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February 2013 newslinks

27 Feb 2013 08:23:44

Newslinks for Wednesday 27th February 2013

5pm ToryDiary: Tim Montgomerie moving to become Comment Editor of The Times (but he'll still be writing for ConservativeHome)

3.30pm LeftWatch: What happens if Nick Clegg resigns?

3pm Agenda for ConservativeHome's Victory 2015 Conference

12.30pm Review of PMQs: You're just like Gordon Brown. Cameron begins new push to paint Ed Miliband as an unrepentant big spender.

11.30am Chris Skidmore MP on Comment: Let's seize this golden opportunity to put history back at the heart of the national curriculum


© i-Images

11.15am Local government: Eric Pickles is NOT resisting further spending cuts

ToryDiary: After Rennard, Parliament may seek to bar sexism, with good consequences - and bad ones

Nick Faith on Comment: Osborne should announce local pay bargaining in the Budget

Columnist Garvan Walshe: China’s cyber attacks betray Beijing’s attitude to international security

The Deep End: "To think out of the box, you first have to realise that there is a box. And this, in the end, is the tragedy of David Cameron's leadership of the Conservative Party and of the nation. By surrendering the origination and development of policy to the civil service, he had retreated into the furthest corner of the darkest box and closed the lid."

On Local government: Cllr Nicholas Rogers calls for unitary authorities, fewer but higher paid councillors and local sales tax revenue to replace grants from central government.

Italian voters were, quite sensibly, rejecting permanent austerity, locked into the €uro - John Redwood

Troubles in Italy (and other poorly-led nations) benefit Britain... "UK long-term borrowing costs have fallen to their lowest level this year, as troubles in the eurozone offset worries over a fresh batch of credit rating downgrades for government-backed institutions." - FT (£)

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 08.00.48

Italy's voters were rejecting the €uro - says the Daily Mail leader, they weren't, says the FT (£): "Opinion polls show that support for the euro in Italy remains high."

  • "Europe's leaders are steadily dragging their joint economies towards depression, afflicting their competitive relation with the outside world possibly for ever..." ...and, writes Simon Jenkins in The Guardian, Italians said enough is enough.
  • "The reason Italy has been plunged into political chaos — and why world stock markets have plunged, too — is distressingly simple. Thanks to a proportional representation electoral system of the kind favoured by the hapless Nick Clegg, the balance of power in the Italian legislature is held by a party whose leader is a stand-up comedian. As a result, the third-largest economy in the eurozone appears for the moment to be ungovernable." - Simon Heffer in the Daily Mail
  • There's plenty of disaffection, but no good alternatives - Wall Street Journal

> Yesterday's International: The only grown up candidate in Italy's general election won just 10% of the vote

"Fiery" Cabinet meeting discusses ring-fencing

"David Cameron has presided over one of his most fiery cabinet meetings when a group of ministers demanded an end to "ringfenced" spending and two ministers were criticised for failing to promote growth measures." - Guardian

"Several ministers have started arguing that there should no longer be ringfencing for overseas aid, health and schools, although the Prime Minister has always insisted that these budgets will be protected until the end of the Parliament and into 2015-16." - Times (£)

  • Predicted reductions in MoD budget could lead to drastic measures such as axing another 15,000 jobs - Guardian | FT (£)

> Yesterday's ConHome exclusive: Tory Cabinet ministers and Lib Dems have one message for Osborne: Cut the ring fences

OSBORNE + CAMERONDavid Cameron and George Osborne have ordered ministers - notably Eric Pickles and Maria Miller - to do more to kickstart growth amid a Cabinet “blame game” about Britain’s flatlining economy - Independent

John Redwood sets out his economic recipe in an article for The Times

"A shortage of public borrowing is not the problem. What we lack is a strong private sector recovery. To produce that needs action to curb inflation, set realistic tax rates, and mend the banks more rapidly. Costly energy, poor transport, and a lack of electricity for the future are also issues in search of solutions that could assist growth." - John Redwood in The Times (£)

  • Tory MPs want cuts to corporation tax and air passenger duty - Telegraph
  • Allister Heath proposes a ten point plan to reboot Britain - Telegraph
  • Bank of England Deputy Governor the prospect of a base rate BELOW zero in bid to kickstart spending - Daily Mail

Ten Tory MPs demand Sir David Nicholson quits over NHS catastrophe - Daily Mail

Migrants will be banned from automatic legal aid in the UK - Telegraph

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 12.55.01Hyprocritical Cabinet ministers have waved through THREE beer tax rises — despite campaigning to halt them in opposition - The Sun

> Jonathan Isaby on Comment yesterday: Stop increasing tax on our pints of beer!

