the Libyan border…They will stay there as long as there is bloodshed and/or the fall of the dictator, and then slip away without bothering about what happens after." - Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

"Having accepted £300,000 of the promised £1.5 million, it has now renounced the gift and promises to surrender £150,000. But a further £150,000 has already been spent. What should be done?…LSE students, discovering a little of yesteryear’s radicalism, have come up with a good solution: use the entire Gaddafi fund to pay for scholarships for deserving Libyans. Justice and honour might thus be salvaged for the battered university." - Times Editorial (£)

Yesterday -

Danny Alexander defends the City

Screen shot 2011-02-26 at 08.38.17 "Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, has been pressing for tougher control on bankers whom he describes as “spivs and gamblers”. Mr Alexander strikes a different tone. “I’ll choose my own language,” he says. “Through the discussions we’ve had with the banks we’re getting more lending into the economy, more tax, and lower bonuses. But I think it’s also important to stress the importance of the financial services industry to Britain. We need to rebalance the economy but that needs to be about building up other parts of the economy, not tearing down one part of it.” - The Times (£) 

Last year's slowdown was bigger than expected

"The economic slowdown at the end of last year was worse than previously thought – ramping up pressure on the Chancellor to kickstart the recovery in next month’s Budget.  The size of the economy shrunk by 0.6 per cent between October and December, the Office for National Statistics said.  The original estimate of a 0.5 per cent contraction was blamed on one of the worst winters in recent memory, which led to a squeeze on retail sales." - Daily Mail

Yesterday in Comment -

Andrew Lilico: What is inflation?

How are you feeling today? Let the Government know in £2m "well-being" survey

"Households up and down the country will soon be invited to judge whether they have 'worthwhile' lives in the nation's first 'wellbeing index'.  The survey, which is thought to be the brainchild of government 'blue-sky thinker' Steve Hilton, will ask 200,000 people to rate their happiness on a scale of zero to ten.  Whether the initiative's £2million budget will have any impact upon the happiness of taxpayers is yet to be seen.  But supporters believe the index will help improve national contentment." - Daily Mail

I'm never unhappy with a questionnaire - Bryony Gordon, Daily Telegraph

Passenger forecasts for high-speed rail are deeply flawed, say project critics

Screen shot 2011-02-26 at 08.40.57 "Ministers will claim next week that up to 15 million British road users and airline passengers will switch to high-speed routes featuring 225mph trains when they become available in the mid-2030s. But critics of the £34 billion project, many of whom live along the proposed initial route between London and Birmingham, claim that these figures are optimistic and say that ministers have not given adequate consideration to cheaper alternatives." - The Times (£)

Willetts threatens "overcharging" universities with further funding cuts

"Very few universities would be justified in charging tuition fees of £9,000 a year – the new maximum from next year – the higher education minister, David Willetts, has said in a speech to vice-chancellors. The government wants a stratified system under which universities charge different amounts. Ministers expect the average to be £7,500. However, several universities have said they intend to charge the maximum." - The Guardian

Extra university places for students paying upfront - The Times (£)

Council Chief Executives ignore Pickles' pay cut advice

"Eric Pickles is not short of advice for councils.  But one of his pearls of wisdom appears to have fallen on deaf ears.  At last year's Conservative conference the Communities and Local Government Secretary had a suggestion for council Chief Executives.  He said any paid more than £150,000 should take a 5% pay cut; any paid £200,000 could make it 10%.  But the Politics Show has discovered that only one Chief Executive across the region has actually listened to that advice and cut his salary." - BBC

Coalition and Political News in Brief

  • British forces would struggle to mount small military intervention, claim officers - Daily Telegraph
  • Mother's anger as Clegg 'washes his hands' of Gary McKinnon - Daily Mail
  • John Swinney 'should hang his head in shame' for tax gaffe - Scotsman
  • Lansley reveals Norfolk secret during Any Questions at Aylsham - Norwich Evening News

First exit poll predicts Irish election result

Screen shot 2011-02-26 at 08.41.53
"The results of an RTÉ Exit Poll indicate that Fine Gael is on course to lead the next government - but that it will not win an overall majority.  The Millward Brown Lansdowne Poll also indicates that Labour should have its best ever General Election result, and Fianna Fáil its worst. 3,500 voters were interviewed after they had cast their ballots by Millward Brown Lansdowne for the RTÉ Exit Poll." - RTE News

Mandelson's warning to Miliband

"Ed Miliband risks making his party as unelectable as it was in the days of Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock, Lord Mandelson warned last night.  The former business secretary said there was a danger that Labour would become as mistrusted on the economy as it was in the 1980s.  In a new chapter of his memoirs, he taunted Mr Miliband over a ‘wafer-thin’ leadership majority that was achieved only through the support of union barons." - Daily Mail

Daily Mail urges Cameron to take on BBC over cuts bias

"Frankly, the BBC’s bias is a disgrace. With complete justification, the Prime Minister has referred to this ‘impartial’ behemoth as the ‘British Broadcasting Cuts Corporation’.  This paper now hopes David Cameron’s entirely understandable anger will be communicated to his ministers, who over recent months have shown a worrying reluctance to answer their critics – allowing the whining anti-cuts brigade to win their arguments by default." - Daily Mail Editorial

Other Comment

  • The foolish cuts that leave us defenceless - Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph
  • Intelligent, traditional media are crucial to the defence of our liberty - Harold Evans, The Independent
  • If there’s no will, there’s no way to express it - Matthew Parris, The Times (£)
  • Treachery and a weak man called Calamity Clegg - Amanda Platell, Daily Mail
  • James Frayne's appointment as media chief at Department for Education may be a masterstroke - Wintour and Watt, The Guardian
  • Company tax – do they pay enough? - John Redwood's Blog

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