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Newslinks for Thursday January 31st 2013

Lord AshcroftMidnight Lord Ashcroft on Comment: The Europe speech has cheered Tories... but it has not moved votes

9.45pm MPsETC: Candidates are now being selected for Cardiff North, Corby, Hazel Grove and Solihull

5.45pm Christopher Howarth on Comment: Two Unions, two borders, two islands – why the future of the EU and UK places the British Isles at a decision point

4.15pm The fourth part of our #LittleGuyConservatism series focuses on Lord Baker of Dorking... and a revolution in technical education

3.15pm WATCH: David Cameron is welcomed into Libya

1.45pm Local government: John Bald says The Education Select Committee is wrong to defend the GCSE

1.30pm Jeremy Lefroy MP on Comment: The case for a UK Development Bank

12.45pm Chris White MP on Comment: An Act that stands up for social value

11.30am: Candidates selected for Hampstead & Kilburn and Gower

10am ToryDiary: Dean Godson is the new Director of Policy Exchange

ToryDiary: IDS is working to tackle real poverty, not just Gordon Brown’s idea of it

Red White and BlueHenry Hill's latest Red, White and Blue column: A question of Scotland's referendum question

Matthew Groves on Comment: When it is not necessary to change it is necessary not to change

Local Government: The cost of adoption is too high

The Deep End: This is a reforming government and apprenticeships could be its greatest legacy

WATCH: "The answer is not purely a military one," says David Cameron from Algeria

From Algeria, David Cameron suggests that he'll protect the defence budget from further cuts

Cameron in Algeria"David Cameron ruled out further defence cuts last night, saying that military spending would rise in real terms after 2015. ... During a historic trip to Algeria, the Prime Minister sought to quell a mounting backlash from Tory MPs and military top brass. ... Mr Cameron’s defence pledge piles pressure on him to end protections granted to health, schools and foreign aid spending." - Daily Mail

"British special forces are set for a role in any future hostage crisis in North Africa as part of a Downing Street plan to join the 'generational struggle' against terror in the region. A deal to forge a new security pact with Algeria, which is set to allow British special forces to train its counterparts in the country, is an element of a plan to stem the terrorist threat growing from groups linked with al-Qaeda." - The Times (£)

  • "Two weeks on, that aircraft loan has been extended to three months, the 40 troops have become 330 – and yesterday, David Cameron underlined his personal commitment by visiting neighbouring Algeria. Stop, Prime Minister!" - Daily Mail leader
  • "Ignore the sniping. Mali will not be another Vietnam" - Paul Gibson, The Times (£)
  • "Cameron will have to fund his Mali adventure" - James Forsyth, Spectator
  • "...if the Government intends to make full use of our special forces, then it needs to invest in them – a message that Mr Cameron appears to be absorbing." - Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph

> Today's video to WATCH: "The answer is not purely a military one," says David Cameron from Algeria

> Yesterday's video to WATCH: David Cameron slaps down George Galloway over Syria

The MoD's shopping list

Shopping list"The Ministry of Defence has revealed how it intends to spend £160bn over the next decade on new weapons systems, including a fleet of Trident nuclear missile submarines, two large aircraft carriers, helicopters, armoured vehicles, and unmanned drones." - Guardian

  • "Forces heroes caught in the latest devastating round of Army job cuts have been given a Sunemployment lifeline after top firms pledged to provide over 20,000 jobs for them" - The Sun

Iain Duncan Smith's ideas for broadening out the definition of child poverty

"In a speech today, he will suggest broader ways of calculating child poverty – including whether or not parents are in work, educational failure, family breakdown, problem debt, gambling and poor health. .... In remarks ahead of the speech, the Work and Pensions Secretary said Labour had ‘spent an unprecedented amount of money in their pursuit of child poverty targets, with some £170billion paid out in tax credits alone’ – but still missed their aim of halving child poverty." - Daily Mail