Some of the country’s most prominent historians have backed Michael Gove’s controversial new history curriculum

"In a letter to The Times (£) published today, 15 historians, including David Starkey, Antony Beevor and Niall Ferguson, write: “While these proposals will no doubt be adapted as a result of full consultation, the essential idea ... is a welcome one.”" - Times (£)

Tory ex-minister, Tim Loughton, turns his sights on Michael Gove's adviser

"In a significant escalation of hostilities between the former minister and his old colleagues at the Department of Education, he has used parliamentary procedure to question whether any formal complaints have been made about Dominic Cummings." - Independent

3,496 council-owned properties have been sold to tenants since the relaunch of Right-to-Buy last April, the highest number of sales for five years - FT (£)

The government is to announce the appointment of a chief social scientist, who will co-ordinate a set of "what works" evidence centres in Whitehall - The Guardian

EU ministers back fish dumping plan - BBC

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 08.15.43The Eastleigh by-election campaign has entered its final day - BBC

  • "Maria Hutchings told the BBC the Tories had the best plans on immigration, Europe and cutting the deficit."
  • Simon Hoggart notes that Lib Dem MPs abandoned health questions and Commons debates yesterday to campaign in Eastleigh (or out of Rennard-related shame?) - Guardian
  • Michael Gove says UKIP is the protest party of choice for unhappy Eastleigh voters - Telegraph
  • Disgraced former Tory minister Neil Hamilton and his 'lovely' wife Christine spent the day campaigning on behalf of UKIP - Guardian

Alleged Lord Rennard victim says nine other women 'involved' in case - BBC

"Nick Clegg was personally warned by one of his MPs that a senior figure in the Liberal Democrats might be sexually molesting female members of staff, The Daily Telegraph can disclose."

'We were called Rennard's red hot babes' - Independent

If Nick Clegg’s story won’t stand up, the Lord Rennard scandal could finish him - Mary Riddell in The Telegraph

Only 11% of voters think Clegg "open and honest" over Lord Rennard scandal, 52% say not open and honest - Sun Politics

Clegg Unhappy
In his Times (£) column Daniel Finkelstein cools on the Coalition: "The Lib Dems have gone from constructive coalition partner to obstructive one... Nationally the Lib Dems talk pretty much only of how they are going to tax the rich more and resist further welfare reform."

Only a total Cleggectomy can save the Lib Dems now - Matthew Norman in The Independent

Labour will fight the next general election on a £25 billion pledge to retain Britain's independent nuclear deterrent - Independent

BLAIR TONY seriousTony Blair says Iraq would be far worse today under Saddam Hussein - Guardian

"He admitted that life in Iraq, where sectarian killings continue on a weekly basis, was not what he had hoped it would be following the downfall of Saddam Hussein. But he said that the situation would have been much worse if the dictator had been allowed to stay, describing him as 20 times worse than Bashar Assad of Syria." - Times (£)

We are luckier than we realise to have had Labour as our Left-of-Centre party - Dan Hannan at The Telegraph

MPs are to be spared the full impact of a rise in pension contributions paid by other public-sector employees - Daily Express

Why did it take so long to award campaign decorations to survivors of the Arctic convoys and Bomber Command? - Telegraph leader

The Pope is a pretty good role model for believer and unbeliever alike - Ann Widdecombe in the Daily Express

Gay Pride FlagLeading American Republicans sign legal brief in favour of gay marriage - New York Times

> The Daily Dish's Andrew Sullivan welcomes the news.

And finally... (1) John Bercow apologises for wrongly 'outing' 6ft 2in former England rugby star Ben Cohen as 'openly gay' - Daily Mail

And finally... (2) The gaffe-prone Mayor of London Boris Johnson has fought a losing battle with a sewing machine at a clothing factory before declaring the finished garment a "codpiece" - ITV


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.

26 Feb 2013 08:31:50

Newslinks for Tuesday 26th February 2013

7.15pm Local government: Roll of honour update - Cotswold District Council cuts Council Tax by 5%

5pm Robert Halfon MP to Andrew Lilico: We need tax cuts for the many, not the few

3pm John Penrose MP on Comment: How to save our High Streets and green fields in one go

1pm Jonathan Isaby on Comment: Stop increasing tax on our pints of beer!

11.45am Local government: Roll of Honour: The Conservative councils cutting Council Tax

9.30am Eamonn Butler on Comment: The Chancellor should cut CGT in his Budget. Higher rates have been counter-productive.

