Conservative Home

« June 2013 | Main | August 2013 »

15 Jul 2013 08:29:18

Newslinks for Monday 15th July 2013

7pm ToryDiary: Wow! Conservative support surges by seven points with ICM. The Party draws level with Labour. But is the poll a rogue?

Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 18.56.57
6.30pm WATCH: A triple-bill of Conservative videos:

3pm Local Government: Labour councillor loses selection battle - despite being the only candidate

1pm ToryDiary: A hearty welcome for Renewal, the new campaign group designed to extend the Tories’ electoral appeal

11.15am ToryDiary: The benefits cap goes nationwide today – another reminder that welfare will feature heavily in 2015

Two Europe-related items lead ConservativeHome today:

Mark Field MP on Comment: Will hugging close to Coalition spending plans really help make Labour more electable?

MPsETC: Demon Eyes singe Bluebirds amidst the fires of hell

Steve O'Connell on Local Government: Don't let "affordable housing" rules stifle the new homes that London needs

The Deep End: What’s the difference between a high street banker and a back street fraudster?

Cameron has ditched his plan to arm the Syrian rebels...

Syria"David Cameron has ditched plans to arm the Syrian rebels after being warned by military chiefs that there is little point sending weapons unless he is prepared for all-out war with the Assad regime. ... Instead, senior ministers and Whitehall officials have revealed that the Coalition is drawing up plans to help train and advise moderate elements of the opposition forces battling Bashar al-Assad’s forces." - Daily Mail

  • "Veterans need our help on the home front" - Andrew Cameron, Daily Telegraph

...or has he? The Times says that Samantha Cameron is pushing him to act...

SC"David Cameron is being pushed to do more to intervene in Syria’s civil war by his wife, Samantha, according to senior government figures. Mrs Cameron is the 'biggest explanation' for the Prime Minister’s hawkish posture on the conflict which has already cost almost 100,000 lives, a Cabinet minister said." - The Times (£)

  • "Samantha Cameron exerts a powerful influence over her husband because — not in spite of — the fact that she takes little interest in day-to-day politics." - The Times (£)

...while Tim Montgomerie argues that Mrs Cameron is No.10's "real moderniser"

"The Downing Street operation is understandably protective of the PM's wife. Any discussion of her role and her politics is met with a closing of the drawbridge. Nonetheless, I'm told that one of her most important roles is to keep her husband grounded and in touch with what voters are thinking." - Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

Lynton Crosby, Tories and tobacco

Cigarette"Nine Tory MPs have accepted free tickets to the opera and the Chelsea Flower Show from a giant tobacco company. ... David Cameron has been accused of dropping [plain] packaging proposals following lobbying from his Australian elections guru Lynton Crosby, whose firm works for global tobacco giant Philip Morris." - Daily Mail

"David Cameron's top political adviser will be forced to disclose the clients who use his lobbying consultancy under legislation to clean up the industry to be published tomorrow." - The Times (£)

"David Cameron came under renewed pressure to sack his party’s elections adviser Lynton Crosby on Sunday night as environmental activists expressed concern about his links to the fracking industry." - The Independent

  • "Too sharp a focus on Mr Crosby risks diverting attention away from the bigger and more permanent conflict the Conservative Party faces: the money it receives from tobacco and alcohol companies" - Independent editorial
  • "Transparency about lobbying might, in fact, unearth a surprising truth. This industry of 61,000 employees and a turnover of £7.5 billion is usually incapable of achieving the influence that its practitioners claim." - Times editorial (£)

Amid Tory anger about the European Arrest Warrant, Theresa May says 'No' to a European Police Force

TM"The Home Secretary said the UK will not participate in a proposal to create a prosecutor with jurisdiction to pursue cases across the European Union. ... And she said Britain would oppose any move to expand the Europol system of co-operation into a Europe-wide police force. ... Her intervention comes as ministers brace themselves for a Tory rebellion tonight over plans to keep Britain in the controversial EU arrest warrant system." - Daily Mail

> Today:

Gove changes the wording of the school admissions code; parents fear for full-time education

"Four-year-olds had been given an automatic right to a whole day of classes. ... But the Education Secretary removed a reference to providing them with 'full-time' education in last year's school admissions code. ... The U-turn will cause chaos for thousands of working parents left paying for childcare or looking for shift work if schools insist on educating their children part-time." - Daily Mail

  • New league tables "to shine light" on coasting schools - The Times (£)

Anna Soubry tells supermarkets to stop tempting shoppers with sweets near checkout

Orange"Supermarkets and newsagents are to be told to abolish checkout ‘guilt lanes’ that tempt shoppers with sweets and treats. ... Public health minister Anna Soubry told the Mail cynical store layouts were creating problems for the parents of young children. ... The Department of Health is drawing up an industry code of practice on the marketing of products high in fat, sugar and salt." - Daily Mail

David Skelton's campaign group to extend Tory appeal will launch today

"Tory MPs will today launch a new drive to re-style themselves as the party of the workers, not the rich. ... The new group, called Renewal, will be led by David Skelton, a former Tory candidate for North Durham. It will be launched by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles." - The Sun

  • "Here’s how the Conservatives can win back the working class" - David Skelton, Daily Telegraph
  • "A new organisation aimed at broadening the Tory appeal is asking the right questions for a party in need of a majority" - Guardian editorial
A separate Tory group is publishing a "moderate manifesto"

"Members of the Forty Group are frustrated by what they see as the self-indulgent behaviour of some Tory MPs representing safe seats, whom they accuse of pursuing campaigns which repel voters in the centre ground. ... The Forty Group will counterattack on Monday by publishing a moderate manifesto setting out 40 policy ideas that address a range of social and business issues, but which barely mentions the EU – a central party flashpoint." - Financial Times

And a cross-party, pro-EU group (chaired by Ken Clarke) will concede the need for reform

KC"The British Influence group will make the economic case for the EU, arguing that UK industry would be unable to compete in the global market place outside the EU when it launches a manifesto. ... However, the document will concede the need for major reform." - The Times (£)

  • "EU foreign affairs chief Baroness Ashton has been criticised for seeking to 'expand her empire' at a time when other EU agencies are having their budgets cut." - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday, by Ashley Fox MEP on Comment: Where now for Britain’s relationship with Europe?

