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Newslinks for Tuesday 27th August 2013

10pm ToryDiary: J Alfred Prufrock MP considers British military intervention in Syria

6.15 WATCH: Cameron returns to Downing Street

Downing street5pm ToryDiary: "This is the forming up of troops for the General Election battle. Getting good soldiers is important - next their lines of communication must be established, and an effective strategy for their use must be developed." The Number 10 operation is beefed up by two wise choices

4.45pm ToryDiary: What are junior Ministers for?

2.15pm MPsETC: Parliament to sit on Thursday to debate Syria

12.45pm LeftWatch: Gove praises union members but attacks union leaders

11am MPsETC: 70 MPs sign up to call for Parliamentary debate before war is declared in Syria

ToryDiary: Is there anyone left who still supports HS2? "The Victorians were good at engineering not just because they built big things and built them well - they built things which were necessary."

Columnist Stephen Tall asks: Do you want to be in power? The new politics demands a Tory alliance with UKIP or the Lib Dems

HalfonComment: Robert Halfon MP says: We must intervene in Syria - the arguments against doing so do not stack up "What has the result of this cultivation of Assad been? No modernisation, but a Syrian-Iran axis funding Hamas, funding Hezbollah and destabilising the Middle East. A delayed intervention, allowing even more bloodshed in Syria, with a death toll over the past few years of around 100,000 and approximately 1,300 killed in the recent chemical attacks.."

Local Government: Cllr Philippa Roe says Welfare Reform is fair

The Deep End: What is it like to be recognised everywhere you go? You’re about to find out

MailmpsMPs demand recall of Parliament over Syria...

"MPs were last night demanding a binding vote over plans to launch missile strikes on Syria without the backing of the United Nations. The Prime Minister is expected to announce that Parliament will be recalled this week to debate plans by Britain, France and the United States to launch strikes against Syria in retaliation for last week’s barbaric chemical weapons attack. Sources said David Cameron was ‘likely’ to give way to demands from Tory MPs, Lib Dems and Labour to allow the Commons to have a ‘say’ on the crisis before any attack is launched." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday: well as clear legal guidance...

"David Cameron is facing demands to set out the legal justification for military action against Syria amid mounting unease over the scale and speed of Britain’s commitment to another conflict in the Middle East...Michael Caplan, an international lawyer, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One that ministers could find themselves in a “controversial situation”. “The difficulty here is there’s no threat as I understand it to the security of this country or the United States and therefore on what basis can we intervene?” he asked." - Daily Telegraph

  • "A recall of parliament would allow Cameron to make a statement to MPs, possibly after the meeting of the NSC on Wednesday. He had a phone conversation on Monday with Vladimir Putin, which was described as testy. It is understood that the Russian president agreed that the use of chemical weapons would amount to a breach of international law. But Putin said he did not accept that the Assad regime had used weapons and disputed whether they had been used at all." - The Guardian Blair backs a military strike...

"Tony Blair has thrown his support behind a military strike on the Syrian regime to punish it for what the US last night called the “moral obscenity” of the gas attack that killed hundreds...With David Cameron set to recall Parliament to discuss Britain’s participation in the US-led action, Mr Blair said that, after Iraq and Afghanistan, he understood the “impulse to stay clear of the turmoil” in the Middle East. “But we have, collectively, to understand the consequences of wringing our hands instead of putting them to work,” he writes in The Times today. Without action, he claims, Syria will become “mired in carnage” and a “breeding ground for extremism”. - The Times (£)

  • "The forces that made those interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan so difficult are of course the very forces at the heart of the storm today. They have to be defeated. We should defeat them, however long it takes; because otherwise they will not disappear. They will grow stronger until, at a later time, there will be another crossroads and this time there will be no choice." - Tony Blair The Times (£)
  • "If Tony Blair was toiling in his role as Special Envoy to the long-troubled region last week, it is apparently nice work if you can get it. While western governments reacted with fury to claims of a chemical weapons attack in Damascus and made moves towards launching air strikes on Syrian regime forces, the ex-Prime Minister was spotted in some of the most glamorous locations in the Mediterranean. Mr Blair’s busy schedule at the back end of last week involved visiting several ‘super-yachts’ worth in excess of £100million – apparently three of them in the space of three days." - Daily Mail

...and Cameron cuts short his holiday

"David Cameron will consider a recall of Parliament when he returns to No 10 later to deal with the crisis in Syria. He has cut short a holiday in Cornwall to co-ordinate a response to what the UK and US believe was a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime." - BBC

