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19 Aug 2013 08:33:03

Newslinks for Monday 19th August 2013

5.45pm WATCH: HMS Westminster docks in Gibraltar

2pm Andrew Lilico on Comment: MPs are not "employed by voters to listen to voters' concerns"

Noon LeftWatch: "To paraphrase a great Norwegian: Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, Keir Hardie, Gordon Brown, Eddie Izzard, Len McCluskey...can you hear me, Polly Toynbee? Your boys took one hell of a beating." Picking up the slack: Labour's economic doomsayers are proved wrong, again

10.30am Nick Pickles on Comment: David Miranda's arrest shows why our anti-terror laws need a comprehensive overhaul

Grassroots voiceToryDiary: "The Party needs a plan either to revive membership or replace it (or follow a mix of both approaches).  Douglas Carswell has put forward some good ideas, and ConservativeHome will return to the subject.  A part of should be that all Party members vote on any future Coalition deal." Any proposal for a second Coalition should be put to all Party members - not just MPs

Jesse Norman's fortnightly column: "Committed MPs use the recess to good effect; they reconnect with their constituencies; they read, they write, they think and they recharge.  We can pretend that they don’t, or that they are all rogues, or that only Westminster matters.  But the result of this sloppy thought will be a worse politics." Reflections on a ramble through Herefordshire, and on the reporting of certain newspapers in London relative to that event

Brian Binley MP on Comment: Iran's President Rouhani is anything but a moderate

Local Government: Eric Pickles's end of term letter to Tory MPs

The Deep End: "In Britain there aren’t enough houses for people to live in, but in many parts of Germany there aren’t enough people to live in the houses." Population decline is real and happening in Europe right now

Cameron reviewing party rules to prepare for second coalition

"The Prime Minister has held private talks with Cabinet ministers over new Conservative Party rules which would make it easier to strike another deal. Under the plans, backbench Tories would be consulted on the new power-sharing agreement with the final text being put to them in a vote. Mr Cameron wants Conservative MPs to put their names to any second coalition agreement and “dip their hands in the blood”, a senior source said." - Daily Telegraph 

>Today: ToryDiary - Any proposal for a second Coalition should be put to all Party members - not just MPs

HS2 cost estimate rises to £80 billion

"The controversial new high-speed rail line will cost every household £3,000 and ‘defies economic logic’, an independent report has warned. Senior Tories were braced for a revolt against HS2 after a study found its price tag had soared to £80billion, double the official estimate. The report, released today, increased the pressure on David Cameron to abandon the scheme." - Daily Mail

Better times on the way: CBI upgrades growth forecasts

Growth ConHome"Employers' group the CBI has hiked its forecast for economic growth for this year – giving a further boost to hopes Britain is dragging itself from the post-recession doldrums. The body, which represents around 240,000 UK companies, raised its expectations for growth in gross domestic product from 1 per cent to 1.2 per cent during 2013 as confidence among business people increases. And for next year, the CBI reckons the economic recovery will gather pace with growth of 2.3 per cent compared with 2 per cent forecast previously." - Daily Mail 

  • Exports must rise - FT 
  • Private sector provide's record share of jobs - Daily Mail 

Anti-shale gas protestors celebrate as police fail to protect against them

PoliceDescribing himself as a ‘professional protester’ he said it was the 14th demonstration he had funded through claiming benefits.  He added: ‘We’re winning as they’ve already halted the drilling and we can stick it out here until it’s removed altogether. ‘The police can’t handle us and don’t want to deal with it. This is a waste of the police’s money and their time. They can’t win as we outnumber them and it’s too large a space to contain." - Daily Mail 

  • Local PCC must ensure police do their job - Mark Reckless, The Times (£) 
  • Energy truth versus greeny nonsense - The Times Leader (£) 
  • Councils want 10% of shale gas profits - The Times (£) 
  • Fracking boom drives US export success - FT 
  • 4,000 police officers to be trained in child protection - Daily Mail 

Promote marriage and end multiculturalism, says departing Chief Rabbi

“I think the Government has not done enough [to encourage marriage],” he told The Times. “Although I don’t take a party political stance ... I don’t think the Government has done enough at all. The State has an interest in marriage because the cost of family breakdown and non-marriage, the last time I looked at it, was estimated at £9 billion a year. [The Government] should certainly recognise marriage in the tax system, it should certainly give more support to mothers who stay at home, or for childcare provision. I don’t believe in getting involved in the details, but the principle is pretty clear.” - The Times (£) 

Thatcher biography is Tory MPs' top summer read

ThatChe"While last summer saw EL James's novel top the reading list of Tory MPs taking a summer holiday, this year's favourite was the hefty biography of Margaret Thatcher, by ex-Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore. There was little appetite for light reading this year, with another serious-minded tome - a biography of the political philosopher Edmund Burke written by fellow Tory MP Jesse Norman - coming in as second favourite, the ComRes survey revealed." - Daily Mail 