Robert Halfon leads demands for a proper probe into petrol price fixing

"MPs will today demand a major probe into claims of petrol price fixing. ... Tory Rob Halfon will present a 30,000-name petition to the Office of Fair Trading calling for a full UK inquiry into soaring road fuel costs." - The Sun

"Letting developers vandalise the countryside won't solve the housing crisis," says Nick Herbert

NH"The vandalism of rural Britain isn't happening with ordered precision. Each year, an area of countryside the size of Southampton is covered with concrete. But we aren't building inspiring new towns or green cities. ... No, this loss is horribly random. Dismal, identikit developments disfigure historic market towns. Precious green spaces between villages are thoughtlessly destroyed." - Nick Herbert, The Guardian

> Today, by Steve O'Connell on Local Government: Don't let "affordable housing" rules stifle the new homes that London needs

Differentiation-a-go-go: Hammond criticises Lib Dem plans for Trident

"In a strongly-worded article for the Daily Mail, Mr Hammond accuses Nick Clegg of taking a ‘reckless’ gamble with national security by pushing for the trusted Trident system to be replaced by a cut-down deterrent. ... His intervention comes as leaked documents reveal an extraordinary Lib Dem plan to halve the number of Trident submarines  from four to two and send them to sea unarmed." - Daily Mail

Norman Lamb calls on Neighbourhood Watch to help "lonely and miserable" pensioners

NW"Norman Lamb argues that more than a million pensioners could be cared for by the anti-crime groups. ... He also described the country’s attitude to the elderly as ‘uncivilised’ and urged the public to acknowledge that pensioners living nearby need their help." - Daily Mail

  • "Private companies can provide a public service" - DeAnne Julius, Financial Times
  • "For Tories, privatisation is still a matter of dogmatic faith" - Owen Jones, The Independent

> Yesterday, by Phillip Blond on Comment: Why the Government needs to let the Church of England deliver more public services

Ed Davey versus the Taxpayers' Alliance

"The Energy Secretary Ed Davey has attacked the Taxpayers’ Alliance – accusing the campaign group of making 'dodgy, back-of-fag-packet claims' about energy bills. ... The Liberal Democrat minister hit out after the low-tax pressure group published figures claiming that household energy bills could reach £2,000 per household by the end of the decade" - The Independent

  • Town halls allowing solar farms over fears of legal action, minister says - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday's video to WATCH: "The vast majority of climate change scientists believe that man-made activity is causing climate change," says Davey

Labour caught up in the row over NHS standards

NHS"In a devastating intervention, Professor Sir Brian Jarman said previous health ministers had presided over a ‘denial machine’ designed to prevent criticism of the NHS. ... A report by the NHS’s medical director, Sir Bruce Keogh, tomorrow will detail a shocking catalogue of failure at 14 hospital trusts held responsible for up to 13,000 ‘excess deaths’ since 2005." - Daily Mail

"Health chiefs will face the sack if they fail to carry out major changes after a report revealed up to 13,000 hospital patients died needlessly under their care." - The Sun

Further NHS news:

  • NHS hit for millions by overcharging "scam" - The Independent
  • Patients admitted to hospital are 27% more likely to die at weekends, says study - Daily Mail
  • Thousands of elderly are losing their sight as NHS rations cataract surgery - Daily Mail

And comment:

  • MP"At the core of all this lies the crumbling of the notion that there is an absolute value to human life. This terrifying collapse of the most fundamental building block of a civilised society is the outcome of the widespread dumping of religious belief." - Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail
  • "These are huge figures — too big to be brushed aside as the inevitable casualty rate of an under-pressure health service treating one million patients a day." - Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • "As with the abuses of the Liverpool Care Pathway, where the medical profession resisted any inquiry, so with the rest of the NHS: only publicity and transparency can bring about the beginnings of reform." - Daily Mail editorial
  • "Jeremy Hunt is right to take tough measures. Nothing is more important than making sure that hospitals are safe." - Sun editorial
  • "Labour remains in denial over NHS responsibility" - Daily Telegaraph editorial

> Yesterday on Tory Diary: The roots of the NHS scandal are in a culture that grants human life no absolute value

Will Labour enshrine a human right to claim benefits?

