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27 Mar 2013 08:30:42

Newslinks for Wednesday 27th March 2013

Screen shot 2013-03-27 at 19.09.10
7pm WATCH: ‪Samantha Cameron visits Syrian refugees in Jordan‬

5.15pm Spencer Pitfield on Comment: Charles Heslop becomes the Conservative Policy Forum's Voluntary Vice Chairman

3pm WATCH: David Miliband explains why he's leaving the Commons

2.30pm Local Government:

12.15pm ToryDiary: What is causing the stagnation of wages? Matthew Hancock MP sets out a Tory agenda for the low-paid.

Noon ToryDiary: Making business uncompetitive. Moving emissions abroad. Blighting the landscape. Soaking poorer voters. Problems with the Government's climate change policy

10.15am Local Government: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy cited to justify planning notices

ToryDiary: The once-cautious Theresa May is turning into a risk-taker

Lord Flight on Comment: How the current account deficit has returned to haunt us

MajorityConservatism: Jesse Norman files the latest report from our Victory 2015 Conference - We need a 2015 manifesto that is short, engaging, clear and focused

MPsETC: Martin Callanan MEP provides his monthly update on events from the European Parliament

LeftWatch: David Miliband's flight from the Commons is a sign of the times

Local Government: More Council Tax rising asset hoarders investigated

The Deep End: As Russia proves, democracy isn’t just about elections

Hunt tells the Commons that NHS staff will now have "duty of candour"...

"Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday promised a ‘radical overhaul’ of the NHS, putting a far greater emphasis on old-fashioned care in the wake of the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal. He said one measure could be to introduce a system of pay rises which would see staff rewarded if they show ‘compassion, dignity and respect’ when treating patients." - Daily Mail

...But his announcement doesn't halt the anti-Nicholson barrage.  It's Full House as the Quad fires off its big guns

  • Screen shot 2013-03-27 at 07.58.33BANG! "Letting the disgraced Nicholson stay encourages health staff to think there is one rule for bosses and another for workers." - Sun Editorial
  • CRASH! "How can Mr Hunt speak of a blacklist, when the Man With No Shame - who oversaw the culture of neglect at Stafford - continues to enjoy his support as Chief Executive of the NHS?" - Daily Mail
  • BOOM! "Without [Nicholson's] removal anything Mr Hunt announces really is only “tinkering round the edges”." - Daily Express Editorial
  • POW! "It is good news that those managers who fail could be barred from such work (including, one hopes, Sir David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive, who bears his share of the blame for Mid Staffs)." - Daily Telegraph Editorial

> Yesterday: ToryDiary - The new politics of the NHS ringfence

£286 green tax on energy bills: By 2020 green taxes will have risen by over 150 per cent

"The levy will more than double until a quarter of each power bill goes on wind, solar, nuclear or home insulation schemes. Energy Secretary Ed Davey insisted last night that households will be better off thanks to the benefits of electricity-saving initiatives. But families will be able to claw the money back only if they buy more efficient domestic appliances and boilers." - Daily Mail

  • Greg Barker says that soaring gas prices show that the market is working - Daily Express
  • Tackling climate change doesn’t cost the earth - Ed Davey, Daily Telegraph
  • What planet are they living on? - Christopher Booker, Daily Mail

May springs surprise by scrapping Border Agency

Screen shot 2013-03-27 at 05.10.34"The Home Secretary was scathing about the failures of the arms-length agency, which she condemned as "closed, defensive and secretive". Her surprise intervention was welcomed by MPs of all parties and will further fuel speculation over her ambitions to succeed David Cameron. But it also represents a high-risk move as she and her ministers will have to take responsibility for any failures or blunders in Britain's immigration system." - The Independent

> Today: ToryDiary - The once-cautious Theresa May is turning into a risk-taker

> Yesterday: ToryDiary - Theresa May splits up the UK Border Agency

"Taxman hits stay-at-home mothers"

"The average family with one worker and two children loses 27. 9 per cent of their wages in tax, compared with 26.2 per cent before the Coalition was elected, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found. The study comes amid claims that the Government is punishing stay-at-home mothers with its policies, and a week after a former barrister confronted Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, on the issue during a live radio phone-in." - Daily Telegraph

The Coalition's treatment of full-time mothers is "disgraceful" - Ann Widdecombe, Daily Express 

Pickles to push on housing plans as first NPPF anniversary passes...

Pickles Eric Close Up"Senior ministers agreed at Tuesday’s weekly cabinet meeting to press ahead with the plans, under which all “sustainable development” must be waved through by any council that has not drawn up new local plans. A third of local authorities have still not had their plans approved, leaving them open to unwanted building. Eric Pickles, communities secretary, wants to go further and allow more liberalisation of the planning system as part of the coalition’s attempt to generate economic growth." - Financial Times (£)

  • Former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion claims that the countryside is being wrecked - The Guardian
  • New Homes Bonus needs better scrutiny, say MPs - BBC
  • Trust me: I won't let the bulldozers wreck Middle England - Eric Pickles, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: Greg Clark's latest Weekly Letter from a Treasury Minister - The National Planning Policy Framework is one year old – it’s already succeeding

