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26 Apr 2013 08:30:24

Newslinks for Friday 26th April 2013

6.30pm ToryDiary: How's this for a Treasury team? Liam Fox and Harry Phibbs. "One of our brightest young councillors, Harry Phibbs, has been leading the argument calling for sales of government land, a rethink of the size and structure of Whitehall and the civil service, as well as a radical deregulation programme," Fox told his midlands audience.

2.15pm Local Government: Council byelection results from yesterday

Camerontv1pm WATCH:

10.30am Bob Blackman MP on Comment: Laws to protect children from smoke in private vehicles reflect true Conservative values

ToryDiary: A view from Downing Street

MPsETC: The '22's choice to head Downing Street's Policy Unit was Peter Lilley

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

Lord Ashcroft on Comment: The case against overseas aid - and for genuinely compassionate conservatism

Local Government:

The Deep End: Heresy of the week: For social liberals, there’s now no reason not to legalise polygamous marriage

Fallon to sell off Royal Mail. But there will no "Tell Sid" campaign

Fallon Michael Newsnight"Business minister Michael Fallon said it is his ‘firm intention’ for the process to be finished by next April, with experts predicting a £2-£3billion flotation on the stock market this autumn. The historic move will allow anyone to buy shares in the former monopoly. Share ownership trebled under Baroness Thatcher’s leadership, as previously nationalised companies were made  available to the public – though she refused to sell off Royal Mail, saying she was ‘not prepared to have the Queen’s head privatised’." - Daily Mail

Richard Benyon: Families wasting £50 a month throwing away food

"Mr Benyon said many people had little idea how to keep fruit and vegetables fresh in the fridge or that cheese can be preserved for longer if it is wrapped properly after opening. He urged families to eat their left-overs and pay more attention to the storage instructions on labels to avoid produce going off. A more frugal approach to food waste would ease the strain on household expenses, he suggested…But the minister, who has a large family estate in Hampshire, was immediately accused of being “out of touch” for suggesting that “careful fridge management” would solve the “crisis” in living standards." - Daily Telegraph

Jojo mojo, say friends. Eton mess, say critics...

Screen shot 2013-04-26 at 05.10.50
"The Johnson brothers are clever, competitive and very different. Boris, the older brother, is a show-off and a risk-taker. Jo, by contrast, is a team player, who does not draw unnecessary attention to himself, though there is plenty that he could boast about, starting with the fact that he emerged from Oxford University with a better degree than his older brother – a double first, compared with Boris’s 2:1. He is the sort of MP a party leader likes to have around." - Andy McSmith, The Independent

…But was Johnson (minor's) promotion an Octopus Osborne ploy?

Screen shot 2013-04-26 at 08.14.19"The promotion of the old Etonian (‘Johnson Minimus’ in the posh school’s parlance), an MP for only three years, was the idea of Chancellor George Osborne. Apart from harnessing Jo’s strategic skills in a bid to make the Tories more popular, the move is seen  as a mischievous ruse to rein in Boris, who makes no secret of the fact he wants to succeed Cameron as Tory leader…This is a classic piece of Osborne devilry." - Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail

> Today:

> Yesterday:

Chancellor escapes triple dip recession tag as economy grows by 0.3% in last quarter...

"Mr Osborne declared: “Today’s figures are an encouraging sign the economy is healing. Despite a tough economic backdrop, we are making progress.  We all know there are no easy answers to problems built up over many years, and I can’t promise the road ahead will always be smooth.  But by continuing to confront our problems head on, Britain is recovering and we are building an economy fit for the future.” - Daily Express

...As Balls calls for economy "quickstart"

Balls Spender"But despite the unexpectedly strong growth figure, the shadow chancellor Ed Balls pointed out that GDP remained at the same level as it had been six months earlier. The ONS said the economy had been "broadly flat" over the past 18 months. "If we're to have a strong and sustained recovery and catch up all the ground we have lost over the last few years, we need urgent action to kickstart our economy and strengthen it for the long term – as Labour and the IMF have warned," Balls said." - The Guardian

> Yesterday:

Clegg tears up "snooper's charter"

Clegg on Marr"The legislation, which has been dubbed a “snoopers’ charter”, cannot go ahead. The Liberal Democrats cannot permit what would be a significant reduction in personal privacy, based on proposals where the workability remains in question. There is a careful balance to be struck between security and individual liberty – a classic dilemma for all governments. But this Bill does not get that balance right. The facts speak for themselves." - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: Michael Ellis MP on Comment: We need a Communications Data Bill.

Majority of Labour's would-be MPs for 2015 have union links

"Of the 42 candidates selected, 23 have union links.  Of those, 16 won their candidacies with direct backing from unions while a further seven are union members. Unite – Labour’s biggest donor – sponsors a quarter of those who have made it this far. Among those picked to battle for parliamentary seats are a campaigns officer from Unison and two former GMB officials." - Daily Mail

  • Labour explores a cap on the welfare bill - The Times (£)
  • Miliband believes the age of Ed began in 2008 - Philip Collins, The Times (£)
  • Vote Red Ed, get Red Len as the Labour dinosaurs roar back to life - Simon Heffer, Daily Mail

Farage admits that some UKIP council candidates may be ex-BNP members

Farage Nigel March 2012"His admission comes after it emerged that Susan Bowen, who was due to stand in Cornwall, had been thrown out of the party because she was an ex-BNP member. Mr Farage told the BBC’s World at One: “I’ll be honest with you, we don’t have the party apparatus in a very short space of time to fully vet 1,700 people. I’ve no doubt amongst those 1,700 one or two will have slipped through the net that we’d rather not have had.” - Daily Express

