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19 Jul 2013 08:36:37

Newslinks for Friday 19th July 2013

6pm Richard Royal on International: "Mark Twain once said that “martyrdom covers a multitude of sins” and it is evident that with this verdict the Kremlin has assisted Navalny in his rebirth from sinner to saint." - Putin's Navalny misjudgement may have created a monster

5.15pm Local Government: Lib Dems call for new tax on the family weekly shop

2.15pm MPsEtc: Brandon Lewis sums up good government in a sentence

11.30am Sir Andrew Green on Comment: What does immigration mean for public debt?

ToryDiary: Falling crime statistics are an essential proof of concept for the Coalition - and a triumph for Theresa May

ThatCheToryDiary: Three positive trade union campaigns for Conservatives

Charlie Elphicke MP on Comment: "When it comes to encouraging and supporting new business start-ups, the Government should leave no stone unturned. Burdens such as corporation tax payments, national insurance should be scaled back to help start-up businesses get established and then grow." - We need a "Get set and grow" scheme for business start-ups

John Bald on Local Government: Grammar is not enough

The Deep End: Heresy of the week: Labour is still on course to win the next general election

Crime is down - and the pessimists have been proved wrong

Police"It has been possible to reduce crime even as police numbers have been falling. Tougher sentencing, earlier intervention, greater police efficiency — the fall in crime must be seen as a vindication of these ideas. The defeatists were wrong. The revolution in crime policy is working and it should carry on." - The Times Leader (£) 

>Today: ToryDiary - Falling crime statistics are an essential proof of concept for the Coalition - and a triumph for Theresa May

Chancellor to announce tax breaks to kick off a shale gas boom

Growth ConHome"Mr Osborne is today expected to tell Parliament he is creating a shale gas allowance, based on successful oil production tax breaks. It will slash the tax on shale production income from 62 per cent to just 30 per cent.  The Treasury believes this will support investment in shale of £14billion a year. 'Shale gas is a resource with huge potential to broaden the UK’s energy mix,’ Mr Osborne is expected to say. ‘We want to create the right conditions for industry to explore and unlock that potential in a way that allows communities to share in the benefits." - Daily Mail 

  • Fracking firms to offer community benefits in return for drilling - FT (£) 
  • The Treasury has clawed back £1 billion in tax  from large companies this year - Daily Mail 
  • The UK needs a sovereign wealth fund - FT (£) 

Crosby due to give up other clients and work full-time for the Conservatives 

"Mr Crosby is due to become a full time adviser to David Cameron in January and is likely to stop acting for other private firms until after the May 2015 general election. Senior Conservatives said this week that this was their “working assumption” although it had not been formally agreed with Mr Crosby. It is understood that the strategist is “not averse” to working exclusively for Mr Cameron in the 15 months before the next general election." - Daily Telegraph 

>Tuesday: ToryDiary - First drop Crosby's other clients. Then put him completely in charge.

Hammond keeps slim chance of Syrian intervention open

Hammond"Hundreds of British soldiers could be sent to Syria to prevent a chemical threat to the West, the Defence Secretary hinted. Philip Hammond refused to rule out ordering troops to the war zone to rein in President Bashar al-Assad’s regime or seize stockpiles of illegal weapons. He said it was ‘unlikely’ but no option was ‘off the table’ – in the most serious warning yet that the UK could deploy forces to Syria." - Daily Mail  

The Tory tribe is more united than in a long time

"While it seemed possible in the aftermath of the May local elections and the gay marriage saga that the party might pull itself apart, the Tory tribe was now coming back together. Christopher Chope, a eurosceptic Tory MP, said: “There seems to be more of an understanding that we are all part of the same team and we have to work together.”" - FT (£) 

An even lower benefit cap? Bring it on, says Littlejohn

"Many of you wonder how the Government decided to cap payments at £26,000 per household, which is considerably more than millions of people have to live on each year. The figure is supposed to be based on the notional after-tax income of an average family. But plenty of readers have written to say that even with two breadwinners in  their family, they don’t make anything like that amount. No doubt the usual suspects will be screaming about the proposals to restrict child benefit to two offspring. But why should women expect to go on having babies they can’t afford to support?" - Richard Littlejohn, Daily Mail  

Cameron Dark
Cameron and Clegg join Maria Miller's attack on men-only golf clubs

"The Prime Minister's spokesman said Mr Cameron was not attending the Open and 'entirely understands' why Mrs Miller was not going. Asked about all-male clubs, he added: 'The Prime Minister has a great deal of sympathy with the view that exclusive memberships of this sort look more to the past than they do to the future.' Mr Clegg used his LBC 97.3 phone-in to voice his opposition to the male-only policy: 'I was just dismayed and incredibly surprised to hear this still goes on in this day and age." - Daily Mail  

  • BBC refuses to sack John Inverdale - Daily Mail 
  • Miller has no place dictating editorial decisions - The Times Leader (£) 
  • Broadcast bosses broke payoff rules - The Times (£) 
  • Golden handshakes cost £2.7 billion a year - The Sun 

