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February 2012 newslinks

27 Dec 2012 09:01:54

Newslinks for Thursday 27th December 2012

8.30pm International: The Republicans likely to be hurt most if America falls off its "fiscal cliff"

2.15pm WATCH:

NORMAN-JESSENoon ToryDiary: Backbencher of the Year:

ToryDiary: Only 12% of Tory members expect Cameron to win a majority at next election

John Baron MP on Comment: We don't want another manifesto promise of a referendum we want Cameron to legislate for a referendum

Screen Shot 2012-12-26 at 22.06.27VIDEO: Tracey Crouch MP tells Channel 4 News that "significant minority" of Tory MPs oppose repeal of fox hunting ban

Grant Shapps confirms Owen Paterson's view that there is no chance of overturning ban on foxhunting

"The outspoken new head of the RSPCA, Gavin Grant, taunted David Cameron on his failure to bring forward a vote on fox hunting – telling him it was because he knows he will lose. The Prime Minister had pledged a free vote in the Commons on reversing the ban on fox hunting before the 2015 election. But almost three years into his Coalition, no vote has yet been timetabled." - Daily Mail

In the Daily Mail, Stephen Glover is unimpressed by Cameron's priorities: "In promoting gay marriage, which doesn’t matter to his supporters, and deferring a new Hunting Bill, which does, there is surely an important lesson for the New Year. David Cameron’s Conservative Party needs rebalancing."

  • Hound, horse and human come together today in an activity as vital as our heartbeats, says Roger Scruton in The Telegraph
  • The Times (£) warns against a vote, however: "The coalition has already expended precious political capital by allowing the Liberal Democrats to pursue their enthusiasm for reform of the House of Lords and by holding a referendum on changing the voting system to AV. It would be perverse to do more damage by allowing Conservative MPs to have a futile vote on their pet subject."

Cameron sees lack of support among minority communities as key failure of Tory detoxification and orders push to recruit more BME candidates

Screen Shot 2012-12-27 at 08.26.15

"One Conservative MP in a marginal urban seat told The Independent that his party faced an "existential" challenge in responding to the country's changing ethnic make-up. MPs and candidates are being given advice on how to engage with non-white communities by regularly attending key events, being urged to increase their presence in ethnic minority newspapers, radio programmes and television bulletins and to gain expertise on issues that particularly affect such groups." - Independent

  • In the FT (£) David Goodhart notes how Boris was re-elected despite "white flight" from the capital: "The data on the white exodus from London underlines just how remarkable Mr Johnson’s re-election was, given how most minority groups still overwhelmingly prefer Labour, at least in national elections. If he can win in London, despite losing so many of the white voters most disaffected with diversity, it suggests we may be set for a political swap: socially conservative urban ethnic minority voters switching to the Conservatives, and the godless, liberal suburbs turning to Labour."

62% support the move to legalise gay marriage; only 31% oppose - Guardian

Support for Tories surges in poll of gay voters - Independent | PinkNews

BUT... "Ministers are pursuing the "wrong policy" on gay marriage, and should be focusing on family breakdown, a High Court judge has said. Sir Paul Coleridge told the Times same-sex unions are a "minority issue"." - BBC

  • The Daily Mail agrees: "At a time when 45 per cent of 15-year-olds have seen their parents separate, how can gay marriage be a more urgent priority?"
  • The Express reports concern at lack of democratic mandate for change: "Archbishop Nichols said: “There was no announcement in any party manifesto, no Green Paper, no statement in the Queen’s Speech. And yet here we are on the verge of primary legislation. From a democratic point of view, it’s a shambles.”"

