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31 Oct 2005 07:57:02

Monday 31st October 2005

Scotsman | Guardian 

Fox News | RealClearPolitics

If you haven't visited over the last 48 hours catch up on the weekend's news by clicking here for Saturday and here for Sunday.


Leadership blog: David Cameron's support amongst MPs reaches 100 (half of the parliamentary party) plus Oliver Letwin emerges as powerful force within the Cameron campaign as the frontrunner embraces his ideas on independent verification of carbon reductions.

Commentators Blog: John Leo on how the Deaniacs are today's McGovernites.


Jackie Ashley examines the Cameron-as-heir-to-Blair speculation: "One doesn't usually think of Tony Blair as a man with a devilish sense of humour. But unless reports from those close to him are wide of the mark, we had better start hoping so. For the message is going forth from Downing Street that he would prefer anyone but Gordon Brown to be his successor - and yes, that may even include a moderate, centre-right David Cameron, who seems to be emerging as an identikit Blair and has privately described himself as "Blair's heir". It is a joke, surely, mere tail-tweaking malice by messengers bitter about the chancellor. Or is it evidence that when Blair talks of legacy, and the need for a new consensus, he is now looking beyond Labour?" (Guardian)


BlunkettGuardian: "David Blunkett invested £15,000 in a DNA testing firm last spring to help pay the huge legal bills incurred in his paternity battle with Kimberly Quinn, the mother of his infant son, it emerged last night, as Conservative MPs demanded his resignation from the Blair cabinet.  In the wake of reports that he failed to seek advice from one of Lord Nolan's standards committees on his relationship with the private company, DNA Bioscience, the works and pensions secretary won No 10's backing, though some Labour MPs and ministers were uneasy."

Times: "The leader of the Scottish Conservatives appeared to be in deepening political trouble last night in the row over his parliamentary expenses after a survey of key party figures showed that more than one third wanted him to resign.  A newspaper survey of 59 Scottish Tory constituency party chairmen found that only just over half — 58 per cent — thought that David McLetchie should lead the party into the 2007 Holyrood elections.  According to the poll, 23 per cent believe that he should resign immediately, 11 per cent think the party should have a new leader before 2007 and 8 per cent are undecided."


Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail: "Since Dr Andrew Wakefield first triggered the furore over a possible link between autism, bowel disease and the measles, mumps and rubella triple jab in 1998, the controversy has never died away. Now a study by the respected Cochrane Library has said, on the basis of 31 pieces of research into the possible side effects of MMR, that it found no association between MMR and autism... This is a load of old baloney. [People] should start by reading the actual study rather than lazily recycling the press release. For the study didn’t say anything like this at all."

The Morning Star reviews Geoffrey Wheatcroft's The Strange Death of Tory England.

OTHER NEWS "Labour MPs will today discuss the government's plan to replace the Trident  nuclear weapons system at a meeting of the parliamentary party.  MPs have tabled a motion questioning "the wisdom of spending billions on Trident replacement"."

Telegraph: "The United States military has for the first time admitted that it is keeping records of Iraqi deaths as it disclosed that it estimates 26,000 to have been killed or injured by insurgents since January last year."

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30 Oct 2005 00:56:36

Sunday 30th October 2005

Sunday_73.30pm UPDATE

Michael Gove MP on the Platform Blog: It's the economy, stupid

Leadership blog: Tax remains central battleground on Sunday TV


Leadership blog: Many Cornerstone MPs likely to back David Cameron


BBCi: "Three-quarters of Conservative party members plan to vote for David Cameron in the party's leadership election, a new BBC poll suggests.  Mr Cameron had the support of 76% of party members questioned with 24% planning to back rival David Davis."  The survey is based on only 215 party members, however.

Johnson_borisIndependent on Sunday: "'Spectator' editor tells 'Desert Island Discs' he'll quit to spend more time with David Cameron."

The Business: "The leadership contest has reinvigorated the party and even caught the attention of the nation. The likely winner, David Cameron, will be the first Tory leader in a generation not to induce widespread nausea and cries of “pass the sick bag”. Of course, he is something of a blank canvas, on which Tories are doodling their own prejudices; that accounts for his popularity... At some stage in the next couple of years he will have to convince voters that he has substance as well as style; and he will need to surround himself with meritocratic brains rather than social exclusivity. If he does both, the Tories will head for the next election in better shape than any election since their landslide victory of 1987."

Sunday Times: "David Davis yesterday tried to grab back some support from David Cameron in the contest for the Tory leadership by outlining plans to create 20 new grammar schools in deprived city areas."

David Davis tells Scotland on Sunday that he favours a 3% tartan tax cut from Scotland's Tories.

