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Newslinks for Sunday 25th August 2013

6pm WATCH: Syria to allow UN inspectors to visit chemical attack site

Liberal4pm International: Abbott is gambling that Rudd will continue to flounder in the run-up to Australia's polling day

2.15pm James Wharton MP on Comment: Conservatives must forge international alliances in the Balkans, or others will

On ToryDiary, it's asked: will the National Union of Ministers form a bond over Syria? "The Syrian crisis has a significance way beyond the vagaries of British politics – but, as today’s stories suggest, British politics will not be left unaffected by it. The longer it goes on, the more potential it has to divide Tory from Tory. And, as I’ve suggested before, it could even affect the make-up of any future Coalition."

Andrew Smith on Comment: Ignore the HS2 naysayers and have confidence in Britain's future

Cameron and Obama threaten a "serious response" against Assad... 


"David Cameron has ordered a 'serious response' to the use of chemical weapons by President Assad’s regime. ... The PM thrashed out a masterplan in a 40-minute crisis call with US President Barack Obama last night. ... British and US generals will meet within days to draw up a strategy to neuter the regime. ... The most likely option is air strikes to wipe out Assad’s command and controls system." - The Sun on Sunday (£)

  • "A Syrian rebel leader plans to visit London to beg Foreign Secretary William Hague to support British and American military action against President Assad." - Mail on Sunday prepartions are made for a UN Security Council resolution...

UN"Meanwhile, discreet preparations are being made for a UN Security Council resolution that, if passed, would transform the parameters of the conflict. I am told that the wording to be recommended by the UK is much tougher than any previous warning to Assad." - Matthew d'Ancona, Sunday Telegraph

...and the Prime Minister's colleagues try to convince him to act, or not

"The leaders on the hawkish side are Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, Chancellor George Osborne and Foreign Secretary William Hague ... The dove faction is led by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, who backs the military in thinking UK forces are overstretched and exhausted. ... Now Home Secretary Theresa May has made it clear that she considers intervention unwise." - Anne McElvoy, Mail on Sunday 

  • " is the easiest thing to say that, in the case of Syria in particular, there are only bad options. That may be true. But increasingly it may be that there is a worse option: doing nothing." - Observer editorial
  • "It is impossible to see how the West can end this civil war without potentially inflaming the conflict across the region; only Russia can do that." - Camilla Cavendish, The Sunday Times (£)

> Today on ToryDiary: Will the National Union of Ministers form a bond over Syria?

Defence cuts latest: one-in-five senior officers to lose their jobs

DEfence cuts"One in five senior officers in the Armed Forces will lose their jobs as part of the latest round of defence cuts. ... Almost 100 top brass will be made redundant or see their posts disappear in the next two years, with the cull beginning at the rank of brigadier in the Army, commodore in the Royal Navy and air commodore in the Royal Air Force." - Mail on Sunday

  • "Argentina has pocketed over £1.8million of British cash despite its threat to the Falklands. ... Details of the funding emerged days after PM David Cameron was called “dumb” by Argentina’s ambassador in London for his firm stance over the Falklands."- The Sun on Sunday (£)

"Britain's senior political television journalists are at war with Downing Street over what they see as attempts to bypass them and use less critical media outlets to broadcast policies to the public" - Independent on Sunday

Gove on the attack: he accuses Ed Miliband of wanting to impose a £40 million Militax on the country...

Gove"Education Secretary Michael Gove has accused Ed Miliband of threatening to impose a £40 million ‘Militax’ on voters by forcing them to pick up the bill for running Britain’s political parties. ... In an outspoken attack, Mr Gove says Mr Miliband’s recent call for a ban on political donations of more than £5,000 from individuals would inevitably lead to state funding for the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems." - Mail on Sunday

Michael Gove's article for the Mail on Sunday in full.

