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March 2012 newslinks

27 Mar 2012 08:35:28

Newslinks for Tuesday 27th March 2012

5.30pm WATCH: Greg Clark - New planning rules will create a "presumption in favour of sustainable development"

3.15pm MPsETC: Seven Conservative MPs cited as having abstained on child benefit vote

2.45pm Local Government: Government publish their planning reforms

Noon ConHomeUSA: Rick Santorum takes his campaign to the Supreme Court to protest Obamacare

Screen shot 2012-03-27 at 11.03.2211am Alex Fergusson MSP on Comment: Why Conservatives should support Devo Plus

ToryDiary: When bad polls are good news for governments

Columnist Stephan Shakespeare: The logic of the electoral map suggests that Cameron will prioritise a renewed coalition, not a Tory majority

Columnist Nadine Dorries: The three measures the Government should take to restore confidence on abortion

Charlie Elphicke MP and Priti Patel MP on Comment: We need a £50,000 cap on donations now

Local Government:

LeftWatch: Labour fail to vote against a cut in the 50p rate

WATCH: ‪Dominique Strauss-Kahn faces charges

Cruddas-gate: two donor climbdowns in a day.  Downing Street releases Downing Street details.  Then Chequers details.  Maude flounders on Today and fights back in Parliament.  Cameron absent from the chamber.

Screen shot 2012-03-27 at 01.43.35"The Tories released a list of 12 donors who were invited with their wives and partners to four dinners in Downing Street since Mr Cameron's election in 2010. A second list of five donors invited for informal lunches at the PM's country residence Chequers was released later…Today Mr Cameron - who sometimes cooks at the dinner parties - pledged to publish a quarterly register of any future meals at official residences with people who have given more than £50,000 to the Tories." - Daily Mail

Guest list includes Number 10 flat details

"Details of the dinners showed that Mr Cameron entertained property tycoon David Rowland, Tory co-chairman Lord Feldman and their wives at the flat above 11 Downing Street in February last year…Later yesterday, officials released a list of party donors to have visited Chequers showing that Mr Rowland and his wife had lunch with Mr Cameron there in August 2010…Aides insisted the guests had long-standing relationships with the Prime Minister and that the events were not held to raise funds." - Daily Express

  • Anaylsis of Chequers and Downing Street guests.  The Mail somehow finds space to report that the Telegraph Media Group gave some £24,000 to the Conservatives - Daily Mail

Miliband shouts and Maude shouts back 

Screen shot 2012-03-27 at 07.50.48
"Amid rowdy scenes, Ed Miliband accused Mr Cameron of showing "utter contempt" for the Commons by failing to attend. "I think we all know why," the Labour leader said. "He has got something to hide." He called for an inquiry. Mr Maude was almost drowned out by Labour shouts of "Where's Cameron?" He said Conservatives were ready to accept a cap on donations, but only if it applied not only to individuals and companies but to trade unions too – which Labour has resisted." - The Independent

  • "Mr Maude, normally mild-mannered, erupted at Labour’s Whip-organised heckling…It was like seeing a bowler-hatted commuter lose it totally on the 8.39 from Weybridge." Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

> Yesterday: WATCH - Francis Maude: For 13 years Labour had the chance to reform party funding, but did nothing

When in doubt, call an inquiry and offer talks.  Cameron does so.

CAMERON-PENSIVE"Mr Cameron pledged an internal Tory party inquiry into the affair led by Lord Gold, one of the party’s members in the House of Lords. But he resisted Labour calls to hold a wider independent investigation by Sir Alex Allan, the former mandarin who is now an independent adviser on MPs’ interests.  While offering to reopen cross-party talks on funding reform, the prime minister ruled out Sir Christopher Kelly’s recommendation that there should be a £10,000 cap on party donations." - Financial Times (£)

The donors get the jitters

"As delighted as many of these donors were by the chancellor’s cut to top-rate income tax, they are equally unhappy about being thrust again into the limelight. The latest controversy comes just months after many of them endured sustained scrutiny during the scandal over who was funding Adam Werritty, an unofficial adviser to Liam Fox, the former defence secretary…One donor added: “They have to get the choice of the next treasurer right. There is a lot riding on it." - Financial Times (£)

> Yesterday: ToryDiary - The victims of Cruddas-gate aren't the voters. They're the donors.

Screen shot 2012-03-27 at 07.44.56The knives come out for Andrew Feldman, "Cameron's Oxford chum", who is blamed for the appointments of Rowland and Cruddas - Daily Mail

  • Feather-smoothing letter from new Conservative Treasurer Lord Fink sent to donors - Guido Fawkes

> Yesterday:

And the Prime Minister's dementia speech?  Drowned out in the furore. He announces the doubling of money for research

"We need an all-out fight-back against this disease; one that cuts across society. We did it with  cancer in the 70s, with HIV in the 80s and 90s. We fought the stigma, stepped up to the challenge and made massive in-roads into fighting these killers." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday: WATCH - David Cameron: "One of the great challenges of our time" is the "quiet crisis" of dementia

First post-Cruddas polls appear: Argh! Comres gives Labour a ten-point lead - its biggest for seven years...

