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30 Jun 2013 08:58:46

Newslinks for Sunday 30th June 2013

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7.45pm WATCH: Cameron - "The friends of Pakistan are friends of Britain."

1pm LeftWatch: Bad polling news for Labour is as important as the good news for the Conservatives

11am Chris Gatenby on International: In Australia, Labor face meltdown after vengeful Rudd returns as PM

10am As David Cameron visits Pakistan, Michael Wade on Comment says that the Party can and must do better than scraping a mere 13 per cent of the British Pakistani vote. The two-way street towards better integration.

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ToryDiary: Owen Paterson more than meets the two criteria for a good Cabinet minister

"It is in Britain’s interests to help countries that see low levels of religious freedom and high levels of religious violence to build stable and free societies. Only such societies can engage healthily with the rest of the world. Only such societies will be able to solve issues of militancy, radicalisation and religiously motivated violence." - Baroness Berridge on Comment: Religious freedom should be at the heart of this Government's foreign policy

Paterson goes into battle to support shale gas

"Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: ‘The gas volumes in the survey are astounding: this is a natural bonanza which we must grasp. Rather than be persuaded by scare tactics, we need to look at  the facts. Do we really want to deny the British public a clean, affordable, home-grown energy supply which could free us from dependency on unstable regimes and which would give a huge boost to our industry?'" - Mail on Sunday  

>Today: ToryDiary - Owen Paterson more than meets the two criteria for a good Cabinet minister

Good news for the Chancellor

Osborne"So why does Osborne’s statement mark an historic moment? He’s abandoning the key flaw in democracy: that it sets politicians in competition with each other to promise too much. They’re then forced to borrow, passing the bill on to the future. That’s how we have a massive debt, and how a generation that had free university tuition, were home-owners and who could expect a comfortable pension, has given way to one that owes money for its fees, pays rent and has no savings.  Osborne promises to spend less, not more. He offers only tears, sweat and blood. Realistically, that’s our future. But you heard it from him first." - Michael Portillo, Mail on Sunday 

Standing ovation as Daniel Kawczynski MP becomes the first openly bisexual MP

"Mr Kawczynski, 41, who was born in Poland, has made history as the first MP to make it known that he is bisexual. Shrewsbury Tory chairman Robert Osborne, who was at the meeting, said last night: ‘It was a very brave thing for Daniel to do and he did it with great aplomb.  He received huge support from members of the association and there was never a shadow of doubt that he would." - Mail on Sunday 

Gove issues civil servants with Golden Rules for writing good English

GoveFlag"Gove is not the only one to be infuriated by the quality of the letters drafted in his name. One colleague was horrified to find that a reply he was meant to send to the Prime Minister began: ‘Good to here from you.’ Another found his name was being spelt incorrectly. But Gove is surely the only Minister who would urge his staff to read ‘George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh, Jane Austen and George Eliot, Matthew Parris and Christopher Hitchens’ to improve their prose." - James Forsyth, Mail on Sunday 

Cameron says soldiers could stay in Afghan support roles until 2020

"The prime minister spoke out after military sources raised the alarm about security in Afghanistan after 2014. Sources said they have concluded that Afghan forces will need highly technical military advice on providing close air support, the distribution of food and fuel, and on medevac facilities. There were concerns recently in Sangin when an Afghan brigade had to call off a mission after running out of fuel. British military commanders have been able to make their assessments after Nato handed control of security for the whole of the country to Afghan forces this month." - The Observer 

Adam Afriyie: Allow patients to pay for NHS care

NHS_Logo"The NHS must always remain free at the point of delivery for British citizens. This is a fundamental principle. However, the sensible, pragmatic way forward to save the NHS is to enable people to choose where they have treatment and choose whether to pay for that treatment. I’m not advocating that everyone must make a choice. I don’t believe in disrupting the NHS as it stands simply to enable it. In any new system the default position must remain: people must be able simply to go to the GP and follow the NHS route to treatment. But I think that we can make it easier for people in all walks of life, from the busy mother to the time-poor small-business owner, to access and pay for health services at a time and location that suits them." - Sunday Times (£) 

Safety campaigners want every parent's house inspected by social workers

"Social workers will routinely go into new parents’ homes to check for dangers such as staircases and sharp table edges, under ‘intrusive’ plans drawn up by safety campaigners. They argue that the hour-long visits could prevent thousands of serious injuries every year – but critics believe they would be an invasion of privacy." - Mail on Sunday  

Phlip Hammond prepares for cyberwarfare

"Hammond described cyberwarfare as a “game changer” and argued that such activity must be incorporated into “mainstream military thinking”. “It’s a new tool of warfare, essentially, just as the flying machine was in 1915.” Speaking about the potential for Britain to launch its own cyberattacks, he said: “It’s a new capability. We should explore the boundaries of it.” Chancellor George Osborne last week announced that total spending on intelligence would go up from £1.9bn to £2bn, with cybersecurity a key priority." - Sunday Times (£) 

Candidate Map
YouGov points to a hung Parliament for the first time this year

"Labour has entered the danger zone. For the first time this year YouGov’s figures point to a hung parliament rather than an outright victory for Ed Miliband. Until now our surveys have indicated modest overall majorities when votes are translated into seats. Judged against past oppositions that have gone on to gain power, such as Labour before 1997 and the Conservatives before 2010, Labour’s performance has been below par." - Peter Kellner, Sunday Times (£) 

>Yesterday: ToryDiary - UKIP's share of the vote soared in May. The Conservatives' fell. Labour's fell more. What does that tell us?