  • Lady Verma argues for more women in Parliament - The Guardian

>Today: Jesse Norman's fortnightly column - Reflections on a ramble through Herefordshire, and on the reporting of certain newspapers

Spanish flotilla protests in Gibraltarian waters

"It was hardly the Spanish Armada, but the Royal Navy and police raced into action yesterday when the Bay of Gibraltar was invaded by fishing and pleasure boats. Spanish fishermen were protesting over an artificial reef made of concrete blocks dropped on the seabed which, they say, ruins traditional fishing grounds." - Daily Mail 

Lobbying Bill carries unintended consequences

Commons"It is an open secret around Westminster that the proposals in this bill are a highly partisan attack on trade union relations with the Labour party. But as leaders of charities, churches and faith groups return from their holidays, they are starting to realise it could redefine activities they have always regarded as being far above party politics as election campaigning." - Frances O'Grady, The Guardian 

>Yesterday: ToryDiary - Will the Lobbying Bill give Cameron the power to close down ConservativeHome?

Australia is a test: do voters want conviction or empty spin?

"For Mr Abbott there is no embarrassment about conservatism’s right-wing character. He has diagnosed — correctly — that people don’t mind traditional conservative views on tax, immigration and welfare. What voters want is a broader conservatism rather than a wholly different kind. They largely want a more compassionate conservatism rather than a more liberal one. Voters want a conservatism that looks after the little guy and, whenever necessary, will cut big business or big government or other vested interests down to size." - Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£) 

  • Boris splashes down in the Great Barrier Reef - The Sun (£) 

>Yesterday: International - Abbott's Liberals "on track comfortably" to win Australia's election

Oops - Chuka uses fateful IDS quote in Miliband's defence

Chuka Bullingdon"Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna accused Mr Miliband’s Labour critics of ‘hysteria’ as Lord Prescott led a chorus of disapproval about his performance this summer. Responding to Lord Prescott’s criticisms, Mr Umunna said: ‘We are talking loud and of course we will be turning up the volume even louder. Mr Duncan Smith tried to answer his critics at the 2003 Tory conference by declaring: ‘The quiet man is here to stay and he is turning up the volume.’ He was ousted 20 days later." - Daily Mail 

>Yesterday: Dominic Raab MP on Comment - Miliband's cost of living gamble shows that he's out of ideas

News in brief

  • Cameron in talks with Stephen Fry over Russia - The Times (£) 
  • Chefs battle council busybodies for right to serve rare meat - Daily Mail 
  • 150 Britons are fighting with Syrian rebels - The Times (£) 
  • Chief Medical Officer took cannabis at university - Daily Mail 
  • Guardian journalist's partner detained at airport - The Guardian 
  • Chess champion Labour MP challenges UKIP Treasurer to a game - The Times (£) 
  • The Camerons holiday on the isle of Jura - Daily Mail 


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18 Aug 2013 09:00:04

Newslinks for Sunday 18th August 2013

Screen shot 2013-08-18 at International: " 'In two-party terms, the Coalition enjoys a 54-46 per cent lead and, if repeated across the board on election day, Labor would lose 14 seats,' Voice of Australia reports." Abbott's Liberals "on track comfortably" to win Australia's election

3.15pm Julian Mann on Comment: Is there a link between the NHS crisis and the decline of Christianity?

12.15pm Peter Cuthbertson on Comment: "Yes, it's simple and yes it's tediously intuitive and commonsensical ... but having more criminals in prison rather than outside prison really does cut crime." Slashing prisoner numbers would inflict misery on millions

ToryDiary: Will the Lobbying Bill give Cameron the power to close down ConservativeHome?

Dominic Raab MP on Comment: Miliband's cost of living gamble shows that he's out of ideas

It's a Black Sunday for Labour's leader

Welfff…Welllfff…Werrrffffff…Wwwuuufff: Miliband bans the W-word

Miliband ball and chain"Ed Miliband has banned the word “welfare” — in a bid to shake off Labour’s tag as the spongers’ party. He has ordered his MPs to use terms such as “social security” for state handouts. The Labour leader has been stung by taunts from David Cameron branding his outfit the Welfare Party. The PM’s jibes started after Labour opposed £83billion of benefit cuts — and the label stuck. Mr Miliband has told his troops to avoid “welfare” at all costs in speeches, TV interviews or Commons debates." - Sun on Sunday

Attack on Miliband 1) Former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott: Labour has "massively failed" to get its case across this summer

