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July 2011 newslinks

31 Jul 2011 08:55:11

Newslinks for Sunday 31st July 2011

8pm ToryDiary: Do you support capital punishment in any circumstances? Should George Osborne cut taxes? Will Boris beat Ken?

6pm LISTEN: Liam Fox downplays likelihood of new UN resolution that could authorise arming of Libyan rebels

50P5.45pm ToryDiary: Four paths to the abolition of the 50p tax rate

4.30pm Robert H Halfon MP on Comment: "According to Business Insider, estimates suggest that the US Federal Government have $54 billion to spend: Bill Gates has $56 billion. Apple meanwhile has $76.2 billion in cash and marketable securities."

4pm ConHomeUSA: The outlines of a US budget deal begin to become clear

2pm ConHomeUSA: Today's American political news

12.30pm WATCH: Andrew Lansley tells the BBC that the Coalition is increasing spending to tackle health inequalities

Cameron David April 2011Noon International: Cameron backs Julia Gillard on carbon tax, embarrassing Australia's conservative opposition

10.15am WATCH: Labour begin summer offensive with hotly disputed claim that Andrew Lansley is redistributing NHS funds from poorer to richer areas

10am WATCH: A great new USA campaigning video that literally "brings home" the cost of extra US government borrowing

ToryDiary: It's not good enough for Conservative economic policy to be a bit better than Labour's. Without a growth revolution we're in big trouble.

Screen shot 2011-07-31 at 08.54.41 David T Breaker on Comment: Why the death penalty is wrong

Also on Comment: Perhaps it wasn't Christianity that did it. Did you know that Anders Breivik was taking mind-altering chemicals?

Local government: Council byelection results from this week

Video: The Wall Street Journal team believe debt ceiling deal may be close

Norman Lamont joins call to scrap 50p tax rate

Lamont Norman July 2011 "Lord Lamont, who was chancellor in John Major's Tory government in the early 1990s, uses an article in The Sunday Telegraph to declare that tax rates in Britain are "too high and too uncompetitive" compared to other European countries. He says the best way to cut the deficit would be with tax cuts backed by further cuts in public spending - but admits such a package would be "unlikely to be agreed by the coalition."" - The Sunday Telegraph

In a leader The Sunday Times (£) agrees: "The 50% top tax rate was Britain’s signal to the world that we are no longer concerned about attracting the best entrepreneurs to these shores. It should be abandoned."

Vince Cable rejects 50p tax cut without imposing some kind of mansion tax, saying relief for low-paid must come first

Cable July 2011 "Whether it's Ed Balls or the Mayor of London [Boris Johnson], they are assuming there is some kind of Father Christmas at work that helps you keep a balanced budget. Well, there isn't. You can't just have tax cuts without paying for them... "We will look at it [the 50p rate], but it will have to be balanced by something that's really strong in terms of tax fairness." Mr Cable will not cede his pet projects. He refuses to give up on a mansion tax – "mansions can't run away to Switzerland" – and is adamant the Lib Dem pre-election policy of a levy on homes worth £2m or more is "still a solid basis to proceed from"." - The Business Secretary interviewed in the Independent on Sunday

  • "If reducing business taxes carries too much unfortunate baggage, why not reduce the taxes of ordinary people, too?" - Janet Daley in The Sunday Telegraph

The Cameron/ Osborne relationship has hit a rocky patch - Melissa Kite in the Mail on Sunday

  • A shortage of empathy is lethal for a 21st-century government in hard times - Matthew d'Ancona in The Sunday Telegraph

Oliver Letwin: Public services will reform when public sector workers start fearing for their jobs

"You can't have room for innovation and the pressure for excellence without having some real discipline and some fear on the part of the providers that things may go wrong if they don't live up to the aims that society as a whole is demanding of them." - Oliver Letwin quoted in The Observer

Local authorities, environmental watchdogs and charities combine to attack HS2 - The Sunday Telegraph

Hilton&CameronIt's a Steve Hilton fest in the Sunday newspapers... 