20-year fight to deliver Olympic legacy, warns Coe

"He fears that future governments will be tempted to take their foot off the gas. “If we do this the way we started, there’s no reason we shouldn’t still be reaping dividends in five years’ time. If we don’t, it won’t happen. That would be a regret, clearly,” he said. “My challenge to politicians of all political persuasions is that this is a 20-year mission. It has to survive beyond a generation of people who have delivered the Games. Where will all this be when I’m 70?" - The Times (£) 

  • Olympics boosted the economy by £10 billion - The Sun 

EU Exit
EU referendum bill faces filibustering

"Tory MP James Wharton, who introduced the Referendum Bill, said: “Labour and the Lib Dems appear to be set on making the progress of this bill as difficult and frustrating as they possibly can. But they will have seen the determination of my Tory colleagues.”" - Daily Express 

>Yesterday: James Wharton MP on Comment - How Labour and the LibDems filibustered my EU referendum bill last night

Wean the UK off immigration

"Those in favour of immigration – myself included – have to accept that it has diverted attention from deeper problems. When I was a business reporter in the mid-1990s, I covered a bus company so short of drivers that it was advertising in homeless shelters and trying to rehabilitate likely candidates. It was argued then that unless the dependency culture was tackled, the British economy would never grow properly. Mass immigration offered a third way: skilled, cheerful labour without having to fix schools or welfare. It was, and still is, a dangerously tempting offer." - Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph 

City regulator welcomes jail threat for bankers

"Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, welcomed the deterrence value of George Osborne’s new plan to criminalise reckless misconduct by senior bankers. It was, however, “an interesting question” whether it would lead to successful prosecutions, he said. When asked how likely the FCA would be to secure a scalp, he said: “It’s complex, very complex. If it works as a deterrent, we wouldn’t get scalps because people won’t behave badly.”" - The Times (£) 

  • Warnings over Funding for Lending scheme - The Times (£) 

Fears over petrol price jump

"Fuel prices are one of the biggest components of the cost of living. Not only do rises hit motorists directly when they fill up but they also push up the price of goods in the shops. And the high-mileage motorists who are hit hardest when prices at the pumps go up tend to be the most economically active people. A huge number of miles are done going to and from work or during the course of a working day. The Chancellor in particular must keep faith with motorists as another surge in petrol prices looms." - Daily Express Leader 

Security chiefs investigate threat of Chinese spying through BT

"The report said China could ‘intercept covertly or disrupt traffic passing through Huawei-supplied networks’,  adding that oversight of the firm in the UK is ‘feeble’ and suffers from the ‘absence of any strategy’. Yesterday the Cabinet Office announced a review of the site would be carried out by the national security adviser, Sir Kim Darroch.He will report to David Cameron later this year. It will consider whether GCHQ should play a bigger role in the centre’s management or even supply all of its employees." - Daily Mail   

News in brief


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18 Jul 2013 08:11:44

Newslinks for Thursday 18th July 2013

6pm Local Government:Lib Dems call for ancient Egyptian curse on Northampton Borough Council

5pm Sarah Macken: Health cuts in Wales are putting patients lives at risk

4pm Andrew Lilico on Comment: On morality and markets

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 15.32.1112.15pm LeftWatch: Len McCluskey answers ConHome's question - his power over Labour will continue

11.30am Benedict Rogers on Comment: Cameron and Hague should press for justice in North Korea

10.45am Local Government: There is a shortage of adopters: The trouble is that the "adoption myths" are still often the reality

9.30am James Wharton MP on Comment: Speeches, breaks, showers, drinks, bluff and unofficial whipping. How Labour and the LibDems filibustered my EU referendum bill last night

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 07.51.03ToryDiary: IDS, the one-man labour party - in the real sense of the word

In our weekly Culture Column, Nick Pickles probes the gap that can exist between our values and our practices. Cruel Britannia – harrowing lessons from distant, and recent, history

Nick de Bois MP on Comment: Is anyone bold enough to champion the further NHS reforms we need - and save the service from bankruptcy?

Also on Comment: Tom Gash - More haste, less speed. Could rapid reform actually undermine the drive to outsource public services?

Local Government: Pickles to reward staff with money-saving ideas

The Deep End: Do governments really want their people to do the right thing?

Economy 1) Out of work benefit claims fall at fastest pace in three years

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 07.52.41“Britain’s labour market is improving gradually as the economy revives, with more people going into full-time employment and fewer claiming unemployment benefits. Official data released on Wednesday paint a generally positive picture of the labour market, although long-term unemployment continues to creep up in a sign of the recession’s lasting damage. Economists were cheered by the fastest fall in three years in the number of people on unemployment benefits” – Financial Times

  • Working families are sick of forking out for freeloaders - Leo McKinstry, Daily Express

> Yesterday:

Economy 2) Mark Carney switches strategy at Bank of England

“The Bank of England retreated yesterday from its flagship quantitative easing programme as a means of stimulating the economy, signalling a more “mixed” strategy including guiding markets. Minutes of the July Monetary Policy Committee meeting…provided evidence of the radical change that Mark Carney, the new governor, has instigated in the BoE within days of his arrival, sweeping aside four years of supporting the economy through a QE programme of asset purchases and replacing it with a range of other measures, centred on guiding financial markets” – Financial Times