…And the Treasury concedes that Osborne's housing plans may inflate prices

"Osborne’s mortgage aid plans may backfire and spark a housing boom, say official watchdogs.
The schemes to lend £130billion to help priced-out people buy a first home were the jewel in the Chancellor’s Budget. But quizzed by MPs, Treasury forecaster Steve Nickell said he believed the two plans would “drive up” house prices in the short term. Mr Nickell, of the Office for Budget Responsibility, added he believed they would rise “a bit, but not very much”." - The Sun

Loughton and mystery Tory Education News account clash on Twitter

Screen shot 2013-03-27 at 08.06.23
"Loughton hit back at the accusation that he had lied by claiming that he had originally been in favour of publishing the Edlington serious case review. He tweeted: "@toryeducation time 4 a senior DfE source to come out from cloak of anonymity and face scrutiny rather than rewriting history shamelessly?" Loughton then added in another tweet: "@toryeducation now we know there were only 5 people in room privy to me being blocked from publishing SCR so shall I name them?"" - The Guardian

Eurozone policymakers at loggerheads over Cyprus knock-on

"Policymakers in the single currency area were at loggerheads on Tuesday over the long-term implications of the Cyprus bailout and whether savers across Europe will be exposed to raids on their bank accounts in future rescues. The European commission and influential MEPs involved in drafting new laws on resolving bank failures confirmed that the proposed rules would include "bail-ins", which are favoured by Germany and would see investors and savers taking the hit instead of taxpayers." - The Guardian

  • Cyprus 'to impose weekly limits on cash withdrawals' - Daily Mail
  • Europe's flesheaters now threaten to devour us all - Seamus Milne, The Guardian
  • Ministers’ alarm over new EU "mission creep" on justice - Daily Express

> Today: MPsETC - Martin Callanan MEP provides his monthly update on events from the European Parliament

Davidson backs more powers for Scottish Parliament

Davidson Ruth Smiling"Scottish Party leader Ruth Davidson unveiled plans today for an expert group to examine the existing devolution settlement which will allow the party to set out a clear alternative to independence in next year’s referendum. The move has the blessing of the Prime Minister, Ms Davidson revealed in Edinburgh today. Former Scotland Office minister Lord Strathclyde will head up the new working group which will also include former Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie and ex-Holyrood Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson." - Scotsman

  • "The problem for the Tory leader is that the position she now espouses so passionately is diametrically opposed to that on which she stood for the leadership." - Herald Scotland Editorial

Clegg suffers further popularity slump among Liberal Democrat members

"After the Lib Dems’ victory in last month’s Eastleigh by-election, Clegg allies said he was certain to lead his party into and beyond the 2015 poll. But some grassroots activists want to install a new leader, such as Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, before the election. A survey of 650 party members by the Lib Dem Voice website found that 50 per cent are dissatisfied with Mr Clegg’s performance as party leader, a rise of nine points since December." - The Independent

  • Mike Hancock to be investigated by Portsmouth Council over claims he sent lewd text messages to single mother - Daily Mail

David Miliband leaves the Commons

Miliband David on stage
"David Miliband will quit as an MP today in a huge blow to brother Ed. The former Foreign Secretary is standing down to take on a “dream job” heading up a charity in New York. His resignation will trigger a May by-election in South Shields, South Tyneside, where he has been MP since 2001. Mr Miliband has been on the backbenches since being beaten to the Labour crown by his younger brother in 2010 after a bitter battle that caused irreparable damage to their relationship." - The Sun 

> Today: LeftWatch - David Miliband's flight from the Commons is a sign of the times

> Yesterday: LeftWatch - David Miliband to stand down as an MP, according to reports 

Under its new Editorship, the Times praises Boris

"He is fortunate for not having to straddle the gap between Conservative traditionalists and the political centre with every policy pronouncement. He is lucky, too, that his colourful personal life merely seems to amuse voters.But it is not just luck that has made him a contender. He is a driven, mainstream centre-right conservative who leavens his ambition with accomplished slapstick and makes people feel good about themselves. He has the ability to rewrite the rules of politics such that he can survive seemingly catastrophic interviews that would destroy less likeable rivals." - The Times (£)

Jacob Rees-Mogg: The press must resist this assault on liberty

Screen shot 2013-03-27 at 08.19.43"If the choice were between a free and irresponsible press or a responsible state-controlled one then freedom must prevail. The powerful and politicians will never like this because it can threaten their authority. This is where Hacked Off has been so clever, for it has exploited the sad stories of a handful of people who came briefly into the public eye as a cloak for the peccadilloes of celebrities. It will not say who funds it, but some of the luminaries in favour of licensing have disreputable pasts." - Daily Telegraph

  • Sun journalists turn out to back executive in 'illegal payments' court hearing - Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

  • Terror fears over British jihadis fighting in Syria - The Times (£)
  • Lord Browne attacks management of big projects - Financial Times (£)
  • Last-ditch bid to dilute "secret courts" plan fails - The Guardian
  • Anti-austerity march hopes to break Iraq rally record - The Independent
  • CRB changes mean thousands of teachers and doctors will not have to disclose minor criminal convictions - Daily Telegraph
  • Lord Chief Justice demolishes Harman's murder defence for battered women - Daily Mail
  • The secret war in Thailand's deep south - The Independent
  • Top US court starts key gay cases - Daily Express
  • Speaker escapes hike in his pension contributions - Daily Telegraph
  • Soldier dies in hospital after being injured in suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan - Daily Mail
  • Syrian opposition appeals to NATO - The Guardian
  • London councils warn that benefit changes threaten low-income families - Financial Times (£)
  • No decision on Northern Ireland corporation tax until after Scotland referendum - Belfast Telegraph
  • MPs fear flood-risk homes will be left high and dry - The Times (£)
  • Farmers in crisis as big freeze worsens - Daily Express


> Please use the thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been given their own blog. Read our comments policy here.

