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27 Dec 2012 09:01:54

Newslinks for Thursday 27th December 2012

8.30pm International: The Republicans likely to be hurt most if America falls off its "fiscal cliff"

2.15pm WATCH:

NORMAN-JESSENoon ToryDiary: Backbencher of the Year:

ToryDiary: Only 12% of Tory members expect Cameron to win a majority at next election

John Baron MP on Comment: We don't want another manifesto promise of a referendum we want Cameron to legislate for a referendum

Screen Shot 2012-12-26 at 22.06.27VIDEO: Tracey Crouch MP tells Channel 4 News that "significant minority" of Tory MPs oppose repeal of fox hunting ban

Grant Shapps confirms Owen Paterson's view that there is no chance of overturning ban on foxhunting

"The outspoken new head of the RSPCA, Gavin Grant, taunted David Cameron on his failure to bring forward a vote on fox hunting – telling him it was because he knows he will lose. The Prime Minister had pledged a free vote in the Commons on reversing the ban on fox hunting before the 2015 election. But almost three years into his Coalition, no vote has yet been timetabled." - Daily Mail

In the Daily Mail, Stephen Glover is unimpressed by Cameron's priorities: "In promoting gay marriage, which doesn’t matter to his supporters, and deferring a new Hunting Bill, which does, there is surely an important lesson for the New Year. David Cameron’s Conservative Party needs rebalancing."

  • Hound, horse and human come together today in an activity as vital as our heartbeats, says Roger Scruton in The Telegraph
  • The Times (£) warns against a vote, however: "The coalition has already expended precious political capital by allowing the Liberal Democrats to pursue their enthusiasm for reform of the House of Lords and by holding a referendum on changing the voting system to AV. It would be perverse to do more damage by allowing Conservative MPs to have a futile vote on their pet subject."

Cameron sees lack of support among minority communities as key failure of Tory detoxification and orders push to recruit more BME candidates

Screen Shot 2012-12-27 at 08.26.15

"One Conservative MP in a marginal urban seat told The Independent that his party faced an "existential" challenge in responding to the country's changing ethnic make-up. MPs and candidates are being given advice on how to engage with non-white communities by regularly attending key events, being urged to increase their presence in ethnic minority newspapers, radio programmes and television bulletins and to gain expertise on issues that particularly affect such groups." - Independent

  • In the FT (£) David Goodhart notes how Boris was re-elected despite "white flight" from the capital: "The data on the white exodus from London underlines just how remarkable Mr Johnson’s re-election was, given how most minority groups still overwhelmingly prefer Labour, at least in national elections. If he can win in London, despite losing so many of the white voters most disaffected with diversity, it suggests we may be set for a political swap: socially conservative urban ethnic minority voters switching to the Conservatives, and the godless, liberal suburbs turning to Labour."

62% support the move to legalise gay marriage; only 31% oppose - Guardian

Support for Tories surges in poll of gay voters - Independent | PinkNews

BUT... "Ministers are pursuing the "wrong policy" on gay marriage, and should be focusing on family breakdown, a High Court judge has said. Sir Paul Coleridge told the Times same-sex unions are a "minority issue"." - BBC

  • The Daily Mail agrees: "At a time when 45 per cent of 15-year-olds have seen their parents separate, how can gay marriage be a more urgent priority?"
  • The Express reports concern at lack of democratic mandate for change: "Archbishop Nichols said: “There was no announcement in any party manifesto, no Green Paper, no statement in the Queen’s Speech. And yet here we are on the verge of primary legislation. From a democratic point of view, it’s a shambles.”"

Widdecombe Ann BlueSuitAnn Widdecombe says flawed people can and should still speak up for laws or moral codes they struggle to honour: "Does it mean that anybody who has ever broken the speed limit cannot take a view about road safety? If a Christian breaks a commandment is he any less a Christian? Do I have to be married in order to defend my view that married couples should have special tax reliefs? Is an adulterer who chooses to stay with his wife rather than his mistress and is thereafter faithful not an upholder rather than destroyer of marriage?" - Express

Ten years ago Britons wanted to stay in Europe by a margin of 68% to 19%, now we want to leave by 51% to 40% - Daily Mail

Screen Shot 2012-12-27 at 08.30.25Labour MP Shaun Woodward backs referendum on our membership: "A referendum on continued membership may now be the only way to drain the poison from our membership. Initially it will alarm European nation states – not because the solution is wrong, but because they will face similar calls. Yet they may come to be the best disinfectant, ensuring the European commission speedily reforms itself." - Shaun Woodward MP in The Guardian

> Today on Platform from John Baron MP: We don't want another manifesto promise of a referendum we want Cameron to legislate for a referendum.