Reform 1) Elderly care revolution as Government announces state-backed insurance system

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 07.55.18“Ministers will today publish plans for a universal state-backed insurance system for elderly care in England, the biggest shakeup in the system of support in six decades which promises to cap costs for one in eight poorer pensioners and cut bills for the wealthy by up to a fifth. The current postcode lottery of care, which means elderly people in different parts of the country receive widely differing levels of public assistance, will be swept away in 2016 and replaced by a national level of eligibility and the opening of a government-backed ‘care account’ for individuals to pay for care, the government says” - The Guardian

Reform 2) 'Whistleblower-in-chief' reveals plan to fix NHS: make you the inspector

"Sir Mike Richards said he wanted patients, relatives of patients and carers to volunteer for new, larger inspection teams that will also include more junior doctors and nurses than before. New inspections of 18 hospital trusts will take place by Christmas, with all 116 acute hospitals in England inspected under the new regulatory regime by the end of 2015." - The Independent

  • The labyrinthine management structures of the NHS and BBC stymie change - Steve Richards, The Independent

> Today: Nick de Bois MP on Comment - Is anyone bold enough to champion the further NHS reforms we need - and save the service from bankruptcy?

> Yesterday:

In the Commons, Cameron is pressed on Lynton Crosby’s tobacco industry links…

Crosby Lynton“David Cameron came under pressure on Wednesday to clarify his election strategist’s links to the tobacco industry as Labour questioned why the government had dropped plans for plain cigarette packaging. The prime minister said the decision to abandon the plans was made by him and the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, alone, repeating his line that he had not been ‘lobbied’ by Lynton Crosby over the issue. Mr Crosby, a renowned election strategist, also runs a company called Crosby Textor, which – it has gradually transpired – has clients in tobacco, alcohol, oil, airports and property development” – Financial Times

  • Health advisers quit over scrapping of minimum alcohol price - Daily Telegraph

…but Quentin Letts says PMQs was like watching a terrible punishment beating…

“This time last year David Cameron staggered into the summer recess like a boxer with a minced nose. But yesterday, as MPs hollered and howled at their last Prime Minister’s Questions until early September, it was Edward Miliband whose sponge men watched with concern. Cameron creamed him” – Daily Mail

> Yesterday: ToryDiary - Andrew Gimson sketches Prime Minister's Questions: David Cameron and Ed Miliband are a disgrace to public life

…and Peter Oborne says almost everything is coming right for Cameron

OBORNE“The Tories are rising in the polls, while the Opposition is in disarray. Economic indicators are more cheerful. Relationships at the heart of Government are harmonious. David Cameron personally, and the Government corporately, is stronger than at any stage since the Coalition honeymoon in 2010” – Daily Telegraph

Meanwhile, the Lobbying Bill will trap only a tiny minority

“A promised clean-up of political lobbyists will require only a small minority to disclose their clients, it emerged yesterday...So-called consultant lobbyists will be required to sign up to an official register and provide quarterly reports on their clients, said ministers introducing the legislation. But exemptions for in-house lobbyists, or those working for companies whose main business is not lobbying, will mean that most of those paid to influence ministers will not be covered” – The Times (£)

Budget watchdog backs more immigration

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 07.58.50“David Cameron’s clampdown on immigration will harm growth and reverse the savings made by years of austerity, his own budget watchdog warned yesterday. Foreigners who come to live in Britain often pay more taxes, need less support from the State and are better qualified to work, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility…Maintaining curbs to prevent foreigners settling in the UK will reduce the number of working-age residents who pay tax and support the elderly, the OBR warned” – The Times (£)

Churches and gay rights activist alike mark 'watershed' moment as gay marriage is legalised

"The Queen, who is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, gave her formal approval to the Bill – one of the most radical pieces of social legislation of her reign – this afternoon...The Roman Catholic Church described it as a “watershed” in English law and said that it marked a “profound social change”. Ben Summerskill chief executive of Stonewall, said the move would “bring joy to tens of thousands of gay couples and their friends and families.” - Daily Telegraph

Outsourcing firms “cream profits off public sector”

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 07.59.50“Private companies providing public services are routinely ‘gaming the system’ to make money for their shareholders at the expense of the taxpayer, a major new study finds today. An analysis of the Government’s controversial £100bn ‘outsourcing’ programmes, such as its scheme to help the unemployed back into work, found private firms ‘creaming off’ easy cases where they could make profits while ‘parking’ problematic ones” - The Independent

> Today: Tom Gash on Comment: More haste, less speed. Could rapid reform actually undermine the drive to outsource public services?

Maria Miller declares war on BBC sexism…

“Culture Secretary Maria Miller has delivered an extraordinary attack on the BBC’s sexist sports coverage. In a scathing letter to the director-general Lord Hall, she expressed her anger at presenter John Inverdale’s remarks about Wimbledon singles champion Marion Bartoli. Mrs Miller, who also called for better coverage of women’s sport, demanded updates on ‘further action that is likely to be taken’ over the comments, which prompted hundreds of complaints to the BBC” – Daily Mail

…As senior Tories mock woman MP’s leopard-print outfit...