Screen shot 2012-03-27 at 08.08.10
"The polling gives Labour a 10-point lead over the Tories, the highest in a ComRes survey for seven years. But, significantly, in interviews conducted since the affair emerged on Sunday, Labour was a remarkable 17 points ahead…in the 350 interviews that took place on Sunday and yesterday, after the disclosures, Labour was 17 points ahead. Labour was on 47 per cent, the Tories on 30 per cent and the Liberal Democrats on 11 per cent." - The Independent 

...But YouGov gives the lead as seven...

"YouGov in the Sun has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%." - Anthony Wells, UK Polling Report

...And Populus as four

"Some 60 per cent picked the coalition team to “manage the economy in the best interests of Britain”, down from 66 per cent in September, while 40 per cent picked Labour’s team, up from 34 per cent in September. Voters also still think the Tories are the best party to steer the economy through difficult times while the number saying the Tories represent ordinary people, “not just the better off”, stayed constant at 31 per cent, suggesting the abolition of the 50p top rate has not further dented the party’s image in this area." - The Times (£)

> Yesterday: ToryDiary - Labour take 10% lead in ComRes poll for the first time since the election

Editorial comment:

  • "The first step [in cleaning up party funding] must be a firm cap on donations from individuals, companies or trade unions, so nobody can be seen to be buying undue influence." - Daily Mail Editorial
  • "Cameron's evasion has added to the stink. A short statement, with no questions. Then a no-show in the Commons." - Sun Editorial
  • "Politicians are using this row to call again for state funding. This must be resisted: forcing taxpayers to pay for party politics risks making politicians lazy and out of touch." - Daily Telegraph Editorial
  • Voluntary party funding is preferable to asking the taxpayer for the money - Times Editorial

Paul Goodman: Cameron - if you tickle him, does he not laugh?  If you prick him, does he not bleed?

CameronUnhappy"To be a politician more on view than others is a choice that Cameron has made, so he can scarcely complain. But he doubtless did so when advised to publish the list of donors he has entertained – to the point where he became incapable of seeing the difference between the state’s property and his own. He must surely have expostulated: can a man not be left in peace to have dinner with his friends? His enemies would claim that his sense of entitlement – of being born to rule – is part of the explanation, too." - Daily Telegraph

More comment:

  • On funding, the parties are trapped in a posture of mutually assured destruction - Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)
  • Just why is Cameron such a terrible judge of character? - Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Fundraising is humiliating but party leaders see no option - Steve Richards, The Independent
  • Cameron is on the ropes!  This is Labour's chance! (Yawn) - Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

Dominic Lawson: Do we really want to give politicians more money to waste?

Screen shot 2012-03-27 at 08.19.28"Look at it this way. If you think it is a good thing for taxpayers to fund the vast amount of the spending of political parties, that implies that the provision of such money is a public good. So, if it is a public good, why would it be perverse to give honours to those saving the public from coughing up all the money themselves (any more than it is perverse to give honours to those who support the arts, for example)? But if it isn't a public good, why should taxpayers be required to be charged a penny for such activities?" - The Independent

And now Britain faces a petrol tanker strike

"Britain faces being crippled by panic buying and empty petrol pumps after tanker drivers voted for strike action yesterday. More than 9 in 10 of the UK’s forecourts – around 7,900 – are expected to close after the 2,000 drivers who earn about £45,000 a year agreed to walkouts.  Fuel prices could rocket by 10 pence a litre – meaning it would cost around £80 to fill an average family car – and drivers face hours of queues at those garages still open." - Daily Express

  • Boris urges voters to give him a mandate to change national strike laws as he reveals plans for driverless tubes - The Guardian

Cut The 50p rate: yes or no?  Labour's view? Yes but no but yes but...The party fails to vote in the Commons against the cut to 45p

Screen shot 2012-03-27 at 08.23.45
"Labour faced claims it had capitulated over the Government's plan to cut the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p after their MPs failed to vote against the measure in the Commons. The SNP and Plaid Cymru forced an unexpected vote on the issue as the Government began pushing its Budget resolutions through the House of Commons. Despite vocal opposition and several pledges from shadow chancellor Ed Balls to vote against the measure, in a potentially embarrassing no-show Labour MPs did not file through the No lobbies when the vote was called. The Government won the vote on the 45p rate by 319 to 22, a majority of 297." - Press Association

Spelman to say that company greenhouse gas declarations could be scrapped

"Plans to force companies to declare the size of their greenhouse gas emissions have been put on hold and could even be abolished, the environment secretary will tell parliament this week, raising fresh questions over the government’s commitment to fighting climate change. Caroline Spelman will say she has not made a decision on whether to introduce mandatory reporting requirements on companies’ carbon emissions, missing a deadline that has been in place for the last four years." - Financial Times (£)

Revised planning guidelines to be launched by Greg Clark

CLARK GREG"Ministers will give the go ahead today for reforms to speed up development and cut through planning red tape. But after a heated dispute between the Treasury and other government departments the new document will include several concessions to protect the environment and green belt land. Councils are also expected to get up to a year to draw up their own development plans, taking into account local issues, which will anger developers." - The Times (£)

Clarke to open probation service to competition

"Ken Clarke is to propose that the £820m-a-year probation service should be opened to competition from private and third sectors in an effort to bring new skills to the government’s “revolution” in reoffending. The justice secretary is expected to announce a consultation on Tuesday, alongside a call for evidence on plans to strengthen non-custodial sentences with tougher community payback schemes and more advanced electronic tagging of offenders." - Financial Times (£)