Widdecombe Ann BlueSuitAnn Widdecombe says flawed people can and should still speak up for laws or moral codes they struggle to honour: "Does it mean that anybody who has ever broken the speed limit cannot take a view about road safety? If a Christian breaks a commandment is he any less a Christian? Do I have to be married in order to defend my view that married couples should have special tax reliefs? Is an adulterer who chooses to stay with his wife rather than his mistress and is thereafter faithful not an upholder rather than destroyer of marriage?" - Express

Ten years ago Britons wanted to stay in Europe by a margin of 68% to 19%, now we want to leave by 51% to 40% - Daily Mail

Screen Shot 2012-12-27 at 08.30.25Labour MP Shaun Woodward backs referendum on our membership: "A referendum on continued membership may now be the only way to drain the poison from our membership. Initially it will alarm European nation states – not because the solution is wrong, but because they will face similar calls. Yet they may come to be the best disinfectant, ensuring the European commission speedily reforms itself." - Shaun Woodward MP in The Guardian

> Today on Platform from John Baron MP: We don't want another manifesto promise of a referendum we want Cameron to legislate for a referendum.

Nick Clegg has warned his coalition partner David Cameron that discussion of a referendum on relations with the EU before the euro has been rescued would place "the cart before the horse" - Guardian | Scotsman | ITV

More on Europe:

  • Fresh Start Group wants PM to set out 'nuclear' options to protect British interests in Europe - Guardian
  • Up to 70,000 British jobs 'are at risk from Brussels climate change law' - Daily Mail
  • "David Cameron will fail to strike a deal to freeze the EU budget — according to the Government’s own economic forecasters. The Office for Budget Responsibility has instead “assumed” it will increase by 2.8 per cent next year." - The Sun
  • More than 20,000 foreign workers from outside the EU could flock to Britain to replace Romanian and Bulgarian fruit pickers who will be tempted by better jobs when work restrictions are lifted in December 2013 - Telegraph

Tories should tackle UKIP by saying that a vote for Farage might help Ed Miliband... concluding "It may not work. But unlike the alternatives, it is unlikely to make things worse." - Daniel Finkelstein in The Times (£)

David Cameron's appeal among voters on the wane - Guardian

  • Is David Cameron undermining the honours system by rewarding MPs for the wrong reasons? - Peter Oborne in The Telegraph

Osborne April 2012George Osborne, has announced extra funding to boost the UK's development of the so-called "super-material" graphene

"It is one of the lightest yet strongest and most conductive materials known to man - and was originally discovered by scientists at Manchester University. Now other universities will be asked to research potential commercial uses. Mr Osborne said the £21.5m investment fund would aim to take the technology from the lab to the factory floor." - BBC

Number of highly-paid staff increase in many Whitehall departments

"The Chancellor’s Treasury department has increased the number of civil servants earning £100,000 or more from 20 in 2009-10 to 39 in 2011-2012. Meanwhile, Theresa May’s Home Office has seen a 50 per cent increase in staff on four times the national average salary, despite overseeing budget cuts under which police forces have shrunk." - Express

Hurd NickOther age of austerity stories:

  • Charities Minister Nick Hurd said he would congratulate any pensioner who chose to give away their winter fuel allowance to good causes - Daily Mail
  • Change in definition of inflation may hurt pensioners - Philip Johnston in The Telegraph
  • The rich ARE bearing and will bear a greater share of the burden of taxes than the poor - John Rentoul in The Independent
  • Britain spends twice as much as US and six times as much as Japan on disability benefits - Daily Mail
  • The Tories are trying to use the politics of fear to turn us against one another - Zoe Williams in The Guardian insists that Britain is in fundamentally good shape.

An online system to identify children who may be in danger of abuse or neglect is being developed for use in hospitals across England - BBC

Children should transfer school at 14, rather than 11, argues Lord (Kenneth) Baker - Independent

Michael Fabricant warns against witch-hunt against 'Plebgate" police - Independent

Tory MP Philip Davies should have been honest about his links to an increasingly dangerous and powerful gambling industry - Alastair Campbell for The Guardian

Screen Shot 2012-12-27 at 08.37.07Charles Walker MP, one of the MPs who revealed their mental health problems to the Commons, explains how that debate changed his life

"He reflects on the "good run" mental health had in 2012, praising fellow Conservative Gavin Barwell for successfully pushing a private member's bill he helped draw up – to scrap laws that discriminate against people who have had serious mental health problems, preventing them serving as jurors or school governors, for example. The bill makes its way to the Lords in January." - Guardian

