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31 May 2011 08:57:44

Newslinks for Tuesday 31st May 2011

6.30pm WATCH: Lord Taylor sentenced to a year's imprisonment for expenses fraud

4pm ToryDiary: Operation Castrate-the-Right is underway

3.30pm Alex Morton on Comment: The Independent is wrong - renting isn't always a good thing

12.30pm WATCH:

Screen shot 2011-05-31 at 09.05.02
11am Nicholas Bryars: What Tories must do to win again in Leicester and similar cities in the Midlands and North of England

ToryDiary: Why Al Qaeda may no longer be Britain's main Islamist problem.  Lessons for the Prevent Review

Also on ToryDiary: Who are the three most effective Cabinet ministers?

Lord Risby on Comment: The Muslim Brotherhood is on the rise in Egypt

Local Government:

Screen shot 2011-05-31 at 08.34.58
LeftWatch: Balls moves to team up with Conservative Eurosceptics

Parliament: Times survey of peers proves that turkeys won't vote for Christmas

Ryan Bourne on ThinkTankCentral: The Bank of England's inflation forecasts are getting increasingly inaccurate

WATCH: Alistair Burt MP in Islamabad: Security, trade - and minority rights in Pakistan

Peers give Clegg's Lords plan the thumbs down

Screen shot 2011-05-31 at 08.21.29 "An overwhelming majority of the Upper House believes that it would be unconstitutional for the Government to create an elected chamber in the face of objections from peers…The Times understands that Tory ministers, including Theresa May, the Home Secretary, have voiced concern that other public service reforms risk being sacrificed in the coming session by the anticipated trench warfare over Lords reform."  - The Times (£)

No 10 denies Lansley is to resign over NHS reforms

"David Cameron was forced to issue a vote of confidence in his Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, yesterday as ministers search for an NHS reform blueprint acceptable to both parts of the Coalition.  There has been growing speculation over Mr Lansley's future since his plans to overhaul the NHS were dramatically halted by Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg in the face of a rebellion from health professionals." - The Independent

Final day of NHS listening exercise: register your views here

> Yesterday: WATCH - John Healey says Coalition's NHS reorganisation will divert £2 billion from patient care

Huhne investigation approaches end of road - The Guardian

Petraeus's British deputy warns against mixed Afghanistan signals

Screen shot 2011-05-31 at 08.23.17 "General James Bucknall said Barack Obama’s surge of reinforcements which arrived last year should stay for two more summer fighting seasons and warned of sending mixed signals to the insurgency with talk of withdrawal.  Helmand…was again likely to see some of the heaviest fighting this summer, he predicted.  His comments in an interview with The Daily Telegraph come amid heated debate between generals and politicians in London and Washington over how quickly to hand over the war to Afghan forces." - Daily Telegraph

Labour spokesman John Spellar asks whether Government will ban cheddar cheese sandwiches in hospitals  - The Independent

Aid money to boost companies in poorer countries

"The plan is part of a Coalition effort to win support for David Cameron’s controversial decision to increase the aid budget while cutting spending elsewhere in Whitehall.  Andrew Mitchell said the new approach to aid spending will “help private enterprise work its miracles as the engine of development”.  The prospect of taxpayers’ money being used to finance businesses abroad may rile Conservative critics of aid spending, but Mr Mitchell insisted that helping poor countries get richer is in Britain’s long-term interests." - Daily Telegraph

Indian schools aid "squandered" after standards fall  - Daily Mail

> Yesterday: WATCH - Nigel Farage attacks Coalition's human rights and aid policies on Sky News

Screen shot 2011-05-31 at 08.40.54 Cameron sticking to same old blue and black polo shirts - Daily Mail

Lord Stern: window for action on global warming "is now closing”

"If people did deliver on their obligations or their estimates of cuts that they gave in Cancun, in last December, then it would take us back in ten years time roughly to where we are now. That would be 10% above where we need to be for a two degree centigrade path which is the one that people normally regard as on the borderline of dangerous." - Politics Home (£)

Coalition and Political News in Brief

David Miliband backs the Big Society

David Miliband "David Miliband says the Tories and Lib Dems are more representative of the country than the Labour party led by his younger brother, Ed.  In an extraordinary intervention, the former foreign secretary said the coalition party had more MPs who reflected Britain.  Mr Miliband, who was elbowed out of the way for the top Labour job by ‘Red Ed’, also warned of the danger of the party ‘lapsing into long-term opposition’." - Daily Mail