  • Because he wears a t-shirt, no one recognises that Steve Hilton is a Thatcherite - Ian Birrell in the Mail on Sunday (scroll to bottom of link)
  • Also in the Mail on Sunday, Lord Tebbit applauds Hilton's proposal to burn regulations
  • We need star-gazers like Hilton to think the unthinkable - Sarah Sands in the Independent on Sunday
  • " I once asked one of his cabinet whether he regarded the prime minister as "intellectually curious". After a long pause during which he debated with himself what the loyal answer would be, the minister finally smiled and said: "I could call him many things, but not that." By having Mr Hilton around, the prime minister fills a gap in himself." - Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer
    And Tim Montgomerie in The Sunday Telegraph: "My friend Paul Goodman has put it best. If you want to understand Steve Hilton, imagine Edmund Burke transported to contemporary San Francisco."
  • The Sunday Times (£) argues that Andrew Cooper, the new Downing Street strategist, has reduced Hilton's power: "Cooper, a pollster brought in earlier this year after a series of government mishaps, has foiled Hilton’s more radical schemes with a strong dose of pragmatism. Hilton’s aversion to polling has been summarised as “you don’t test something you believe in”."

Kwarteng2 Sunder Katwala paints a very positive profile of 'the Black Boris'; Kwasi Kwarteng MP - Observer

Looming boundary changes will test solidarity of Coalition as it becomes clear how much Lib Dems will lose and Tories will gain - William Rees-Mogg in the Mail on Sunday

Only 35% of voters expect Nick Clegg to be Lib Dem leader by next election - The Sunday Times (£)

  • Labour is ahead by 44% to 35% in latest YouGov survey. LDs register 10% support.
  • "A YouGov poll in November 2010 found 74% of people supported the death penalty for murder in some circumstances, though only 16% supported it for all murders." - Anthony Wells

Pensions Minister Steve Webb believes MPs should pay higher contributions into their own scheme - The Sunday Times (£)

Labour sends 50 questions to Cameron about Murdoch links - BBC

Labour is accusing the government of moving NHS spending in England away from poorer areas towards richer parts of the country - BBC

David Miliband set for tentative return to front-line politics with twenty Q&A sessions at universities - Mail on Sunday

Blair to face withering fire in Iraq report; Chilcot criticisms said to zero-in on WMD, 'sofa-style', secret pledge to Bush, and post-invasion plans - Independent on Sunday

"The Mail on Sunday has been told that the former Prime Minister will be held to account on four main failings: Bogus claims that were made about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. Not telling the British public about his secret pledge with George Bush to go to war. Keeping the Cabinet in the dark by his ‘sofa government’ style. Failing to plan to avoid the post-war chaos in Iraq."

Os-Borne in the USA; Chancellor takes family to Disneyland for summer break

Screen shot 2011-07-31 at 05.14.38 "George Osborne has flown out to Hollywood for a luxurious holiday in one of LA’s smartest hotels. The Chancellor left behind Britain’s ­economic woes as he relaxed at Mr C’s, a new hotel where rooms can cost as much as £1,000 a night. He flew out from London on Friday to join wife Frances and their ­children Luke, 10, and Liberty, eight. They were later spotted enjoying a family day out at Disneyland on the outskirts of the city." - The Sunday Mirror

The PM's Tuscan holiday has also begun and The Sunday Telegraph reveals  that his choice of holiday home is also a favourite haunt of TV chef Jamie Oliver.

Please don’t drop in, Mr Berlusconi - The Sunday Times (£) hopes Italy's scandal-struck PM won't visit.

And finally... Lib Dems are most active on Twitter, then Labour, then Tories - The Sunday Telegraph

Louise Mensch, Robert Halfon and Brandon Lewis are the Tories' top three tweeters - Mail on Sunday

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30 Jul 2011 08:56:05

Newslinks for Saturday 30th July 2011

QueenKirk5.30pm WATCH: The second Royal Wedding of 2011...

3pm ToryDiary: For the end-July ConservativeHome grassroots survey, any questions for you?