Nick Clegg has warned his coalition partner David Cameron that discussion of a referendum on relations with the EU before the euro has been rescued would place "the cart before the horse" - Guardian | Scotsman | ITV

More on Europe:

  • Fresh Start Group wants PM to set out 'nuclear' options to protect British interests in Europe - Guardian
  • Up to 70,000 British jobs 'are at risk from Brussels climate change law' - Daily Mail
  • "David Cameron will fail to strike a deal to freeze the EU budget — according to the Government’s own economic forecasters. The Office for Budget Responsibility has instead “assumed” it will increase by 2.8 per cent next year." - The Sun
  • More than 20,000 foreign workers from outside the EU could flock to Britain to replace Romanian and Bulgarian fruit pickers who will be tempted by better jobs when work restrictions are lifted in December 2013 - Telegraph

Tories should tackle UKIP by saying that a vote for Farage might help Ed Miliband... concluding "It may not work. But unlike the alternatives, it is unlikely to make things worse." - Daniel Finkelstein in The Times (£)

David Cameron's appeal among voters on the wane - Guardian

  • Is David Cameron undermining the honours system by rewarding MPs for the wrong reasons? - Peter Oborne in The Telegraph

Osborne April 2012George Osborne, has announced extra funding to boost the UK's development of the so-called "super-material" graphene

"It is one of the lightest yet strongest and most conductive materials known to man - and was originally discovered by scientists at Manchester University. Now other universities will be asked to research potential commercial uses. Mr Osborne said the £21.5m investment fund would aim to take the technology from the lab to the factory floor." - BBC

Number of highly-paid staff increase in many Whitehall departments

"The Chancellor’s Treasury department has increased the number of civil servants earning £100,000 or more from 20 in 2009-10 to 39 in 2011-2012. Meanwhile, Theresa May’s Home Office has seen a 50 per cent increase in staff on four times the national average salary, despite overseeing budget cuts under which police forces have shrunk." - Express

Hurd NickOther age of austerity stories:

  • Charities Minister Nick Hurd said he would congratulate any pensioner who chose to give away their winter fuel allowance to good causes - Daily Mail
  • Change in definition of inflation may hurt pensioners - Philip Johnston in The Telegraph
  • The rich ARE bearing and will bear a greater share of the burden of taxes than the poor - John Rentoul in The Independent
  • Britain spends twice as much as US and six times as much as Japan on disability benefits - Daily Mail
  • The Tories are trying to use the politics of fear to turn us against one another - Zoe Williams in The Guardian insists that Britain is in fundamentally good shape.

An online system to identify children who may be in danger of abuse or neglect is being developed for use in hospitals across England - BBC

Children should transfer school at 14, rather than 11, argues Lord (Kenneth) Baker - Independent

Michael Fabricant warns against witch-hunt against 'Plebgate" police - Independent

Tory MP Philip Davies should have been honest about his links to an increasingly dangerous and powerful gambling industry - Alastair Campbell for The Guardian

Screen Shot 2012-12-27 at 08.37.07Charles Walker MP, one of the MPs who revealed their mental health problems to the Commons, explains how that debate changed his life

"He reflects on the "good run" mental health had in 2012, praising fellow Conservative Gavin Barwell for successfully pushing a private member's bill he helped draw up – to scrap laws that discriminate against people who have had serious mental health problems, preventing them serving as jurors or school governors, for example. The bill makes its way to the Lords in January." - Guardian

Alistair Darling is planning to quit at the next election in a huge blow for Ed Miliband - The Sun

Seb Coe is The Times' Briton of the Year

"When he looks back, Lord Coe can forever be proud of the glorious day s in London in the summer of 2012 when the sun shone, the athletes came and a nation smiled" - Times leader (£)

Former US President George H W Bush has been in intensive care with a fever since Sunday - BBC

  • "Today’s Republican party is a bit like a headless body striking out blindly against change" - FT leader (£)

PICKLES ERIC 2009And finally... Eric Pickles has upset some fellow Yorkshiremen

"Eric Pickles, the Community Secretary, has been banned from one of the pubs in his home town after he was reported as saying that he hated going back to his native Yorkshire... The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government was quoted as telling Kirsty Young: “I am afraid I am going to have to kind of admit to treason on the air: I like Essex. Essex is my home. I hate going back to Yorkshire.” Later, Mr Pickles insisted that he had been misheard, and had said “ain’t” instead of “hate”." - Times (£)


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24 Dec 2012 08:53:25

Newslinks for Christmas Eve 2012

ConHome returns at 9am on 27th December. Do vote in our end of year survey if you haven't already done so. As well as the regular questions we are asking readers to decide our awards for the year - including minister, backbencher, policy, gaffe and conservative achievement of 2012.

