Conservative Home

« July 2013 | Main | September 2013 »

27 Aug 2013 08:30:49

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


> 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.

26 Aug 2013 08:30:52

Newslinks for Monday 26th August 2013

8.30pm ToryDiary "One Cabinet member voiced the previously-made claim that Samantha Cameron influences policy on Syria. Another said that for Britain to be dragged into the conflict would be "mad"." The Commons must have a say on any strike against Assad

Screen shot 2013-08-26 at 20.27.24
5.30pm WATCH: We're clear that the Assad regime was behind last week's chemical attack, says Hague

4pm On Comment, Tom Hunt explains why next year's Euro elections matter a great deal: "The momentum coming out of these elections will have consequences. In other words, the European elections should not be viewed in isolation; they are inextricably linked to the general election of 2015."

2.30pm Local Government: Pickles cuts Council Tax for granny flats

1pm LeftWatch: British taxpayers' money to be used in a new Greek bailout – another reason to give Brussels the boot

10am MPsETC: Bridgen, Wollaston and Stewart among the Tory MPs pushing for Parliament to have a say in any Syria action

ToryDiary: Compulsory voting? It's politicians, not the people, who need to change their ways

AGOn Comment, Sir Andrew Green, our former Ambassador to Damascus, argues that blundering into war in Syria would be pure foolishness"If the regime were to fall, the result would be chaos followed by a power struggle in which the jihadists would be a major player. Who can say who would then control Syria’s huge stock of chemical weapons?"

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

Paul Osborn on Local Government: Finding out who put up your council tax? Good luck with that

The Deep End: Theresa May versus the modern day slave trade

Syria 1): Missile strikes could happen "within days"


"Although the White House has not commented on any plans, British sources indicated plans were advanced and would be finalized in a matter of days. ... British government sources indicated the cruise missile blitz is likely to be short and sharp and will not signal an intention to get involved in the bloody civil war in Syria." - Daily Mail

> Today, by Sir Andrew Green on Comment: Blundering into war in Syria would be pure foolishness

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Will the National Union of Ministers form a bond over Syria?

Syria 2): UN inspectors allowed to visit chemical attack site

UN"The Syrian government has agreed to allow UN inspectors to investigate allegations of a suspected chemical weapon attack near Damascus. ... UK Foreign Secretary William Hague warned that evidence could have been tampered with, degraded or destroyed in the five days since the attack." - BBC

> Yesterday's video to WATCH: Syria to allow UN inspectors to visit chemical attack site

Syria 3): But the West could act without a UN mandate

"Given the absence of a UN mandate because of a split security council, the 1999 Nato Kosovo intervention would give the most apt precedent for action, on grounds of humanitarian intervention. ... Analysts and diplomats say the US will not want for justification for intervention if the White House decides on using force in Syria." - The Guardian

  • Russia warns America against bypassing the United Nation - Independent

Syria 4): Cameron contacts his European counterparts

Cameron"Mr Cameron and French President Francois Hollande said in a phone call that the 'crime must not be swept under the carpet'. ... In another phone call, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mr Cameron condemned the 'very grave' gas attack, saying there was 'little doubt' Assad was to blame." - The Sun (£)

Syria 5): MPs agitate for a recall of Parliament

"David Cameron was under pressure to recall Parliament last night to debate the Syrian crisis before Britain launches any missile strikes. ... Labour politicians, backed by Tory counterparts, said it was essential that MPs had their say on such a potentially momentous move." - Daily Mail

Syria 6): Paddy Ashdown says that the use of poison gas cannot go unpunished

"If the international community will not now find the means to make it clear that we will not tolerate the use of weapons of mass destruction, like poison gas, for the mass murder of innocent citizens, then the fragile structures of international law that we have painfully erected these last 20 years will be undermined, and the threat of the future use of weapons of mass destruction will be widened." - Paddy Ashdown, The Times (£)