Alistair Darling is planning to quit at the next election in a huge blow for Ed Miliband - The Sun

Seb Coe is The Times' Briton of the Year

"When he looks back, Lord Coe can forever be proud of the glorious day s in London in the summer of 2012 when the sun shone, the athletes came and a nation smiled" - Times leader (£)

Former US President George H W Bush has been in intensive care with a fever since Sunday - BBC

  • "Today’s Republican party is a bit like a headless body striking out blindly against change" - FT leader (£)

PICKLES ERIC 2009And finally... Eric Pickles has upset some fellow Yorkshiremen

"Eric Pickles, the Community Secretary, has been banned from one of the pubs in his home town after he was reported as saying that he hated going back to his native Yorkshire... The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government was quoted as telling Kirsty Young: “I am afraid I am going to have to kind of admit to treason on the air: I like Essex. Essex is my home. I hate going back to Yorkshire.” Later, Mr Pickles insisted that he had been misheard, and had said “ain’t” instead of “hate”." - Times (£)


> Please use the thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been given their own blog. Read our comments policy here.

29 Feb 2012 08:40:34

Newslinks for Wednesday 29th February 2012

6.45pm WATCH: Chris Bryant MP says News Intl scandal is biggest case of corporate corruption since 1720

5.45pm ToryDiary: Now Clegg is linking boundary changes with elected House of Lords...

4.45pm Annesley Abercorn on Comment: Boris's new Routemaster is a statement of confidence in our national identity

INNOVATION UK copy3pm ToryDiary: We need competition between Britain's cities to get the economy growing again. Here's how...

2.30pm Local government: Livingstone channelled media appearance fees through company when Mayor

WATCH: Nick Clegg: Under Labour people lost their benefits if they did work experience

12.45pm Bill Cash MP on Comment looks forward to today's emergency debate on Fiscal Union: More Europe always leads to less prosperity and more disorder

Jackson stewart12.45pm ToryDiary: Dull PMQs rescued by Stewart Jackson MP's "curse of Clegg" phrase

Noon ConHomeUSA newslinks: Romney wins Michigan and big in Arizona

11.30am Local government: Camden Conservatives propose 3% Council Tax cut

ToryDiary: Cameron has an opportunity to stop Alex Salmond charging English students attending Scottish universities. Will he take it?

Columnist Jill Kirby: Retrospective legislation may produce applause today but it will damage Britain in the years to come


Lord Lamont on Comment: A Lords elected by PR will give LibDems a huge, permanent, enhanced role in politics

Harry Benson on Comment: A wise woman should think long and hard before proposing to her man this leap day

Local government: Chesterfield abandons plans for Council Tax rise and Call for more cities for follow example of Boris Bikes


ConHomeUSA: Mitt Romney celebrates victory in Michigan by turning fire onto Obama

"Mr Cameron is no nearer to persuading us to be a Conservative country again"; Must-read of the day from Benedict Brogan looking at how Britain changed a great deal under Labour

"John Major may have imagined a country at ease with itself, but it was under Tony Blair that it changed socially to become more consciously tolerant – some would say modern – on issues of race, gender and sexuality. And there was more to it than that: the country was changed by Gordon Brown, too, who extended the grip of the state deep into the lives of citizens, vastly increasing dependence on state benefits, expanding the size of the public sector workforce, and creating a shadow state of organisations that aped private sector practice but relied exclusively or near enough on public contracts for their funding. Just as we became easier with each other, so too we became comfortable with Big Government." - Benedict Brogan in The Telegraph

Government wants rewrite of ECHR to give more power to national parliaments

James Landale at the BBC writes: "The draft that I have seen says the European Court should not be able to examine cases that are "identical in substance to a claim that has been considered by a national court"... The government also calls for people to have much less time to apply to the European Court - just two, three or four months, not six months as now, after a national court makes its final judgement."