Salmond accused of ignoring voters

"Alex Salmond was accused yesterday of using his political office to promote the fight for independence instead of focusing on domestic issues and shoring up the Scottish economy as he promised in his manifesto.  Opposition leaders rounded on the First Minister after a first month in office dominated by constitutional wrangles…The SNP cabinet will today discuss how to circumvent the London court and ensure that Scottish appeals in future go directly to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg." - The Times (£)

"Local LibDems" (i.e: Dr Evan Harris) tilt against faith groups…

"Grassroots Liberal Democrats are to press for government guarantees that greater involvement from faith-based groups in the provision of public services under the "Big Society" will be subject to strict safeguards to protect secularism and prevent proselytising.  The move comes against the backdrop of recent tie-ups between local government and faith groups. seeking to play a role in provision of services in potentially sensitive areas, such as advising on sexual health." - The Guardian

…While national ones don't pay interns (despite Clegg's campaign to the contrary)

"Sneaky Lib Dems are offering unpaid work experience despite Nick Clegg's vow to stamp it out.  The Deputy PM has said all interns should get a decent wage so youngsters from poorer backgrounds can get a start in politics.  But an online job advert for internships at the Lib Dem HQ warns applicants will not get a salary but only limited travel expenses and a lunch worth up to £5." - The Sun

"Cameron friends plot Second Coalition"

Screen shot 2011-05-31 at 08.46.44 "But what is fascinating is that the prospect of a coalition, created voluntarily by consenting partners, rather than being forced on the parties by electoral arithmetic and economic crisis, is even being considered. The idea has been discussed at the highest level in the Government, including among some at No 10.  “If we win a majority of less than 20 — which seems quite likely — then there would be a strong case for still including the Lib Dems,” says an ally of Mr Cameron." - Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Aides to Cameron want Coalition to continue even if Tories win a majority

Other comment

And finally…Who's the sexiest MP?  (Since you asked, Simon Hughes registers at 397th)

"Politics has been described as showbusiness for ugly people.  But now a website which asks its visitors to rate the attractiveness – or otherwise – of MPs has divided opinion at Westminster. has caused a storm, and raised a few laughs, in the corridors of power by asking the public to rank which MP they would most like to sleep with." - Daily Mail


30 May 2011 08:55:31

Newslinks for Monday 30th May 2011

9pm ToryDiary: Aides to Cameron want Coalition to continue even if Tories win a majority

6pm International update: Berlusconi's party fares badly in Italian local elections

2pm ConHomeUSA: Time for Tea Party 2.0?

11.15am International: Will the Liberal Democrats follow Germany's example and abandon nuclear power?

ToryDiary: Whatever The Guardian may say, Osborne's deficit strategy isn't exceptional, it's very average

Banner1 Tom Clougherty on Comment: Happy Tax Freedom Day 2011! For the rest of the year you are no longer working for the government...

On the Local government blog:

WATCH: Nigel Farage attacks Coalition's human rights and aid policies on Sky News

WATCH: John Healey says Coalition's NHS reorganisation will divert £2 billion from patient care

Video on ConHomeUSA: "Of course Sarah Palin can beat President Obama": Senator John McCain weighs in on the 2012 race

Chris Huhne's estranged wife refused to tell police whether she took speeding points because she feared prison - Telegraph

Downing Street moves to deny speculation that Andrew Lansley will quit; "Andrew Lansley is doing an excellent job as Health Secretary" - Independent

  • Ed Miliband shouldn't crow. It's time to move closer to Clegg and reshape the NHS reforms - Jackie Ashley in The Guardian
  • "The kind of radical change suggested by Andrew Lansley's, while not perfect, is, [former Labour minister] Lord Warner argues, the only way to avoid the NHS imploding financially." - BBC
  • Marketing campaigns to resume after sharp declines in use of public health websites and helplines - BBC