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 08.02.29“Senior Tory MPs mocked a former minister’s striking leopard-print outfit behind her back at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday. Cheryl Gillan, the former  Welsh Secretary, was called to ask David Cameron about plans for the controversial HS2 high-speed rail line, which she bitterly opposes. As she spoke, Keith Simpson, parliamentary aide to Foreign Secretary William Hague, was heard to make roaring noises while clawing the air like a big cat” – Daily Mail

…And Cameron is told he is running out of time to achieve gender equality…

“David Cameron has been warned that he is running out of time to meet his pledge that a third of his ministers would be women. Before the last election, the Conservative party leader said that he would make good on the promise by the end of his first term in office. It may be a target that he now regrets. Just four full members of the current Cabinet are female” – The Times (£)


The Telegraph says: Save Willetts for the nation!

Screen shot 2013-07-18 at 08.03.18"As a product of King Edward’s in Birmingham rather than Eton or St Paul’s, Mr Willetts has never been a part of the Cameron set. But there are other ministers, inside and outside the Cabinet, who have made far less of a contribution to the Tory cause. If the Prime Minister does choose to replace him, the loss will be entirely his own." - Daily Telegraph Editorial

Heathrow dithering leaves us stuck on the runway

“Still visible at Maplin Sands in Essex are the first piles driven for a massive new London airport, approved by Parliament under Ted Heath’s government in 1973 – and scrapped on Labour’s return to power the following year. In the 40 years since, enough rival plans have been put forward to fill an aircraft hangar with maps and drawings. But while politicians have dithered and bickered, none has had the guts to make a decision. Yesterday, Heathrow bosses put forward three more sets of proposals to add to the mountain on the desk of Sir Howard Davies, the economist chairing the latest leisurely inquiry into increasing airport capacity in the South East” – Daily Mail Comment

Nick Herbert condemns Government’s planning policies

Herbert Nick Jan 2012“A former Tory minister denounced the government’s planning policies as an ‘environmental disaster’ yesterday. Nick Herbert said new planning rules are leading to a ‘greenfield first’ building that is concreting over the countryside. Warning that the Tories have ‘reneged’ on their manifesto pledge to give local people a say over new building in their neighbourhoods, he declared: ‘Localism is dead’” – Daily Mail

Prime Minister snubs train for a helicopter

“David Cameron spent thousands of pounds of public money on a 140-mile helicopter flight to Lincoln instead of taking a car or train. The Prime Minister snubbed public transport and travelled by military aircraft to attend a question-and-answer session with factory workers. Last night green campaigners said there was ‘no justification’ for using a helicopter for such a short journey” – Daily Mail

Lady Thatcher made five attempts to get knighthood for Jimmy Savile

“Margaret Thatcher made repeated attempts to win a knighthood for Jimmy Savile despite warnings about his ‘manner of life’. The former prime minister made at least five requests for the now-disgraced DJ to be considered for the top honour, but senior civil servants voiced fears about his ‘strange and complex’ private life. Previously unseen documents from the Cabinet Office reveal the extent of unease about the BBC presenter, almost three decades before he was finally unmasked as a predatory paedophile” – Daily Mail

News in brief

  • School meal kills 22 children in India – Guardian
  • Scientists estimate heat wave has killed 760 people – The Times (£)
  • Body of missing actor Paul Bhattacharjee found near cliffs in East Sussex – Daily Mail
  • Taleban chief to Malala: “I wish we hadn’t shot you” – The Times (£)
  • Nelson Mandela celebrates 95th birthday with 95 cup cakes – The Sun
  • Botox boss wins the Apprentice – The Times (£)

And finally…queue here for the Royal baby!

“The entrance to the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, where the Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth, has become a media circus beyond compare. There may be nothing to say just yet, but the whole scene provides a delightfully British comedy of manners for the waiting world” – Robert Hardman, Daily Mail


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17 Jul 2013 08:32:39

Newslinks for Wednesday 17th July 2013

7.30pm In his weekly Red, White and Blue column, Henry Hill writes that Alex Salmond is looking to the Isle of Man to support his currency ambitions

Wrong Ed
6.30pm WATCH: "Wrong, Ed" - the Conservatives' new attack ad highlights Miliband's jobs scaremongering

2.30pm ToryDiary - Andrew Gimson sketches Prime Minister's Questions: David Cameron and Ed Miliband are a disgrace to public life

1.15pm ToryDiary: Good news for the Government in the new labour market statistics

Screen shot 2013-07-17 at 10.21.3911am ToryDiary: "Since Conservatives want to make the NHS better, it's attacking Labour's record on the back of critical reports is more likely to help to create a climate for change than fighting by Queensberry rules." Hunt is right to take the fight to Labour on healthcare

10.30am ToryDiary: The Daily Mail launches a sustained attack on Labour

10am Local Government: Two Labour councillors suspended over paying subs for new members

ToryDiary: Claire Perry's porn filter is fantasy policy-making, and it's coming unstuck

Greg Clark MP's Letter to a Treasury Minister: What we've done to reform banking and financial services

Tony Lodge on Comment: As Australia drops its unpopular carbon tax, how long before Britain’s own carbon price floor is axed?