Theresa May plans to force skilled migrant workers to leave the UK after five years if they earn less than £35,000 a year

May Theresa in black"More than 40,000 skilled migrants a year are to lose their right to work beyond five years in Britain, in a move towards creating a temporary "guestworker" migrant labour force in the UK... Theresa May, will tell MPs on Wednesday that she is breaking the link between migration and settlement for the first time, by taking away the right to remain in Britain for more than five years from any migrant worker earning less than £35,000 a year." - Guardian

  • The Daily Mail attacks Theresa May's plan to extend secret courts

Former adviser to Andrew Lansley, Dr Sam Everington, and the host of his first speechas Health Secretary withdraws support from NHS Bill

"In a letter to David Cameron, Everington warns that "your rolling restructuring of the NHS compromises our ability to focus on what really counts" and that improvements to NHS primary care could be made "without the bureaucracy generated by the bill." - Guardian | Telegraph

  • Andrew Lansley insists that the Coalition is united - Independent
  • My fellow doctors are putting greed before their patients, Dr Robert Lefever in the Daily Mail reacts to BMA threat of industrial action over pensions

Not only is the Coalition's retrospective action against Barclays unjust; it should be anathema to a state that wants to create a predictable environment for business 


Cable, Pickles and Spelman all criticised in Cabinet meeting for not doing more to support economic growth - FT (£)

  • Creating a dynamic economy in Northern Ireland: Promoting enterprise, reforming welfare - Owen Paterson in the Daily Mail
  • The Express joins the calls for lower fuel duty: "The RAC Foundation said in 21 million households people spend more than 10 per cent of their disposable income on transport – the measure used to define fuel poverty on energy bills"
  • Don't expect an exciting Budget, predicts Nick Wood - neither the Thatcherites nor the Lib Dems will get what they want - Daily Mail

Downing Street said to be underwhelmed by Boris Johnson's re-election plan

Johnson Boris Pointing"Downing Street is worried. When the mayor came in with his Australian election strategist Lynton Crosby last week, they thought their plans were “underwhelming” and lacked a simple “retail offer” for voters. Boris might irritate the Prime Minister but the Conservatives need him to stay in City Hall. They are even prepared to consider Boris Island, his plan for a new airport, if it helps his cause." - Alice Thomson in The Times (£)

Ann Widdecombe wants nationwide referendum on gay marriage: "As this is the most fundamental change to society in centuries, let David Cameron ask the people what they want. If he insists on pushing ahead then I challenge him to hold a referendum. The redefinition of marriage is too big an issue for the state to foist on an unwilling population." - Express

> Miss Widdecombe recently noted that she quit politics when 'I noticed I preferred Countdown to Question Time'

A preview of the issues likely to dominate today's emergency debate on the EU Treaty - John Redwood

> Yesterday's MPsETC: Could Irish voters say FU to the Merkozy plan to save the €uro?

Number 10 silent on whether David Cameron used Rebekah Brooks' police horse - Telegraph

Phone-hacking will be the single largest corporate corruption case for 250 years because 'cover up' went up 'to the very highest levels, says Chris Bryant - Daily Mail

The Sun launches a campaign to expose welfare fraudsters

Screen Shot 2012-02-29 at 07.45.35"An average earner on £25,500 a year pays £2,080 towards the benefits bill through income tax. So he or she is being robbed of £16.64 by benefits cheats. Of the fortune stolen from the State in the last year, £150million was dole money, £220million Income Support, £140million pension credit, £300million housing benefits and £80million sick benefit and Disability Living Allowance." - The Sun

Alex Fergusson, a senior MSP, and Peter Duncan, a former Scottish Tory chairman, gave their backing to ‘Devo Plus’, which could see Scottish ministers given control over nearly all taxes except VAT and National Insurance - Telegraph

  • The Scotsman has a full report on the launch of the campaign for Devo+
  • Philip Blond calls for Scottish Parliament to have its own House of Lords - Scotsman
  • Lord Steel of Aikenwood said broadcasters have told him that “SNP heavies” contact them so regularly trying to influence their coverage that it is verging on “intimidation” - Telegraph

The People’s Supermarket, a Big Society project, visited by David Cameron on the day he told the nation that the policy was his mission, is at risk of “imminent closure” - Times (£)

Tebbit criticises Meryl Streep for not mentioning Margaret Thatcher in Oscars speech - Sun

