5pm Conservative News Links

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Three LibDem wins - marriage tax break, university access, Abu Qatada - lead our 5pm links



(1) The U-turn on tax breaks for married couples shows the Lib Dems are still throwing their scanty weight around - Nick Wood

(2) Appointment of Les Ebdon as universities access tsar: "Vince Cable has been given the green light to give a top job to an academic who champions "Mickey Mouse" courses - after Downing Street admitted they won't block it. The move will anger MPs, who have blasted the Business Secretary's decision to make Professor Les Ebdon a university watchdog." - From The Sun's Kevin Schofield

(3) And Abu Qatada: "Clegg’s party, while proclaiming its devotion to civil liberties, has ended up in the paradoxical position of protecting a Muslim zealot who despises everything about western freedom, whether it be democracy or gay rights.  In the name of tolerance, the Lib Dems are promoting the most savage form of intolerance." - Leo McKinstry


Downing Street insists it is still looking at possibility of deporting Abu Qatada - Telegraph

But, warns Ben Brogan, has Cameron raised expectations but overpromised?

"Sixty of Britian’s best cops will have to watch terror chief Abu Qatada when he is freed from jail today – at a cost of £10,000 a week to the taxpayer. The eye watering price for the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling is revealed by London Mayor Boris Johnson, who also heaped more pressure on the PM to overrule it and send the cleric straight back to Jordan." - The Sun's Tom Newton-Dunn


  • Reacting to Abu Qatada's release, Robert Halfon MP says UK should suspend ECHR membership until Court returns to its founding principles - ConHome Audio
  • Peter Bone MP quoted by The Guardian: "Send him back to Jordan and worry about the consequences of the European Court later. Other countries have done this in the past: Italy's done it, they put their national interests first. They put the interests of saving the lives of men, women, and children in Italy before the so called rights of an extremist terrorist and nothing really happened to Italy and I think we can take a leaf out of what the Italians did and we should act in that way. Send him home."
  • Nadine Dorries MP tweets: "Can anyone enlighten? What's the worst thing the ECHR will do to us if we send Abu Quatada straight to Jordan? Kick us out? #bringiton"

Salmond Alex Blue TieScottish independence referendum

  • Scottish Secretary Michael Moore meets Alex salmond to discuss timing of independence referendum, number of questions and whether 16 and 17 year-olds should be able to vote - BBC
  • David Cameron will travel to Scotland on Thursday for talks with Alex Salmond about the independence referendum - Guardian
  • Salmond claims ‘modest progress’ made in talks with Moore - Scotsman
  • Norman Tebbit points out that the rest of the UK might have to rejoin the EU (if it wanted to) if Scotland broke up the UK.

NHS Bill

CleggNickDeclaringClegg backs Lansley: "Andrew Lansley is the architect of the NHS bill. He cares passionately about the NHS. He's the right man for the job and he must see it through" - Quoted by the BBC

  • Downing Street spokesman insists ministers are fully supportive of Andrew Lansley - Independent
  • Clegg is the poacher who did much to hinder the NHS Bill last year but is now a gamekeeper who may be damaged by its continued progress - Pete Hoskin

Cameron and Clegg order review of public sector bonuses - ConHome video

"Cabinet ministers have been ordered to carry out a review of bonus structures in their departments and associated quangos as David Cameron seeks to prevent further public anger over “excessive” rewards in the public sector. Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, and Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, have written to all government departments asking them to examine their bonus structures." - FT (£)

Labour has 12% lead over Labour in London but Boris has 2% lead over Ken - UK Polling Report


- New Statesman graph

Harry Phibbs: "Factors which may have shifted support to Boris in the last month include the cut in the Council Tax precept, diminishing trust in Livingstone's pledge to cut fares and offence at Livingstone's remark about the Conservatives being "riddled" with gays."

Guido thinks Boris' big lead among older voters means he's more likely to get out the vote.

Full poll at the London Evening Standard. The newspapers leader-writers comment: "Mr Livingstone leads his rival on three out of four critical issues. But remarkably, fewer than half of those surveyed, 44 per cent, believe that Ken Livingstone would deliver on his campaign promises."

The Economist on expensive London.


  • Nick Clegg is urging firms to join a £1bn government scheme offering them cash to take on and train young people - BBC
  • Project Merlin has received a considerable blow after it was revealed the top five banks missed their targets for lending to small businesses - Metro | Douglas Carswell MP
  • Russian-born oil billionaire donated £8,500 to Conservatives - Telegraph
  • Civil war inside The Sun as Trevor Kavanagh takes on Rupert Murdoch's managers - Roy Greenslade
  • German Finance Minister supports Greek default, but Merkel does not - Open Europe