Screen shot 2013-07-17 at 07.34.53
Also on Comment: Richard Hyslop - Come and debate the EU at this autumn's Conservative Renewal Conference

Cllr Jonathan Glanz: Let councils borrow to build

The Deep End: Nice, democratic, entrepreneurial India: the unhappy truth

DfE and DCMS fall out over controversial internet porn filter

"A leaked letter from the Department for Education asks the main internet service providers (ISPs) to rebrand their anti-porn filters as being ‘default-on’, giving the impression that adult material is automatically blocked…The extraordinary demand appears to encourage internet firms to exaggerate the level  of protection they are giving families…A source at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is now in charge of dealing with the issue, insisted that the email did not represent government policy, adding: ‘The Department for Education is part of the problem.’" - Daily Mail 

  • Gove strips Doncaster council of children's services - The Times (£) 

>Today: ToryDiary - Claire Perry's porn filter is fantasy policy-making, and it's coming unstuck

11 hospitals put into special measures for fundamental failures

"Eleven NHS trusts have been exposed for fostering a culture of “entrenched mediocrity” that resulted in sub-standard care and widespread disregard for patient complaints. In damning findings that prompted accusations from David Cameron of a “cover-up”, Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of NHS England, expressed serious concerns about the service received by patients at the trusts." - The Times (£) 

BBC pay-offs risk the corporation's public support, warns Cameron

BBC"The Prime Minister said: ‘The BBC has to be very careful with the money that it spends. The BBC is in a unique position because it has the licence fee. I support the licence fee but going with the licence fee is the responsibility to spend that money wisely and I think it’s quite clear the BBC pay-offs have been too high and there hasn’t been enough rigour in this whole process. The BBC has strong public support but they won’t keep that support unless they spend the money wisely.’ - Daily Mail 

  • £2m pension pot for BBC COO - Daily Express 
  • Savile scandal cost licence fee payers £5 million - Daily Mail
  • Patten to quit after one term - FT (£) 
  • SFO staff payments under fire - FT (£) 

Osborne considering an even lower benefits cap - after Liam Byrne opens the door for him to do so

'"We are very surprised Labour wants to have this debate, given their out-of-touch opposition to the benefits cap, but now they have started it, there is a good argument for testing whether they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is,’ said a  Tory source. ‘Even if the Lib Dems cannot be persuaded to move further, a limit on child-related benefits could be implemented if Labour is really ready to support it.’ Mr Osborne is prepared to consider cutting the overall £500-a-week cap on benefits ‘based on evidence, not politics’, a source confirmed." - Daily Mail 

>Yesterday: Kathy Gyngell on Comment - Killed with kindness. Our tax and childcare policies are destroying marriage and hurting young people

The Coalition has approved billions of pounds of weapons exports to tyrannical regimes 

"The report from the Commons’ Committees on Arms Export Controls revealed the Coalition has approved 3,074 export licences, worth £12.3billion, for military kit to nations the Foreign Office criticised for repression. MPs analysed Britain’s sales following concerns that dictators in North Africa and the Middle East used UK-made hardware to smash uprisings during the Arab Spring. Business Secretary Vince Cable approved 1,163 arms licences worth £1.4billion to China, including cryptography equipment which ‘could be used for internal repression’. Licences totalling £1.8billion to Saudi Arabia, £803million to Iran, £86million to Russia and £54million to Libya also are still valid." - Daily Mail 

Private sector workers' pension contributions collapse

"The number of private sector workers saving into company pensions has collapsed to 2.9million, the lowest level since records began 60 years ago, official figures reveal. It means only 12 per cent of the private sector workforce of 24million are saving into such schemes. In the 1960s, a peak of more than eight million private sector workers had a company pension. Now experts are warning that an entire generation will be ‘unable to afford to retire’ after a lifetime of hard work." - Daily Mail 

  • Government pension body defrauded of £1.4 million - The Times (£) 

Cameron Long Wide
CBI attacks Cameron's tax rhetoric

"Mr Cridland criticises comments by the Prime Minister and other senior government figures attacking companies over the level of corporation tax that they pay. “Careless talk from politicians can cost jobs,” he says. He singles out Mr Cameron’s speech in Davos in January in which he called on companies to “wake up and smell the coffee” — a reference to Starbucks,which, at that point, had not paid corporation tax for five years." - The Times (£) 

GCSE grades to full further as standards rise

GoveFlag"Ofqual, the regulator, fears a backlash from parents and teachers who think that last year’s drop in headline GCSE results, the first in 24 years, was a one-off driven by the row over English grades. Many teachers believe that their GCSE results will bounce back in August and they may not have grasped that Ofqual’s robust approach to policing standards may deliver another dip in key subjects. “This is what standard-setting looks like, based on some of the best practice in the world,” an Ofqual source said. “Results will move around. They can’t keep going up.”" - The Times (£) 

  • Pupil Premium offers primary schools £500m - The Sun 
  • Five-year-olds may face testing - The Guardian 

Lobbying bill to be published, as Crosby row rumbles on

"David Cameron is poised to publish a bill cracking down on union funding as the Tories try to shift the spotlight away from their elections adviser Lynton Crosby, a lobbyist for several industries. The main thrust of the bill is to force all third-party lobbyists to publish a full list of their clients to shine a light on the dealings between government and outside interests." - FT (£) 

  • Tobacco meeting details were held back - The Times (£) 
  • Matthew Parris: Len McCluskey has a three-cheeked bottom. Allegedly. - The Times (£) 
  • There should be greater accountability - John McDermott, FT (£) 
  • Cameron to pressure MIliband over Unite opt-in - The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary - First drop Crosby's other clients. Then put him completely in charge.

