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14 Sep 2013 08:53:50

Newslinks for Saturday 14th September 2013

4pm ToryDiary: "This proposal for a plastic bags tax is a cynical, gimmicky piece of green wash." A plastic bag tax would hit the poor and small shops but wouldn't help the environment

2pm Brian Monteith on Comment: Scottish Conservatives facing a humiliation

1pm MPsETC: Lorraine Fullbrook announces she is standing down as MP for Ribble South at the next election

10am WATCH: UKIP founder Alan Sked launches New Deal party

ToryDiary: It's the standard of living, stupid

Tobias Ellwood on Comment: We need two aircraft carriers to be a military power of the first rank

MailplasticGovernment to force shops to charge for plastic bags

"Shoppers are to be charged 5p for plastic bags in supermarkets and other large stores. The move by ministers is a victory for the Daily Mail’s Banish the Bags campaign which has highlighted the menace of  carrier bags. The Government gave the stores an ultimatum that if they couldn’t curb the use of bags by voluntary efforts, they would be forced to act. But after a brief reduction, the past two years have seen a sharp rise in the use of throwaway bags – to a shocking seven billion a year." - BBC 

Hague to hold fresh talks on Syria

"Foreign Secretary William Hague is to hold fresh talks with his American and French counterparts on Monday to discuss Syria. Mr Hague will travel to Paris to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry and French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, the Foreign Office said." - BBC

LibdemlogoMore polling woes for Lib Dems

"Three quarters of voters will not support the Liberal Democrat party whatever it does, an unpublished internal party poll suggests. A senior Lib Dem source said the party believes leader Nick Clegg personally enjoys strong support among the remaining quarter of voters." - BBC

  • "Nick Clegg has brushed off a suggestion by a leading internal critic that the Lib Dems should consider ditching him as leader to avert electoral disaster. Lord Oakeshott, an ally of Vince Cable, said Mr Clegg's personal ratings were "very poor" and the party had to break with the Tories as soon as possible. Mr Clegg said the peer always attacked him "at this time of year" and his leadership was not under threat." - BBC
  • "Nick Clegg has warned his Liberal Democrat critics they would put Britain’s economic recovery at risk and score a huge political own goal if they defeat him in a crunch vote on the economy at his party’s conference starting on Saturday." - The Independent

GuardiancableCable pushes for increase in minimum wage...

"Vince Cable, the business secretary, is to press for an increase in the minimum wage amid concerns that the economic recovery is failing to lift living standards for large parts of the workforce. Cable is to ask the Low Pay Commission to restore its value, which he calculates has fallen in real terms by 10-12% since the crash of 2008." - The Guardian

  • "The Liberal Democrats will this weekend attempt to boost their ratings at the conference by "lifting the veil" on their conflicts with the Conservatives in the Coalition. Ministers will speak publicly about their behind-the-scenes clashes with the Tories over issues such as a mansion tax, Trident, immigration bonds and Europe. "We're going to fight them tooth and nail at the next election," a party source said." - Daily Telegraph

Telegraphpay...while Alexander backs pay rises

"Workers in the private sector deserve pay rises to ensure that they “share in the success” of the recovering economy, says Cabinet minister. Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, supports employees who seek pay rises to offset the squeeze on salaries they endured during the downturn. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, he insists that the Government will not interfere in pay deals, but lends moral support to workers seeking to raise their salaries." - Daily Telegraph

Jeremy Browne Romanian immigrants in the UK to Britons buying holiday homes in France

"A Home Office minister caused anger last night after comparing Britons who buy holiday homes in France to Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants planning to live in the UK. The remarks by Jeremy Browne, the Liberal Democrat Crime Prevention Minister and a senior figure in his deparment, were immediately dismissed as “bonkers” and “total nonsense”. Expat and pensioner groups said it was absurd to liken Britons supporting themselves overseas to immigrants coming to the UK without the means to pay their way. Asked if the Lib Dems would be enthusiastic about further Eastern European immigration, he said: “They are only complying with the same rules as British people who live in Spain or have holiday houses in France or who work in Germany.” - The Times (£)