Syria 7): A selection of other comment

  • TK"Britain and America are about to be sucked irreversibly into a cauldron of Middle East violence with unpredictable and potentially disastrous implications for world peace." - Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun (£)
  • "The Syrian government is a harder nut to crack than Muammar Gaddafi and his ramshackle state." - Patrick Cockburn, Independent
  • "For the Syrians’ sakes and for our own, we must not intervene" - Owen Jones, Independent
  • "If there are no limits in Syria, there will be none elsewhere" - David Gardner, Financial Times
  • "Britain can't act on Syria till it faces up to the spectre of Iraq" - John Kampfner, The Guardian
  • "Cruise missile strikes to destroy Assad’s airfields, chemical weapons delivery sites and other key targets may seem logical enough, but what then?" - Daily Mail editorial
  • "Failure to defend Syria’s civilians will mean that the fate of a captive population will be chosen not by themselves but by a psychopathic criminal regime." - Times editorial (£)
  • "The outcome of military intervention, probably missile attacks on government targets, is impossible to predict." - Daily Telegraph editorial
  • "...where there are questions about gassing and genocide, the conscience of people across Europe and America must surely be shaken." - Financial Times editorial
  • "...none of those advocating the use of force to expedite the fall of the Assad regime seems to have given much real thought to what kind of society they expect to replace the one that has been in power for several decades." - Independent editorial

"A British nuclear submarine has surfaced off Gibraltar as the row with Spain heats up, it was believed last night" - The Sun (£)

Another impediment to the MoD's plan for strengthening the Army Reserve

MOD"The Ministry of Defence wants the ban on operational staff in jails joining the reserve lifted as part of the drive to reach a trained Army Reserve of 30,000 by 2018. ... However, senior prison officials are concerned that reservist duties would create staffing problems which could threaten the stability of the overcrowded jail system." - The Times (£)

Ministers pledge to clamp down on benefits fraud – even beyond our shores

"Fraud investigators have been deployed to clamp down on the £60million a year lost to benefit crimes committed abroad. ... Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said: ‘We are determined to catch anyone who commits benefit fraud - where ever they are in the world when they lie about a claim is irrelevant.’" - Daily Mail 

Pickles' latest summer opponent: the "anti-car" councils

Pickles"Councils should ban speed bumps in town centres and provide more parking spaces for shoppers, Eric Pickles will announce today as he targets ‘anti-car’ measures. ... The Communities Secretary will tell local authorities their parking rules must aim to rejuvenate high streets, rather than raising revenue from ‘penalising’ drivers." - Daily Mail

  • "We need more politicians like Eric Pickles." - Sun editorial (£)
  • "Listen to Pickles" - Daily Telegraph editorial

And that's not all Pickles is up to – he's also planning a bungalow revolution

"Councils are to be urged to build a new generation of bungalows as part of a planning revolution to create bespoke homes for people aged above 65, Eric Pickles will announce this week. ... The Communities Secretary is to publish rules to make town halls match development to the type of accommodation needed locally to cater for the ageing population." - The Times (£)

Anna Soubry criticises Labour's management of the NHS in Wales

AS"Patients in England are four times more likely to receive new cancer drugs than those in Wales, according to ministers. ... Public health minister Anna Soubry said: ‘By protecting the NHS budget, we have been able to provide life-saving treatment to over 30,000 patients in England since the last election. ... Welsh patients will be outraged that their Labour Government won’t offer the same service.’" - Daily Mail

  • Doctors warn about Government quotas that are forcing top students to study medicine abroad -Daily Mail

"The head master of Eton College has questioned the value of Britain’s 'Victorian' exams system and suggested GCSEs should focus more on workplace skills" - Daily Telegraph

  • "A top performing A-level student has sent Education Secretary Michael Gove an open letter - warning his exam reforms will leave pupils worse educated" - Independent

The Electoral Commission warns about the Government's Lobbying Bill

"In a private briefing sent to interested parties, the commission says that it has 'significant concerns' about the coalition's lobbying bill, that some parts of it may be unenforceable and that it is not at all clear how the new restrictions affecting charities will work." - The Guardian

Boris: Britain must look beyond the EU and towards the Commonwealth


"Britain must rekindle its relationship with the Commonwealth countries that it 'betrayed' in favour of the European Union, says Boris Johnson. ... Writing for The Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson calls on the Government to open its doors to an unlimited number of Australian immigrants by setting up a 'bilateral Free Labour Mobility Zone'." - Daily Telegraph

Read Boris's Daily Telegraph article in full

We need wider terrorism laws, says Lord Blair

"Britain’s anti-terror legislation should be widened to cover the publication and passing on of official government secrets, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Blair has suggested. ... [He] told the BBC that someone could be assisting terrorists by publishing secret information – even if that was not their motivation." - Independent