Multi-millionaire Chris Huhne has claimed £17,000 severance pay from taxpayer - Guardian

Screen Shot 2012-02-29 at 07.47.42"Chris Huhne will pocket a taxpayer-funded payoff worth more than £17,000 today – despite being the first Cabinet minister in history to be forced from office by a criminal prosecution. The millionaire MP, who recently bought his eighth property, is being handed the tax-free sum after stepping down to fight charges of perverting the course of justice." - Daily Mail

Labour will support 80% elected Lords but may not endorse use of parliament acts to force through change - Independent

Union that bankrolls Labour calls for disruption of Olympics - BBC

> Yesterday evening's LeftWatch: The union that bankrolls Labour wants to disrupt the London Olympics

Chuka Umunna says we don't need to abolish the Business Department but to put it at the heart of Whitehall - Press Association

French Socialist Francois Hollande will meet Ed Miliband today; the conservative leaders of Britain, Germany and Italy have declined to meet him - Reuters

Want to be happy? Get married, retire, have a family and move to Northern Ireland: Survey finds the most satisfied people in the country - Daily Mail

And finally... Puffed-out Cameron struggles on his morning jog... while his security staff and trainer barely break a sweat - Daily Mail


> Please use the thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been given their own blog. Read our comments policy here.

28 Feb 2012 08:26:34

Newslinks for Tuesday 28th February 2012

7.30pm LeftWatch: The union that bankrolls Labour wants to disrupt the London Olympics

Screen Shot 2012-02-28 at 17.52.386pm WATCH: Nadine Dorries MP says only childless and wealthy women tend to prosper in politics

4.30pm MPsETC: Could Irish voters say FU to the Merkozy plan to save the €uro?

4pm Local government:

3.15pm Oliver Colvile MP on Comment: The critics of windfarms are wrong. Renewable energy provides good value for money.

2.30pm Local government: Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh says Government plans for Business Rates too complicated and unclear to work

Noon George Eustice MP on Comment says it's time to transform CAP: "The Common Agricultural Policy takes up 40 percent of the EU budget and has long been regarded by the public as a symbol of bureaucracy gone mad."

Noon ConHomeUSA: Romney pivots from social message, back to economy

Screen Shot 2012-02-28 at 11.07.5111.15am WATCH:

10am: Robert Halfon MP on Comment: Taxpayers should be allowed to tour Big Ben for free

ToryDiary: Owen Paterson wants Belfast to have the same low corporation tax as Dublin

Columnist Stephan Shakespeare: Who will frame the political debate in favour of the wealth creators?

Screen Shot 2012-02-28 at 08.03.26

Michael Dobbs on Comment: The Lords is currently a great advisory chamber but elect us and we'll become a very different beast

Ryan Bourne on ThinkTankCentral: The CPS share scheme idea is still the least bad alternative, as taxpayers, for disposing of our stake in RBS

MPsETC: Bercow corrects Michael Gove's "Cymryphobia" as "welshed" joins the list of unparliamentary language

Local government: 306 councils agree to freeze or cut Council Tax

Local government update: Number of Tory councils upping council tax increases to FIFTEEN

George Osborne rushes through retrospective legislation to stop Barclays avoiding £500 million of tax - Guardian

Screen Shot 2012-02-28 at 07.43.14"The Treasury moved after a lender, which The Times understands to be Barclays, used legal loopholes to reduce its tax bill. The Government did not name the company involved but said that it was taking action to ensure the payment of more than half a billion pounds of tax, with billions of pounds of future revenue also protected. One of the tax schemes involved the bank buying back its own debt and making a profit on the transaction while not paying corporation tax. The other involved investment funds trying to benefit from tax credits." - Times (£)

  • "The untold story is that large firms are in the aggregate paying far more tax than ever. We are in danger of forgetting just how much we need them" - Allister Heath in City AM