Laws backs in/out EU referendum

"Britain should hold a referendum on whether to stay in the European Union if there is a “material change” in relations with Brussels, according to Nick Clegg’s closest ally. The commitment is to be written into the Liberal Democrat manifesto, according to David Laws, its chief author, clearing a major obstacle in the path of a second coalition deal with the Tories. Speaking at the start of the party’s annual gathering in Glasgow, Mr Laws said that the Liberal Democrats would go farther than the “referendum lock” that was agreed with the Tories in 2010. They would hold a full in-out referendum if the British relationship with the EU changed, he said." - The Times (£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Deficit reduction. The EU referendum. Justice for England - top "red lines" for any future Coalition talks

GreenpartylogoGreen Party say Labour fail to provide alternative to coalition

"Party leader Natalie Bennett has told supporters the Greens are the only alternative to the "indistinguishable" big Westminster parties. She predicted a change in British politics as voters look to parties like hers and UKIP for "new answers". The party is training activists at its annual conference in Brighton how to emulate UKIP's recent success." - BBC

Rachel Reeves: "I'm not boring, snoring.....zzzzzzzzzzzz"

"Reeves said her civil servant husband had been furious and she admitted the comment had been preoccupying her. She had has spoken to Katz following his written apology. "I just said obviously I accept your apology, but I told him how I felt. That I felt slightly humiliated and frustrated that this is now going to define my return to politics. I think if the biggest thing I have got to worry about is whether Ian Katz thinks I'm boring then I haven't got many problems, have I?...If you Google Rachel Reeves I expect you'll find lots of references to whether I'm boring or not." - The Guardian

>Yesterday: Iain Dale's Friday Diary: Sadly for Rachel Reeves, she will now become the Steve Davis of politics

Labour's Falkirk fiasco

"Ed Miliband staked a huge political gamble on an internal inquiry that failed to interview key witnesses, an investigation by The Times has found. Claims of a “stitch-up” in a Scottish safe seat forced the Labour leader to promise to recast his party’s relationship with the trade unions. His pledge was triggered by a report into claims that the Unite union tried to fix a candidate selection contest in Falkirk. On the basis of the report, two people were suspended and the findings were handed to police." - The Times (£)

EU President "muzzles auditors"

"The EU president has sent a shot across the bow of Europe's official spending watchdog warning it to rein in its criticism of Brussels and focus on promoting the union. Herman Van Rompuy told Europe's Court of Auditors that he wants their findings to generate positive headlines with particular regard to Europe's £110 billion yearly spend. The watchdog has been a thorn in the side of Brussels, publishing a series of critical reports on wasteful spending and refusing to sign off the EU’s budget for 18 consecutive years because of concerns about fraud." - Daily Mail

  • "The EU’s accounts haven’t been signed off for 18 years. The watchdogs who try to ensure our money is spent wisely and legally simply refuse to give them the nod. They know, better even than Europe’s cash-strapped citizens, just how much of the £110billion-plus annual budget is squandered. The EU supremo’s answer is one of typical arrogance. Herman Van Rompuy blames the auditors themselves — for being too critical and insufficiently “nuanced”." - The Sun Says (£)

Darling says independence referendum "pretty fluid"

"Alistair Darling has admitted that Alex Salmond could yet win next year's Scottish independence referendum because a "substantial number" of voters were still undecided about remaining in the UK. Darling, the former Labour chancellor and now chairman of the pro-UK Better Together campaign, told the Guardian that public opinion in Scotland was "pretty fluid" despite a spate of opinion polls indicating a solid lead for a "no" vote on independence." - The Guardian

