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January 2011 newslinks

30 Jan 2011 08:52:55

Newslinks for Sunday 30th January 2011

6.30pm WATCH: Ed Balls: Bank Governor Mervyn King doesn't mean what he says publicly

1.45pm WATCH: "I think it’s bad for the country, frankly, to have a former president criticize his successor": George W Bush says he is done with politics and will not be campaigning for GOP candidates in 2012

12.15pm ToryDiary: An overview of recent opinion polls shows Labour still trailing on economy and 'best PM' ratings

Warsi-BW11am LISTEN: Radio 4 profiles Baroness Sayeeda Warsi

ToryDiary: Ministers mustn't be talked into backing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (or anywhere else)

Robert Kaye on Platform calls for more drug addicted offenders, the mentally unwell and foreigners to be removed from Britain's prisons

Local government:

WATCH: Osborne warns of immediate "financial turmoil" if he reverses spending cuts plan | BBC

George Osborne may accelerate tax cuts for the poor

Screen shot 2011-01-30 at 08.37.36 "The income tax threshold is already set to increase by £1,000 to £7,457 from April 1. However, Osborne is expected to raise it by about a further £500. Details of the additional concession are still being worked on, but it marks a victory for the Liberal Democrats, who have been arguing within government for tax cuts for the poor." - The Sunday Times (£)

In a leader The Sunday Times (£) calls for tax cuts: "Sir Richard Lambert, head of the CBI, and Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, say there should be a prospect of lower taxes. High taxes destroy incentives and stultify growth. Britain became a high tax economy under Labour and is becoming a higher tax economy under the coalition. The long-term growth strategy should include lower taxes. Never mind Plan B; that should be Plan A."

The Institute of Directors (IoD), Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) call on Osborne to deregulate and cut tax for business. The News of the World (£) also reports Charlie Elphicke MP's backing for a Dragon's Den-style enterprise fund that small businesses could access.

Ed Balls: George Osborne is doing everything Thatcher did

Osborne as Thatcher In the Independent on Sunday Ed Balls paints George Osborne as an unreconstructed Thatcherite: "There is no doubt that George Osborne is a highly-skilled political strategist – unmatched in today's Tory party. And the political strategy he is implementing is straight out of the Margaret Thatcher 1980s manual: impose as much pain as you can straight after the election, raise taxes, cut spending, slash benefits, make people feel lucky to have a job, build up your war-chest, and then cut taxes just before the election, win a majority, and start all over again. He is following Mrs Thatcher's strategy to the letter – right down to the immediate hike in VAT, even if it breaks a pre-election promise."

Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer paints Osborne as a fiscal conservative: When it comes to public finances, tax and spending, there are broadly three types of Conservatives in the world. The followers of Reaganomics who essentially think that the answer to any economic question is a tax cut. Big Government Conservatives who like state spending as much as politicians of the left except that they spend a lot on rightwing causes such as the military and Conservative-inclined voter groups like the elderly. Messrs Cameron and Osborne are neither Reaganauts nor Bushites. They are fiscal conservatives.

Government to launch £400 million drive to revolutionise mental health treatment

"Ministers want the doctors to stop simply prescribing pills to patients with a range of conditions including eating disorders, self harm, addictions, attention disorders and post-natal depression – a practice which has led to claims the NHS is turning Britain into a "Prozac nation". Instead they are targeting a massive take-up of "personalised" services, including one-to-one counselling and group therapy. The coalition believes at least one million people will take up these options over the next few years." - The Sunday Telegraph 

Overnight polls have Tories 11% and 4% behind - From Sunday Express and YouGov for Sunday Times

YouGov: By two-to-one public oppose greater role for profit-making companies in NHS

LANSLEY ANDREW NW "The YouGov survey found that only 27% of people back moves to allow profit-making companies to increase their role the NHS. The health secretary, Andrew Lansley, plans to allow groups of GPs in England to commission £80bn a year of care for their patients after April 2013 from "any willing provider". Overall, 50% of the 1,892 respondents opposed the policy. But hostility was more evident among Lib Dem voters, 56% of whom said they were against, with just 30% in favour. Conservative supporters were also split: while 46% backed the use of private firms, 32% were against." - Observer

In The Sunday Telegraph Janet Daley asks why voters believe that government is inherently good and private is inherently bad.

Ring-fencing Scottish NHS will mean harsh cuts in other services, report warns - Scotland on Sunday

Water meters could be made compulsory in all British homes

Spelman Caroline Green "Caroline Spelman, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is understood to have accepted in principle that charges for water should in future be based on metering, with the aim of cutting water use... Tory MP Anne McIntosh, admitted that a more widespread introduction of metering will mean there are "winners and losers... and some, including groups of vulnerable customers, could see significant rises in bills."" - Independent on Sunday

Plans for one of the Government's flagship "free" schools to be set up within the Department for Education's headquarters in central London were revealed yesterday - Independent on Sunday

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: In praise of the plan for Woodpecker Free School

Oliver Letwin is turning to left as well as right-wing think tanks in search for new ideas - Independent on Sunday