> Today on ToryDiaryIDS is working to tackle real poverty, not just Gordon Brown’s idea of it

George Osborne's pessismistic quip: "In three years’ time we will be sitting around the shadow cabinet table"

Storm clouds"One minister urged Mr Cameron to act promptly on the plans, saying: ‘We don’t want to be sitting around the Cabinet table having this conversation in three years’ time.’ ... At that point Mr Osborne piped up: ‘In three years’ time we will be sitting around the shadow cabinet table.’ ... Those present said the Chancellor was ‘only half joking’ when he made the crack and that he provoked ‘nervous laughter’ from other ministers." - Daily Mail

  • "David Cameron has been forced to defend George Osborne amid accusations he helped secure a £600million detour for the controversial High Speed Rail line to avoid losing votes." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: 

"Tory traditionalists" set to back gay marriage

"Tory traditionalists in the Cabinet are preparing to back gay marriage despite continuing anger among the party’s grassroots. ... Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, one of the Government’s most senior Right-wingers, indicated yesterday he will vote in favour of legalising same-sex unions next week, while Baroness Warsi, who has previously expressed concern, also revealed she is to back the reform." - Daily Mail

  • "Children whose parents split after they turn seven are more likely to do poorly in exams and behave badly, a Government-funded study has found." - Daily Mail

Ken Clarke warns against British disengagement from Europe

KC"Britian would be making a 'fatal mistake' if it left the European Union, Ken Clarke said yesterday as Europhile heavyweights launched a campaign for deeper UK engagement with Brussels ... 'We need to concentrate on what are are in favour of and not just what we are against,' he said." - The Times (£)

  • "Change is needed in Europe, but David Cameron’s posturing is not the way to bring it about" - Roy Hattersley, New Statesman

> Yesterday, by Dr Lee Rotherham on Comment: Some questions for the new "Centre for British Influence Through Europe"

Eric Pickles takes a swipe at the "gullible" BBC

"Eric Pickles has accused ‘gullible’ BBC journalists of working with Labour to maximise the ‘political damage’ over the Coalition’s spending cuts. ... In one of the most outspoken attacks on the Corporation by a senior minister, he said regional programmes gave ‘unquestioning’ airtime to Labour councils complaining about cuts." - Daily Mail

  • "'Secretive’ quangos blamed for council tax rise, says Eric Pickles" - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday on Local Government: Pickles attacks BBC

Fiona Bruce announces a cross-party commission into the abortion law on disabled babies

"A cross-party commission will seek to 'establish whether there is room for a review of this legislation bearing in mind both medical advances and advances in our attitudes to disability over recent years', Fiona Bruce, the Tory MP who will chair the inquiry, said yesterday." - Daily Telegraph

The chairs of five select committees write to David Cameron, urging him to leave out students from his migration target - Guardian

Police officers attack Government plans to allow foreigners to take charge of British forces

Met"The Association of Chief Police Officers insisted there was no shortage of talent in the police and worried that existing officers would be frustrated in their efforts to seek promotion. ... Policing Minister Damian Green said it would be ‘years not decades’ before a foreign national took charge of a force in England and Wales." - Daily Mail

  • "A shake-up in police recruitment, announced yesterday by Damian Green, the Police Minister, is a bold move in the right direction, but a step rather than a leap." - Times leader (£)
  • "Our police need more radical change than this" - Independent leader
  • "There’s no need for the police to fear new talent" - Daily Telegraph leader
  • "Theresa May has simply got on with the job of police reform" - Martin Kettle, Guardian

"Ministers should be prepared to miss their controversial foreign aid target if they cannot ensure the cash will be spent effectively, MPs said yesterday" - Daily Mail

Ministers come under question for their role in the West Coast Main Line debacle

"Ministers were to blame for the West Coast rail fiasco, according to a report by MPs published on Thursday. ... The Commons transport committee report said there were 'serious questions' about the roles of ministers and civil servants at all levels. ... These findings are at odds with statements from both Downing Street and Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, saying no minister was at fault for the cancellation of the contract to run the UK’s busiest intercity railway." - Financial Times (£)