"Labour is drawing up plans to make claiming benefits a ‘human right’ despite fresh evidence of overwhelming public support for the Government’s welfare crackdown. ... Shadow minister Willie Bain revealed that senior members of Labour leader Ed Miliband’s team have asked him to examine the issue, despite fears it would be dubbed a ‘scroungers’ charter’." - Daily Mail

The benefits cap is being rolled out across the country today - The Sun

David Miliband warns against Labour complacency

DM"David Miliband took a parting shot at his brother yesterday, warning that Labour complacency risks allowing the Tories to win an outright majority at the next election. ... The former Foreign Secretary said senior Labour figures were ‘wrong’ to assume the next election would result in a hung Parliament which would allow Ed Miliband to become Prime Minister in a Lib/Lab coalition." - Daily Mail

  • David Miliband urges leaders to embrace "political Islamism" in Egypt - Financial Times
  • Andrew Marr's return to the BBC, interviewing David Miliband, was welcomed by MPs and viewers on Twitter - The Sun

> Yesterday's video to WATCH: David Miliband on his future - "If you over-calculate, you miscalculate"

News in brief

  • New regulator warns of heavy penalities for anti-competitive companies - Financial Times
  • Fawcett Society accuses the Government of "weakening the legal and institutional measures concerned with equality" - The Guardian
  • Network Rail debts could climb to £50bn by 2020 - The Guardian
  • Small businesses in northern England set to suffer most from coalition cuts, claims think-tank - The Guardian
  • MPs demand further answers over BBC payoffs - The Times (£)
  • Charles Moore reviews the book Maggie and Me by Damian Barr - Daily Telegraph

And finally... Brown on stage at the Labour conference (but not like that)


"...the low-profile Brown is set for a starring role during the Labour Party conference in Brighton, despite the best efforts of the Labour leadership not to let anyone know. A new play — The Confessions Of Gordon Brown — is being staged outside the conference zone at The Old Courtroom. ... It is a hilarious expose of the betrayals and backstabbing that propelled Brown to No 10, and the subsequent collapse of his premiership." - Andrew Pierce, 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.

14 Jul 2013 09:00:41

Newslinks for Sunday 14th July 2013

4.30pm WATCH:

1.30pm Ashley Fox MEP on Comment: Where now for Britain’s relationship with Europe?

Tory Diary: The roots of the NHS scandal are in a culture that grants human life no absolute value

Phillip Blond on Comment: Why the Government needs to let the Church of England deliver more public services

May picks row with EU over public prosecutor as vote on European Arrest Warrant looms

May Theresa Home Office6"Her comments, likely to trigger a fresh row between Britain and Brussels, come ahead of a Commons debate on Monday in which MPs will vote on coalition plans to scrap 98 EU laws relating to criminal justice and home affairs by next spring. The government will exercise a mass “opt out” of 133 measures but will then seek to opt back in 35 moves which are seen to be in the national interest. Among the 35 are the controversial European Arrest Warrant, although ministers are pushing for it to be reformed. Some Tory Eurosceptics will vote against Mrs May’s strategy - but MPs were not predicting a mass backbench rebellion this weekend." - Sunday Telegraph

Hunt: Up to 3,400 patients died needlessly last year at the 21 major hospitals run by the 14 NHS trusts

"A major review of patient safety will find that as many as 21 hospitals are  still failing the most critically ill people – especially the elderly and emergency cases – four years after the Mid Staffs scandal claimed hundreds of lives. On Tuesday Mr Hunt will tell Parliament that up to ten of 14 hospital trusts investigated over high death rates require urgent action." - Mail on Sunday

Camilla Cavendish: What the NHS needs is a dose of kindness

Screen shot 2013-07-14 at 08.57.15
"It has saddened me that in the past four months I have heard almost no one use the word “kindness”. Only two people who were not patients used this word. One was the chief nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, who has done more than almost anyone to make her healthcare assistants a respected part of the clinical team and says bluntly that her staff need to be “kind and competent”." -  Sunday Times (£)

Promotion speculation and leadership hysteria over Liz Truss...

Truss Elizabeth"Senior sources predict Liz Truss will be given a job ‘just outside the Cabinet’ as a staging post on her path to the top. Bookmakers have slashed the odds on her joining the Cabinet within the next 12 months from 4/1 to 2/1 – and even quote her at 50/1 to become the next Tory leader. It is a remarkably rapid rise for the 37-year-old Childcare Minister, who has impressed David Cameron since joining Michael Gove’s team last September." - Mail on Sunday

  • Cameron will shuffle junior Ministers and promote Truss - Sun on Sunday
  • Prime Minister vows to protect Bomber Command memorial - Sun on Sunday
  • Why Cameron will struggle to make friends in the North - David Paul, Sunday Express

…As Matthew D'Ancona says: Don't sack Willetts...

"Of all the rumours swirling round Westminster about the forthcoming mini-reshuffle, the most disquieting concerns the possible pensioning off to the backbenches of David Willetts. For the sake of the Government, I hope this gossip is unfounded. If it has a basis in fact, I urge the Prime Minister, George Osborne and Ed Llewellyn – Cameron’s chief of staff and the man with the Post-it notes in any reshuffle – to think again." - Sunday Telegraph

...It's claimed that Davey got Hayes sacked...

Screen shot 2013-07-14 at 08.44.38"Climate change sceptic Mr Hayes had asked the head of power giants  E.on to warn of blackouts unless the Coalition watered down its green crusade and made a U-turn on the closure of coal-fired generators. But Mr Hayes’s boss, Energy Secretary Ed Davey, hit the roof when he found out about the ‘treachery’ – and demanded he was sacked.  Two weeks later, Mr Hayes was dismissed and given a minor backroom role in No 10, advising David Cameron on links with Tory MPs." - Mail on Sunday

...And a former LibDem Minister says: Sack Crosby...