1.45pm ToryDiary: Happy Christmas to all of our readers

1.45pm Peter Walker on Comment: The police need leadership - and to get back to basics

10.30am LISTEN: On last night's ‏BBC Westminster Hour, Carolyn Quinn talked to Tim Montgomerie, Stephen Tall and Hopi Sen about the political year

ToryDiary: Cameron's Christmas message described "as the most Christian of its kind from an incumbent prime minister"

Screen Shot 2012-12-24 at 08.49.15

ToryDiary: Prufrock's Christmas Carol

220px-Chamberlain2Nick Timothy argues that it is time for the Conservative Party to remember its historical debt to Radical Joe Chamberlain: "At the birth of mass democracy, he gave the Party an unambiguous mission: the betterment of Britain’s working classes.  He believed that the state must remain small, capitalism must be preserved and private property protected, but working-class children needed to be educated, workers protected from industrial injuries and unscrupulous bosses, and the ownership of property extended to people of all classes."

On MPsETC, Martin Callanan MEP: The year ends with tensions over the EU budget but progress on some other important issues

David Cameron issues his Bible-focused Christmas message...

"Christmas also gives us the opportunity to remember the Christmas story – the story about the birth of Jesus Christ and the hope that he brings to the countless millions who follow him. The Gospel of John tells us that in this man was life, and that his life was the light of all mankind, and that he came with grace, truth and love. Indeed, God’s word reminds us that Jesus was the Prince of Peace." - Read the full text.

...and is he trying to rebuild his credentials with churchgoers?

The Mail and Telegraph think so:

  • "David Cameron offered an olive branch to Christians last night, issuing the most overtly religious Christmas message by a prime minister in recent times. He quoted from the Gospel of St John in an apparent attempt to parade his religious credentials while controversy rages about his government’s plans to introduce gay marriage." - Daily Mail
  • "Speaking at the end of a turbulent year for relations between church and state, he signalled a personal religious faith, referring to Jesus as “the light of all mankind”. In language common in US public life but rare in British politics, he spoke of his own “hope and prayer” at Christmas while describing the Bible as “God’s word”." - Telegraph

> Today's ToryDiary: 12 things Cameron can do to win back the support of churchgoers

Tim Montgomerie: Cameron should champion religious freedom

Tim M"According to America’s Pew Research Centre, it is not just the Middle East where the foundational freedom of religion and conscience is in retreat. There are twice as many countries where restrictions are getting worse rather than better. Seventy per cent of the world’s population live in countries where religious freedom is restricted in severe ways by political policy or by intimidating social forces... The gay marriage debate has undermined David Cameron’s standing with many of Britain’s churchgoers. A commitment to religious liberty — building on his solid support for faith schools and fighting poverty overseas — could help to restore relations." - Tim Montgomerie in The Times (£)

Coalition set to focus on pension reform in big mid-term review
- Osborne will agree to single tier pension of about £140 per week in exchange for linking retirement age with life expectancy
- Women, the self-employed and low earners will be main winners - FT (£)

"Britons will have to wait longer to receive a state pension under a government plan that will see future increases in pension age linked to fast-rising life expectancy. George Osborne, chancellor, had made an automatic review of the state pension age in line with longevity the price of his support for a move to a new, flat-rate pension intended to reduce reliance on means-tested benefits and help the lower paid." - FT (£)

Under adoption reforms parents will help choose children rather than social workers controlling whole process

"Under the new proposals, parents will be granted access for the first time to the national register of all children awaiting adoption and empowered to request that a particular match is pursued on their behalf. In addition, parties or activity days that bring together parents and children waiting to be adopted will be introduced nationwide, enabling parents to make the first move and express an interest in a particular child." - Times (£) | Guardian

Osborne chooses tax relief rather than state provision for childcare

"The Chancellor is expected to overrule Nick Clegg by announcing that parents will be able to write off up to a third of their child care costs against tax. The Liberal Democrats are arguing for an alternative plan which would see the state provide more free care." - Independent

DAVIS DAVIDCameron's allies hit out at David Davis, insisting PM has always been fully supportive of Andrew Mitchell - Telegraph | ITV

  • Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe has said his force would launch "a ruthless search for the truth" in the "plebgate" affair - BBC
  • Mitchell: I was stitched-up in smear campaign - Independent

Implications for the police

"Ministers are ready to use the Andrew Mitchell affair to press through changes to working practices resisted by rank-and-file officers, The Times (£) understands. One well-placed minister said that the apparent role of the Police Federation in the former Chief Whip’s demise strengthened the Home Office case for new terms and conditions."