"The west has lost in Afghanistan, and is losing in Pakistan"

"In the rush to get western troops out of Afghanistan, however, the Pakistani problem is in danger of being neglected. That too is a mistake, because the situation in Pakistan is just as frightening as when Mr Obama took power…The idea that the US is plotting to seize Pakistan’s nuclear weapons has become an obsession, both for the Pakistani media and for much of the country’s ruling class. In response, Pakistan is cranking up the production of nuclear weapons and distributing them all over the country. Given the radicalisation of opinion in the country and the amount of fissile material it is producing, the American nightmare of “loose nukes” is looking uncomfortably realistic." - Gideon Rachman, Financial Times (£)

  • Heroes shot dead by traitor at gate - The Sun

Osborne buried budget tax break for non-doms - The Guardian

Up to 50,000 migrants "exploited student visa flaw to work in UK" - BBC

Sir Malcolm Rifkind says secret trial plans are too widely drawn - The Times (£)

Eurozone firewall talk fails to quell fears - Financial Times (£)

Lord Newton, Cabinet Minister under John Major, dies - Daily Mail

Screen shot 2012-03-27 at 08.33.49
Obituary
- Daily Telegraph

And finally…Don't ask William Hague, ask William Hill: Treasury forecasters rely on odds calculated by bookmaker to assess the likelihood of another economic collapse

"In a candid admission to MPs, Professor Steve Nickell said he turned to the betting shop to find out whether Euro is likely to fail in the course of his work at the Office of Budget Responsibility…Asked whether he thought the euro was likely to fail, he told the Treasury Select Committee the department itself did not "attach probabilities". “I go and look at William Hill and they actually have the odds of these sorts of things," he said. “Last time I looked, the odds of Greece not using the euro by the end of the year were of the order of 40 per cent.” - Daily Telegraph

P.S: "Andrea Leadsom, a member of the committee, had to double check she had heard the economist correctly “Are you saying we should use the Office of Budget Responsibility and William Hill when checking the economic forecasts?” she asked. Andrew Tyrie, the chairman of the committee, was sceptical about the idea that the odds would be illuminating. “It certainly tells you what the group think is,” he said."

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26 Mar 2012 08:32:32

Newslinks for Monday 26th March 2012

10pm ToryDiary: Labour take 10% lead in ComRes poll for the first time since the election

7.15pm WATCH: Francis Maude: For 13 years Labour had the chance to reform party funding, but did nothing

5pm WATCH: David Cameron: "One of the great challenges of our time" is the "quiet crisis" of dementia

Fallon BBC DP2.45pm WATCH: Michael Fallon: "We had the trade unions directly controlling the last Labour government"

2pm ToryDiary: David Cameron announces investigation into cash for access allegations will be led by Lord Gold

1.15pm Local government: Boris publishes Transport Manifesto

Noon ConHomeUSA: Romney hits 40% for first time

11.30am ToryDiary: Where's the Party Chairman?

11am Local government: Labour councillor tweets that she hoped Thatcher had died

10.30am LISTEN: Tim Yeo: "It's clear that Britain is losing out" by not having a third Heathrow runway

ToryDiary: The victims of Cruddas-gate aren't the voters. They're the donors.

Columnist Bruce Anderson: Now Peter Cruddas has resigned, David Cameron should launch a counter-attack against Labour

J P Floru on Comment: Winning a majority with good policies for drivers

Johnson Boris CloseLocal government: Boris rules out third runway at Heathrow

WATCH:

David Cameron has lost whatever goodwill he had with the non-Tory press while offending the right-wing press on a succession of issues - Stephen Glover in The Independent

16196111Cruddasgate - The latest

  • David Cameron was engulfed in a sleaze storm last night as it emerged he and wife Samantha have hosted secret dinners in their Downing Street flat for millionaire Conservative donors - Daily Mail
  • David Cameron won't disclose Number 10 guests after donor row but Mark Field MP says he should - BBC
  • Labour demands to know who bought access to No 10 - Independent
  • Times leader (£): "Even if influence has not truly been bought, propriety and integrity have surely been sold"

Cruddasgate - The implications for funding of political parties

  • Paul Staines in The Times (£): "State funding of parties is not justifiable in these austere times and because it would lead to the corruption of incumbency, but the internet makes it easier for ordinary people to donate. Barack Obama showed that it was possible to raise tens of millions in small donations. So we should put a limit on individual, corporate and union donations of £10,000. And to make it worthwhile to give, we could make it tax deductible."
  • "[Cameron] reacted more quickly than Gordon Brown to the MP' expenses scandal and the public rewarded him for it. Now he has a chance to do the same on party funding" - Mary Ann Sieghart in The Independent
  • "British politics has failed to sort out a transparent and fair system of party funding which avoids putting parties into the hands of the rich and thus giving rise to the suspicion – perish the thought – that rich donors can get the budget written to suit themselves. Mr Cameron is not alone in this failure. But he is the man at the top. His party is the biggest beneficiary of this system. He either wants to clean up political funding by rich donors or he doesn't. Right now, he is saying one thing but doing the opposite." - Guardian leader