GovemBillion pound cost of children's homes

"Ministers yesterday revealed more than £1 bn is spent on children in care homes every year — with many still left vulnerable to sickening abuse. The staggering sum is for just 4,890 kids — with councils spending £4,000 a week on average per child. In Bexley, South East London, the local authority forked out an eye-watering £58,000 a week on specialist homes. Despite the huge bill, nearly half of youngsters in children’s homes are placed far away from their family, friends and other support network, many in crime-ridden areas. It is feared this leaves them more vulnerable to being preyed on by paedophiles." - The Sun (£)

  • "Education Secretary Michael Gove makes a good point about how layers of red tape and data protection exposed children to risk. Even his department could not get details on care homes, he says. Police had the same trouble getting information about the kids in them. So the authorities entrusted with keeping children safe knew less about them than the gangs preying on them. Secrecy has been the enemy of children it was designed to shield." - The Sun Says (£)
  • "Private-equity firms and multimillionaire property dealers are making millions of pounds from dozens of children’s care homes that failed to provide acceptable standards of care for the most vulnerable young people in society. A major review of the industry launched after the Rochdale child-grooming scandal has revealed that 63 privately owned children’s care homes across the country did not meet the Government’s minimum standards." - The Independent

 £50 billion HS2 folly "must hit the buffers" says Stephen Robinson

"Cross-party political support for HS2 is unravelling faster than you can say: ‘Mind the Gap.’ The Department for Transport is in a state of turmoil as its vast press office and battalions of consultants fight to keep HS2 on track as the projected costs rise exponentially. In the summer, the increasingly embattled and enfeebled Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin had the awkward task of confessing to Parliament that his department had underestimated the cost of HS2 by a matter of £10 billion. Yes, the original price of more than £32 billion seemed bad enough, until it was upwardly revised to £42.6 billion, plus another six billion or so for the new rolling stock which, unbelievably, had somehow been overlooked." - Stephen Robinson Daily Mail

CharlesmooreRoyal Mail privatisation necessary, overdue but "a bit sad" says Charles Moore

"Even in my own childhood in the 1960s, the times of the two daily deliveries were absolutely regular. The man delivering always wore a cap and uniform and collected the letters we had put out for posting on the hall table (no need, then, to lock the door). Today, the service has sunk to one delivery a day (and no collection on Sundays). When this happened, you may remember, it was described as “abolishing the second post”, but actually it was abolishing the first. The single post since then has frequently arrived in the afternoon. It often contains letters posted, first-class, five or six days earlier. From 1840 until 1918, a letter cost one old penny. Today a first-class letter costs 144 old pennies (60p). Even when you allow for inflation, we are getting a lot less for a lot more. When the Communication Workers Union tugs at our heart-strings about the destruction of a great national public service, one should ask it who has been the agent of that destruction." Charles Moore Daily Telegraph

ParrisMatthew Parris praises Ed Miliband's union reforms

"A young leader of the Labour Party is vowing to tackle a massive abuse in his party: an abuse nobody can seriously defend. It skews the party’s relationship with the trades unions, compromises Labour in the eyes of millions and is a stain on the party’s reputation. To confront the challenge Tony Blair funked is noble, but it is Herculean....His courage is remarkable. His logic is impeccable. But it leads finally into a dark valley where neither side wants to go. His battle will be lonely, but I salute him." - Matthew Parris The Times (£)

  • All three parties face trouble with the rank and file - Andrew Grice The Independent
  • Ed Miliband must deliiver knock out conference speech or face leadership challenge - The Mirror

News in Brief

  • Tony Benn in hospital - BBC
  • A14 toll reduces bill for taxpayer - BBC
  • Pickles staff "tried to suppress emails" - The Independent
  • High life of bbc fat cats - Daily Mail
  • Julia Gillard "losing power hits you like a fist" - The Guardian
  • RSPCA "faces ruin" for being too political warns its deputy chairman - The Times (£)

And finally...Nadine Dorries since six figure book deal

"Conservative MP Nadine Dorries is to make her debut as a novelist after she was signed up for a three-book deal. The Four Streets, the first instalment to be published in April, will draw on her childhood experiences in Liverpool." - 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.

