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30 Apr 2013 08:28:23

Newslinks for Tuesday 30th April 2013

5pm Lord Ashcroft on Comment: If things are so bad, why aren’t more people saying it’s time for change?

NF4pm LISTEN: "We have had a couple of very bizarre cases." Nigel Farage speaks on Radio 4's Today Programme

2.15pm LeftWatch: Ed Miliband’s fiscal flap is as nothing compared to Ed Balls’s fiscal falsehoods

11.30am Francis Davis on Comment: A place that will drive economic and social recovery. In other words, a cathedral.

11am Local Government: Will the incumbency factor dent Labour's gains on Thursday?

ToryDiary: IDS and universal credit. "They lied to him." Trouble with the civil service

Garvan Walshe writes this week's Foreign Policy column: Time for a Syrian No-Fly Zone

Chris Grayling MP on Comment: No more Sky subscriptions. No more 18 certificate DVDs. Why I'm launching today's tougher prison regime.

Screen shot 2013-04-30 at 11.45.30On Comment, Marina Kim writes about the importance of poetry in politics"A real poet – thank you Wikipedia - is someone who 'evokes meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning', someone who looks deeper through the muddy water and tells us what he sees at the bottom."

Local Government:

The Deep End: Has political correctness gone mad or is madness politically correct?

The Tory-UKIP wars continue: David Cameron warns that a vote for Farage is a boost for Miliband


"Speaking in Bridgwater, Somerset, Mr Cameron declined to repeat the suggestion that UKIP is a racist party. He said: ‘It’s a simple and straight choice, at your county council and at the next election, between the blue team who want to keep getting the deficit down, who want to keep reforming immigration and welfare to make it fair, or you have the red team who put the deficit up and who don’t care if our immigration and welfare system works at all.’" - Daily Mail

  • "A UK Independence Party election candidate has been caught on camera apparently making a Nazi salute – bringing further scandal to the party ahead of Thursday’s local elections." - Daily Mail
  • "Support for UKIP has hit a record 14 per cent, sparking Tory fears of a major ballot-box meltdown in Thursday’s council elections." - The Sun
  • "A large 'Stop HS2 — Vote UKIP' poster dominates the roundabout on the way in to Great Missenden" - The Times (£)

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Ken Clarke is right to abuse UKIP...and Boris Johnson is right to woo it

And the columnists and leader writers have their say

  • DM"But by first disparaging UKIP, then concentrating only on the dangers of splitting the traditional Tory vote, David Cameron is failing to confront the real issue – that many instinctive Tories find Mr Farage’s policies attractive (even if the same cannot be said for the candidates themselves)." - Daily Mail editorial
  • "If voters really are ready to back UKIP only because they want to say ‘to hell with mainstream politics’, who can blame them?" - Richard Littlejohn, Daily Mail
  • "To stop being cranks, UKIP needs a few wonks" - Hugo Rifkind, The Times (£)
  • "However Ukip fares in this week's elections, the politics of protest can only take you so far" - Donald Macintyre, Independent

Mr Cameron says that it's up to pensioners whether they hand back their benefits

"The Prime Minister said that it is for pensioners 'to decide' whether to accept the winter fuel allowance or consider handing back other benefits including free bus passes and television licences. ... He also reiterated his pledge to keep universal benefits for pensioners during this parliament." - Daily Telegraph

As his latest No.10 appointment comes under scrutiny

CLDavid Cameron was accused of cronyism again last night after appointing one of his best friends to a job in Downing Street. ... Journalist Christopher Lockwood will take up a post in the No 10 policy unit. ... His appointment caused despair among Tory MPs ... ‘Great move, Dave,’ one said. ‘Good luck trying to argue we are not a bunch of toffs after this.’ ... Tim Montgomerie, a former Conservative chief of staff, said: ‘Extraordinary that Cameron has appointed yet another mate to Number 10.’" - Daily Mail

> Yesterday:

Has Oliver Letwin been sidelined by the PM?

Ol"David Cameron has sidelined the gaffe-prone minister from writing the 2015 election manifesto. ... Instead, the prime job has been given to his new No10 policy board chief Jo Johnson, 41, high-flying brother of London mayor Boris. ... [Mr Letwin] will remain Government Policy Minister — but his role has been limited and he faces the sack in the next reshuffle." - The Sun

"The PM is furious local authorities can give their CEOs pay and perks that dwarf his £142,000-a-year salary — some raking in more than a quarter of a million pounds" - The Sun

  • Tax questions for Whitehall bosses paid over £1,000 a day - Daily Telegraph
  • David Cameron defends £50,000 cost of PM Direct sessions - Independent

More ministerial pressure for NHS savings

"Cabinet ministers will on Tuesday mount a collective attack on the 'ringfence' protecting the NHS from budget cuts, as the search for £11.5bn of election year savings reaches a critical stage. ... Philip Hammond, defence secretary, Vince Cable, business secretary, Chris Grayling, justice secretary, and Eric Pickles, local government secretary, are among those insisting that the NHS must share the pain." - Financial Times

  • "George Osborne should abandon his promise to protect the NHS, overseas aid and benefits for pensioners in order to tackle Britain’s 'ballooning national debt', a coalition of leading think-tanks says." - Daily Telegraph

Chris Grayling's plan to curtail prisoner perks

CG"All prisoners currently get perks and only lose them for bad behaviour — but would have to earn privileges such as their own tellies under the shake-up. ... They would need to take part in prison work or training, and addicts would be required to attend drugs or booze rehab. ... Inmates will also be banned from watching certificate 18 DVDs — and subscription TV will be removed from private jails." - The Sun

  • "Jail should be a deterrent to crime – and a spartan regime is more likely to dissuade convicts from reoffending." - Daily Telegraph editorial

> Today, by Chris Grayling MP on Comment: No more Sky subscriptions. No more 18 certificate DVDs. Why I'm launching today's tougher prison regime.