Tory MPs' fury as Nick Clegg goes public with his concerns about NHS Bill

  • "Tory MP Priti Patel said: “It’s disgraceful. He should be working alongside his Cabinet colleagues in order to improve the NHS.” Another Tory said: “It is extraordinary for a Cabinet minister to agree a bill and vote for it and then call for it to be changed. He should either support Government policy or resign.” - Express
  • "Tory MP Philip Davies said: "Once again, we are caving in to Nick Clegg's petulant tantrums. The Prime Minister would do well to remember he is in coalition with Conservatives as well."" - Sun

Downing Street in knots as it plays down Nick Clegg's NHS concessions - Nick Watt for The Guardian

"There is at first sight something rather puzzling about the deputy prime minister writing a letter calling for his own government's legislation to be amended..." - Nick Robinson

Telegraph leader: "In campaigning against change, the opponents of competition have no convincing alternative. They are simply making the health service’s problems that much harder to address."

Foreigners are to be offered free treatment for HIV on the NHS for the first time under controversial plans backed by ministers - Telegraph

Clegg in feisty form at hearing on Lords reform

Clegg Nick July 2011"Nick Clegg tried to isolate opponents of Lords reforms on Monday by claiming that protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo would not understand how Britain in the 21st century still had an unelected legislature. He also sent out a briefing to his party pointing out that only 15 countries predominantly use appointments for selecting its upper house "putting Britain in the same league as Jordan, Belize and Burkina Faso." - Guardian

There should be no Lords reform until question of Scottish independence has been addressed - Jesse Norman MP in The Times (£)

At least 50 Tory MPs are expected to rebel against an elected Lords - Times (£)

The Independent says Nick Clegg must be supported in his chance-in-a-generation attempt to modernise the Lords but the FT's leader-writers warn that Clegg hasn't answered fundamental questions about how Lords/Commons relationship will be affected by election.

> Yesterday's ConHome features on Lords reform:

Screen Shot 2012-02-28 at 07.55.43Radical MPs urge George Osborne to shut Whitehall departments, slash red tape and cut business tax - Telegraph

  • David Ruffley MP suggests closing Vince Cable's BIS Department, saving £1 billion, and possibly the Culture Department too - Daily Mail 
  • "Kwasi Kwarteng, a member of the transport committee, urged ministers to put tolls on the five biggest motorways while increasing compensation for residents affected by big transport schemes to help push big infrastructure projects through." - FT (£)
  • Sajid Javid, Osborne's PPS, questions whether Lib Dems will match Tory deficit target at next election - Spectator
  • "Public spending last year accounted for nearly half of the British economy: 49.8 per cent of GDP. In the previous two years it was just over half. Mr Osborne’s total planned cuts amount to reducing spending by just 5.3 per cent over six years. Far from taking an axe, Mr Osborne has barely begun to prune the public sector." - Stephen Pollard in The Express

Opinion poll sends conflicting Budget messages

A ComRes poll simultaneously says public want tax cuts for low income workers, want tax cuts targeted on business, not individuals and doesn't want tax cuts at all but more deficit reduction!

  • By 60% to 34% voters back higher wealth taxes to cut income taxes - Independent

The Centre for Economics and Business Research says CUTTING fuel duty would RAISE cash for the Government

"Its report is a direct challenge to Chancellor George Osborne, who has indicated he will end his fuel duty freeze in the coming Budget. It comes as a Sun poll revealed fuel tax is the one most people want to see cut." - The Sun

  • British motorists are shouldering the heaviest tax burden in the EU at the pumps - Daily Mail

Cameron is taking power back to Number 10 as he attempts to oversee and craft a government-wide mission - Rachel Sylvester in The Times (£)

Welsh Conservatives replace annual conference with election rally - BBC

"Devo-plus" campaign launched to ensure a "no-to-independence" vote in Scottish referendum leads to more devolution - Scotsman

> "Devo-plus" was the fifth part of ConservativeHome's Majority Manifesto


Gordon Brown faces growing calls to be part of a “dream team” leading the anti-independence campaign in the run-up to the referendum - Scotsman

Nick Clegg remains loyal to the Coalition but Lib Dem activists are pulling away - Mary Riddell in The Telegraph