ToryDiary: Tory Cabinet ministers and Lib Dems have one message for Osborne --- Cut the ring fences

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 23.57.13

Lord Ashcroft on Comment: Liberal Democrats 5% ahead in Eastleigh

Andrew Bridgen MP on Comment: The people who were part of the Mid Staffs failure should not be running the NHS today

Columnist Greg Clark MP: The good news on jobs

Local government: Councils pushing up Tax but refusing to sell farms, pubs, shops and golf courses

The Deep End: Legalising prostitution hasn’t worked and nor would legalising drugs

MPsETC update: Kevin Foster adopted for Torbay

International: The only grown up candidate in Italy's general election won just 10% of the vote

Italy votes for chaos

City AM on the bleak election result in Europe's fourth biggest economy: "Italian voters left the Eurozone’s third biggest economy a gridlocked political mess yesterday, with a hung parliament clobbering the euro, spooking stock markets, and sending measures of volatility soaring. Pier Luigi Bersani’s centre-left bloc managed to win a majority in the lower house by dint of the electoral system’s generous winner’s bonus. But projections late last night suggested it would be Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right alliance that took the top spot in the senate – though there is no rule that guarantees the winning coalition an overall majority in the upper house. And the emergence of comedian Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement as a major political force puts a further spanner in the works, as Grillo has promised never to work with other parties in a coalition."

  • "My advice to the coalition, to Labour and to the City: pay close attention to Italy’s dysfunctional, unpredictable election result: unless something big changes fast, it is the shape of things to come in Britain." - City AM's editor, Allister Heath

Changing their tune AGAIN, Liberal Democrats now say that Rennard was forced to quit as Chief Executive because of sex pest allegations


The Guardian: "Senior Liberal Democrats suggested for the first time on Monday that Lord Rennard had not stood down as the party's chief executive for health reasons, but after pressure from Nick Clegg's office and the then party president over general allegations of sexual impropriety."

The Daily Mail claims that FIVE specific complaints about Lord Rennard were made to Nick Clegg.

  • Liberal Democrat officials are to meet Metropolitan Police officers to discuss allegations made against the party's former chief executive Lord Rennard - BBC
  • The Liberal Democrats have removed control of a whistleblowing system from the wife of one of Nick Clegg’s key aides and handed it to an independent company - Telegraph

Sexism is rife in Parliament, claims Cathy Newman in The Telegraph

Rachel Sylvester says the Lib Dems' failure to recruit women to its Commons ranks means it is a male-dominated party and has allowed an "inappropriate culture" to develop - The Times (£)

The Telegraph invites the people of Eastleigh to punish the hypocritical Liberal Democrats

Telegraph leader: "Some Lib Dems have brushed this story off as an attempt to disrupt the Eastleigh by-election. In truth, it was the fact that Lord Rennard was permitted to return to public life, not least as a member of the party’s key policy committee, that taxed his accusers beyond endurance. The fortuitous timing should, however, give voters a chance to show precisely what they think of those who cast themselves as progressive crusaders for equality and justice, while failing lamentably to live up to those ideals."

  • Times leader (£): "Mr Clegg should also consider the questions that the affair has raised about the claim of the Lib Dems to be a serious political party."
  • The Rennard case exposes how the Lib Dems have lacked capacity to deal with all sorts of issues, including economic strategy and the NHS reforms - Steve Richards in The Independent

6a00d83451b31c69e2017c370b76e3970b-150wiMarta Andreasen, the former UKIP MEP who has joined the Conservatives, will visit Eastleigh today and warn voters that only maria Hutchings can stop the Lib Dems keeping Chris Huhne's seat - Daily Mail

> Lord Ashcroft's new poll puts the Liberal Democrats on 33%, the Tories on 28%, UKIP on 21%

"For the first time in its monthly polls for The Independent, ComRes puts Nick Clegg's party in fourth place behind the UK Independence Party." | The Herald

Tory MPs all agree Labour is to blame for Britain losing its AAA rating - Donald Macintyre for The Independent

George Osborne's message to the Commons, quoted in The Express: “That is the choice for Britain – either we can abandon our efforts to deal with our debt problems and make a difficult situation very much worse, or we can redouble our efforts to overcome our debts and make sure this country can earn its way in the world.”

Balls Ed Feb 2010Ed Balls branded George Osborne the "downgraded chancellor", echoing the late John Smith's famous description of John Major in 1992 as a "devalued prime minister of a devalued government" after Black Wednesday - Guardian

Alex Brummer in the Daily Mail: "Total state spending and borrowing has not been cut in absolute terms at all. Indeed, the burden of debt, the accumulated amount of borrowing made by governments down the years, is rising relentlessly. It was an understanding of this stark truth that led to Britain losing its AAA credit rating last week. The world’s market monitors finally lost patience with our inability to control our borrowing and lack of economic growth."