Justine Greening to announce an end to British aid for South Africa

"Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, will make the announcement today ... Ms Greening said the decision to stop aid to Africa’s biggest economy was based on 'enormous progress' made since the end of apartheid almost 20 years ago. ... 'I have agreed with my South African counterparts that South Africa is now in a position to fund its own development.'" - The Times (£)

  • "Life after aid begins with private investment" - David Wighton, The Times (£)

A privatised Royal Mail would be quicker and more stable, suggests Michael Fallon

MF"Mr Fallon told an audience at the Policy Exchange that privatising Britain's national postal operator was 'the way to put Royal Mail onto a long-term sustainable basis'. ... One advantage was privatised postal operators in Germany and Austria had been able to deliver post quicker than the state controlled Royal Mail." - Daily Telegraph

Rob Wilson keeps on writing for an invesigation into the Leveson lovers

"A Conservative MP has written to [Lord Justice Leveson], who was in charge of last year’s public inquiry into Press standards, querying his insistence that Carine Patry Hoskins had no input into its key conclusions." - Daily Mail

Peter Lilley: The green spin of environmental activists has skewed the fracking debate

"When you hear shale gas and fracking described as 'controversial' or 'risky', bear in mind that most campaigners against it are not concerned about fracking as such. Their main motive is to prevent us from exploiting fossil fuels. ... That is why they grotesquely exaggerate the supposed environmental risks of fracking."  Peter Lilley, Daily Telegraph

Janan Ganesh: A strong economy at the next election could harm the Conservatives

"...a strong economy could relax voters into experimenting with a Labour party they do not really trust. The other extreme – outright recession – would surely see off the Conservatives too. The electoral sweet spot, then, is actually tepid, shuffling growth, real enough to be prized but too fragile to comfortably withstand political upheaval." - Janan Ganesh, Financial Times

Rachel Sylvester celebrates IDS's "missionary zeal" after the launch of the Universal Credit...

Box"Mr Duncan Smith repeatedly lost his temper with the mandarins. On one occasion, he heard a member of his team being berated by the Treasury, seized the telephone and, according to a Whitehall source, shouted down the line: 'If you ever speak to my officials like that again I’ll bite your balls off and send them to you in a box.'" - Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)

  • "There are few fundamental economic objections to the new Credit, but the practical ones are legion." - Times editorial (£)
  • "Iain Duncan Smith’s scheme has been beset with computer glitches. ... But the principle is spot on." - Sun editorial
  • "The implementation has already been slowed but it may be wise to decelerate further – to a truly evolutionary timescale." - Guardian editorial

> Today on ToryDiary: IDS and universal credit. "They lied to him." Trouble with the civil service

...As Labour warm to the scheme

"Labour voted against the scheme when it was debated by Parliament last year. But yesterday Mr Byrne said the universal credit system was a ‘fine idea’, albeit one with some details still to be ironed out. ... Shadow employment minister Stephen Timms also said the scheme was a ‘sensible’ idea which would ‘potentially simplify’ the benefits system." - Daily Mail

  • "What the Left doesn't want you to know about Britain's £200 billion welfare bill" - James Slack, Daily Mail

"Compassionate Conservatism has been sidelined" – Nick Clegg in local election mode

"Nick Clegg has accused David Cameron of 'pulling to the Right' over welfare, human rights and the environment ... In a bid to shore up support for the Lib Dems in local elections, the Deputy Prime Minister claimed compassionate Conservatism had been 'sidelined'." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday, by columnist Jesse Norman MP: Adam Smith's great insight. Compassion isn't pity. It's fellow feeling.

Ed Miliband's borrowing bungle x 10

Ed"Mr Miliband refused on ten occasions to admit that his party would increase government borrowing, despite outlining plans that would require more than £28billion of borrowing. ... He then revealed that Labour’s policy review would investigate whether to axe universal benefits for pensioners such as the winter fuel allowance and free bus and television licences. ... His aides were later forced to insist that they would stay." - Daily Mail

  • "It is all too easy to say 'No’ to Mr Miliband" - Daily Telegraph editorial
  • "Ed Miliband doesn’t sound like the next PM" - Peter Kellner, The Times (£)

> Yesteday's clip to LISTEN to: THAT Miliband World at One "car crash" interview with Martha Kearney

Polly Toynbee reckons that housebuilding will be Mr Milband's "golden policy key" at the next election

"But if Miliband needs a golden policy key, housebuilding looks set to be it. Build a million homes to cut housing benefit waste, employ hundreds of thousands, create apprenticeships, breathe life into the real economy, stop house price bubbles, replace those right-to-buy social homes. Building is not just good policy, but the best symbol for optimism." - Polly Toynbee, Guardian

  • "...more people support Ed Miliband’s 'time for a change' message than the Conservatives’ likely pitch at the next general election – that they should be allowed to 'finish the job' of reviving Britain’s economic fortunes." - Independent
  • Ed Miliband barracked on immigration as he reaches out to voters - Guardian

> Yesterday on the Deep End: Britain needs to build its way to recovery

"Why are Labour's leading ladies so invisible, Ed Miliband?" - Cathy Newman, Daily Telegraph

