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Newslinks for Friday 23rd August 2013

7pm WATCH: The ONS revises growth upwards

2.45pm John Bald on Local Government: This year, as ever, Labour has failed on exams

Labour Cost
12.15pm ToryDiary: CCHQ launches a new attack website - How much would Labour cost you?

10.45am ToryDiary: Michael Fabricant is right, we must give political equality to England

ToryDiary: "Mr Darling is right. Peter Mandelson is right. Boris Johnson, Cheryl Gillan and Dan Hannan too. UKIP is right. It's an unusual alliance but it is now very clear that HS2 has become too expensive. The danger for the Conservatives is that they plough on with this project for all the wrong reasons." Scrap HS2 and scrap it now

Majority Conservatism: If it embraces pro-working class economic policies the Right can devastate the Left

DaleIain Dale's Friday Diary: UKIP - a ragtag and bobtail pressure group of well-intentioned and enthusiastic amateurs

Lord Flight on Comment: "Henry Ford, Bill Gates and Walter Disney experienced major setbacks or failures on their road to success.  We need a culture in which the young people taking part in the Government’s recently launched start up loans initiative will continue to their second or third attempt if the first fails and not give up “out of shame”." Don't let today's anti-business establishment freeze out tomorrow's entrepreneurs

Local Government: Local government must look to the past

The Deep End: "Solar power is the only significant technology that enables ordinary consumers to generate their own electricity. For that reason it shouldn’t just appeal to environmentalists, but also to those of a libertarian mindset." Heresy of the week: Solar power is the most rightwing form of energy

Stop HS2Darling: This should be the end of the line for HS2

"The next Government and the one after that will be very short of money to spend on the infrastructure that we desperately need. To commit ourselves to spending so much on a project that rules out any other major schemes seems foolish. And the costs are not yet nailed down. The facts have changed. The case for HS2 was just about stateable in 2010. I don’t believe that it is today." - Alistair Darling, The Times (£) 

  • Might Labour oppose the scheme? - The Times (£)  

>Today: ToryDiary - Scrap HS2 and scrap it now

Assad's slaughter of the innocents

"Around a million child refugees have been forced to flee Syria’s bloody civil war. And at least 7,000 children have now been killed in the 2½-year conflict, charities say. The revelations come a day after horrific images emerged of rows of dead children, among 1,000 slaughtered in suspected nerve gas attacks." - The Sun (£) 

>Yesterday: ToryDiary - The horror of Syria's massacres and the limits of western power

>Yesterday: Garvan Walshe's Foreign Affairs column - The Foreign Office should stop fiddling with the peace process - and attend to the burning Middle East

Miliband mulls an early EU referendum pledge

EU Exit"Another option is to push Mr Cameron to hold a vote in 2014 or on election day in 2015 to “lance the boil”…One party aide said there had been discussions about Mr Miliband calling for a referendum in his keynote conference speech in Brighton on September 24: “The idea was that it would be a truly eye-catching announcement.” One Labour frontbencher said: “There has been a lot of pressure from the shadow cabinet for quite some time now.”" - FT 

>Today: Iain Dale's Friday Diary - UKIP - a ragtag and bobtail pressure group of well-intentioned and enthusiastic amateurs

We need a new Act of Union, to give England equality

Fabricant-Michael"My constituents see their health and education services voted on by MPs who, because of devolution, are completely unaffected by that legislation. While there isn’t an appetite for yet another tier of government in the form of a separate parliament, there is a demand for only English MPs to be able to vote on English laws. The nature of the changing Union has seen power edging away to the nations." - Michael Fabricant, Daily Telegraph 

Stamp duty will catch more and more people in coming years

"Around 80 per cent will be liable for the tax within five years, rising from 68 per cent last year. And 39 per cent will be in the higher brackets — up from just 25 per cent. The TaxPayers’ Alliance, which did the survey, called for stamp duty to be cut, saying: “It will be more expensive to move than ever.” But the Treasury said reducing it would create a “significant cost”." - The Sun (£) 