In carefully-worded blog John Redwood blames Coalition's tax, banking and infrastructure policies for lack of growth - John Redwood

Ganesh JananJanan Ganesh in the FT (£): "Mr Osborne is likely to resist screams to “go for growth” – as though there were some lever that would bring economic vitality if only he would pull it – and prioritise his ailing deficit-reduction plan instead."

Michael Fallon, the business minister, has promised to cut red tape with “no more gold-plating” of European laws - Telegraph

> Yesterday evening's ToryDiary: Michael Fallon launches Thatcherite attack on Labour's failed approach to regulation of banks and the NHS

Osborne's Capital Gains increase 'cut his tax take': Chancellor faces call to slash rate as it fails to create revenue - Daily Mail

Xe_1680556a"Scrap the April beer hike in the Budget, Chancellor. Or things can only get bitter." - The Sun backs beer drinkers.

Go to the TaxPayers' Alliance's beer tax campaign website.

20 Tory MPs to demand resignation of NHS chief over Mid Staffs scandal - Telegraph

"Campaigners will today deliver a letter to David Cameron criticising his ‘deeply shameful’ behaviour in backing NHS chief Sir David Nicholson. Patients First and Cure the NHS will accuse the Prime Minister of double standards for vowing to prosecute incompetent hospital staff but not the bureaucrats behind the system." - Daily Mail

Cameron vows to crack down on 'the benefits free-for-all' for migrants coming to Britain

Daily-express-february-26-1-329x437"In a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Express, Mr Cameron also spoke of his “immense frustration” at working with Nick Clegg after his Liberal Democrat deputy reneged on a deal on reforming Parliamentary boundaries. He also vowed to keep Chancellor George Osborne in his post despite Britain losing its cherished AAA credit rating. But he reserved his strongest words for a pledge to go far further in cutting annual net immigration." - Express

David Cameron hints at a peerage for Ann Widdecombe - Express

Backbench Tories taking positions:

  • A royal charter will deliver a genuinely independent regulator - Tory MP George Eustice who wanted a statutory press regulator endorses Oliver Letwin's compromise proposal in an article for The Guardian
  • A cap on bankers’ bonuses would be lunacy - Norman Lamont in The Telegraph

Boris Johnson has described members of the London Assembly as “great supine protoplasmic invertebrate jellies” after they ejected him from a meeting

"The Mayor of London, who is renowned for his flamboyant rhetoric, had been due to face a two-hour grilling by Assembly members over his £16.5 billion budget for next year, which includes cuts to the fire service and police. But Labour, Green and Lib Dem members voted to bypass the opportunity to question Mr Johnson because his deputy, Victoria Borwick, was not present for the opening statement." - Times (£)

West Coast Main Line franchise fiasco 'to cost at least £50m' - BBC

"MPs said they were concerned that basic mistakes could be repeated in future projects such as the London to Birmingham high-speed HS2 scheme and the London Thameslink project." - Independent

Defence Select Committee concludes that too many "genuine complaints" about bullying, harassment, or sexual offences in the armed services are not being reported - BBC

Plans to reform Britain's arcane libel laws have been thrown into doubt after the House of Lords last night approved amendments introduced to the Defamation Bill by the film producer Lord Puttnam - Independent

Even if Iran gets the Bomb, it won’t be worth going to war - Jack Straw in The Telegraph claims that containment is a better response than conflict in dealing with a country we have long mishandled.


> 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.

25 Feb 2013 08:31:29

Newslinks for Monday 25th February 2013

Midnight Lord Ashcroft on Comment: Liberal Democrats 5% ahead in Eastleigh

Fallon Michael Newsnight7pm ToryDiary: Michael Fallon launches Thatcherite attack on Labour's failed approach to regulation of banks and the NHS

4.30pm Andrew Lilico on Comment: Why we lost the AAA and what it means now

4pm MPsETC: Seven more Tory candidates are selected

2.30pm Anthony Peto on Comment: Why Robert Buckland is wrong about the Justice and Security Bill

1pm Jesse Norman MP on Comment: We should celebrate the Children and Families Bill

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 11.29.5611.30am LeftWatch: The Three Golden Rules that have guided the Liberal Democrats over the Rennard claims

Plus a video of Nick Clegg claiming that he's "outraged" at suggestions he did not take the Rennard allegations seriously and Simon Hughes insisting the Tim Farron-led inquiry will be independent.