  • Merkel speech highlights European divide - Financial Times (£)
  • Unemployment in Spain hits 27% - The Sun
  • UKIP candidate claims computer was hacked to produce Protocols of Zion claims - Scotsman
  • Tory peer’s wife gives UKIP £10,000 as protest - The Times (£)

Cameron may back Fleet Street Editors' Royal Charter rival to Leveson plan

"David Cameron offered a shard of hope for fresh talks by saying: “There is an all-party agreement around the charter that was published, but I’m always very happy to look at other proposals.” And privately the PM and his Lib Dem deputy Nick Clegg have already made it clear they will NOT bring in new laws to force papers to sign up to their plan. But Labour stood firm, with deputy leader Harriet Harman demanding papers “get on with implementation” of the original charter." - The Sun

  • No to Ministry of Truth regulation - The Sun
  • A truly independent regulator of the Press - Daily Mail Comment
  • An independent Royal Charter would ensure press regulation that was robust and independent but still voluntary and consistent with a free press - Times Editorial (£)
  • Self-regulation that's tough but independent - Daily Telegraph Editorial

Fraser Nelson: It's official - Spending doesn't make public services better

"Last year, the Department for Education asked a firm of accountants to trawl its vast pupil database and find the secret of great state schools...When the results came back, the conclusion was extraordinary. As one would expect, schools marked “outstanding” tended to achieve the best results. Poverty mattered, but not as much as Deloitte had expected. The biggest surprise, though, was the money: no matter how you split the figures, the amount spent didn’t seem to make the blindest bit of difference." - Daily Telegraph

  • Pressure on Michael Gove to investigate tax affairs of £1000-a-day advisors - Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

  • Somalia: UK embassy reopening a sign of recovery - Scotsman
  • The cost of Margaret Thatcher's funeral was 6p each - Daily Telegraph
  • Louise Mensch facelift shocker - Daily Mail
  • Revealed: tragic victims of Syria’s nerve gas war - The Times (£)

And finally...Stop press. Treasury transformed into Studio 54. "Groups of young women in short skirts are seen dancing on cars in the government building’s circular court." Yes, Osborne's hired it out for the latest Fast and Furious film - 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 Apr 2013 08:23:33

Newslinks for Thursday 25th April 2013

7pm ToryDiary: Well done, Jo Johnson – but, sadly, there aren't enough jobs for the rest of the 2010 intake

OsBalls6.45pm WATCH: The presentational battle over today's growth figures...

4pm JP Floru on Comment: Is Angela Merkel the soundest voice in Europe?

3.30pm On ToryDiary, Tim Montgomerie notes that David Cameron is lowering the Downing Street drawbridge and inviting new voices into his bunker"Many people are correctly crediting Lynton Crosby with improvements to the operation, but the real driving force of better personnel relations is John Hayes MP – appointed as the PM's parliamentary adviser a few days before Lady Thatcher's death."

3pm Chris Skidmore MP on Comment: We’re rewarding failure in the NHS. We need to reward good, efficient care

2.15pm LeftWatch: Poster wars, battle of the growth and borrowing figures

HiltonNoon ToryDiary: The (sort of) return of Steve Hilton

11am On Tuesday, on ConservativeHome, Emma Carr spoke out against it. This morning, Nick Clegg seems to have vetoed it in its current form. But now, on Comment, Michael Ellis MP says that we need a Communications Data Bill.

9.30am ToryDiary: GDP grew by 0.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2013, according to preliminary estimate

9am MPsETC: No, Adam Afriyie won't be the next Conservative leader. However...

ToryDiary: Cameron's wooing of Tory MPs continues as new MP advisers appointed - including Boris's brother

Daniel Hannan MEP writes this week's Culture Column: The Whig aesthetic that helped to create the virtues of the Anglosphere

CGOn Comment, Christian Guy continues our series on Compassionate Conservatism: Saving lives will also save money. That's why Compassionate Conservatism has much to offer.

Also on Comment, Mark Reckless MP: Are you saying, Home Secretary, that Strasbourg is now supreme?

On MPsETC, Martin Callanan MEP's latest monthly letter to ConHome readers: Praise for Margaret Thatcher... in the European Parliament

A triple-bill of Local Government posts:

The Deep End: The staggering hypocrisy of America’s liberal elites

David Cameron brings more Tory backbenchers, including Jo Johnson, into the No.10 fold

Jo Johnson"Jo Johnson, the MP for Orpington, will take charge of political strategy in No 10 in a dramatic shake-up modelled on the days of Margaret Thatcher. ... In a further bid to satisfy disgruntled right-wingers, Mr Johnson - a former Financial Times journalist - will also lead a new Conservative Parliamentary Advisory Board designed to reflect different views across the party." - Daily Mail

  • "Let’s make more leg room at the Cabinet table" - Sue Cameron, Daily Telegraph

> Today on ToryDiary: Cameron's wooing of Tory MPs continues as new MP advisers appointed - including Boris's brother

As one backbencher, Adam Afriyie, builds support for a leadership bid

"Allies of Mr Afriyie have said their man, who has remained low key since news of his leadership ambitions became public earlier in the year, will break cover after what they expect to be dismal local election results on May 2. They say the backbencher has the backing of 40 colleagues." - Financial Times (£)

Mr Cameron urges the EU to crack down on tax evasion and avoidance


"David Cameron will today demand an EU-wide crackdown on tax evasion and avoidance in a bid to boost revenues amid fears the economy is flatlining. ... In a letter to European Union president Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council president Herman van Rompuy, he calls for countries to share information on tax affairs and tough new laws to force companies to reveal where their profits go." - Daily Mail