  • "Parliament's expenses watchdog is to name scores of MPs who are channelling thousands of pounds of public money into their own party coffers, amid complaints that the practice amounts to 'back-door party funding'." - Independent on Sunday the Independent on Sunday praises Gove for the variety of new schools

"Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, deserves unstinting praise for his 118 varieties of new state schools, on which we report today. The new schools include an English-German bilingual primary school; a secondary school dedicated to autistic children; a technical school linked to the motor racing industry at Silverstone; and a school specialising in the creative arts associated with Elstree film studios." - Indepenent on Sunday editorial

  • "Universities are offering places on highly academic degree courses such as law and engineering to students who achieved as little as two E grades in their A-levels." - The Sunday Times (£)
  • University leavers are increasingly going abroad for postgraduate studies - Sunday Telegraph

May announces anti-slavery laws

May"Slave masters who bring immigrants to Britain and force them to work will face long prison sentences and be banned from running companies under an anti-slavery law announced today by Theresa May, the home secretary. ... The Modern Slavery Bill will also introduce court orders to ban those who traffic illegal immigrants into the UK from returning to areas in which they operated." - The Sunday Times (£)

  • "No man, woman or child should be left to suffer through modern slavery." - Theresa May, The Sunday Times (£)
  • "This is where the slavery battle begins" - Sunday Times editorial (£)

"The visit by national security agents to smash up computers at the Guardian newspaper is shocking, like something out of East Germany in the 1970s" - Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph

ConservativeHome's Andrew Gimson gives his take on May vs Boris

AG"His biographer Andrew Gimson said: 'Boris has the edge in my book because he is a much bigger political personality. ... If they want a calm, authoritative person who has run a department — and who is a woman — then they will go for Theresa.' ... Gimson’s post-Cameron prediction is a dream ticket of Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Michael Gove — providing a mix of levity and gravitas." - The Sun on Sunday (£)

  • "Now we have the story of David Miranda — Edward Snowden’s document mule — and Theresa May’s refusal to jump on the anti-police bandwagon is paying dividends." - Louise Mensch, Sun on Sunday (£)

Local authorites point accusingly at the Mayor of London

"Furious local government leaders are accusing ministers of a crude political fix to help London mayor Boris Johnson, after establishing that almost every council in the country faces cuts in 2015-16 well above the previously announced 10% – but the Greater London Authority will suffer none." - The Observer

The number of houses planned for England’s green belt has doubled in a year, reports Sunday Telegraph

"Plans now exist for more than 150,000 homes to be built on protected land, an analysis of council documents has found. ... In addition, more than 1,000 acres will be lost to office blocks, warehouses and the HS2 rail link, according to the research carried out by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)." - Sunday Telegraph

Tory MPs rail against Lottery-funded Bullingdon film

Camera"The British Film Institute is using the Lottery money to help fund a film adaptation of the West End hit Posh. ... Last night Tory MP Lee Scott said: ‘I have to question the timing and motive in awarding Lottery money for what looks like a politically biased film to be released on the eve of the next General Election.’" - Mail on Sunday

The Lib Dems set themselves against a shale gas revolution

"Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats have poured scorn on George Osborne's push for a shale gas revolution in the UK, saying the process of fracking has caused extensive environmental damage and water pollution in the US." - The Observer

  • "A militant trade union boss has launched a campaign to sabotage fracking, a Sun investigation can reveal today. ... RMT transport leader Bob Crow’s right-hand man Steve Hedley wants lorry drivers to refuse to work for firms involved in shale gas drilling." - The Sun on Sunday (£)
  • The wind farms that generate enough power to make a few cups of tea - Sunday Telegraph

Nick Cohen: The Lib Dems used to keep us honest – not any more

Libdemdead"They are so shameless that Nick Clegg's aides boasted to the Financial Times that the deputy prime minister had personally approved plans to force our sister paper, the Guardian, to destroy a hard disk containing Ed Snowden's leaked secrets on state surveillance." - Nick Cohen, The Observer

  • "Cameron's quick temper comes with a quick mind. He is decisive, but makes misjudgements. My worry is that Clegg is too light a counterweight to make them better." - John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday

Labour has imposed a £50 billion cap on HS2, reports the Sunday Times

HS2"Labour has imposed a £50bn cap on the High Speed 2 rail line and threatened to withdraw its support for the troubled project if costs rise further. ... Maria Eagle, the shadow transport secretary, also called for HS2’s management to be sacked and replaced by more experienced rail experts." - The Sunday Times (£)

"The Government has been accused of 'resorting to the underhand misuse of taxpayer money' to pay for lobbyists to promote HS2, as pressure mounts on the coalition to scrap the £42.6bn rail project." -Independent on Sunday

  • "The government needs to come clean about HS2’s true cost. Even so, it is too early for a red light." - Sunday Times editorial (£)
  • "What we really need in Britain are more motorways and road pricing not a very expensive railway line from London to Birmingham" - John McTernan, Sunday Telegraph

> Today, by Andrew Smith on Comment: Ignore the HS2 naysayers and have confidence in Britain's future

> Yesterday, by Andrew Bridgen MP on Comment: Could Labour shoot the Government's fox – or, rather, its white elephant – HS2?