13 Sep 2013 08:27:50

Newslinks for Friday 13th September 2013

4.30pm Alex Morton on Comment: How to give retail the power to compete

Noon ToryDiary: "Barker's stress on competition is a reminder that while Conservatives can have spikily different views about the causes of climate change and pace of decarbonisation, they agree about the role of competition." An attack on climate change sceptics by Greg Barker turns out not to be an attack

11.15am Local Government: Council by-election results from yesterday


ToryDiary: Deficit reduction. The EU referendum. Justice for England - top "red lines" for any future Coalition talks

Iain Dale's Friday Diary: Sadly for Rachel Reeves, she will now become the Steve Davis of politics

Adrian Hilton on Comment: Christians will pay for Western intervention in Syria - many with their lives

Local Government: Sponsored Academies Week - The remarkable transformation of Grampian Primary School

The Deep End: Heresy of the week - The case for abolishing patents

Royal Mail sell-off "to go ahead in weeks"

Screen shot 2013-09-12 at 18.02.42"Ministers said the sale would go ahead in weeks. Around ten per cent of shares will go to 150,000 staff — worth about £2,000 each. The Communication Workers Union is to ballot for a strike, saying privatisation may threaten jobs and lead to poor service. But the Government said it would create capital to compete in a parcels market thriving due to online shopping — while letter deliveries fall. City analysts say the float could still go ahead despite any strike — with the business likely to be valued at £3billion." - The Sun

The Commons:

  • “The Government,” concluded Mr Murray grimly, “is playing politics with the Queen’s head.” Mr Fallon – a solemn, cold-looking figure with a voice like a disgruntled Dracula – was having none of it." - Daily Telegraph
  • "Next time David Cameron needs to plug a gap in his Cabinet he could do a lot worse than summon the composed, competent Fallon" - Quentin Letts, Daily Mail


  • "We do have reservations. We are not convinced Ofcom will be able to protect customers, particularly OAPs who may not use email, against sharp rises in the price of stamps." - Sun Editorial
  • "A privatised Royal Mail should deliver a better service. Its employees would be foolish to strike" - Times Editorial (£)
  • "It would be wiser for the Government to take a golden share in the company, preventing it from going the same way as our European-owned, tax-dodging, over-charging utilities" - Daily Mail Editorial

Cameron hits back at Barroso

Cameron Fightback"Mr Cameron said the President had gone beyond his remit and must respect one of the leading parties in European Parliament. Speaking on LBC 97.3, the Prime Minister said: ‘The Barroso thing did annoy me because frankly, his job is to serve the members of the European Union and the British Conservatives in the European Parliament are an important party. ‘They are the governing party of the United Kingdom and he should be respecting their views rather than trying to lecture them." - Daily Mail

  • Prime Minister backs Birmingham college ban on Muslim students wearing religious veils - Daily Mail
  • Muslim woman allowed to wear niqab in court - Daily Express

Clarke at press gallery lunch: Osborne is a future leadership contender (and Boris should "cool it")

"The Cabinet veteran said he was a 'big fan' of the Chancellor, who he said was 'playing a blinder' on the economy and warned his rivals Mr Osborne 'is bound to be a contender'. Mr Clarke, who was Chancellor in John Major's government, said with the economy finally beginning to improve: 'George has the chance of coming out with a quite remarkable outcome." - Daily Mail

  • Policy Exchange urges Chancellor to offer Lloyds shares to public - The Times (£)
  • Carney's second appearance before Treasury Select Committee less impressive than his first - Financial Times
  • Bank of England called to cap house price inflation over fears of 'dangerous' debt bubble - The Independent