11am Iain Anderson on Comment: Osborne should stay on his immediate course but chart a bolder future

ToryDiary: The Budget will be remarkable for its continuity. This Chancellor - rightly - isn't for turning.

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 08.09.10

MPsETC: It's final countdown time in the battle for Eastleigh. Can you help elect Maria?

MPsETC: Has Lord Ashcroft stopped giving to the Conservative Party?

Marc Glendening on Comment: Invasion of the Euro-McCarthyites --- EU sceptics should be prepared to be smeared.

Cllr Alex Williams on Local government: Trafford Conservatives Council Tax freeze highlights stark contrast with Labour in Greater Manchester

The Deep End: Tim Montgomerie is wrong about wealth taxes, but so are his critics

Clegg insisted he didn't know about sex allegations against peer but now admits he ordered probe FIVE YEARS ago into 'non specific' claims of assaults - Daily Mail | Telegraph | Guardian


"Mr Clegg said he was made aware in 2008 of "indirect and non-specific concerns" about inappropriate behaviour towards women by the peer. The deputy PM said his office acted to deal with the allegations, which have been strongly denied by Lord Rennard." - BBC

"Initially the Deputy PM denied knowing the first thing about them until last Thursday. Yesterday, he admitted his office WAS told years ago, and that his own chief of staff was sent to grill Lord Rennard over them. So Clegg DID know." - The Sun Says

> Yesterday's LeftWatch: Nick Clegg's full Rennard statement

56ab4c1b80b6231d455a8ffce865d4e7Commentators line up to slam the Liberal Democrats' and Nick Clegg's handling of the allegations...

  • Gaby Hinsliff in The Guardian: "The Lib Dems' handling of harassment claims has so far been shameful"This all bears a remarkable similarity to the way the BBC responded to the Jimmy Savile scandal
  • Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail: "This all bears a remarkable similarity to the way the BBC responded to the Jimmy Savile scandal"
  • Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail: "Despite their pretence of being nice and enlightened, the Lib Dems are the nastiest, most hypocritical and most ruthless political party in modern British history."
  • Leo McKinstry in The Express: "Today the Lib Dems are accused of covering up the antics of an alleged sex-pest, just as they repeatedly covered up Charles Kennedy’s alcoholism during his leadership, even threatening journalists with libel suits if they dared to reveal his drink problem."
  • Independent leader: "Mr Clegg may protest that he was aware only of "general concerns" and that, without an official complaint, he could make no official move. But such sophistry is wholly inadequate."
A prominent and powerful 'Rasputin figure' who ruled the Lib Dem machine - The Independent profiles Lord Rennard.

Tory backbenchers call for Osborne to get serious about spending and cut taxes

The No-Turning Back Group will call for tax cuts: "David Ruffley, a leading member of the group, said: “Some of us would like him to cut public spending even more in order to fund tax cuts to inject a fiscal stimulus int o the UK economy at the Budget.”" - FT (£)

DAVIS DAVID"David Davis, the former Tory leadership contender, argued that Mr Osborne, who has made the rating central to his austerity programme, had been undermined. “In part we are seeing the consequence of rhetoric outdoing reality. We have taken a tough position on spending cuts but we haven’t delivered it. We need to embark on a real cuts strategy,” he said. John Redwood, chairman of the Tory parliamentary economic affairs committee, said that the downgrade was a verdict on coalition policy and urged an immediate switch towards tax cuts and prioritised spending." - Times (£)

Tim Montgomerie: Britain deserved to be downgraded, the British political class simply isn't serious about cutting spending - The Times (£)

  • The loss of Britain’s AAA credit rating demonstrates that George Osborne must deliver on his economic strategy, not change it - Times leader (£)
  • The Chancellor is guilty of too much muddling through and not enough radicalism - Telegraph leader
  • Owen Jones sets out his Plan B in The Independent: "Pushing growth through house-building, an industrial strategy and genuinely publicly run banks; hiking taxes on the wealthy – who, contrary to myth, studies show do not flee as a result; reducing welfare spending by no longer subsidising private landlords and badly paying bosses: here can be the basis of Labour’s alternative."

Kenneth Clarke and Lord Lawson predict longer-term problems for currency and economy after Moody's AAA rating downgrade - Guardian


FT leader-writers (£) criticises Osborne's decision to highlight Britain's AAA rating: "While the hallmark of a triple A rating has symbolic significance, George Osborne is guilty of elevating it far out of proportion. He pinned his colours to the rating agencies’ mast by using the preservation of the triple A as a justification for austerity. If the downgrade shatters his credibility with voters, that is an unforced political error."