  • "Our government system is a mess because of the high turnover of senior civil servants" - Sue Cameron, Daily Telegraph

Robert Halfon attacks the Office of Fair Trading's inquiry into fuel prices

RH2"Tory MP Robert Halfon, who spearheaded the Commons campaign against rip-off fuel prices, said the scandal still needed to be addressed. ... He insisted: ‘Whatever the OFT says, high prices at the pump are crushing families across Britain. Oil companies bear responsibility as well as the Government.’" - Daily Mail

  • "So why is fuel so expensive? One word: TAX. ... It’s all very well the Government freezing rises in duty. What are its plans to help the struggling trucking industry? What about the average driver, spending half a week’s wages just to get to work?" - Sun leader

> Yesterday:

Steven Norris: "If we are serious about big projects like HS2 we must drive a bulldozer through red tape" - Steven Norris, The Times (£)

Consultants who advise the banks on their salary packages? "A profession which makes prostitution seem thoroughly respectable," according to Lord Lawson - Daily Mail

The Coalition should ditch the Justice and Security Bill, reckons Peter Oborne - Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

Steve Richards: David Cameron is suffering from fixed-term parliaments

SR"Before fixed-term parliaments it was assumed that a Prime Minister would call a general election after four years. Even if it did not happen the assumption that it might would concentrate minds. ... But this year is different. There will be no election in 2014. ... There is still plenty of time to be disloyal, to speak up for principled conviction, to plot and plan against a leader." - Steve Richards, Independent

Ed Davey says that nuclear's still on track – even though a new radioactive waste dump has been blocked

"Britain’s long-term nuclear plans have been thrown into disarray after the only county willing to store radioactive waste pulled out of the running. ... Energy secretary Edward Davey said: ‘I am confident that the programme to manage radioactive waste safely will ultimately be successful, and that the decisions made in Cumbria today will not undermine prospects for new nuclear power stations.’" - Daily Mail

Quentin Letts versus Labour and the Lib Dems: "In 23 years as a parliamentary reporter, I've never felt such disgust for our political class"

Ql"Nick Clegg broke manifesto commitments faster than a harlot hopping into a kerb-crawler’s Monteg. Tuesday should act as a stern lesson to Fleet Street not to cave in to the prim strictures of the Leveson age. ... We journalists must redouble our scrutiny of politicians. They are plainly not to be trusted." - Daily Mail

  • "Miliband would also have a hard time persuading his MPs to buddy up with Clegg’s party. A crucial difference is that Labour’s attitude towards the Lib Dems is shifting from blind fury to electoral pragmatism, while the Tories have taken great strides in the opposite direction." - Rafael Behr, New Statesman

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: The Coalition risks breakdown if it doesn’t unite around some new big ideas

Ed Miliband's plan for tackling youth unemployment

"We need a new generation of skilled workers and new apprenticeships. ... So Labour’s plan is to say that every big firm that gets a contract with the Government must commit to training young people for high-skilled jobs." - Ed Miliband, The Sun

The SNP agrees to change the wording of its referendum question

"The Scottish government has accepted an amended referendum question for the 2014 vote on whether Scotland should end its three century-old union with England. ... The UK independent Electoral Commission on Wednesday opposed the Scottish government’s plan to ask voters 'Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?' It said the use of 'Do you agree' could encourage them to answer 'yes'." - Financial Times (£)

> Today, by Henry Hill: A question of Scotland's referendum question

Andy Maciver: It's all too little, too late for the Scottish Tories

RD"Ruth [Davidson] made a speech acknowledging that the party’s problems are more fundamental than bad marketing, and accepting that Scotland doesn’t trust the Tories. ... The large elephant in the small room remains the impotence of the Scottish Tory party. During the leadership election, Murdo make clear that a new captain was not enough; we needed a new ship. It is no less true now than it was then." - Andy Maciver, The Scotsman