Margaret Hodge warns over "sweetheart" tax deals

MH"The scale of the government's "sweetheart" tax deals can be revealed for the first time after previously unseen documents showed that just four settlements were worth £4.5bn between them. ... Margaret Hodge, the chair of the Commons public accounts committee, said: 'If we got £4.5bn in, how much did we not get? That is what taxpayers will want to know, and I'll be raising this with HMRC through the committee.'" Guardian

MPs urged to probe Europe's insurance reforms

"A top British financial regulator has called on parliament to probe an EU overhaul of insurance regulations ... In a letter to the head of the Treasury select committee, Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Prudential Regulation Authority, warned that efforts to finalise Solvency II had 'ground to a halt' in the face of conflicting national interests." - Financial Times

  • "Solvency II shows the EU is truly bankrupt of ideas" - Daily Express editorial

News in brief

  • "The UK pays almost  £1billion a year to cover the healthcare costs of Britons who fall ill on the continent – but receives only a fraction of that for NHS treatment of European visitors." - Daily Mail
  • Whitehall’s head of procurement hits out at "complacency" among suppliers - Financial Times
  • West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady considers move into politics - Guardian

And finally... Visit Downton Britain, urges Maria Miller


"Britain is a nation full of servants like those in Downton Abbey, according to the Government’s new tourism campaign. ... The upstairs-downstairs TV hit will be used in a major drive to reverse the falling trend of transatlantic tourism. ... The campaign is part of Visit Britain’s new tourism strategy to be unveiled by Culture Secretary Maria Miller today." - The Sun


> 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.

29 Apr 2013 08:30:53

Newslinks for Monday 29th April 2013

9pm ToryDiary: It's No Surrender in Downing Street as Christopher Lockwood is recruited

4.30pm Andrew Lilico on Comment: A Rogoff-Stiglitz redux. "The laws of economics may be different in your part of the gamma quadrant, but around here we find that when an almost bankrupt government fails to credibly constrain the time profile of its fiscal deficits, things generally get worse instead of better."

3.45pm LISTEN: THAT Miliband World at One "car crash" interview with Martha Kearney

12.15pm ToryDiary: Ken Clarke is right to abuse UKIP...and Boris Johnson is right to woo it

11am Simon Clark on Comment: Bob Blackman is wrong. We don't need a smoking ban in cars to protect children.

ToryDiary: Five snapshots of Cameron on tour

Screen shot 2013-04-29 at 08.42.06
New fortnightly columnist Jesse Norman MP's first offering for ConservativeHome: Adam Smith's great insight. Compassion isn't pity. It's fellow feeling.

David Boyle on Comment: Can we save the middle classes?

Councillor Mark Bee on Local Government: The battle for Suffolk

The Deep End: Britain needs to build its way to recovery

It's UKIP under fire as Thursday approaches. Ken Clarke dismisses UKIP “clowns”...

CLARKE HAPPY“Voters who back the UK Independence Party are racists and its politicians are clowns, Ken Clarke claimed yesterday.The veteran Tory Cabinet minister led attacks by all three main parties as he said UKIP is merely a protest party and those attracted to it are ‘waifs and strays’ who are simply ‘against’ foreigners and immigrants. Mr Clarke’s astonishing onslaught came as polls showed that Nigel Farage’s Eurosceptic party has overtaken the Liberal Democrats and is set for its best local election results ever on Thursday, when 35 county councils and unitary authorities in England and one in Wales go to the polls” – Daily Mail

...And Farage hits back: Clarke "holds voters in contempt"

Farage Nigel March 2012"UKIP are attracting supporters from all three main parties and, significantly, those who have either not voted for over 10 years or have never voted before in their lives. "Instead of slagging them off, maybe he should try to wrap his head around the idea that Ukip are appealing to people due to the failure of the bloated, self-satisfied political machine of which he is such a typical member." - Daily Express

Fraud, racism and homophobia claims dog the election drive of Farage's party

“A Ukip candidate is being investigated by police over allegations of electoral fraud. The latest blow for the party comes days after a slew of would-be councillors were accused of making racist or homophobic comments.Northumbria Police said officers were investigating a report of alleged electoral fraud in the Cowpen area of Blyth” – Daily Mail

Boris Johnson claims that the rise of UKIP is good news for the Conservatives…

“Rather than bashing Ukip, I reckon Tories should be comforted by their rise – because the real story is surely that these voters are not turning to the one party that is meant to be providing the official opposition. The rise of Ukip confirms a) that a Tory approach is broadly popular and b) that in the middle of a parliament, after long years of recession, and with growth more or less flat, the Labour Party is going precisely nowhere” – Daily Telegraph

…but Trevor Kavanagh says that the UKIP joke is now on the Tories

Screen shot 2013-04-29 at 08.13.20“They all laughed when Nigel Farage set out to transform “the Kippers” from a joke party into a mainstream political force. Well, as the great Bob Monkhouse said, they’re not laughing now. The UKIP leader is good company, with a permanent grin on his cheeky-chappie face, a fag in one hand and a large glass of red wine in the other...He rivals Boris Johnson as the most instantly recognisable politician in the land and now he is poised for a breakthrough in Thursday’s local elections. Thousands of disaffected voters are flocking to join — and half of them are ex-Tories” – The Sun

  •  Nigel Farage is an adept populist leading a party that is not credible – The Times (£)