Tory MP renews warning about Tory/LibDem merger

"[Mark Pritchard MP] obeyed an order to ‘stop rocking the boat’ in return for a promise that Mr Cameron and his allies would keep the Tories as a completely independent party. But he claims that Cabinet Ministers have since covertly carried on encouraging Press speculation that some kind of election pact or merger is on the cards... Mr Pritchard said: ‘I was told that this nonsense about joining with the Lib Dems would stop, but it hasn’t. ‘I am not prepared to have unnamed Cabinet Ministers putting about stories of pacts and mergers while party traditionalists like me are gagged." - Mail on Sunday

> Friday's ToryDiary: David Cameron's particular issue with his ultra-modernising wing

David Cameron's revolution will take years – he should say so - Matthew d'Ancona in The Sunday Telegraph

Equality and human rights in Britain are adrift from their natural moorings - Dominic Raab in The Sunday Times (£)

Ed Miliband joins opposition to forest privatisation

MILIBAND ED PRESS CONF "This Conservative-led government argues that we cannot afford to keep the forests public. The Forestry Commission costs each of us 30p a year. What sort of cheapskate nation are we now, that we cannot agree to spend 30p a year for every person in this country to preserve its ancient oaks, ash and beech?" - The Labour leader in The Sunday Times (£)

  • Cyclists and riders may lose access to woodland - The Sunday Telegraph
  • These are our forests – how can they be for sale? - Rachel Johnson, Trudie Styler and Tamsin Omond in The Sunday Telegraph
  • "One of the nation's best-loved broadcasters, Lord Bragg, has given his support to the growing campaign to prevent the government sell-off of 30 forests and woodlands in the Lake District." - Observer

Nick Clegg's red box closes at 3pm most weekdays and noon on Fridays - The Sunday Telegraph

LAWS DAVID Rumours are whirling around Westminster that Cable will soon be replaced by the far more business – and Tory – friendly David Laws - James Forsyth in the Mail on Sunday

Second marriage of Lord Taylor of Warwick, facing jail, ends - The Sunday Telegraph

Yes to AV campaign plans to spend £6.1 million - The Sunday Telegraph

'Flush Gordon' nets £250,000 in last three months

"He may have been the “invisible man” at Westminster since leaving Downing Street, but Gordon Brown’s globetrotting has helped him quietly earn £250,000 in just three months. Despite his low profile in Britain, speeches on the international lecture circuit, an honorary post at a university in New York and a book deal have recently enabled the former prime minister to generate a small fortune." - The Sunday Times (£)

Mandelson coached Barclays' boss Bob Diamond for Commons grilling - The Sunday Times (£)

NUS leader faces barrage of anti-Jewish abuse at rally as protesters accuse him of being a Tory - Mail on Sunday

And finally...

"Tonly Blair's son Nicky has set up in business... as a football agent, the News of the World (£) can reveal. The 25-year-old former teacher is understood to be scouting for talent in the Middle East - where his father is a UN peace envoy."

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28 Jan 2011 09:00:24

Newslinks for Friday 28th January 2011

Screen shot 2011-01-28 at 21.02.27
9pm WATCH: Hague on Egypt: "Repression is not the answer"

5.45pm ToryDiary: Second Buckinghamshire Conservative Association quits the Party's Premier League of donors over High Speed 2

3pm Andrew Lilico on Comment: What to do next on the economy

2.45pm Local Government:

12.30pm Local Government: Council byelection result from yesterday

Noon WATCH: David Cameron speaks at Davos

11am Matthew Sinclair on Comment: Fairness in fiscal policy

In ToryDiary -

Screen shot 2011-01-28 at 08.52.29
In Comment -

David Morris MP: The sexualisation of our children in the name of marketing need to be tackled

Lord Flight: Without Britain’s financial services industry we would all be a great deal poorer

In Local Government -

In Parliament -

LeftWatch: BBC reported to Ofcom over "TV experiment" that sees all local services withdrawn in one street

WATCH:  ‪Tessa Jowell claims that her phone was hacked‬

Boris urges Osborne to tread path to lower tax…

Boris Johnson smiling "In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the Conservative Mayor of London urges the Chancellor to state “a clear direction of travel” that will include how taxes will be reduced over the course of this parliament.  Mr Johnson admits that he is shocked by the high levels of income tax that workers currently have to pay and says that he never thought he would see the day when other large European countries had lower personal tax rates than Britain. He fears it is harming Britain’s competitiveness." - Daily Telegraph

…and tells him to remove crash helmet before skiing

“I don’t have any problem with him popping off to Klosters to ski in his free time, but lose the crash helmet,” he jokes.  The London Mayor has no truck with the new breed of wimpish skiers who don a hard hat rather than a woolly one when on the piste.  “It is astonishing now many people are wearing those things now. Get a grip.”  Mr Osborne…gave a speech last night in Davos at the annual pow-wow for bankers, politicians and worthy do-gooders. So did Mr Johnson who beat the Chancellor into town by a day."  - Daily Telegraph

Cameron, Osborne and Clegg stick to their guns in Davos

"Confronted by a survey showing the biggest monthly slump in consumer confidence since 1992, David Cameron and George Osborne will prepare the country for a slow, painstaking rebuilding of the economy, insisting there is no alternative but to stay the course.  Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Cameron will respond to the sudden slump in growth by insisting there is no easy way out: "We can't just flick on the switch of government spending, or pump the bubble back up." - The Guardian