Replace Trident

Lib Dems Trident"If Britain is to have a nuclear stance, a submarine-based system is the best option. Basing missiles on land makes them vulnerable to a pre-emptive strike and thus reduces their effectiveness as a deterrent. Modifying the current Astute-class attack submarines to carry Cruise missiles would be a false economy: the missiles would be vulnerable to interception and have a shorter range…Trident is an integral part of Britain’s defence capability within Nato. It should be replaced — and the task should be done properly." - The Times Leader (£)

  • Danny Alexander calls for an end to round-the-clock deterrent - FT (£) 
  • The Lib Dems explored delivering nuclear weapons by hand - The Sun
  • Labour to study cutbacks to Trident - The Times (£) 
>Yesterday: ToryDiary - Trident or no Trident, today’s report doesn’t really matter
>Yesterday: Alistair Thompson on Comment - Philip Hammond is right – a part-time deterrent is no deterrent

Hague: Britain could still arm Syrian rebels

"The Foreign Secretary's comments appeared to contradict reports earlier this week which claimed that David Cameron had decided against the move. Senior military figures had apparently warned him that sending small arms and missiles would make no difference to the conflict either way. Addressing a committee of MPs, Mr Hague said Britain had not ruled out sending weapons to opposition forces, despite concerns they could fall into the wrong hands or prove largely ineffective." - Daily Telegraph 

Murderers, rapists and paedophiles among 800 prisoners are on the run

"More than 800 missing prisoners, including killers and rapists, are at large despite being recalled to jail more than a year ago. Figures released by the Ministry of Justice show that more than a dozen prisoners at large were serving life sentences for murder. Hundreds more disappeared while serving jail terms for offences ranging from assault, robbery and fraud, to “gross indecency with children”." - The Times (£) 

  • Justice officials defend decision to release killer - Daily Express 

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.

16 Jul 2013 08:29:16

Newslinks for Tuesday 16th July 2013

6.30pm ToryDiary: Don't dismiss Bone and Hollobone entirely - a good idea is not always the same as a popular idea

4.30pm Kathy Gyngell on Comment: Killed with kindness. Our tax and childcare policies are destroying marriage and hurting young people

GMB2pm LeftWatch: Only a week after Miliband's pledge to reduce union influence, the GMB boast of their Parliamentary candidates

1pm Two posts on today's Trident review:

Noon Patrick McLoughlin MP on Comment: Why we're bringing certainty and stability to upgrading roads

10am Ruth Lea on Comment: The IEA Brexit Prize – a timely and necessary development

ToryDiary: First drop Crosby's other clients. Then put him completely in charge.

FarageAndrew Gimson interviews Nigel Farage: “Are you trying to destroy the Conservative Party?” “No, I don’t need to. Cameron’s doing that for me.”

Sawssan Abou-Zahr writes this week's Foreign Policy column: Sectarian Lebanon, Syrian Labyrinth

Stephen Tall's Other Half column: A question for those Conservatives desperate to avoid a second Coalition – what's your Plan B?

Lord Ashcroft on Comment: That's enough fantasy politics. "Margaret Thatcher Day" is not a vote winner

Also on Comment, Andrea Leadsom MP concludes her series of articles about European Reform: How to repair the EU’s democratic deficit

Local Government: Cutting the spare room subsidy is already delivering improvements

The Deep End: Look up and smile, the eyes in the sky are multiplying

NHS crisis 1): Tories to attack Labour over their handling of the health service

NHS"Labour was warned of alarmingly high death rates in 25 NHS hospitals and told inspections by health watchdogs appeared ‘fundamentally flawed’, a leaked email reveals today. ... NHS medical director Prof Sir Bruce Keogh is set to detail failings at 14 trusts in England thought to have been responsible for up to 13,000 excess deaths going back years. ... Tories will seize on the findings to attack Labour’s handling of the health service." - Daily Mail

  • "Labour must bear the blame for the shameful decline of the NHS" - Sean Worth, Daily Telegraph
  • "Using the NHS as a football will be a Tory own-goal" - Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)

NHS crisis 2): Liverpool Care Pathway branded "a national disgrace"

"The Liverpool Care Pathway was yesterday condemned by ministers as ‘a national disgrace’. ... A devastating inquiry into the system used in hundreds of hospitals also shamed nurses and said their ‘tick box’ treatment of the sick and vulnerable had been ‘uncaring, rushed and ignorant’. ... In all, the scathing report made 44 recommendations – including plans to phase out the Liverpool Care Pathway in favour of a reformed system based on individualised ‘End of Life Care Plans’." - Daily Mail

  • "Let us hope that the resulting system incorporates the compassion and discretion that all too often went missing under the Liverpool rules." - Daily Telegraph editorial
  • "The failings of the Liverpool Care Pathway point to wider problems in the NHS" - Times editorial (£)
  • "Victory for decency in end-of-life care" - Daily Mail editorial