> Yesterday: Tory Diary: UKIP should not be compared to the BNP

It's the first day of Universal Credit

Screen shot 2013-04-29 at 08.14.59
"Universal credit will merge several benefits and tax credits into one monthly payout. It begins with a very small number of new claimants in Ashton-under-Lyne in Greater Manchester, but will eventually affect nearly six million people. The system relies on a complex computer system, with claims made online." - BBC

  • Wealthy OAPs can ring hotline to hand back benefits – The Sun
  • IDS's campaign to persuade better-off pensioners to give back benefits is misconceived - Daily Express Editorial
  • Hand back our bus passes and TV licences?! You must be joking, Iain Duncan Smith – Janet Street-Porter, Daily Mail

Hammond bids for health and schools cash

“Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, is in talks with the Treasury about transferring money earmarked for the Department of Health and the Department for Education and using it to ease the impact of cuts on the Ministry of Defence…the plan could see as much as £500  million from the two protected departments’ budgets reallocated to defence” – Daily Telegraph

Once again, Wollaston scoops the Lynton Crosby On Message Backbencher Of The Day Award. She says here are too many Old Etonians in government

Wollaston Sarah"Her comments came after Jo Johnson and Jesse Norman, both Old Etonians, were promoted by the Prime Minister. Mr Johnson, the brother of London Mayor Boris Johnson, been appointed as David Cameron’s new head of policy while Mr Norman has become a member of the Prime Minister’s new policy advisory board." - Daily Telegraph

Grayling denies reneging on burglar pledge

"Official guidance to courts and police says the law would not cover people using force to protect property rather than people – or if force was used in the garden or other outside locations. Conservative Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The new law does exactly what it says on the tin. It was never intended to allow you to shoot dead someone stealing the lawnmower from your garden shed.” - Daily Express

Tim Montgomerie: The Prime Minister needs a tiger in his tank

Screen shot 2013-04-29 at 08.19.01"Nearly everyone who has worked with the Tory leader likes him, but few have a sense that he has a great mission or purpose. Meetings are held but do not conclude. Memos are written but aren’t read. Strategies are launched but not pursued. In so far as this Government acts, it is because individual ministers such as Michael Gove, Eric Pickles and Iain Duncan Smith provide their own independent centres of activity and energy. If something needs to be done the wisest ministers don’t go to the Government’s chairman, Mr Cameron, but to its chief executive — the Chancellor and all-round fixer, George Osborne." – The Times (£)

> Today: ToryDiary - Five snapshots of Cameron on tour

> Yesterday: ToryDiary - David Cameron (eventually) tells the Sunday Times he is not a Thatcherite

Fallon says each Royal Mail staff member will get £1,500 share windfall when company floats on stock exchange

"It will be the largest employee share scheme for 25 years with around 140,000 workers from postmen to local delivery office managers expected to scoop a windfall. In his first speech on the controversial privatisation of the country’s postal service, Michael Fallon will today pledge to make the share handout ‘as attractive as possible.’ " - Daily Mail

Fracking 1) Ministers mull offering sweeteners to opponents

Screen shot 2013-04-29 at 08.22.52
“The government is proposing to bribe communities with cheaper energy bills in exchange for dropping opposition to local fracking projects as part of plans to push ahead with shale-gas extraction. Several options to cajole rural England to accept the contentious drilling schemes are being discussed as ministers prepare to announce that the UK’s shale-gas reserves are much larger than previously estimated” – Financial Times

Fracking 2) West Sussex village tells firm to Frack Off

“The pretty West Sussex village of Balcombe, nestled in Britain’s stockbroker belt, is not a place you associate with protest. But that was before the frackers showed up. Local people have been incensed since Cuadrilla Resources, the shale gas explorer, acquired an exploration licence for Balcombe in 2010. Cuadrilla has yet to frack a single well, but anger runs so high that getting to that stage will be a fraught process. ‘If Cuadrilla tries to drill here, they’ll soon find they haven’t reckoned on the opposition,’ says Vanessa Vine, a member of campaign group Frack Free Sussex. ‘People will take direct action’” – Financial Times

Two-thirds of Scottish voters give thumbs down to independence

“The campaign for an independent Scotland had a fresh setback yesterday when a poll showed that 60 per cent of Scots think that neither Alex Salmond, the First Minister, nor the Scottish National Party has made a convincing case so far. The YouGov poll for the pro-Union Better Together group revealed that 62 per cent of the 1,000-plus sample of Scots voters said the SNP’s case was either ‘not very convincing’ or ‘not convincing at all’. More than a fifth of those respondents were people who claimed to have voted for the Nationalists in the Scottish and UK parliamentary elections” – The Times (£)

News in brief

  • Hodge attacks Treasury infrastructure plan – Daily Mail
  • Care homes on brink as bailiffs move in - The Independent
  • Welsh care home investigation: Police findings published today - Wales Online
  • Taxpayer helps fund Blair’s lucrative foreign tours – Daily Mail
  • Cigarette display ban comes into force - Scotsman
  • Police hunt for new Stephen Lawrence witnesses - Daily Telegraph
  • Hemmings attacks Court of Protection – Daily Mail
  • Video of Obama delivering comedy speech – The Guardian

And finally...Hair Is No Alternative

Screen shot 2013-04-29 at 08.36.42"Since Baroness Thatcher’s death earlier this month, scores of women have been paying tribute to her in a rather unexpected way – by adopting her hairstyle. One hairdresser, in Chelsea said he had been inundated by requests for ‘The Thatcher’, as the iconic style has become known. Celebrity stylist Maximiliano Centini says his salon has been inundated with demands for the style and bookings are full ‘I have not known anything like this for many years,’ said Mr Centini. ‘We have now done the style for over 100 women, it is a surge. I experienced something similar when the Jennifer Aniston style became popular but that surge built slowly - this has come completely out of the blue.’." – 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.