26 Mar 2013 08:32:28

Newslinks for Tuesday 26th March 2013

9.30pm LeftWatch: David Miliband to stand down as an MP, according to reports

May statement5pm WATCH: A pair of significant Parliamentary statements:

3pm ToryDiary: Theresa May splits up the UK Border Agency

2.15pm Andrew Lilico on Comment: Against deposit insurance

1.45pm ToryDiary: Michael Fallon’s message for the Bank, the Government, Europe and everyone else: we really must do better

11.45am Local Government: John Bald on Freeing schools from the Left's wretched social determinism

Treasuryletter 11am Greg Clark's latest Weekly Letter from a Treasury Minister: The National Planning Policy Framework is one year old – it’s already succeeding

10.30am ToryDiary: The Government's counter-terror strategy: Quite a bit done, a lot more to do

ToryDiary: The new politics of the NHS ringfence

Also on ToryDiary, from last night: This evening's Boris documentary: Cockerell cuddle follows Mair mauling

John BaronJohn Baron MP on Comment: When it comes to the economy, the Government lacks the balls – and so does Balls

LeftWatch: Did you know that 44 Labour MPs rebelled against Ed Miliband last week?

Brandon Lewis on Local Government: East Sussex, Medway and Norfolk are Councils of the Week

The Deep End: Labour’s post-war settlement is alive and well in the 21st century

WATCH: William Hague visits a rescue camp with Angelina Jolie

The newspapers pick at David Cameron's immigration speech...


"David Cameron’s bid to stop Britain being a 'soft touch' for scrounging immigrants faces a clash with EU and human rights lawmakers, experts warn. ... It has also emerged that only two out of his initiatives are sure to be brought in, with others being worked on." - The Sun

"Downing Street today struggled to produce statistics to back up David Cameron’s claim that Britain was a soft touch for immigrants. ... Those it did produce sparked accusations that it was being misleading." - The Times (£)

"Doctors and nurses challenged David Cameron’s proposed curbs on foreigners using the NHS last night by saying they refused to act as an 'arm of the UK Border Agency'." - The Times (£)

  • Immigration"Even though these particular policies were oversold, the Tories’ approach is broadly correct." - Daily Telegraph editorial
  • "Britain’s debate on immigration is catching up with the facts. Now that a consensus has emerged, effective policy needs to catch up with the rhetoric." - Times editorial (£)
  • "Skilled immigration is a boon to the UK economy, but this fact risks being drowned out by the Tourette’s-like momentum of the immigration debate, as each party seeks to outdo the next with unrealistic promises of tighter controls." - Financial Times editorial (£)
  • "Our immigration system is still far from fit for purpose" - Independent editorial
  • "Mainstream politicians need to articulate the benefits of migration and not demonise either migrants or their impact" - Guardian editorial

> Yesterday:

...and respond to the Cyprus bailout

Via editorials:

  • Cyprus"As long as Europe is strapped to the rack of an unworkable currency union, the crises will continue." - Daily Telegraph editorial
  • "Instead of propping up a political project, the IMF should be working to ensure that the break-up of the euro, which seems increasingly likely, is as painless as possible  – and sets Europe free." - Daily Mail editorial
  • "Europe has arrived at the best available remedy for Cyprus’s woes – but not without first trying every other option and nearly letting a tiny peripheral economy shatter the monetary union." - Financial Times editorial (£)
  • "The euro is a dead duck. Why don’t they just admit it?" - Sun editorial
  • "The crisis in Cyprus is a lesson in how much more needs to be done; Europe’s cack-handed response is a lesson in how little has been learned." - Independent editorial

And op-eds:

  • "To avoid the problems that have affected Cyprus and other countries, there will have to be a much stronger framework of economic and financial discipline for members." - Andrew Sentance, The Times (£)
  • "After the Cyprus crisis, it looks increasingly like this is a German Europe" - Gideon Rachman, Financial Times (£)
  • "This was not so much financial genocide as suicide." - Dominic Lawson, Independent
  • "This is all about saving the euro, not Cyprus" - Nigel Farage, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday:

Benedict Brogan: Pity our poor PM – the Tories are now in a post-Dave state of mind

"A few weeks ago it was fashionable to predict a Conservative defeat in 2015. Now Tory MPs and commentators have gone one worse: they admit, grudgingly, that Labour’s inadequacies and the calculated political blandishments of last week’s Budget might just get Mr Cameron over the line and back into No 10; but – and this is truly embarrassing – they say it will hardly be worth it because the Prime Minister makes so little difference." - Benedict Brogan, Daily Telegraph

Boris, Boris, Boris


"Boris Johnson yesterday laughed off the BBC interview that branded him ‘a nasty piece of work’, saying his inquisitor ‘did a splendid job’. ... But Mr Johnson’s father took a very different view, denouncing the BBC man for a ‘disgusting piece of journalism’ during Sunday’s interview." - Daily Mail