Screen shot 2013-08-18 at 08.49.20"Radical change is now required to shape up the policy of organisation and delivery alongside a clear set of policies and principles so people know what we stand for. There are millions of people looking to us as the only alternative to this heartless Coalition. So my message to Ed is this: You’re our Alex Ferguson. If Shadow Cabinet members aren’t pulling their weight, give them the hairdryer treatment and kick ’em out…Time is running out. We can still turn it around and win in the second half. But we need the very best team, week in, week out." - Sunday Mirror

  • Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint defends Miliband - The Observer

Attack on Miliband 2) Lord Glasman: he must show that he's a grown up

"At the very time when Labour should be showing the way ahead, it gives the impression of not knowing which way to turn. When the Labour battle bus should be revving up, it is parked in a lay-by of introspection. It is a time for Ed Miliband to show he is a grown-up politician big enough to lead this country. There is an open goal here for Labour. But if we are going to start scoring and winning, then Labour must learn to be a partner and friend to the good once more." - Mail on Sunday

And Attack Dog Grayling sinks his teeth in

Screen shot 2013-08-18 at 08.50.20"This week the Conservative Party will be making the case clearer than ever that they’re still the same old Labour. If you have a mortgage, you will be worse off under Labour…If you pay an energy bill, you will be worse off under Labour…All told, Labour’s borrowing would add an extra £2,960 in debt to every working family in Britain. The more you dig, the more their rhetoric on the cost of living rings hollow." - Sunday Telegraph

David Goodhart and the Netherlands' Labour Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher: So much migration puts Europe's dykes in danger of bursting

Screen shot 2013-08-18 at 08.52.08"In the Netherlands, an "orange alert" is issued when the country's rivers rise to alarming levels. The time has come to issue another kind of orange alert – one that warns about some of the negative consequences of the free movement of workers within the European Union. We need to watch out: in some places the dykes are in danger of bursting. There is a lack of urgency in Brussels on this question, which is why we strongly urge our European colleagues to put the downsides of the free movement of workers high on the agenda and tackle this issue together." - Independent on Sunday

Douglas Carswell: Our buddying up to the Egyptian generals is a disgrace

"The election of the Brotherhood set the legitimacy of the ballot box over and above that of any cleric. That, tragically, is what Egypt’s military coup overturned last month. Why were so many in London and Washington too blind to see it?…In Britain, foreign policy-makers – perhaps too deferential to Washington – have failed because they still seem to believe that diplomacy is a conversation between the world’s elites. In the age of Twitter, there are millions of others involved." - Mail on Sunday

> Yesterday: Zehra Zaidi on Comment - Amidst Egypt's turmoil and killings, the plight of the Copts is a sign of its endangered future

Once again, a newspaper carries the claim that Paterson wants to kill off HS2

Screen shot 2013-08-18 at 08.53.16"But this newspaper has established that several Cabinet Ministers – including, crucially, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson – have doubts about HS2.  A well-placed source said: ‘Owen’s view is that he will subject it to such tough environmental tests that he will kill off the whole thing.’ The CPRE analysis – published in the form of maps available online from today – will reinforce those who agree with Mr Paterson. And the doubts have spread to senior figures in other parties." - Mail on Sunday

Plan to sell heath records to medical firms

"Phil Booth, of campaign group medConfidential, said: ‘They are presenting this as some anodyne thing that’s only going to be used for health research. But this is a massive re-engineering of how everybody’s medical records are going to be used. It is an unprecedented threat to our medical confidentiality.’ Mr Hunt believes that allowing universities and private groups access health information easier will attract pharmaceutical companies and life sciences firms to the UK." - Mail on Sunday

  • Midwife crisis will 'let down' a whole generation of new mothers - The Observer

Charities in revolt over curbs on election cash

Maude Francis V Neck"A new lobbying law, championed by Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, has provoked an angry reaction from charities because it cuts by more than half the amount they can spend to promote their causes during elections. The bill, which ministers argue will be a “benefit to society as it curbs undue influence”, places voluntary organisations under the same restrictions as trade unions. Organisations including Oxfam and the campaigning group 38 Degrees met last week at the headquarters of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association union to discuss how to fight the plans." - Sunday Times (£)

Lord Lamont warning over buy-to-let market

"Lord Lamont, chancellor during the last recession in the 1990s, has warned ministers to be wary of the sudden growth in the buy-to-let property market which he fears could collapse, causing wider economic catastrophe. The rapid boom in the market should not be a cause of unqualified celebration, he warns, speaking to the Observer, because of the impact that an inevitable rise in interest rates will have on lenders and buyers." - The Observer

David Willetts: In the race for scientific prowess we mustn't leave the arts behind

Willetts D DP"It is not just a matter of designing a low-carbon vehicle – you have to understand what makes people choose to drive it, or not.As soon as you are dealing with human behaviour you need the humanities. And above all, the arts and humanities are worthwhile in their own right. We should never lose the study of subjects such as medieval philosophy or ancient languages from our universities, because they enrich our understanding." - The Observer