Shock as Douglas Hurd opposes a referendum and supports Euro membership

"Lord Hurd, the former foreign secretary, has become the latest Tory grandee to warn against his party's growing Eurosceptic tendencies. In a wide-ranging interview with the Observer, the peer attacked the views of Michael Gove, a Eurosceptic cabinet minister, as "backward-looking", predicted that Britain will consider joining the euro within the decade, and said he was opposed in principle to holding a referendum on the UK's relationship with the European Union while "reluctantly" accepting it was now inevitable." - The Observer 

Unite union accused of using Militant Tendency tactics and widespread infiltration

Miliband Labour Left"The allegation came amid a row over claims Unite broke party rules to try to get its nominee picked as Labour’s candidate in Falkirk, Scotland. Labour leader Ed Miliband was forced to suspend the local party last week, days after The Mail on Sunday revealed how a Labour Party inquiry upheld claims of foul play by Unite. The union was accused of recruiting ‘rent-a-mob’ supporters in Falkirk to rig the selection process." - Mail on Sunday

>Yesterday: ToryDiary - James Wharton's Referendum Bill puts pressure on Miliband to rise above dithering tempered by opportunism

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.

29 Jun 2013 09:01:04

Newslinks for Saturday 29th June 2013

9pm ToryDiary: UKIP's share of the vote soared in May. The Conservatives' fell. Labour's fell more. What does that tell us?

Screen shot 2013-06-29 at 19.32.387.30pm WATCH: Charles Moore discusses his biography of Margaret Thatcher at the Chalke Valley History Festival

3.30pm Jamie Gardiner on Comment: "The unofficial mascot of the Scottish Conservative conference was a man in a rat costume outside the entrance. 'Go home English Tories,' he bellowed to general bemusement...what is shocking is that, in more temperate language and minus the costume, many Scots would sympathize with the rat." Why the Scottish Conservatives need to pick a fight with the national Party

12.15pm ToryDiary: James Wharton's Referendum Bill puts pressure on Miliband to rise above dithering tempered by opportunism

ToryDiary: David Cameron should never be free of the fear that his own MPs might sack him

David Rutley MP: Everyday entrepreneurs, everyday Conservatives: wooing the self-employed

EU 1) At home, with James Wharton's EU referendum bill due next week, will Miliband try to split the Conservatives by backing a pre-2015 vote on EU membership?

Screen shot 2013-06-29 at 08.56.25“Sources say the shadow cabinet has been considering a range of options, including backing a ‘clear the air’ referendum on Britain's membership to be staged either before the 2015 general election or six months after it. The party is even looking at the option of tabling amendments to the upcoming private member's bill on an EU referendum in 2017, being promoted by the Conservative MP James Wharton. The Labour amendment would propose a pre-2015 date for the referendum, which would place some Tory MPs in a dilemma” - Guardian

EU 2) Abroad, Cameron plays the Europe card, portraying himself as the lone gunslinger who rides into Brussels and defeats the treacherous French…

“David Cameron unleashed a blistering attack on Europe yesterday, in an outburst that took aim at France, Spain and ‘scandalous’ levels of EU waste. In an astonishing show of frustration, the Prime Minister attempted to win credit with Eurosceptic voters by claiming to have seen off a French-led ‘ambush at 1am’ to chisel £1.5 billion from Britain’s EU rebate. He said: ‘In this town you have to be ready for an ambush at any minute and that means lock and load and have one up the spout when you’re ready for it’” – The Times (£)

  • Prime Minister under fire over Kazakhstan visit - Daily Mail

EU 3) The Prime Minister wants “everyone” to support next Friday’s Referendum Bill

CameronUK“The Prime Minister said enshrining in law that an ‘in-out’ vote must be held by the end of 2017 would contribute to restoring ‘democratic consent’ for the work of the EU. Asked whether he would be urging Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, to back the Conservative Party’s referendum Bill in the Commons next week, Mr Cameron said ‘everyone’ should support the measure…Both Labour and the Lib Dems oppose the legislation although Mr Clegg has conceded that a referendum is likely” – Daily Telegraph

  • European Court of Human Rights throws out prisoners’ votes challenge – The Times (£)