The Daily Mail profiles Eddie Mair

And the same newspaper also looks into the claims that Mr Mair made against the Mayor of London

  • Michael White"...between them Cockerell and Eddie Mair have exposed the mayor's achilles heel. It is that he needs to be liked." - Michael White, Guardian
  • "Without his private life, Boris Johnson has nothing" - Hugo Rifkind, The Times (£)
  • "Look past the barnet and Boris Johnson's ambition is more than just blonde" - Simon Kelner, Independent
  • "Boris is leader-in-waiting. He’ll never be leader" - Simon Richards, Independent

> Last night's ToryDiary: This evening's Boris documentary: Cockerell cuddle follows Mair mauling

> Yesterday's video to WATCH: Boris responds to his Night-Mair: “It is the function of BBC journalists to bash-up politicians”

Small-scale blogs exempted from new press rules – but what does "small-scale" mean?

"Small-scale bloggers will be exempt from new rules seeking to punish publishers with exemplary damages if they refuse to join an 'approved regulator', under an amendment tabled by the Government. ... The Department for Culture, Media and Sport declined to clarify the meaning of 'small scale'." - The Times (£)

  • Lord Black warns that the new press regulations are likely to come unstuck - Daily Mail

> Yesterday, by Garvan Walshe: The press regulation Royal Charter is a boon to dictators everywhere

Jeremy Hunt wants "back to basics" care in the NHS

Hunt"In a Commons statement today, Mr Hunt will call for a fundamental change in the culture of the NHS. ... Students seeking NHS funding for nursing degrees will be required to work for up to a year as a healthcare assistant or support worker. ... Ministers will also publish a code of conduct for healthcare support workers, with clear requirements on behaviour and attitude." - Daily Mail

  • "The NHS is one of our proudest creations. ... But Cameron’s insistence on ringfencing its funds creates a climate in which idiocy and incompetence go unchecked." - Sun editorial

> Today on ToryDiary: The new politics of the NHS ringfence

"The UK government is to commit more than £20m towards research and development into nuclear power" - Financial Times (£)

  • "Welcome to blackout Britain" - Tom Rowley and Auslan Cramb, Daily Telegraph

Patrick McLoughlin overhauls the rules around driving tests

"Announcing the moves, Mr McLoughlin spoke of his alarm over the death rate among young drivers, who are disproportionately more likely to be in crashes than older motorists. He said one-fifth of the people killed or seriously injured on roads in 2011 were involved in a collision where at least one driver was aged under 25." - Independent

IDS's housing benefit reforms come under attack

IDS"Iain Duncan Smith has adopted a 'wait and see approach' and has little idea how his housing benefit reforms will impact on the poor, the spending watchdog claims today. ... In a critical report, the Public Accounts Committee also accuses the Work and Pensions Secretary of overestimating the savings that can be achieved." - The Times (£)

And so too does William Hague, for travelling to Africa with Angelina Jolie at a time of EurocrisisDaily Mail

> Today's video to WATCH: William Hague visits a rescue camp with Angelina Jolie

Francis Maude urged to drop his plans to make Whitehall more political

"A report published by the Institute for Government says the cabinet office minister should abandon his proposals to let ministers appoint their own 'cabinets' ... It says: 'The downside to these larger and more political offices is the greater potential for tension between the ministerial team and the rest of the department.'" - Financial Times (£)

Sir Merrick Cockell warns about local authority cuts

"Sir Merrick Cockell, the Conservative chairman of the Local Government Association, told the Guardian local authorities will have lost a third of their budget by 2015: 'This is the calm before the storm. We do not know how big the storm will be or how long it will last.'" - Guardian

Ed Balls reckons he's won the spending argument

Balls"The shadow Chancellor told a meeting of Labour’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee, that commentators were now agreeing with the party’s strategy to continue splurging." - Daily Mail


  • One in three Labour voters does not trust party on economy - Independent

> Today, by John Baron MP on Comment: When it comes to the economy, the Government lacks the balls – and so does Balls

Alistair Darling warns of a subprime "housing bubble"

WSpeaking in a Commons debate on the Budget, Mr Darling claimed fthat George Osborne had largely 'given up on doing anything' and that his housing package could – if anything – create more problems. He claimed a chronic housing shortage meant that extra state support for mortgages could pump up prices." - Financial Times (£)

> Yesterday:

Rachel Sylvester: Old Labour rears its rebellious head again

RS"This is deeper than the rows between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown — it is a reinvention of the battle between old Labour and new Labour, Left and Right. One frontbencher warns that 'digital Bennism' risks consigning the party to electoral oblivion in the way that the left-wing politics promoted by Tony Benn did in the 1980s." - Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)

  • Labour needs to recapture the spirit and nerve of 1945 - Polly Toynbee, Guardian
  • "The Labour party has failed us. We need a new party of the left" - Ken Loach, Kate Hudson and Gilbert Achcar, Guardian

> Today:

Economists reject Alex Salmond's "oil boom" claim - Daily Telegraph

Janan Ganesh on the "strange death of a more liberal Britain"