Monetary Policy Committee member highlights the risks of forward guidance

"'The key point is that any policy can have risks as well as benefits,' Mr Weale said. 'The risk is that people in practice will interpret it as an increase in the inflation target. And obviously everyone at the BoE is doing their best to minimise that risk.'" - Financial Times

Outgoing Chief Rabbi warns that Britain is "losing the plot" as it becomes more secular

JS"Lord Sacks, who retires on Sunday, said society was failing to protect institutions such as marriage – with grave consequences. ... ‘I think we’re losing the plot actually,’ he said. ... ‘When you begin to lose faith and society becomes very, very secularised, you see a breakdown of institutions, whether they are financial or economic, or marriage as an institution.’" - Daily Mail

  • "An unholy war in the Guides and why we must all fight the secular bigots" - Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail
  • "Lord Sacks's mellifluous voice may have charmed millions. But he was unable convincingly to explain why the dignity of difference does not also mean the dignity of diversity." - Guardian editorial

Libby Purves: We are dumping society’s most vulnerable people in seaside towns

"The figures are damning: unemployment up to twice the national figure, family breakdown endemic and Ofsted confirming educational weakness (in Great Yarmouth 33 per cent of people have no qualifications). Blackpool has double the national proportion of children in care." - Libby Purves, The Times (£)

The badger cull begins in earnest today – protests are expected

Badger"Marksmen will begin culling thousands of badgers today amid a huge police operation to prevent disruption from protesters. ... Officers are braced for violent clashes between farmers and animal rights campaigners. ... Activists even plan to abuse health and safety rules by storming into cull sites, forcing shooters to hold their fire." - Daily Mail

Greece asks for another £8.6 billion – but won't accept more austerity

"Greece wants another £8.6billion bailout to stay afloat – but said  it will not accept any more  austerity measures. ... Finance minister Yannis Stournaras said the country requires more help on top of the  £206billion it has already received in two rescue packages." - Daily Mail

  • "Do not expect a Merkel win to be Europe's game changer" - Quentin Peel, Financial Times

News in brief

  • One-in-three care home businesses is at risk of going bust due to debts - Daily Mail
  • The average working week is 18 minutes longer than last year - Daily Mail
  • Voting should be compulsory for young people taking part in a general election for the first time, suggests IPPR - The Guardian
  • Give carers flexible working, says Andrew Marr - The Times (£)
  • Increasing pressure on the disgraced MSP Bill Walker to step down - The Times (£)
  • Pete Waterman backs HS2 - Daily Telegraph


> 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.

25 Aug 2013 08:48:43

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 (£)


> 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.

24 Aug 2013 09:00:23

Newslinks for Saturday 24th August 2013

7.30pm WATCH: Post Office workers prepare to strike

4.30pm On 8th July we published a piece by Andrew Bridgen MP, asking: Could Labour shoot the Government's fox – or, rather, its white elephant – HS2? We republish it today in light of increasing speculation that Labour will do just that.

12.45pm LeftWatch: Ed Balls so badly wants the Government to fail, he can't even celebrate Britain's successes

ToryDiary: The battle lines have been drawn over the minimum wage – but will the battle ever be fought?

Matthew Groves on Comment: Monarchy is the institution that holds this nation together

Local Government: Council by-election results from Thursday

Chemical weapon attacks in Syria are "not something that a humane and civilised world can ignore," says Hague


"The Foreign Secretary refused to rule out any response to Wednesday’s atrocity in Damascus. ... And he laid the blame for the attack – which is reported to have killed up to 1,700 people – squarely at the door of tyrant Bashar al-Assad. ... It comes as American media report that the U.S. military is preparing for a long-range missile attack on Syrian government targets." - Daily Mail

  • "Today’s America won’t pay to send troops to the other side of the world to sort out other countries’ problems" - Giles Whittell, The Times (£)
  • "The Arab Spring has failed because constitutional democracy needs nation-states" - Daniel Hannan, Daily Telegraph

Osborne hails yesterday's revised growth figure

Upturn"George Osborne last night declared that Britain ‘is on the right track’ after figures showed the economy is growing faster than previously thought. ... Output rose by 0.7 per cent between April and June, according to the Office for National Statistics. ... This is better than the 0.6 per cent  initially reported and more than double the 0.3 per cent seen in the first three months of the year." - Daily Mail

