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Newslinks for Tuesday 26th April 2011

Graeme Archer 8.15pm Gazette: ConHome's Graeme Archer now short-listed for the Orwell Prize for blogging

7.15pm WATCH: William Hague says Britain will urge sanctions against Syrian leaders if they continue to use violence against protesters

6.30pm Parliament: Labour MPs defeat Dominic Raab's attempt to ban certain workers from striking without majority workforce support

5pm Parliament: William Hague tells the Commons that all British action in Libya remains defined by UN Security Council resolutions

4.30pm Local government: The battle for North Warwickshire

St George's England flag3pm Gazette: MPs mark St George's Day as they renew calls for it to be a bank holiday

12.30pm Owen Polley on Comment: How the Conservatives in Northern Ireland are building from the grassroots

10.45am Alex Deane on Comment: The hypocrisy of Andrew Marr over superinjunctions

ToryDiary: Conservatives can win the poverty debate but not if the Big Society is our message

ThinkTankCentral: What is fairness? What is poverty? Policy Exchange asks the voters...

Jesse Norman MP on Comment: Why plans for replacing the House of Lords with an elected Senate should not be a priority

Also on Comment, Lee Rotherham: Controversies From Brussels and Closer to Home

Local Government: The battle for York

WATCH: Annabel Goldie invites voters to judge her and the Scottish Tories on their record of helping deliver for Scotland at Holyrood

Tories are excluding us, claim Lib Dems...

"Liberal Democrats say they are being sidelined in parts of Whitehall by senior Conservatives intent on stifling the influence of the junior coalition partners. As the public war of words becomes increasingly acrimonious in the ten days before elections and the referendum on voting reform, fresh evidence has emerged from sources on both sides of the Government about the Lib Dems’ struggle to stay on top of coalition policy and push their own ideas... A landmark agreement struck last year and seen by The Times promising Lib Dem backbenchers access to papers and early sight of statements is being blocked in some departments by Cabinet ministers who say it is improper and breaks government rules." - The Times (£) Tory MP tells Lib Dems to "stop whingeing"...

Mark Pritchard "Mark Pritchard, secretary of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, said: ‘Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne should stop their whingeing. With each of them presiding over major government departments they’ve never had it so good. ‘Their personal and political sacrifices are infinitesimal compared to those made by the hundreds of public sector workers losing their jobs each week and many Conservative colleagues who gave up ministerial office for the sake of  the Coalition’." - Daily Mail

...and the idea of an early general election is the subject of speculation

"It seems far-fetched, but there would be a lot of attractions. The Tories have plenty of money, unlike Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The Government's spending cuts have not yet sunk in and the Tories remain steady in the polls. Labour is plainly not ready for an election. It is blamed by the public for the deficit. Ed Miliband has not had time to establish himself and his policies are a "blank sheet". - Andrew Grice in The Independent

Cabinet meets today for the first time since Tory-Lib Dem tensions reached boiling point - Press Association

Is this coalition in-fighting a phoney war? - Bagehot on The Economist blog

> Yesterday on ConHome:

Elections watchdog will not act on Lib Dem demand to investigate No2AV ‘lies’...

"Britain’s elections watchdog has said it is powerless to investigate claims made by opponents of the alternative vote (AV) system branded as “dishonest” by senior Liberal Democrats." - The Times (£) Menzies Campbell accuses David Cameron of stoking row over AV to soothe Tory backbenchers...

Menzies Campbell Daily Politics "Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Lib Dem leader, suggested the Prime Minister was taking advantage of the increasingly heated debate ahead of next week’s poll on adopting the Alternative Vote system to highlight differences between the two parties." - Daily Telegraph

...and it emerges that the same company has been printing ballot papers and Yes campaign propaganda

"Documents seen by The Spectator clearly show that Electoral Reform Services will administer postal votes for the elections next month. Given their role last year, I suspect ERSL will print upwards of 1.9 million, but they won’t tell me precisely how many. And, remarkably, ERSL have also been employed by the Yes campaign to print their campaign literature...  Since the Electoral Reform Services only has one printing room in The Election Centre (it doesn't normally do leaflet printing), this means that the Yes leaflets will be coming out of the same printing press as the official ballots used in the election." - Ed Howker on the Spectator's Coffee House blog

Lord Mandelson says vote Yes to AV to hurt Cameron...