Cameron attacked for breaking promise to appoint Ministers for the North

Screen shot 2011-05-30 at 08.25.13 "In his first major speech as Premier, in Shipley exactly a year ago today, Mr Cameron pledged to introduce a team of City Ministers to champion the region’s economic powerhouses and help bridge the North-South divide. But despite pledging to act within weeks – filling the gap left by the axing of Labour’s Regional Ministers – no City Ministers have been appointed." - Yorkshire Post

Cameron also accused of lacking a plan to tackle regional imbalances - Yorkshire Post

Fox attacks "cowardly" leak of his confidential letters on defence and aid spending

"It has been suggested Dr Fox – regarded as one of the most right-wing Tories in Cabinet – believes another member of the National Security Council is responsible for the leaks, although he has ruled out Conservative colleague William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, as the culprit. Yesterday, asked if a Cabinet colleague had leaked his letters, he replied: “You never know. That’s the whole things with leaks,” which he labelled “unprofessional, unethical and cowardly”." - Herald

Vince Cable attempted to sell arms to Cuba in his early career

Screen shot 2011-05-30 at 08.26.58 "Dr Cable’s time as a government arms broker, which formed part of his duties as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office official charged with boosting trade to Latin America, will come as a shock to many Liberal Democrats. He made the admission as he attempted to win over Britain’s defence industry, a sector he has spent most of his political career criticising." - Times (£)

Government to announce an estimated £100m to restore weekly bin services - Guardian

  • Hundreds of miles of cycle routes could be created across England following a move by Grant Shapps to make it easier for councils to scrap outdated local laws - Independent

Cameron cuts his ties with Jewish National Fund charity in move hailed by pro-Palestine campaigners - Daily Mail

Screen shot 2011-05-30 at 08.24.17 Sam Coates in The Times (£) has more: "David Cameron has removed his name from a list of patrons of the UK branch of a Jewish charity dedicated to the “Zionist dream”, in the latest signal of a cooling of relations with Israel. The Prime Minister broke with tradition and wrote to the Jewish National Fund (JNF) earlier this month to announce his decision to withdraw his patronage. He took on the role five years ago, following the example set by the former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown."

Melanie Phillips says Cameron's words on overseas aid sound "like a callow teenager in an Oxfam kaftan"

"As with other semi-submerged ‘iceberg’ issues — such as immigration, the EU or human rights — overseas aid is where the political elite either ignores or sneers at the common sense in which public opinion is rooted." - Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail

> Last night's ToryDiary: And in other news... The British taxpayer saves four million lives

Two thirds of criminals avoid jail despite amassing at least 15 convictions

16002095 Tory MP Douglas Carswell told the Daily Mail: "Many of my constituents are losing faith in the criminal justice system because – as these figures show – even when people have become habitual offenders they are not actually brought to justice. The criminal justice system  simply doesn’t administer what my constituents regard as justice. If the Government wants to claim to be a government that puts victims and the law-abiding first, it urgently and desperately needs to take action on this."

Pressure grows for circus ban on wild animals - Independent

Other political comment:

  • We can get more revenue from the rich by cutting their tax rates - John Redwood
  • Boundary changes, Scottish independence and party funding reform could prevent Labour ever winning again - George Eaton for the New Statesman
  • The Guardian's leader-writers predict a Lib Dem rebellion on the benefits cap will be the next frustrated Coalition reform
  • Our political leaders used to love reading and going to the theatre. Now they fear being seen as elitist - Mark Lawson in The Guardian
  • The British economy needs investment in roads and infrastructure - David Wighton in The Times (£)

Labour considers parliamentary alliance with Eurosceptic Tory MPs to get better eurozone bailout terms

"The Labour party said on Sunday it was willing to work with Eurosceptic Tories to reduce the size of UK contributions to the bailout of troubled eurozone nations and to cut the timescale of UK liability. The decision puts the coalition government's parliamentary support for its handling of the crisis under explicit threat for the first time." - Guardian

We should stop fighting the 'war on drugs' - Mary Ann Sieghart in The Independent

And finally... Rugby is the solution to England's football problem says Boris

Screen shot 2011-05-30 at 08.01.15

"When God-gifted geniuses such as Manchester United can be made to look like clodhoppers, it is time to think of the millions of kids who would benefit from a game that is in some ways less technical but more physical than football – and every bit as exhilarating. They should be given the chance." - Boris Johnson in The Telegraph


29 May 2011 08:59:48

Newslinks for Sunday 29th May 2011

9pm ToryDiary: And in other news... The British taxpayer saves four million lives - David Cameron pledges an increase in aid spending

4pm Peter King on Comment: Is David Cameron leading the "same old Tories"?