"There is more to liberalism than permitting same-sex couples to marry or elder daughters to inherit the throne. It also involves tolerating real messiness in economic and public life. It is sad to see a country become squeamish about an idea it helped to invent." - Janan Ganesh, Financial Times (£)

MI5 boss stands down

Jonathan Evans"Top spook Sir Jonathan Evans, 54, will step down when his contract expires next month, MPs were told yesterday. ... The announcement — six years after he took over from MI5 legend Lady Manningham-Buller — was made in the Commons by Home Secretary Theresa May." - The Sun

  • Most Britons back assassination of terrorists in UK or abroad, poll finds - Guardian

"Pupils from state schools and ethnic minorities are less likely to get into UK elite universities even if they have the same A-levels as their white and private school counterparts, new research has shown" - Financial Times (£)

Around 630,000 families in Britain are in negative equity - Daily Mail

  • "...the number of one-child families has increased by almost 700,000 in 15 years, and they are likely to be in the majority within a decade." - Daily Mail

And finally... Quentin Letts on Theresa May, the "low-cal politician"

"The Zero Noodles were pretty revolting ... But my mind wandered back to them yesterday while watching Theresa May at the despatch box. ... How unrelentingly, brilliantly joyless she is. ... Chewy and quite lacking in salt and grease: Theresa, the low-cal politician!" - Quentin Letts, Daily Mail


> Please use the thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been given their own blog. Read our comments policy here.

25 Mar 2013 08:32:43

Newslinks for Monday 25th March 2013

Screen shot 2013-03-25 at 21.56.42

10.45pm ToryDiary: This evening's Boris documentary: Cockerell cuddle follows Mair mauling

6.30pm WATCH: Boris responds to his Night-Mair: “It is the function of BBC journalists to bash-up politicians”

5pm MPsETC: Download your own “12 Conservative Achievements” card

5pm Local Government: Councillors falsely presented as “anti development”

4pm WATCH: A couple of clips from David Cameron's immigration speech...

2.30pm ToryDiary: Highlights from David Cameron’s immigration speech

Noon ToryDiary: A step closer to English votes on English laws?

11am Andrew Lilico on Comment: The revised Cypriot deal – good and bad news for depositors and investors in Cyprus and the rest of the World

ImmigrationTwo posts about immigration lead our coverage today:

Also on ToryDiary, from last night: The shrinking Cameron project

Foreign_policyFor his latest Foreign Policy column, Garvan Walsh imagines what dictators everywhere must be thinking about the press regulation Royal Charter: “‘Extend an official invitation...’ he paused. Fingers tapped. The cabinet looked up in suspense. Clocks ticked and tocked. Eyes turned to the Napoleon bust, as if to divine their leader’s mind ‘ Lord Justice Leveson.’” 

Cllr John Moss on Local Government: Why the “Help to Buy” scheme will not re-inflate the housing bubble

International: “It became necessary to destroy Cyprus to save it”

The Deep End: Let’s abolish the Budget (and the Autumn Statement)

The Eurozone agrees a bailout deal for Cyprus


"Eurozone finance ministers have agreed a deal on a 10bn-euro bailout for Cyprus to prevent its banking system collapsing and keep the country in the eurozone. ... Laiki (Popular) Bank - the country's second-biggest - will be wound down and holders of deposits of more than 100,000 euros will face big losses. ... However, all deposits under 100,000 euros will be 'fully guaranteed'." - BBC

  • House prices leap upwards, as foreign investors regard Britain as a "safe haven" from the Eurozone crisis - Daily Mail
  • And they're investing in organs from the NHS, too - Daily Mail

And from the comment pages:

  • "A measure of brinkmanship is inevitable in Europe’s debt negotiations, as in America’s. But in both cases it destabilises markets and hurts the businesses on which recovery depends. After this haircut, Europe must plan better for the next one." - Times editorial (£)
  • "I have believed for some time that it is impossible for Germany, Finland and the Netherlands to be in a monetary union with Cyprus, Greece and Portugal. Either the two sides agree to adjust more symmetrically, politically and economically, or this experiment should end." - Wolfgang Münchau, Financial Times (£)
  • "...what is on show here, yet again, are some deep-rooted weaknesses in the organisation of the single-currency club, the competence of some of its key brokers, and even the European economic model." - Guardian editorial

> Today on International: “It became necessary to destroy Cyprus to save it”

More previews of David Cameron's immigration speech... 

DC"New EU migrants will be stripped of jobless benefits after six months, David Cameron will pledge today. ... A more radical plan to ban new arrivals from claiming benefits at all in their first year was dropped for fear of breaching EU law." - Daily Mail

  • "Britain’s benefits bill will be nearly £21 billion higher than expected in this Parliament" - The Sun

And response, too:

  • "Yet, as ever with Mr Cameron, the devil is in the detail. ... Yes, EU migrants will have their out-of-work benefits taken away – but only after  six months and if they have not tried to find a job (as might a British citizen, in similar circumstances)." - Daily Mail editorial
  • "Even if the new rules become law — and I don’t see how they can if applied to EU  visitors — won’t councils unsympathetic to the Government find ways around them?" - Peter McKay, Daily Mail
  • "David Cameron is at least making the right noises on immigration." - Sun editorial

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Cameron toughens his position on immigration but is he serious about the issue? the extent of the immigration backlog is clarified