"The Chancellor will also ask for time, saying that Britain had become the most acute example of a big economy unbalanced by a housing boom, leveraged banks and a budget deficit. “Recoveries from this kind of debt-fuelled boom and bust tend to be slower and more protracted than those from other kinds of recession,” he will say.  Their caution shows how Tuesday’s figures showing that the economy had shrunk by 0.5 per cent in the past three months of 2010 have shaken the Government." - The Times (£)

"Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, yesterday refused to accept that this week's disappointing economic growth figures were an indication that austerity cuts were damaging Britain's recovery from recession, launching an unapologetic defence of the Coalition Government's policies.  Speaking to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Clegg dismissed suggestions that the Government had taken a gamble on the recovery by introducing much larger cuts than previously expected." - The Independent

As the Education Bill's published, Gove announces plan to publish list of banned teachers…

"A list of those barred from teaching will be available to the public for the first time under new legislation which also scraps the profession’s watchdog.  The Bill, published yesterday, puts the Secretary of State for Education in charge of judging teachers’ conduct instead of the General Teaching Council (GTC), which will be abolished.  It also gives greater power to heads to dismiss teachers for serious misconduct." - The Times (£)

… threatens to close failing academies…

"Sponsors of government academies will be stripped of their powers to run schools if they fail to raise standards, Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said yesterday.  Mr Gove made it clear he would not hesitate to replace them with alternative sponsors if necessary. He said the Government had already intervened at one academy – St Michael's and All Angels Church of England in Lambeth, south London – "where the rate of progress at that school was inadequate"." - The Independent

…and moves to root out extremists from schools

"Education Secretary Michael Gove unveiled the move amid fears of Muslim jihadists hijacking learning and Christian extremists teaching creationism.  He said the special team would monitor groups setting up new free schools, as well as checking on how existing schools are being run.  The unit will check for hardline political as well as religious views.  Mr Gove said yesterday: "A due diligence unit will monitor applications for new schools and arrangements in existing schools so there's no risk of extremism taking hold." - The Sun

Class Action - Times Editorial (£)

Osborne hints at fuel duty freeze

"George Osborne gave millions of drivers hope yesterday by revealing he may throw out a hated tax hike on petrol.  The Chancellor gave his strongest hint yet he was ready to freeze duty on crippling fuel prices.  It came after he received a 100,000-name Sun petition calling for a fair deal at the pumps – and as diesel hit an average of 133.21p a litre, 0.04p below an all-time high." - The Sun

"Not only does the rapidly rising price of petrol leave a huge hole in straitened family budgets, but it also does real damage to our already fragile economy.  Which is why we welcome...indications from the Coalition that they are taking the issue seriously.   The Chancellor is apparently considering scrapping the 1p increase in fuel duty which is due to come into force in April.  That would be a gesture in the right direction, but with the price of filling a typical family car heading towards £70, not nearly enough." - Daily Mail Editorial

"Yet postponing this planned tax rise will achieve at least four positive things: it will provide a modicum of relief for motorists and hauliers, it will let them know that finally they have a Government that does not wish to punish them for going about their lawful business, it will remove a potential barrier to getting the becalmed economy moving again and it will avoid another self-inflicted rise in the rate of inflation." - Daily Express Editorial

UK baffled by Big Society

Screen shot 2011-01-28 at 08.41.41
"DAVID Cameron still has a mountain to climb to sell the "Big Society" to baffled Brits, an exclusive poll for The Sun reveals. Well over a year after the PM started to promote the cornerstone of his election campaign, 63 per cent of people say they still don't know what it means.  While 46 per cent think it is a good idea in principle, 68 per cent think it will not work." - The Sun

Hammond to move £23bn of rail debt on the public books

"Ministers are prepared to put £23 billion worth of Network Rail debt back on to public books to secure greater leverage over the private company…Such a move could also be seen as an attempt to increase transparency in an organisation that critics say remains shrouded in secrecy.  Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, is preparing to sit down with leading figures from the rail industry to forge a future framework for Network Rail. Aides say that nationalisation is unlikely, but that all options remain on the table." - The Times (£)

Hague joins German Foreign Minister in urging Belarus sanctions

"There is a serious crisis in the European neighborhood. We must act.At the upcoming European Union Foreign Affairs Council we will call for the EU to reinstate a harsh package of sanctions against Belarus and to consider further measures against Alexander Lukashenko's regime. We cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening today in a fellow European country. President Lukashenko has made his choice and we have no choice but to respond accordingly." - William Hague and Guido Westerwelle, Wall Street Journal

Theresa May seeks to put down Dominic Raab

"Mr Raab asked, mildly enough, if making parental leave transferable would help eliminate anti-male discrimination in the workplace. The home secretary was enthusiastic.  "We should try to get away from gender warfare and the politics of difference," she said, "but I suggest to my hon friend that labelling feminists as 'obnoxious bigots' is not the way forward."  At this the Labour frontbench, all but one of them women, gave a mighty cheer." - Simon Hoggart, The Guardian

The advance of women is still work in progress - Philip Collins, The Times (£)