28 Apr 2013 09:19:06

Newslinks for Sunday 28th April 2013

7.30pm LeftWatch: Back to the '70s as Labour's far left crank up for selection battles

4.30pm WATCH: UKIP and Green Party battle for votes in council elections

4pm Adrian Hilton on Comment: The Conservative Party will not be compassionate until its members care

12.30pm Spencer Pitfield on Comment: The CPF's enthusiastic but measured debate about Europe

12.15pm ToryDiary: David Cameron (eventually) tells the Sunday Times he is not a Thatcherite

11.30am ToryDiary: Downing Street must impose its authority over Sayeeda Warsi. If necessary, she should be sacked

Tory Diary: UKIP should not be compared to the BNP

In the first of a series of articles for ConservativeHome, Adam Afriyie on Comment says: "Jobs for the boys" is making this Government too big

SuntelidsIDS urges rich pensioners to hand back their benefits

"Iain Duncan Smith says he “would encourage” elderly people who can well afford to pay for their their own heating bills, bus passes and television licences to return the money to the state." Sunday Telegraph

  • "There has previously been a discussion in government of means testing to exclude richer pensioners, but Mr Duncan Smith said there were no plans to make that change. He also said that the new universal credit - a payment that marks the biggest overhaul of the benefits system since the 1940s - was being implemented over four years because "I want to get these things right". - BBC

BorisBoris could return as an MP while still Mayor of London

"David Cameron has strengthened his embrace of the Johnson family by leaving the door open for Boris Johnson to return as an MP before the next election. Asked during an interview with The Sunday Times whether Johnson could combine the role of mayor of London with being an MP, the prime minister replied: “Boris can do anything, that’s the moral of the story of Boris.” - Sunday Times (£)

  • "Earlier BoJo joined the bunny at a demo against a third runway at Heathrow. He called the idea “totally nuts” as he joined 1,000 residents living under the flightpath. Bojo cycled to the rally in Barnes, South-West London, and warned the expansion would create “great flying fleets of fortissimo flatulence”." - The Sun on Sunday
  • David Cameron interview - Sunday Times (£)

IosbigThe Big Society is booming

"According to the Government's own quarterly measure, Community Life, 72 per cent of people volunteered at least once last year, a rise from 65 per cent the year before." - The Independent on Sunday

Cameron warned Syrian intervention could lead to all-out war

"Britain's most senior military officer has warned David Cameron that intervening in Syria would risk sucking UK forces into an all-out war. General Sir David Richards, chief of the defence staff, believes any military response to the use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad’s regime would have to be on a huge scale to succeed." - Sunday Times (£)

Lynton Crosby "clashes" with Osborne and Shapps

"Tough-talking Lynton Crosby has had a series of clashes with fellow campaign chiefs Shapps and Osborne, according to insiders. They say that Australian-born Mr Crosby, recruited by Mr Cameron  to revive flagging Tory ratings, regards Mr Shapps as ‘ineffective’. And he reportedly believes Mr Osborne’s abysmal personal popularity means he is driving voters away in large numbers." - Mail on Sunday

ObserverukipUKIP "in chaos over policy"

"A series of leaked emails between key figures in Ukip reveals growing chaos at the heart of the party as it struggles to fill a policy vacuum just days before crucial local elections in which it is expected to make spectacular advances. In one email, a senior party figure claims that leading the anti-EU party is like "herding cats". Ukip leader Nigel Farage is warned that his party is facing a decade without credible policies, as crippling internal rows rage, and it is suggested that the party should consider buying off-the-shelf strategy from right-leaning thinktanks." - The Observer

>Yesterday: Daniel Kawczynski MP on Comment: UKIP’s thin offer

In the latest of his letters o the Party leaders Lord Ashcroft tells Nigel Farage that UKIP is cultivating disillusionment as an end in itself...

"Your declared aim of ushering Britain out of the EU has come up against your promise that UKIP is ‘here to stay’. If secession were the priority, you would get behind the only party with a chance of forming a government that had offered the referendum  that makes it possible. That would mean assigning a degree of credibility to the Tories, and acknowledging that one party had a policy that was manifestly different from the other two." - Mail on Sunday UKIP struggle to ditch extremist candidates....

"A UKIP local election candidate was suspended yesterday after The Sunday Times exposed his support for the far-right English Defence League (EDL). Chris Scotton, 24, faces expulsion from the party after repeatedly endorsing the EDL on Facebook and indicating that he has been an activist for the movement, which has gained notoriety for violent protests against Islam." - Sunday Times (£)

Farage....Welcome to UKIPland - Ramsey in Cambridgeshire

"Nigel Farage, UKIP’s leader, said Ramsey, with its big- society-on-steroids approach, is the perfect example of what a UKIP-controlled Britain would look like. “Local budgets can’t pay for everything so if we want to improve our community, we roll our sleeves up and do it ourselves,” said Farage. “It’s just astonishing — the people of the town love it.” - Sunday Times (£)

Mark Reckless challenges Theresa May...

