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31 Jan 2008 08:58:44

Thursday 31st January 2008

7pm CentreRight updates:

  • Conor Burns compares Dan Hannan to a chav with an ASBO;
  • Matthew Elliott on the fact that the number of local government employees earning £50K+ a year is rising three times faster than in the economy as a whole;
  • Peter Whittle wonders if we're back to 70s-style decline but with social problems dominating;
  • Dan Hamilton on the non-existent "EP" element to the EPP-ED;
  • Douglas Carswell MP thinks the EPP have shot themselves in the foot;
  • Greg Hands MP reviews the call for transparency from EU leaders;
  • Jill Kirby on the Tesco clubcard model for public service reform;
  • Tim Montgomerie reports the closure of Teveres cafe.

5pm BritainAndAmerica: All you need to know Jan 31st

4pm CF Diary: Christian May argues for a campaigning-focused CF

1pm ToryDiary: Dan Hannan to be kicked out of the EPP for highlighting despotism in the European Parliament

"As taxpayers, we are being asked to invest, in the form of guarantees, up to £50 billion (or is it £100 billion?) to keep afloat a busted company.  The Prime Minister tells us that he does not expect to call on us for real cash because the business is sound. But he, his Chancellor, his FSA, the Bank and all their advisors know this is untrue. If a company issued a prospectus on grounds even remotely as misleading as this, the issuers would probably be going to jail."

Platform: John Moir, former Financial Director at Lloyds of London, on the big lies about Northern Rock

ToryDiary: What should the British Government do to persuade young Muslims that they should reject terror and embrace the British way of life? and Dale confronted

Johnson_boris_2006_2 Parliament: Boris Johnson quickly corrects the Prime Minister's 'inadvertent misleading of the Commons'

This morning on CentreRight:

Conservatives look at banning all MPs from employing their children

"Proposals to ban the children of MPs from being paid out of public funds for working for them are being considered by the Conservatives in the wake of the Derek Conway affair, party sources said last night. Conway, who paid up to £77,000 to his sons Freddie and Henry to act as his research assistants, announced yesterday that he would stand down as MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup at the next election." - Guardian

"MPs were challenged last night to break their centuries-old tradition of self-governance and submit their use of public money to checks from an outside body. Sir Christopher Kelly, the standards watchdog, said there was a case for a ban on MPs hiring family members as he intervened in the row over payments by the Tory MP, Derek Conway, to his sons." - Times

Martin_wife_speaker Speaker Michael Martin's wife has spent thousands on taxis and flights - Times

Conway's son's close friend, another student, was also on the payroll - Times

I'd rather have Derek Conway as my father than Nigella Lawsona as my mother - Bryony Gordon in the Telegraph

Should MPs' expenses be under tighter control? - Independent

Attacking Ministers over NHS drug deal

"The Conservatives last night accused the government of "dreadful incompetence" after health ministers admitted letting pharmacists make £811m in excess profits dispensing NHS prescriptions. Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, said parliamentary answers showed pharmacists in England exceeded an agreed maximum profit by 60% in 2005-6 and 102% in 2006-7." - Guardian

The "coping classes" need the hares

"In this climate, the issue for David Cameron is not whether he sets out a precise, tightly costed programme of savings and tax cuts right now: that would be counter-productive. What matter are his instincts, aspirations and ability to communicate in an easily understood manner that he will get the public finances in order, look to strip out waste and reallocate resources when he can let those who work hard keep more of their own money." - Telegraph

It's all in the genes

Dna_gene_highlighted "Choosing whether to vote Conservative or Labour could all be in the genes, scientists have claimed. They say opinions on a wide range of issues, from religion in schools to nuclear power and gay rights, are influenced by biology - and can be stubbornly resistant to reason." - Mail

Immigration to add a Coventry to UK population every two years

"Britain's immigrant population will top nine million in a little over two decades - an increase of more than two thirds - a leading Blairite think-tank has said. The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) used data from the United Nations to forecast that there would be 9.1 million migrants from abroad by 2030 compared with 5.4 million today. The increase of 3.7 million is the same as adding a city the size of Coventry to Britain's population every two years." - Telegraph

Competing media operations over stop and search


"The Conservative party leader must have been thrilled on Tuesday night when he heard that the Sun's splash headline for yesterday on his "exclusive" plans to relax the rules on stop and search read: "Police, Cameron, Action." Downing Street was less than thrilled." - Guardian

"David Cameron gives an interview to a national newspaper outlining plans to make it easier for the police to stop and search suspects in an attempt to curb violent street crime. Given the rate of gun and knife deaths among young people, notably in London, such action is clearly desirable. Barely is the ink dry on the article than Downing Street pops up with similar proposals of its own. The purpose of this intervention? To spike the Tories' guns." - Telegraph leader

Is stop and search a good idea? - BBC

Please use this thread to highlight other interesting news and commentary...