The return of Dominic Cummings

Screen shot 2011-01-28 at 05.30.56 "David Cameron offered Gove the position of education secretary on the condition that he sacked Cummings. Gove did not take it well.  The reason for the veto? Coulson suspected him of leaks….Little wonder then that as Coulson leaves No 10, Cummings is finally taking up a berth at the education department. After months of staying in the shadows, today he could be seen at Gove’s right hand as he briefed journalists on the education bill. He’ll soon take a salary as a special adviser." - Financial Times (£)

A significant victory for Michael Gove - Iain Martin, Wall Street Journal

Coalition and Political News in Brief

If you're Vince Cable, speaking to journalists, and in doubt…

CABLE Vincent "The business secretary, addressing a press gallery lunch for the first time since ill-advised comments to undercover journalists saw him stripped of his role in media regulation, was undiminished despite his public dressing-down from David Cameron, the prime minister. “The lesson is you stick to things. You don’t give up,” he said on Thursday, promising to push through a five-year programme for growth." - Financial Times (£)

…Stick to bashing bankers

"At a Westminster lunch, the Business Secretary admitted he had ‘dark thoughts’ about bankers and said during one meeting a story popped into his head.  ‘There are two dead bodies on a motorway. One cat and one banker,’ he said.  There was very little difference between the corpses, he added, except for ‘skid marks around the cat’ – a suggestion that a driver would have tried to avoid the cat but not the banker." - Daily Mail

Oborne blames Maude for Forestry Commission sell-off…

"Even Maude’s allies acknowledge that his Public Bodies Bill is a shambles. The Conservative-dominated Commons public administration committee has been scathing, warning that the process has been rushed, poorly handled and badly planned. One only needs to consider that Maude has left untouched the nightmarish Suzi Leather, head of the Charity Commission, while including plans to sell off Britain’s forests in his Public Bodies Bill, to get the full, troubling sense of his priorities and, indeed, basic competence." - Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

...Which John Redwood defends

"I look out at home at trees in my neighbours’ gardens. I suspect my neighbours like trees as well. I have never had any trouble with a neighbour wanting to cut them down. I now discover that these trees, shock horror, are private sector trees. Private sector trees, according to all so many active campaigners, are not the same as public sector trees. They are either not so attractive, or they will be cut down as soon as possible to be replaced by an office block." - John Redwood's blog

Yesterday in ToryDiary: Caroline Spelman promises to protect public access rights when the state relinquishes control of England's forests

Other Comment

  • How Rupert Murdoch lost control of his own story - Stephen Glover, The Independent
  • This will be Ireland's chance to move on from 1921 - Martin Kettle, The Guardian

Lord Levy tells Labour to cut funding "umbilical cord" to the unions

"The controversial peer said union members should be able to tell their bosses to give money to the Tories and Lib Dems as well as Labour.  He also backed a cap on large donations from individuals, and said there should be more public funding for political parties…today he said Labour, which has been heavily dependent on Unite and other unions under Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, must prevent union leaders handing over unlimited donations." - Daily Mail

Harman wants to target the south

"It is the first test of this government. There are large areas where people have voted Lib Dem as the progressive choice but perhaps now they are unlikely to want to vote with a party that has broken so many of their promises," she said.  "One of our key aims is to ensure we are fielding candidates across the country – even in those areas where we may not have previously done very well – to ensure people have the option of voting Labour." - The Guardian

Screen shot 2011-01-28 at 05.53.14 And finally…The Daily Mail gives the Home Secretary the benefit of its fashion advice

"When Home Secretary Theresa May addressed the Commons in a multi-coloured blazer on Wednesday, it wasn’t the first time her clothes had attracted more attention than her politics.  The jacket, with its red, brown and green jigsaw-effect pattern, was too busy for the 54-year-old.  So what should Theresa wear and what can her ­fashion mistakes teach other women of a certain age?  With just a few tweaks, her almost-on trend ensembles could be flattering and attention-grabbing for all the right reasons. Here’s how…" Daily Mail

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27 Jan 2011 08:59:38

Newslinks for Thursday 27th January 2011

6.30pm Alex Deane on Comment: BBC Question Time - a great, balanced panel

Baroness Warsi 20106pm On the day the Conservative Policy Forum was re-launched:

5pm WATCH: Culture Committee chairman John Whittingdale says the police have "serious questions" to answer over their handling of the phone hacking investigation

LOGO_ECR_TXTa4.15pm Parliament: Michał Kamiński to step down as leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists in the European Parliament

3.15pm WATCH: Vince Cable explains why the Government is making it harder to people to take former bosses to employment tribunals

1.30pm LeftWatch: "David Cameron used the death of his disabled son to detoxify the Tory brand"

1.15pm ToryDiary: Caroline Spelman promises to protect public access rights when the state relinquishes control of England's forests

1pm Local Government: Lib Dem councillor defects to Conservatives

Picture 3 Noon WATCH: Nick Clegg honours those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis in his Holocaust Memorial Day message

11.45am Natalie Elphicke on Comment: The Conservative Policy Forum - re-launched today - will enable the grassroots to help to define a Conservative vision for our country

11am Parliament: Can George Osborne fire MPs without their permission?