JulianlewisA round up of other comment on Syria

  • "It is imperative to find a solution, and it mustn’t be military...The idea of a military strike to express disapproval is fraught with problems. We would have to avoid hitting civilians, and if we attacked the chemical plants there is the danger of dispersal of those chemicals into the air. It is hugely important that the UN does show some leadership here." - Former Defence Secretary Lord King Daily Mail
  • "It's impossible not to feel the urge to act after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad massacred his own people. Especially when so many victims were children. And when it’s almost certain they were gassed. But it’s not that simple. Yes, the man is a monster. But before we take any action, we have to be certain what good it would do. General Sir David Richards, our top soldier until last month, is convinced it would be a waste of time — and of our already overstretched resources.
    When the Army speaks, politicians should listen." - The Sun Says
  • "As the West moves ever closer to a military strike against President Bashar Assad of Syria, one thing cannot be stated too vehemently: no decision to involve Britain should be taken without the express consent of Parliament." Editorial comment Daily Mail
  • "The Prime Minister seems to see in the crisis that has overtaken Syria his own Falklands moment, a chance to play the statesman and even warlord on the world stage. Almost everyone else, however, including the U.S. President, sees a hideously intractable situation in which we meddle at our peril." - Max Hastings Daily Mail
  • "A ceasefire is the greatest need, in which  power-sharing would be geographical with each side holding the territory it controls. Such a truce should put in place and monitored by UN teams. It might not cover all the country and would no doubt be frequently breached, but it would be better than the present bloody anarchy." - Patrick Cockburn The Independent
  • "Julian Lewis, one of the leading Tory critics of military action on the grounds that it would end up helping al-Qaida forces in Syria, said he could support a limited strike to punish the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons. Lewis told the Guardian: "If we can be satisfied that the Syrian government has carried out this atrocity using sarin gas there is an argument to be made for some sort of surgical military punishment strike to show the regime that such behaviour will not be tolerated in the 21st century. It sounds like what is being suggested is something similar to what was done against [Muammar] Gaddafi in 1986, when we facilitated the Americans bombing Libya in response to an outrage. It is generally agreed that from that time onwards, despite a lot of protests, Gaddafi started to mend his ways." - The Guardian
  • "By his own folly, Assad will have brought America’s military might down on his head. Just as the hapless leaders of Carthage underestimated the resolve of Rome, he will have forgotten that the authority of a superpower’s word is the one prize that any US president must, if necessary, defend with force. Otherwise, he would no longer be leading a superpower." David Blair Daily Telegraph

Tory MPs express doubts on fracking

"George Hollingbery, a parliamentary private secretary to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has warned that he will be “manning the barricades” if there is any danger posed to water supplies by shale gas exploration. Mr Hollingbery, the MP for Meon Valley in Hampshire, warned that gas fracking could be “disastrous” in his county because of the area’s fragile water supply." - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: Priti Patel's latest column: The Government must hold firm against anti-fracking extremists

GovemGove says Miliband is weaker than Kinnock..

"Ed Miliband’s failure to take on Labour’s union paymasters has left him looking ‘weaker than Neil Kinnock’, Michael Gove will warn today. In an attack on the Labour leader’s record, the Education Secretary will accuse him of letting powerful union barons drag the party back to the 1970s. Mr Gove – who has repeatedly clashed with teaching unions over radical school reforms – warns that the issue facing Mr Miliband is similar to that faced by Lord Kinnock in the 1980s when the hard-left Militant group was trying to take over the Labour Party." - Daily Mail

  • "The fallout from the row over the Falkirk selection, in which the Unite union was accused of seeking to fix the outcome, drew attention to that union’s openly “entryist” tactics, Mr Gove will claim. Like the Trotskyist Militant Tendency faction in the 1980s, Unite were seeking to take over “moribund” local parties, he will say. “While Kinnock moved bravely and remorselessly to eradicate Militant’s influence and Militant-sponsored MPs from Labour, Miliband has done nothing to stop the takeover of his own party.” - The Times (£)

...but Jackie Ashley says Miliband could still win

"Watching Mo Farah's brilliant re-run of his Olympic victory in the 10,000 metres at this year's World Championships, I felt uneasy at the way he hung at the back for the first few laps...Ed Miliband, a master of self-deprecation, would be the first to admit that he's no Mo Farah. But perhaps he shouldn't be making his supporters this nervous. With the right tactics and determination, he could still win gold in 2015, so long as he doesn't hold back for too long." - Jackie Ashley The Guardian

McveyEsther McVey and Nadhim Zahawi tipped for promotion

"Esther McVey, a former GMTV presenter and junior minister at the Department for Work and Pensions, is likely to be promoted to more prominent Government role by David Cameron, the Daily Telegraph understands. According to Whitehall sources Downing Street “just love putting a northern woman up on television to speak for the government”... Nadhim Zahawi, the Tory MP for Stratford-on-Avon, is also believed to be heading for a ministerial post. Mr Zahawi is seen as a reliable media performer who can both defend the Government and successfully attack Labour." - Daily Telegraph

Nicola Blackwood calls for tougher restrictions on child sex offenders

"Nicola Blackwood MP is tabling an amendment to a bill to create Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Orders, similar to anti-social behaviour orders. The Home Office said that it would consider the campaign's proposals." - BBC

Institute of Directors comes out against HS2

"A leading business lobby group has called on the government to abandon its controversial high-speed rail project. The Institute of Directors (IoD) said a survey of its members showed businesses were unconvinced by the economic case for HS2. The IoD's director general, Simon Walker, described the project as "one grand folly"." - BBC

  • HS2 "will not boost productivity" - Daily Mail
  • "Former friends are turning against the project. It is time a clear plan was articulated, with costs that are resilient and reliable, or else this argument will be lost." Leader The Times (£)

Tpalogo£2 billion paid in holiday taxes

"Brits have been forced to shell out £2BILLION to the taxman for taking holidays this year — or £56 EACH per trip. The jumbo sum flowing into Treasury coffers came after the Government covertly hiked a series of taxes on travel and relaxation. Holidaymakers were hardest hit by a rise in Air Passenger Duty, increases in VAT and insurance taxes...The figures — compiled by the TaxPayers’ Alliance — will grate on Brits facing a return to work today." The Sun (£)

News in brief

  • Give local councils ownership of third runway says Labour MP - Financial Times
  • Lord Hutton says benefits system is still rewarding the workshy - The Times (£)
  • 50,000 women a year who take maternity leave can't get their jobs back - The Independent
  • MPs step up campaign to break up RBS - Financial Times
  • Furniture from Margaret Thatcher's Belgravia home goes into storage - The Sun
  • 80 million letters a day arrive late - Daily Express
  • Badger cull begins - BBC


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