1.45pm ConHomeUSA:  Today's US political highlights, including the latest news in the debt deadlock: The House Republican budget plan was passed... and quickly shot down in the Democrat Senate

Noon WATCH: US debt deadlock continues as Congress splits over Boehner plan

11.45am Parliament Update: Three Four MPs support the restoration of the death penalty

10.45am Parliament: Priti Patel, Philip Davies and Andrew Turner support Guido's campaign to bring back the death penalty

LANSLEY ANDREW QT ToryDiary: Andrew Lansley condemns the "cynical environment" created by Primary Care Trusts limiting patient choice

ThePoliticalReader on Comment reviews "Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working-Class" by Owen Jones, and explains how Conservatives can win the Working Class vote

Alex Thomson on Local government: Business rates reform will help kickstart growth

ConHomeUSA: The $917 billion man: Republican Speaker John Boehner's budget proposal passes in Congress

David Cameron defends Coalition as "doing what's right", in message to activists

CAMERON LOOKING LEFT "David Cameron sought to steady the nerves of Tory activists last night as he insisted the Government was "doing what's right for our country in the long-term, however difficult that may be today". In a message to the party before starting his summer break, he urged it to look beyond phone hacking, the retreat on NHS reform and union protests over public service pensions." - The Independent

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: In end-of-term message Cameron encourages supporters to be patient

Cameron is the most hawkish National Security Council member

CAMERONinAFGHANISTAN "Mr Cameron wanted to go farther than anyone else, particularly in the opening weeks, where he appeared impatient at restrictions placed on him by international law, say people who attended the meetings. “There is no doubt he is usually the most hawkish person in the room,” said one of those present. It is an assessment shared by several in Government. Having won support from the international community, the blame, if it goes wrong, may be placed entirely at Mr Cameron’s feet." - The Times (£)

  • Soldiers face longer tours in Afghanistan because of savage cuts to troop numbers - Daily Mail

> Yesterday on Comment: Steve Baker MP: Egypt teeters, exposing lessons for the UK

Lansley attacks NHS managers for "letting patients die to save cash"Daily Mail

  • Private healthcare group lobbied competition body for NHS inquiry - The Guardian
  • A sickening way for the NHS to behave - Daily Mail editorial
  • Polly Toynbee: David Cameron's NHS chaos won't save money – let alone lives - The Guardian

Louise Mensch accused of taking drugs

BAGSHAWE LOUISE NEW "The MP for Corby said she had been emailed by journalists who said they knew she had taken drugs at Birmingham nightclub Ronnie Scott’s with violinist Nigel Kennedy. Reporters claimed to have photographs. Mrs Mensch, 40, responded by saying it was “highly probable” the incident had taken place, but MPs were “entitled to a life before politics, including making mistakes”." - Daily Express

Read Mensch's response to allegations - PoliticsHome

"Conservative MP Louise Mensch has apologised to former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan for accusing him of "boasting" about hacking phones." - BBC

Baroness Thatcher's office closed

ThatcherNoTurningBack "Sir Mark Thatcher, the son of Lady Thatcher, confirms that his mother's office in the House of Lords has been shut down. In what amounts to Baroness Thatcher’s final and irrevocable withdrawal from public life, the former prime minister’s office in the House of Lords has been closed down." - Daily Telegraph

Boris Johnson "embroiled in new row over high-speed rail link"

Johnson Boris On Tube"A senior government source said Johnson, whose interventions on spending cuts and a ban on airport expansion have angered the cabinet, had "overstepped the line in his opposition to HS2." It is understood that Philip Hammond, the transport secretary, has dismissed Johnson's request for more investment in London's transport, on top of funding for the £16bn Crossrail project and a multibillion-pound tube upgrade." - The Guardian

> Yesterday on ThinkTankCentralThe Countryside Alliance's Sarah Lee: HS2 is too expensive, but the human and environmental cost is even more devastating

MPs ready to re-call James Murdoch to Culture Select Committee - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday WATCH: John Whittingdale tells the BBC that the Culture Select Committee won't be recalling James Murdoch immediately

New government e-petitions will attract EU and hanging campaigns

EU and BRITAIN"The great British public is today given a new chance to join a bid to force a key vote on Britain leaving the European Union." - Daily Express

"A Downing Street initiative to allow voters to act collectively to force debates in Parliament has been hijacked by campaigners who want to bring back the death penalty." - Daily Mail

Two Conservative MPs come out in favour of the death penalty: Priti Patel and Philip DaviesThe Sun

  • The Sun comes out against the death penalty: "It is right that MPs should again debate capital punishment. Many people argue it is the only fate child killers deserve. But The Sun cannot support it. It has no place in a civilised society. And yes, we know our society is often far from civilised." - The Sun Says

Yesterday on Parliament: Should the centre right blogs unite behind a parliamentary petition campaign?

