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31 Aug 2013 08:44:41

Newslinks for Saturday 31st August 2013

7.30pm ToryDiary: Obama seeks Congress to approve military action on Syria

3.30pm ToryDiary: What would Thatcher have done about Syria?

2pm  Ryan Shorthouse on Comment: Optimism is crucial for Conservatives

12.30pm LeftWatch: The strange death of liberal interventionist Labour

10.45am ToryDiary:Downing Street's Corporal Jones moment?

ToryDiary:A majority of Tory members backed missile strikes on Syria - but most of them wanted Commons approval first

Graeme Archer on Comment: Our hearts are moved by Syria. But not, yet, our consciences

Also on Comment: Dominic Raab MP says More benefits tourists arrive, while more strivers leave - twin trends we must reverse

TimesassadSyria: US prepares to attack Assad

"Washington cleared the way to go to war without Britain last night as it laid out the case against a Syrian regime that had unleashed the “indiscriminate, inconceivable horror of chemical weapons” on its own people. The White House shrugged off the shock of the Commons vote that has left America’s staunchest ally on the sidelines and produced what it called “compelling” evidence against President Assad." - The Times (£)

  • "US Secretary of State John Kerry says the US knows the Assad regime was behind the chemical attack in Damascus, which he says killed 1,429 people. Mr Kerry said the dead included 426 children, and described the attack as an "inconceivable horror"." - BBC

>Today:Graeme Archer on Comment: Our hearts are moved by Syria. But not, yet, our consciences

>Yesterday:  ToryDiary: Cameron suffers the worst foreign policy defeat in modern times - here are eight observations on what it means

NewYorkSyria: Is the special relationship over?

"President Obama's attempts to form a coalition of nations willing to attack Syria appear to be splintering. The biggest blow was dealt by the normally reliable Brits, whose Parliament stunned Obama on Thursday by voting down Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposal to join the attack on Bashar Assad’s government." - New York Daily News

  • "Foreign Secretary William Hague said US Secretary of State John Kerry had thanked him for the UK's "steadfast friendship", and they were united on ending the Syria conflict and use of chemical weapons."- BBC
  • Mailfrench"The US delivered a stunning snub to Britain yesterday, lavishing praise on its ‘oldest ally’ France as the two countries prepared to launch missile strikes on Syria as early as this weekend. Secretary of State John Kerry paid tribute to the French for standing ready to join the US in confronting the ‘thug and murderer’ President Bashar Assad. In a White House address last night, Mr Kerry pointedly made no mention of Britain – despite the historic ‘special relationship’ between the two nations. Instead America was ‘confident and gratified’ it was ‘not alone’ in its will to act, he said, praising France, Australia and even Turkey for their support." - Daily Mail
  • "It is nonsense to talk about a ‘special relationship’. America and its rulers think about Britain very little, and when they do so it is only in the context of Europe — as Ukip would do well to recognise. Given that this is so, why do successive British prime ministers lead us into grief by trying to make us play a leadership role in the world which nobody else takes seriously? We are still a relatively important, though precarious, economy. But claims that we hold a warrant card to play international policeman are grotesque, and have been repeatedly exposed as such." - Max Hastings Daily Mail
  • Sunspecial"It is the first time since the Vietnam War in the 1960s that the US and UK have not stood together in a major military engagement. Details also emerged of an extraordinary phone confrontation between Mr Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband before Thursday’s vote. After Mr Miliband did a U-turn on his support for military action, fearing a revolt by his party, the PM told him: “You are letting down America.” - The Sun (£)
  • "Defence secretary Philip Hammond has expressed apprehension about the future of Britain's defence ties with the US. Hammond's comments came as John Kerry, the US secretary of state, praised France as the oldest ally of the US and made no mention of Britain. In an interview with Channel 4 News, the defence secretary showed how the Anglo-American special relationship had been shaken by the parliamentary defeat when he said that France's renewed alliance with the US placed Britain in an "uncomfortable place". - The Guardian

ShappsSyria: Calls for Cameron to rebuild relations with his Party

"Senior figures are saying that, as a first step, the prime minister should ensure that a senior parliamentary figure joins his top team as party chairman. There is no criticism of the current two co-chairmen, Grant Shapps and Lord Feldman. But they are not members of the prime minister's closest inner circle when the biggest decisions are made. One minister said: "There needs to be a much better transmission mechanism to the parliamentary party. Under Margaret Thatcher, the party chairman, Cecil Parkinson, was a big hitter who sat in the Falklands war cabinet. Chris Patten performed a similar role under John Major. That role does not exist. If there are five people in the room making major decisions on foreign policy, you know that the current co-chairmen are not there." - The Guardian