ToryDiary: Control Orders seek to address the symptoms of terrorism and extremism. But it's even more important to deal with the causes

Philip Booth 2010 Philip Booth on Comment: The Big Society will only come into being when the government stops trying to create it and instead unleashes a tide of philanthropy

Also on Comment: David Mowat MP argues that The Scotland Bill should be amended to scrap the Barnett Formula, which remains manifestly unfair to the English taxpayer

Parliament: Andrew Tyrie calls for BBC World Service funding to be protected ahead of DfID budget

Local Government: Windsor and Maidenhead cut Council Tax - again


Caroline Spelman: Don't believe all you're reading about the forest sell-off

SPELMAN CAROLINE NW "We are going to protect them, for now and for future generations. It’s enormously important that people are given the opportunity to scrutinise our proposals in full when the consultation document is published today. They will see that much of the speculation about our plans has been wrong. It has set hares running. It has raised fears about things that we categorically are not going to do." - Caroline Spelman in The Times (£)

  • Britain's oldest woodlands are not for sale - FT (£)
  • Lib Dem MPs threaten rebellion over forests sale - The Independent

Fleet Street gives its verdict on Theresa May's Counter-Terrorism Review

"The outcome of the Government’s review of counter-terrorism laws is, on balance, a sensible one. The aim was to rein in the more extreme interpretations of laws that were put in place to combat the terror threat, while ensuring that national security is maintained." - Daily Telegraph editorial

"Goodbye control orders, hello terrorism prevention and investigation measures: a knowing laugh rattled around the House of Commons yesterday as the home secretary set out her plans. The government has debated, reviewed, paused, scratched its head and changed the language, but it has not found a way to abolish in full the distasteful practice of restricting the liberty of terror suspects without the prospect of prosecution or trial." - Guardian editorial

"This rebranding does nothing... to alter the basic injustice of the control order regime. The founding presumption of British justice is that we begin innocent and have to be proven guilty." - Times (£) editorial

"Although much of the illiberal detritus of the New Labour years is to be cleared away, the Coalition has stopped short of ditching the most egregious manifestation of the previous government's authoritarianism." - Independent editorial

Picture 6 "Fortunately, the new regime does not appear to differ significantly from the old one and retains draconian powers of surveillance that should allow the authorities to continue to protect us from the terrorist threat. Most people will therefore be wondering what the point of Ms May’s tinkering really was. The suspicion is growing that it was simply to spare the blushes of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg who pledged to abolish control orders at the last election." - Daily Express editorial

"The feeble compromise over control orders and curfews – simply renaming them and watering them down, so making them harder to police – would be risible if this weren’t so serious. Indeed, it achieves the remarkable feat of infuriating the civil liberties lobby and strict authoritarians in equal measure." - Daily Mail editorial

"Terrorism is indiscriminate. We are all at risk. That is why we could not afford to go soft on control orders that keep tabs on terror suspects. The Sun welcomes the Government decision not to scrap the orders. They will be varied but the key elements remain." - The Sun

> Yesterday on ConHome:

The public still trust Cameron/Osborne more than Miliband/Balls on the economy

Cameron and Osborne "David Cameron and George Osborne are trusted to see Britain through its economic problems more than Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, their Labour counterparts, according to a new survey by ComRes... The Prime Minister has the trust of 37 per cent – down from his 43 per cent rating last October. Mr Osborne, the Chancellor, has the trust of 25 per cent – down from 32 per cent... Only 18 per cent of people trust Mr Miliband to sort out the country's economic problems and only 14 per cent Mr Balls." - The Independent

  • Ipsos MORI puts Labour support at three-year high - Reuters

Ben Brogan: Ed Balls will only be a problem if George Osborne can’t fix the economy

"Interestingly, when presented with the open goal of the GDP figures yesterday, he [Balls] was the one under more pressure in interviews, as he tried to explain whether he did indeed back the Labour deficit reduction plan as drawn up by Alistair Darling and endorsed, eventually, by Ed Miliband. The Chancellor now has something clear to define himself against. But just because Mr Balls is wrong does not guarantee that Mr Osborne is right. As the recovery stalls, and inflation continues to climb, there are plenty wondering why he has not taken a bigger axe to public spending, which continues to rise, or why he has not produced the tax cuts they say are the only sure fire way of stimulating growth." - Ben Brogan of the Daily Telegraph

  • The truth about Osborne and Balls - Steve Richards in The Independent
  • Hard times ahead for three more years says Ken Clarke as he forecasts economic gloom - Daily Mail
  • Clegg admits to cuts' chilling effect - FT (£)
  • The economic outlook is bleak but we can pull through... If our leaders have courage to tell us the truth - Max Hastings in the Daily Mail
  • Osborne needs strategy out of growth muddle - Tim Leunig in the FT (£)

New education bill will give protection for teachers falsely accused by pupils

Michael Gove 2010 smiling "Teachers are to be granted anonymity when pupils make allegations against them, which will only be lifted if a charge is made. The proposals are set out in Michael Gove’s Education Bill, which also gives teachers new powers to search pupils. It will also be made easier for teachers to hand out detentions. They will no longer have to give parents 24 hours’ notice. And heads will have the final say on expulsions – stopping independent appeals panels from forcing children back into school." - Daily Mail

