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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The Deep End: Modern architecture is out of date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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