  • "One Conservative MP who abstained told The Daily Telegraph that it felt like his party’s whips just “couldn’t be bothered”, while a rebel Tory admitted: “Of course, some of the voting was down to animosity between backbenchers and the leadership. But the worst of it was the feeling that Downing Street was taking their support for granted.” - Daily Telegraph
  • "A strong whips’ office is vital in tight votes. A Cabinet minister who served in both the Blair and Brown governments retells his first encounter with Labour whips. Newly elected, he was walking through the corridors of the House when he was accosted by one. He was pushed against the wall, his testicles grabbed and twisted sharply – and painfully. “Son, you’ve done nothing to annoy me. Yet. Just think what I’ll do if you cross me.” That is how you manage backbenchers." - John McTernan Daily Telegraph

>Today:ToryDiary:A majority of Tory members backed missile strikes on Syria - but most of them wanted Commons approval first


TelegraphsyriaSyria: Ministers face sack for mising vote

"Alan Duncan, David Gauke and Steve Webb failed to return from holiday to support the Government, angering the Prime Minister, according to sources. Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, and Mark Simmonds, a junior Foreign Office minister, claim to have not realised that voting had begun as they were in a meeting. Commons officials said the explanation was baffling as it “would have been clear” that a vote was happening. Kenneth Clarke also abstained after being given permission for “logistical family reasons”, but the 73-year-old minister without portfolio is widely expected to lose his job anyway in a forthcoming reshuffle." - Daily Telegraph

  • "David Cameron was under pressure to sack his Chief Whip Sir George Young after a ‘shambolic’ operation which saw six ministers, two whips and two ministerial aides miss the vote altogether." - Daily Mail

Ed Miliband says we must help the Syrians

"Ed Miliband was accused of ‘breathtaking hypocrisy’ last night after urging the Government not to ‘wash its hands’ of Syria. The Labour leader, who effectively blocked Britain from joining plans for allied strikes on Syria this week, said the Prime Minister must now find ‘other ways’ to end the slaughter in the war-torn country." - Daily Mail

  • "The proper lesson of the past week is that Britain's future does not lie either in turning in on itself or rushing into conflict without properly considering the consequences. It lies instead in a hard-headed multilateralism, where crucial decisions about our foreign policy are made in a calm and measured
    way." Ed Miliband The Guardian
  • "This is not an argument against revived parliamentary clout, which is indeed welcome. It is a question of promises between Privy Counsellors, conventions of cross-party co-operation at an hour of national peril, and of party leaders behaving like grown-ups. After a poor summer, the younger Miliband (who knifed his brother David to become Labour leader) was worried about his political prospects. But will anyone now ever trust this most slippery and unstatesmanlike of politicians?" - Quentin Letts Daily Mail

PatersonSyria: Owen Paterson opposed military strike says Charles Moore

"At the emergency Cabinet meeting before the debate on Thursday, only one minister, the Defra Secretary, Owen Paterson, objected forcefully to what was being proposed. He complained that there had been too little consultation with ministers, let alone with backbenchers. He warned that party members were hostile. He wanted to know what outcomes were expected from a punitive strike. He wondered why chemical weapons were wrong in a way that all the other horrible things going on in Syria were, seemingly, not. He considered that Britain did not have a dog in the Syrian fight. The Cabinet took its stand on the unique wickedness of chemical weapons, however. Mr Paterson’s objections were passed over almost in embarrassed silence, as if he had emitted an unpleasant smell." - Charles Moore Daily Telegraph

ParrisSyria: Matthew Parris says Cameron has boosted Parliamentary democracy

"Mr Cameron waited for the Commons before setting the course. Mr Blair twisted the truth in a speech about WMDs in which few of his claims have turned out to be true. Mr Cameron acknowledged properly the unknowns and the uncertainties. Mr Blair won his vote and proceeded to a war whose deforming consequences are still with us. Cameron lost, acknowledged Parliament’s supremacy with a good grace, and cancelled his plans. I know which of these two approaches, and which of these two prime ministers, I admire more." - Matthew Parris The Times (£)