Dominic Lawson gives Sunday Times readers details of the dottiness of the anti-fracking nutters

"After writing an earlier article on this topic I received an email from one anti-fracker telling me I should do a “bit more research” and revealing that “Balcombe residents’ water is already contaminated — coming out of the taps black — and they are being provided with bottled water”. When I asked him to provide further particulars of this astonishing “fact”, answer came there none, thus indicating that this “research” came from a source close to its propagator’s imagination." - Sunday Times (£)

  • Fracking in UK’s interest, says Cuadrilla’s Browne - Sunday Telegraph
  • 50-year-old fracking site next to a nature reserve which has provided enough gas and oil to power 21,000 homes every day...with no complaints from locals - Mail on Sunday

News in Brief

  • Screen shot 2013-08-18 at 08.57.13Nicholas Soames protests at "absurd" Commons egg ban - Mail on Sunday
  • Million pound Lords refit - Sun on Sunday
  • Incinerators threatening recycling - The Observer
  • Scottish civil servants' tax perk - Independent on Sunday
  • Prince Charles puts "moles" in Whitehall - Independent on Sunday
  • Scotland Yard examines new evidence on Diana's death - Sunday Telegraph
  • Mark Pritchard divorce Wikipedia claims - Mail on Sunday
  • Cars destroyed by fire after being left on Spanish side of Gibraltar frontier - Sunday Express
  • Galloway to make 600 per cent profit on London house with five double-bedrooms, three bathrooms and 70ft garden "filled with expensive antique furniture, plush rugs, chandeliers and four poster beds"  - Mail on Sunday

And finally…News in Brief Cameron Summer Season Special Extra:


> 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.

17 Aug 2013 09:20:47

Newslinks for Saturday 17th August 2013

6.30pm WATCH: Gibraltar's chief minister says that the dispute between Spain and the UK is "manufactured"

3pm Local Government: Council by-election results from yesterday

11.45am Lucius Winslow on Comment: For all our problems, let’s keep calm on crime

ToryDiary: Party membership data has much to teach us about how well – or how badly – we campaign

Zehra Zaidi on Comment: Amidst Egypt's turmoil and killings, the plight of the Copts is a sign of its endangered future

Cameron calls Brussels for support over Gibraltar


"David Cameron demanded ‘urgent’ action from Brussels last night over Spanish meddling with Gibraltar. ... He phoned European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to tell him to send observers to the border immediately, rather than wait until next month as Brussels has suggested. ... The Prime Minister repeatedly reminded the chief Eurocrat it is his job to ensure EU law is upheld." - Daily Mail

  • "Britain's involvement in the EU is too entrenched to achieve any reform" - Robin Harris, Daily Mail

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Is Cameron and Merkel's EU rebel alliance really a new hope?

And speaks to his European counterparts about Egypt

Flag 2"An emergency summit of foreign ministers will take place in Brussels next week. ... On Friday, Mr Cameron spoke to Francois Hollande, the French president, after which the two leaders demanded an immediate end to the violence and a Europe-wide response to the killings." - Daily Telegraph

  • "All coups end in petty tyranny, however good the intentions" - Daniel Hannan, Daily Telegraph

> Today, by Zehra Zaidi on Comment: Amidst Egypt's turmoil and killings, the plight of the Copts is a sign of its endangered future

But if you want to speak to the Prime Minister, it could cost a cool £6,000

"Businessmen are being offered access to David Cameron for £6,000 at the Conservative conference – while ordinary party members are sidelined. ... A brochure for businessmen wanting to meet the PM has revealed that only 38 per cent of the attendees at the last Tory conference were party members." - Daily Mail

"Only a third of people attending Tory conference are party members"

"Lobbyists and other commercial visitors now almost outnumber grassroots Conservatives at conference. Thirty-eight per cent of people attending the conference are party members, while 36 per cent are from commercial or charitable organisations. The disclosure will add to fears that the party’s rank-and-file membership is collapsing, handing more power to a few wealthy financial backers and professional politicians" - Daily Telegraph

Is Tory membership below 100,000? Daniel Hannan thinks so...

DH"The number of households receiving my newsletter since I was elected 15 years ago has fallen by 70 per cent. National party membership when I became an MEP – these things stick in your mind – was 330,000. Which gives us a ballpark figure of less than 100,000 members across the country. In early 1950s, there were nearly 3 million." - Daniel Hannan, on his Telegraph blog

"It's no wonder the Tories are losing members when Conservative associations appear to be stuck in the Fifties" - Graeme Archer, Daily Telegraph

  • "As Conservative Party membership plummets to as low as 100,000, competition is growing in particular for the support of disaffected young people on the right. For them, like older ex-Tories, there is Ukip. But alternative outlets are increasingly diverse in the digital age." - Independent

> Today on ToryDiary: Party membership data has much to teach us about how well – or how badly – we campaign