EU 4) The Sun lauds him for attacking an EU colouring book for kids

“The most disgusting aspect of the EU’s propaganda book for kids is not what it cost to produce — although whatever it was, it’s too much. It’s that it illustrates so perfectly the revolting sense of entitlement of all those riding first-class aboard the Brussels gravy train. Pampered MEPs and their bloated bureaucrats have led gilded lives for so long that they see nothing amiss with printing a book boasting to children about living it large at taxpayers’ expense…All credit to David Cameron for flagging up the stomach-churning booklet to the rest of Europe’s leaders” - The Sun Says

Cameron slaps down Nadhim Zahawi for for demanding illegal immigrant amnesty

Screen shot 2013-06-29 at 09.04.22"The Prime Minister said letting border cheats stay would send a “terrible signal” around the world that Britain is a soft touch. His rebuke came after backbencher Nadhim Zahawi urged a one-off amnesty for more than half a million illegal immigrants. The MP for Stratford-upon-Avon, who has been tipped as a future minister, called for a “seismic” change in immigration policy to help attract more ethnic minority votes to the Conservatives." - Daily Express

Conservative backbenchers are themselves preparing to ambush the leadership and push through a married tax break

“The Tory leadership is battling to head off a backbench ambush over a new tax break for married couples…Tim Loughton, the author of the amendment, said that it presented Mr Cameron with a ‘golden opportunity’ to show his Government was capable of enacting true Conservative policies. ‘Here we have an opportunity to make good on a very good and clear Conservative pledge for which we have a mandate,’ he said” – The Times (£)

Meanwhile falling home ownership threatens the Tory vote…

Screen shot 2013-06-29 at 09.05.28“The Office for National Statistics said the number of 25 to 34-year-olds who own their home has fallen from two million to 1.3 million in a decade… Nick Faith, of the think tank, Policy Exchange, said: ‘The stark drop in younger people owning a home presents a long-term challenge for all political parties but especially the Conservatives. Research shows that private renters and people living in social housing are less likely to vote Tory’” – Daily Telegraph

 …and the Chancellor’s “shares for rights” plans flops

“Only a handful of companies have inquired about George Osborne’s plan to allow workers to swap shares for employment rights since the scheme came into law in April, in a sign that the chancellor’s pet project has flopped. The business department told the Financial Times that it had received four inquires while HMRC had two requests for information for a scheme that the chancellor had expected thousands of businesses to join. ‘That is an outrageously, terribly low figure,’ an official said” – Financial Times

But there is comfort for George Osborne from the commentators: Matthew Parris praises him for maintaining sustained downward pressure on public spending…

Osborne image 1
“Mr Osborne…is taking us back to the level of departmental spending last seen at the end of the last century: a hard, patient, unremitting squeeze. This is the most sustained reduction in government spending since the 1920s. It has become fashionable to say of Mr Osborne, as it was of Gordon Brown, that he is a ‘master tactician’…But these figures tell the story not of a tactician but a strategist…In brutal summary, it’s beginning to look as if you can cut, cut, and cut again at departmental spending without this making anything like the expected impact on national life” – The Times (£)

 …and Janan Ganesh predicts that Britain in 2023 will be “Leviathan cowed”

 “After three years of government cuts, Britain is not even halfway through its age of austerity, which will endure regardless of who governs. The tight spending round announced this week by George Osborne, the chancellor, approximates what even the Labour Party says it would do far beyond the next election in 2015. And if forecasts for growth and revenue prove as erringly optimistic as they have been of late, deficit-reduction will, as Margaret Thatcher once aspired to, ‘go on and on’” – Financial Times

Charles Moore: There is a leadership vacuum in Britain - and our young leaders are eyeing the exits

Screen shot 2013-06-29 at 09.07.30"So everyone is looking to Mr Carney. By all accounts, he is a very brilliant fellow. But it is discouraging that he refused the eight-year contract which Parliament had laid down, in favour of five years. This means he will be a lame duck after three. He is only 48. He has quite an incentive to work what looks like a miracle with the British economy, get out quickly while it looks good, and end up as prime minister of Canada. This country is in it for the long haul. I wish the same were true of its leaders." - Daily Telegraph

Patrick O'Flynn: Australia shows Britain the way when it comes to leadership contests

"In our country neither the Conservative nor Labour parties can lance the boil of leadership plots swiftly. Both have elongated contests involving exhaustive hustings and ending with a vote of the entire party membership rather than confining the choice to MPs. It is arguably more democratic but for my money the Gillard-Rudd death match contained all the essential characteristics of a good leadership contest: it was nasty, brutish and short." - Daily Express

Rescue plan on way for dying bee population

Screen shot 2013-06-29 at 09.11.55“The Government has begun an ‘urgent’ review of the decline of Britain’s bees and has pledged to publish a pollinator strategy by the end of the year. Lord de Mauley, the Environment Minister, said that he expected to have a plan for reversing the loss of many species of bees and other pollinators by November” – The Times (£)