  • "Even when the economy grows, people find incomes stagnant, the cost of living rising and credit very expensive" - Times editorial (£)
  • "Stamp duty is unjust, and a brake on growth" - Daily Telegraph editorial

> Yesterday's video to WATCH: The ONS revises growth upwards

"A row has broken out between Downing Street and four national newspaper editors over their decision to publish candid pictures of David Cameron on a beach" - The Guardian

  • "Let’s hear it for David Cameron’s Mickey Mouse look" - Matthew Norman, Daily Telegraph

Hunt urges employers to support workers who care for elderly relatives

Jh"Employers should allow their staff who look after elderly parents to work flexible hours, Jeremy Hunt said last night. ... Mr Hunt warned large numbers of men and women currently have to give up work to look after relatives – and urged employers to act in order to avoid damage to the economy." - Daily Mail

  • "Either we forgo the fatty diet, or our NHS will have a heart attack" - Graeme Archer, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday, by Lord Flight on Comment: Don't let today's anti-business establishment freeze out tomorrow's entrepreneurs

Peter Bone calls for tougher immigration controls at Calais

"In a huge security downgrade,  Border Force officials no longer  photograph or fingerprint immigrants found stowing away in lorries at the Channel ferry port. ... Instead, they are handed to French police, who free them, enabling them to try again and again until they succeed. ... Tory MP Peter Bone last night called for the ‘extraordinary’ and ‘disturbing’ loophole to be closed." - Daily Mail

"Landlords have attacked plans to make them police the immigration status of new tenants, warning that the proposals were bureaucratic and unworkable." - The Times (£)

  • "...for all the rhetoric, far from being strengthened, Britain’s borders are continuing to crumble." - Daily Mail editorial

Taxpayers' cash 1): John Bercow's hotel bill

JB"John Bercow has billed the taxpayer for stays at some of the world’s most exclusive hotels, it emerged yesterday. ... Documents reveal that the Commons Speaker has stayed at a string of five-star establishments during official travels costing the taxpayer £96,000 since 2010." - Daily Mail

  • John Bercow turns entertainer as he mimics Tory colleagues - The Guardian

Taxpayers' cash 2): The MoD's phone bill

"The Ministry of Defence has rung up an astonishing £40,000 bill for using the speaking clock, despite imposing a ‘ban’ on the service. ... Staff at the cash-strapped department have made 130,000 calls to check the time during the past two-and-a-half years – equal to around 150 a day, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act." - Daily Mail

  • "If there was a competition to find the most pointless way of throwing taxpayers’ money away, the idea of spending £40,000 on the speaking clock would be dismissed as just too ridiculous." - Sun editorial (£)

Taxpayers' cash 3): The latest council non-job

Crystal healing"A Labour council has been blasted for wasting taxpayers’ cash by hiring a £22-an-hour crystal headling tutor. ... It is advertising the post to teach adult education courses. ... But campaigners said it was a 'non-job' and public money should be spent on training to help people find work." - The Sun (£)

  • "A council has become the first in the country to reveal it denies emergency hardship payments to tenants affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ if they are seen to spend too much on ‘luxuries’ such as cigarettes, alcohol and satellite television." - The Independent
  • "Bedroom Tax costing more than it saves as housing benefit bill soars by £1.5bn" - Daily Mirror

"I share the concerns about David Miranda's detention," says Nick Clegg

"...a balance must be struck between a libertarian "anything goes" approach, which sees new technology as a way to escape from the reach of the law, and an authoritarian view that sees technology as a new opportunity to intrude into our lives. ... As long as Liberal Democrats are in government, I will ensure that our individual rights are not cast aside in the name of collective security." - Nick Clegg, The Guardian

  • "Imagine that, after thorough scrutiny, the entire legal process turns out to have been hunky-dory. Would you then expect outspoken critics of Mr Miranda’s treatment to withdraw their protests? Of course not. They would at once re-frame them..." - Matthew Parris, The Times (£)

Danny Alexander announces more money for coastal towns

DA"Danny Alexander, the Treasury secretary, announced on Friday that funding for a government programme to boost growth in coastal areas would be increased by 5 per cent next year to £29m. The Coastal Communities Fund is financed by revenues the Crown Estate makes on marine activities, with the additional money available due to rising revenues from renewable energy such as offshore wind and tidal power, as well as from ship moorings." - Financial Times

The Lib Dems target rising living costs...