Ministers tell councils: thanks to Europe, we need to scrap weekly bin collection

Wheelie bin"Traditional weekly rubbish collections must be scrapped to meet European recycling regulations, ministers have told councils. ... Under the new rules, more than 100 areas which still have traditional weekly bin rounds will lose them, to be replaced by fortnightly collections or similarly complicated rationing and recycling methods." - Daily Mail

Mark Hoban hails a fall in the number of workless people

"The number of workless people has plunged by 400,000 since the last election, figures show. ... A minister claimed that the government’s welfare reforms were behind the fall in the number of those either not in work or not even looking for a job. ... Much of the reduction is down to a fall in the numbers of people inactive because of long-term sickness." - Daily Mail

  • Number of people starting job schemes fell by 8 per cent over three years, according to report - Independent

Nick Clegg quietly lends his support to fracking...

"Mr Clegg’s team argues in a paper ahead of the Glasgow event that there is 'value' in promoting domestic production of gas rather than imports, despite unease over fracking among many Lib Dem members. ... The document takes a more cautious tone than David Cameron’s aggressive promotion of shale gas exploration, playing down the prospect of a US-style revolution in domestic energy supplies." - Financial Times

  • "Energy consumption plunged by a quarter in England and Wales betweeen 2005 and 2011 as spiralling fuel bills forced households to cut back on energy use." - Financial Times the Battle of Balcombe rages on: fracking company scales back its operations after protests

Fracking"Police were accused of bowing to the mob last night as campaigners brought drilling at a potential fracking site to a halt. ... Hardcore activists celebrated as energy bosses announced they would ‘scale back’ operations in Balcombe on the advice of the police. The controversial decision came as senior officers feared an influx of another 1,000 protesters." - Daily Mail

"The Church of England has warned against 'cowboys and cavaliers' digging up the countryside in exploitative fracking processes but also criticised 'blanket opposition' to new fuel sources." - The Times (£)

  • "At last, Church and State are noticing that fanatics have been steering the fracking debate in the wrong direction - Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • "Mob rule cannot win the day on fracking" - Daily Mail editorial

> Yesterday:

Tom Watson urges Miliband: publish the report into Unite and Falkirk

Tom Watson"Senior Labour MP Tom Watson has accused Labour of botching its response to the Unite controversy in Falkirk, saying his party has been guilty of a "huge injustice". The former general election co-ordinator said the party had created a storm in a teacup by calling in police over allegations that Unite tried to stitch up the selection of Labour's candidate to fight a byelection. ... Watson said he agreed with Miliband that the party needed to be more transparent and called on his leader to publish the report into the Falkirk allegations in full." - The Guardian

The full Tom Watson interview

  • "These claims are potentially very difficult for Mr Miliband." - Guardian editorial

And what's this? Labour will introduce the rent controls that Unite have asked for, suggests Jack Dromey

"Labour backed controversial rent control plans — days after paymasters Unite told it to support the policy. ... Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey told a private party meeting he supports proposals to slap strict limits on rent rises 'without hesitation'. ... A recording of Mr Dromey reveals him enthusiastically backing the idea at the behind-closed-doors meeting." - The Sun (£)

  • "One day the Unite union urges Ed Miliband’s party to demand rents be capped to foil profiteering landlords. ... A week later it happens." - Sun editorial (£)

Yet more discontent among Miliband's backbenchers: Keith Vaz criticises his party's stance on immigration

"A former Labour minister has rebuked his party for taking part in a political 'war of words' over immigration, including its attempts to 'lecture' companies about recruiting too many foreign workers. ... In an article for his local newspaper, Vaz said: 'It is not an answer to lecture companies such as Next on where they should recruit their workers from.'" - The Guardian

And Jack Straw chips in, too

JS"Ed Miliband needs to 'turn up the volume' and prove that he, not the trade unions, runs the Labour Party, a former Cabinet minister has warned. ... Jack Straw, who was Foreign Secretary under Tony Blair, made the plea as a current Shadow Cabinet minister set out a series of measures that Labour could deploy to attract voters." - The Times (£)

The full Jack Straw interview (£)

Cut stamp duty and the Treasury won't lose a penny, claim the Taxpayers' Alliance

"Stamp duty could be slashed to help struggling homeowners - and the government would not lose a penny, an analysis has found. ... Campaigners say the cut would stimulate house buying and building, creating more jobs and raising the amount received from income tax, national insurance and VAT." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Please, Chancellor, don't be tempted to extend Help to Buy in the Tory manifesto

The Chairman of the Independent Schools Council criticises universities' state school policy

"Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council (ICS), claimed it was ‘so wrong’ that institutions are asked to set targets on the numbers of state school and poorer youngsters they recruit. ... Many university modern language departments would ‘be forced to close’ if it were not for private school students, he insisted." - Daily Mail