Austin Mitchell MP: The Lib Dems are helping the Tories to entrench power

"First, the reduction of the Commons to 600 required a total redistribution. That will cost Labour more seats than the Tories (and incidentally the Lib Dems proportionately more than either). Second, Wales and Scotland, fiefdoms of the left, lost more seats than England. Next individual enrolment will disenfranchise sections of the population likely to vote Labour. The final stage is Scottish devolution. Whatever the outcome of the Scottish referendum, home rule or devo max, it will entail either a reduction in Scottish representation at Westminster or a restriction of the ability of Scottish MPs to vote on "English" issues." - Austin Mitchell MP, letter to The Guardian

Grammar schools are better for able pupils than comprehensives - John Redwood

Middle-class liberals should try a spell of unemployment before they criticise workfare - John Bird in The Times (£)


> Please use the thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been given their own blog. Read our comments policy here.

27 Feb 2012 08:30:59

Newslinks for Monday 27th February 2012

7.15pm WATCH

5pm Nick de Bois MP on Comment: Compassionate Conservatism is at the core of work experience programs - and Tesco's customers get it

4.30pm ToryDiary: Michael Gove rules out leadership bid, concluding he doesn't have "right sort of character" for the job

Mark Harper3pm ToryDiary: Tim Montgomerie speaks to the Conservative Minister responsible for Upper House reform: The public want an elected Lords and this Coalition will deliver it, insists Mark Harper

1pm WATCH: Rudd after Gillard victory - "I accept the caucus's verdict without rancour"…I bear no grudges"…"I congratulate Julia"…"I bear no-one any malice..."

11.30am Local Government: Roll of shame - The dozen Tory councils planning tax hikes

11am ToryDiary: 72% of Tory members agree that "the Lords often does a better job at scrutinising legislation than MPs and it should be left as it is"

10am ConHomeUSA newslinks: Romney back in the lead

Screen shot 2012-02-27 at 07.58.24
ConservativeHome opens a week probing the Government's plans for Lords Reform. ToryDiary: Nick Clegg may leave the Coalition if he doesn't get an elected Lords

Penny Mordaunt MP begins our comment series: Reform of the Lords is not a Coalition breaker... it’s much more important than that!

Columnist Bruce Anderson: We seem to be heading for Offbig and Offsoc: the Health and Safety version of the Big Society

Local Government: Councils will be forced to publish figures on adoption breakdown

LeftWatch: The Left's next target is Michael Gove

WATCH: Meryl Streep wins the Oscar as best actress for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady 

Osborne says: We have run out of money...

Osborne-Headshot"In a stark warning ahead of next month’s Budget, the Chancellor said there was little the Coalition could do to stimulate the economy. Mr Osborne made it clear that due to the parlous state of the public finances the best hope for economic growth was to encourage businesses to flourish and hire more workers. “The British Government has run out of money because all the money was spent in the good years,” the Chancellor said. “The money and the investment and the jobs need to come from the private sector.” - Daily Telegraph 

...As he rules out a budget fuel duty cut

"The price of diesel soared to a record £1.50 a litre yesterday as Chancellor George Osborne made clear he cannot afford fuel duty cuts in next month’s Budget…Mr Osborne said yesterday he had already taken expensive steps to ease the pain of rising petrol and diesel prices. ‘We’ve taken action in the last two fiscal statements either to avoid a fuel duty increase that was coming or to cut fuel duty,’ he added." - Daily Mail 

"The economy is bouncing back"

Screen shot 2012-02-27 at 05.28.47"Britain has escaped a return to recession and is bouncing back towards prosperity, key economic data will show this week. Figures for manufacturing, construction and retail are set to reveal growth at last after months in the doldrums. City chiefs believe the economy is expanding at a rate equivalent to 0.8per cent a year after shrinking in the final months of 2011.  The triple blast of upbeat news will cheer Treasury officials, who were boosted last week by figures showing the drive to cut Britain’s record debt is ahead of schedule." - Daily Express

> Yesterday:

LibDem Noises Off 1) Yellow peers urge NHS Bill rewrite...

"Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords are launching a new attempt to rewrite the government's controversial plans for the NHS in England. The peers have drawn up amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill, which returns to the Lords for debate later. They want to scrap plans to allow the Competition Commission to review the development of competition in the NHS. One source told the BBC that ministers were not minded to accept the requests for changes to the bill." - BBC 

...As Lansley faces more opposition

"Andrew Lansley faces the prospect of losing the co-operation of another influential group of doctors today amid more calls for his controversial health reforms to be ditched. The Royal College of Physicians will hold a highly unusual emergency meeting this afternoon to discuss the troubled Health Bill. It could ultimately see the body joining the chorus of critics calling for the legislation to be dropped altogether." - The Times (£)

  • Former NHS chief executive attacks "confused" health reforms - The Guardian
  • Yes, the NHS must change. But not this way - Ed Miliband, The Times (£)
  • NHS bill: Lib Dem peers urge rewrite - BBC

LibDem Noises Off 2) Minister letter criticising work programme finds its way into the Guardian

Screen shot 2012-02-27 at 08.27.32"A funding crisis has developed in the government's main welfare-to-work initiative which demands an urgent review of its organisation and supply chain, the defence minister Nick Harvey has written in a leaked letter to the employment minister Chris Grayling. The letter reveals ministerial unease about whether the flagship work programme has been structured properly for a deteriorating labour market." - The Guardian

  • Ex-M&S chief tells firms to defy militants on work experience scheme - Daily Mail
  • Labour pushes for cabinet disclosure on A4e - Financial Times (£)
  • The loony Left, out to destroy youngsters' hopes of a job - Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph
  • Jobs, welfare and how the BBC went into battle for the Socialist Workers - Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail

> Yesterday: ToryDiary - It's time for business to fight for the right to work!

LibDem Noises Off 3) David Cameron wants nothing less than Tory hegemony - Chris Rennard, The Guardian

Ministers fight development plans in own backyard

"At least half the cabinet have opposed developments in their own constituencies of the kind which will now be more likely to go ahead under imminent changes to the planning system, according to research by the Financial Times. Cabinet ministers who have fought housing developments and other schemes in their own constituencies include George Osborne, Andrew Lansley, Vince Cable, Francis Maude and Ed Davey." - Financial Times (£)

Mugabe's birthday party speech: "To hell with you, David Cameron, gay rights are insanity" - Daily Mail 

Senior Tories "plotted to scrap child poverty measure"

Letwin Cabinet Office"Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, Oliver Letwin, the Cabinet Office minister, and Steve Hilton, the Prime Minister’s chief policy guru, called for Britain’s official child poverty measure to be scrapped amid signs that it would produce a string of bad headlines for the Government….However, the plan was met by fierce resistance from Nick Clegg and Sarah Teather, the Child Poverty Minister, who said that any attempt to stop publishing information on the number of children living in relative poverty would be seen as a cynical attempt to “fiddle the figures”." - The Times (£)

  • Education secretary gives English Heritage £2.7m in programme to revamp the history curriculum - The Guardian
  • Latest Guardian attack on Gove over Murdoch links - The Guardian

New group claims equality rights leave out Christians - The Independent

"Elected Mayors will be champions for the cities"

"Think what an effect a group of experienced, pragmatic mayors with powers might have, not just in mitigating austerity policies in their cities but in growing local economies and rebuilding political credibility more generally.Directly elected mayors are not the answer to every question in every city, but they are a clear and present answer to a lot of them. They are an opportunity for civic, economic and political rebuilding that it would be reckless to spurn." - Guardian Editorial

Did letter by 100 Conservative MPs help to alarm wind companies? - The Guardian

Families to lose homes under new defence cuts - The Times (£)

Prescott to appear before Leveson inquiry - BBC

Gillard crushes Rudd by 73 votes to 31 - The Guardian

And finally...Meryl Streep wins an Oscar for her performance as Margaret Thatcher

"The 62-year-old, who has been nominated 17 times, bagged the Best Actress gong for her portrayal of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. And she said she felt the country groaning as Mamma Mia! co-star Colin Firth announced the win.  She said: "When they called my name I had this feeling I could hear half of America saying 'oh no. Why her? Not again.' Oh well, whatever." - The Sun


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