Kafka comes to Falkirk as Labour rift with Unite deepens…

“Hostilities within the Labour Party reached new heights yesterday as the party’s biggest union donor claimed that it had been subjected to a ‘Kafkaesque’ trial in a row over candidate selection. The party announced this week that it was taking control of the selection process in the safe seat of Falkirk after allegations of foul play by Unite. The union had been accused of recruiting a ‘rent-a-mob’ of supporters to sway the selection in favour of its preferred candidate after Eric Joyce, the current MP, said that he would be stepping down” – The Times (£)

...and Nigel Farage faces questions as UKIP officials attend far-right rally

Farage Nigel Purple“Nigel Farage is facing further questions about UKIP’s vetting tonight after it emerged that two of his party officials attended a demonstration organised by a far-right group. The chairman of UKIP’s west London branch Vanessa Crichton and chairman of the Hillingdon branch Cliff Dixon attended an anti-EU protest organised by the British Patriots Society, which has strong links to the English Defence League” - Independent

News in brief

  • Obama arrives in South Africa as nation prays for Mandela - Guardian
  • Justice Minister Helen Grant gained from legal aid - Daily Telegraph
  • Charlie Elphicke MP reveals water companies' tax bill - Daily Mail
  • Ecuador cools on Edward Snowden asylum - Guardian
  • Violent clashes leave two dead in Egypt - Financial Times
  • Brooks and Coulson lose court bid to block prosecution - Daily Mail
  • Ian Brady “killed four more people” – Daily Telegraph
  • Taliban talks needed a decade ago - The Independent
  • Mick Jagger: being a rock star is “intellectually undemanding”  – Daily Telegraph
  • Andrew Marr: “My wife was told I was a goner” – 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 Jun 2013 08:31:02

Newslinks for Friday 28th June 2013

6.30pm Sir Andrew Green on Comment: "The announcement of an amnesty would trigger a flood of visitors and legal migrants overstaying their visas in the expectation that they would eventually benefit from it.  As a result, the Conservatives would lose far more votes than they would gain."  There should not be an amnesty for illegal immigrants

2.30pm Local Government: Does Boris want Heathrow to close?

1.30pm Dr Thérèse Coffey MP on Comment: How to boost the role of women in business at the top

11am ToryDiary: Is the Defence Secretary really on manoeuvres?

Screen shot 2013-06-28 at 07.38.34
Two posts on the Mayor of London lead ConservativeHome today:

Iain Dale's Friday Diary: Neither Cameron nor Osborne give a monkey's cuss about tax breaks for married couples. Good.

James Morris MP on Local Government: Let's have more local incentives and innovation to boost skills and employment

MPsETC: Pickles bites back

The Deep End: Heresy of the week: Owen Paterson is wrong about GM crops

OFGEM: the lights could go out in election year...

Screen shot 2013-06-28 at 08.24.26"Britain could face a return to Seventies-style power rationing to prevent blackouts. The disturbing news came amid warnings that the country may not be producing enough energy to keep the lights on by 2015. Offices and factories could be ‘bribed’ to close for up to four hours a day during the winter to prevent households losing power." - Daily Mail

  • Fallon dismisses energy blackout - BBC
  • Nuclear power gets £10bn financial guarantee boost - The Guardian
  • Charlie Elphicke MP calls for levy on utility groups that avoid tax - Financial Times 
  • "The announcement of major Government investment in the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point is welcome but, on its own, nowhere near enough." - Daily Mail Editorial
  • Britain needs an energy revolution, and quickly - Daily Telegraph Editorial
  • Time for action to avert a catastrophic energy crisis - Daily Express Editorial
  • "New estimates of Britain’s shale gas reserves beat even the most optimistic forecasts. The country needs companies to start drilling now." - Times Editorial (£)
  • All hail shale - Sun Editorial

...As it is claimed that only four households have signed up to the Government's Green Deal

"It also emerged yesterday that only four households had signed up to the Government’s flagship Green Deal energy efficiency programme, which was launched in January. Billed by ministers as the biggest home improvement programme since the Second World War, it aims to help 14 million homes by 2020. And in another expense for the consumer, Mr Alexander guaranteed companies a return on their investment in a range of wind, wave and solar energies." - The Times (£)

Conservative Hero Danny Alexander announces £100 billion infrastructure plan

Screen shot 2013-06-28 at 08.25.33"Mr Alexander unveiled the most ambitious rail revamp since “the Victorian era”. He said £16 BILLION will be spent on the controversial HS2 high-speed rail line from London to the North between 2015 and 2020. The Government is supporting more than £30 BILLION of rail investment, including electrifying 850 miles of track. Housing will get a boost with £3BILLION to build 165,000 affordable homes. And £21BILLION has been set aside for schools. Flood defences will be shored up with £370 MILLION. There are also proposals for Britain’s biggest prison in North Wales costing £100 MILLION, a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, Somerset, and more offshore windfarms." - The Sun

Sales of assets will help fund this capital spending...