McletchieAlso in Scotland on Sunday: "The Scottish Tories closed ranks yesterday behind party leader David McLetchie, giving him public backing in the long-running controversy over his parliamentary taxi expenses."

The Observer: "'Ken Clarke hasn't had a good year against the thirtysomethings, and you can quote me on that,' says Stefan Allesch-Taylor with a smirk. The 36-year-old City financier, three years younger than Tory leadership contender David Cameron, is leading a campaign to have Clarke removed from the chair of Savoy Asset Management which he has held since 2000. Allesch-Taylor will lay into Clarke's management record at an extraordinary general meeting on Tuesday."


First Cabinet disagreements over education policy erupted into the public domain... then disagreements over smoking... now welfare reform: "War has broken out between David Blunkett and Tony Blair over demands to toughen the government's crackdown on sickness benefit, causing a dramatic escalation of the power struggles ravaging the cabinet... Blunkett has repeatedly promised disabled people they would be helped, rather than forced, back to work, but Number 10 is understood to be arguing that his plans for welfare reform do not go far enough. " (The Observer)

Andrew Rawnsley: "Tony Blair consulted his closest allies about his plan to pre-announce his intention to retire. The great majority of the Prime Minister's friends told him that it was the most idiotic idea he had ever come up with... They warned him that he would turn himself into a self-lamed duck. He might think that declaring he would not fight another election would allow him to be his own man; everyone else would take it as an invitation to engage in a free-for-all."


Fraser Nelson in The Business: "Shouldn’t Iran be just a little nervous to have 120,000 American and British troops next door to them? Everything we have seen from Ahmadinejad suggests he thinks that the West is on the wane. He may be right. President Bush is facing a domestic crisis and his foreign policy is to pull troops out of Iraq as soon as is decent. Iraq has also hurt Blair, who can barely force his Cabinet to agree a smoking ban."

The Australian: "Evidence is accumulating that using illicit drugs, be it all-organic cannabis or fashionably edgy methamphetamines can mean madness, literally. In South Australia chief criminal psychiatrist Craig Raeside tracked 2000 prisoners over 10 years. He found 61 per cent of marijuana users among them, 71 per cent of amphetamine consumers and a staggering 95 per cent of people in prison who have used heroin had mental illnesses."

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29 Oct 2005 08:32:13

Saturday 29th October 2005


Leadership blog: Another YouGov survey boosts David Cameron plus David Davis promises twenty new grammar schools for the inner cities


Times: "David Davis accused his Tory leadership rival David Cameron of being “equivocal” on tax cuts yesterday.  As the contest was thrown open to party members, Mr Cameron told the Shadow Home Secretary that his promise of tax savings worth £1,200 to the average family was “not sensible” so far from a general election.

Interview with David Davis in The Telegraph: "A Conservative government led by David Davis would make it a priority to reverse Labour's £5 billion-a-year tax grab on pension funds.  Mr Davis, interviewed in The Daily Telegraph today, said that Gordon Brown's raid on pensions was one of the "great scandals of the last decade - we have to look how to put that right"."

The Independent: "David Davis has told the Tories not to be afraid of saying things the voters do not yet want to hear as he resurrected the party's debate over tax cuts.  "We must recognise that controversy is our friend, not our enemy," he told a mixed audience of activists and undergraduates at London University yesterday. "If you stand up again and again for what you think, people begin to realise that you really mean it.""


YouGov survey in The Daily Telegraph: "According to YouGov's latest survey for The Daily Telegraph, four times as many voters think David Cameron would boost the Tories' chances of winning the next election as think the same of David Davis."

Mcintosh_1The Times on Anne McIntosh MP's Property Protection Bill "Residents would be allowed to use greater force against burglars under proposals launched by the Conservatives yesterday.  Under a Tory Private Member’s Bill, only those who used “grossly disproportionate force” against an intruder would be liable for prosecution.  It is the third attempt in the past two years to change the law on how far residents can go to protect themselves against intruders. The previous two attempts were blocked by the Government, and yesterday Fiona MacTaggart, the Home Office minister, said that it would quash this attempt too."

Telegraph: "Sir Malcolm, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said that since 1997 the amount of household income saved each year had been cut by almost half, from nearly 10 per cent to around 5.5 per cent.  His Rights of Savers Bill would create a new Savings and Retirement Account, or SaRa, which would be available for people to save long-term in a simple, single pensions pot."


BushflagTimes leader: "It would be premature to assume that Mr Bush’s days of effectiveness are over. Republicans still hold majorities on Capitol Hill. A sound Supreme Court nominee to replace the witless Harriet Miers would rebuild bridges with the Right. Neither is Mr Bush’s legacy necessarily lost. Iraq is soon to elect its first government. The US economy is growing at a healthy lick. Mr Bush will survive “Miers-Plame-Libby-DeLay-gate”. But to prosper, he needs to recapture his authority, and quickly."