European Commission investigates government plans to privatise Royal Mail

"The European Commission has opened an investigation into the UK government's plans to privitise the Royal Mail. It will look at plans to relieve the postal operator of a pension deficit of some £8bn as well as a state-supported debt restructuring to determine whether the Coalition's proposals breach EU state aid guidelines. " - Daily Telegraph 

Iain Martin: Are we on the brink of REAL reform in Britain's schools?

MARTIN IAIN "When the Coalition government came to power last year, there were only 203 academies out of more than 3,000 secondary schools in England and Wales. Now there are 801, with hundreds more expected to become academies this autumn. ... By the end of this parliament (in 2015), it is estimated that as many as 80 per cent of all the country’s secondary schools will have become academies." - Iain Martin, in the Daily Mail 

Matthew Parris: The coalition’s fate does not depend on making us richer. Standing still will be good enough for victory

"If unemployment is not much higher, take-home pay not much lower, the value of our assets not plummeting, the economic climate not much stormier and the path before our feet not noticeably stonier — and if no rival political party is able to propose any alternative in which it is possible to believe — then the Chancellor and his Prime Minister will be home and dry. I believe that is possible." - The Times (£)

Graeme Archer: After the "human rights" law has allowed immigrants to stay in Britain, it is often no good to them thereafter

Immigration "When Vince Cable tells us that businesses need immigrant labour: remember that man. When we demand the repeal of the Human Rights Act, and our liberal countrymen tell us that we must not, because great evil will happen if we do: remember that man. He stood weeping and alone in the witness box, because “human rights” prevented us from stemming immigration. He was there because “human rights” encouraged communities without English to grow. The final, bitter irony: the worst sins visited by the consequences of that act do not fall on us, the jury, the majority. They fall on “them”, the people the Act was meant to protect in the first place." - Graeme Archer, in the Daily Telegraph

  • What about our human right to a common language? - Amanda Platell, in the Daily Mail

Charles Moore: It is time for Western conservatives to prove that they are for the many, not the few

MOORE"Perhaps the main reason the messages of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan resonated in the 1980s was because of their faith in the capacities of the many. People could own their own council house if you let them; they could start a new business if you got out of their way. “Every earner an owner!” Mrs Thatcher used to cry, and she scurried up and down Whitehall trying to find ways of letting this happen."  - Charles Moore, in the Daily Telegraph

Five green taxes on industry to raise electricity price

"The Government has acknowledged it will have to prop up struggling British industry hit by five green taxes that are forecast to add between 7pc and 58pc to electricity prices."Daily Telegraph

Chaos at the tax office: After six million pay wrong tax, MPs launch a scathing attack on 'ineptitude' Daily Mail

  • Civil servants spend thousands on limousine tour of California - Daily Telegraph

Miliband Ed Open Mouth Ed Miliband's attempt to woo "Mumsnet" rejected - The Times (£)

Labour lures veterans with 1p membership offer 

"Millions of veterans are to be offered cut-price membership deals by the Labour Party as part of an aggressive recruitment campaign targeting traditional Tory voters." - The Independent 

David Miliband takes first step to Labour rehabilitation with new role

"David Miliband has taken a tentative first step to rejoining frontline Labour politics by accepting an offer from his brother, Ed, to act as an unofficial ambassador for the party on university and college campuses." - The Guardian 

Radical Muslim jailed for calling for jihad against MPs - The Guardian

And finally... Arthur Scargill sues his own union for stopping his expenses 

"Arthur Scargill is demanding £25,000 from the National Union of Mineworkers after it stopped his perks such as paying all his phone bills and meeting 80 per cent of the cost of running a car.The former NUM president, 73, faced current union officials in a 25- minute private hearing at Barnsley County Court." - Daily Express

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29 Jul 2011 08:56:06

Newslinks for Friday 29th July 2011

6.45pm Local government: Boris's magnificent Olympics speech in Trafalgar Square

5pm ToryDiary: In end-of-term message Cameron encourages supporters to be patient