"To help fund the plans, the Government is to sell off £15billion in public assets by 2020, including the student loan book and £5billion of property and land.  The Coalition is trying to divert cash away from day-to-day spending by Whitehall departments – which will endure another £11.5billion in cuts under plans set out on Wednesday – into capital spending, which creates jobs." - Daily Mail

...But taxes may rise by up to £10 billion

Screen shot 2013-06-28 at 08.27.17"The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said that the Government may have to raise £10 billion from tax increases as deep spending cuts are increasingly difficult to find. George Osborne, the Chancellor, last week set out a new round of spending cuts for the 2015-16 financial year but has admitted that further austerity measures will be required until at least 2018…Paul Johnson, the director of the IFS, said that making the savings solely through spending cuts would prove “very tough” and Britain now needs to have a “serious debate” about whether taxes should be raised instead." - Daily Telegraph

Grayling super-prison planned for North Wales

"Justice Secretary Chris Grayling confirmed the £250million jail will be built in North Wales, near Wrexham, and expects it to be opened in 2017. Officials estimate the new jail, the first in North Wales, will save taxpayers £20million a year in lower running costs than traditional Victorian jails. But anti-prison groups called the new jail a ‘warehouse’, and called for the money to be spent on parenting programmes and treating drug addiction." - Daily Mail

Bright Blue attacks benefits decision

Screen shot 2013-06-28 at 08.31.49"Ryan Shorthouse, Bright Blue director, said: “The continuous clampdown on benefits by the Conservatives could eventually backfire. There may come a tipping point when voters become suspicious of why the Tories keep targeting unemployment support, especially when bigger savings can be found from ending unnecessary benefits to wealthier pensioners such as free TV licences and winter fuel payments.” - The Independent

How Osborne and Alexander planned the spending review…with a bit of help from a lady called  Sharon White

"Judged purely as a piece of political management, Osborne deserves plaudits, as does his deputy, Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury.But credit will also go to a less well-known figure – potentially the most powerful black woman in public life, Sharon White, the Treasury's director general of public spending. Ministers who have dealt with White praise her as a tough but impressive negotiator, on top of the numbers and Treasury thinking." - The Guardian

It's official: There was no double-dip recession

Screen shot 2013-06-28 at 08.33.15
"The Office for National Statistics has reworked its quarterly growth figures for the beginning of last year to show a flat performance instead of previous estimates of a 0.1% decline. Without a fall in GDP in the first three months of 2012, Britain did not suffer two consecutive quarters of negative growth that would have resulted in its second recession in three years – otherwise known as a double-dip." - The Guardian

Fraser Nelson: Osborne is afraid of his own success

Nelson Fraser Twitter Pic"Labour is having to abandon its claim that the cuts have been too deep and harsh – and it does not have an alternative. Mr Osborne, on the other hand, has plenty of alternatives, mainly extensions to what he has started. For example, lowering the top rate of income tax to 40p, from 45p, would probably bring in far more money….But for reasons that owe more to psychology than psephology, these measures are unlikely to materialise. Mr Osborne appears to consider himself a prisoner of public opinion, living in fear of caustic poll results. It sometimes looks as if he is afraid of his own success. He is winning this debate, but that will make little difference if he acts as if he’s losing it." - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: ToryDiary - George Osborne, the best political strategist we've got. (Indeed, the only one we've got.)

Work Programme results improve. But most targets still missed.

"Several companies running the government’s £5bn programme to get unemployed people back into work are performing so far below expectations that they are likely to lose their contracts, ministers have confirmed. Whitehall figures published on Thursday show companies are better at finding jobs for people than they were last year, but most targets are still not being hit and several providers have been put on watch for having their contract terminated." - Financial Times

Nadhim Zahawi MP calls for an amnesty for 500,000 illegal immigrants

Zahawi Nadhim"Illegal immigrants should be given a one-off amnesty allowing them to remain in Britain, in a “seismic” policy shift designed to improve relations between the Conservatives and ethnic minorities, a prominent Tory MP has said. Nadhim Zahawi’s provocative call will put him at odds with the party’s leadership, which strongly opposes the move, although it has been advocated by the London Mayor, Boris Johnson. Opponents argue that offering an amnesty would make Britain a magnet for immigrants." - The Independent

Zahawi article in full

  • U.S senate passes immigration reform bill - BBC

"The values that united the Republicans now threaten to confine them to minority status"

"Polls have repeatedly found that a majority of the American public – about 55 per cent – now thinks same-sex couples should be free to marry. For people under the age of 30 the figure is about 80 per cent. When it carried out its “autopsy” after last year’s stinging presidential election defeat, the Republican National Committee noted that “for many younger voters, these issues [like same-sex marriage] are a gateway into whether the party is a place they want to be”…So it was noteworthy that John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House, was so tempered in his reaction to the gay marriage decisions this week." - Anna Fifield, Financial Times