A round up of other comment on Syria

  • "Seventy-four years ago we learned a terrible lesson. However unpalatable it might be to intervene in the face of evil, the cost of doing nothing is higher. Appeasement did not just fail to stop Hitler. It bought him time to get even stronger. On Thursday the Labour Party and Conservative and Lib Dem rebels forgot that lesson. After Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement in 1938, Winston Churchill said that we had suffered “a defeat without a war”. His words are worth remembering. Because the consequences of Thursday’s vote are shattering." - The Sun Says
  • "The Prime Minister will pay the price for his misjudgement. Perhaps it should not be so. This is, after all, how parliamentary democracy is meant to work. But Mr Cameron is, nonetheless, humbled at home and weakened abroad. The debacle also exposes, once again, the deep rift in the Tory party, as well as squandering the political advantage from Ed Miliband’s troubled summer." - Editorial The Independent
  • "Ultimately the only way to bring peace to Syria will be through a political resolution, and Britain must take a leadership role in trying to deliver this. That’s why the Syria conflict must be at the top of Britain’s diplomatic agenda in all international forums. And that must start at next week’s G20 summit." - Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander The Daily Telegraph
  • "When in the next weeks and months we see further atrocities committed by Assad, and again chemical weapons used against civilians will we thank ourselves that we did nothing to try and prevent their use. I doubt it. I personally believe that the vote in the House of Commons was a tragedy." - Damian Collins MP Huffington Post
  • "Mr Cameron made a massive miscalculation this week. But he is not the only one who has had a wake-up call. So have the Foreign Office and the armed forces. So have the intelligence services and the government lawyers. All of them have something tough to absorb about public tolerance for dangerous military engagements in hostile environments which, ever since Iraq, have felt variously precipitate, illegitimate, excessive, costly, unfocused and even, in the end, not really our fight either." - Editoral The Guardian
  • Sarah Wollaston: Why I voted No - The Guardian

Cameron stands up for Gibraltar

"Britain will always stand up for Gibraltar and the interests of its people, David Cameron has said. The prime minister said it was something that mattered to us "very deeply", as he held a meeting to discuss the border dispute with Spain. After talks at Downing Street, the British territory's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said Gibraltar knew it had "a friend in David Cameron"." - BBC

Osborne fights for HS2

"George Osborne will seek to shore up flagging support for the planned High Speed 2 railway tomorrow by warning of dire passenger overcrowding and a log jam of rail freight if the £50 billion scheme is scrapped. The Chancellor is expected to defend the Government’s big infrastructure project in a BBC television interview after weeks of criticism fuelled by rising cost estimates and growing political opposition." - The Times (£)

LiztrussTruss warns Britain still lags behind world leaders on education

"Just one-in-20 teenagers in the UK gained top marks in three core subjects that are seen as vital for students’ future careers, figures show. The pass rate was much lower than that witnessed in the top-performing nations, with almost 15 per cent of pupils gaining good marks in parts of China. Elizabeth Truss, the Education Minister, said: 'This analysis highlights the importance of reading, maths and science for our future economic prosperity. But it also demonstrates that we lag behind the world leaders.' " - Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Alistair Darling warns of "dishonest prospectus" for Scottish independence - Daily Telegraph
  • Nelson Mandela returns home - BBC
  • Andrew Marr says he was working too hard - The Times(£)
  • Faith schools "help better off parents" - The Times(£)
  • Scottish politicians attack "shameful" going home posters - The Independent


> 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.

30 Aug 2013 08:39:53

Newslinks for Friday 30th August 2013

5.45pm WATCH: Nadhim Zahawi says Parliament has "let down the innocent people of Syria"

2.15pm Anatole Pang on Comment: "China is very receptive to Britain – more so than we might realize. Since the conclusion of the tensions over the Hong Kong handover in 1997, Britain has had the benefit of a clean slate and no little warmth in terms of sentiment on the ground." At long last, there are signs Britain is developing a China policy

11.30am Local Government: Council by-election result from yesterday

11.15am ToryDiary: An inner Cabinet. More status for Whips. Changes in his circle - and at the Foreign Office. What the Prime Minister should do next.

9.45am MPsETC: Who's to blame? Cameron, the Whips, or both?