Tory strategists: Lord, grant us tax cuts...but not yet

Screen shot 2013-09-13 at 08.27.18"Already Conservative ministers are anticipating demands from Tory MPs – if strong growth continues – for the offer of medium-term tax cuts in the party’s manifesto. “That’s a difficult balancing act for us,” said one Tory strategist. “On the one hand we’d like to be able to offer tax cuts, on the other hand it might signal to voters that we were out of the woods and it would be safe to vote for Labour"…Tory and Lib Dem ministers admit privately that the best economic backdrop for electoral success may be a “Goldilocks recovery” that leaves sufficient uncertainty to scare voters away from changing the government." - Financial Times

Barker leads Green Tory "fightback against climate sceptics"

"Tory campaigners on climate change are embarking on a fightback against sceptics on the right of the party who have tried to "smother" debate in recent months, according to party sources. A first step in the fightback is being taken by Greg Barker, the climate change minister, who writes in a Guardian article that the government will help drive down energy costs by prising open the energy market to challenge the "big six" suppliers. "The big six need to become the big 60,000," Barker writes." - The Guardian

Baker article in full

Mike Weatherley appointed as Cameron's adviser on intellectual property

Screen shot 2013-09-13 at 08.30.52"Mike Weatherley, MP for Hove and Portslade and former finance director for Pete Waterman’s entertainment businesses, will take on the newly created role to work with the industry on stamping out piracy. Mr Weatherley has previously worked as vice-president for Europe at the Motion Picture Licensing Company, which enforces copyright for the film industry, and as financial controller of the Pete Waterman Group, the entertainment company behind singers such as Kylie Minogue." - Financial Times

Gove: 'Absurd' secrecy left care children at mercy of paedophiles

"In a withering assessment of the child protection system, the Education Secretary says officialdom and red tape have prevented the authorities from stepping in to protect children and have helped grooming rings to operate. He also condemns social services departments across the country for the “indefensible” practice of “decanting” problem children to far-flung homes, away from friends and family, and routinely located in some of the country’s worst crime hot spots." - Daily Telegraph

Gove article in full

Labour is still getting the blame for spending cuts, according to YouGov poll for Labour Uncut

Miliband_1"Kevin Meagher, associate editor of Labour Uncut, described the findings as “politically toxic” and said the party needs to “stop this rot in public trust”. Writing on The Independent’s website, he warned: “This gap goes to the heart of Labour’s credibility as a party of government, so narrowing it must be a strategic priority.” He conceded that Labour has started to make the case for a tougher approach, but said it did so “intermittently and behind a cupped hand”." - The Independent

Fraser Nelson: Miliband, lonely and exposed

"Miliband has no praetorians, no loyalists willing to fight on his behalf when things get tough. Had Cameron lost such a vote against Tony Blair, or even the late John Smith, he would have spent the next day batting off attacks from all manner of MPs. Once, a well-oiled Labour machine would exploit the smallest Tory mis-step. Now, there is only what Tom Watson euphemistically describes as Miliband’s “Buddha-like qualities” of patience and “deep thought”." - Daily Telegraph

Farron backs 'super mansion tax' for £4 million homes - as the LibDem conference looms...

"The party already advocates a 1 per cent tax on homes worth more than £2million, but party president Tim Farron said those worth more should face an even higher rate. He said yesterday: ‘You could have various rates within the mansion tax. A £4million property, for example, paying a higher rate.’ Mr Farron told the Evening Standard he wanted to charge people who had properties and wealth at much more than £2million 'a higher proportion' instead of lowering the threshold to catch more properties." - Daily Mail

  • Screen shot 2013-09-13 at 08.32.40Voters see Clegg as a poodle - The Sun
  • Lord Oakeshott, Cable's ally, says that the Lib Dems must drop Clegg to save seats if they are to save seats - The Guardian
  • Clegg faces challenge from Lib Dem left as conference looms - Financial Times
  • Lib Dems accused of environment failure - The Times (£)
  • Clegg can tell his party to hold their nerve - Sir Menzies Campbell, The Guardian
  • Liberalism triumphs while Lib Dems sink - Philip Collins, The Times (£)
  • Webb warns that up to 12 million people face a pensions shortfall - The Independent