DarlingInShirt 1.30pm LeftWatch: A year out of office, Alistair Darling backs Gordon Brown's rival for head of the IMF

11.30am WATCH: Liam Fox: the use of helicopters in Libya is "not an escalation" of the intervention

ToryDiary: Any questions for you?

Neil Hudson on Comment: Every young person with the ability to go to university should be encouraged to do so but Labour's 50% target was wrong

Seats and candidates: Sunday newspapers suggest that Conservative HQ has purged "right-wingers" from candidates list

Local Government: Why should local councils own Newcastle Airport?

Cameron prepares for Andrew Lansley to resign...

Cameron&Lansley "Senior figures at 10 Downing Street have begun to "war game" Mr Lansley's departure on the ground that his Bill will be so radically different from its original state that he no longer has the credibility to drive it through." - Sunday Telegraph

"A senior ministerial source said the concessions will be “much ­bigger than expected” and leave Mr Lansley “isolated” as the PM axes reforms he spent years drawing up. Allies of the PM fear Mr Lansley may quit over the humiliation after ruling out a move sideways, insisting: “I don’t want any other Cabinet job.”" - Sunday Mirror

  • Andrew Lansley forced to make U-turn on public health campaign cuts - The Observer
  • Lansley's ally on NHS reform faces conflict of interest questions - The Observer

Mail on Sunday and Sunday Telegraph differ on whether Cameron and Clegg are united on NHS retreat

Cameron&Clegg "The two leaders were overheard arguing as they sat in Westminster Hall before the US President’s historic address to MPs and peers. Tetchy Deputy Prime Minister Mr Clegg rejected the Prime Minister’s claim that the public supports the changes, telling him: ‘You mean YOU want to change it!’ An irritated Mr Cameron interrupted Mr Clegg and told him to change the subject. And when Mr Clegg appeared to criticise Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, the Prime Minister snapped: ‘It’s nothing to do with him NOW!’" - Mail on Sunday

"...Hague has been warning his younger colleagues that the Coalition has taken on too much; that the hugely ambitious programme of reforms undertaken in its first year will present plenty of difficulties as they bed down in 2012 and 2013; and that the overhaul of the NHS, whatever its intrinsic merits, is probably one reform too many. It would seem that the PM and Chancellor have been receptive to Hague’s argument, and had indeed been reaching similar conclusions." - Matthew d'Ancona in the Sunday Telegraph

Right-wing Tories "purged" from approved candidates list

  • "Some high-profile Conservative candidates who stood in last year’s general election have fallen victim to a cull of parliamentary candidates. Mark Clarke and Annunziata Rees-Mogg, labelled “Tatler Tories” after appearing in a glossy magazine photo shoot about potential future Conservative ministers, have been ditched despite being formerly A-list candidates and close runners-up in marginal seats." - Sunday Times (£)
  • "The decision sparked fears that Mr Cameron is seeking to ‘neuter’ the list of would-be Tory MPs to remove potential trouble-makers. Last night Tory MP Andrew Bridgen called for an ‘immediate review’ of the decision over Ms Rees-Mogg, as well as of the surprise rejection of several long-serving activists." - Mail on Sunday

Number 10 "fury" about Liam Fox's trip to Washington on the day of Obama's visit

FoxLiamOnPoliticsShow "As the President came to London, Fox flew the other away. One bemused No 10 source says: ‘He didn’t go to any of the meetings with Obama. One of the advantages of going to Washington is to see the key players. But the key player, the President, was here.’ Downing Street’s mood wasn’t improved when Conservative Home, the website of the Tory grassroots, hailed a speech the Defence Secretary had given lauding Ronald Reagan with the headline ‘Dr Fox goes to Washington to pay tribute to the kind of president that Obama will never be’." - James Forsyth in the Mail on Sunday

> Thursday ToryDiary: Dr Fox goes to Washington to pay tribute to the kind of president that Obama will never be