ToryDiary: "It took until the Falklands to shake off the affects of Suez Syndrome on Britain's political will. While the onset has taken longer, and the symptoms are more complex, Iraq Syndrome has undoubtedly set in. The new affliction is more pernicious than a simple lack of confidence - not only has it made MPs sceptical of UK military capabilities, it has shattered Parliamentary and public faith in the intelligence services." Cameron suffers the worst foreign policy defeat in modern times - here are eight observations on what it means

MPsETC: Full list of the 30 Conservative rebel MPs who sank the Government's Syria motion

ToryDiary: "How does one attain authenticity? One cannot go around saying “I am authentic”, any more than in former times one could go around saying “I am honourable” or “I am a gentleman”." How David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg could become more authentic

DaleIain Dale's Friday Diary: If I were a TB-riddled badger, I'd rather be shot in a cull

David Allen Green on Comment: The Lobbying Bill threatens new, illiberal regulation for blogs like ConservativeHome

Lord Ashcroft on Comment: We owe it to the fallen to commemorate the centenary of the First World War

Local Government: Cutting the spare room subsidy is working in Hartlepool

The Deep End: "No one doubts the fact that most of the world’s oil remains in the ground. But the question that matters is whether we can continue to extract it at a reasonable price. The true limiting factor in the most credible peak oil scenario is not so much our capacity to produce oil as our capacity to pay for it." Heresy of the week: The spectre of peak oil still looms over us

Shock defeat for the Government over Syria

"David Cameron’s authority in Parliament and on the world stage was dealt an unprecedented blow last night as he faced a breathtaking Commons defeat  over plans for missile strikes on Syria. In an extraordinary assault on the Prime Minister’s authority, 50 coalition MPs joined Labour in voting against a watered-down Government motion supporting the ‘principle’ of military action. There were shouts of ‘resign’ from the Labour benches as the result – 285 votes to 272 – was announced to a shocked House of Commons." - Daily Mail  

  • Gove rages at "disgrace" rebels - Daily Mail 
  • Ineptitude and blunders undermined Government whipping effort - The Times (£) 
  • Weapons inspectors will take weeks to report - The Times (£) 
  • US prepares to act alone - FT 
  • Memory of Iraq colours the debate - FT 
  • "Strain on the special relationship" - The Sun (£) 

Editorials: it's bad for Cameron... 

…but bad for everyone else, too 

Meanwhile, in Syria…



Net migration rises after five quarterly falls

Theresa May"The Government's attempt to slash net migration has suffered a serious setback today after official figures revealed the first increase in more than a year because too few people left Britain. Home Secretary Theresa May and Prime Minister David Cameron want to reduce the difference between those leaving and entering the UK from non-EU countries to less than 100,000 before 2015. But the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed a net flow of 176,000 migrants came to the UK in the year to December 2012, up from 153,000 in the year to September 2012, ending five consecutive quarters of decline." - Daily Mail 

  • Thousands flee Eurozone crisis and come to Britain - Daily Mail 
  • One Irish person emigrates every six minutes - FT 

Carney pledges to fight house price bubble

Bubble"The new Bank of England governor says he is ‘personally’ ready to head off the risks of a housing bubble caused by low interest rates and the Government’s Help to Buy scheme. In his first national newspaper interview since taking charge, Mark Carney tells the Daily Mail that he is alert to the ‘damage’ that could be caused by uncontrolled mortgage lending and surging house prices." - Daily Mail 

Firefighters vote for strike action

"Members of the FBU backed industrial action by 18,277 votes to 5,166, a majority of 78 per cent. The union said planned changes to pensions were 'unaffordable and unworkable'…Minister Brandon Lewis said: 'This Government does not believe that industrial action is necessary. The pension on offer to firefighters is one of the most generous in the public sector." - Daily Mail 

Yes to HS2
Osborne to launch HS2 fightback 

"George Osborne will lead a fightback for the case to build a high-speed rail link between London and the north by warning that abandoning the project now would leave commuters around the country suffering from intolerable overcrowding. The chancellor is expected to kick off a campaign this weekend that will see cabinet ministers rally around the scheme, known as High Speed 2." - FT 

Vince's leadership plans undermined by economic recovery

Vince"Cable’s hopes of becoming Lib Dem leader have been scuppered by the economic recovery, allies of Nick Clegg have declared. The Business Secretary has made no secret of his wish to succeed Mr Clegg, despite turning 70 in May. But he was left “humiliated” after fellow ministers backed Government spending limits at a recent Lib Dem away day, sources have told The Sun. A source close to Mr Clegg said: “The good doctor has been well and truly put back in his box.”" - The Sun (£) 

  • Britain needs a more positive Business Secretary - The Sun Says (£) 

>Today: In Iain Dale's Friday Diary - ‘Bomber’ Clegg. Has a certain ring to it, don’t you think?

