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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


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