16196092Cruddasgate - The political implications for Cameron

  • "Millions of voters will now be wondering whether Chancellor George Osborne decided to scrap the top 50p tax rate after a few cosy lunches with millionaire backers" - The Sun
  • Tories lurching from 'one City spiv to the next in their search for a Treasurer' - Andrew Pierce in the Daily Mail
  • Cameron has a worrying track record of appointing questionable people to important jobs - Daily Mail leader
  • "Mr Cameron and George Osborne have always been nervous about projecting an image of a party led by "two posh boys". Now the cash-for-access allegations may reinforce it" - Andrew Grice in The Independent
  • "Mark Field, the Tory MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, said: “Coming so soon after a Budget dominated by the top rate of tax, this affair plays to one of the Conservatives’ biggest weaknesses: that we still look after the rich. This is untrue, but the perception of this means that Mr Cameron will have to move quickly.”" - Times (£)
  • The Cruddas fiasco, the budget, and even alcohol pricing show how hollow are the Tory leadership's claims of shared sacrifice - John Harris for The Guardian
  • "Cameron and Osborne’s performance has been true to form since the start of the year; the Conservative party needs to bring in new blood to advise the Cameroons, rather than relying so much on a small coterie of socially identikit associates and on civil servants" - Allister Heath for City AM

PHILLIPS-MELANIEThe Sunday Times sting is a reminder that we need a free and investigative press - Melanie Phillips for the Daily Mail

Poll surge for Labour as anger over Osborne's 'granny tax' grows - Daily Mail

Tim Montgomerie: Tories should consider restoring 10p tax band

"The Tory leader needs a tax policy that helps the low-paid and is associated with him rather than Nick Clegg. The restoration of the 10p tax band would be my suggestion and it could be funded by faster spending cuts." - Tim Montgomerie in The Times (£)

Jeff Randall: Lower spending not more taxation of the rich is the UK's problem

"The top one per cent of Britain’s earners account for nearly 30 per cent of all income tax receipts. They pay £45 billion a year. How much must they cough up in order to pass the decency test? 40 per cent? 50 per cent? I put this question to the Shadow Chancellor last week. He would not answer." - Jeff Randall in The Telegraph

Cameron set to tackle the stigma of dementia as he puts the crisis on the scale of HIV

"Launching a 'national challenge on dementia', Mr Cameron will set out plans to step up research into cures and treatments and to ensure that the health and social care systems are equipped to deal with the problem. Overall funding for dementia research is to reach £66 million by 2015, from £26.6 million 2010." - Daily Mail

Daniel Poulter MP: My experience as a doctor leads me to oppose making assisted suicide any easier under the law

Screen Shot 2012-03-26 at 08.34.07"A change in the law directly supporting the legalisation of assisted dying would run the risk of increasing pressure on the terminally ill and people with disabilities to end their lives... Instead of contemplating any change in the law, we should be focusing on the development of high-quality palliative care for patients and their families, to ensure that end-of-life care continues to meet the needs of the terminally ill." - Daniel Poulter MP in The Guardian

Boris Johnson promises to veto third Heathrow runway

"The Mayor said the runway would cause “intolerable traffic and fumes in the west of the city – and it will not be built as long as I am mayor of London.” The Tories ruled out the prospect of a third runway in their 2010 manifesto, but last week chancellor George Osborne used his Budget to acknowledge the need for airport expansion in the South East." - City AM

  • Tories may be on the final approach to a U-turn on Heathrow third runway - Guardian

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Cameron and Osborne execute a V-turn on their opposition to a third Heathrow runway

School playing fields will be given special protection under revised planning reforms - Telegraph

  • Lib Dems threaten rebellion over rural planning reforms - Independent

New driver-less Tube trains will lead to cheaper tickets and challenge the power of “hardline union bosses”, promises Boris Johnson - The Telegraph

Equality campaigners warn that localised pay will hurt women - Independent

What should an industrial policy look like? - Michael Heseltine in The Times (£)

Francis Maude says Coalition has learnt lessons from last petrol tankers dispute - The Sun

Theresa May plans crackdown on sham marriages as backdoor way of entering UK - Express

Ruth Davidson's dithering is not helping protect the Union - Brian Monteith for The Scotsman

  • An independent Scotland could face the prospect of checks at its border with England, Home Secretary Theresa May has warned - BBC

Leadsom Andrea March 2012The Fresh Start group of Tory MPs, led by Andrea Leadsom MP, is urging David Cameron to consider battery of measures to prevent Britain’s financial services sector being hobbled by EU legislation - FT (£)

  • South Korea/ EU trade deal 'may bring £500m to UK economy' - BBC

70 MPs have received iPads on expenses – at a cost to taxpayers of at least £28,000 - Daily Mail

David Miliband says he has the "humility" to realise that his return to frontline politics would be bad for Labour - BBC

Bomb Iran and it will surely decide to pursue nuclear arms - Mehdi Hasan for The Guardian

And finally... Cameron is more of a hare than a tortoise

"Mr Cameron tore away from the rest of the field like an Olympic sprinter, leaving his wife, daughter and son trailing in his wake. But the ill-advised start swiftly caught up with him as like the proverbial hare he was overtaken by more sensibly paced runners, including some young children, eventually wheezing across the finish line in a time of 11 minutes." - Telegraph

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25 Mar 2012 09:06:19

Newslinks for Sunday 25th March 2012

7.15pm WATCH: Ed Miliband: "These are very disturbing revelations... it's no way to run a government or a political party"

4.15pm WATCH: David Cameron: "I'll make sure there's a proper Party inquiry to make sure this can't happen again"

3.45pm ToryDiary: Cameron appoints Maude and Feldman to lead on urgent cross-party talks over political funding

Pledgebj

2.15pm ToryDiary: Boris signs the People's Pledge for an In/Out EU referendum

1.15pm ToryDiary: The Government's planning reforms look like another policy that will anger the Tory grassroots

10.30am ToryDiary: Cameron and and Osborne execute a V-turn on their opposition to a third Heathrow runway. Zac Goldsmith threatens to quit. What will Justine Greening do?