> Today's ToryDiary: The Budget will be remarkable for its continuity. This Chancellor - rightly - isn't for turning.

CLARKE KEN ON ITNIt would hardly be "surprising" if the Conservatives lost the Eastleigh by-election, Ken Clarke has said, becoming the first Tory Cabinet minister to publicly admit the prospect of defeat - Telegraph

Trevor Kavanagh looks forward to the Eastleigh by-election campaign: "If the Tories lose, they have only themselves to blame. The seat was there to be taken the moment Huhne was caught fiddling his speeding points. Instead they sat on their hands and picked Maria Hutchings as their lacklustre candidate." - The Sun

One thing’s clear about Eastleigh: it’ll be a wretched day for Labour - Boris Johnson in The Telegraph

Vicky Pryce's retrial begins today - Telegraph

> Please volunteer for the Tory campaign in Eastleigh.

John Kerry is due to meet Cameron and Hague, as part of first trip abroad as US secretary of state - BBC

Leader of Welsh Tories proposes tax relief for 40p taxpayers - Western Mail

Wollaston SarahBackbenchers in the news

  • If he wants more female MPs, the prime minister must look at introducing job sharing to help them juggle family and career - Sarah Wollaston MP for The Guardian
  • Tory MP Andrew Bridgen has called for the resignation of the NHS' Sir David Nicholson for 'presiding over a culture of secrecy and cover-up that cost many people their lives' - Daily Mail
  • Backbenchers should be 'willing to rebel', says Iain Duncan Smith - Telegraph

Finance mogul, Michael Spencer, who handed the Tories £3million 'to be given a peerage' - Daily Mail

The chairman of David Cameron’s local Conservative association has resigned in protest at his support for gay marriage - Telegraph

The Electoral Reform Society claims police commissioner elections "failed both candidates and voters alike" - BBC

Don’t worry, there’ll be no flood of Romanians - Victor Ponta, Romanian Prime Minister, for The Times (£)

Harman Harriet March 2011"Harriet Harman has signalled Labour’s willingness to reach an all-party agreement over Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals on press regulation, but warned Prime Minister David Cameron that “watered-down” plans would not be acceptable." - Scotsman

Spain's crisis could not have come at a worse moment - for her and for Europe - Rob Marchant for The Independent

Is marriage now just a middle-class institution? Today less than half of working class people wed but rates rise among high income earners - Daily Mail

> Last week's Comment piece from Harry Benson: Nearly one in two fifteen year olds experience family breakdown. That fact should shock us.

And finally... Andrew Mitchell to auction his bike for charity

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 08.03.59

"A friend of the politician said that the Conservative MP for Sutton Coldfield believes that the bike, with its distinctive basket, is too easily recognised after it appeared in the “plebgate” row he had with police in Downing Street. Since then, it has been targeted by thieves twice, while tourists and supporters have been stopping the MP to have their photograph taken with it." - Times (£) and the Huffington Post


> 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.

24 Feb 2013 09:01:37

Newslinks for Sunday 24th February 2013

7.45pm LeftWatch: Nick Clegg first learnt of Lord Rennard concerns five years ago

3pm Local government: John Bald says Maths standards report is a  damning indictment of Labour's record

2.45pm WATCH: Vince Cable says he knew nothing of Lord Rennard allegations

1pm ToryDiary: George Osborne needs to develop an interest in boring spending cuts

9.45am ToryDiary: Afriyie targets "sneering" Osborne

ToryDiary: Party leaders fail to follow the equality rules they impose on others

MPsETC: Eastleigh byelection is showing UKIP to be an all-purpose protest party

Chris Skidmore MP on Comment: Mid-Staffs laid bare the cost in lives of Labour’s time in charge of the NHS

OsborneGeorge Osborne says he won't change course over credit rating downgrade..

"Only two major economies now have AAA ratings from all three major ratings agencies — Germany and Canada — and they have something important in common. In both countries, previous Governments used the good years to fix the roof when the sun was shining — reducing deficits and making their economies more competitive. .. Now we have no choice but to continue the hard work of putting our house in order. That’s the only way to win in the global race." - George Osborne The Sun on Sunday

  • "I think we've got a very clear message, a loud and clear message that Britain cannot let up in dealing with its debts, dealing with its problems, cannot let up in making sure that Britain can pay its way in the world. What is the message from the ratings agency? Britain's got a debt problem. I agree with that. I've been telling the country for years that we've got a debt problem, we've got to deal with it." - quoted in The Observer

Timesosb...but he is warned Sterling could slide to parity with euro... 