"Plebgate has now morphed from an F-word spat into a crisis of confidence in Britain’s police service. For David Cameron it is a heaven-sent opportunity to make our thin blue line go straight." - Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun

"From Orgreave to Hillsborough, police have been accused of doctoring the evidence. I've even seen it happen" - John Kampfner in The Guardian

"Both the main parties have traditionally cosied up to the police, but the Mitchell affair is especially traumatic for the Tories. Until now they have always believed that the police are fundamentally on their side. The discovery that this is not necessarily so can only be good for democracy. From now on perhaps they will be a little braver in taking on what is surely one of the mightiest and least reformed vested interests in the country." - Chris Mullin for The Times (£)

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: "The media pendulum that swung all the way, one way, is now swinging all the way, the other - and knocking the police off their perch"

While 'outrage inflation' has become endemic in public life, the real work of monitoring the powerful is left undone - Jackie Ashley in The Guardian

Mail blasts Ed Miliband's deployment of class war during 'Plebgate'

Miliband Ed Bookcase"The way Ed Miliband shamefully tried to exploit the alleged use of the toxic word ‘pleb’, as part of a class war campaign against the ‘toff’ Prime Minister. His ugly behaviour will only further alienate voters who want to see politicians focusing on jobs, immigration, Europe and healthcare – not scoring cheap points." - Daily Mail leader

The catalogue of abuse and neglect at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch reads like something out of a novel by Charles Dickens - Express leader

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: We ought to be much, much more angry about hospital treatment of the very elderly

Cameron and Clegg pen joint reply to Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered black teenager, in bid to head off embarrassing row over equalities commitments - Guardian

THATCHERBaroness Thatcher is said to be "in good spirits" as she recovers from minor surgery but is expected to celebrate Christmas in hospital - ITV

"Baroness Thatcher is awaiting the results of tests to learn if she has cancer, it emerged yesterday. The former Prime Minister had a growth removed from her bladder on Thursday and tests will show if it is benign." - Express

MPs may be sued over their second home profits if they refuse to hand over part of the profits they have made - Daily Mail

43% of households believe their finances will worsen in 2013, compared with 24% who expect it to improve - Guardian

SNP figures say close referendum defeat might mean another vote on independence within just five years

SCOTTISH-PARLIAMENT"Opposition parties attacked the ‘neverendum’ strategy, which is understood to have wide support within SNP ranks, and urged voters to frustrate it by handing the separatists an emphatic defeat in two years’ time." - Telegraph

...but, reports The Scotsman, aide to Alex Salmond says vote will be a once-in-a-generation event.

  • "Instead of warbling on about the Union, Labour could champion a new federal Britain run in the interests of working people" - Owen Jones in The Independent

And finally... Amid rumours that Ben Affleck might run for the US Senate... "Hollywood actors have a chequered history in politics," warns Benedict NIghtingale in The Times (£)

And finally 2... "I hereby announce that this year’s winner for the greatest cultural masterpiece of 2012 is Gangnam Style..." - Boris Johnson in The Telegraph


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23 Dec 2012 09:00:00

Newslinks for Sunday 23rd December 2012

4.30pm Lord Bates on Comment: The North East of England shows that the Government's policies are hurting - but working

Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 12.49.113pm LeftWatch: Will Mitchell and Huhne embrace, like Wellington and Blücher after Waterloo, at Cabinet in 2013?

Noon ToryDiary: We ought to be much, much more angry about hospital treatment of the very elderly

ToryDiary: The police's bleak mid-winter

Stephen Hammond MP on Comment: Common sense has prevailed over the EU's MOT proposals

Local Government: Extra council funding for roads maintenance

It's Comeback Christmas for Andrew Mitchell and...Chris Huhne! 

Mitchell: My story

Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 07.31.04
"In his first full account of the “plebgate” scandal that cost him his cabinet post, the Conservative former chief whip has told how the Police Federation, which represents more than 130,000 rank-and-file officers, exploited the row he had with officers manning the gate at Downing Street.  Mitchell claims the Police Federation is “not telling the truth” in its account of the affair. He believes he was the victim of a conspiracy by “police elements” and that somebody could have added words to the official police record of the spat."