We need more funding to properly care for the elderly, GPs tell survey

GP"Most GPs fear they will not be able to give elderly patients proper care, leading doctors have said. ... More than four in five think that ‘spiralling workloads and dwindling resources’ will make it increasingly hard to help vulnerable older people, a poll by the Royal College of General Practitioners found." - Daily Mail

  • The Government is treating the NHS like a "failing bank", claims the Lancet - The Guardian

Civil servants spared tax on their perks

"Some senior civil servants are having their tax bills paid on benefits such as official cars and accommodation, it has emerged. Whitehall departments are picking up tax charges related to perks for a number of senior officials, when this would often be paid by employees themselves in the private sector." - The Guardian

  • "More than one-third of civil servants believe the Government is botching its attempt to cut the size of Whitehall by allowing the most talented workers to leave." - Independent

News in brief

  • Economic optimism is at its highest level for three years, according to poll - Daily Mail
  • The number of students achieving A* grades at GCSE has quadrupled in nine years - Daily Mail
  • Offshore gaming tax rule to net £300 million - The Guardian
  • All five Respect councillors in Bradford have resigned to be independents, after George Galloway reveals London Mayor ambitions - Independent
  • Justin Welby refuses roles as a patron of the RSPCA - The Times (£)
  • Philip Pullman criticises Michael Gove for putting too much emphasis on spelling and grammar - The Times (£)
  • Andrew Marr has made his first public speaking appearance since suffering a stroke - Daily Telegraph
  • Stuart Wheeler reckons UKIP would be finished without Farage - Daily Telegraph

And finally... The donation intended to pay off our national debt

Pounds"The £500,000 bequest from the former nurse Joan Edwards that embarrassed the government this week has been left in the shade by an anonymous donation of the same size made 85 years ago – which is now worth £350m. ... The donor specified that the fund should be held in trust until the country had collected enough money to pay off the whole debt, which currently stands at £1.2tn." - Financial Times

  • "Leaving money to a government is odd, but praiseworthy" - Financial Times editorial
  • "Wealthy individuals should take after those who quietly donate some of their gains to benefit the nation" - Guardian editorial


> 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.

16 Aug 2013 08:35:08

Newslinks for Friday 16th August 2013

6.15pm WATCH: The UK would be "rather better" at regulating fracking than the US, reckons Tim Yeo

Flip Flop Miliband4.30pm LeftWatch: Ed Miliband's back from holiday - which explains his welfare flip-flops

4pm Jackie Doyle-Price: on Comment: Why the closure of Tilbury power station should set alarm bells ringing in government

3.15pm ToryDiary: "All the signs suggest that we are being prepared for David Cameron to be able to present a negotiated success after EU meetings in the autumn, backed by Angela Merkel. This week's coverage reads like the preamble for just such a PR drive. But while eurosceptic noises from the German Chancellor are welcome, there are reasons for us to be wary."Is Cameron and Merkel's EU rebel alliance really a new hope?

1pm ToryDiary: There’s a conservative case for reducing prison numbers – Conservatives ought to talk about it

Noon Brian Monteith on Comment: What is Labour going to do about "Labour for Independence" – that SNP-driven front?

ToryDiary: Please, Chancellor, don't be tempted to extend Help to Buy in the Tory manifesto

IDIn his latest column, Iain Dale's asks: did I ever tell you about the time I felt my buttocks needed to be a bit perkier? "Having learned more than I ever needed to about Andrew Pierce’s follically-challenged head, in Saturday’s Daily Mail he regaled us with tales of how he injects botox into his armpits to stop him sweating so profusely. Can you imagine if any politician had written about such things? Piercey would have spent his entire column ridiculing them."

Karen Lumley MP on Comment: Banning lads' mags is no step forward for women

Local Government: Cumbria County Council bans opposition councillors from meetings

The Deep End's Heresy of the Week: Middle England is a different place from the Tory heartlands

Tougher subjects; a decline in As and A*s; 386,000 students accepted onto university courses – the papers cover yesterday's exam results

Exam"Teenagers switched in their droves from communication studies, PE and general studies in favour of tougher subjects such as maths, economics and the sciences. ... Overall, 26.3 per cent were awarded the top two grades – down 0.3 per cent on last year, the second biggest fall in A-level history. ... There was a modest rise this year in A* to B grades to 52.9 per cent, which helped fuel a record 386,000 students winning places at university..." - Daily Mail

"The dismal science of economics has experienced a surge in popularity since the recession, with a 50 per cent increase in candidates studying the subject at A-level since the credit crunch first hit in 2007." - Financial Times