"Overall I believe that the Home Secretary is doing a good job. Crime is down and, with the support of able Immigration Ministers, she is delivering on our promise to cut net immigration from hundreds of thousands to just tens of thousands a year. However, on the issue of Abu Qatada I believe that she has got the law wrong." - Mark Reckless MP  Mail on Sunday protests grow over another "human rights" case

"Hesham Mohammed Ali won an appeal against moves by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to deport him because of his crimes. He convinced a judge he had a “family life” which had to be respected because he had a “genuine” relationship with a British woman – despite already having two children by different women with whom he now has no contact." - Sunday Telegraph

Details of the Galloway/Miliband meeting emerge

"Ed Miliband faced a growing revolt last night over his secret meeting with Respect MP George Galloway after it emerged that Mr Miliband had congratulated him on the way he beat Labour in a by-election." - Mail on Sunday

 Ed Miliband plans Shadow Cabinet reshuffle

"Stephen Twigg, the shadow education secretary, has been criticised by some of his colleagues for being too timid in his criticism of Michael Gove's school reforms. Twigg still has Miliband's full confidence, however. It is likely that Miliband will want to promote more women, with Rachel Reeves, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, being tipped to shadow a big department when she returns from maternity leave. Other female MPs who could be preferred include Luciana Berger, Emma Reynolds and former GMTV presenter Gloria De Piero." - The Observer

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Fallon should be in the Cabinet

JamesforsythJames Forsyth on the local elections

"The odd truth is that all three main parties could do badly. For these elections look like being the latest act in UKIP’s dramatic rise to being a permanent, and potentially mould-breaking, presence. In a sign of his confidence, Nigel Farage is the only party leader talking up his side’s chances." - Mail on Sunday

  • "David Cameron’s latest electoral test comes on Thursday, when more than 2,400 council seats are up for grabs. If it was a General Election, the polls show the Tories would be wiped out. On Friday, Ed Miliband would be walking into Number 10 with a thumping majority. If that’s a frightening prospect for Cameron, it ought to put the wind up the rest of us too. Miliband is the most Left-wing Labour leader since Michael Foot. And at the moment, he’s being given a free ride into Downing Street." - The Sun Says

Adam Boulton says Tories sense they are back in the game

"One normally shrewd second-term MP seemed almost euphoric contemplating a Labour lead in the opinion polls dropping just back into single figures: “All we need is us to take back five points from
UKIP, and the Libs to do the same from Labour, and we’ll be back in the game.” - Sunday Times (£)

  •  "David Cameron faces rising panic among rookie MPs — sparked by town hall massacres on their home turf. Nervous novices fear this Thursday’s local election results will herald disaster for them in 2015. Tories are set to lose 380 councillors in a night of carnage — and sitting MPs believe they will be next to go." - The Sun

South Shields byelection report -

"Sitting behind a desk in Ukip's King Street shop on Wednesday, Lisa Duffy, Ukip's perennially jovial director – mayor of Ramsey in Cambridgeshire in her spare time – was even more upbeat than usual. She was spending £40,000 on the byelection, she said – half what the party splurged in Eastleigh. "But the money goes a lot further up here." - The Observer

  • The candidates give their pitch- BBC

JanetdaleyJanet Daley says welfare reform shows Left/Right divide is outdated

"The welfare reform programme is a true instance of compassionate conservatism. And it is this clear sense in which the policy is benevolent and socially responsible – quite as much as its resounding popularity with the electorate – which makes it so very difficult for Ed Miliband and his army of throwbacks to oppose it." - Sunday Telegraph

Lord Mandelson urges David Cameron to support the EU

"When we have so many other deep-seated problems in Britain, it is crazy to start an artificial argument among ourselves about whether we want to remain in the EU. But there is a potential silver lining in the cloud cast over Britain's EU membership if, instead of propelling Britain out of the EU, we build Britain's influence inside it to help forge the changes and reforms it needs." - Peter Mandelson Independent on Sunday

Boris and Jo Johnson are "very different"- Bruce Anderson Sunday Telegraph

The Sunday Times profiles the Johnson children - Sunday Times (£)

And finally....Stanley Johnson on Bo Jo v Jo Jo

"My son's appointment to head the Downing Street Policy Unit didn't lead the news, but it was not far off. My mobile phone didn't ring much that morning but that was only because I had spilt a glass of wine over it the night before." - Mail on Sunday


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27 Apr 2013 09:00:39

Newslinks for Saturday 27th April 2013

Screen shot 2013-04-27 at 16.31.00
4.30pm WATCH: Tony Bray, Margaret Thatcher's first boyfriend, remembers her. Three clips from this evening's BBC documentary "Young Margaret," presented by Charles Moore, her authorised biographer:

4pm Daniel Kawczynski MP on Comment: UKIP’s thin offer

1.30pm Peter Walker on Comment: How ring-fencing turns public servants into state dependents

9.30am As the party's Welsh Conference begins, Andrew Davies AM writes on ConservativeHome: Let's take the fight to Labour in Wales

ToryDiary: Fallon should be in the Cabinet

James Duddridge MP on Comment: Perceptions of Africa are changing – invest now

Cameron on tour: as the local elections loom, he confirms yesterday's ConservativeHome story that marriage tax breaks will be forced on Osborne if necessary...

Cameron reading ConHome
"Amid concerns on the Tory right that the prime minister has no feel for their concerns, the prime minister told the ConservativeHome website that he can force the touchstone issue of tax and marriage because he is technically the most senior Treasury minister. "The prime minister is the first lord of the treasury," Cameron said as he made clear that he would deliver on a commitment in the coalition agreement to hold a Commons vote on a marriage tax allowance by the time of the next election." - The Guardian

> Yesterday:

...The Prime Minister also tells voters that foreign criminals will be sent back to serve their sentences in foreign countries...