  • "Google's tiny tax bill shows how greedy and ruthless it really is" - Luke Johnson, Daily Mail

And promises to support public sector whistleblowers

Acme"The PM was quizzed by MPs after three people were held for allegedly exposing the Cumbria Crime Commissioner’s costly limo trips. ... The PM replied: 'I will look carefully at this case. In general we should support whistleblowers and what they do to help improve the provision of public services. I will have a look and get back to you.'" - The Sun

  • "The Prime Minister said he would 'look carefully' at how the illegal trade in pesticides sold as weight loss aids can be stopped." - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday's ConHome coverage of PMQs:

"David Cameron endorsed a parliamentary report yesterday aimed at transforming Britain’s streets and encouraging a five-fold increase in cycling" - The Times (£)

  • "Why I’m falling out of love with Boris Bikes" - Matthew Parris, The Times (£)

Abu Qatada triggers an intra-Coalition scrap

TM"Senior Liberal Democrats accused David Cameron and Theresa May of attempting to shore up Tory votes before local elections next week by floating the 'crackers' idea of temporarily withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). ... The move also earned the scorn of Kenneth Clarke, the Tory Cabinet minister, who said that the convention did not have 'the faintest thing to do' with the repeated failures to deport Abu Qatada." - The Times (£)

  • "...frustrated David Cameron is ready to ram a new law through to boot [Abu Qatada] out. ... His 'nuclear option' will enrage the Lib Dems. Ken Clarke will probably blow a gasket too. Hopefully Ed Miliband will show some backbone and back the new law." - Sun editorial
  • "Liberal Democrat ministers should be congratulated for holding the line and ensuring that the coalition stands by the rule of law rather than casting it aside." - Guardian editorial
  • "If Parliament endorses the latest treaty – a process that will, sadly, take at least another year – it will be a constitutional outrage if the courts continue to thwart its wishes." - Daily Telegraph editorial
  • "For all their rage, the Tories know Qatada is going nowhere fast" - John Rentoul, Independent

> Today, by Mark Reckless MP on Comment: Are you saying, Home Secretary, that Strasbourg is now supreme?

> Yesterday on Tory Diary: A plea to Downing Street over the ECHR. Please put up or shut up.

George Osborne under pressure over today's growth figures... but the FT's Chris Giles says we shouldn't get too excited

GO"The preliminary estimate of GDP is one of the least important official numbers. Since 2000, this initial figure has been revised by 0.4 percentage points on average. With the reading likely to be close to zero, the day’s headlines are probably wrong. All we can say is that the bumpy, but flat, period since mid-2010 continues." - Chris Giles, Financial Times

> Yesterday, by Andrew Lilico on Comment: Let's get a few things straight regarding "austerity"

As the Chancellor rescues his shares-for-rights scheme

"The government has rescued its flagship plans to create a new breed of workers who are bereft of basic employment rights but entitled to hold shares in a company, by offering new assurances to prevent exploitation. ... The concessions were enough to satisfy the wide opposition from Lib Dem, Tory and independent benches [in the Lords], and the revised plan was passed by 275 to 168." - Guardian

"A coal-fired power station in Yorkshire will partially be converted to run on biomass with the help of the Chancellor’s 'guarantee' scheme for infrastructure" - Financial Times

Helping parents to work is good for the economy, says Government

Silhouette"Today the Prime Minister’s spokesman said the Government was committed to supporting 'all mums', regardless of whether they were working or caring for children at home. ... But he added: 'One of the aspects of child care policy is supporting parents who do seek to work. ... For them, high child care costs can be a significant obstacle and helping people tackle those obstacles, yes, that is good for the economy.'" - Daily Telegraph

  • "Strong families should lead the war on poverty" - Samantha Callan, The Times (£)

Jeremy Hunt keeps up his criticism of the health establishment

"The failure of GPs to provide proper out-of-hours care has forced millions of extra patients to attend hospital accident and emergency departments, where they do not get the medicines, checks or support they need, the Health Secretary will warn on Thursday." - Daily Telegraph

  • "Nurses shouldn’t carry the bedpan for the NHS crisis" - Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph

Iain Duncan Smith: We will go further to tackle benefits culture

IDS"We are determined to go even further in future. By bringing the resources and the rigour of the private and social enterprise sector to bear on tackling entrenched disadvantage, we can continue to make headway even in a financial climate that means Government spending is tight." - Iain Duncan Smith, Daily Telegraph

Eric Pickles attacked the councils that are failing to collect council tax

"Town hall bosses have been blasted for failing to collect £2.4 billion of council tax. ... Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said that nine out of the ten councils with the worst record were Labour controlled." - The Sun

> Today on Local Government: Councils plead poverty while losing £2.4 billion in uncollected council tax

Philip Hammond's plan to outsource MoD procurement

"Philip Hammond, defence secretary, is to begin talks with business on an ambitious plan to outsource procurement of Britain’s military equipment to a new body operated by a private contractor. getting a private contractor to run the procurement process, ministers hope the MoD could prevent many of the financial problems that the equipment budget has encountered in recent years." - Financial Times

Douglas Carswell on Baroness Ashton: "She is a national embarrassment"

"The peer came under fire from the European Parliament which said her department, the European External Action Service, was indecisive and unresponsive to crises. ... Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘For the first time in as long as I can remember, someone in the European Parliament has said something sensible. ... She is a national embarrassment.'" - Daily Mail

UKIP could take at least 6 per cent of the Tory vote at the next general election, say academics

NF"UKIP is set to be the 'most serious fourth party incursion in English politics' since the Second World War, election experts predicted yesterday. ... The anti-EU party, with its campaign focus on immigration, could double its councillors in the county council elections on May 2 and scupper Tory chances in hundreds of other seats. ... But a strong showing could lead to a more worrying result for David Cameron in the 2015 general election, when UKIP could take at least 6 per cent of the Tory vote, the academics suggested." - The Times (£)

  • "Ukip has thrown British politics into the most marvellous chaos" - Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

> Today on Local Government: Setting the bar: What would be a good result for the Conservatives on May 2nd?