  • Telegraph"The drop in A-level grades indicates that Michael Gove's reforms are having an effect" - Daily Telegraph editorial
  • "For those who did well in exams the A level is a prized currency. It is important, however, to cater for those who do poorly." - Times editorial (£)
  • "It’s not often an apparent drop in educational standards is promising news. ... But the fall in the number of top A-level grades will help restore faith in our 'gold standard' exam." - Sun editorial (£)
  • "...even the dip in A*s reflects a positive trend, namely that more students are taking trickier “core” subjects rather than easier options such as media studies or PE." - Independent editorial
  • "Even among some ministers who talk about the importance of broadening access, there is a perception that Britain has in practice a two-tier university system..." - Guardian editorial

> Yesterday:

Cameron plans to concentrate on benefit curbs during EU negotiations

"Downing Street will put curbing the right of EU migrants to benefits at the heart of impending discussions with Brussels aimed at winning back powers for Britain. ... In recent months the Government has made significant headway building a pan-European agreement on benefit reform. ... Some MPs want David Cameron to go public over the progress as soon as the German elections are out of the way on September 22..." - The Times (£)

As the Mail hails Merkel's support for our Prime Minister


"How inconvenient for the Prime  Minister’s opponents that he can now point to the support of the most influential country in mainland Europe. ... Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, announced on Wednesday that she wants talks on whether the European Union should ‘give something back’ to member states this autumn." - Daily Mail editorial

  • "Even Germany is adding its voice to a campaign for a reformed EU" - Daily Telegraph editorial
  • "Merkel’s re-election will be a victory for austerity and unshowy politics" - Times editorial (£)

And the FT describes the eurozone's return to growth as a "cause for relief"

Euro"The eurozone’s two largest economies grew at a respectable pace in the second quarter: an annualised rate of 2.8 per cent in Germany; a surprisingly good 2 per cent for France. This puts an end to six quarters of contraction in the single-currency area. A patchwork of problems remains to be tackled but the eurozone’s return even to modest growth – 1.2 per cent annualised – is cause for relief." - Financial Times editorial

> Yesterday:

Eric Pickles' war on wheelie bins

Wheelie bin"Every new home should have a hiding place for a wheelie bin to stop streets being blighted by ‘ugly clutter’, Eric Pickles said yesterday. ... The Local Government Secretary called for ‘bin-tidy’ spaces to be built into the front of houses and flats, or for space to be made available for bins in the back yard." - Daily Mail

Ministers applaud a 6 per cent increase in housebuilding

"The government has declared an end to the half-decade slump in housebuilding after cheap borrowing and the Help to Buy scheme prompted a 6% increase in the start of work on new homes in the three months to June. ... The communities minister, Brandon Lewis, hailed figures showing that housing starts rose to 29,510 in the second quarter of 2013 as evidence that the market had turned the corner." - The Guardian

  • "Here’s how to avoid thousands in tax - don’t buy a house" - Matthew Sinclair, Daily Telegraph

> Today on ToryDiary: Please, Chancellor, don't be tempted to extend Help to Buy in the Tory manifesto

> Yesterday on Local Government: Why does Labour oppose converting offices to homes?

But the number of people waiting for hospital treatment has risen too

NHS"The number of patients waiting for hospital treatment is at a five-year high, with almost 2.9 million people on the list. ... Figures for June show the waiting list for operations and other admissions in England has grown by nearly a quarter of a million since the same time last year." - The Guardian

"Only 3.6 per cent of prisoners referred to the Government’s work programme found lasting jobs in the first year the scheme operated" - The Times (£)

Douglas Carswell, and others, criticise ruling that has allowed a convicted terrorist to stay in the UK

"He cannot be booted out of the UK because his ‘life and liberty’ are judged to be in jeopardy if he returns to his home country, where he was convicted in 1993 of complicity in the bombing of Algiers airport, which killed nine people. ... Mr Carswell added: ‘It’s not just AH who should be in the dock, it is the immigration tribunal system which prevents us from removing a convicted killer.’" - Daily Mail

  • The family of Abu Qatada have now also left the UK for Jordan, after dropping bid to stay - Daily Mail

Julian Brazier questions the computer system used for recruiting Army reservists

JBThe overall strength of the Army Reserves has dropped 5.3 per cent in the past year, from 25,460 to 24,110. ... “What we are hearing from units is that they are getting plenty of applicants but the computer system is not working properly,” [Julian Brazier MP] said. “They are losing large numbers who are waiting to get in and can’t. We are very concerned about it.” - The Times (£)

The Tories should talk about race, says Shaun Bailey

"Shaun Bailey, a Tory and former Downing Street aide, spoke out after a survey showed Britain's minority ethnic vote might determine the outcome of the 2015 election. ... The Tories still have to 'win the political game' by persuading people 'you can join us, we are no more or less racist than the other bunch', he told a Telegraph podcast." - The Guardian

"Prime Minister David Cameron’s target of a third of his ministers being female risks a 'tokenism’ reshuffle" - Isabel Hardman, Daily Telegraph