Cameron declines to reveal details of his meetings with Lynton Crosby

LC"David Cameron has been accused of hypocrisy after refusing to reveal details of visits by the business lobbyist Lynton Crosby to Downing Street – despite having vowed to shine “the light of transparency” into the lobbying industry. ... Number 10 claimed ... that it did not hold records 'of any official meetings' involving Mr Crosby, a part-time elections adviser to the Conservative party." - Financial Times

"MPs yesterday questioned why minutes of a meeting between officials and a tobacco company linked to Mr Cameron’s top political adviser had not yet been released." - The Times (£)

Australian health minister Tanya Plibersek adds fuel to Lynton Crosby row over cigarette packaging - The Independent

  • "To clear the air, Mr Crosby should disclose the details of all of his meetings with officials and his client list, in particular where it overlaps with policy initiatives." - Financial Times editorial

> Today on ToryDiary: First drop Crosby's other clients. Then put him completely in charge.

Shapps raises the prospect of further welfare reforms, including a cap on child-related benefits...

Times"Child-related benefits for the jobless should be capped at two children, the Tory party chairman declared last night. ... In another proposal, the minister said under-25s who are unemployed should be denied housing benefit, so they have to live with their parents rather than be funded by the taxpayer to move to a place of their own. ... Mr Shapps insisted the plans could be implemented in this Parliament, despite Lib Dem opposition." - Daily Mail

"George Osborne is considering a further lowering of the amount households can receive in benefits as Tory MPs press him to reduce a newly-imposed cap by another £6,000. ... A limit of £26,000 a year was imposed on claimants yesterday, but the Chancellor is facing calls to take a harder line from backbenchers who want it cut to £20,000 as part of a post-election assault on welfare spending." - The Times (£)

  • "As a symbol, the cap is powerful and popular. In a democracy that can be reason enough to do something. But examining the evidence we have about the cap’s probable impact suggests that as a piece of public policy it is decidedly cynical." - John McDermott, Financial Times
  • "The Government has taken an important step towards ensuring that a life in work is more rewarding than a life on benefits" - Times editorial (£) Iain Duncan Smith accuses the Beeb of "politically-motivated" coverage

BBC"Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith today accused the BBC of launching a ‘politically-motivated’ attack on government plans to cap benefits at £26,000." - Daily Mail

  • "Duncan Smith was fully justified  in accusing the BBC of making a ‘politically motivated’ attack." - Richard Littlejohn, Daily Mail
  • "It’s a start-the-day pleasure to hear them being kicked up their bien pensant backsides by IDS." - the Daily Mail's Ephraim Hardcastle column
  • "The BBC’s undisguised bias in its reporting of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms is disgraceful — but utterly predictable." - Sun editorial
  • "Mr Duncan Smith still has only questionable statistics with which to defend his muddled policy objectives." - Guardian editorial

> Yesterday:

Former defence secretaries warn: don't ditch Trident

Trident"In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, five former Conservative and Labour ministers have joined military chiefs to say that downgrading the Trident programme would risk national security. ... Their intervention comes on the day that a Liberal Democrat review into alternatives to replacing Trident is published. It will be presented by Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury." - Daily Telegraph

"David Cameron 'strongly' believes that Britain's submarine nuclear deterrent should not be downgraded at a time when there are 'growing threats' from rogue states." - Daily Telegraph

  • "Deterrence can’t be done on the cheap" - Daily Telegraph editorial

Poll puts the Tories level with Labour – is it an outlier?

"The Conservatives have surged to sit alongside Labour in the polls for the first time in nearly 18 months, largely owing to a sharp fall in support for Ukip, according to the latest ICM monthly poll for the Guardian. ... The shares of the vote are Conservatives 36% (+7 on last month), Labour 36% (no change), Liberal Democrats 13% (+1), Ukip 7% (-5), and others 8% (-2)." - The Guardian

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Wow! Conservative support surges by seven points with ICM. The Party draws level with Labour. But is the poll a rogue?

Of the Tory groups in the news yesterday, Renewal has the edge, claims the Independent

Indy"Of the two, it is Renewal that has the better ideas. The group has been formed with the goal of extending the party’s support not just among the self-identifying working class, but in the North, in the public sector and among ethnic minorities. The instinct is a healthy one and should be encouraged." - Independent editorial

> Yesterday: 

May faces backbench anger over the European Arrest Warrant, as Government delays report

TM"David Cameron has been accused of delaying a report into Britain’s relationships with Brussels to avoid stoking a row over Europe. ... The Government faced anger in the Commons last night over plans for the UK to remain part of the controversial European Arrest Warrant." - The Times (£)

  • "A Muslim terror fanatic banned from Britain for being a threat to national security has been given legal aid in a bid to win a UK passport." - The Sun

> Today, by Andrea Leadsom MP on Comment: How to repair the EU’s democratic deficit

> Yesterday:

Peers approve the Same-Sex Marriage Bill

"Gay marriage is set to be legalised in England and Wales after peers gave the Same Sex Couples Bill an unopposed third reading in the House of Lords. ... The Bill now goes back to the Commons for MPs to consider changes made to it in the Upper House." - The Independent