"Mr Cameron made his comments during a ‘Cameron Direct’ event on the local elections campaign trail in Carlisle. He said: ‘When people are sent to prison in the UK we should do everything we can to make sure that if they’re foreign nationals, they are sent back to their country to serve their sentence in a foreign prison. ‘And I’m taking action in Government to say look we have strong relationships with all of the countries where these people come from." - Daily Mail

  • The European Commission wants the UK to be forced to accept jobless immigrants - The Sun
  • French socialists attack 'Thatcherite' Cameron and 'selfish' Merkel - Financial Times (£)
  • Beijing punishes PM for his meeting with Dalai Lama while French president gets full state visit treatment - The Guardian
  • Did Cameron's words help to get Suarez banned? - Sun Editorial
  • Osborne's message to the IMF: we're flexible - Financial Times

...And looks to America to step up pressure on Assad

CAMERON POINTING"David Cameron also said there is “limited but growing evidence” that chemical weapons have been used. He added: “It is extremely serious, this is a war crime and we should take it very seriously.”…Mr Cameron said he was “keen to do more” but, when asked if British troops would be sent, he said: “I don’t want to see that and I don’t think that is likely to happen.” He added: “The question is how do we step up the pressure and, in my view, what we need to do – and we’re doing some of this already – is shape (the) opposition, work with them, train them, mentor them, help them, so that we put the pressure on the regime and so we can bring this to an end.” - Daily Express

Cameron: If you want to keep the council tax down, vote Conservative

"The Prime Minister acknowledged that next Thursday’s polls in one Welsh and 34 English councils, with nearly 2,400 seats up for grabs, were difficult for a governing party in mid-term. But he said: “I will be out there with my teams working hard to persuade people to vote Conservative with a very clear message. “It is that if you want to keep council tax down, then you vote Conservative and get good value for money. Over the past three years council tax has barely increased nationwide and many areas have frozen it three times in a row." - Daily Express

  • Bristol local election sees councillors forced to redefine their role - The Guardian
  • "Councillors are interested in feathering their own nests, wasting money on the trappings of office and imposing politically correct drivel on council taxpayers." - Robin Page, Daily Mail

But there's bad news for the Conservatives in the latest Lord Ashcroft poll

Next general election 1) Lord Ashcroft: Ministers are at risk. As matters stand, Cameron is set to lose in 2015. Voters still don’t believe that the Tories are on their side

Screen shot 2013-04-27 at 08.53.09"My poll found that Labour would gain a total of 109 seats, including 93 from the Tories, giving Mr Miliband 367 seats in the House of Commons – a majority of 84. Ministers including Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, Anna Soubry in Broxtowe, Edward Timpson in Crewe & Nantwich, and Esther McVey in Wirral West would be vulnerable, as would serial rebel Stewart Jackson in Peterborough and Margot James, MP for Stourbridge, who was appointed earlier this week to the Number 10 policy unit." - Financial Times

Planet Tory has just got a whole lot more like today’s Planet Britain - Graeme Archer, Daily Telegraph

Next general election 2) Conservative women and northern MPs fear that they will lose in 2015

"Prominent Tory women in the line of fire include Anna Soubry, the health minister, Esther McVey, minister for disabled people, and parliamentary aides Amber Rudd and Mary Macleod. “Conservatives have a fundamental problem on women’s representation,”a senior Labour adviser said. “Cameron promised the most family-friendly government ever but his policies are hitting women and families hard. This could prove a real blow to Conservative claims to properly represent the whole of the country in parliament.” - Financial Times (£)

And, in the corridors of Westminster, the plotters lurk...

Screen shot 2013-04-27 at 08.54.33"Senior Tory MPs denied that a formal challenge to Mr Cameron before the 2015 general election had been ruled out. "It all depends on how Ukip does next week," one told The Independent. "If Ukip does well, all bets are off"…experts say Ukip is hurting the Tories most, with some polls suggesting that 18 per cent of Conservative supporters at the last election have switched allegiance. Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, the elections experts from the University of Plymouth, are forecasting about 310 Tory losses, 350 Labour gains, 130 Liberal Democrat losses and 40 Ukip gains." - The Independent

> Yesterday: Local Government - Council byelection results from yesterday

Miliband: Labour's mansion tax may have to wait

"We said we want to have a mansion tax on the richest homes in the country, homes over two million pounds,” Mr Miliband told BBC Breakfast. “That is something we want to do in government. We want a fairer tax system but how you deliver that has got to depend on the state of your economy and the state of your public finances.” The Labour leader said that he would be criticised for making promises on tax too early, when the economy is still “incredibly uncertain”." - Daily Telegraph

  • Labour leader lays down living wage challenge - The Guardian

Three days is a long time in politics.  On Wednesday, Galloway said that Miliband is  “quite impressive physically and intellectually” and that he should be Prime Minister "the sooner the better",  But yesterday…

Screen shot 2013-04-27 at 08.58.07
"George Galloway called Ed Miliband an “unprincipled coward with the backbone of an amoeba”.  His attack came after the Labour leader said the Respect MP’s views were “awful”. The row followed a secret meeting between the pair in Mr Miliband’s office. The Labour chief said he only met the leftie firebrand to talk about a vote on boundary changes.