"A compulsory 'living wage' for government workers, a more generous childcare system and cheaper train travel for part-time workers are among Liberal Democrat proposals that aim to tackle rising living costs. ... The ideas will be put to delegates at the party’s autumn conference in Glasgow next month, where the leadership faces an expected grassroots uprising over its plan to stick with a £9,000 university tuition fees cap." - Financial Times

  • "On Friday Jo Swinson, the business minister, announced that from October any firm caught not paying the minimum wage by HMRC will be publicly identified" - The Guardian

> Today on ToryDiary: The battle lines have been drawn over the minimum wage – but will the battle ever be fought? does Ed Miliband

Pounds"Ed Miliband has blamed the last Labour administration for failing to properly address falling wages, promising to make it a priority for the next Labour government to introduce a national living wage. ... Speaking in Edinburgh, the Labour leader returned to one of his major themes by accusing David Cameron of presiding over an 'unprecedented living standards crisis'" - The Guardian

Might Labour withdraw its support for HS2?

"Labour’s leadership has put the coalition on notice that it will withdraw support for the controversial High Speed 2 rail line if costs continue to spiral. ... A day after Alistair Darling reignited a debate over the project by using an article in The Times to call for it to be halted, both Ed Miliband and Ed Balls made clear that their backing was conditional on the Government proving that the line would provide value for money." - The Times (£)

  • "If the Government remains committed to high speed rail, it must say so" - Times editorial (£)

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Scrap HS2 and scrap it now

Simon Heffer: Labour will let Red Ed lose, then simply dump him

EDM"What should the Labour leader do? His trump card is that there is no obvious person to replace him. ... After all, to resort to the titanic self-regard of business spokesman Chuka Umunna or the sententiousness of Yvette Cooper would simply be to hand the party over to another divisive upstart. ... And to give the job to Ed Balls would be to consign Labour to five more years in opposition on the spot." - Simon Heffer, Daily Mail

  • "There's no mystery why Ed Miliband hasn’t backed a referendum on our EU membership. ... He’s afraid of the result." - Sun editorial (£)

> Yesterday:

UKIP is less sexist than Labour and the Tories, claims UKIP candidate Janice Atkinson

"Janice Atkinson, a Tory defector who is one of UKIP’s top female candidates for next year’s European elections, says that she would never have joined the party if it was full of misogynists. ... 'If you think about the political parties and the type of people that belong to them, I came across more sexism in the Tory party than I ever have done in UKIP,' she says." - The Times (£)

  • "He describes the Prime Minister as 'pigeon-chested; the sort of chap I used to beat up' and says Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister — 'the other guy' — is a 'vacuous young man with no experience of anything'." - Godfrey Bloom is interviewed in the Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday, Iain Dale's column: UKIP – a ragtag and bobtail pressure group of well-intentioned and enthusiastic amateurs

Steve Richards: Scotland is going it alone – regardless of the referendum

Scotland"In its political culture and its powers to define what form that culture takes, Scotland is already so incomparably different from England that a form of separation is taking place in front of our eyes. ... Scotland is going its own way, a course of travel triggered in 1997 and with some distance to go." - Steve Richards, The Guardian

  • Pro-independence group paid academic to write opinion article for newspaper - The Independent

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Michael Fabricant is right, we must give political equality to England

News in brief

  • Nasdaq crash triggers fear of data meltdown - The Guardian
  • About one-in-five Britons have had their online accounts hacked - Daily Mail
  • Charity projects in Scotland receive nearly three times as much funding per head of population - Daily Mail
  • BT lobbies for legal changes over online pornography filters - Financial Times
  • Everyone to pay more to insure flood risk homes - Daily Telegraph
  • Judge refuses to let woman wearing burka enter a plea - The Times (£)

And finally... Boris's ambition for after he leaves politics? A rip-roaring romantic novel

"Boris Johnson has confessed he dreams of writing a 'rip-roaring' bonkbuster after he leaves politics. ... The London mayor joked he would use the pen name Rosie M Banks — a cheesy romance novelist in PG Wodehouse books." - The Sun (£)

  • And the Telegraph's Michael Deacon has somehow got his hands on an exclusive extract of this as-yet-unwritten book.


> 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