30 Jan 2008 08:40:33

Wednesday 30th January 2008

3.45pm ToryDiary: Derek Conway to stand down at next General Election

11.30am ToryDiary: Check out our liveblog of PMQs at noon

11.30am Parliament: Why do criminals in police cells cost four times as much to feed as NHS patients?


10am BritainAndAmerica: McCain will be the Republican candidate for the Presidency. Probably.

Housebuilding "We must reject the Government’s mistaken belief that the way to build more homes is to decree them from above. ‘3m Homes By 2020’ might make a good headline, but ask Ministers how many cars they’re going to produce over the same period, or tractors? The reality is that the Government doesn’t construct houses and its centrally-driven, top-down approach will always fail."

Interviews: Grant Shapps MP comprehensively answers your questions

ToryDiary: Police, Cameron, Action!

Platform: Dr Marina Kalashnikova on the West's failed policy towards Russia

Seats and Candidates: Toby Boutle selected for Ilford South


Cameron to review stop and search rules


"David Cameron yesterday unveiled his plans to mend Broken Britain... and give power back to the police. In an exclusive Sun interview he said officers could be given free rein to stop and search youngsters on the street." - Sun

"Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is to overhaul stop and search powers in a bid to tackle rising gun and knife crime. A report by former RUC chief Sir Ronnie Flanaghan was delivered to the Home Office and Downing Street yesterday." - Telegraph

Why the majority see the police as the enemy - Simon Heffer in the Telegraph


Conwayfamily2 "David Cameron sought to distance his party from allegations of political impropriety on Tuesday by withdrawing the whip from a senior Conservative MP under fire for paying his son £45,000 ($89,000) from public funds. The Conservative leader was accused of “flip flopping” under media pressure by cutting loose Derek Conway." - FT 

"The Conservative MP who paid his two sons out of parliamentary expenses while they were at university also gave them bonuses, it has emerged. And the Daily Mail can reveal that in six years the cost to the taxpayer of Derek Conway and his family was an astonishing £1,535,716.70." - Mail

Click here for ToryDiary's extensive coverage of the matter

"By what manner of serious misjudgment David Cameron took almost 24 hours to come to the conclusion that Mr Conway should have the whip withdrawn will doubtless form a paragraph in some future biography of the Tory leader. Mr Conway's position as an MP was unsustainable from the moment the report was published." - Alice Miles in the Times

"Mr Conway's political career may be over - his deselection seems a foregone conclusion - but the ramifications of this case will reverberate for some time to come. It is more insidious than the various donor rows besetting the Government, which have been about the abuse of declaration rules: this is about the misuse of taxpayers' money, lots of it." - Telegraph leader

Derek_conway "Given the dismal reputation of politicians in the public mind, it is vital that the Conway case should be exhaustively pursued. But it is also essential that lessons should be learned and applied. MPs should understand that, as far as the voters are concerned, they are all in this together." - Guardian leader

"Politics is an honourable endeavour, as is donating to political parties. Abuses must be ruthlessly rooted out. Yet there should also be no need for MPs to feel so badly underpaid that they grub around for funds in grubby places. The only positive aspect of this sorry tale is that the system has found Mr Conway out. The message should be clear: you cannot keep it in the family and get away with it." - Times leader

"The number of wrongdoers is probably very small. But the public’s view of politicians has been damaged further by recent allegations over the funding of Labour’s deputy leadership election and the Derek Conway affair. This is not a partisan matter. Just look at the universal condemnation of Mr Conway, and backing for the belated removal of the whip, by Tory bloggers, notably on the widely followed website," - Peter Riddell in the Times

Brown's fiscal drag brings 1.7m more people into top tax bracket

"The number of people paying the highest level of income tax has almost doubled since Labour came to power, according to recent statistics. The statistics show that the number paying tax at 40 per cent will have increased from just over two million in 1997 to almost 3.7 million by the end of this financial year. And higher rate tax payers are losing out on at least £700 a year, experts said, because tax thresholds have not risen in line with wages." - Telegraph

1 in 13 small schools have shut under Labour

Small_school_house "Official figures showed that 219 schools with fewer than 100 pupils had shut since 1997. Many were in the countryside. At the same time, the number of primaries with more than 400 pupils had risen by almost a third. The disclosure came despite promises of "tough new protection" for village schools shortly after Labour came to power." - Telegraph

Without a school, a village won't last long - Rowan Pelling in the Telegraph

Reshuffle news

James Duddridge has been appointed to the Whip's office. He replaces Stewart Jackson who has joined the local government team.  Stewart takes up much of Bob Neill's brief (except London) who, last week, replaced Alistair Burt within the same team.  A week earlier Alistair had gone to a new senior position in the Whip's office.