A member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee speaks out against NGDP-targetting

"In an interview with The Independent, Martin Weale argues that 'in the present circumstances', where inflation has been higher than the Bank's official two per cent target for several years, the negatives of switching to a so-called NGDP target outnumbered the positives." - Independent

"Millions of low-income households face a rise in their council tax bills costing them up to £600 a year from April under a 'poll tax bombshell', according to new study" - Independent

Chief executive of the NHS apologises for Mid Stafford failings

NHS"The chief executive of the NHS apologised yesterday for catastrophic failings that led to hundreds of deaths at Mid Stafford NHS Foundation Trust from 2005 to 2009. ... Sir David Nicholson said the NHS 'had let people down in the most devastating way'." - The Times (£)

  • "Hospitals should face tough new scrutiny of their care by beefed-up teams of inspectors including doctors and nurses, a landmark report into hundreds of unnecessary deaths at an NHS hospital will recommend next week." - Guardian
  • "Health and social care could account for half of all government spending in 50 years, according to a report on Thursday by the King’s Fund" - Financial Times (£)
  • "Give us the facts. Then close bad hospitals" - Camilla Cavendish, The Times (£)

British burgers could have been contanimated with horse meat for over a year - The Sun

The Times reports that one of Britain's biggest charities is a "front for tax avoidance"

"Wealthy donors used the Cup Trust to avoid £46 million in tax in an extensive abuse of Gift Aid incentives designed to encourage charitable donations." - The Times (£)

  • "Britain’s four biggest accountancy firms created 79 tax avoidance schemes in the past three years while benefiting from multimillion-pound Government contracts." - The Times (£)
  • "Corporate tax posturing should stop" - John Gapper, Financial Times (£)

"Britain's top taxman – who stepped down after he was accused by MPs of lying – has been hired by HSBC to advise it on honesty" - Daily Mail

A report from the LSE calls for an overhaul of Britain's "mediocre" education system

"Failing schools and poorly performing teachers lead to a ‘waste of human resources on a grand scale,’ causing long-term damage to the UK, the scathing document says. ... Local councils which do not let failing schools close must see their wings clipped, and the system for assessing teachers must be revamped, it argues." - Daily Mail

  • "The speed and scale of the government’s planned GCSE overhaul could jeopardise the English exam system, ministers have been warned by a Conservative-led committee of MPs." - Financial Times (£)
  • "Michael Gove is destroying our school system" - Suzanne Moore, Guardian
  • "The guilty secret behind a private education" - David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)

The number of applications for university places has risen by 3.5 per cent - Financial Times (£)

Poland"Polish is Britain's second language and nearly one in five people in London only speak English as a second tongue" - Daily Mail

  • "Mr Blair’s immigration policies, though doubtless favourable to many Poles, were injurious to many Britons, most of them working-class, and Labour voters." - Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • "A little reverse pschology might dissuade immigrants from embarking" - Robert Shrimsley, Financial Times (£)

> Yesterday, by Andrew Lilico on Comment: Tell Conservatives to avoid attacking "multiculturalism" when they attack multiculturalism

And finally 1)... The judge who paid a thief's debt to court

"Daniel Northridge admitted stealing two letters from a shared mailbox in his block of flats because he was 'skint' and looking for money in Christmas cards. ... District Judge Tim Devas gave him a six-month community order with supervision and said he must pay a £1 surcharge. ... However, after hearing of Northbridge’s limited means, he put his hand in his pocket and gave a £1 coin to the clerk at Mansfield magistrates’ court to clear the debt." - Daily Telegraph

And finally 2)... The joke's on Justin Welby

Lp"The new Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday that he regarded his application for the job as a 'joke'. He described how he was ordered by the Church of England to apply after just seven months as Bishop of Durham, even though he thought it ridiculous." - The Times (£) 


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