"As the latest row over the role of big money in politics hit Downing Street, Paul Burstow, who was a health minister until September last year, said Crosby should either quit or be sacked by Cameron after it emerged that his lobbying firm works for global tobacco giant Philip Morris. Other Liberal Democrats also made clear they were furious and would fight to ensure Crosby was removed from any role in which he could influence health or any other coalition policy." - Observer

…Who, earlier this week, told leading Tories how to nail Miliband

Screen shot 2013-07-14 at 08.46.10"Crosby emphasised that there were to be two attacks on Labour: that the leader is weak and that it is still the same old Labour party with all its flaws.  He drove home to the room that it is not enough to just say Miliband is weak, you have to show that ‘his weaknesses have consequences’. Crosby ran through a series of potential hits on Miliband. In a sign of how hard the Tories will go, one of them was that Miliband is too weak to ‘look after our interests abroad’." - Mail on Sunday

Gove blocks flagship Islamic free school following links to extremism

"The Education Secretary pulled the plug on the Muslim-inspired Northern Lights primary school in Halifax, Yorkshire, following a three-month investigation. Ministers ordered the inquiry after complaints that a local Islamic centre had circulated a leaflet suggesting that Muslim parents who failed to support the free school would be condemned." - Mail on Sunday

  • Number of pupils taught in overcrowded classes doubles as supply struggles to keep up with demand - Independent on Sunday
  • Gove rewrites admission code - Observer

Grayling summit over compensation calls and texts

Grayling May 2011
"British Bankers’ Association (BBA) chief executive Anthony Browne is to meet with Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and MOJ officials over the conduct of the “aggressive” firms amid fears they prey on the less welloff and that their fees are opaque. It says that there needs to be a clampdown on firms that constantly bombard people with text messages and phone calls that promise to get them compensation." - Sunday Express

  • Dozens of prison workers dismissed for being too close to inmates - Sun on Sunday

From Boris Island to the Isle of Grain

"The new transport hub was going to be built in the Thames estuary on an artificial island. Now Mr Johnson is more strongly backing a giant airport on the Isle of Grain in Kent, partly built on reclaimed land. However, Mr Johnson now says that the Isle of Grain plan has the 'greatest single potential for regeneration'. The blueprint involves an opening scheduled for 2029, requiring infrastructure improvements such as extending Crossrail and widening the M25 an extra lane in each direction for 36 miles." - Mail on Sunday

Will Douglas Hogg win hereditary peers by-election?

Screen shot 2013-07-14 at 08.47.57"Insiders suggest a two-horse race is taking place between Hogg, also known as Viscount Hailsham, and Lord Borwick, a businessman, for Tuesday's byelection to fill one of the few places reserved for hereditary peers in the upper house. The position becomes vacant only after the death of an incumbent, in this case that of Lord Reay, a Conservative, in May. The position is normally filled by a hereditary peer from the same party as that of the deceased, a process known as the Carter convention. However, this is not always obeyed." - Observer

Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland: I support an In-Out referendum by 2017

"I agree with Nick when he says it is not a case of if, but when, we have a referendum; but that means that the Liberal Democrats need to be seen to be committed to that ‘when’; and it must be in the next four years – by 2017 – to have any credibility. My own view is that we are better off in the European Union, but that it needs reform and so we should seek to influence things from within." - Mail on Sunday

Unions 1) Shapps mulls Halfon plan to recruit millions of union members

HALFON-robert"Tory chairman Grant Shapps is considering proposals drawn up by campaigning backbench MP Robert Halfon to help promote the Tories as the “true workers’ party”. It comes ahead of the launch of a new Tory campaign group tomorrow designed to broaden the party’s appeal to all sections of society. It wants the Conservatives to campaign for hard-working low and middle income ­workers, particularly in northern towns and cities, by championing improved wages and cutting the cost of living." - Sunday Express

Unions 2) Unite plots more control over Labour

"[The document] reveals how Unite is to spend £10,000 on up to 100 Labour target seats, focusing on union- backed candidates – with the campaigns run by Unite ‘constituency captains’ – to try to gain more influence over Labour policies after the next Election. The document, seen by The Mail on Sunday, was written by Steve Hart, who has close links with the Labour leadership and was Unite’s political director until he left last month after a power struggle." - Mail on Sunday

  • TUC boss Brendan Barber given a £104,000 golden goodbye - Sunday Times (£)
  • Cameron more vulnerable than Miliband over party funding poll - Independent on Sunday
  • Observer Opinium poll finds voters more concerned with funding from donors than funding from unions - Observer
  • Labour's poll lead stretches back to double digits - Anthony Wells, Sunday Times (£)
  • Shadow Minister Willie Bain MP considers plan to make state benefits a human right - Sun on Sunday
  • Cut the link with the unions, don't make benefits a human right - Sun on Sunday Editorial
  • David Miliband says that Iraq and Afghanistan failings have put pay to western intervention in Syria - Observer
  • Ben Bradshaw turns up in skin-tight shorts to David Miliband's farewell party - Mail on Sunday

Miliband: I’ll take the gamble to give politics back to people with my funding reforms to Labour

Miliband Red"I’ve said members of trades unions should now make a more active choice if they want to be linked as individuals to our party. And when they do so, they should be given a real say in how we make change happen in communities and across the country. But the change we need in our politics doesn’t end there. You don’t get invited round for cosy “kitchen suppers” to discuss policy changes with David Cameron in Downing Street. But wealthy donors paying hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Tories do — and this Government is making decisions in their interests." - Sun on Sunday

  • John Rentoul: Well done, Ed Miliband (but who will pay for Labour's election campaign?) - Independent on Sunday
  • Miliband's reforms will be costly. Not changing will cost even more - Alan Johnson MP, Independent on Sunday
  • Ed’s offering to give up £10m. What about you Dave? - Adam Boulton, Sunday Times
  • Political parties are dying - Andrew Rawnsley, The Observer

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.