And finally...

Boris Johnson refuses to drink special The Boris cocktail, and Daniel Kawczynski models for the High and Mighty catalogue - Telegraph Spy

Please use this thread to highlight other interesting news and commentary...

29 Jan 2008 08:52:12

Tuesday 29th January 2008

8.30pm BritainAndAmerica: Too close to call in Florida

8pm ToryDiary: Derek Conway should now go quietly

7.30pm CentreRight updates:

  • Hamish Marshall has found some fascinating maps of American politics. Honestly!
  • Julia Manning points to evidence that more available contraception has made teenage pregnancy worse in the UK
  • Samuel Coates is relieved that Derek Conway is no longer a member  of the parliamentary party
  • Jim McConalogue notes that the Lisbon Treaty creates powers for European Police Force to undertake investigations in the UK

3.15pm ToryDiary: Polish Law & Justice Party looks set to bolster Eurosceptic grouping

1pm ToryDiary: Conway loses the Conservative Whip

11.30pm ToryDiary: Cameron to call for preachers of hate to be banned from the UK

11am ToryDiary: Nick Robinson on why Cameron decided not to act against Conway

ToryDiary: Tories ahead by 8% with big leads in the South East, amongst ABs and the over 65s

Platform: Cllr Matt Wright writes about South Africa's difficult democratic journey

PlayPolitical video: The Kennedy dynasty snubs the Clinton dynasty with endorsement for Barack Obama

Derekconwaymp Derek Conway MP faces second probe over payments to other son

The Daily Mail reveals that Derek Conway MP also paid his older son whilst he was at university: "According to leaked documents seen by the Mail, Mr Conway's elder son, Henry, was also paid out of state funds when he too was an undergraduate.  They show that Henry, 25, received more than £32,000 in parliamentary allowances and bonuses between July 2001 and October 2004."

Daily Mail leader: "Senior Tory MP Derek Conway is forced to apologise for paying his full-time student son thousands of pounds of public money for spurious "parliamentary research."  Many would call that theft. Indeed, the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee came very close to just that.  But Mr Conway himself? According to him, his gross abuse of the taxpayer was merely an "administrative shortcoming.""

"The committee said it was “astonished” by the lack of evidence of any work that Mr Conway’s second son had done in return for the £45,000 in salary plus pension payments he had been paid. “We note that FC [Frederick Conway] seems to have been all but invisible during the period of his employment. For the majority of that time he was based at Newcastle where he was engaged in a full-time degree course at the university. He had little or no contact with his father’s office, either in the House or the constituency.  “No record exists of the work that he is supposed to have carried out, or the hours kept. The only evidence available to us of work carried out was that provided by FC and his family.”" - The Times

Parliament blog: Full text of Derek Conway MP's apology to the Commons

Last night's ToryDiary: Cameron makes the wrong choice on Conway

Waterson_nigel Nigel Waterson MP arrested for allegedly assaulting his children

"Nigel Waterson, Tory MP for Eastbourne and shadow minister for Work and Pensions, was arrested yesterday for allegedly assaulting his teenage son and daughter.  A spokesman for Scotland Yard said that he could confirm that at around midnight on Sunday night officers attended an address in Bromley following reports of an assault." - The Telegraph has more 

Centre for Policy Studies seminar on 'The post-bureaucratic age'

"Fighting bureaucracy may gain the cheers of the Tory faithful. But you cannot do away with bureaucracy. The debate is really about how the State can, and should, be restructured and limited. The Tories needs to be both more precise and bolder." - Peter Riddell in The Times

But Steve Richards in The Independent saw yesterday's seminar as very grown-up: "It will get them few headlines, but in terms of preparing for an election, yesterday's exercise in thinking aloud was as important for them as the trumpet- blaring announcement on inheritance tax."