Today's protesters are no match for Martin Luther King

"We are rightly suspicious about many of those who so readily resort to direct action today. There's something phoney about the new middle-class warriors with their cod philosophies and casual dismissal of democratic channels. The Occupy protesters outside St Paul's Cathedral in London named their camp "Tahrir Square" while they sat cross-legged, sang songs and consumed Marks & Spencer sandwiches, oblivious to the obscenity of a comparison with freedom fighters who risked their lives in Egypt." - Nick Herbert, The Guardian 

Developing countries' combined wealth overtakes rich nations

"The world's developing economies are now larger than those of developed countries for the first time ever, it has emerged. As poorer countries' economies continue to grow, they have between them overtaken richer economies which are held back by sluggish growth. The total size of emerging economies this year is projected to be $44.4trillion, compared to $42.8trillion for the rich world." - Daily Mail 

Inquiry into police failures over grooming gangs

Police"A series of reviews will investigate the police handling of sex-grooming crimes in a town where groups of men were left free to pimp and traffic children with virtual impunity, it was announced yesterday. Three inquiries will examine South Yorkshire Police’s management of past and current investigations into all suspected cases of child sexual exploitation." - The Times (£) 

  • Institutional failure needs individual failure first - The Times Leader (£) 

News in brief


> Please use the thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been given their own blog. Read our comments policy here.

29 Aug 2013 08:31:12

Newslinks for Thursday 29th August 2013

Half past midnight, MPsETC: Full list of the 30 Conservative rebel MPs who sank the Government's Syria motion


* Cameron says he believes in respecting the will of the House - and that he "gets" the message.

* Big implications for special relationship with America and Executive's control of foreign policy.

* Questions for the Whips and Downing Street - and a blow to Cameron's authority.

* Claim that last time Parliament rejected a Government's advice on military action was 1782.

6pm WATCH: David Cameron makes his case on Syria

4.15pm MPsETC: LISTEN: Cameron and Miliband's speeches in the Syria debate

Ballot Box1.15pm Professor Sarah Birch on Comment: First-time compulsory voting is the best way to make democracy a habit

Noon Local Government: "Is singing in a church choir a religous activity? Is flower arranging in church? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? The taxpayer spends half a million a year for the Office of the Schools Adjudicator to produce this meddling piffle." Hands off London Oratory School

11.45am LeftWatch: "It's not every day the Government brief newspapers that the Leader of the Opposition is a bleeping bleep and an absolute bleep. Miliband should be over the moon - where once the Conservatives laughed about him, now they swear about him." Ed Miliband should be delighted the Government are swearing about him - but events may soon spoil his mood

10.15am ToryDiary: Perhaps David Cameron does read ConHome - here are 10 of our proposals he has recently adopted

ToryDiary: "All in all, what has driven the screech of brakes over Syria is the old familiar truth - namely, that Cameron doesn't have full control of the car.  He has no Commons majority.  He is dependent on the Liberal Democrats and truculent backbenchers." Cameron hasn't solved his Party problems this summer - and his Syrian humiliation proves it

British Army
Former soldier and Conservative PPC James Heappey on Comment: "If we are honestly saying that any decision to intervene is going to be based, at least in part, on the risk of taking casualties in the process; then we may as well give up on any notion of having expeditionary armed forces altogether." MPs should decide if intervention is right - not worry about the risk of British casualties

For this week's Culture Column, Peter Hoskin introduces ConHome's political film club with a review of The Great McGinty: America according to Preston Sturges

Local Government: Stoke councillors give themselves nine per cent pay rise

The Deep End: Good news! Healthcare costs are bankrupting us at a slower rate than ever before! 

Cameron Dark
Cameron backtracks on Syria intervention 

"David Cameron was forced to delay plans for immediate military strikes on Syria last night after being warned he faced losing a Commons vote. The Prime Minister battled desperately to get a consensus for a missile attack, but was forced by Ed Miliband and Tory rebels to allow UN inspectors time to report on last week’s chemical weapons atrocity.  MPs will vote tonight on a hastily prepared motion which still supports the principle of military action." - Daily Mail 

  • Tory MPs line up to say No - Daily Mail
  • Cameron risks war with his party - Simon Heffer, Daily Mail
  • Public opposition to strikes grows - The Times (£) 
  • “No 10 and the Foreign Office think Miliband is a f****** c*** and a copper-bottomed s***"" - The Times (£) 
  • Russia and China defend Assad - FT
  • Our limited capacity to intervene becomes clear - Liam Fox, City AM