"George Osborne was on the defensive last night amid fears that Britain’s historic credit downgrade could spark turmoil in the markets. Experts warn there could be a major slide in sterling with the pound heading to parity with the euro for the first time since the financial crash of 2008-09." - Sunday Times

..he has with plenty of advice from left and and right

"In the budget, the government must urgently take action to kick-start our flatlining economy and realise that we need growth to get the deficit down." - Ed Balls BBC

  • "John Redwood, chairman of the party’s parliamentary economic affairs committee, said: "The markets have been saying for some time the government is borrowing too much and the strategy isn’t working . . .they need to promote more private sector growth and I think they have set tax rates that are too high to maximise revenue and they need to do something about that.” - Sunday Times
  •  "For all the union hysteria about “Tory cuts”, public spending is still rising, funded by borrowing we can’t afford. State bureaucracies have not been slashed. The overseas aid budget is going up, not down. The “bonfire of the quangos” never happened. Welfare savings have not gone deep enough.
    Meanwhile, high taxes hammer workers and drive away job-creating entrepreneurs while free mansions are handed to skivers." - The Sun Says

..but Boris says "Don't Panic"

"Last night Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, insisted there was no cause for alarm over the loss of triple-A status, saying it would be wrong to change course on the government’s deficit reduction programme. “There is no need to panic,” he declared." - Sunday Times

Forsythjames.. while James Forsyth says it doesn't matter
"Economically, though, I doubt that this will have much impact. In recent weeks, Britain’s debt has been trading more like that of France, which has lost its triple A rating, than Germany, which still has it. It is also worth noting that losing its triple A rating has had little impact on the US. Politically, Osborne will argue that Labour’s economic policy would only lead to further credit downgrades. " - James Forsyth Coffee House



Andrew Rawnsley predicts a dull budget..

"There is a argument around that, having now lost triple A status anyway, he could slightly relax fiscal austerity. That is emphatically not the Treasury view. Far from prompting him to ease towards a Plan
B, the chancellor will respond by redoubling his commitment to his current course. He has no scope to make the dramatic tax cuts urged on him by some in his party. As one Treasury figure puts it: "Any tax cuts will have to be paid for with tax rises elsewhere."  To use his own phrase, the best the Chancellor can probably hope for this year is to "avoid f***ing up" as badly as he did last year." - Andrew Rawnsley The Observer

....but Adam Afriyie says bold tax cuts are needed

"Our current system  acts as one long line of massive barriers to growth. These  barriers can be removed only by simplifying the tax regime...We should also introduce plans to gradually abolish employers’
National Insurance. New jobs are needed to secure the economic recovery. Why, then, retain a nonsensical tax on jobs?" Adam Afriyie Mail on Sunday

MariahutchConservatives four points ahead in Eastleigh byelection poll

"Support for the Tories is now 33 per cent in the poll conducted by Survation, with the Lib Dems breathing down their necks on 29. The survey also confirms reports of a strong finish by UKIP, with  the anti-Brussels party – which  has claimed it could create a ‘political earthquake’ in Eastleigh – now on 21 points. Labour is in fourth place on just 13 per cent. Prime Minister David Cameron holds a Q&A session in Eastleigh ahead of the by-election. In the last Survation poll in the constituency two weeks ago, the Tories were on 33 per cent, Lib Dems were on 36 per cent, UKIP were on 16 and Labour on 13." - Mail on Sunday

  • Labour's national lead increases to 12% in Opinium - Observer
  • Labour lead falls to 11% on YouGov - YouGov
  • "Addressing more than 200 party activists who had poured into Eastleigh on Friday, the Lib Dem deputy leader, Simon Hughes, said victory for his party in Thursday's byelection would "suddenly change British politics" and "encourage our troops phenomenally"." - The Observer
  • "The Eastleigh by-election could hand the UK Independence Party its first Westminster seat, according to early indications from the Hampshire constituency." - The Independent on Sunday


Ashcroft "pulls plug" on further donations - Sunday Times

Conservatives complain over BBC bias

"Senior Conservatives frustrated with the broadcaster include Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, and Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary. Grant Shapps, the party chairman, has also complained about coverage of the Coalition’s housing policy.... the Department for Work and Pensions has made more than 20 formal complaints to the BBC over the past year...Mr Duncan Smith has been particularly angered by the reporting of the housing benefit reforms referred to as “the bedroom tax”." - Sunday Telegraph

MoscleggLord Rennard allegations. Did Clegg know? The Mail on Sunday thinks he did..