"Border officials need 24 years to clear their backlog of 320,000 immigration cases, MPs warn today. ... Keith Vaz, the Labour MP who chairs the home affairs committee, said hardly any progress was being made in clearing the backlog. He holds former UKBA chief executive Lin Homer – Britain’s most senior female mandarin – responsible for much of the debacle." - Daily Mail 

Give English MPs greater control over English laws, Government told

England flag"English MPs should be given far greater control over laws that affect only England to tackle growing resentment among voters about devolution elsewhere in the UK, ministers have been told. ... A commission headed by Sir William McKay has told the government that the Commons should restrict the rights of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs to influence or determine purely English legislation in future." - Guardian

  • "Sir William is correct to observe that the status quo cannot be sustained, since a majority of English voters are unhappy with it." - Daily Telegraph editorial

Tim Montgomerie on Cameron's lost decade

Tm"[Cameron's leadership] began with a promise to save the world’s climate and rebuild conservatism. Cameronism then became a more modest project to balance the nation’s books. ... By 2015 the shrinkage will be complete. The Tory leader will stand before the country with the thin claim that he’s not as bad as Ed Miliband. It may be enough to keep him in No 10, but it’s a depressing prospect for the country." - Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

  • "PM a political dwarf: sleepy, dopey, grumpy." - Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun

> Last night's ToryDiary: The shrinking Cameron project

"After that TV ambush, Boris's rise doesn't look quite so irresistible," says Quentin Letts

Boris"Is Boris a nasty piece of work, as Mr Mair suggested? I have known the old horse for 25 years and have no hesitation in saying that ‘nasty’ is an adjective too far. ... Half his trouble is that he is not nasty enough. Like many Old Etonians, he is terrified of becoming unpopular. The greatest politicians are prepared to be disliked." - Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

  • "Boris Johnson's gilded reputation may be about to lose its shine" - Sonia Purnell, Guardian

> Yesterday:

As Boris writes in his latest Telegraph column, "It’s bobbies, not buildings we need in the fight against crime" - Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph

The Financial Times calls on George Osborne to scrap his "shares for rights" plan - Financial Times editorial (£)

As the Daily Telegraph questions Nick Boles' planning reforms (again)


"As we report today, emboldened by the Government’s rhetoric, councils have been inundated with applications for new building projects from developers. Battle is about to be joined just as the Tories seek to defend many of their local authorities in the county council elections in May. If Mr Boles wanted a fight, it looks like he is going to get one. But the politics of this issue are toxic and civil war in the shires is not the most promising manifesto on which to base a campaign." - Daily Telegraph editorial

Smaller blogs are set to escape the new press regulations

"Low-profile blogs and not-for-profit publishers are set to be exempted from Britain’s new press controls as the three main political parties seek to iron out what some have described as draconian curbs on freedom of speech." - Financial Times (£)

> Today, by Garvan Walshe: The press regulation Royal Charter is a boon to dictators everywhere

Patrick McLoughlin to extend Virgin's West Coast mainline contract

PM"Mr McLoughlin is expected to unveil a revised timetable for rail franchising before the parliamentary Easter recess on Tuesday in an effort to draw a line under the debacle. ... The new schedule is expected to include a further extension for Virgin Rail, a joint venture between Sir Richard Branson and Stagecoach, on the West Coast that will take the contract beyond the general election in 2015." - Financial Times (£)

  • "The transport department has abandoned all hope of privatising Britain’s motorways and trunk roads before the general election..." - Financial Times (£)

Doctors will have to show what they're spending, under the new health reforms

"Doctors who are poised to take control of billions of pounds of spending under radical health reforms will be expected to report quarterly on how they are performing to ensure a tight rein is kept on the service’s fragile finances, the Financial Times has learnt." - Financial Times (£)

  • "The Treasury has signed off the first new private finance initiative hospital since the coalition came to power in 2010..." - Financial Times (£)

The Government plays down fears of gas rationing

Gas"The UK only has enough gas in storage to meet two days of demand after the latest blast of freezing weather led to millions of families turning up their heating higher than is usual for March. ... Ministers said they were ‘confident’ that there was enough gas available to meet the UK’s needs." - Daily Mail

  • "The Liberal Democrat president, Tim Farron, has raised the prospect that his party is privately negotiating to reopen the green energy deal signed by the coalition last autumn in an attempt to introduce carbon reduction targets for the energy sector." - Guardian

Grant Shapps could replace CCHQ's election computer

"Conservative high command has ordered an emergency re-boot of the party’s [Merlin] campaign database amid fears that its failings could cost the party dear at the next election. ... Mr Shapps, the most tech-savvy chairman the Tories have had, is said to be alert to the issue and is looking at other possibilities, including developing a new system in-house." - The Times (£)

> Yesterday, by Grant Shapps MP on Comment: Over the next two years we're going to tell the British people about this Government's impressive achievements

Lord Heseltine: Do we have the will to bring about a recovery?