Ministers to outline their £28 billion plan for improving Britain's roads

Motorway"Ministers will today announce plans to spend billions improving roads and easing congestion, promising to spend £28billion over six years. ... But the plans also set out the first steps towards the full-scale privatisation of highways and open the floodgates for toll roads." - Daily Mail

  • "The biggest-ever upgrade of the road network will blight national parks and beauty spots, countryside and environmental campaigners claim today." - The Times (£)

The Government's green policies will cost consumers, warns energy supplier

PAY RISE"RWE npower became the first of the big six power suppliers publicly to warn that the government’s green policies will cost consumers more, saying energy bills would rise by more than 19 per cent by the end of the decade. ... The intervention mounts a forceful challenge to the government, which has claimed that bills will actually fall thanks to coalition energy measures." - Financial Times

  • Study reveals widespread scepticism about energy firms' claims to environmentalism - Daily Mail

Miller and Alexander will chair a committee to consider the press's own idea for press regulation

"Other key ministers involved in the process will be Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, Attorney General Dominic Grieve and Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude. ... They will all sit on a Privy Council committee which will examine the Press’s own plans for a new Royal Charter to back a tough new regulator. ... The committee will decide whether to accept or reject the industry blueprint in the autumn, only looking at a Commons-backed version if it is rejected." - Daily Mail

Nick Clegg is still in a powerful position, writes Janan Ganesh

NC"The ultimate winners of this disillusion with the main parties are not, as the hype has it, Ukip, whose vaunted flowering is unlikely to end with many, if any, parliamentary seats. It is the Lib Dems. If the next election yields a hung parliament, they might again end up in power and choose who to share it with." - Janan Ganesh, Financial Times

Vince Cable takes on "errant" bosses

"The directors of companies that go bust could be forced to pay compensation to customers and creditors left out of pocket. ... Business Secretary Vince Cable hit out at ‘errant’ bosses who operate ‘in the shadows’ to avoid being held to account if their firm runs into trouble." - Daily Mail

Labour intends to act against employers who deny jobs to reserve troops

"Bosses could be sued if they discriminate against reserve forces looking for work, Labour will announce today. ... They would make it illegal to deny part-time soldiers a job just because they have to spend time away on training and deployment." - The Sun

"Is Labour’s enthusiasm for HS2 on the wane?" - David Millward, Daily Telegraph

MPs attack Prince Charles over his taxes

Chales"Prince Charles was last night accused of paying a lower tax rate than his servants. ... The criticism came as Charles’s principal private secretary, William Nye, appeared before MPs on the Commons spending watchdog, the public accounts committee. ... Chairman Margaret Hodge said it was ‘shockingly wrong’ that the Prince was paying so little tax on the duchy’s profits." - Daily Mail 

  • "Prince Charles should be wary of clashing with MPs who are questioning whether he pays enough tax on the Duchy of Cornwall’s income." - Sun editorial

The Institute of Economic Affairs launches a "Brexit" competition

"A prize of €100,000 is being offered by a rightwing think-tank for the most compelling explanation of why Britain would be better off if it left the EU ... The award, sponsored by the Institute of Economic Affairs, will be judged by a number of eurosceptics including Lord Lawson, the former Tory chancellor, who recently announced his support for an exit." - Financial Times

  • "We must answer the 100,000-euro question" - Gisela Stuart, Daily Telegraph

Ian Birrell: We shouldn't be afraid of politicising the civil service

IB"The problems lie with a machine still operating on the lines of its creation a century ago, with a culture of departmental fiefdoms, of anonymity in advice and neutrality in officials. This looks increasingly archaic in a digital age in which government is being slimmed down fast while responsibilities keep rising." - Ian Birrell, The Guardian

  • "As a result of the story (which we published on Friday), Mr Cameron has been forced to delay [his plan to remove Sir Bob Kerslake] – to avoid a potentially damaging public row and accusations that he was compromising the neutrality of the Civil Service. But it will happen." - Oliver Wright, The Independent

News in brief

  • "Internet providers have been secretly asked by the Government to make it appear they are offering greater protection against children accessing internet pornography purely for political benefit, according to a leaked letter." - The Independent
  • Almost half of all cases are "screened out" by the Met, and not investigated - Daily Mail
  • Broadcasters face Ofcom probe for interviewing Anjem Choudary after Lee Rigby's murder - Daily Mail
  • There are three times as many millionaire bankers in Britain as in the rest of the EU - Daily Mail
  • Campaigners to target MPs with "a charter to save the English countryside" at the next election - Daily Mail
  • Montserrat aid programme comes under fire from UK watchdog - The Guardian

And finally... an architect compares Boris to Hitler, sorta

"Sir Terry Farrell said the London Mayor’s plan for a £65billion airport was ‘mad’. ... Sir Terry said: ‘When people say that you have got to have vision, well Hitler had vision. ... Sir Terry, who is working on Gatwick’s bid to build a second runway, said closing Heathrow and moving the capital city’s main airport to the east would mean  ‘flipping London’." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday's video to WATCH: Boris makes the case for a new airport hub


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