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Newslinks for Wednesday 9th January 2013

9pm LeftWatch: Labour's 100 top target seats

6.30pm MPsETC: Is Grant Shapps Gandalf in disguise?  He announces candidate selections for 14 new seats

2.30pm Local Government: Hammersmith and Fulham cutting Council Tax by 3%

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 14.10.052pm WATCH: Cameron - "The only little red pests I pursue these days are in this House"

1.30pm ToryDiary: PMQs - Miliband shows his strategic weakness

12.45pm LeftWatch: Mirror's Kevin Maguire admits top earners ARE paying more tax under the Coalition than under Labour

11am Local Government: Labour MP asks: "What is a sock puppet?"

9.30am MPsETC: The main arguments made by Tory MPs in defence of the benefits squeeze

ToryDiary: Compassionate conservatism from Grayling as he moves to cut re-offending

Stephan ShakespeareIn the first of a series of five myths and truths of polling, Columnist Stephan Shakespeare examines The myth of The Big Swing

Ruth Lea on Comment continues our series on the Conservatives and women: How to attract more women’s votes? It’s the economy, stupid

Local Government: What Eric did over Christmas

LeftWatch: David Miliband backs Osborne's spending envelope

ThinkTankCentral: Dalia Ben-Galim of the IPPR responds to Elizabeth Truss's ConHome piece on childcare: The Coalition’s mid-term review was surprisingly silent on childcare

The Deep End: The incredible disappearing Germans – a long-term economic forecast for the 21st century

WATCH: IDS makes the case in the Commons for the benefits freeze

Second Lords Minister quits this week: this time, it's Lord Marland

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 07.45.52"A second minister has resigned from the Government in the first week of the new political term. Lord Marland of Odstock, a business minister and a former Tory treasurer, has stepped down from the front bench to concentrate on his main role as the Prime Minister’s trade envoy. It is another blow for David Cameron after the resignation on Monday of Lord Strathclyde, the leader of the Lords. The peer announced he was leaving the Cabinet on the day of the coalition’s relaunch." - The Times (£)

  • The end of the peers show is a verdict on David Cameron's chances in 2015 - Benedict Brogan, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: MPsETC - Members of the Upper House offer tributes to Lord Strathclyde

Government to Scotland Select Committee: ‘Trident will be on Clyde for many years’ - Scotsman

Loyalists attack police again in east Belfast - Belfast Telegraph

Grayling to announce that businesses and charities will be paid to stop ex-prisoners offending again

Private firms and charities are to be paid to meet offenders at the prison gate and seek to turn them away from a life of crime, the Justice Secretary will announce today.  In a major shake up of prisoner rehabilitation, Chris Grayling will set out plans to offer cash incentives if inmates are prevented from reoffending after release. But the move has infuriated probation officers, who say 70 per cent of their work will be put out to tender, heralding the effective ‘demise’ of the 105-year-old Probation Service." - Daily Mail

> ToryDiary: Compassionate conservatism from Grayling as he moves to cut re-offending

Policegate 1) charges will be brought by the end of the month, says Hogan-Howe - Daily Mail

Policegate 2) Heywood ordered to explain why he failed to discover truth - The Independent

Gove revives Imperial weights and measures in the classroom

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 07.49.46"Children will be required to learn imperial measures as part of the national curriculum for the first time in decades, in a radical shake-up of maths lessons. Education Secretary Michael Gove wants schools to ensure pupils have a firm grounding in the imperial units most commonly used – including miles, pints, feet and ounces. Schools have been required to teach metric units as the prime system of measurement since 1974." - Daily Mail

  • Jesse Jackson joins fight against the removal of two black figures from history teaching in schools - The Times (£)
  • Education Secretary's wife, Times columnist Sarah Vine, accidentally tweets his mobile number - The Sun

The Commons votes for three-year "benefit freeze"...

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 07.52.42
"MP's last night voted to curb annual rises in state handouts for millions of benefit claimants. The landmark decision will be seen as a massive victory for strivers over shirkers. MPs backed Chancellor George Osborne’s proposal for a one per cent limit on increases in working-age welfare payments to around 10 million jobless and low income households in the crunch House of Commons vote. It means a string of benefits –including jobseeker’s allowance, income support and housing benefit – will increase at a rate below the expected level of inflation for the next three years." - Daily Express

...But Sarah Teather and other LibDems join Labour's attack on the measure...

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 07.55.09"Sarah Teather, one of the Liberal Democrat MPs who rebelled against the measure, criticised “disingenuous comparisons” that would “set neighbour against neighbour”. Vince Cable, the Lib Dem business secretary, told Sky News he did not agree with “the stigma being attached to the unemployed”. The criticism was also echoed on Tory benches. Richard Fuller, a backbench MP, said he was uncomfortable with the “false distinction between strivers and skivers” - Financial Times (£)

  • LibDem MPs John Leech, Julian Huppert and David Ward rebel - The Sun

...And some Conservatives are unhappy with Osborne and Shapps's strivers v skivers strategy

One Tory minister told The Independent: "We've not got the language right at Conservative HQ and the Treasury. Some people who lose their jobs and many people on tax credits, are strivers not scroungers. Young people looking hard for their first job are not skivers; there is a danger we may make them feel like parasites, and that we look like the nasty party. The message should be that we are making work pay." - The Independent

> Yesterday:


  • Ed Balls"Mr Balls tried to give IDS some gyp from a sitting position. IDS grabbed the inaudible rudery and verbally thrust it into Mr Balls’s mushy nose. The House laughed and cheered as it saw Mr Balls in a fury." - Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • "The man I could not take my eye off during the “shirkers versus strivers” debate was David Miliband. He sat, as the big boys slugged it out on the front bench where, of course, he could be if he wanted, almost vibrating with nervous energy." - Ann Treneman, The Times (£)
  • "This misses the most significant aspect of his speech – an apparent attempt to reframe Labour's economic policy which is being run by his great rival Ed Balls." - Nick Watt, The Guardian

> Today: LeftWatch - David Miliband backs Osborne's spending envelope

> Yesterday: Greg Clark on Comment says Ed Balls's policies are designed wholly and entirely for the purposes of opposition, not government


Skidmore, Halfon urge end to benefits for richer pensioners

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 08.09.37"Chris Skidmore said that Mr Cameron should open an honest conversation with pensioners. “We simply cannot afford a system where we are spending millions of pounds of government money on people who don’t need it,” he said. Robert Halfon urged Mr Cameorn to take the bull by the horns, saying: “It’s a crazy world when low-earning taxpayers are paying for rich pensioners to buy wine. It’s mad.” One idea proposed by a minister would be to scrap the winter fuel allowance and put the £2.2 billion it costs into increasing the value of the state pension." - The Times (£)

Meanwhile, Cameron tells Tory MPs over boundary reform: "Let's lock a LibDem in a loo on the night"

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 08.00.59"The prime minister criticised the Lib Dems at the special meeting hosted by his political secretary and strategist Stephen Gilbert. "The Lib Dems have behaved atrociously," he is said to have told the meeting. Cameron's tone is then said to have lightened, reportedly saying: "Does anyone know a DUP [Democratic Unionist Party] MP or a Green who can help? Lock up a Lib Dem in a loo on the night. But don't bank on it." - The Guardian

  • Cable declares war on greedy pubs - Daily Telegraph
  • Don't mock Nick Clegg: he may stay in power for a generation - Simon Jenkins, The Guardian

MPs say Health watchdog has 'long way to go' to gain public confidence - The Guardian

"Candid assessment" of Coalition's failure to hit 70 targets will be published this afternoon

"On Tuesday night, following inquiries from The Daily Telegraph, senior aides to the Prime Minister said it would be released on Wednesday afternoon . It was intended that the document be published alongside Monday’s Mid-Term Review but appears to have been removed at a late stage amid fears that it would overshadow the “favourable coverage” the Government received on the main television news bulletins." - Daily Telegraph

Global warming has stalled since 1998 - Daily Express

> Yesterday: Andrew Lilico on Comment - With the Met Office now predicting no rise in global temperatures for 20 years, isn't it time to give up trying to prevent climate change?

Fiona Bruce MP: How I saved my father from Liverpool Care Pathway, two years after my mother died on it

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 08.14.34"An MP told movingly yesterday how she saved her father from the Liverpool Care Pathway, two years after her mother endured an ‘agonising’ death on the system. Fiona Bruce said she was told ‘almost casually’ by a nurse that doctors had decided to remove life-saving treatment from her 83-year-old father, despite not having consulted relatives." - Daily Mail

One in five Britons will describe themselves as 'non-white by 2050' - Daily Mail

The Independent picks up Elizabeth Truss's ConHome childcare article

Writing on the Conservative Home website Ms Truss said that the UK had the most restrictive adult-child ratios for young children of comparable European countries. She added that changing staff ratios would allow nurseries to pay more and retain good staff. “It is no coincidence that we have the most restrictive adult-child ratios for young children of comparable European countries as well as the lowest staff salaries,” she said." - The Independent

> Today: ThinkTankCentral - Dalia Ben-Galim of the IPPR responds to Elizabeth Truss's ConHome piece on childcare: The Coalition’s mid-term review was surprisingly silent on childcare

Tom Watson: Labour is aiming for a 60-seat majority

"Arrogant Labour chiefs yesterday claimed they are on course for a majority of at least SIXTY seats at the General Election. Campaign co-ordinator Tom Watson said he thought the party could “win well” in 2015. The Shadow Cabinet yesterday agreed a list of 106 “battleground seats” they hope to claw back from other parties. They plan to blitz them with an army of trained volunteers to boost the Labour vote. Mr Watson declared: “Our aim is to have a 60-seat majority." - The Sun

  • Labour is to import a key part of President Obama’s re-election campaign and flood more than 100 target seats with 1,000 community organisers - The Times (£)

> Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment says Don't bet on a Tory victory but don't rule it out

The stealthy pro-EU fightback continues

Screen shot 2013-01-09 at 08.21.14"The heads of some of Britain’s biggest companies – including BT and Virgin – have signed an open letter saying that attempting a major change in Britain’s relationship with the EU could “create damaging uncertainty” and put off investment in the UK. The Prime Minister will later this month make a major speech about Britain’s future in the European Union, outlining plans to seek a “new settlement” that could then be put the British people in a referendum." - Daily Telegraph

  • "In the struggle between Europhiles, Eurosceptics and Europhobes, the middle ground is stronger than people think" - Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

Fears raised over Syria uranium stockpile - Financial Times (£)

Cyber attacks could 'fatally' wound computer dependent military, MPs warn - Daily Telegraph

Esther Rantzen speaks common sense over police posturing on Savile - Ann Widdecombe, Daily Expressfinal


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