  • Former Army chief Lord Dannatt warns against cuts to the Army - BBC
  • Nato set to close key naval headquarters at Northwood, Hertfordshire - Sunday Telegraph
  • UK training Saudi forces used to crush Arab spring - The Observer
  • Washington appreciates that London is more helpful to its global ambitions than other European nations - and the Brits are useful in a scrap - Martin Ivens in the Sunday Times (£)

The Queen tells David Cameron she is concerned she might be the last monarch of the United Kingdom

Queen's-Speech-procession "The Queen has signalled in a private meeting with David Cameron her concern at the prospect of the break-up of the United Kingdom. The monarch met the prime minister at Buckingham Palace after the Scottish National party’s victory in the Holyrood elections this month to discuss the potential implications for the monarchy." - Sunday Times (£)

The Cameroons' "war" on the grammar school may be over

Gove in Commons "Slipped out in the new school-admissions code last week is a provision that will allow any grammar school that so desires to expand. The new rules will also permit them to set up satellite campuses within their area. This follows on from another change introduced by Education Secretary Michael Gove that paves the way for the establishment of a wave of selective sixth-form colleges. ” - James Forsyth in the Mail on Sunday

The Coalition is not doing enough to support economic growth

Osborne on Marr AM "Britain’s unilateral action might do nothing to stop global warming, but the decision to use expensive renewable energies will add 30 per cent to electricity prices for our manufacturing industry. £34 billion is being spent on a largely unwanted high-speed rail link, but our overcrowded airports are not allowed to expand. Despite promises to cut red tape, the Coalition’s new maternity laws will cost small businesses £2.5 billion a year.” - Tim Montgomerie in the Sunday Telegraph

  • In The Sunday Times (£) Dominic Lawson also warns against the Coalition's green policies: "We might just note that Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, has written the foreword to Merlin-Jones’s well-documented warning of the dire employment consequences of being “the greenest government ever”. Since the lingering unpopularity of Margaret Thatcher was entirely caused by the mass unemployment of the 1980s, it should occur to Cameron that green might soon be the most toxic political shade of all."
  • New figures show the number of long-term jobless is now 850,000 - a third of the total out of work - News of the World (£)

Coalition plans would limit party donations to £50,000

MILIBAND ED PRESS CONF "Labour would be left bankrupt under plans being advanced by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to impose a £50,000 cap on political donations (...) An analysis of funding conducted since David Cameron became Tory leader shows Labour would have been deprived of 85% of its income since 2005 if the limit had been in place. This is because the vast majority of its funds have come from hefty union donations well above the £50,000 level." - The Observer

Political news and comment in brief

  • "When George Osborne does 'meet the public' sessions, he's asked one question more than any other: why is he giving away so much in overseas aid?" - Fraser Nelson in the News of the World (£)
  • Scottish government moves against UK Supreme Court - BBC
  • Huhne file is sent to prosecutors - Independent on Sunday
  • Northern Rock should be returned to private sector, say Treasury's advisers - The Observer

Obama's advice to Ed Miliband: be more upbeat

Obama-close-up "Barack Obama has warned Ed Miliband that he can only win the next election if Labour embraces a more optimistic vision for Britain's future. In talks between the two centre-left leaders last week, the US President set out the blueprint for inspiring British voters at a time of anxiety about the state of the economy." - Independent on Sunday

Labour news and comment in brief

  • Alistair Darling backs Christine Lagarde for head of IMF - The Observer
  • Blunkett’s ex-aide linked to murder - Sunday Times (£)
  • Labour's academy schools have transformed education - John Rentoul in the Independent on Sunday
  • We know what Labour's against. Now let us hear what it is for - Will Hutton in The Observer

And finally... the Camerons go on holiday to the "party island" of Ibiza

"Now Samatha Cameron has shown how a very modern Downing Street wife likes to relax - by partying with DJ Pete Tong in an Ibiza nightclub. While David Cameron was preparing to fly out and join her for a family break on Saturday, his wife Samantha took the chance to catch up with friends at the bar as a succession of DJs played techno and dance music. " - Sunday Telegraph


28 May 2011 08:58:46

Newslinks for Saturday 28th May 2011

5.15pm LeftWatch: Ed Miliband quietly dropped Chuka Umunna as his PPS this week for a more experienced fixer

1.30pm Arianna Capuani in International: Silvio Berlusconi's party faces losing control of Milan to the Left for the first time in nearly two decades

Noon WATCH: Boris Johnson test drives the newly-designed Routemaster bus

ToryDiary: £2.22 vaccinates ten of the world's poorest children against polio. Can you think of a better way of spending that money?