Candidate Map
Labour's estrangement from the working class is a Tory opportunity

"Labour’s estrangement from its base provides a significant opportunity for the Conservatives if they can convince lower-income voters that they aren’t the party of the rich and big business. Tories should show that they are actively working to help people’s wages stretch further. Having already lifted the poorest out of income tax, Tories should consider increasing the minimum wage — especially if the impact on job creation can be minimised." - David Skelton, The Times (£) 

  • Funding boost for seaside towns - The Independent
  • Anti-frackers are totalitarian and harming the poor, says Bernard Ingham - The Independent
  • Sussex Labour jump on the anti-fracking bandwagon - FT
  • Wind farm house price report to be revealed - Daily Telegraph

>Today: Majority Conservatism - If it embraces pro-working class economic policies the Right can devastate the Left

Police start criminal investigation into David Miranda files

Police"Counter terrorism police started a criminal investigation last night into thousands of secret intelligence files obtained by The Guardian newspaper. Scotland Yard said documents seized from David Miranda, partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, contained ‘highly sensitive material ... which could put lives at risk’. Carrying documents that could be useful to terrorists carries a maximum ten-year jail sentence under the controversial Terrorism Act 2000." - Daily Mail 

>Wednesday: ToryDiary - The David Miranda incident gets murkier and murkier, but some conclusions are already clear

Rigorous GCSEs right an educational wrong

School"Every year when they were in government, Labour politicians would go on TV to proclaim victory and "another record year" for GCSE results. In reality, they were letting children down. Pass rates in GCSEs soared but standards declined. Young people were pushed into low-quality courses and told they were worth the same as academic subjects. And universities and employers lost confidence." - Liz Truss, Daily Telegraph 

>Yesterday: Chris Skidmore MP on Comment - Talking of exam results, this is also a day to celebrate the success of the Ebacc

>Yesterday: Karen Lumley MP on Comment - Redditch's GCSE and exam results show that, in education, it’s leadership that matters

Will a tax break for marriage make any real difference?

"Two thirds of all married couples will be excluded from the plan. Is it really thought that there are married couples on the verge of divorce who will think again now that the State is offering them £150 a year? If any flaky co-habitees are prepared to marry for the welfare bounty, do we really want them to? A proper Conservative response to this idealism would be to point out that there is no connection, in fact, between the status of marriage in the tax system and how people behave." - Philip Collins, The Times (£) 

Lobbying Bill threatens the free speech of charities

Red Tape"Some of Britain’s biggest charities are consulting lawyers over new rules that they fear will stop them speaking out on issues of major public concern. Oxfam, the Royal British Legion and the Salvation Army are among the organisations seeking urgent legal advice over new lobbying rules, which they say could have “disastrous unintended consequences” on their ability to speak out during election campaigns." - The Times (£) 

Is the BBC licence fee suited to a digital age?

"The BBC has revealed a record number of viewers now watch its programmes on the internet, fuelling fears thousands of households are legally dodging the licence fee. New figures show the corporation’s iPlayer website received 242million hits last month, up 38 per cent on last year. It is thought many viewers who use the iPlayer service do not own televisions, meaning they are not required to pay the £145.50 annual licence fee." - Daily Mail 

  • £100m wasted because of a broken internal culture - Daily Mail 

News in brief

  • Renationalise the railways - Caroline Lucas, The Guardian 
  • Hewitt says send the NHS to India - Daily Mail 
  • SNP expel wife-beating MSP, but he won't resign - The Times (£) 
  • Over a million young people are NEETs - Daily Mail 
  • Taxpayers forced to clean up after Abu Qatada - The Sun (£) 
  • Bishop supports Guide leaders who don't want to ditch God - Daily Mail 
  • Convicts attack eight prison officers a day - The Sun (£) 

And finally….

It's the Prime Lobster

"Mr Cameron then went on to remove his trusty polo shirt. It seems he may have already spent too much time in the glorious Cornish sun, for he revealed a painful-looking dose of sunburn – another curse of every holidaying English male. The Camerons are enjoying their fourth holiday of the year (almost as many outings as that polo shirt, by the way)." - Daily Mail 


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