  • Cameron initially wanted to sack him
  • Mitchell lost a stone in weight through stress
  • His public apology was a “disaster”

Mitchell article in full. Photo accompanying it shows former Chief Whip cuddling dog - Sunday Times (£)

Slightly more people now believe former Chief Whip than the police - YouGov

Cameron rushes to attack police, defend Mitchell

David Cameron 2010 open neck serious"David Cameron was last night forced into an extraordinary attack on the police, as he leapt to the defence of Andrew Mitchell over the "plebgate" affair…The Prime Minister said he was "deeply shocked" that a serving police officer was being investigated for "lying" about the incident at the gates of Downing Street which later led to the resignation of his then Chief Whip. Mr Cameron belatedly rushed to support the former cabinet minister after friends of Mr Mitchell accused the Prime Minister of leaving him "swinging in the wind" by failing to release CCTV footage that would have helped his case." - Independent on Sunday

  • Cameron's immediate future is easy, but unhappy voters and boundary changes may conspire against him in 2015 - John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday

More Mitchell news:

Nick Herbert: Britain's police must reform or lose respect and trust

Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 05.13.08"Last week on Any Questions, broadcast from a Buckinghamshire village, Jonathan Dimbleby gasped as the majority of his audience indicated they were losing trust in the police. Where once minority communities seemed alone in raising doubts, middle England has found common cause. This is not a crisis, but it is serious, and it must be addressed by police leaders. Elected police and crime commissioners must fulfil their new mandate to hold the police to account." - Observer

Other Mitchell comment: the editorials

More Mitchell comment: the columnists

  • "If this can happen in the heart of Whitehall, to a senior government minister, then most assuredly it can happen to any one of us, anywhere" - Robert Harris, Sunday Times (£)
  • The Police Federation should seize the chance to re-evaluate its culture to ensure that it is an organisation fit for purpose - Sir Paul Stephenson, Sunday Telegraph
  • Make Mitchell new BBC Chief - Toby Young, Sun on Sunday
  • Backstabbing Tories are the real villains of 'Plebgate' - Anne McElvoy, Mail on Sunday
  • I told you Mitchell was innocent - Peter Hitchens, Sunday Telegraph

And finally...

"Why I think that Andrew Mitchell might, just might, become a Tory leadership contender when a vacancy occurs" - Mike Smithson, Political Betting

> Today: ToryDiary - The police's bleak mid-winter

Cases of police corruption up by 62% in a year from 151 investigations a month to 245 - Mail on Sunday

Armed police to patrol all of Scotland - Scotland on Sunday

Uurrgghh! Huhne tipped for Cabinet comeback

HuhneSnarl"Shamed ex-Energy Secretary Chris Huhne is poised for a sensational Cabinet comeback. The love-rat Lib Dem is awaiting trial with ex-wife Vicky Pryce over an alleged speeding ticket scam. But party chiefs are preparing for his return, amid talk at Westminster that the case will be dropped — speculation denied by the Crown Prosecution Service. One senior Lib Dem said: “If he was available, we’d have to have him back. Not immediately as we’d have to sack someone, but we need a big beast like that.” - Sun on Sunday

Aarrgghh! Huhne tipped as next LibDem leader

"Chris Huhne is tipped  to replace Nick Clegg as Liberal Democrat leader if  he wins a criminal case  being brought against him, senior party figures claimed last night. They say the former Energy Secretary would be the frontrunner to rescue the Lib Dems from ‘meltdown’ at the next General Election if Mr Clegg fails to halt the party’s alarming poll slide." - Mail on Sunday

> Yesterday: LeftWatch - Lib Dem President Tim Farron says the Tories could "go off to the far right"

Tory MP body language row one: Stewart Jackson slams "chav TV" Embarrassing Bodies

Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 07.53.01"A Tory MP has been criticised after he described viewers of the Channel 4 show Embarrassing Bodies as ‘chavs’. Stewart Jackson MP accused Dr Christian Jessen of making ‘crap chav TV’ after the TV presenter criticised a fellow Tory MP for being against gay marriage. The row began yesterday with Dr Jessen alerting his Twitter followers to an article in which David Davies was quoted saying that legalising gay marriage was ‘barking mad’." - Mail on Sunday

Tory MP body language row two: Gerald Howarth and Gavin Barwell's tea room same sex marriage row. Were ‘offensive words relating to sexual orientation’ used?