13 Jul 2013 09:07:39

Newslinks for Saturday 13th July 2013

Bob Crow7pm WATCH: Bob Crow calls for a new left-wing alternative to the Labour Party

4pm Daniel Hamilton on Comment: Cameron’s referendum pledge has already strengthened the Conservatives’ hand in Europe

1pm Benedict Rogers on Comment: What Cameron and Hague should tell Burma's President tomorrow 

10.30am MPsETC Ultimate political grudge match today: Bluebirds v Demon Eyes

ToryDiary: Osborne has set off another round of differentiation – who will gain from it?

Kwasi Kwarteng MP on Comment: Democracy lacks roots in Egypt – and it's time we got real about it

Lyton Crosby caught up in the row over cigarette packaging

Times"Ministers effectively abandoned yesterday efforts to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products. But hours later it emerged that Lynton Crosby’s company, CTF, had been advising Philip Morris Ltd in Britain since November. ... A Tory MP drew attention to the perceived influence of Mr Crosby because of his previous links to lobbying by tobacco businesses in Australia." - The Times (£)

  • "The Government must be clear on why it has changed tack on cigarette packs" - Times editorial (£)
  • "The Coalition's chance to improve the UK's health has gone up in smoke" - Chris Bryant, The Independent

May tries to stem backbench disgruntlement over EU arrest warrants

"The Home Secretary infuriated Eurosceptic MPs this week by giving them less than a week to digest her proposals before voting on Monday. ... She wants to opt out of 130 EU measures on justice and home affairs and retain 35, including the arrest warrants. ... But in a major shift yesterday Mrs May said MPs would now be given until October to examine the plans. ... Tory Eurosceptic Peter Bone, welcomed the climbdown but said it did not go far enough." - Daily Mail

  • "We must not withdraw from the European convention on human rights" - Cherie Booth, The Guardian

Her decision to scrap the UK Border Agency is further vindicated


"It will take 37 years to clear a new backlog of half a million immigration cases, MPs reveal today. ... The Home Affairs Select Committee said it is “staggering” that 502,462 applications are still outstanding. ... The devastating verdict comes in an inquiry into the failed UK Border Agency, which has now been scrapped and broken up." - The Sun

As Quentin Letts wonders, could the Home Secretary become Tory leader? 

"Mrs May has let it be known she is not hoping to oust Mr Cameron: she is simply determined that Boris Johnson should not stroll into high office. ... I am told she finds his shallowness childish and his repeated adultery deplorable. It affronts her both as a child of the vicarage and as a woman. She has no time for Boris’s fnarr-fnarr celebrity politics." - Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

Gove wants to extend Free School Meals to more pupils, but is wary of the cost

Gove"The education secretary, Michael Gove, supports extending free school lunches to the 3 million primary school pupils in England who currently do not receive them. But the price tag of £900m a year puts the policy out of reach until 2016 at the very earliest, Department for Education (DfE) sources suggested." - The Guardian

G4S does battle with Grayling

"Security firm G4S has hit back at allegations of contract overcharging, accusing court and prison services of failing to pass on vital information to prevent bills on electronic tagging contracts stacking up. ... Pointing the finger back at justice secretary Chris Grayling, who has called on the Serious Fraud Office to launch a criminal investigation, G4S told the Guardian: 'We have not overcharged the Ministry of Justice, but have always billed in line with the contract.'" - The Guardian

  • "As G4S 'overcharging' and BBC payouts reveal, life in the UK just isn't fair" - Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian

Liverpool Care Pathway to be scrapped

"The controversial Liverpool Care Pathway used to 'manage' the death of terminally ill NHS patients is to be scrapped following an official review, ministers will announce next week. ... Doctors are expected to be told that, rather than an inflexible national system, each patient in the final days or weeks of their lives should have a personalised treatment plan agreed with their families." - Daily Telegraph

Ministers accused over the deaths of people with learning disabilities

"Ministers have been accused of not caring about the deaths of people with learning disabilities in their response to a report finding widespread discrimination in the NHS. ... In a formal response yesterday the Department of Health admitted “unacceptable inequalities” and said that it would look at making a series of improvements around co-ordination, record-keeping and best practice." - The Times (£)

Maria Miller to boycott golf's Open Championship

MM"The Culture, Media and Sport Secretary will boycott the Open Championship in Muirfield next week because it is taking place at a male-only members' club. ... Maria Miller, who is also the Minister for Women and Equalities, accused the R&A, golf's governing body, of 'turning a blind eye to sexism.'" - The Times (£)

The Times and Daily Mail respond to Osborne's no-tax-rises pledge

  • "Fighting as the party of less public spending and serious welfare reform against a party of higher tax is a winning position. Although voters say that they favour higher taxes on people wealthier than them, it isn't hard to persuade them that once the taxing starts, they will be included." - Times editorial (£)
  • "The question is: can the Chancellor – whose cuts have, in truth, been relatively timid so far – convince voters that he has the courage to make these tough but necessary calls? For him, and Britain, the stakes could not be higher." - Daily Mail editorial

> Today on ToryDiary: Osborne has set off another round of differentiation – who will gain from it?

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Osborne's tax pledge heralds a class war, 2015 General Election

Could parliamentary delays derail HS2?