Steve Richards: Reheating Thatcherism won’t save Cameron

"Unlike the 1980s, the private sector is seen as part of the problem rather than the solution as the banks are paralysed by fear and senior bankers are vilified. When little else is working, voters are looking to government for help. ... For now the nearest the Conservatives have to an effective moderniser is Michael Heseltine, who never loses the chance to make a powerful centre-right case for an efficient, agile, enabling State." - Steve Richards, The Times (£)

> Yesterday on MPsETC: How Margaret Thatcher's name is being used as a code for loyalty

The Lib Dems are floating the idea of a tax on pensioners' perks

"Better off pensioners may have to pay tax on perks such as their winter fuel allowance or lose them completely under a plan to be considered during the Government's spending review. ... Liberal Democrat ministers say that taxing or means-testing the special benefits for older people would not breach David Cameron’s pledge at the 2010 general election to maintain their winter fuel allowance, free TV licences and bus passes." - Independent

Len McCluskey's advice for Ed Miliband: ignore the Blairites, repudiate austerity

LM"'Ed Miliband must spend most of his waking hours grappling with what lies before him. If he is brave enough to go for something radical, he’ll be the next prime minister. If he gets seduced by the Jim Murphys and the Douglas Alexanders, then the truth is that he’ll be defeated and he’ll be cast into the dustbin of history.'" - from the New Statesman's interview with the Unite general secretary

  • Ed Miliband hits back after union leaders "reprehensible" attack - Guardian

> Yesterday's Letter from a Treasury Minister: A question for Miliband. Will you stick to our spending plans or not?

As it emerges that half of Labour's candidates for 2015, so far, are from the unions

REd ED"Half of the parliamentary candidates picked so far by Labour for the 2015 general election are from the trade unions, a trend that will raise questions over Ed Miliband’s attempts to rebrand his party. ... 'Unite are marching all over the selection process, they are the dominant force at the moment,' said one Labour insider." - Financial Times

MPs call for action against pension charges

"The ‘consultancy charges’ are made when a boss takes advice about signing up his workers to a pension scheme - but the worker, rather than the boss, will pick up the bill. ... The report, from the influential Work and Pensions Committee, warns these charges can be ‘extremely high’ and have ‘the potential to cause serious consumer detriment.’" - Daily Mail

Scotland's independence debate is giving unionism a shot in the arm, says Martin Kettle

"The most remarkable thing of all is a paradox: the calling of the independence referendum, far from acting as a springboard for a much more confident and assertive nationalism, seems to have become the catalyst for some significant and welcome rethinking about the nature of unionism." - Martin Kettle, Guardian

> Yesterday, Henry Hill's Red, White and Blue Column: Scottish independence may mean no Scottish banknotes

And finally 1)... A Blessed petition

BB"It may not have been his most hostile confrontation of the day but it was probably the loudest. ... David Cameron emerged from Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons yesterday to be bearded in Downing Street by foghorn-voiced actor Brian Blessed. ... The larger-than-life star, 76, was at No 10 to deliver a petition calling on Mr Cameron to end the secrecy surrounding testing on animals for research." - Daily Mail

And finally 2)... Too cool for school

"Ed Miliband has revealed his alarm at discovering wife Justine was a school rebel – including jumping out of a window to avoid being caught wearing lipstick. ... On a visit to her old school in Nottingham, the Labour leader admitted that his ‘troublemaker’ wife would have been ‘too cool’ for him." - Daily Mail

  • "Can cool Justine make Mr Miliband look less of a dweeb?" - Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

And finally 3)... How a £24 train ticket ended up costing the taxpayer £27,000

Ticket"In the end, [the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority] won its case. The judge decided that [Jim] McGovern [the Labour MP for Dundee West] was not entitled to claim the £24 fare, and each side was ordered to pay its own costs — with the taxpayer left to cover IPSA’s £27,000 legal bill. McGovern now has until the end of next month to decide whether to appeal again." - 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.

24 Apr 2013 08:26:16

Newslinks for Wednesday 24th April 2013

11pm Cameron's wooing of Tory MPs continues as new MP advisers appointed - including Boris's brother

5pm WATCH: Cameron to Miliband - Labour is the Welfare Party

3pm ToryDiary: Mark MacGregor is the new Deputy Director of Policy Exchange

Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 13.48.192pm ToryDiary: Andrew Gimson's first PMQs sketch: Miliband's neighbours looked unhappy. And Cameron's looked no happier.

1.30pm Dan Boucher on Comment: A lesson from Wales. Labour has Co-op candidates. We should have Mutual ones.

12.30pm MPsETC: How Margaret Thatcher's name is being used as a code for loyalty

10am Henry Hill's Red, White and Blue Column: Scottish independence may mean no Scottish banknotes

Tory Diary: A plea to Downing Street over the ECHR. Please put up or shut up.

Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 07.53.56
The Deep End continues our Compassionate Conservatism series:

Columnist Stephan Shakespeare: Dull, pedestrian, uninspiring - but perhaps a winner for politicians: "Competence Guaranteed"

Letter from a Treasury Minister: A question for Miliband. Will you stick to our spending plans or not?


Local Government: Setting the bar - What would be a good result for Labour on May 2nd?

Spending and borrowing 1) Osborne hits his borrowing target - just about

Osborne April 2012"Public sector net borrowing, excluding financial interventions such as bank bailouts, came in at £120.6 billion, down from £120.9 billion, according to the Office for National Statistics. The figure, which also excludes the transfer of Royal Mail pensions assets and the Treasury’s cash grab on interest payments on quantitative easing, was £300 million lower than the Office for Budget Responsibility had pencilled in." - The Times (£)

Spending and borrowing 2) The Treasury sharpens its axe

"A Treasury source says: “No minister has complained directly to the Chancellor yet. There has been no whingeing or complaints about the proposed cuts in private, not a word. Everything they are saying is in public. They just want to sound tough, but tough ministers make cuts.” Defence special pleading has particularly infuriated the cost-cutters.  “The MoD insist that they are being cut to the bone and will have to disband the SAS,” one minister says. “But they don’t even know how much their estate costs to run. That’s not reconcilable. It’s huge when their estate covers 1 per cent of Britain’s land mass.” - The Times (£)

Spending and borrowing 3) Miller's gambit for fighting off cuts: the arts make money for Britain

MILLER-MARIA"She will say that larger venues must also help to market Britain abroad if they want to preserve their funding. Mrs Miller will say: “I know that this will not be to everyone’s taste but in an age of austerity, when times are tough and money is tight, our focus must be on culture’s economic impact.” Her call, to be delivered in a speech at the British Museum, comes as ministers square up for a brutal spending round. Mrs Miller’s department is in line for deep cuts." - The Times (£)

  • Women and the economy: Women miss out in labour market as new jobs go to men - The Independent
  • Women and the economy: Truss says Government is right to target working women with tax breaks - Daily Mail

Allister Heath: Stick to your guns, George

"Refusing to listen to critics is not a course of action I would usually recommend to George Osborne, the Chancellor, who has made far too many mistakes already. But there is one issue on which he should remain steadfast, and that is his modest programme of public spending cuts. The Government mustn’t listen to those calling for a dramatic U-turn. The Coalition’s commitment to reducing the size of our bloated state is the best thing about its economic policy, and that will remain true regardless of how good or bad the GDP figures turn out to be on Thursday." - Daily Telegraph

> Today:

> Yesterday: ToryDiary - George Osborne avoids the embarrassment of rising borrowing – but other dangers lie in wait

Osborne: It won't be worth England's while to share the pound with Scotland

Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 08.10.24"Unveiling a Treasury paper on the currency and monetary options for an independent Scotland, the Chancellor used a speech in Glasgow to claim that the SNP’s plan for a pound-sharing deal with the UK after independence was a “deep dive into uncharted waters”. SNP ministers accused Mr Osborne of “scaremongering”, with First Minister Alex Salmond insisting the Chancellor was “sabre-rattling” in an effort to push people back from supporting independence." - Scotsman

  • "A horrible thought occurs to me: was Mr Osborne's trip to Scotland part of some dark Conservative plot to lose the great battle for Scottish independence next year, and thereby secure the Conservative Party victory in the general election of 2015?" - Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph
  • Even if he loses, Salmond will win - Alice Thomson, The Times (£)
  • Good for Osborne, reminding the Scots that independence is not a one-way street - Iain Martin, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: ToryDiary - The Conservatives must campaign for Justice for England in 2015

Qatada: Cameron "considering temporary withdrawal from ECHR" But has he consulted Clegg…?

Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 07.43.18"The furious PM is considering a temporary withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights so judges in Strasbourg can’t block Qatada’s expulsion. He has told senior ministers to find a way to return the twisted preacher to Jordan to face terrorism charges and end his “intolerable” stay in Britain. The PM’s call came during a council of war with Home Secretary Theresa May, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and Attorney General Dominic Grieve. The meeting was held shortly before the Court of Appeal refused the Government permission to take its case to boot out Qatada to the Supreme Court." - The Sun

  • Put Abu Qatada on a plane - Daily Express Editorial
  • Much Abu about nothing - Sun Editorial
  • Britain and Germany join forces to demand curb on the 'burden' of benefits tourists - Daily Mail
  • Ambassadors say up to 35,000 Romanians and Bulgarians may come. Migration Watch says up to 50,000 - Daily Express

…Who, meanwhile, may block a "Snooper's Charter" bill (until after next week's local elections are safely out of the way, at least)

"Home Office sources were pointing to the ever varied way in which criminals are using the internet to plot crimes and attacks. Liberal Democrat sources say Clegg, whose previous intervention sent May's original draft bill back to the drawing board, is currently examining the new proposals to see if he can back them as a "proportionate and necessary" response to the problem. The Lib Dem leader will be hoping that he can dampen any controversy until at least after the county council elections next week." - The Guardian

  • Criminal inquiry launched over claims that Lord Rennard molested party activists - Daily Mail
  • Clegg refuses to rule out coalition with Labour - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday:

A million people who are fit-to-work have been on benefits for three years

Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 05.26.59"The statistics are likely to add to a Coalition row over the growing cost of social security payments, which economists say is hampering efforts to reduce the deficit. It could also add to tensions within Labour over how to deal with the growing benefit budget. In an annual report on his Social Justice Strategy, Mr Duncan Smith will publish statistics showing “the scale of entrenched social breakdown that has taken hold across Britain over the last decade” - Daily Telegraph