Eric Pickles: Public will lose faith in councils which fail to collect bins

"Councils which cancel weekly rubbish collections or snoop in domestic bins are destroying trust in local democracy, Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, has said. Urging local authorities to abide by residents’ desire for better waste services, he warned that bin collection was the issue with the greatest potential to “fill middle England with rage”. In a speech to the New Local Government Network, Mr Pickles said that under the last, Labour government: “public policy on bin collections went horrendously wrong.” - Daily Telegraph

Cameron derails the £1bn gravy train for staff who sue the boss

"Workplace law is to be torn up to bring a £1billion a year employment tribunal bonanza to an end. David Cameron and Vince Cable will today trigger a battle with trade union leaders by unveiling plans to make it much harder for workers to claim compensation from their bosses. The Coalition will argue that unfair dismissal and compensation claims are increasingly being exploited by disgruntled staff and their lawyers." - Daily Mail

William Hague arrives for talks in Syria...

William Hague 2011 "Foreign Secretary William Hague has arrived in Syria for a two-day visit. Mr Hague will holds talks on Thursday with President Bashar al-Assad and Foreign Minister Walid Muallem. The Foreign Office said Mr Hague would discuss a range of issues, including the Middle East peace process, Iran's nuclear programme and the political situation in Lebanon." - BBC he urges Egypt to move towards political reform

"Mr Hague said it was not for other countries to dictate who should be in power, or what their tactics should be, but told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Clearly, in so many of these countries people do have legitimate grievances, which are economic and political." - The Independent

Equitable Life policy holders say payout is a "slap in the face"

"David Cameron was accused of “cynically” raising the hopes of more than a million policyholders by promising when in opposition to “sort out” Equitable Life, only to limit payments to the level agreed by the last government.' - Daily Telegraph

Michal Kaminksi MEP reportedly quits ECR group leadership in Brussels after split with former Polish colleagues

Michal Kaminski Manc "The Tories' grouping in the European parliament was in chaos last night after its leader resigned claiming he had been hounded out by extremist fellow MEPs. Polish politician Michal Kaminski said he was resigning as chairman of the European Conservative and Reformists group on the news channel TVN 24. He said in an interview that he had faced "aggression" and "hatred" from his former colleagues in Poland's Law and Justice party." - The Guardian

Other political news in brief

  • Met police reopen investigation into phone hacking at News of the World - The Guardian
  • Gerry Adams leaves Commons - courtesy of the Queen - The Times (£)
  • Ex-Scottish Socialist leader Tommy Sheridan jailed for perjury - BBC
  • Scrapping the RAF's Nimrod fleet 'poses risk to British security' - Daily Telegraph

And finally... Ratcatcher called in to rid No.10 of vermin who made it on to News At Ten

Picture 18 "Whenever the television cameras arrived outside 10 Downing Street, he had a habit of scurrying into shot. But the scene-stealing rat’s days looked to be numbered yesterday after he made one too many surprise appearances on the news. After he was spotted darting behind ITN correspondent Lucy Manning and BBC political correspondent Gary O’Donoghue, rat catchers from Westminster Council were sent in to help flush him out – and any other vermin of his kind." - Daily Mail

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26 Jan 2011 08:45:40

Newslinks for Wednesday 26th January 2011

10pm Melanchthon on Comment: The Government couldn’t abolish control orders

Screen shot 2011-01-26 at 22.05.10 6.30pm On Australia Day, Matthew Elliott explains on Comment: Why the Australian experience shows AV to be an unfair electoral system promoted by politicians rather than the people

6pm WATCH:

4.15pm Two reactions on Comment to the Counter-Terrorism Review:

3.30pm Seats and Candidates update: Gerry Adams is formally appointed to an office of profit under the Crown, disqualifying him from the Commons

2.15pm Local government: London Assembly Lib Dems and Greens cosy up to Red Ken

2pm Parliament: Theresa May unveils the conclusions of the Counter-Terrorism review, signalling a restoration of civil liberties while ensuring people's safety and security

Picture 17
12.45pm ToryDiary: At PMQs David Cameron lays the blame for the deficit at the feet of "Gordon Brown's two henchmen at the Treasury"

10.45am From ConHomeUSA: Summary of reaction to President Obama's State of the Union speech

Picture 810.30am Graeme Archer on Comment: "The wretched case over a B&B in Cornwall; Baroness Warsi's view of dinner party conversations about Islam; football commentators being caught discussing the sporting and aesthetic merits of a female linesman. Religion vs sexuality; Muslim vs non-Muslim; men vs women: three cases that highlight the outcome of an adherence to the Left's politics of identity. In no case has the application of a law increased human happiness. Identity politics, indeed, lead not to greater understanding of common problems, but to greater distance between the groups 'protected' by the laws."

George Osborne on Marr 2ToryDiary: A six-point plan for George Osborne, who should stay in post for this Parliament

Matthew Sinclair on Comment: To create the conditions for growth, get rid of avoidable burdens on families and businesses

Also on Comment: Ed McRandal asks Could ruling against Murdoch lead to less, not more, media plurality?

Parliament: Tony Baldry calls for a reduction in the regulatory burden on the owners of Historic Houses open to the public

Local Government: Council snooping powers curbed


Mervyn King warns of economic trouble ahead...