Mandelson talking "Labour shouldn't ignore this chance to defeat the Tories on 5 May," he said. "Labour supporters need to use their noddle and ask themselves why Cameron is fighting so hard for a No vote. He's fighting for his party's interests but also to protect his own leadership. Labour has a chance to inflict damage on both. Cameron has been forced to intervene, to turn it into an intra-Coalition partisan scrap in order to mobilise Tory support and Tory-supporting newspapers." - Lord Mandelson quoted in The Independent

"Alan Johnson, the former home secretary, told the Guardian that the debate was "bigger than the Liberal Democrats" and appealed to Labour voters to back the alternative vote, claiming that a vote against reform was in effect a vote for the Conservatives." - The Guardian Margaret Beckett rallies support for a No vote

"Ms Beckett said it was "more important than ever that we put aside party differences for the good of the country and that everyone comes out to vote against the unfair and expensive AV system". "I strongly urge people to look at the two voting systems... our current system is simple, fair and decisive. AV is an expensive and complicated political fudge," she said." - BBC

  • FT gives AV its backing - FT (£)
  • AV arguments show the honeymoon is over - Rachel Sylvester in The Times (£)
  • Clobbering Nick Clegg is too harsh a punishment for his mistakes - Mary Riddell in the Daily Telegraph

> Melanchthon on Comment yesterday: Let's just focus on two things: are the Yes2AV campaign's claims straightforward facts; and are the No campaign's claims lies?

> Comment from Sunday: Top 10 misleading claims show Yes2AV do not want to talk about the Alternative Vote

Liam Fox heads to Washington for discussions on Libya

Liam Fox 2011 "Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox will use a visit to the Pentagon in Washington today to explain what the British, French and Italians hope to achieve by providing military advisers to rebels in Libya. Dr Fox, who will be accompanied by the Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir David Richards, will also discuss with US military chiefs how Nato can achieve greater precision in bombing pro-Gaddafi targets." - Sky News

  • 'Give up now or we’ll kill you,' Liam Fox warns Gaddafi - Daily Mail

New Tory MPs hit back at whips' demands for evening votes

"The fabled Conservative whips – who provided the inspiration for the murderous Francis Urquhart in The House of Cards – are facing a rebellion they are finding hard to control: the modern world. They are under attack from their new MPs who make up almost half the parliamentary party and cannot understand for need for the cast-iron discipline and subservience to the whips' office that their predecessors took for granted... Research by The Independent – prompted by complaints from disgruntled backbenchers – into voting margins in the first three months of this year has highlighted 14 occasions when the Government had a whopping majority of over 300 MPs against Bills where there was next to no opposition." - The Independent

Dominic Raab MP: Out-of-touch unions need a majority rule

Dominic Raab 2010 "Tube strikes in July 2002 and June 2009 were supported by a mere third of RMT members: the former cost London £60 million, the latter disrupted at least a million commuters. A strike by the Public and Commercial Services Union in February 2010, over redundancy pay, was backed by 20 per cent of members... So today I am introducing a Bill in the Commons that will require a majority of union members to support strike action for it to be lawful in the emergency services and transport sector, where scope for disruption is high." - Dominic Raab MP in The Times (£)

Human rights law costs £9 billion a year

"The hated European human rights act is costing the UK more than £9 billion a year, experts said last night... ECHR expert Dr Lee Rotherham, who calculated the enormous sums, said: "The cash we pay out is like a mountain. It's monstrous. Those most to blame are the ones who abuse the courts to pursue their particular agenda." - The Sun

Heavy Lib Dem losses in local elections could put MPs at risk of losing their seats...

Tim Farron "The loss of Liberal Democrat councillors in next week’s local elections could cost many of the party’s MPs their seats, academics and senior party figures have warned... Tim Farron, the Lib Dem party president, said he would pursue a “back to basics” policy after the election, in which the party is expected to lose more than 1,000 council seats, and focus on rebuilding their base. “I think these elections are a bit of a watershed in one way or another,” said Mr Farron. “I don’t expect us to do brilliantly, but it will be catharsis to go through it.”  - The Times (£) UKIP sets its sights on local gains

"There are signs UKIP is starting to pick up the sort of protest votes that traditionally go to the Liberal Democrats - as well as benefiting from a slump in support for the British National Party... UKIP is fighting under the campaign banner "We the people". Its unique selling point, a spokesman told the BBC, is that unlike members of other parties UKIP councillors are free to speak their minds and "really represent the concerns of local people". - BBC

Other news in brief

  • William Hague says Britons should leave Syria - BBC
  • Pressure mounts on Liam Fox over defence cuts - The Scotsman
  • Ken Livingstone and Lee Jasper to be reunited - Andrew Gilligan of the Daily Telegraph
  • A third of candidates will be rejected as record number apply for university - The Times (£)
  • Asylum backlog fears as 25,000 cases stuck in system - Daily Telegraph
  • Gagging orders are out of control, says Andrew Marr as he abandons injunction over affair - Daily Mail
  • Former leading Ulster Unionist, William Craig, has died - The Guardian

And finally... The Courts and Tribunals Service wants those who cannot read or write English to sit on juries

Picture 2 "The opening of juries to people with limited English was confirmed by the new agency set up to run the court system, HM Courts and Tribunals Service. The 200,000 people a year called for jury service are now all summoned with letters printed in seven languages as well as English to ‘encourage’ non-English speakers, it said... Douglas Carswell, Tory MP for Clacton, said: ‘The jury system is founded on the idea that we are all tried by our peers. If your peers cannot speak English, or read or write it properly, how can you have confidence you will get justice?’" - Daily Mail



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