Health Minister Earl Howe wants 'Hospital hotels' for 30,000 elderly patients

"Visiting hours for family members would be far more flexible than in a hospital, relations would be able to stay in a nearby room, and the system would save the health service tens of millions of pounds. The model is based on a system widely used in Scandinavia, with large hotel chains running the service on hospital sites. The proposal is to be formally reviewed by NHS England, the new body responsible for recommending how local doctors’ groups should provide for their patients." - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: Charlotte Leslie MP on Comment - What the Royal College of Nursing can learn from the teaching unions

Soubry: rebellion = twattery

"Anna Soubry, the Minister for Public Health, said there was “no vacancy” at No 10, amid continued grumblings on Tory back benches over the Prime Minister’s performance. “When people talk about such-and-such a person as an alternative to Cameron, there is no vacancy,” Ms Soubry said. “What we now need to do is stop people in the party engaging in quite a lot of twattery, and to accept that we’ve achieved a huge amount, and it’s all to play for." - The Times (£)

UKIP leader's big tease at press gallery lunch over Farage-Gove pact

Farage Nigel March 2012"The prospects of a deal with David Cameron are just about zero. Who would I like to see lead the Conservatives, who could we do a deal with? I don’t know but I would have thought there are some very good thinking people like Michael Gove, who doesn’t just dismiss somebody’s point of view,” he said. “Boris [Johnson, the London mayor] is, of course, a great pretender but history shows that they rarely win,” he added." - Financial Times (£)

  • Welsh MPs should be banned on voting on fox-hunting and English schools, says UKIP leader - Wales Online
  • "Had he had talks with Tory MPs about cutting deals? "I have had discussions with many people in pubs all over Westminster, many of which I can remember!" - Simon Hoggart, The Guardian
  • "Listening to a Farridge speech, you begin to suspect the greatest influence on his politics is not Baroness Thatcher but Top Gear: his oratorical style is a noisy mix of blokey joshing and no-frills frankness. He could easily be the next Jeremy Clarkson." - Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph
  • Farage defends strip clubs and calls UKIP candidate who runs one a "free market entrepreneur" - Daily Mail

Miliband tries to kill off general strike

"Ed Miliband has denounced as “a terrible idea” the threat of a general strike by two of Labour’s biggest union donors, ahead of a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the threatened protest. The Labour leader, who has been warned by Tony Blair, former Labour prime minister, against leading the party into a leftwing comfort zone, went head-to-head with Unite and Unison by calling for talk on industrial action to be “killed off quickly”." - Financial Times

  • Miliband the illusionist must try to conjure up more with less - Daily Telegraph

> Today:

"It's time the Tories learned to love the unions"

Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 08.21.40"Conservatives need to recognise that their party has historically been supportive of trade unionism – it was Benjamin Disraeli who legalised picketing, for instance. Many values that unions stand for, such as community, mutual help and, dare I say it, a "big society", are also fundamentally Tory values. There's also a political imperative. If Conservatives are serious about winning the next election they must remember that unions, though diminished, still have just under seven million members. They hold the balance in many of the seats in the north and Midlands that Tories need to win if they're to get an overall majority in 2015." - David Skelton, The Guardian

News in Brief


> 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.

23 Apr 2013 08:33:04

Newslinks for Saint George's Day 2013

OSborne6pm WATCH: A George Osborne double-bill:

3.30pm Charlotte Leslie MP on Comment: What the Royal College of Nursing can learn from the teaching unions

2.30pm ToryDiary: George Osborne avoids the embarrassment of rising borrowing – but other dangers lie in wait

Huntingdonshire2.15pm Local Government: Put historic counties back on the map

11.30am Emma Carr on Comment: It's time to ditch the Snoopers' Charter

10.30am Adam Afriyie MP on Comment: A lesson from South Shields – why we need to legislate for an EU referendum

9.30am ToryDiary: The Conservatives must campaign for Justice for England in 2015

ToryDiary: Why senior staff leave Downing Street. They don't feel Cameron has a mission. Or they don't think he'll win. Or both.

Charles MooreAndrew Gimson interviews Charles Moore about Margaret Thatcher and his biography of her: A conviction politician who survived by twisting and turning

John Redwood MP on Comment: The people want the politicians to occupy the common ground – not the centre ground

Also on Comment, our Compassionate Conservatism series continues with a dissenting voice. Alistair Thompson argues that it should take a back seat in these austere times, and that what really matters is the economy.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne on Local Government: The battle for Gloucestershire

Local Government: What would be a good result for the Lib Dems on May 2nd?

The Deep End: What would Margaret Thatcher have done about climate change?