4.15pm Local government: A year on the Boris Bikes triumph as the BBC sneers

Screen shot 2011-07-29 at 15.26.533.30pm WATCH: John Whittingdale tells the BBC that the Culture Select Committee won't be recalling James Murdoch immediately

12.30pm WATCH: Harriet Harman says "Murdoch Empire" owns too many newspapers

Noon ConHomeUSA: Today's US political news featuring good polling trends for the GOP and the huge tensions among Republican Congressmen about the debt ceiling

11am Steve Baker MP on Comment: Egypt teeters, exposing lessons for the UK

ToryDiary: Other than Owen Paterson, which Tory politician do you think is under-rated?

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Tim Montgomerie on Comment: Radio 4's Today programme, BBC1's evening news bulletins and Question Time voted most impactful media platforms

Parliament: Should the centre right blogs unite behind a parliamentary petition campaign?

Article-1102368-02354D6700000578-424_468x318Local government: Brighton's Green council forced to abandon meat-free Mondays after binmen miss their bacon butties

Also on Local government: Two year tenancy limit will be exception for new social tenants

The Countryside Alliance's Sarah Lee on ThinkTankCentral: HS2 is too expensive, but the human and environmental cost is even more devastating

ConHomeUSA: Boehner cancels debt ceiling vote as he can't wrangle enough support from hardline Republicans

Unions warn that strikes are 'inevitable' over extra pension payments - Telegraph

Ministry of Defence to axe 7,000 more civilian jobs - Guardian | Express

Treasury figures show £800m real terms drop in NHS spending, breaking Cameron pledge

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"The Institute for Fiscal Studies gave a cautious endorsement of the Labour interpretation of the figures. It said that "NHS (Health)" spending had increased in cash terms but had fallen, or at the very least been frozen, in real terms." - Guardian

While The Telegraph reports desperate attempts to save money: 'NHS managers are deliberately delaying operations as they wait for patients either to die or go private in order to save money'

Cameron's Big Society bank vision has become a reality

Big Society

"The bank, now relaunched as Big Society Capital, will receive £600 million in equity capital in the coming months - £400 million from dormant bank accounts and £200 million from the big four UK high street banks. The money will go to socially orientated financial organisations who will in turn give it to charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups." - Sky

"Sir Ronald Cohen, one of the pioneers of venture capital in Britain and interim chairman of Big Society Capital, rightly claims that the [social investment] sector is on the cusp of a revolution. Social impact bonds, which pay out dividends to investors according to the meeting of social targets, are just one of the new ideas being tried out by a new wave of social enterprises, often making use of the skills of former City professionals." -Times leader (£)

Controversial plans to end "council houses for life" in England look set to be watered down

"Under laws passing through Parliament, social tenants could face eviction after just two years in their home. But Housing Minister Grant Shapps has instructed regulators to ensure that the minimum period is five years in all but the most extreme circumstances." - BBC

Philip Hammond: Britain’s economic geography will be transformed when high-speed rail is rolled out

Hammond "Today, the Government’s consultation on HS2 comes to an end, after one of the largest and most wide-ranging public engagement exercises undertaken in this country. The rail network that we are proposing from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds would slash journey times and improve connectivity in a way unmatched since the building of motorways in the 1960s and 1970s." - Philip Hammond in The Telegraph

John Randall, a Tory Deputy Chief Whip, and Nick Hurd, a Cabinet Office minister, becomes latest frontbench Tories to oppose HS2 - Times (£)

An extra 300million plastic bags were handed out by supermarkets last year, despite promises by the Coalition to slash numbers - Daily Mail

"Supermarkets were threatened with a 5p tax on plastic bags yesterday - for failing to cut back on their use. Shock figures showed 6.8 billion plastic bags were handed out last year - 333million up on 2009." - The Sun

Ministers rush to distance themselves from Steve Hilton's idea to scrap maternity leave - Independent | Guardian

Hilton-Steve In the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts gives three cheers for Steve Hilton: "We need more Steve Hilton-style thinking in Downing Street. Anyone who comes up with suggestions for shrinking the state is worth listening to – even if he wears dodgy T-shirts."