Train"Parliament may defer legislation giving the go-ahead to the new railway between London and Birmingham until after the general election, said Alison Munro of HS2 Ltd. It is an admission that critics view as another nail in the coffin of the beleaguered project." - The Times (£)

White Van voters will decide the next PM, says Robert Halfon

"My campaign for White Van Britain started when I fought to stop the relentless increase in fuel duty ... Now it's time for a wider movement to build 'White Van Conservatism' – a conservatism that reaches out to those who work hard, save hard, and hold high hopes for themselves and their children." - Robert Halfon, The Times (£)

> Yesterday: 

Boris: voters aren't bothered about my love life

Boris"BoJo was surprised when he was challenged in a Radio 3 interview about at least two flings as well as fathering a love child. ... Boris, 49, said: 'My genuine experience is that it doesn’t really make any difference to what the public think you are doing.'" - The Sun

Cable goes on the attack, accuses Tories of relishing the prospect of more cuts

"Vince Cable will today accuse George Osborne of enjoying the prospect of even more spending cuts. ... In a clear attack on the Chancellor, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary will warn that ‘Tory dogma’ is holding back  Britain’s recovery. ... Mr Cable will also call for local authorities to be allowed to borrow £2.8billion more to build up to 25,000 new council houses." - Daily Mail

And Teather goes on the attack, too, over immigration reform

"A former coalition minister has launched a wide-ranging attack on the government's proposals to reform immigrants' access to housing, healthcare and other essential services, condemning the plans as 'unworkable, unjust, and nakedly political'." - Guardian

Labour's union scandal is far more extensive than Miliband has admitted, writes Andrew Pierce

Ed Miliband"Ms Webb’s concerns are echoed by John Knowles, a Peterborough councillor who joined Labour in 1967. He says at least two defeated candidates were bullied. ... Even more worrying, he claims some party members were told that if they withdrew complaints about bullying they would be given financial support by the union to help them run for public office." - Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail

> Yesterday:

Other writers consider Ed Miliband's speech on the unions, and what it means for party funding

  • "Once the Labour Party has a relationship with trade unionists as individuals rather than as a block, the difficult legacies of the past start to resolve themselves." - Independent editorial
  • MP"Ed Miliband's promise to reform Labour's relationship with its so-called union paymasters will cost millions; the Tories dependence on their own super-rich so-called paymasters cannot surive. Both parties will face bankruptcy. At that point they'll turn to you and me to help. And do you know what? I think we should." - Matthew Parris, The Times (£)
  • "There is undoubtedly a hidden agenda behind Ed Miliband’s decision to try to reform the way the unions help finance Labour. ... It is, I fear, that if he becomes prime minister, he will introduce state funding for political parties. But that would be an outrage." - Simon Heffer, Daily Mail
  • "Mr Miliband seems to have recognised ... that his party needs willing recruits, not conscripts. And he will also then need some willing donors to fill the gap. This latest crisis may thus leave him with clean but empty hands." - Peter Clarke, Financial Times

Bob Crow wants a new "working class party" to replace Labour

BC"Bob Crow, the RMT general secretary, will seek to exploit Labour’s wranglings with trade unions by urging the movement to break ties with Ed Miliband and create a party' to take on the 'anti-worker' agenda of the three main Westminster political parties at the Durham Miners’ Gala." - The Independent

  • "Union leaders have enjoyed pay rises of up to 60% and £90,000 'golden-goodbyes' while their members are struggling to cope with rising living costs and pay freezes, according to official accounts." - Daily Telegraph

Yep, there's going to be another round of strikes affecting schools

"Thousands of schools will close for a day after unions  confirmed plans for a national strike next term. ... The National Union of Teachers and NASUWT are staging the walkout in protest at Michael Gove’s planned reforms which they describe as a ‘relentless attack’ on the profession." - Daily Mail

  • "Militant teachers seem unable to learn one very simple lesson. ... Namely, the only thing they achieve by striking is to stoke public resentment against them." - Sun editorial

"A Labour MP splashed out £1,000 of taxpayers’ cash hiring a flunky to fill out expenses claims — because he cannot use a computer" The Sun

Riots break out in Belfast, leaving an MP injured

"A Belfast MP has been hit in the head with a brick at a Unionist march in the city after celebrations to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne turned violent. ... Democratic Unionist Party MP Nigel Dodds was believed to be knocked unconscious and was hospitalised after trouble broke out in the north of the city." - Daily Mail

Charles Moore interviews the Archbishop of Canterbury

JW"I am amazed. I first saw this man 40 years ago, when we were both pupils at Eton. Later, I was with him at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was the shyest, most unhappy-looking boy you could imagine. Now he is 105th in the line that began with St Augustine. He seems to be loving it. I remark on the change, and he agrees. 'That’s something to do with the Christian faith,' he says." - Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

"The Office for National Statistics predicts that most children in 2016 will be born out of wedlock - but that doesn't mean they will be raised in single parent households" - Graeme Archer, Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Police investigating a nail bomb attack at a mosque, which occurred just two hours after the funeral of Lee Rigby - Daily Telegraph
  • Government accused of colluding with Moscow to prevent a public inquiry into Alexander Litvinenko's death - Daily Mail
  • Andrew Marr will appear on his self-titled show tomorrow, with a full-time return to television planned for September - Daily Mail
  • The number of mortgages granted to first-time buyers has risen to its highest level since the start of the financial crisis - Daily Mail
  • Rupert Murdoch's News UK could face fresh phone hacking lawsuits - Financial Times
  • Heathrow to step up its expansion campaign by identifying potential sites - Financial Times
  • Work and Pensions press officers sent on statistics course - The Independent

And finally... Ed Miliband, ladies' man

"As for Ed Miliband, whose romance with Ms Flanders was much shorter than her affair with Balls, ‘he was a bit of a ladies’ man’. ... ‘He had a nice line in looking as though he needed comforting from girls, and had considerable success with quite a lot of them.’" - 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.