LH"British people may be so wealthy that they lack the 'national will' needed to secure an economic recovery, Lord Heseltine has suggested. ... In an interview with The Independent, the former Deputy Prime Minister said that one theory why Britain's growth was sluggish compared with India and China was because – unlike the UK – those countries had 'real problems'." - Independent

  • "Heseltine's questionable lesson in economics" - Independent editorial

John Prescott suggests the Queen should abdicate, is slapped down

John Prescott has come under fire for suggesting the Queen should abdicate because of her recent bout of ill-health. ... Conor Burns said: ‘John Prescott is the antithesis of the Queen. She is a model of selfless public service and duty. He is frittering away any last vestiges of dignity his career had with these sort of pig-ignorant comments.’" - Daily Mail

  • "Time to retire, John" - Daily Telegraph editorial

Douglas Alexander's "Special Relationship" warning

"Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary, will warn that pulling out of the European Union would leave Britain ;relegated diplomatically and economically'. ... 'The UK's relationship with the US would be a lot less special if we were outside the EU. In a 21st Century defined by interdependence, isolation in the Atlantic would be anything but splendid for Britain.'" - Daily Telegraph

Union bosses versus Michael Gove, round 1,276

Gloves"Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), will say the Education Secretary is 'undermining everything we stand for'. She will accuse him of sending a 'gang of arm-twisters' to force schools to comply with his policies and become academies." - Independent

Owen Jones is lanuching a new left-wing movement

"...the great British political cartel now faces a new challenge. On Tuesday, I’ll be helping to launch the People’s Assembly with Green MP Caroline Lucas, my fellow Independent columnist Mark Steel, disability rights campaigner Francesca Martinez, Labour MP Katy Clark, and leading trade unionists." - Owen Jones, Independent

"Politicians can ignore public opinion," says the pollster Ben Page - Ben Page, Guardian

"In a few months’ time we will not be allowed to express the view at all in public that marriage is between a man and a woman." - Chris Sugden, The Times (£)

Charity highlights the third-of-a-million elderly people who are stuck in their homes because there's no suitable transport available - Daily Mail

And finally... The ambulance man who saved lives after the Brighton bombing

"An ambulance man credited with saving Norman Tebbit in the aftermath of the Brighton bombing has died. ... Lord Tebbit led the tributes to Mr Murray, who was awarded the British Empire Medal for his bravery. ... He said: ‘My wife and I remain profoundly grateful to all of those in the emergency services who played their part in rescuing us and others at The Grand.’" - Daily Mail


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24 Mar 2013 09:02:52

Newslinks for Sunday 24th March 2013

Midnight ToryDiary: Cameron promises three-fold crackdown on immigration

9.30pm ToryDiary: The shrinking Cameron project

6pm ToryDiary: Round up of reactions to Boris Johnson's Night-Mair interview

1pm ToryDiary: Why the Government's new childcare scheme is unfair to stay-at-home parents

11am WATCH: Watch Boris Johnson's interview with Eddie Mair in which he struggled to answer questions about his past

ToryDiary: Cameron toughens his position on immigration but is he serious about the issue?

Screen Shot 2013-03-24 at 08.19.52

Grant Shapps MP on Comment: Over the next two years we're going to tell the British people about this Government's impressive achievements

MPsETC: The Sunday Times reports that "AT LEAST" ten police officers conspired to falsely discredit Andrew Mitchell

Matthew d'Ancona distills the Tory message: We're on your side in the global race...

"As the PM sees it, the argument has a “masculine” and a “feminine” component. The warning that Britain must be lean and nimble to survive in the “global race” is for the left side of the brain: the rational and competitive. The Tory promise to stay “on your side” appeals to the right side: the emotional and nurturing aspects of the human psyche." - Matthew d'Ancona in The Sunday Telegraph

In his Mail on Sunday column James Forsyth confirms that Lynton Crosby had a big influence on the Budget and Tories are clamouring for him to go full-time.

...while Nigel Farage distills UKIP's...

Farage Nigel Purple"There is a wholesale rejection of the career, political, professional class in this country going on. We have had enough of them. And they really do all look the same, and sound the same. They all go to the same schools, the same Oxbridge colleges. None of them ever had a job in the real world and not one of them is in politics for principle." - Quoted by the BBC

Immigrants will be forced to pay to visit a GP and be banned from getting council houses for up to five years after they settle in Britain - Mail on Sunday | Independent on Sunday

"The government says about 9% of new social lettings go to foreign nationals, a rise from 6.5% in 2007/08. Mr Cameron will say that the government will issue statutory guidance to local authorities. "He wants to remove "any expectation that new migrants can expect the British taxpayer to give them a home on arrival". A social housing applicant would have to live in an area for between two and five years before going on the waiting list." - BBC

The Sun's verdict: "The PM’s scheme is no substitute for what Britain really needs — meaningful control of our own borders. But it’s a start."

  • Why has the PM decided to take a tough line on immigration? - Brian Brady in the Independent on Sunday
  • "A leading Anglican cleric has launched a powerful attack on the way politicians are exaggerating the negative impact of immigration, which he says is "wholly disproportionate" to the real threat." - Observer

> Today's ToryDiary: Cameron toughens his position on immigration but is he serious about the issue?