John Kampfner in The Independent questions Hilton's deregulatory instincts: "The young generation may be less wedded to a Whitehall-knows-best approach; suspicion of private enterprise may have been overcome in the 1980s. But the financial crash has not turned us into manic deregulators. Rather the reverse. It has revived a traditional notion of fairness, one that politicians – and their advisers – play with at their peril."

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Five things you should know about Steve Hilton

Allister Heath: Don't believe Cable's spin on red tape

HEATH ALLISTER "The claim that 130 out of the 257 rules covering retail firms will go, and 30 be simplified, is meaningless. All the really big stuff (Sunday opening limits, labour market rules and so on) aren’t included, that list in reality is much longer – and there’s lots more red tape coming that it is hugely more important and costly than all of the semi-trivial rules that are being abolished put together." - Allister Heath in City AM

  • Vince Cable yesterday dismissed calls for a tax cut to kick-start the stalled economy as "voodoo economics" - Scotsman
  • Lacklustre growth has provoked renewed attacks on the government’s plans to slash the deficit - Economist

Majority objected to badger cull before policy was approved - Independent

If immigrants settling in Britain do not share its language, how can they fully participate in its democracy? - Telegraph leader

Stewart Jackson MP writing in the Peterborough Evening Telegraph (no link): "The latest high profile case involves a woman arguing that her husband has a “right” to come to the UK from India, even though he speaks no English – and refuses to learn – in contravention of tougher government policy, because of an alleged infringement of his human rights! I may be old fashioned, but British citizenship is a privilege and not a right and in order to be a good citizen, the ability to speak English should be compulsory, not least to aid the individual in integrating into his or her new community and  country. If it’s good enough for Canada and Australia, why not the UK? The Government must scrap this Act and bring in a British Bill of Rights, not least in order to restore the faith and trust that most British taxpayers could and should have in our legal system. The patience of the British people is wearing rather thin."

RIFKIND The conflict with Gaddafi will drag on unless Britain firms up its support for the insurgents - Sir Malcolm Rifkind in The Telegraph

UK 'helps dictator buy 16 Paris homes': African leader accused of stealing millions in aid - Daily Mail

After Murdoch, Cameron has great great goals, says Peter Oborne

"It is already clear at this stage of the Cameron Government that three great challenges lie ahead. One is confronting the deficit; one is reforming the welfare state; and one is the restoration, under Michael Gove, of our profoundly damaged education system. If he achieves one of these targets, he will have led a decent government by recent standards. If he achieves two, he can be proud of having led one of the best governments of recent times. If three, Cameron will indeed have claims to have been a truly great prime minister." - Peter Oborne in The Telegraph

The government's 'sustainable' new planning policy will sacrifice our countryside to market forces - Simon Jenkins in The Guardian

Election campaign left Conservatives £6m in debt - Independent

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: The Conservatives spent £49,205,000 during 2010

Labour MP Tom Watson is to ask a Commons committee to recall three key News International figures to give more evidence about phone hacking - BBC

A drugs revolution must start with cannabis

Screen shot 2011-07-29 at 07.19.11 "The bankruptcy of prohibition is becoming ever more apparent as it fails to keep up with the plethora of “legal highs”. As one is banned, ten more emerge. There will be no need to go to dark alleys in Brixton soon: the internet will offer people everything they want. Some form of legalisation — in which users are no longer criminalised but the market is regulated — is inevitable for some substances. So we might as well start thinking about how to do it now." - Anushka Asthana in The Times (£)

And finally... Civil servants make tens of thousands of web visits to 'sexymp', sports and betting sites on taxpayers' time and money

"Tory MP Nick de Bois, a member  of the Commons Public  Administration Committee, expressed surprise that civil servants had ‘so much time on their hands’ to browse ‘rather bizarre sites’. He added: ‘There is a serious point. We are in the middle of tough times and this does not hint at the sort of culture that drives the best value or best effort on behalf of taxpayers.’" - Daily Mail

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28 Jul 2011 08:48:54

Newslinks for Thursday 28th July 2011

OsborneGeorgeITN 7.45pm WATCH: George Osborne: "No need for strikes over pensions"

5.30pm ToryDiary: Five things you should know about Steve Hilton

3.30pm WATCH: Boris Johnson says the Olympics will be "the most exciting thing that's happened in the eastern part of the city since the Great Fire"

2pm Nicholas Soames MP on Comment: "The history of the British Isles is a history of innovation and industry.  Rediscovering this once-defining attribute, and refounding the prestige and recognition of skilled labour, will be to the benefit of us all." - You're hired!