12 Jul 2013 08:29:02

Newslinks for Friday 12th July 2013

Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 17.25.535.30pm Ali Renison on Comment: To win in the north, the Conservatives must deploy their northern MPs

5pm Local Government: Council by-election results from yesterday

4.45pm MPsETC: "Lord Ampthill has issued a candidate's statement saying his "likes" include , understatement, rain, Hornblower, the law, Georgette Heyer, tax incentives, and oak furniture." Hereditary peers' byelection

3.30pm ToryDiary: "The Prime Minister has an aspiration of making a third of Tory Ministers women. There are 48 Conservative women MPs out of 304 Conservative MPs in total. Cameron's aspiration therefore raises that hoary old debate about promotion on merit." The reshuffle: A little local difficulty with male Conservative MPs

3.15pm LeftWatch: Why should Labour oppose a private school joining the state system?

2pm Justin Tomlinson MP and Robin Walker MP on Comment: How to protect vulnerable people who turn to payday lenders

12.45pm Local Government:

Noon: Lord Lexden on Comment reviews Douglas Hurd and Edward Young's new biography of Disraeli. "Though unfounded in fact, what has come to be believed about Disraeli over 130 years constitutes a story of its own, one of the two lives which form the subtitle of this book. The other life, as extraordinary in its way as the tenacious collection of myths that surround it, is the one that he actually led." Disraeli. No, not a "One Nation Tory". But a tenacious believer in imagination and courage.

10.15am ToryDiary: Osborne's tax pledge heralds a class war, 2015 General Election

CameronpollOn ToryDiary, Peter Hoskin reports an impression that emerged from yesterday's Lord Ashcroft Polls event: People don’t believe politicians when it comes to immigration

Iain Dale's Friday Diary: It's time to let Gavin Barwell take charge of Conservative revival

MajorityConservatism: In the final piece in our series on broadening the appeal of the Party, Stephen Crabb MP explains Why it is making progress in Wales

Alex Morton on Comment: Striking the right balance in the social housing sector

Local Government ends its Unite Week: Save Ed - scrap Unite's taxpayer funding for union official

The Deep End: Heresy of the week - Education reform should be about new teaching methods not traditional ones

No more tax rises promises Osborne...

Screen shot 2013-07-12 at 06.27.15"George Osborne fired the first salvo in one of the next election’s key battles yesterday by vowing to avoid further tax rises to plug the deficit. In a move designed to steal a march on both the Liberal Democrats and Labour, the Chancellor said that he would eliminate the £23 billion hole in the public finances after the election by cutting spending. “I’m clear that tax increases are not required to achieve this,” he told the Treasury Select Committee. “This can be achieved through spending reductions. I don’t think we have reached the end-point in reforming welfare.” - The Times (£)

  •  "Speaking to a lunch organised by the Parliamentary Press Gallery, Mr Osborne said the cuts already set out in the Budget in March meant that he would not have to bring in more taxes to balance the books and complete the process of “fiscal consolidation”....Mr Osborne added that it was up to both Labour and the Liberal Democrats 'to explain therefore what taxes they might put up'." - Daily Telegraph
> Yesterday: WATCH: Osborne - deficit reduction can be achieved without further tax rises

Osborneshield...while Married Couples tax break to be announced in the Autumn Statement

"The Chancellor said he was “absolutely committed” to the measure, worth up to £150 for every couple.In a move that is likely to please many backbench Tory MPs, Mr Osborne said yesterday that he will announce the plans in his Autumn Statement....Yesterday Mr Osborne said: “I’ve always committed to introducing a married couples tax break. David Cameron campaigned to be the leader of the party on that promise. I was his campaign manager." - Daily Express

Cameron "trying to oust" head of civil service

"David Cameron is trying to force the head of Britain’s civil service out of his job because of his frustration at the slow pace of Whitehall reform, The Independent has learnt. Sir Bob Kerslake is understood to have been told that the Prime Minister would like to replace him in the role he has held for less than two years, after failing to successfully implement the Government’s civil service reforms...It is believed that the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has been asked by Mr Cameron to draw up a shortlist of possible successors. In a significant break with tradition, the successful candidate could come from outside the civil service." - The Independent

GovemMPs pay rise? IPSA can stick it says Gove...

"Education Secretary Michael Gove has told Parliament's spending watchdog to "stick" a planned £6,000 MPs' pay rise. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) says salaries should increase to £74,000 by 2015, but that perks should be cut and pensions made less generous. Party leaders have criticised the rise but Ipsa's boss argues it will bring MPs into line with other professionals. Mr Gove called Ipsa "silly" and said parliamentarians were 'well paid'." - BBC

..but will Cameron take the money?...

"The Prime Minister has refused to rule out personally accepting a rise while the rest of the country struggles to cope with rising living costs and Government cuts. Both Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister and Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, have said they would not accept a pay hike which would see their salaries rise to £74,000." - Daily Telegraph

 .....while IPSA's boss defends the plans

"We are recommending a package of reforms. Getting rid of the “golden parachutes”, bringing pensions into line with the rest of the public sector, further tightening of the expenses regime and, yes, a pay rise of about £6,300. Not now, I hear you say. But the time is never good to tackle this question. Look at the experience of the last 30 years, which teaches us that this issue will never be politically convenient – or popular. And so we are addressing the question now, but doing so in a way which is mindful of the economic context and mindful of the pressures on taxpayers. Taken together, the changes we’ve introduced to MPs’ costs and expenses and to their pay and pensions will save the taxpayer some £7m a year." - Andrew Macdonald The Independent

HuntHunt drops plans for plain packaging of cigarettes

"A proposed law to force firms to sell cigarettes in plain packets will be scrapped today. Ministers have spent over a year considering the idea, which campaigners say is backed by a majority of MPs and the public. But Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will tell Parliament there is not enough evidence it would have a significant impact." - Daily Mail