Sam Chapman on Comment: If you want to see an end to lenient sentences for sex offenders, bring on the elected Police Commissioner

Local Government:

WATCH: Newly-married Ed Miliband poses for the cameras with his wife, Justine

Cameron says momentum is building against Colonel Gaddafi...

Picture 4 "David Cameron said on Friday that NATO's war to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was entering a new phase and that the deployment of British helicopters would turn up the pressure... "Now there are signs that the momentum against Gaddafi is really building. So it is right that we are ratcheting up the military, the economic and the political pressure," Cameron told a news conference at the G8 summit in the seaside town of Deauville." - Reuters he stresses the moral principle behind the intervention in Libya

"The moral principle is that we are doing this as part of an international effort to save civilian life and to stop and to stop a dictator in his tracks who is intent on murdering and massacring his own people. And even as we stand and sit here today that is what is happening in parts of Libya, that is the moral impact." - David Cameron quoted in the Daily Telegraph

  • Cameron rules out ceasefire in Libya until Gaddafi is gone - Daily Express
  • Sarkozy blurts out plans for future "victory tour of Libya" - Daily Mail

> Video from yesterday: At the G8 summit in France, David Cameron says it's right to be ratcheting up the military, economic and political pressure against Colonel Gaddafi

Andrew Lansley warns he would rather quit than abandon his health reforms

Andrew Lansley 2010 "Andrew Lansley has warned David Cameron he would rather quit the Cabinet than abandon his controversial health reforms. The beleaguered health secretary has issued the extraordinary ‘back me or sack me’ ultimatum to Mr Cameron as his reform plans come under sustained attack from the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg... In an outspoken public intervention yesterday he said driving through the health reforms was now his only political goal. Mr Lansley said: ‘I’ve stopped being a politician - I just want to get the NHS to a place where it will deliver results. I don’t want to do any other Cabinet job. I’m someone who cares about the NHS who happens to be a politician, not the other way around’." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Do we want a producer-centred NHS or a patient-driven NHS?

Paras handed reprieve over pay cut as Liam Fox orders MoD rethink

"Dr Liam Fox is understood to have told Ministry of Defence officials to rethink plans that would lead to a pay cut of as much as 10 per cent for Parachute Regiment soldiers who have just returned from Afghanistan. More than 4,700 members of the Armed Forces are trained to parachute into action, including soldiers, engineers, artillery experts and medics. All receive an extra £180 a month regardless of rank, in recognition of the risks involved." - Daily Telegraph

  • Armed forces face radical changes under Lord Levene plans - The Guardian

> Martin Cakebread on Comment on Thursday: Rather than cut the Forces' pay, isn't it time we cut final salary pensions for all MPs and civil servants?

Theresa May to crack down on fraudsters

Theresa May blue "Theresa May, the home secretary, has announced a new crackdown on economic crime including bogus share dealing, but she has rowed back from plans to split the agency that prosecutes white-collar crime. Ms May wants to target fraud worth less than £1m, such as the sale of fake event tickets and fraudulent property rentals, along with internet-based con outfits.
“A lot of people feel that there hasn’t been enough emphasis on what one call middle-level, financial fraud taking place,” she said." - FT (£)

Government to appeal against ruling on Sharon Shoesmith's dismissal

"Government lawyers are to challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court, and David Cameron backed the Education Department’s appeal against the ruling. The Prime Minister said: “We all remember the absolutely appalling case of Baby P and how, as a country, we’ve got to do right and make sure we are accountable for the terrible mistakes and errors.” - Daily Express

"Sharon Shoesmith has said it was "justice, not money" that motivated her during a two-year legal challenge over her controversial sacking in the wake of the Baby Peter tragedy. The former Haringey director of children's services is potentially in line for compensation of more than £500,000 after the appeal court ruled on Friday that her dismissal by the former children's secretary Ed Balls was "intrinsically unfair and unlawful". In an interview with the Guardian, she said she was still angry at her treatment at the hands of Balls and the tabloid media, and blamed him for triggering a crisis in child protection." - The Guardian