1pm ToryDiary: The Conservatives spent £49,205,000 during 2010

McCain on Meet The Press Noon ConHomeUSA: McCain attacks Republican hardliners, Boehner tells colleagues to get their "asses in line"; Democrats complain Obama is giving too much away... Today's top American political news features the latest on the US debtlock

11.15am ToryDiary: Four new Enterprise Zones established and an update on the Plan for Growth

10.30am Nick Pickles on Comment: A recipe for rip-offs - will the Coalition heed PASC's warning on Government IT?

ToryDiary: "George Osborne is growing up. He is experiencing the rite of passage that politicians must undergo as they pass from the youth of their politics, with its "change, optimism and hope" to its middle age, with its sense of horizons narrowing, opportunities going, time passing: "Shades of the prison-house begin to close/Upon the growing Boy.""

HindsLeslie Damian Hinds MP and Charlotte Leslie MP on Comment: Why Gove’s EBacc can help narrow the gap

A final contribution to our growth manifesto, from the Legatum Institute: Incentives for high productivity individuals to work in the private sector and a more positive attitude to wealth creation (please scroll down to bottom of link)

Also on ThinkTankCentral: Jonathan Isaby joins The TaxPayers' Alliance as Political Director

Glyn Gaskarth on Local government: Public libraries should include e libraries

Also on Local government: Spending watchdog hired vanity photographer to snap boozy parties

Chill winds threaten the Arab Spring, says Hague

Screen shot 2011-07-28 at 08.18.46 "The democratic gains of the Arab Spring are at risk from sectarian strife, struggling economies and counter-revolutions, William Hague has warned. Fledgeling democracies produced by the wave of people power might prove too weak to deal with the deep-rooted problems that they faced, the Foreign Secretary told The Times. There would be “a lot of problems and even convulsions” to come in the region. Mr Hague sounded particular alarm over Egypt, urging European leaders to help to ensure that the power struggle in Cairo did not allow the Arab Spring’s pivotal country to slip backwards." - Times (£)

Hague attacks "pretty much worthless" medical advice that led to release of Lockerbie bomber

"The Foreign Secretary was responding to fresh video footage taken of Megrahi attending what appeared to be a government rally in support of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi earlier this week." - Scotsman

BBC photograph.

John Redwood sets out a more modest foreign and aid policy for Britain

"In our current economic plight it might be wise to avoid too stretching a world role. We need a little time to get our public spending under control and to get our economy firing on all cylinders again. We need a strong  diplomatic corps to project our interests and concerns. We should keep sensible forces that are mobile and capable of intervention from sea and air so we can contribute to wise UN and NATO tasks that make sense for us. We should have an aid programme to assist with famine, flood and other disasters. We should not be offering aid to nuclear weapons countries, or think that old style aid will lift countries torn by civil war or marred by bad dictators out of poverty." - John Redwood

Public sector workers will have to pay up to £3,000 a year more into their pensions to keep their “gold-plated” retirement schemes - Telegraph

Danny Alexander sets out the case for reform of public sector pensions in The Sun.

Screen shot 2011-07-28 at 08.19.04 Steve Hilton, one of David Cameron's most senior advisers, has suggested that Britain should abolish maternity leave and suspend consumer-rights laws, it emerged last night - Telegraph | Guardian

Blue Sky thinking in overdrive – Steve Hilton’s most “out-there” ideas - FT (£)

Steve Richards discusses the Happiness Index, opposition to supermarket dominance and other beliefs of Steve Hilton and the 'Tory Romantics' - Independent

Vince Cable is to scrap or simplify more than half of all regulations that affect retailers - BBC

The Business Secretary has got his mojo back... - Ben Chu for The Independent

...Danny Blanchflower urges Vince Cable to leave the Coalition... - New Statesman

...but The Sun mocks Cable's "attack" on red tape: "Way to go, Vince Cable. As the economy flatlines, the Business Secretary saves the day - by cutting regulations on the sale of chocolate liqueurs. "This is very radical - we are moving fast," declared Mr Cable as he went further by axing rules on fly spray and lowering the age for buying Christmas crackers... Thank goodness the Business Secretary didn't do anything rash, like tackling the high taxes and red tape destroying enterprise."