Tessa Jowell urges her party colleagues to stop sniping at Miliband

Tessa Jowell"Writing in the Observer, she calls for an end to weeks of sniping against the Labour leader by high-ranking figures including former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott, saying that disloyalty could break the party and that 'publicly offered constructive criticism is only ever destructive'." - The Observer

Tessa Jowell's article for the Observer in full.

  • "At the heart of Labour's August of angst is this: many in the party doubt their capacity to win a parliamentary majority at the next election." - Andrew Rawnsley, The Observer
  • ""Miliband’s ‘unelectable’ — just like Thatcher" - Adam Boulton, The Sunday Times (£)

But one backbencher reckons Miliband needs an Alastair Campbell-type figure

"Meg Hillier said the absence of experienced advisers such as Campbell, the former director of communications at No 10, and John McTernan, previously a leading aide to Tony Blair and also to Julia Gillard, the former Australian prime minister, was hampering Miliband’s efforts to appeal to the electorate." - The Sunday Times (£)

  • Just one-in-five voters think Miliband is doing a "good job" - Sunday Telegraph

Labour proposes blue plaques for fallen war heroes

"World War Two Battle of Britain ace Sir Douglas Bader’s London home was marked in 2009. ... Now Labour is urging local councils and English Heritage — which manages the scheme in the capital — to offer the honour to soldiers, sailors and airmen killed in the line of duty." - The Sun on Sunday (£)

"Chris Bryant claims the Russian government is seeking to have him ousted as chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on that country because he is gay" - The Sunday Times (£)

New report highlights NHS failings

NHS"Figures from the Care Quality Commission disclose that 20 warning notices were issued to 11 NHS hospitals trusts during 2012/13, threatening them with closure if standards did not improve. ... The warnings mean that failings were so extreme that the NHS trusts were breaking the law, and could be prosecuted." - Sunday Telegraph

  • "The NHS has spent nearly £1.4billion on staff redundancy packages since the Coalition came to power, official figures show." - Sunday Telegraph

The Mail on Sunday reveals 15 of the major firms apparently linked to rogue private detectives

"The world’s biggest accountancy firm Deloitte, powerful banks Credit Suisse and Chase Manhattan, and giant law firm Richards Butler, now part of Reed Smith, are all on a secret list belonging to a corrupt private detective. ... A Mail on Sunday investigation has also established the rogue investigators jailed last year for illegally accessing information by ‘blagging’ appeared to be linked to international solicitors’ firms Herbert Smith and Clyde & Co." - Mail on Sunday

  • "When it comes to state investigations into invasions of privacy, it seems that there is a huge imbalance between treatment of the press and treatment of blue-chip companies." - Mail on Sunday editorial

News in brief

  • Liam Fox admits that he and his wife holidayed with Adam Werritty, and others, in Spain earlier this year - Mail on Sunday
  • Women over the age of 50 should be entitled to "granny leave" to help them care for elderly parents and grandchildren, suggests IPPR - Mail on Sunday
  • Muslim Brotherhood leader Gomaa Amin is in hiding in London - Sunday Telegraph
  • Number of over-65s still in work triples in 15 years - The Observer
  • Labour warns about fewer inspections of food establishments - Independent on Sunday

And finally 1)... Tories to release a range of Thatcher memorabilia in Manchester

"The Tory party will launch a range of Margaret Thatcher memorabilia at its party conference, featuring an ironing board cover, bibs and T-shirts. ... The party said the Maggie Collection has been produced in memory of the 'creator of Thatcherism, nicknamed "the Iron Lady" and fondly known as "Maggie" by her many admirers'." - The Sunday Times (£)

And finally 2)... Lembit Opik bit where it hurts


"When he volunteered as judge at a charity dog show he probably didn't count on the contestants taking his comments personally. ... But animal loving former MP Lembit Opik found himself needing medical attention after an irate sausage dog launched itself at him and bit his privates." - Mail on Sunday

And finally 3)... Would God vote Lib Dem?

"As they languish in the opinion polls, the Liberal Democrats could be forgiven for seeking divine intervention. ... Have their prayers been answered? They have if you believe Steve Webb, the minister of state for pensions, who has boldly asserted that God is a Lib Dem." - The Sunday Times (£)


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