Hammond: the LibDems are unsound on defence

Screen shot 2013-06-28 at 08.40.16
"He claimed that the Liberal Democrats were “naïve” or “reckless” by suggesting that Britain should downgrade the Trident nuclear deterrent. In an interview with The House Magazine, Mr Hammond also played down speculation that he wants to become the next Conservative leader, suggesting that he will be a “bit long in the tooth for that kind of thing.” - Daily Telegraph

Hammond House Magazine interview in full

Rebel Tories plot against HS2

"Rebel MPs – including many whose constituencies are not anywhere near the proposed line – will now attempt to vote down or at least amend the legislation. A paving Bill, which will give the green light for spending on the project, will go through Parliament first. Opponents hope to have more chance of influencing a subsequent  hybrid Bill, which ministers have promised to bring before Parliament by the end of the year." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday:

Ashcroft poll says Boris is more popular than Cameron but less rated as a leader

Screen shot 2013-06-28 at 05.08.30"David Cameron is regarded as a more capable prime minister than Boris Johnson would be, even though the mayor of London is regarded as the most popular politician in the country, according a new poll from Lord Ashcroft. Remarkably, Johnson is behind both Ed Miliband and David Cameron as the best potential prime minister, suggesting he has a long way to go to persuade voters that he is a serious figure equipped to run the country." - The Guardian

> Today:

Too far, too fast: Balls clocks up third speeding offence in three years

"The Shadow Chancellor copped the £350 penalty and three points on his licence after being caught by a traffic camera near the Houses of Parliament. It is the 46-year-old MP’s third motoring conviction in less than three years. He was done for speeding in 2010 and again two months ago on the M62. In an irony his Westminster enemies will delight in, the Labour bruiser’s catchphrase is to accuse the Government of going “too far, too fast” on reducing the deficit." - The Sun

News in Brief

  • Queen gets £2 million more from Government, but royal family still costs you only 53p a year - Daily Express
  • Nadine Dorries to stop claiming expenses - The Independent
  • NHS to publish death rates of doctors for the first time - Daily Mail
  • Britain faces new clawback threat for EU rebate - Daily Telegraph
  • Church joins bidders for RBS branches - The Times (£)
  • UK government backs IVF technique that uses DNA from three people - The Guardian
  • Obama's homage to Mandela on Africa tour - Sky News

And finally…Pickles takes revenge on Osborne with salad picture

"The tubby Communities Secretary had been dubbed the “model of lean government” as the Chancellor unveiled his latest round of spending cuts earlier this week. So a day after Mr Osborne tried to promote his man of the people image by posing with a pricey £9.75 take-away and posting the pic on Twitter, Mr Pickles sat down at his own desk to graze on a healthy pot of leaves and carrot sticks…He even pinched his caption, “putting final touches to a big speech”. Mr Osborne tweeted his fellow Tory: “Nice one, Eric”. - The Sun

> Today: MPsETC - Pickles bites back


> 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.

27 Jun 2013 08:36:56

Newslinks for Thursday 27th June 2013

7.45pm ToryDiary: On balance, May is right to bar Spencer and Geller. But what about Abu Qatada?

Screen shot 2013-06-27 at Councillor Martin Tett, leader of Bucks County Council, responds to Patrick McLoughlin's case for HS2. No, Secretary of State, we can't afford to build HS2

2.30pm WATCH: It's official! There was no double-dip recession. Repeat after me.  There was no double-dip recession. There was no double-dip recession. There was no double-dip recession...

12.30pm Graham Stuart, Chairman of the Education Select Committee, says that teachers are being manoevred by the NUT and NASUWT leadership lnto fighting for political ideology rather than teachers' interests: All that a teachers' strike will achieve is cancelled lessons and closed schools

ToryDiary: George Osborne, the best political strategist we've got. (Indeed, the only one we've got.)

McLoughlin large bw
The day after he confirms higher costs for the scheme, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP writes on Comment that We can't afford not to build HS2

Adrian Hilton looks forward to this year's Proms in this week's Culture Column: The world's greatest musician...and a first for the Ring Cycle

John Bald on Local Government: Putting the stiletto into Professor Grayling

The Deep End: Modern architecture is out of date

Infrastructure 1) As today's announcements loom, the Transport Secretary tells the Commons that he's increasing the budget for HS2

Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 08.39.02"But [George Osborne] had barely sat down before Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, told MPs he was increasing the budget for HS2 – a high-speed link connecting London to the north of England – by over a fifth from £34.5bn to £42.6bn. The admission prompted John Cridland, head of the CBI employers organisation to call for a rethink on the high-speed rail scheme. “It is good that the government is upfront about extra funding, but the case for judging this absolutely has to be value for money,” he said. “At what point does it cease to be value for money?” - Financial Times

> Today: Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP on Comment: We can't afford not to build HS2

Infrastructure 2) More houses and wind farms (offshore, in the latter case). But will there be progress on nuclear?