"The confrontation between fiercely anti-gay marriage MP Sir Gerald Howarth and rising star Gavin Barwell took place in front of shocked colleagues in the Commons Tea Room.  One onlooker told The Mail on Sunday that ‘offensive words relating to sexual orientation’ were used – although this aspect of the exchange is denied by the men." - Mail on Sunday

Vince Cable takes issue with Peter Hitchens over migrants - Mail on Sunday

Colin Firth takes issue with Theresa May over migrant (a Nigerian woman with kidney failure) - Mail on Sunday

May and Pickles fight on against minimum alcohol pricing - Sunday Express

Triumph of the hereditary principle: Euan Blair, Emily Benn, Joe Dromey, Will Straw and Georgia Gould "aim to become Labour MPs"

Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 07.56.29"Tony Blair fuelled speculation last week that his eldest son Euan is to follow him into Westminster politics by revealing he had advised his son he needed "passion" to be an MP. If, as expected, the younger Mr Blair attempts to run for Parliament at the 2015 election, he joins a band of Red Princes – and Princesses – who are trying to emulate their famous Labour parents…Mr Blair told a lunch of political journalists last week: "Don't do it unless you feel it as a vocation." - Independent on Sunday

Israel fears plot by Hamas to seize West Bank - Sunday Times (£)

Distrust and apathy hit disputed referendum in Egypt - Observer

Cameron snubbed Obama to jump gun on troops' exit - Sunday Times (£)

Peter Oborne: IDS is fighting "the battle of his life" against Osborne and Shapps's "strivers v scroungers" strategy"

"This distinction between shirkers and workers is now becoming part of Conservative Party strategy. Last weekend, the newly appointed Tory chairman, Grant Shapps, launched a poster campaign with the slogan: “Time to end Labour’s something for nothing culture”, involving photos of idle young thugs, contrasting them with beatific portraits of white, hard-working families. I am told that when Mr Duncan Smith learnt of this campaign he was, in the words of an ally, “absolutely livid”. After a series of internal rows, the posters are now likely to be ditched. This is, however, very dangerous territory for the Coalition, and it is clear that Iain Duncan Smith is fighting the battle of his life." - Sunday Telegraph

  • IDS's advisers warn of consequence of benefits crackdown - Observer
  • Government is simply unaffordable - Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph

Stephen Hammond forces EU backdown over MOT plan

HAMMOND STEPHEN"EU bureaucrats have backed down over plans to impose MOT tests on millions of British caravans and classic cars. Transport Minister Stephen Hammond helped secure the deal which will see drivers spared the threat of having their vehicles taken off the road if they have been even slightly modified since leaving the factory. If implemented, the European Commission MOT proposal would have cost British taxpayers an estimated £1billion over five years in test fees." - Sunday Express

> Today: Stephen Hammond MP on Comment - Common sense has prevailed over the EU's MOT proposals

Defence cuts to hit 9,500 Army posts - Sunday Telegraph

Brit 7/7 widow ‘plotted station horror’ - Sun on Sunday

The KGB bugged Princess Margaret - Sunday Express

Lady Thatcher "may have cancer"

"Frail Baroness Thatcher faces an agonising wait to learn if she has cancer. She had a tumour cut from her bladder after urgent surgery on Thursday. Now medics will test it to see if it is cancerous. The 87-year-old former Prime Minister was said to have slept comfortably after the operation. Daughter Carol, 59, has been by her bedside at an unnamed hospital and son Mark, 59, has been in “close contact” over the phone." - Sun on Sunday

‘More tax staff cutting child benefit than chasing dodgers’ - Mail on Sunday

Row after Patten plugs own firm - Sunday Times (£)

Watchdog tells MPs to repay home 'profits' - Independent on Sunday

Rotherham UKIP foster parents may sue council - Mail on Sunday

Expenses cheat MP Margaret Moran keeps £25k 'golden handshake' - Mail on Sunday

Boris Johnson is the politician you'd most like to have to lunch on Christmas Day - Sunday Times (£)

Charities hit by fewer people sending Christmas cards - Sunday Express

Message of hope from new Archbishop of Canterbury - Sunday Express

The cocaine addict, the father with a gambling habit - God values us all. At Christmas, we remember why we 'haves' must help the 'have-nots' - John Senmatu, Archbishop of York, Mail on Sunday


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22 Dec 2012 09:00:43

Newslinks for Saturday 22nd December 2012

5pm LeftWatch: Lib Dem President Tim Farron says the Tories could "go off to the far right"

3.45pm WATCH: John Whittingdale: "The BBC needs to take account of the public feeling" over retaining key Savile investigation staff