George Osborne under pressure


"Tory MPs are set to demand further tax cuts and a new hub airport if the economy is shown to be flatlining this week. ... George Osborne’s internal critics warned last night that the Chancellor will face a barrage of demands when growth figures are released on Thursday." - Daily Mail 

  • "George Osborne was humiliated and his pet project in disarray on Monday as the House of Lords once again refused to support his plan to allow workers to swap employee rights in return for shares." - Financial Times

Mr Osborne wants Alex Salmond to be under pressure too

AS"UK ministers would demand tough controls over an independent Scotland’s economic policies before they would join it in a currency union — and even then the fiscal and financial risks could prove too high for a deal, George Osborne will warn today." - The Times (£)

As spy chiefs petition the Chancellor: don't cut our budget

"Public safety will be put at risk if spending on the security services is cut any further in the drive to save an extra £11.5 billion, George Osborne has been warned. ... MI5 and MI6 chiefs have told the Chancellor that Britain would be more vulnerable to a terrorist attack if they have to find additional savings, The Times has learnt." - The Times (£)

  • "There must, however, be cuts and those cuts have to be achieved somehow. At the moment a mixture of political expediency and ministerial weakness is dictating where the axe will fall." - Times editorial (£)
  • "The older generation has been protected from the worst of the austerity measures. That special treatment must end." - Andrew Harrop, The Times (£)

David Cameron suggests that the Coalition will scrap all planned fuel duty increases

Fuel duty"Speaking during the local election campaign in Derbyshire [yesterday], he also pledged to “keep going” to block future fuel duty rises. ... It is now understood to be unlikely that there will be any duty rises before the next general election in 2015, unless petrol prices fall sharply." - Daily Telegraph

Mr Cameron can expect an intra-Coalition scrap over Europe

"David Cameron is heading for a new coalition row over Europe, after his plan to pull Britain out of 130 EU justice and police co-operation measures was denounced by senior peers as dangerous to national security. ... A report by the cross-party Lords EU committee [warns] that opting out of the laws would have 'significant adverse negative repercussions' for British security and justice." - Financial Times

UK would jeopardise military standing by leaving EU, says German minister - Guardian

  • "A new deal would benefit all of Europe" - Daily Telegraph editorial

What will No.10 decide about the Afghan interpreters?

"The Government is expected to rule this week on the fate of hundreds of interpreters who work alongside British forces in Afghanistan. ... The imminent decision by No 10 comes after a campaign to give the 600 workers the right to refuge in Britain when Nato forces leave the country next year." - The Times (£)

  • "The Ministry of Defence wastes up to £94m a year training 16 and 17-year-old army recruits for roles which could be filled more cost-effectively by adults, according to analysis by campaign groups." - Independent
  • "A two-year delay in the publication of the official inquiry into the Iraq war was condemned by peers yesterday" - The Times (£)

Well, we shouldn't really expect decisions from a deserted No.10, says Rachel Sylvester

Tumbleweed"Andrew Cooper, the Prime Minister’s director of strategy, has promised to stay until at least October — but after that he is likely to return to Populus, the polling company he set up, with a contract to advise the Conservatives as a consultant ... 'Downing Street is like a ghost ship,' says one senior Tory. 'If you want a decision made on government policy it’s hard to know who to ring. Everything is in limbo.'" - Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)

> Today on ToryDiary: Why senior staff leave Downing Street. They don't feel Cameron has a mission. Or they don't think he'll win. Or both.

As one of those former No.10 advisers urges the Government to take on the "vested interests" blocking reform

"One in five parents, rising to one in three in cities, feels they cannot access a good school in their local area, a survey by a right of centre think-tank has found. ... The report’s author Sean Worth, who advised Mr Cameron in Downing Street until last year, said the poor and vulnerable are losing out because 'powerful vested interests' hold up change in the public sector." - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday, by Richard Tracey on Local Government: Ban the tube strikes

Jeremy Hunt confronts the Royal College of Nursing

Hunt"Mr Hunt said the RCN, which attacked a move to make all student nurses spend a year doing menial tasks, had been criticised for being more concerned about their members than patients. ... He told the RCN to be ‘very careful’ and pointed out that a damning report into Mid Staffs said the union had failed to listen to nurses’ warnings of unnecessary suffering." - Daily Mail

"Tens of thousands of elderly patients could be sent to hotels to recover from illnesses under plans being considered by the Government to free up hospital beds." - Daily Mail

  • "...if the RCN really believes that paper qualifications are more valuable to patients than human compassion, it has forgotten why the NHS was founded in the first place." - Daily Mail editorial

> Yesterday:

Tory MPs back Elizabeth Truss in her battle with "chaotic" nurseries

"The education minister’s claim that nurseries are too ‘chaotic’ has already outraged teaching unions and childcare providers. ... Tory MPs urged Miss Truss to ‘stick to her guns’ yesterday. One, Damian Hinds, urged her to ‘continue her drive to improve standards in our nurseries’." - Daily Mail

  • "Yes, minister, nurseries are bad for children. So why don't you do more for stay-at-home mums?" - Kathy Gyngell, Daily Mail

The Government's amendment to the Libel Bill

"Companies will be prevented from suing newspapers and bloggers for libel unless they can prove substantial financial loss, under an amendment to the Defamation Bill tabled by the Government. ... The amendment was heralded as a victory for free speech by campaigners, who have been fighting for years to prevent companies from using Britain’s antiquated libel laws to silence critics." - The Times (£)

The Times highlights and criticises the Leveson effect

Times"The British establishment has for too long valued secrecy over disclosure. It is now moving towards a new relationship with the press that will undermine both freedom and accountability." - Times editorial (£)

  • Rob Wilson continues his fight to have the Leveson lawyers' affair investigated - Daily Mail

"Snooping tax inspectors have made 41,351 requests to see details about people’s private communications in the past three years" - The Sun

  • "Theresa May's Data and Commuications Bill is illiberal and pointless" - Hugo Rifkind, The Times (£)

More action on planning: ministers move to curb "time-wasting" appeals against new developments

Boles"Residents' rights to appeal against planning applications will be sharply curbed under rules announced today. ... Ministers say the limits on court action will stop ‘time-wasting’ appeals to block new developments – and encourage both economic growth and house-building. ... But campaigners warn local communities face a further erosion of their powers to block unwanted building." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday, by Alex Morton on Comment: How to build better homes – for both younger and older people

And they've moved to curb time-wasting judicial reviews, too

"Applicants seeking a judicial review are to be subject to new charges and shortened deadlines in order to cut down on what ministers have described as “meritless applications” brought solely to get publicity. ... The changes, brought in on Tuesday, mark the latest step in efforts to streamline the courts process and free up time for so-called genuine cases." - Financial Times

Further speculation about the numbers of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants...