Tories try to shed "party of the rich" image

"A drive to shed the Conservatives’ image as the “party of the rich” will be launched by Tory MPs next week as they try to reposition the party as a champion of the low paid. The campaign will target working class and ethnic minority voters outside the Tories’ South East heartlands as part of the party’s effort to win crucial marginal seats in the North and Midlands. It will need to do so to win an overall majority at the 2015 election." - The Independent

  • Ideas include look at trying to fund increases in the national minimum wage through employer tax contributions. It also wants to look at devolving planning powers completely to northern cities to replicate the success of Preston in northern England...They will also look at ways to freeze fuel duty up to and beyond 2015 and abolishing unnecessary and expensive renewable energy targets. The group will launch with a new pamphlet on Monday with backing from modernising Tory MPs like Rob Halfon and Greg Clark." - Daily Telegraph

> Today:

MailcreditCivil servants £1 billion credit bill

"Civil servants put £1.1billion on taxpayer-funded credit cards last year despite David Cameron’s pledge to curb their use. More than 137,000 Whitehall officials, quangocrats and town hall chiefs used the cards to splash out on plush hotels, gourmet meals and fine wines. The bill for 2012-2013 was four times that of 2002. It was also no lower than in Labour’s last year in power – even though the number of civil servants has fallen." - Daily Mail

BBC chiefs "misled MPs" over pay off

"The BBC’s former director general Mark Thompson yesterday accused its governing body of misleading MPs over a £949,000 severance payoff to one of its top executives. A war of words – described by MPs as a ‘soap opera’ – exploded between Mr Thompson and the BBC Trust as emails emerged that cast doubt on the evidence given by its chairman Chris Patten to a Commons inquiry." - Daily Mail

AndreaAndrea Leadsom says it must be made easier to switch bank

"This week saw the biggest step forward yet in the campaign to allow bank customers to move current accounts as easily as they switch mobile phone providers. Under account number portability (ANP), customers could keep their account number and sort code when switching, and standing orders or direct debits would not need to be moved. Switching would be hassle-free and almost instantaneous. There is already a plan to introduce seven day account switching this September. This is positive, but it won’t deal with the administrative burden of moving accounts, remove barriers to entry, or tackle the oligopoly of the big banks and their crumbling legacy systems. Only ANP will be a game-changer for standards of customer service." Andrea Leadsom MP  City AM

Clegg "open to deal with Miliband"

"After a poisonous start, the Miliband relationship has improved. It is unlikely ever to be warm. Mr Clegg struggles to contain his annoyance at Labour’s ganging up with the Tories to scupper electoral reform and
elections to the Lords. Matters improved marginally thanks to the illiberal, and hopefully now dormant, plans to impose statutory oversight on the press — an irony that Mr Clegg choses not to dwell on." - John Kampfner The Times (£)

> Yesterday: Profile: Danny Alexander, by Andrew Gimson: The Coalition pillar who might yet succeed Nick Clegg

MacShane charged over expenses fraud

"Former MP Denis MacShane is to be charged with false accounting over parliamentary expenses claims, the Crown Prosecution Service has said. Malcolm McHaffie, deputy head of the CPS special crime division said: "Having thoroughly reviewed the evidence gathered by the police, I have decided there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring a criminal charge. This charge relates to fraudulent claims with a total value of £12,900." - BBC

AllisterDon't nationalise politics says Allister Heath...

"State financing would nationalise politics, guaranteeing income sources based on past election results, reinforce the existing cartel in Westminster, reduce competition for voters and make it almost impossible for new parties – such as the SNP, Ukip or the Greens – from ever breaking through. State support will come with strings attached. Parties will become even more consensual and less appealing to an alienated electorate. MPs increasingly belong to a new class whose views are distinct from that of large swathes of the public; this worrying trend will intensify." - Allister Heath City AM

> Yesterday:ToryDiary: We, the voters, have chosen taxpayer-subsidised parties and politicians. So we must make the most of it

...Frederick Forsyth agrees

"There are only three choices: the taxpayer, private individuals from personal cash, or corporate/syndicalist institutions. Both the second and third have been widely criticised but actually the first, the taxpayer, is the worst option. There is no great danger in the latter two, provided no party becomes excessively dependent on one source, for he who pays the piper still definitely calls the tune. But Labour is now 90 per cent financially dependent on the unions. So who is the master, who the servant?" Frederick Forsyth Daily Express

Men need to achieve equality says Fraser Nelson

"Among poor families, boys are falling further and further behind – and are 30 per cent less likely to apply for university than girls. The Labour MP Frank Field has long pointed out how deindustrialisation (which happened even faster under Blair than under Thatcher) has robbed these young men of life options. Yes, office jobs may replace factory jobs, so the economy ticks over. But what about teenagers not cut out for university, who used to go straight into a trade? They struggle to find a role in society." - Fraser Nelson Daily Telegraph

Welby must back real social justice not welfare dependency

"Archbishop Welby’s comments this week about quantitative easing show he has a much better understanding of the effects of government on the poor than some of his colleagues’ benefits’ll-fix-it attitude. Perhaps this polite political operator can wean his Church off its addiction to the state and into a maturity where it campaigns for real social justice, not just benefit payments that cover lazy politicians’ backs." - Isabel Hardman Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

  • Labour lead up to 8% - YouGov
  • Scottish independence would threaten Trident. - FT
  • EU plans red tape to try to stop fracking - The Sun
  • G4S and Serco overcharged for tagging criminals - FT
  • Consult us on Syria demand MPs - BBC
  • Poll shows Kevin Rudd gaining in Queensland - Guardian
  • Unite warns Labour donations will plunge - BBC


> 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.

Conservative Intelligence