Tell Obama to end military aid to Egypt, says Douglas Alexander to ministers

Flag 2

"British ministers are being urged by Labour to press Barack Obama to halt the supply of arms to Egypt because of the 'horrific bloodshed' that has cost hundreds of lives. ... Douglas Alexander, the shadow Foreign Secretary, also called for a European Union meeting to review all the aid it gives to the Egyptian government." - Independent

"The Egyptian capital Cairo is poised for renewed protests as supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi call for marches after Friday prayers. ... It comes two days after authorities broke up Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in the Egyptian capital with the loss of at least 638 lives." - BBC

  • "The world’s policeman isn’t answering calls" - John O'Sullivan, The Times (£)
  • "Barack Obama declines to correct his Egyptian mistake" - Ian Bremmer, Financial Times
  • "Egypt risks meltdown in the wake of such needless army brutality" - Shashank Joshi, Daily Telegraph
  • "The generals’ killing spree is a reckless denial of the lessons from the Arab spring" - The Economist

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: We may not be able to solve Egypt's crisis, but we should stop making it worse

Philip Collins: Miliband should argue for his egalitarian vision

PC" is not good advice to ask, in the abstract, what Mr Miliband should do. That question carries the invisible rider 'assuming he agrees with me'. The right question is: 'How do we help to get the best Ed Miliband we can?' The advice offered has to be something that the leader can realistically do, given who he is." - Philip Collins, The Times (£)

Nigel Farage distances himself from Stuart Wheeler's remarks about women in business

"He made the comments after the Stuart Wheeler, the Ukip party treasurer, claimed that women are not competitive enough for the board room. ... Speaking to The Telegraph, Mr Farage distanced himself from Mr Wheeler's comments. He suggested instead that women chose not to 'sacrifice' their family life for business success." - Daily Telegraph

"Salmond's government has been accused of misleading voters over the viability of its plans for joining Nato while also closing down the Trident nuclear base" - The Guardian

Mass protest planned for fracking site

Fracking"Around 1,000 protesters, including anarchist groups, plan to descend  on the Balcombe drilling site next week. ... They plan a five-day ‘Reclaim the Power’ camp in the Sussex village, attended by veterans of the violent Dale Farm eviction in October 2011." - Daily Mail

  • "Cuadrilla, the fracking company, is temporarily suspending operations in the West Sussex village of Balcombe as anti-shale protesters gear up for a campaign of 'mass civil disobedience' near its drilling site." - Financial Times
  • Church wants share of fracking bounty - The Times (£)

Now the Charity Commission finds its own spending under question

"The watchdog, which received £22million of taxpayer cash this year, recently criticised wasteful spending by UK charities. ... But details of its spending on corporate credit cards, released under Freedom of Information laws, reveals that the Commission has racked up bills of more than £38,000 in less than two years at exclusive hotels." - Daily Mail

Ian Birrell: Forget the nostalgia for British Rail – our trains are better than ever

Train"For all the defects of a rushed privatisation, rail has evolved into a privately run public transport system playing a critical and successful role in the economy. The reality could hardly be more different to perception: passenger numbers booming, productivity rising, the number of services soaring, and customer satisfaction at near-record highs. Even those hated fare rises are not all they seem." - Iain Birrell, The Guardian

News in brief

  • Jeremy Hunt could make £15 million from the sale of his company, becoming the richest Cabinet minister - Daily Mail
  • BBC bosses may have misled the inquiry into the Jimmy Savile scandal, suggests the inquiry's director - Daily Mail
  • Ukip accepts £25,000 donation from e-cigarette firm - The Guardian
  • Mervyn King's leaving gifts from the Bank of England included a £10,000 portrait (that the Bank paid for itself) - Financial Times
  • Wales is the prescription capital of Britain - Daily Telegraph

And finally 1)... Gimme back my chains!

"...the Mayor of Mansfield insists that his ceremonial chains are not items of anachronistic "bling" after being stripped of the historic baubles by a group of Labour councillors. ... In what is becoming an increasingly bad tempered and personal spat, Mr Egginton's opponents have now ordered that the civic jewels are locked up in a council safe until the dispute is resolved." - Independent

And finally 2)... Ed Miliband tops a very scientific Sun poll of the leaders you'd most like to egg

Egg"The Labour chief was splatted for real at an east London market on Wednesday so we took along pictures of the four main party supremos to EGHAM in Surrey. ... As our main picture shows, ten of the chuckers went for Ed, six for Tory PM David Cameron, four lined up Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and two had UKIP’s Nigel Farage in their sights." - The Sun (£)

  • "Poor Ed Miliband, he couldn’t even come out decisively against an egg being chucked at his head." - Mark Steel, Independent

> Yesterday on MPsETC: Heath's egg joke


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