11.15am MPsETC: Conservatives dominate the top 20 most mentioned politicians of 2012

ToryDiary: Osborne said to be considering introducing tolls on motorways

Kawczynski danielDaniel Kawczynski MP on Comment: UK Trade and Investment is not doing enough to spur on the export-led recovery Britain needs

Thinkers' Corner: Roger Scruton reflects on the conservative neglect of culture

Local Government: Primary schools are still not teaching our island's story

WATCH: Barack Obama nominates John Kerry as next US Secretary of State

Mrs Thatcher recovering from operation

ThatcherOnTank"Former prime minister Margaret Thatcher is recovering in hospital after having a growth removed from her bladder. She is understood to have undergone a minor operation to remove the growth. The former prime minister's spokeswoman said Baroness Thatcher is doing "absolutely fine". ... Friends of the former Conservative prime minister told the BBC they expect her to remain in hospital for a number of days." - BBC

Osborne wants more toll roads to fund road investment

OsborneGreenTie"George Osborne, the chancellor, is considering a levy on motorists to drive on Britain’s motorways and main A roads, in an attempt to unlock investment in the creaking highway network. ... David Cameron is attracted to the idea but only if he can devise a scheme which avoids a backlash from middle Britain; motorists will be highly sceptical about paying more to drive on a network which is already built and bursting at the seams." - FT (£) | BBC

  • "The move would... trigger a major political backlash... but the blow could be softened by a cut in fuel duty and excise duty for car owners who use their vehicles only around towns" - Guardian
  • Chaos makes highways charge a hard sell - FT (£)

> Today on ToryDiaryOsborne said to be considering introducing tolls on motorways

Plebgate: David Cameron was shown CCTV - but still allowed Mitchell to resign...

Mitchell"David Cameron left Andrew Mitchell "swinging in the wind" when he allowed his political career to come to an end knowing that a police account of a confrontation with armed officers was open to question... Friends of Mitchell said it was "bloody astonishing" that Cameron had allowed him to resign even after No 10 officials had suggested CCTV footage raised concerns about accounts of the 19 September incident." - Guardian

...Mitchell was told the footage did not clear him

CCTV"The Independent understands that Mr Mitchell himself did not see the CCTV footage before he resigned, instead being told by officials that the tape was "of low resolution and you couldn't lip-read" what was being said. He was not told by either Mr Cameron or Downing Street officials that the footage contradicted police statements about the affair." - Independent

  • MPs set to question Met Commissioner about handling of Plebgate - Times (£)
  • PM praises ex-chief whip’s ‘calm reponse’ to plebgate - Yorkshire Post
  • Depression, panic attacks – but then Mr Mitchell vowed to clear his name - Independent

Plebgate comment:

  • The Andrew Mitchell affair is to the police what the McAlpine scandal was to the BBC - Charles Moore for the Daily Telegraph
  • When the police lie about politicians, we should ALL be very worried - Simon Heffer for the Daily Mail
  • Tales of tarnished coppers make the case for reform, writes Max Hastings - Sir Max Hastings for the FT (£)

Tories pledge to cap rises in welfare for six years if they win the next election

IDS TO CSJ"A cap on welfare could last six years if the Tories are re-elected, senior officials suggested yesterday. They claim the policy would be a vote winner because it would save the equivalent of £700 for every working family. A three-year squeeze on benefit payments beginning next year was announced by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement. But yesterday a government source raised the possibility of extending it to 2018 – saying the move would save the Exchequer more than £11billion." - Daily Mail

Borrowing rise could cost Britain's credit rating

"George Osborne faces an uphill battle to maintain Britain’s top notch credit rating next year following the release of data showing the economy is doing less well than hoped. New government borrowing rose sharply to £17.5billion in November. This suggests the Chancellor will find it hard to bring the total deficit for 2012-13 down to £80.5billion as projected in the Autumn Statement just two weeks ago." - Daily Mail

Cameron hints troops could leave Afghanistan faster

Cameron troops"David Cameron said withdrawal plans could be speeded up if Afghan security forces continue to make good progress. Nearly half of our 9,000 troops will return within the next 12 months, with all combat forces home by the end of 2014. ... He said: “There is flexibility, all the commentators are seeing how fast Afghan forces can take over. We may be able to move a little faster, let’s see how things go.”" - The Sun

  • "[G]iven the outstanding calibre of these young men and women the prospect of losing more to a conflict whose outcome can no longer be decisively altered is a miserable one." - Daily Express editorial
  • Defence cuts put us in danger, warns Archbishop of York - Daily Telegraph