RB"But critics accused the BBC of concocting 'nothing-to-see-here headlines'. ... The poll quoted figures of 1 per cent of Romanians and 4 per cent of Bulgarians 'actively considering work in the UK'. ... But the MigrationWatchUK think-tank said the small percentages represented 150,000 Romanians and 200,000 Bulgarians." - Daily Mail

The first volume of Charles Moore's biography of Margaret Thatcher is released today

Charles Moore"Margaret Thatcher was condemned by one of her closest advisers within two years of arriving in No 10 for bullying weaker colleagues and abusing her seniority, the official biography of the late prime minister reveals. ... In a searing memo, which foresaw many of the weaknesses which led to her downfall nearly a decade later, Sir John Hoskyns warned Thatcher that she was breaking every rule of man-management and had created an 'unhappy ship' which threatened her position." - Guardian

The Telegraph has plenty of extracts here.

> Today, Andrew Gimson interviews Charles Moore: A conviction politician who survived by twisting and turning 

Bruce Anderson: Today’s Tory MPs are far less predictable – and manageable – than their forebears

"...the PM ought to beware of the trouble that could be over the horizon. Once he has made a well-received speech, he is still inclined to think that he can forget about politics and get on with governing. That is a snare and a delusion. Even if he does not need to worry about the 1922 as a corporate body, he ought to pay more attention to its members." - Bruce Anderson, Daily Telegraph

  • "The Select Committees are stronger than ever and the post-2010, post-expenses scandal, intake is less deferential, especially on the Tory side" - Donald Macintyre, Independent

Vince Cable versus the big pub companies

VC"Business Secretary Vince Cable unveiled plans for a radical 'Code of Practice' to give landlords a fairer deal on rent and beer prices. ... And he tore into pubcos — those managing vast estates of over 500 pubs — for speeding up the demise of the British boozer." - The Sun

  • "Vince Cable, business secretary, has refused to commit to a target of spending on science as a proportion of gross domestic product..." - Financial Times

Ed Miliband on a future Labour government: "It’s going to be very different from the Labour government of 1997 to 2010."

"Mr Miliband said he has ‘learned lessons’ from New Labour’s approach to business and the City and said he would aim to water down the importance of financial services in the economy. ... In an interview with the BBC, he laid out plans to impose more regulation, tax bankers more heavily and build ‘a different banking system’." - Daily Mail

  • "[Mr Miliband] believes the next election can and should be won from some way to the left of where Mr Blair contested three. It is a fearsome gamble to take, but it is anything but vague." - Janan Ganesh, Financial Times

The Guardian and Independent back Mr Miliband's plans to integrate health and social care

Ed M

  • "It is obviously in the interest of patients for the system to provide co-ordinated treatment – with support at home taking account of what's happened in hospital." - Guardian editorial (£)
  • "The Labour leader, Ed Miliband is stealing a march on the Coalition and daring to broach a problem that is long overdue for a solution." - Independent editorial

"Barry Sheerman, the Labour MP who wanted to see a statue erected of Harold Wilson in the Commons, has been unable to persuade his fellow parliamentarians" - Daily Telegraph

Unions threatening to strike over Royal Mail plans

"In a call to arms, they are plotting ‘any campaign required to oppose the privatisation’, such as strike action. ... The Government is the only shareholder in Royal Mail, but a flotation on the stock market is expected, possibly this autumn." - Daily Mail

Britain is in a "depression", says the Archbishop of Canterbury

Justin Welby"Speaking at a Bible Society debate on ethics in finance, Justin Welby described the financial crisis as a ‘generational problem’ driven by a slump in confidence as much as a breakdown in the markets." - Daily Mail

  • Justin Welby calls for introduction of regional banks - Guardian

"Politicians should take note of the resurgence of English national identity" - Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph

News in brief:

  • "Chris Huhne and his former wife Vicky Pryce are due to walk free from jail within weeks after serving only two months of their eight-month sentences." - Daily Mail
  • Google defends itself over low UK tax bill - Daily Mail
  • Parliamentary injuries cost the taxpayer more than £40,000 - The Times (£)

And finally 1)... success for the Succession Bill

"The Queen is expected to approve a historic change in law within days that will allow a first-born daughter of Prince William and his wife Kate to ascend to the throne. ... The Succession to the Crown Bill passed its final stage in Parliament last night when it was approved by the House of Lords, and will receive Royal Assent as early as next week." - Daily Mail

And finally 2)... an act of Gove

Bulb"Blackout in the Commons. It happened just after Education Secretary Michael Gove described a school in Vauxhall, south London, as ‘a bright ray of hope’. With that, ping, off went the lights." - Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

  • "A school head has banned teachers marking homework in red ink — in case it upsets pupils." -The Sun

And finally 3)... popcorn and ermine

"Government and Labour whips have come up with a novel way to keep members of the House of Lords entertained when they are required to stay at Parliament for late-night votes. ... A programme of film screenings, panel discussions and talks, including the Bond thriller Skyfall and a documentary on Clement Attlee’s Government, has been arranged in an attempt to discourage peers from leaving early." - The Times (£)


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