"Today, the Government will try to shift the focus away from cuts, announcing new roads, homes, flood defences and power projects worth £100 billion. Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, will detail infrastructure spending as ministers insist that Britain can build for the future even as austerity lasts at least until 2018. Mr Alexander is expected to announce a new social house-building programme, as well as offshore wind farms and progress on nuclear power stations." - The Times (£)

The Spending Review: Osborne squares the LibDems, swings at Balls - and targets welfare

Osborne Penknife"Savaging the ‘vested interests’ that have opposed his spending cuts so far, the Chancellor slashed a further £11.5billion from the benefits budget. He announced a new cap on the overall welfare bill, a requirement for foreign benefit claimants to learn English and a seven-day wait before the jobless can sign on. The pain for millions of workers in the public sector will continue as they lose automatic pay rises awarded for time served. Another 144,000 jobs will be axed." - Daily Mail

Spending Review welfare reform details include a seven-day wait before signing on

"However, the Liberal Democrats appear to have capitulated on allowing further cuts to welfare. In a major move, Mr Osborne said he would cap overall spending on housing benefit, tax credits, disability benefits and payments to pensioners. The Chancellor also outlined measures to make people prove they are looking for work before actually getting any benefits. There will be a new seven day wait before people can claim benefit, in which the unemployed must seek work before signing on." - Daily Telegraph

Three winners 1) Free Schools

Gove pointing"He also announced that schools spending will be allocated in a “fairer way” so that the lowest funded local authorities will receive an increase in their per pupil funding through a new national funding formula. The pupil premium, introduced “to make sure we are fair to children from low income backgrounds”, will be protected in real terms “so every poor child will have more cash spent on their future than ever before”. He also announced funding for an unprecedented increase in the number of free schools — 180 in 2015-16." - The Times (£)

Three winners 2) Defence

"Defence Secretary Philip Hammond won a crucial battle as his budget was frozen at £23.9billion in the review — a cut of just 1.9 per cent in real terms. The Chancellor vowed there will be no more job losses for “soldiers, sailors or airmen” — but civilian workers will be axed. The defence equipment budget will rise by 1 per cent in 2015-16. And Mr Osborne announced that extra cash raised from fining banks over the Libor scandal will go towards helping veterans and families who have lost loved ones in the Forces. The other big winners were the spies in MI5, MI6 and GCHQ who will see their £2billion collective budget rise by 3.4 per cent." - The Sun

Three winners 3) Offshore Wind...

Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 08.42.21"Last night Whitehall sources said that the Treasury had agreed to pay a substantial premium for green energy projects which, they claimed, would unlock billions of pounds worth of private investment in new wind, wave and tidal generation projects. But at the same time the Conservative Energy Minister Michael Fallon will release details on the latest projections for shale gas in the UK from the British Geological Survey. This is expected to show larger than expected potential shale gas reserves that will benefit from new Government support." - The Independent

...And a loser: Local Government

"The biggest loser in 2015-16 in financial terms from the previous year is local government, which is taking a £2.6bn cut. Vince Cable's business department will be required to make £800m of resource savings, the Ministry of Justice £700m, the Home Office £600m, Defence and Education both £500m…Overall local government spending has already been cut by 27%, with at least another two years of even more severe cuts to come in Britain's town halls in the years to 2017-18." - The Guardian

Osborne: We are moving from recovery to rescue

Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 08.43.17
"The Chancellor told MPs that he remains committed to his cuts strategy to pay down Britain's massive debts as the country moves from "rescue to recovery". "While the British economy is leaving intensive care; now we need to secure that recovery," he said. "We're saving money on welfare and waste to invest in the roads and railways, schooling and science our economy needs to succeed in the future. I know that times are still not easy for families. But we have a clear economic plan. We've stuck to it. It is working. And I'm determined to go on delivering it." - Daily Express

Balls: "The slowest recovery in 100 years"

"For Ed Balls, shadow chancellor, the statement was an admission of failure. These were cuts Mr Osborne had never intended to make, but were forced upon him by a flatlining economy and “the slowest recovery for over 100 years”. Mr Balls pointed out there was no new money for infrastructure – indeed capital spending falls in real terms in election year – and he sidestepped the welfare traps laid by Mr Osborne." - Financial Times

In the Chamber

  • Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 08.47.06"George Osborne was as pale as a stick of Wrigley’s spearmint. He looked so unhealthy he was almost green – close to Dulux pistachio" - Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • "More than once during his Spending Review statement, George Osborne boasted of having brought the economy “out of intensive care”…I mean no disrespect to the Chancellor when I say that I’m glad he isn’t my doctor." - Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

The Guardian's spending settlement summary:

  • Environment: -10%. Justice: -10%. Treasury: -10%. Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland: -10%. Transport: -9%. Energy: -8%.  Foreign Office: -8%. Home Office: -6%. BIZ -6%. Arts -5%. Defence: -3%. Education: -1%. Health: +0.1%. Aid: Budget protected

The F.T's winners and losers summary:

  • Winners: Spooks, Transport, Aid, Science, elite atheletes
  • Heseltine April 2012Losers: Jobseekers, expat retirees, benefit recipients, public sector workers, Lord Heseltine


  • SNP says Scots to keep pay rises - Scotsman
  • 'New data will demolish one of the great canards of our time — that the British economy was in ‘double dip’, with a second recession at the start of 2012, and in danger of going into a ‘triple dip’, with a third recession at the start of this year." - Alex Brummer, Daily Mail
  • Millions face debt crisis if interest rates start to rise - Daily Mail
  • Risk of 1937 relapse as Fed gives up fight against deflation - Daily Telegraph - Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph
  • Osborne ate a posh burger - The Sun


  • "All in all, however – given the constraints of Coalition with spendthrift Lib Dems – the Chancellor deserves a pat on the back. He has a sound strategy (which is  more than can be said for the floundering Ed Balls) and he’s sticking to it." - Daily Mail Editorial
  • "One cut after another. A few hundred million here, a few hundred million there. Yet still they will barely make the tiniest dent in Britain’s mountain of debt." - Sun Editorial
  • "Perhaps the most important thing that we have learnt over the past three years is that cuts do not necessarily mean worse public services." - Times Editorial (£)
  • Benefit cuts are right but protect those who paid in - Daily Express Editorial

Chris Giles: The spending review in 2015 will be the moment that the British Government faces the hard reality of the post-crisis world.

Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 08.50.12"The chancellor started to look at one important question for the next Parliament in setting out a cap on non-cyclical social security spending…But other, even bigger questions also need to be raised. Should financial support for the elderly continue to rise as a share of social security spending and relative to earnings of the working population? Should Britain accept a higher level of taxation than the normal level of a little under 40 per cent of national income? Can protection of health, schools and overseas aid survive in a world where other government departments have taken hugely disproportionate pain?" - Financial Times

Benedict Brogan: Osborne has changed the terms of debate

"A few years ago, the idea of a Tory chancellor announcing cuts of up to 10 per cent to Whitehall’s major departments, a cap on welfare spending and restrictions on public sector pay would have been dismissed as political suicide. But what became apparent today is that Mr Osborne has successfully changed the terms of the debate. Reducing the size of the state is now accepted as the agenda for all parties. By endorsing the Chancellor’s spending plans, Ed Balls has ceded the advantage. The next two years will be fought on Tory ground." - Benedict Brogan, Daily Telegraph

Other Comment:

  • "By far the biggest winner from yesterday’s spending review was George Osborne…There is serious talk, once again, that he could succeed David Cameron as leader." - Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph
  • "The Chancellor is setting the terms of the national debate. Five years ago he set out to make spending control the central issue in politics and today it is." - Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)
  • No fireworks but George Osborne has done a remarkable job - Leo McKinstry, Daily Express
  • Balls appeals to the few, Osborne to the many - Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • The Chancellor has underestimated Labour - Steve Richards, The Independent
  • Aspirin to treat an economic cancer - Simon Heffer, Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary - George Osborne, the best political strategist we've got. (Indeed, the only one we've got.)

> Yesterday:

David Cameron: There could be a judge-led inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence allegations

Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 08.51.37"The PM told MPs “nothing is off the table” after revelations an undercover cop was asked to dig up dirt on the murdered teenager’s relatives and pals. Home Secretary Theresa May will meet Stephen’s mother Doreen today to discuss the shocking revelations. Earlier this week, she said the scandal would be probed by two existing inquiries, one into police corruption and the other on undercover policing." - The Sun

Alistair Burt: The Commons will vote on whether or not to send arms to Syria

"His words seemed to contradict the message from David Cameron, who said last week it was important that the government retain the right to act “swiftly” on the issue. But the prime minister has also made previous promises there would be a vote. Mr Burt said: “The prime minister and foreign secretary have made it very clear that they would be looking for the House of Commons to take a view . . . should the UK take a decision to supply arms.” - Financial Times (£)

News in Brief

  • European Union reaches deal on failed banks - Financial Times (£)
  • Dawn Primarolo "vanity portrait" storm - The Sun
  • Supreme court strikes down Doma on historic day for gay rights in America - The Guardian
  • Racists daub swastika on new mosque - Daily Express
  • Nigella agony - Daily Mail
  • Federer agony - BBC 
  • Gillard agony. Rudd sworn in. Abbott waits in wings. Markets unmoved. Not many dead - Reuters


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26 June 2013 in June 2013 newslinks | Permalink | Comments (33)

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