Picture 7 "In a speech in Newcastle, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, gave warning that inflation would rise to "uncomfortably high" levels this year – peaking at "between 4 per cent and 5 per cent" before "falling back" next year. Mr King also said that unless there was pay restraint, interest rates would quickly be raised." - The Independent ministers insist there is no Plan B after drop in GDP

"George Osborne and Vince Cable insisted there was ‘no Plan B’ last night despite shocking figures suggesting Britain is on the brink of the first double dip recession since the 1970s. The Coalition partners joined forces to echo Margaret Thatcher’s famous economic mantra, ‘There is no alternative’, as they refused to reconsider massive public spending cuts. David Cameron rammed the message home, telling Cabinet colleagues that cutting the unprecedented budget deficit left behind by Labour was a ‘prerequisite for growth’." - Daily Mail

"George Osborne, the Chancellor, said that the December snow was chiefly to blame for the surprise 0.5 per cent fall in GDP in the last three months of 2010. The City had been expecting a rise of up to 0.7 per cent. The Office for National Statistics said that even without the cold weather growth would have ground to a halt." - The Times (£)

Inflation, stagflation and interest rate rises lie in wait over the year ahead - The Guardian

Reaction to the economic figures from the commentariat

Allister Heath "Yesterday’s data was even more preliminary than usual. The ONS admitted that much of it was really guesswork. I have long thought that it would be better to wait a bit longer before providing the markets (and journalists) with absurd, incomplete figures which are always revised upwards, generally by about 0.2 percentage points... The government should stick to its austerity plans, which did not cause yesterday’s supposed slump and which are the only way to prevent a sovereign crisis. It is not (yet) time to panic or predict a new recession." - Allister Heath in City AM

"A harsh winter did disrupt travel and depress retail sales, and the GDP number is as yet a preliminary estimate. But even if you strip out the effect of the snows, the economy showed no growth in the last quarter, and there is scant cause for encouragement anywhere in the data." - Times (£) editorial

Danny Finkelstein 2011 "The current plan of the Government appears to be to cut the deficit and to come out the other side having completed that task and hoping to be congratulated by the electorate. But the first rule of strategy reveals this to be an error. If the Government’s task is deficit reduction and it has been completed, then Britain is at its final destination, not “on the right track” and, since it has arrived, it can’t really “turn back”. Labour wouldn’t be risky change." - Daniel Finkelstein in The Times (£)

"The truth is that excessive state spending, of which Mr Balls was the chief architect, was one of the principal causes of our dire plight. The cure can lie only in a revival of the private sector, where there are encouraging signs that manufacturing and exports are continuing to improve. Yes, Mr Osborne must do much more to help businesses. But on the cuts, he must keep his nerve." - Daily Mail editorial

"With the return of the spectre of a double-dip recession, Labour's historic disagreements on the deficit shrink into irrelevance. A Conservative Chancellor has embarked on the most severe fiscal consolidations in 30 years, explicitly rejecting any thought of a "Plan B". That suddenly looks less like bravery and more like supreme recklessness." - Independent editorial

John Redwood "On any analysis the figures are disappointing. There may be a  bounce in January as last January saw very bad weather. All surely can agree, however, that we need more growth for the private sector led recovery which is central to the government’s economic policy. The government needs to listen carefully to those who say we need a deregulatory and tax package that promotes enterprise and job creation, and a banking system that can deliver more credit for worthwhile projects including the  construction of new power stations, roads, homes and factory capacity. We also need to work out how to snow proof more of our economy, just in case we are in for more bad weather." - John Redwood on his blog

> Yesterday's coverage on ConHome:

Theresa May to announce details of counter-terrorism review this afternoon

Theresa May Home Secretary "MI5 is to be given £20m to cope with the extra surveillance required to keep watch on control order suspects when the scheme is scrapped. Theresa May, the home secretary, will announce the extra resources as she lays out plans for less stringent restrictions later today, sources told the Daily Telegraph. Curfews will be abandoned and replaced with “overnight residence orders” that will only require suspects to stay at a designated address over night." - Daily Telegraph

"Security chiefs have won their battle to slap draconian restrictions on the UK's most dangerous terror suspects, The Sun can reveal... security sources said there will also be powers to impose much tougher restrictions on highest-risk suspects. These could include longer curfews, tighter restrictions on movements and intensive surveillance. The decision is seen as a blow for Deputy PM Nick Clegg who had vowed to abolish the control order system altogether." - The Sun

"The Government's review of counter-terrorism powers should be about keeping people safe in their homes, "not keeping Nick Clegg safe in his job", according to shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper." - Press Association

Labour extends lead over Tories in latest Guardian/ICM poll

"Labour has extended its lead over the Conservatives but voters have yet to warm to Ed Miliband as a potential prime minister, according to a Guardian/ICM poll. Carried out before yesterday's poor GDP figures were published, but after the resignations of Andy Coulson and Alan Johnson, the poll confirms that Labour's overall position has strengthened since the autumn. The party is on 39%, unchanged from the last ICM poll of 2010 and up 10 points since Britain voted last May. The Conservatives are on 35%, down two to their joint-worst ICM score since the general election. The Liberal Democrats are on 15%, up two." - The Guardian