> From yesterday - WATCH: David Cameron visits troops in Afghanistan

Theresa May interview: I probably was a Goody Two Shoes at school

May Theresa Abu Qatada"The Hamza deportation, and a determination to reduce immigration “to the tens of thousands”, has led to her being hailed as the new standard-bearer of the Right. She is even talked of as a future leader, though the Right has never really forgiven her for telling the Tories that they were “the Nasty Party” as chairman, in 2002. Mrs May told the faithful they needed to look like 21st-century Britain instead of “hankering after some mythical place called Middle England and descending into glib moralising and hypocritical finger-wagging”." - Theresa May interview with the Daily Telegraph

  • "Asked about having children, she said: “It just didn’t happen. I mean, this isn’t something I generally go into, but things just turned out as they did.”" - Daily Telegraph
  • Theresa May's Christmas message stokes ire of police - Guardian

> Yesterday on MPsETCIn a letter to Theresa May, Dominic Raab MP sets out Tory backbenchers’ concerns about the Communications Data Bill

David Davies MP interviewed on gay marriage

DAVIES DAVID"When I ask why he hopes none of his children will be gay, he admits again, "I don't know why. I find it hard to explain, frankly. But I'm uncomfortable with it. I suppose it's a grandchildren issue, perhaps?" he offers doubtfully. "Isn't it a natural instinct? Maybe that's the problem – it's hard to rationalise an instinct with politics in a logical way, which you're trying to do. But I've got this sense of unease. I think it's widely shared – I know it's widely shared; you should see the emails I get. I think a lot of people have this slight sense of unease, which isn't very well articulated. And I'm afraid I haven't articulated it very well."" - David Davies MP interviewed for the Guardian

Boris Johnson's idea for an outer tier of the EU has more subtlety than it might first appear - Guardian

Baroness Newlove to be adviser on crime

Newlove helen"Baroness Newlove, whose first husband was kicked to death outside his home, is to be the new Victims’ Commissioner, the Government announced yesterday. She has campaigned for victims of crime since Garry died after confronting a gang of youths outside his house in Warrington five years ago. Lady Newlove, a Conservative peer, has been appointed for three years to advise ministers on victims’ views on the justice system" - Times (£)

MPs to investigate plans to rip up thousands of pages of planning guidance - Daily Telegraph

Farage seizes threat of new mass migration

Farage on Sky"The threat of another wave of mass migration from Eastern Europe to Britain is to be deployed by the UK Independence Party to broaden its appeal to disgruntled voters. Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, said that 29 million Bulgarians and Romanians would have an “open door” to Britain when restrictions on their free movement across Europe came to an end in 2014." - Times (£)

RSPCA broke charity rules over David Cameron hunt prosecution - Daily Telegraph

Oh dear: Arthur Scargill loses rent costs case

"Arthur Scargill, the firebrand former miners’ leader, has lost his fight for the union he ran for 20 years to go on paying for his London flat. The National Union of Mineworkers successfully argued that Mr Scargill was not entitled to free rent at the Barbican complex for his lifetime." - FT (£)

Uh-oh: Argentina complains to UK over Queen Elizabeth Land 'imperialism'


"Argentina has presented a formal note of protest to the UK ambassador over the naming of a large area of Antarctica as Queen Elizabeth Land. The note... criticised the UK's "anachronistic imperialist ambitions that hark back to ancient practices". The newly named area has long been claimed by Argentina as its own, along with other contested areas in the south Atlantic including the Falkland Islands" - Guardian

  • Falkland Islanders have historic opportunity to 'seize' their own destiny, Cameron says - Daily Mail

Scottish-flag1Scottish quangos spend £113 million on PR, overseas travel, consultants and hospitality - Daily Telegraph

  • Scotland should not be wasting time on blaming the English any more - Deborah Orr for the Guardian
  • The Catalan bid for independence has been handled shockingly by Madrid. Spain could learn a lot from the UK - Matthew Parris for the Times (£)

Cuts to hit deprived councils hardest - FT (£)

UK needs more houses not higher benefits, thinktank says - Guardian

> Yesterday on Local GovernmentPickles advises council on 50 ways to save

At the root of the Mayan hysteria is our desire to have the slate wiped clean - Graeme Archer for the Daily Telegraph

Visa delays leave foreign students stranded in UK for Christmas - Guardian

Italian PM Mario Monti quits after his budget is approved - Daily Mail

'Being raised Catholic is worse than child abuse' says Richard Dawkins - Daily Mail


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