ToryDiary: Tory Treasurer resigns in donorgate row.  Cameron must act quickly and introduce strict new caps on donations to political parties

Columnist Nadine Dorries MP: There is no evidence to back the Chancellor's repeal of Sunday trading laws. He should leave them alone.

Screen shot 2012-03-21 at 17.42.22Chris Skidmore MP on Comment: History is becoming a dead subject in schools. It must be brought back to life.

Also on Comment - Lord Ashcroft: The bravery of our "forgotten" VC hero must be remembered as we mark the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War

Richard Ashworth MEP on MPsETC: Don't pre-judge me, don't pigeon-hole me

Local government: Haringey Council's grip on local schools breaking up

WATCH: Conservative co-Treasurer Peter Cruddas accused of selling access to the Prime Minister

Peter Cruddas, Conservative co-Treasurer, resigns after being accused by the Sunday Times of selling access to the Prime Minister to £250,000 donors

  • "In a statement Mr Cruddas said... "[I]t was categorically not the case that I could offer, or that David Cameron would consider, any access as a result of a donation. Similarly, I have never knowingly even met anyone from the number ten policy unit. But in order to make that clear beyond doubt, I have regrettably decided to resign with immediate effect.”" - Sunday Telegraph
  • Screen Shot 2012-03-25 at 00.30.56"Cruddas told the financiers their cash would be the key to a secret world of soirees with Cameron at private venues which might include No 10 and even Chequers... They would be allowed to ask the prime minister “practically any question that you want”... and their views would be fed into the Downing Street policy machine... He added: “When we talk about your donations, the first thing we want to do is get you at the Cameron and Osborne dinners.” Asked what they needed to give, Cruddas said: “Minimum 100 grand a year.” He went on: “Hundred grand is not premier league. It’s not bad. It’s probably bottom of the premier league. Two hundred grand, 250 is premier league.”" - Sunday Times (£)
  • The Party denies any wrongdoing: "No donation was ever accepted or even formally considered by the Conservative Party. All donations to the Conservative Party have to comply with the requirements of electoral law. These are strictly enforced by our compliance department." - A statement from a Party spokesman via ITV

Sack the treasurer and clean up lobbying - Sunday Times editorial (£)

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Sunday Times says Tory donor invites donors to buy meetings with Prime Minister for £250,000

Ministers admit: we got it wrong on third runway at Heathrow

Screen shot 2012-03-25 at 08.34.08"[B]oth David Cameron and George Osborne have been convinced of the need to act – and re-examine long-term policy on Heathrow – after being lobbied by overseas leaders and business figures who warn that trade will move elsewhere in the EU unless the airport is expanded. While the coalition agreement rules out a third runway at Heathrow... many Tories now want the party to admit the decision was wrong and back the new runway in the manifesto for the next general election." - Observer

  • "Mr Cameron once insisted that protecting the environment and promoting the economy were not in conflict. Whatever happened to his brave vision of green growth?" - Independent on Sunday

Osborne's four-letter rant at Clegg over the "granny tax" backlash

"A furious George Osborne swore at Nick Clegg and blamed him for the Budget backlash over the "granny tax", it was revealed last night. The Chancellor exploded in anger at the Deputy Prime Minister in a heated confrontation, forcing David Cameron to intervene and act as peacemaker. At one point, Mr Osborne is said to have referred to the ‘f****** Lib Dems’." - Mail on Sunday

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: 

Iain Martin: After this Budget, George Osborne's reputation has taken a serious knock

MARTIN IAIN"The Chancellor’s reputation as master strategist and political genius, always wildly overdone at Westminster, has taken a knock. “His share price has peaked,” said a Tory MP. Others are also using the language of the market to describe the decline in his fortunes. A minister said some of his colleagues are “selling shares in George”." - Iain Martin for the Sunday Telegraph

Other Sunday columnists weigh in:

  • George Osborne is victimising those who represent the quintessence of Conservative values - Janet Daley
  • "Osborne has fixed the Conservatives as the party of the rich. The Tories were set to win a majority at the next election. Now they are not. The Budget was as disastrous as that." - John Rentoul
  • Forget granny tax, George knows that only jobs matter - James Forsyth
  • Everyone will suffer in this painful realignment of the relationship between the state and the citizen - Matthew d'Ancona
  • A gambler’s budget that may just work - Sunday Times editorial (£)
  • The Chancellor shows a lack of fellow feeling for the people who will pay most - Sunday Telegraph editorial
  • This disgraceful budget smacks of incompetence and cowardice - Will Hutton
  • It's not enough for Labour to call the Tories the party of the rich - Andrew Rawnsley

> From yesterday on Comment:

Ministers plan major immigration crackdown

May Theresa Home Office
"Theresa May... is planning a major immigration crackdown on tens of thousands of people who "abuse" family visas to settle in Britain, according to a leaked cabinet letter. The letter from Mrs May to Nick Clegg... proposes a tough new minimum income of £25,700 a year for anyone seeking to bring a spouse, partner or dependant to the UK from outside the European Union from June - almost double the current threshold of £13,700. The minimum income would rise dramatically - up to £62,600 - if children are also brought in." - Sunday Telegraph

  • Patient care "will suffer" under plans to throw out migrant nurses - Observer
  • Theresa May will not cut immigration by half, but her proposals ought to diminish it significantly - Sunday Telegraph editorial

We'll speed up the rate of change in schools, says Gove

"The Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, gave a warning yesterday that the pace of his school reforms would accelerate despite claims from headteachers that they will provoke a "climate of fear" in classrooms. Mr Gove told the annual conference of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) in Birmingham: "Lest anyone think we should slacken the pace of reform, let me reassure them: we have to accelerate."" - Independent on Sunday

Ruth Davidson in "join me" plea to rival parties

Screen shot 2012-03-25 at 08.57.36"Ruth Davidson has called on her opponents to put their differences aside and join forces to campaign for the Union. She told her party's conference the Tories must come together with Labour and the Lib Dems, ahead of the forthcoming independence referendum. Ms Davidson said the SNP's Alex Salmond was neglecting Scotland's problems, in favour of ensuring a "Yes" vote." - BBC

  • "The reality is that the Scottish Conservatives are a fringe party with delusions of grandeur, of representing, as Davidson put it, the silent majority." - Scottish Herald

> From yesterday - WATCH: David Mundell MP: Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson "will turn round our fortunes"

Soldiers stand by to drive petrol tankers as part of contingency plans to stop a strike plunging Britain into chaos

"Emergency plans for soldiers to drive petrol tankers to stop a threatened strike plunging Britain into chaos have been drawn up by the Government. The contingency plans are aimed at preventing a repeat of the turmoil caused by protesting lorry drivers when Tony Blair was Prime Minister. The results of a strike ballot of Britain’s 2,000 tanker drivers will be announced tomorrow – and both Ministers and well-placed sources in the drivers’ union Unite believe they will vote in favour of a walkout starting on April 3." - Mail on Sunday

Mrs Thatcher: I wish I'd never gone into politics

ThatcherNoTurningBack
"Baroness Thatcher told friends she would have never entered politics had she known the devastating impact it would have on her family, according to a new book. The former Tory prime minister confided in Sir Michael Spicer that she wouldn't go into politics because of "what it does to your family". ... Sir Michael recalls going to see Lady Thatcher at her "grand offices" off the King's Road... "She says she doesn't want to make a speech about Europe at all this year. Then as I get up to leave she says, "If I had my time again, I wouldn't go into politics because of what it does to your family."" - Independent on Sunday

  • The Spicer Diaries: "A Tory toff? My attitude is that you are what you are" - Sunday Telegraph

David Cameron accused of handing Alex Salmond a propaganda coup by giving Scotland an independent web address - Mail on Sunday

New row over abortion counselling - Sunday Telegraph

The Green Belt will be more tightly protected under new regulations

"Ministers will pledge that there will be no extra development on the protected land around towns and cities despite a radical relaxation of planning laws elsewhere. ... the document will contain reassurances about the green belt. There will be rules to prevent the abuse of the planning system by travellers, who often establish sites on the green belt that can take years to remove." - Sunday Times (£)

  • Ministers to unveil crackdown on illegal travellers' sites - Sunday Telegraph

Zac Goldsmith has praised Ed Miliband for his call to transform capitalism after the financial crisis - Sunday Times (£)

Chris Leslie becomes the 10th member of Ed Miliband’s opposition team to benefit from the financial support of PricewaterhouseCoopers - Sunday Telegraph

MI5 investigating after three attempted break-ins at Ed Miliband's office - Sunday Mirror

David Miliband: The Chancellor's "masochistic strategy" hurting economy

David Miliband"George Osborne is pursuing a "masochistic strangulation strategy" which is to blame for Britain's poor economic growth, David Miliband has said as he offered a strong endorsement of Labour's attack on the coalition's deficit reduction plan. In an appearance at the Guardian's Open Weekend, the former foreign secretary said the chancellor has joined forces with other centre-right European leaders to embrace a "pre-Keynesian economic theory"." - Observer

> Yesterday on MPsETC: Labour wouldn't reverse the 50p cut, and all parties agreed it was temporary: Tory MPs note Labour's opportunism

Britain has no aircraft carrier and new ones won’t be ready for years. Worse, ministers don’t even know what type of fighter will fly from them - Sunday Times (£)

Laziest members of House of Lords will be at front of queue for the chop under plans to move towards elected chamber - Observer

MPs' expenses receipts to stay secret, IPSA rules - Sunday Telegraph

Assisted dying policy put to Commons vote - Observer

Donate to charity with every visit to a cash machine under Big Society plan - Sunday Telegraph

Plans for Scottish rural parliament - BBC

"Voters have emphatically ended Labor's rule in Queensland, effectively reducing the trounced government to the status of minor party." - Sydney Morning Herald

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24 Mar 2012 09:01:25

Newslinks for Saturday 24th March 2012

Screen Shot 2012-03-25 at 00.30.56Midnight ToryDiary: Cameron must act quickly and introduce strict new caps on donations to political parties