  • "Like his predecessors, David Cameron promised to cut red tape when he came to power. And, just like the previous occupiers of 10 Downing Street, this Prime Minister has failed to deliver the reforms that he promised." - Yorkshire Post leader
  • Survey of MPs finds "fewer than half (47 per cent) of Tory backbenchers believe that unemployment will fall, while 34 per cent say it will stay the same and 19 per cent see it growing" - Independent

The FT reminds us that Boris' differences with Cameron aren't just on Europe and tax...

Johnson Boris Man of People "It is notable, though, that Mr Johnson’s interventions are not always from the right and are typically consistent with his fundamental political ethos of low tax and social liberalism, a stance in tune with many Londoners. For example, he has clashed on immigration policy with Mr Cameron. The mayor infuriated the prime minister last year when Mr Johnson vowed that he would not tolerate “Kosovo-style social cleansing” caused by housing benefit cuts." - FT (£)

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Is Boris right? Should Osborne cut taxes?

Chris Giles in the FT (£) warns against "voodoo tax cuts": "It's a general truth that tax cuts do not lead to higher revenues".

The Government is setting out plans for a new push against organised crime

"Home Office minister James Brokenshire said: "The Organised Crime Strategy will bring a new emphasis on the prevention of organised crime alongside a greater push to ensure that more prosecution and disruption activity takes place against more organised criminals, at a reduced cost."" - Express

The Government's new English Baccalaureate has been attacked by MPs, who warned it was rushed and risks "shoe-horning" pupils into taking inappropriate qualifications - Express

IT giants 'ripping off Whitehall', say MPs

Jenkin Bernard C4 "Government departments have been ripped off by an "oligopoly" of IT giants, a damning report by a committee of MPs has found. Some were paying as much as 10 times the commercial rate for equipment and up to £3,500 on a single desktop PC... Committee chairman, Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, said that, according to some sources, the government had paid contractors between seven and 10 times more than the standard rate." - BBC | Daily Mail

The lives of 300 heart attack patients have been saved every year since competition was introduced to NHS hospitals - Telegraph

Vote to approve new parliamentary boundaries "will be the greatest single risk to the coalition making it through its full five years" - Guardian

"Danny Alexander and Ed Balls could find their Commons seats abolished under a redrawing of Britain’s electoral map designed to cut the number of MPs... An analysis by Rob Hayward, a former Tory MP who is advising the party on the review, estimates this means that the Conservatives would lose 15 seats, Labour 25 and Lib Dems six. Four nationalist seats would also go. Under a rough projection, this puts the Tories in a better position, on 291 seats — tantalisingly close to the 301 for an overall majority, versus 309 held by opposing parties." - Times (£) | FT (£)

Police hand Chris Huhne 'speeding file' to prosecutors - Independent

Jonathan Djanogly faces an official investigation into his employment of private detectives to “blag” information - Telegraph

Camerons to take budget airline to Tuscan villa - Independent

"David Cameron has chosen a luxury villa in Tuscany as his summer holiday destination. The Prime Minister will spend a fortnight in an 18th-century villa, complete with swimming pool and tennis court, near the town of Mercatale Valdarno in the Chianti region. Mr Cameron, his wife Samantha and their three young children will share their holiday with two other families, it was reported yesterday.  It is understood that the Camerons are paying £5,800 as their share of the 11,000 euro-a-week villa." - Scotsman

"This is precisely the sort of holiday that the Camerons would be going on if they didn’t live in Downing Street, so why alter their behaviour for PR reasons?" - Toby Young in The Telegraph

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The Daily Mail has photographs of inside the Camerons' Tuscan getaway.

Ed Miliband undergoes hour-long NHS procedure for respiratory condition - but has it improved his voice? - Guardian

If you don't speak English you can't belong in Britain - David Green for The Telegraph

And finally... The BBC Poll of Polls since the General Election

Screen shot 2011-07-28 at 07.18.08

More here.

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