Cameron will move Osborne if he needs to change the game; or Osborne will voluntarily fall on his sword - John Rentoul in the Independent on Sunday

Voters lose hope in Osborne, Tory Right AND Ed Balls' Plan B

Osborne Balls

"Just 19% think the Government’s strategy is either working, or will start to work soon – down from the already-low 28% the last time YouGov asked this, five months ago... But if the public don’t think Plan A will work, which of the rival Plan Bs do they prefer? Neither, actually. The right-wing version – more tax cuts funded by sharper reductions in public spending – attracts the support of only 17%. Labour’s alternative – borrow more and cut spending more gradually – is even less popular, with a mere 11% support." - Peter Kellner in The Sunday Times (£)

...but, reports The Sun, Tories still trusted most on economy: "The Populus poll found a third of voters trust the Tories most to handle the economy. Next was Labour (26 per cent), followed by UKIP (seven per cent) and Lib Dems (four per cent)."

Tory council leaders rebel against new budget cuts

"Councils are already dealing with a 33% cut in funding from central government. Any new cuts next year and beyond will have a significant negative impact, particularly as the rising cost of services, such as adult social care, are already guaranteed to soak up an increasing share of funds. The government needs to reconsider its approach ahead of the 2015-16 spending round." - Sir Merrick Cockell, chair of the Local Government Association, in The Observer.

Andrew Rawnsley and Dominic Lawson become the latest commentators to worry about Osborne's house purchase guaranteee

Screen Shot 2013-03-24 at 08.07.18"The more fundamental question is whether it is a good idea at all for the state to be subsidising the purchase of private houses and insuring the banks against risk if they lend foolishly. It is certainly a very peculiar notion to come out of a supposedly free market, personal responsibility, small state, fiscally cautious Conservative party. There's some risk that it will inflate another housing bubble." - Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer

We need a building boom, not another house price bubble - Dominic Lawson in The Sunday Times (£)

Other Budget comment:

  • The Chancellor is for turning after all, concludes William Hutton in The Observer, and he is about to quietly try out some rather interventionist ideas.
  • Every generation up to now has been able to expect to have a better life than the previous one - but that has all changed - Janet Daley in The Sunday Telegraph
  • In The Sunday Express Neil Hamilton is underwhelmed by George Osborne's efforts: "He will borrow £100billion this year, £8billion more than last and double the national debt by 2015. He will have ­borrowed more in five years than Gordon Brown did in 13. A major reason for this rake’s progress is failure to control ­welfare spending. Partly that is due to the Lib Dems vetoing a benefits freeze this year. However no serious inroads can be made on the deficit while health and welfare are ring-fenced. It means any “cuts” fall disproportionately on other ­departments, such as defence."
  • Yes, mothers need help to return to work — after a few years - Camilla Cavendish in The Sunday Times (£)

Coalition to create a “powerful” post of chief inspector of social care - The Sunday Telegraph

Screen Shot 2013-03-24 at 08.22.58"Deaths caused by bad hospital care should be taken as seriously as plane crashes, the health secretary says. Jeremy Hunt wants hospitals to emulate the aviation industry by developing a “zero-harm culture”, in which even one-off mistakes involving patients are regarded as totally unacceptable." - The Sunday Times (£)

  • For former altar boy Andy Burnham, the NHS and Catholicism are both about social justice - Independent on Sunday

Ken Clarke has been accused of misleading parliament over secret courts - Observer

Tory MP Mary Macleod to launch bid to end discrimination against women in aristocracy - Independent on Sunday

Davidson Ruth SmilingIn a speech on Tuesday Ruth Davidson is to signal that the Scottish Conservatives are ready to back more powers for Holyrood in the event of a “No” vote - Scotland on Sunday

  • Two thirds of Scots want the Prime Minister to take part in a televised debate with First Minister Alex Salmond ahead of the vote on independence - Scotland on Sunday
  • The SNP's Nicola Sturgeon: We'll kick out the bedroom tax in an independent Scotland - Sunday Herald

Scottish Tories note 44,000 complaints against the SNP's windfarms policy - BBC

Leaders in The Sunday Telegraph and Mail on Sunday agree...

  • It is time for the Coalition to tear up its energy policy before the lights go out - Sunday Telegraph leader
  • "There is no doubt that this country contains substantial shale gas reserves. Yet the Green lobby, for no clear reason, opposes such a move. Ministers must challenge this pig-headed dogmatism, before the lights go out" - Mail on Sunday leader

Ed Miliband turns to Cadbury's for economic inspiration

B_16_John_Cadbury"Cadbury "had a simple idea", Mr Miliband said: "His business would be more successful if his workforce was well-motivated and lived in decent homes with decent conditions. That is the idea that should guide us to the change we need today. But it hasn't been the way our economy has been run for a long time."" - Independent on Sunday

"Miliband’s vision is of a Germany-style Britain — with a better-paid, more highly skilled workforce and a fairer society in which the rich contribute more, with more manufacturing and a smaller, more regulated financial sector. That’s likely to strike a chord with a lot of people." - Adam Boulton in The Sunday Times (£)

  • "The Labour party’s biggest donor, the Unite trade union, has delivered a thinly veiled warning that the party risks losing funding unless it opposes government sanctions against benefit claimants" - The Sunday Times (£)

The press controls are flawed, but where is the alternative? - The Independent's increasingly isolated Chris Blackhurst attempts a defence of the 2am press regulation deal.

"Even now, in a corner of every newspaper office in the country, a faint shadow is growing and gathering. In time, it will thicken, darken and resolve itself into the chilly, relentless figure of the censor. And David Cameron, who has achieved nothing else of note in his life, will be remembered mainly as the man who brought censorship back to Britain." - Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday


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