The newspapers offer their opinions:

SyriaMeanwhile, in Syria…

  • Is Assad using napalm and phosphorus, too? - Daily Mail



Carney feels sorry for savers hammered by low interest rates

"In his first speech since taking up the position, Mark Carney expressed his sympathy for a generation of thrifty savers, including millions of pensioners, whose nest eggs have been destroyed. He said they had ‘done the right thing, set money aside, and now they are  earning returns that are substantially below what they would have expected’." - Daily Mail 

Civil service boss faces the chop after angering Maude

MAUDE looking right copy"Sir Bob Kerslake, head of the Civil Service, is resisting pressure to step down from his post next month and make way for a full-time replacement, possibly from the private sector. Ministerial sources have been briefing against Sir Bob for weeks after claims that Civil Service reforms have not been implemented and are not radical enough…He is said to have poor relations with Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, and has lost the confidence of the Prime Minister, who has asked Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, to look for a replacement." - The Times (£) 

The badger cull goes ahead - with science on its side 

"The cull has the weight of evidence on its side. The protesters have on theirs the mythology of the place of the badger in English country life. That place is not static: the badger population has grown dramatically since it was made illegal to interfere with badgers’ setts. Defra has a public obligation to control TB in cattle, lest it spread to other livestock and further still, perhaps to domestic animals too. Whatever the pantomime of protest, that duty remains." - The Times (£) 

  • Anti-cull groups engage in terrorism - Daily Mail 

3.5m households without work 

"Some 3.5 million families with at least one person aged 16 to 64 don't have a single person doing any work. In some parts of the UK a quarter of homes have nobody in employment, the Office for National Statistics figures show. The most common reason residents gave for not working was being sick or disabled (28 per cent), followed by 21 per cent citing unemployment, 17 per cent early retirement, 15 per cent looking after family or home and 13 per cent study." - Daily Express 

>Yesterday: ToryDiary - The number of households without work is at the lowest since records began - how can we drive it down further?

Countryside campaigners' anger at Boles

"Rural campaigners were furious yesterday about plans to force some councils to build more homes to bring prices down to help low earners. Nick Boles, the Planning Minister, proposed that all local authorities should have to face an “affordability test”. Under the Government’s revised planning guidance, published yesterday, councils will have to monitor the price of local homes and rents against local salaries. Where prices are judged unaffordable against local wages they will be expected to build more homes." - The Times (£) 

>Yesterday: Local Government - Cllr John Moss argues that nationalisation of the planning system has failed

Brandon Lewis battles firefighter strike misinformation

"A minister last night rapped firefighters ahead of their strike vote on pensions today — saying their deal is TWICE as good as the private sector. A ballot by the Fire Brigades Union for a series of crippling walkouts across the UK in the autumn closes this afternoon. The Government fears militants will win it due to what they dubbed as “a cynical disinformation campaign”." - The Sun (£) 

English devolution must go further, warns LGA

England-flag"Plans to give English MPs a greater say over England-only legislation will fail to address the serious imbalance in UK policy making, ministers have been warned. Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the Local Government Association, said there was growing “grassroots” concern that England was not getting enough from the proposed settlement." - FT 

Dangers in the death of the middle class

"What will the middle classes do? Quietly despair? Their aspirations for their offspring have been dashed on the rock of austerity. Many have taken to blaming the poor, who are somehow fraudulent in their deprivation – they have big TVs! Cameron may represent himself as resolutely middle class, struggling under a towel in Cornwall, but this was a man who would have spent his holiday shooting deer if he could. As this act wears thin, the running down of the middle class leaves us with little but a professional political class flailing around trying to act normally and looking more and more bizarre in the process." - Suzanne Moore, The Guardian 

Is HS2 the only infrastructure choice?

"Opponents say the money would be better spent elsewhere. The Institute of Directors wants it to go on commuter lines. One Birmingham MP wants a metro. But if HS2 is cancelled, the Government will not suddenly spend more on commuter lines. Instead, Britain’s century-old underinvestment in infrastructure will continue." - Daniel Knowles, The Times (£) 

>Yesterday: Paul Maynard MP on Comment - Turn your back on HS2 and you turn your back on the North of England

41 per cent rise in foreign nationals on benefits

Immigration Door"Benefit claims by foreign nationals have increased by more than 40 per cent in the past five years, official figures show. The astonishing increase has taken the number of non-Britons in receipt of benefits over 400,000 for the first time. The rise has been fuelled by a four-fold increase in benefit claims by Eastern Europeans, and sharp rises among African claimants." - Daily Mail 

News in brief

  • The Church should repent over past treatment of gay people, says ABC - Daily Mail 
  • 4,000 bad pubs to close down - The Guardian 
  • China has the rule of fear, not the rule of law - David Aaronovitch, The Times (£) 
  • Scientists create human mini-brain - FT 
  • Egypt military exports frozen - The Guardian 
  • School uniforms cost a week's wages - The Sun (£) 
  • Investors must become activists - FT 
  • Fort Hood shooter sentenced to death - The Guardian 

And finally…

What could the Romans have done for us?