"A former female party official, who worked in a senior  position at Lib Dem HQ at the time Ms Swinson investigated the claims, has given the Mail on Sunday a detailed account of conversations held at the time...She claims Ms Swinson told her: ‘Yes, Nick is aware of that but  we are pretty sure that none of the girls will talk."- Mail on Sunday

  • "One woman claimed that she was molested at a party for Nick Clegg’s victory as Lib Dem leader, and there were also claims that MPs knew that women were the targets of harassment. A former party worker claimed that it was “common knowledge” that Lord Rennard had tried to talk a young activist into bed, which was known in Lib Dem circles as the “Peterborough incident”." - Sunday Telegraph
  • "Separately, lawyers demanded yesterday that the party open a new investigation into whether Mike Hancock, one of its MPs, sexually assaulted a woman who suffers from a mental illness, and that it hand over any files it has on Cyril Smith, the late MP accused of a catalogue of sexual abuse of boys." - Sunday Telegraph
  • "It has been established that several members of Mr Clegg's office had been alerted to the allegations. His chief of staff, Jonny Oates, was told about complaints by women that were put to Lord Rennard by The Daily Telegraph in April 2010, a month before the election. Mr Clegg's deputy chief of staff, Alison Suttie, was also informed as early as 2008. This suggests that Mr Clegg either knew about the allegations himself but turned a blind eye or was not on top of events involving the most senior official in his party." - Independent on Sunday

...a Lib Dem spokesman claims he didn't...

"The Liberal Democrats have "categorically" denied claims leader Nick Clegg knew of allegations of misconduct against the party's former chief executive, Lord Rennard. The party launched two inquiries after Channel 4 News aired claims of sexual impropriety towards women by the peer. Aides to the deputy PM have insisted he only learned of the complaints after the broadcast." - BBC

...though the BBC did

"The BBC knew about the sex scandal surrounding Lord Rennard more than three months ago – but decided against running a news item on it. ...A BBC spokeswoman last night insisted the Corporation had pursued the story from the beginning and was continuing  to pursue it. She said: ‘To suggest we did not pursue this story is untrue. We began investigating allegations  but we are unable to persuade the women to speak on camera." Mail on Sunday

LittlewoodMark Littlewood says the Lib Dems need to come clean

"Jo Swinson MP,  a rising star of the Lib Dems and a declared champion of women’s rights, and the party’s chief whip, Paul Burstow MP, had been directly approached with the details of serious allegations about Rennard’s conduct. The complainants did not want their concerns to become public, they wished to prevent extreme embarrassment to the party and feared for their own reputations  and future career prospects. Exactly what Swinson and Burstow did with this information remains unclear and urgently needs to be discovered – along with a swift, honest and unambiguous clarification about which other senior party figures knew what, when they knew it, and how they acted on it – including Nick Clegg." - Mark Littlewood Mail on Sunday

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Ten women claim Lib Dems' campaign chief molested them. When did Nick Clegg know?

Clegg says Cameron stuck in the past for opposing Mansion Tax...

"To the right, there are Conservative voices that now back a high-value property tax, ranging from Mark Reckless to Tim Montgomerie....The mansion tax is an idea whose time has come. The Conservatives and opponents of fairer taxes have a choice. They can dig their heels in and remain stuck in the past. Or they can join with the Liberal Democrats and the chorus of voices seeking to make our tax system fair. Far better, surely, to move with the times." - The Observer

>Yesterday: Mark Field MP on Comment: The deeper discontent beneath the mansion tax debate

..but Dominic Raab says simpler, lower taxes would reduce avoidance

"Talk of a mansion tax on £2m homes sounds reasonable until you remember how the frozen threshold for stamp duty has sucked more and more people into paying the tax as property prices have risen. At a
time when we need to encourage saving, it would become a tax on thrift. The Lib Dems also tout a wealth tax on the top 10% of earners. In reality, that means anyone earning £50,000 or more — not something their candidate in Eastleigh is boasting about. Once the deficit is dealt with, we should be cutting, not raising, taxes on the middle class." - Sunday Times (£)

The BBC and NHS are sacred cows

"In order to appreciate why it is completely acceptable for the people who run organisations that are National Treasures not to be susceptible to the same rules as lesser beings, one must understand the transcendental plane on which they exist. The BBC is not just another broadcasting outfit, fighting for survival in a hugely competitive, growing market of programme providers. Nor is the NHS simply one possible model for a health-care system whose outcomes and performance are not much to write home about at the best of times – and which is occasionally responsible for thousands of unnecessary deaths. Oh, no." Janet Daley Sunday Telegraph

Former Scottish Secretary Bruce Millan has died - BBC

Glasgow students vote against Scottish independence - The Observer