10.45pm ToryDiary: Sunday Times says Tory donor invites donors to buy meetings with Prime Minister for £250,000

9pm ToryDiary: Voters oppose the "granny tax" and 50p rate cut, but back raising the income tax threshold for lower earners 10pm updated with YouGov figures

5.45pm MPsETC: Labour wouldn't reverse the 50p cut, and all parties agreed it was temporary: Tory MPs note Labour's opportunism

4pm Ben Howlett on Comment: The Chancellor's Budget will help to create an aspirational society for young people

6a00d83451b31c69e201675fd6b15b970b-500wi2.15pm ToryDiary: Boris distances himself from the Budget, and proposes a London-only early intervention scheme

11.30am LeftWatch: Leading Conservative columnist comes out against Boris Johnson

10.30am WATCH: William Hague: "We're not expecting Mrs Assad to try to travel to the United Kingdom at the moment"

ToryDiary: A defence of the 'Granny Tax'

Building a Conservative Majority (14): A new Party Chairman with the authority to rethink Tory electoral strategy

FLIGHT Howard 2Lord Flight on Comment: The Budget represented a very modest step in the right direction to regaining Britain's competitiveness

Also on Comment - Peter Young: The HMRC's report into the former 50p rate provides the evidence for substantial tax cuts

MPsETC: The Parliamentary Diary of Gavin Barwell MP reflects on the Queen's visit and a 'Budget for work'

Also on MPsETC: Sir John Stanley MP announces his retirement

Local government: Conservatives pick local entrepreneur as candidate for Mayor of Liverpool

WATCH: David Mundell MP: Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson "will turn round our fortunes"

David Cameron "increasingly confident" he will win Scottish independence referendum

Cameron IV on green"David Cameron is growing increasingly confident the UK government will win its battle for a single-question referendum asking the Scottish people to simply vote Yes or No to independence. The Scotsman has learned the Prime Minister is prepared to let the SNP delay the poll until its preferred date of October 2014 in the knowledge he will win the crucial argument in favour one straightforward question. Senior No 10 sources suggest Mr Cameron’s belief that he will outflank Alex Salmond on the framing of the ballot paper has been bolstered by the SNP’s cave-in on the Scotland Bill." - Scotsman

Scottish Conservative conference news roundup

  • Davidson ruth"Scottish Conservatives are being urged to offer "no compromises" to the SNP in their battle to keep the Union. The rallying call will come in Ruth Davidson's first speech to the party's conference since becoming leader." - BBC
  • Cameron gives Scots Tories a dressing down - Alan Cochrane
  • "David Cameron has pledged the Conservatives will “fight with everything we’ve got” to keep the United Kingdom together, as he launched a broadside against Scotland’s First Minister yesterday telling him to “stop dithering and start delivering” on the independence referendum." - Yorkshire Post
  • Cameron’s familiar patter is unlikely to win new converts - Scotsman editorial
  • "Home Secretary Theresa May will claim today that independence would leave Scotland open to mass immigration, when she addresses delegates at the Scottish Conservative conference. The claim, which drew an angry response from the SNP, will be made on the final day of the Troon event, which will also see new Scottish leader Ruth Davidson’s first address to conference." - Scotsman
  • David Trimble: Scottish nationalists 'doing violence' to identity of Scots - Guardian

Some Tories question Obsorne's handling of the Budget after "granny tax" receives bad press

Osborne Number11"Senior... MPs yesterday expressed anger over George Osborne's Budget raid on pensioners suggesting the Chancellor had been politically inept in his handling of the issue... MPs, normally supportive of Mr Osborne, questioned his strategy of trying to portray the freeze in pension allowances "simplifying the tax system". They said while they were broadly supportive of the substance of the policy... its presentation had been botched, resulting in two days of bad headlines for the Government." - Independent

  • How George Osborne 'fast-forwarded' his granny tax - Daily Telegraph
  • "[T]o attack the living standards and general circumstances of retired people who own their own homes and have savings or pensions income is not just morally wrong, but economically toxic as well." - Daily Express editorial

Continued newspaper criticism of Osborne's Budget

  • "But it leaves, you may have noticed, one major group of victims – not the retired, but the ever-growing, soon-to-be five million strong band of people who pay 40 per cent income tax at the newly reduced threshold of just over £41,000. They found no voice in the counsels of the Coalition. Their plight is a perfect illustration of why, unless cuts can really be made and growth can really be found, no Budget just now can take us much further forward." - Charles Moore
  • Treasury's ignorance about the higher tax threshold is astounding - Patrick O'Flynn
  • "The more George Osborne’s Budget speech is dissected and picked over, the more damaging to him and the Coalition it seems to be." - Simon Heffer
  • George Osborne’s green shoots appear to have wilted - Geoffrey Lean
  • Budget for the wealthy that exposes Tories’ fatal flaw - Andrew Grice
  • "As the Mail has said, there are many laudable measures in the Budget, such as the reduction in corporation tax and raising the threshold for income tax. However, it was a terrible miscalculation to pay for these policies by picking the pockets of pensioners, churches, charities, stay-at-home mothers and the aspirational – rather than by slashing spending by State bureaucracies which continue to squander billions on job-destroying quangos and gimmickry." - Daily Mail editorial

> From yesterday:

Tim Montgomerie: George Osborne cannot be both Chancellor and chief strategist for the Conservative Party. Michael Gove should be appointed Party Chairman

"Who could be a powerful party chairman for Mr Cameron? Someone who enjoys both his confidence and also Mr Osborne’s. Someone effective in the media. Someone in tune with MPs and the grassroots. Someone who understands the striving class who are, at best, lukewarm about the current Conservative Party. Someone with the brains to devise a plan to win two million more votes. Someone with the courage to question if the current Tory strategy relies too much on the frailties of Ed Miliband as it once relied on the frailties of Gordon Brown. Step forward Michael Gove." - Tim Montgomerie (£)

Hundreds of thousands ‘will get caught’ in 40p tax net

"The hundreds of thousands of people who will be sucked into the 40p tax bracket in the coming years will find it impossible to use the range of sophisticated avoidance measures routinely exploited by the wealthy, tax experts have warned." - Independent

George Osborne must clarify income, says Ed Miliband

Miliband Ed Purple"Ed Miliband has challenged George Osborne to “come clean” over his income after the Chancellor insisted he did not earn enough to benefit from a lowered top rate of tax... the Labour leader suggested Mr Osborne had “a good accountant” and warned that, although he had no details of the Chancellor’s arrangements, he must “account for his own situation”." - Daily Telegraph

> From yesterday - WATCH: Channel 4's Michael Crick investigates whether George Osborne is a 50p taxpayer

Minimum alcohol pricing measures seen as an attempt to bury bad Budget news

  • "David Cameron was accused yesterday of rushing out the Government's strategy to combat binge drinking, to distract attention from unfavourable media coverage of the Budget. His plan for a minimum price of 40p a unit for alcohol, which will raise drink prices in supermarkets and off-licences, was due to be published on Monday. It was brought forward to yesterday amid mounting criticism of the so-called "granny tax"" - Independent
  • Tory MPs blast 40p minimum for booze - The Sun
  • Minimum alcohol price rushed through to deflect budget criticism, says Labour - Guardian
  • Drinks companies threaten legal action over Prime Minister's assault on cheap alcohol, claiming it 'breaks EU law' - Daily Mail
  • Government-controlled pricing for alcohol is just stupid - and depressing coming from a Tory prime minister - Graeme Archer

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Cameron claims minimum price for alcohol could save 9,000 lives over next decade

Ken Clarke wants to let serious offenders be able to wipe their criminal record clean

"The soft-touch Justice Secretary wants to change the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act to let more serious criminals wipe the slate clean. Anyone jailed for between 30 months and four years will have their offences struck from their criminal record after seven years. Those currently jailed for more than 30 months have it on their record until they die. It means they have to alert potential employers when they apply for a job." - The Sun

Boris wants "strategic oversight" of London's schools to prevent the riots happening again

  • Johnson Boris Copenhagen"Johnson, who has already launched an inquiry into the state of the capital's education, told the Guardian on Friday that he believed some schools in London were "chillingly bad", adding that it was unacceptable to have 55% of young black men unemployed." - Guardian
  • "Mayor distances himself from Budget" - Evening Standard
  • London mayor takes no credit for helping cut the 50p tax rate - Guardian
  • Boris deputy to be asked about pressure on police - Independent

"Ministers could take back control of more than 100 laws on crime and policing from the EU, it has emerged." - The Sun

The Prime Minister backs calls to rename Big Ben landmark Elizabeth Tower after the Queen - Daily Mail

> Yesterday on MPsETC: Tobias Ellwood MP campaigns for Parliament's Big Ben Tower to be renamed for Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Google 'operates a magic roundabout' of tax avoidance in Britain, says Charlie Elphicke MP - Daily Telegraph

Douglas Alexander: Labour could form coalition with Lib Dems after next election - Daily Telegraph

Labour attacks £500m NHS budget clawback - Guardian

Jonathan Freedland: I've backed Ken Livingstone for mayor before, but due to his attitude towards Jews, this time I just can't do it

LIVINGSTONE KEN@DEMO"I can no longer do what I and others did in 2008, putting to one side the statements, insults and gestures that had offended me, my fellow Jews and – one hopes – every Londoner who abhors prejudice. Back then I tried to shrug off Livingstone's quip to property developers the Reuben brothers that they could "go back to Iran and see if they can do better under the ayatollahs", even though telling immigrants to go back to where they came from is the language of a pub racist from the 1950s." - Jonathan Freedland

Brussels offers Britain €7.7bn to adopt financial transactions tax

"The European Commission has tried to entice David Cameron into adopting the controversial financial transactions tax (FTT) by pledging to cut Britain's contributions to Brussels by €7.7bn (£6.4bn). In a move that has astounded British MEPs, Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the EC, announced that the levy could halve European Union members' contributions." - Daily Telegraph

Rewritten planning laws 'ease concerns’

Countryside"A new definition of “sustainable development” will offer more balance between economic, environmental and heritage issues. A requirement that building should go ahead on “brownfield” land ahead of “greenfield” will also be made more explicit." - Daily Telegraph

300,000 oppose gay marriage in biggest petition since election - Daily Telegraph

Aircraft carrier costs will be half what you think, US tells ministers - Daily Telegraph

And finally... So, you think you're having a bad hair day? Meet the inch-long 'Cow Killer Ant' with a Boris Johnson barnet - Daily Mail

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