Ex-Tory peer faces prospect of jail over expenses scandal

Lord Taylor of Warwick 2011 "Once feted in Westminster as the first black Conservative peer, Lord Taylor of Warwick was last night facing a substantial jail sentence after being found guilty of abusing his expenses. The 58-year-old former practising barrister became the first parliamentarian to be tried and found guilty by a jury after the expenses scandal... The jury found that Lord Taylor had falsely told the House of Lords members' expenses office that his main residence was in Oxford, when he lived in west London... The property in Oxford was where his half-nephew Robert Taylor lived with his partner Tristram Wyatt, who owned the house. Lord Taylor never stayed there and had no legal or financial interest in it." - The Independent

  • Profile of Lord Taylor of Warwick - BBC
  • Lazy, inept, dishonest... a disgrace to his party - Andrew Pierce in the Daily Mail

> Yesterday in Parliament: Ex-Tory peer Lord Taylor of Warwick found guilty of making false expense claims

Labour peers warned they risk extinction as they hold up plans for electoral reform

"Labour peers holding up the Coalition’s electoral reform plans are being warned they risk being swept away as the House of Lords is abolished. Cabinet ministers say their enthusiasm for rapid reform of the second chamber has been hugely increased in recent weeks by the antics of opposition peers who have been trying to block flagship legislation." - Daily Mail

Doubts cast on coalition's 'Big Society' and nudging tactics

"Most councils have not started introducing the government's "Big Society" agenda and do not understand what it is, a study reveals today. A report by the consultancy firm Deloitte reveals that 80% of councils have not made any progress on the localism agenda. Many claim they are faced with Whitehall "intransigence" and resistance to the plans and that there is "no common understanding" across government about what the big society actually is." - The Guardian

Simon Heffer: David Cameron now has no chance of understanding ordinary people

SImon Heffer "Almost the only thing I do not hold against Mr Cameron is that he is an Old Etonian, since at least I know he had one of the best educations money can buy; he may yet use it to the good of our country. But he and his Chancellor, Mr Osborne, have never needed to work for a living. It is not that they are cut off so much by experience from the rest of the people that they purport to govern; it is that they are cut off by culture." - Simon Heffer in the Daily Telegraph

  • Dominic Sandbrook: Why today's politicians are too posh (and I don't just mean the Tories) - Daily Mail

Other political news in brief

  • Jeremy Hunt gives Murdoch more time before BSkyB bid goes to Competition Commission - Daily Mail
  • BBC takes axe to jobs at World Service - The Times (£)
  • Millions pay price as taxman "loses" £1.2bn - Daily Mail
  • "75% on sick are skiving" - Daily Express
  • £70m bill for schools that had to close - Daily Telegraph

Blair kept Cabinet in dark over Iraq, says former Cabinet Secretary

"Tony Blair never showed key documents on Iraq to his cabinet colleagues and left ministers “imprisoned” in a position of choosing between his downfall or that of Saddam Hussein, according to his former cabinet secretary. In highly critical testimony to the Iraq inquiry, Lord Turnbull, the former head of the civil service, contradicted Mr Blair and said the cabinet never “knew the score” in 2002 on the likelihood of military action against Iraq." - FT (£)

Ed and David Miliband shake hands on plan for 'army' of 10,000 activists

David and Ed Miliband "David and Ed Miliband are combining to create a 10,000-strong "army" of community organisers in the first formal rapprochement for the pair since Ed beat David to the Labour party leadership. The Movement for Change, set up by David during his leadership campaign, is to be relaunched in March and expanded, initially under the wing of the Labour party. The brothers want to increase tenfold the 1,000 activists trained through that campaign to organise people, such as patients, parents and tenants, to resist change imposed by state or the private sector in their neighbourhoods." - The Guardian

Labour news in brief

  • Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls backs extension to 50p tax rate - Daily Mail
  • Ed Miliband's rallying call to lost Liberal Democrats - The Independent
  • Alan Johnson breaks silence to tell how he "couldn't cope" with work and personal turmoil - Daily Mirror

Former Tory MP Phil Gallie dies aged 71

"Variously described as a “lovable right-wing loony”, “rent-a-mouth Gallie”, the “Scottish Tories’ unguided missile system” and “a frothing, anachronistic throwback”, the pugilistic and effervescent Gallie was famous for his ability to provide quotes on almost every subject imaginable... When he announced that he would be spending his holidays taking the message of capitalism to Romania to help the country’s fledgling Conservatives fight a general election, the Scottish National Party’s business manager, Mike Russell, observed: “After two weeks of Phil Gallie, they’ll be bitterly regretting that they got rid of Ceausescu.” - Daily Telegraph obituary

> Yesterday's Gazette: Former Conservative MP and MSP Phil Gallie has died

And finally... ex-GP Liam Fox comes to aid of fellow passenger on flight from Turkey

Liam Fox on Politics Show "Dr Liam Fox came to the aid of a pregnant mother in difficulty during a flight, it has emerged. The defence secretary, who was a GP before entering politics, answered a call from the pilot for anyone with medical assistance to come forward. He assisted the woman on the flight from Istanbul to London until she was met by paramedics at the airport. A spokesman for Dr Fox said it was the third time in four years he had been called into action in such a way." - BBC

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