In today's Guardian James Harkin offers a sceptical looks at The Wisdom Of Crowds idea - defined here within conservativehome's dictionary.

Michael Crichton reviews five books that question conventional wisdom on the environment (Wall Street Journal).


BBCi: "The Iraq war and its aftermath cost the UK almost £3.1bn up to the end of March this year, new figures from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) reveal."


The Independent lists "The top 10 gadgets we'll be lusting after in 2006"

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28 Oct 2005 08:29:20

Friday 28th October 2005

Afternoon updates on the Leadership blog: David Cameron is put on the back foot over tax  while Daniel Finkelstein of The Times takes issue with me (your editor!).


Davis_david_pointing_1The Leadership blog welcomes the Davis campaign's £1,200 tax cut plan.

Paul Goodman MP on the Platform blog commends David Davis' tax cut pledge.


Telegraph: "David Davis will seek today to portray himself as the true champion of time-honoured Conservative tax-cutting values by unveiling £38 billion of tax cuts."

A Telegraph leader gives Nick Herbert MP the credit for David Davis tax cut pledge and ends like this: "For Mr Davis now openly to avow the desire for radical reform shows a boldness in economic policy that was lacking in Michael Howard's strategy, and is also lacking in that of Mr Davis's rival, David Cameron.  Where Mr Davis falls short, of course, is in his presentation and leadership. He has, hitherto, failed to convey the stature needed to lead the Conservative Party from opposition to government. Brave policy is half the battle: good leadership is the other."

The Guardian notes David Cameron's economic priorities - which were discussed on the Leadership blog yesterday.

Blue_boyThe Economist discusses class and politics: "Mr Cameron's background as an Etonian son of a stockbroker who married a baronet's daughter is harder to shake off than Mr Blair's. But he, too, has portrayed himself as an ordinary man who just happened to have a privileged upbringing. Cartoonists have drawn him as the “Blue Boy,” an 18th-century painting by Gainsborough of a young aristocrat in a lacy collar, and also as a country squire, striding around in tweed. Mr Cameron has responded by telling people that he drives a cheap car and prefers beer to champagne."

BBCi: "Householders and shopkeepers would be given the right to use greater force against burglars, under proposals to be introduced by a Conservative MP.  Anne McIntosh's Private Members Bill is the third attempt to change the law after the idea was put forward by listeners to BBC Radio 4's Today."

EUROPE SUMMIT "Reaching an agreement on the European budget by the December deadline will be a "tall order", Tony Blair has told reporters."

The Times on Gerhard Schroeder Versus Tony Blair: "British officials were worried that Gerhard Schröder, the German Chancellor, would use his last European summit to spoil the show of his bête noire Tony Blair. They were right.  Having briefed German newspapers that he would do everything in his power to fight those who would destroy the European social model — code for Tony Blair — Herr Schröder started the boat-rocking by conspicuously failing to show up for Wednesday night’s dinner at Downing Street for Europe’s centre-left leaders.  He then arrived half an hour late for yesterday’s summit. Asked by journalists whether Britain could act as a social model for Europe, he answered: “Certainly not.”"


AhmadinejadTelegraph leader on Iran: "Mr Ahmadinejad's speeches to the UN General Assembly last month and to the Teheran conference on Wednesday have richly confirmed his reputation as a hardline ex-Revolutionary Guard. If the Security Council fails to confront such a rogue head of state, it does not deserve its name."

'After the fiasco over the Supreme Court, the Fed gets the right man," according to Gerard Baker in The Times.

The Spectator leader argues that Tony Blair has lost none of his ability to deceive conservative minds: "The word ‘independent’ was quite deliberately placed in Mr Blair’s speech on Monday to appeal to middle-class parents. But it was an appallingly dishonest word to have used. If you read the small print of the education White Paper, it becomes clear that Mr Blair’s new, improved state schools will be no more independent of the state than Czechoslovakia was independent of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. They will be allowed to do the equivalent of printing their own postage stamps but, should they attempt to diverge from the ruling dogma, they are left in no doubt that a legion of tanks will swiftly follow."

A definition on this website - on politicisation - argues that conservatism has neglected culture.  Writing for this morning, Bill Wichterman agrees: "Culture is “upstream” from politics.  Government is like a giant mirror reflecting the soul of the nation.  While the clarity of that reflection will shift from administration to administration, we generally get the government we deserve. Or as Plato wrote, the state is the soul writ large."


The Times: "MPs claimed an inflation-busting £81 million in expenses last year, up by 3.8 per cent on the previous year."

Daily Mail: "Tony Blair and his senior ministers pocketed nearly £130,000 of taxpayers' money in housing allowances last year despite being given the run of lavish grace-and-favour homes paid for by voters."

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