Fox_liam_newDr Liam Fox was one of the seminar's speakers and he focused on the targets culture: "Targets are one of the most pernicious manifestations of a system obsessed with process, not outcomes.  Targets, especially those tied to finance, end up measuring only the measurable rather than what really matters and attaining the easily attainable irrespective of whether or not it has really made a difference."  More on

Mark Prisk MP launches campaign to protect young talents

"MPs last night called for tough new laws to prevent wannabe stars being ripped off by rogue talent agencies... The campaign leader, shadow consumer affairs minister Mark Prisk, said: “The rogue agencies prey on people’s hopes and dreams and rip them off.”  Mr Prisk blames the rise of phony agencies on talent shows such as The X Factor." - The Sun

Brown holds economy summit meeting with Merkel, Sarkozy and Prodi - ePolitix

John Hutton orders Sky to reduce its stake in ITV - Guardian

The Daily Mail attack Chris Bryant MP for wanting to distribute condoms in schools

"Under-11s should be given explicit sex education to help reduce teenage pregnancies, a Labour MP has said.  Chris Bryant, who made the headlines in 2003 after appearing on a gay dating website in his underwear, also recommended distributing condoms in school." - Daily Mail

Another big job for Tony Blair (with Swiss insurer Zurich) - BBC

Foetal pain

"The upper time limit for abortion should be reduced from 24 weeks because foetuses can feel pain before that time, a scientist told MPs last night." - Daily Mail | Background blog by Nadine Dorries MP

Please use this thread to highlight other interesting news and commentary...

28 Jan 2008 08:59:43

Monday 28th January 2008

11.20pm ToryDiary: Tories 8% ahead in ComRes poll

11.15pm ToryDiary: Cameron makes the wrong choice on Conway

7pm CentreRight:

4.30pm CentreRight:

4pm Parliament: Government defeated in vote on Michael Fallons' Planning and Energy Bill

2.45pm LondonMayor: Either Jasper is lying to Livingstone, or Livingstone is lying to us

2.15pm CF Diary: Michael Rock's business plan

11.45am ToryDiary: Ten day suspension likely for Derek Conway MP

11am ToryDiary: It's 2008, not 1997

Andrew Lilico: Politics, the inflation target, and what Conservatives should say

Tealady2 Parliament: Michael Fabricant wants tea trolleys and biscuits for tired travellers arriving at UK airports

Seats and candidates: Mark Spencer selected for Sherwood

CF Diary: Simon Iles reviews the Bristol hustings

Commons Defence Committee: Overstretched armed forces losing experienced soldiers

"Overstretch within the armed forces is driving away experienced personnel and damaging morale, MPs have warned.  The strain of operating at full capacity in Afghanistan and Iraq has left the services "deteriorating", a defence select committee report says." - BBC

More economically-worried voters trust Cameron with their household finances

"Millions of voters fear the economic slowdown will leave them worse off and trust David Cameron to protect their household finances more than Gordon Brown." - Telegraph

The Telegraph leader-writers turn their attention to the economy: "The Government has made a number of serious mistakes in its handling of the economy, the most fundamental of which is its squandering of tax receipts from the boom years on useless public sector "initiatives". Yet, despite this, London remains the world's financial centre.  Unless the Prime Minister changes course - starting by scrapping his dangerous attack on "non-doms" - that precious asset could be lost to us."

The FT has a long analysis on the "wilting relationship" between business and Labour.

Hares and tortoises

Yesterday evening's Westminster Hour became the latest media entity to discuss ConservativeHome's hares versus tortoise theoryListen to Carolyn Quinn chair a debate between Danny Finkelstein of The Times (a tortoise) and Iain Martin of The Telegraph (a hare).

Labour's threat to small, rural schools

"While much of our educational system is dominated by bogstandard comprehensives and dumbed-down exams, the outstanding quality of small village schools is beyond doubt.  How depressing then that politicians threaten one of the few success stories in the state sector. Hundreds of these centres of excellence are being forced to close, despite a Labour promise that village schools would be protected." - Mail leader

Nigel Evans MP wants Ed Balls to have the balls to protect these schools.

A BigMac, fries and an A-level please...

"Staff at McDonald's will soon be able to gain the equivalent of A-levels in running burger bars after the fast food giant won government approval to become an exam board." - Sky News

Alan Johnson blames Electoral Commission's "incompetence" for failing to register deputy leadership donations - Independent

Why Labour should ditch ID cards - FT leader

The extraordinary cost of prison overcrowding

"Locking up a criminal in police stations to alleviate prison over-crowding costs as much per night as a week in the Canaries, figures show.  Last year 60,953 prisoners had to be housed in police cells as an emergency response to an acute shortage of jail cells.  Now figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats have revealed that it costs £459.52 to hold an offender in the alternative cells for one night." - Daily Mail

Nick Herbert MP was interviewed about prison overcrowding on Radio 4 last night.

Big setback for Merkel in Germany as Hesse is lost to left-trending SPD - Independent

Weekendhighlights Most Tory candidates expect to see income fall if they become MPs

We don't want "massive spending cuts", Mr Osborne, just a little moderation

Round up of latest Ken V Boris stories

David Lidington MP on the consequences of Labour's neglect of Britain's old Arab allies

Please use this thread to highlight other interesting news and commentary...

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