"Three quarters of voters reckon emperors in ancient Rome had better policies than today’s parties, a bizarre study has revealed. Two thousand Brits were shown a manifesto secretly based on what the Caesars pledged — and 43 per cent said they would vote for it. A third even mistook it for the work of a modern-day party — despite it including a vow by crazed Caligula to let horses into Parliament." - The Sun (£) 


> Please use the thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been given their own blog. Read our comments policy here.

28 Aug 2013 08:33:58

Newslinks for Wednesday 28th August 2013

Midnight ToryDiary: Cameron hasn't solved his Party problems this summer - and his Syrian humiliation proves it

5.45pm Two posts on Syria:

3pm Local Government: Bristol Council covers up its history of backing colour bar on buses

Wiltingrose1.15pm LeftWatch: Tower Hamlets council give £64,000 and a recruiting base to Unite

12.45pm Local Government: Five Respect councillors quit

11.15am ToryDiary: The number of households without work is at the lowest since records began - how can we drive it down further?

ToryDiary: Should we intervene in Syria? Should CCHQ release party membership figures? What should Cameron's red lines for a second Coalition be?

ToryDiary: "His constituents don't want Britain to be entangled in Syria. Support could offer opportunities to an unscrupulous opponent.  But memories of the vote may have faded by 2015.  And besides, there is a reshuffle coming, and Prufrock has not abandoned all hope of promotion." J Alfred Prufrock, MP for Grummidge West, considers British military intervention in Syria

Henry Hill's Red, White and Blue column: Separatists warn against ‘flag raising exercise’ as Armed Forces Day returns to Scotland

Garvan Walshe's Foreign Affairs column: National interest requires more than a symbolic Syria strike

Paul Maynard MP on Comment: "HS2 is a mark of our commitment to being a national party. Of course we cannot write a blank cheque, of course we should not tolerate ever escalating costs, but HS2 is about our vision for the future of this country, and just occasionally, it is right to be ambitious." Turn your back on HS2 and you turn your back on the North of England

On Local Government, Cllr John Moss argues that nationalisation of the planning system has failed

The Deep End: It’s time to start worrying about Japan again

Syria 1) West set for missile strike as David Cameron recalls MPs

“Britain cannot stand idly by in the face of the morally indefensible use of chemical weapons, David Cameron said yesterday, as he laid out the case for a missile strike against Syria. The White House is preparing intelligence material, including intercepted communications, which it says will prove that the Assad regime was responsible for last Wednesday’s attack. Mr Cameron spoke to President Obama again last night, but the publication of evidence by Washington may not come in time to help him to win parliamentary approval tomorrow for Britain’s participation” – The Times (£)

>Today: ToryDiary - Should we intervene in Syria? Should CCHQ release party membership figures? What should Cameron's red lines for a second Coalition be?

>Yesterday: Two Parliamentary updates:

Syria 2) The case against intervention: Brits oppose strikes

“Brits are against missile strikes on Syria by a big majority of two to one, the first poll on the new crisis has found. An exclusive YouGov survey for the Sun has revealed there is still strong opposition to all types of UK involvement in the bitter two year long civil war despite last week's chemical weapons atrocity. A total of 50 per cent oppose attacking Assad's forces with long range missiles from ships – which is the Western allies' current plan. And just 25 per cent are in favour of it” – Sun (£)

  • Ed Miliband sends mixed messages - Daily Mail
  • Stephen Glover: do not listen to Blair the warmonger - Daily Mail
  • Robert Fisk: Obama will be siding with al-Qa’ida - Independent

>Today: ToryDiary - J Alfred Prufrock, MP for Grummidge West, considers British military intervention in Syria