But former Labour MP Mr Galloway called that claim “a lie” online. He added: “I realise now that I showed poor judgment in finally agreeing to meet Miliband.” - The Sun

Clegg: Quit the ECHR? No-one's asked me

"David Cameron this week held a “war council” with Theresa May, the Home Secretary, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and Attorney General Dominic Grieve to discuss ways of deporting Qatada. Downing Street is insisting that temporary withdrawal from the convention is an option that is being considered by ministers. However, officials have refused to say whether Mr Grieve has been asked to provide legal guidance on whether such a move would even be possible." - Daily Telegraph

  • May says the Jordanian government can be trusted not to torture its prisoners but Jordanian activists disagree - The Independent
  • Could Abu Qatada trigger a snap general election? - Simon Heffer, Daily Mail (QTWTAIN of the day)

> Yesterday: Iain Dale's Friday Diary- Theresa May doesn't have to be Little Miss Popular to become Tory leader

Fallon says that local people will be able to block wind farms

FALLON MICHAEL"Michael Fallon will shortly publish planning protections and proposals for a scheme of community “payments” for residents who agree to allow wind turbines near their homes. The recently appointed energy and business minister told the The Daily Telegraph that new schemes would have to gain “community consent”, effectively handing the power of veto to communities in opposition to wind farms in their area." - Daily Telegraph

Ministers "to break NHS pledge by shifting funds into community care"

"The move comes amid fears hospital accident and emergency departments are being flooded by patients who could be cared for at home. Despite a promise to protect the NHS from the £11.5billion cuts the Treasury has ordered for 2015/16, the proposals could see more than  £1billion funnelled from the Department of Health to local authorities." - Daily Mail

  • NHS ombudsman: ignoring patient complaints 'risks new Mid Staffs' - The Guardian

Jesse Norman, new Cameron policy committee recruit, defends Eton

Screen shot 2013-04-27 at 09.02.09"In an interview with the Times, Mr Norman said: “Other schools don’t have the same commitment to public service. They do other things. It’s one of the few schools where the pupils really do run vast chunks of the school themselves. So they don’t defer in quite the same way, they do think there’s the possibility of making change through their own actions…the whole point of what Michael Gove is trying to do is to recover that independent school ethos within the state system, so that people from whatever walk of life can feel that they can take a proper part to the maximum.”" - The Times (£)

  • Full interview with Norman, who is about to publish a new biography of Edmund Burke - The Times (£)

UKIP's BNP-linked candidate woes continue

"Several UKIP candidates in next week’s local elections appeared on a British National Party membership list. The Eurosceptic party has surged in national polling but its popularity has outstripped its party machine, allowing far-Right sympathisers to infiltrate the selection process. Earlier this week Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, admitted that “we don’t have the party apparatus to fully vet 1,700 people”, adding that he thought it likely “one or two will have slipped through the net”." - The Times (£)

  • "Racism is “just ethnic banter”, paedophiles should be killed by vigilantes and Londoners should wear face masks to protect themselves from eastern Europeans, some of the UK Independence Party’s local election candidates have suggested." - Daily Telegraph
  • "Labour is right to be fearful of Ukip in South Shields" - Patrick O'Flynn, Daily Express

Angus Robertson: Unionist leaders see Scots as uniquely poor and stupid

Screen shot 2013-04-27 at 09.03.15"Mr Robertson criticised Alistair Darling’s Better Together campaign in an interview broadcast on the new political podcast Hear, Hear, which was launched yesterday on the social sound platform Audioboo. “They are running around trying to scare people into voting No. I think it says something about the paucity of the argument in favour of the Union that the only case they seem to be making is that people in Scotland are uniquely poor, stupid and incapable of governing themselves,” Mr Robertson said." - Scotsman

Matthew Parris: Who's right over early school specialisation? Michael Gove or Kenneth Baker?

"Is 14 too early to specialise? Mr Gove would worry about this: he’d think more in terms of 16, 18, or even post-university, as it was for him and me. All I can say is that this would have been precisely my worry, until I actually visited the place and saw and talked to its students. They were of course preselected by having been disposed to make this choice in the first place; but I really did get the impression that they knew — in a pretty adult way — what they were doing." - The Times (£)

News in Brief

  • BENYON RICHARDFood waste claim Minister Richard Benyon in local tradition of handing local people bread through the window of a property on his estate - Daily Mail
  • ‘Self-inflicted wounds’ put US growth under threat - The Times (£)
  • Jailed: the terror gang behind plot to rival 7/7 and transform Birmingham into a 'little war zone' - Daily Mail
  • The Archbishop of Canterbury calls for bankers to be required to pass exams to raise professional standards - Financial Times (£)
  • Heated meeting hears loyalist claims of abandonment over flag - Belfast Telegraph
  • Universal credit pilot to launch with only a few dozen claimants - The Guardian
  • £13bn Iter project makes breakthrough in quest for nuclear fusion - The Independent
  • Churchill to be new face of £5 note - The Sun
  • It's goodbye to the sun as arctic winds blast Britain - Daily Express

And finally…

Ed Balls.

Ed Balls.

Ed Balls.

Ed Balls.

Ed Balls.

Ed Balls.

Ed Balls....

"On April 28, 2011, Mr Balls typed his own name into the message box on Twitter instead of the search box and accidentally tweeted to thousands of followers a message that read simply: “Ed Balls”. His tweet has since been retweeted more than 14,000 times and has become the subject of an online “meme” — in which variations on a theme spread across the internet. The words “Ed Balls” were superimposed on movie posters, such as Being Ed Balls, on Bart Simpson’s blackboard, in place of the Hollywood sign on Mount Lee and into the Peanuts comic strip, as well as on to the hat of the UKIP leader Nigel Farage." - The Times (£)


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