> Coverage yesterday:

Sports Minister Hugh Robertson calls for Fifa election to be halted

Hugh Robertson "The Prime Minister has backed demands for the presidential election at Fifa, the governing body of world football, to be postponed because both candidates are being investigated over allegations of corruption... Hugh Robertson, the Sports Minister, said that the Fifa election process was “descending into a farce”. “It’s impossible to have a sensible election when both of the candidates have been accused of corruption,” he said. “The sensible thing would be to suspend the election until these allegations have been properly investigated.” - The Times (£)

£680,000 spent on Downing Street renovations

"David Cameron has spent more than £680,000 of public money renovating Downing Street in the year that his government inflicted the biggest ever spending cuts across the public sector. Records of all government spending reveal nine bills for the refurbishment of Downing Street including £30,000 for work he and his wife, Samantha, carried out on the No 11 flat last summer... The other £653,192.34 was spent on external and internal renovation of the offices and reception rooms in Downing Street, including cabling, plumbing and energy efficiency improvements." - The Guardian

"This spend relates to the Downing Street Building Modernisation Programme launched in 2006, under the last Government, to address structural repairs and the renewal of failing infrastructure having gone without refurbishment for some 50 years. 'This programme of work is still ongoing. Downing Street is a Grade I listed building. As such it requires a certain level of maintenance. The Prime Minister has paid for changes to the flat out of his own pocket, beyond the annual maintenance budget threshold." - Statement from Number Ten spokesman published in the Daily Mail

As it emerges that Tory MP Jeremy Lefroy was taken ill during Obama's speech on Wednesday...

"The cameras cut away from Barack Obama's speech in Parliament to catch a shot of Ken Clarke snoozing, but, quite rightly, they did not broadcast a more alarming interruption to the President's speech, when the MP, Jeremy Lefroy, collapsed and was taken to hospital. He had become dehydrated, through food poisoning. He was out of hospital the same evening, and his office said yesterday that he was back at work in his Stafford constituency." - The Independent

...Iain Martin rails at the ping pong, high fives and an insidious obsession with PR gimmicks

Iain Martin "Twenty-nine years ago, another American President addressed a joint meeting of both Houses of Parliament. Unlike Barack Obama, this visitor was not accorded the ultimate parliamentary honour of being asked to speak in the ancient Westminster Hall... But after the festival of hype and spin that accompanied Obama’s visit this week, with British politicians fawning in his presence, it is well worth re-reading Reagan’s brilliantly incisive and clear-sighted speech from that day, back in the summer of 1982. And what a sharp contrast to Barack Obama’s vapid sloganeering and windy rhetoric it is." - Iain Martin in the Daily Mail

  • Barack Obama should remember that global strength comes from a mix of ideals and power - Charles Moore in the Daily Telegraph
  • The Special Relationship is battered at a time the world needs it more than ever - Dominic Sandbrook in the Daily Mail

Political news and comment in brief

  • Treasury rebuked by UK Statistics Authority for inflation leaks - Daily Telegraph
  • Welsh Tory leadership contender barred from pub after quiz "banter" - BBC
  • We need a better growth strategy - John Redwood
  • Labour failures helped create the current climate of fear in Tower Hamlets - Graeme Archer in the Daily Telegraph
  • Police continue inquiries into Chris Huhne's speeding points - Michael Crick's BBC blog
  • Sarah Palin presidential speculation mounts as she announces bus tour - Daily Telegraph

And finally... Janet Brown, the celebrated Margaret Thatcher impressionist, has died

Picture 5 "Much-loved actress and comedienne Janet Brown, best known for her hilarious impersonations of Margaret Thatcher, died yesterday, aged 87. The Glasgow-born star, whose showbusiness career spanned 70 years, died in her sleep at a nursing home in Hove, East Sussex, after a short illness. Last night her devastated son, Darling Buds Of May actor Tyler Butterworth, 52, told The Mirror: “I’ll miss her terribly... I remember how she used to say that people responded to her in a different way as soon as she put on her Thatcher wig – it was strangely empowering. Occasionally people would heckle when she played Thatcher, but she joked that being in character gave her an uncanny ability to shoot people down with a razor-sharp comeback. She loved playing Mrs T." - Daily Mirror


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