Syria 3) The case for intervention: Democracies must live up to their values

Hague“This actual, repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria is a moral outrage, a serious violation of international humanitarian law and a challenge to our common security…This is a moment of grave danger for the people of Syria, a moment of truth for democratic nations to live up to their values, and a weighty test of the international community” – William Hague, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Robert Halfon MP on Comment - We must intervene in Syria - the arguments against doing so do not stack up

Councils have to provide affordable homes, says Nick Boles

“Councils will be forced to allow the building of new houses under an affordable homes revolution from today. New planning guidelines will impose a duty on town halls to keep close tabs on local house prices and rents. If they soar too high, they must then act to ease demand — by allowing the construction of new homes ordinary people can afford. Last night planning minister Nick Boles told the Sun ahead of today’s shake-up: ‘Just as there is a legal obligation for authorities to provide school places and health care to everyone who needs it, so too they must now provide affordable homes’” – Sun (£)

Cyberbullies need to learn respect, says Michael Gove

Gove“Eradicating cyberbullying is as much a question of mending ‘what’s in people’s hearts’ as forcing internet site owners to do more to protect children, Michael Gove said yesterday. Calling for children to be taught respect for other human beings, the Education Secretary said that teachers were not doing enough to stop the ‘viciousness and personal cruelty’ shown by online bullies on websites such as His remarks come after the death of Hannah Smith, 14, who had received a series of messages on the website telling her to ‘drink bleach’ and ‘go die’”– The Times (£)

Thousands dying of thirst on NHS

“Tens of thousands of patients are dying needlessly in hospital every year from kidney failure linked to dehydration, NHS officials have revealed. They calculate that up to 42,000 deaths a year would be avoided if staff ensured patients had enough to drink and carried out simple tests. NICE, the NHS watchdog, is today issuing guidelines to staff to help them prevent deaths from the condition – known as acute kidney injury – which is common in the  elderly and patients with heart disease,  diabetes and blood infections” – Daily Mail

Jamie Oliver calls British youngsters “wet”

Jamie Oliver“The celebrity chef said British youngsters were ‘wet’ in comparison to their European counterparts, who were ‘stronger’ and ‘tougher’...Oliver, who has more than 30 UK branches of Jamie's Italian, as well as three branches of Fifteen, where young unemployed people are taken on as apprentices, said: ‘If we didn’t have any [European immigrants], all of my restaurants would close tomorrow. There wouldn’t be any Brits to replace them’” – Daily Telegraph

Drivers who kill cyclists face tougher penalties

“Motorists who kill cyclists and pedestrians face tougher penalties under a crackdown on dangerous driving…A sentencing review will be launched early next year, the Department for Transport says today in its response to the Get Britain Cycling inquiry. The announcement follows a cross-party parliamentary report urging ministers to ensure that drivers who kill or maim are taken seriously by police, prosecutors and judges” – The Times (£)

Union Jack
Michael Moore: Salmond is stretching the meaning of words in desperation

"The Scottish Secretary will tell an audience in Glasgow that the First Minister is stretching words beyond their proper meanings in order to sell an unpopular policy. He is due to say: “Having looked at the numbers, the SNP leadership has come to fear that independence is a product that too few Scots are willing to buy. So to sell the goods, they are changing the packaging." - The Times (£)

The cull is good news for cows – and badgers

“This cull is actually the most civilised, humane and safe way of looking after both our cows and badgers. Since the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 was introduced — preventing the disruption of setts or killing of these mammals — the badger population has spiralled out of control with 300,000 now rootling around the hills and dales. Many have become disease-ridden” – Alice Thomson, The Times (£)

  • Protesters have yet to find dead badgers - Guardian

Stop HS2

HS2 will damage, not invigorate, the North

"Building HS2 would be like putting the Olympics or the Millennium Dome in London – again. It would be another way of reinforcing London’s pre-eminence. Simply running another railway line, however expensive, and however far into the distant future, between what has been described as the North Province and South Province of the UK is not going to equalise them: it is more likely to suck more life out of the North." - John Rentoul, The Independent

>Today: Paul Maynard MP on Comment - Turn your back on HS2 and you turn your back on the North of England

>Yesterday: ToryDiary - Is there anyone left who still supports HS2? 

Migrants could swing the General Election

"Foreigners from Commonwealth countries could swing the 2015 General Election — despite not being British citizens, a report claims today. The latest Census data from 2011 shows there are an estimated 960,000 Commonwealth citizens — with no British citizenship — aged over 15 living in England and Wales. They will be entitled to vote in the next election. And the figure could rise above one million people by election time, according to Migration Watch UK." - The Sun (£) 

News in brief


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