Third UKIP MEP quits party, says it's "totalitarian", blames Farage

"A former deputy leader of Ukip has resigned from the party and accused Nigel Farage of running a "totalitarian" organisation. Mike Nattrass, a Ukip MEP in the West Midlands, gave up his membership after the party said he could not stand again in next year's European elections because he failed a candidate test. Nattrass is now the third MEP to resign since the party won 13 seats in the 2009 European elections, after two previously defected to the Tories." - The Guardian

IPSA to propose per cent pay rise for MPs, but party leaders will urge its rejection

Screen shot 2013-09-13 at 08.33.34"MPs will get a pay rise of more than £7,500 under proposals published today by the independent parliamentary standards watchdog. The increase, well above inflation, is likely to be condemned as unacceptable by David Cameron and rejected out of hand by Ed Miliband. Neither party leader, however, is planning to commit himself to refusing the pay rise on an MP’s basic salary, which is currently £66,396." - The Times (£)

  • Number of MPs employing family members up by a fifth - Daily Mail
  • Some MPs may never sit in the Commons if renovations go ahead, warns Pauline Latham - Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

  • Scotland Yard probes Sunday Mirror hacking claims - Daily Express
  • UN: Assad is to blame for chemical strike - The Times (£)
  • Abu Hamza's lieutenant cannot be sent to America to face terror charges because it will breach his human rights - Daily Mail
  • UK wins backing on clash with EU over short selling rules - Financial Times
  • Women bishops approved in Wales - The Guardian
  • Institute of Strategic Studies says that 2014 could be "year of reckoning" with Iran over nuclear weapons - The Sun (£)
  • No future for bobbies on the beat, claims senior police officer - The Independent
  • Apology demanded over Lamont’s SNP land deal claim - Scotsman
  • Brian May apologises over badgers genocide row - Daily Telegraph
  • Duke of Cambridge leaves armed forces - Daily Mail
  • 70mph gales set to batter Britain - Daily Express

And finally...Almost a year on, there's no police report into Mitchell "Plebgate" probe

"Scotland Yard’s investigation into the “Plebgate” incident is still incomplete almost a year after the confrontation between armed police officers and Andrew Mitchell in Downing Street. The Crown Prosecution Service said last night that it did not yet have a complete file of evidence from the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Alice, which is investigating who leaked accounts of the incident to the media and allegations of fabricated evidence." - The 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.

12 Sep 2013 08:36:33

Newslinks for Thursday 12th September 2013

8pm WATCH: Boris tells Labour London Assembly member Andrew Dismore to "Get Stuffed"

Screen shot 2013-09-12 at 18.02.426pm Michael Fallon MP on Comment: How our share sales plan will boost Royal Mail and secure the universal service

5.30pm LeftWatch: "A year ago, I imagine Plan B was pretty popular, but now he's off the playlist for obvious reasons." We present our Top Ten Labour Conference karaoke tracks

2.15pm Rob Gray on Comment: Thousands of local residents support Heathrow airport; it's time their voice was heard

1.15pm ToryDiary: "It's always hard to talk about problems with the NHS. But if politicians wanted an easy life, they should have chosen a different job. As a matter quite literally of life and death, this issue is too important to allow Westminster taboos to shut down discussion." The NHS has a higher death rate than most Western health systems - it requires bravery to set that right

10.45am Lord McColl on Comment: Slipping through the net – trafficked children are left alone and vulnerable

ToryDiary: On tax, raising the stamp duty threshold tops our "red lines" poll and restoring the 10p tax band comes last

Jo Johnson"When Johnson was made head of the Downing Street policy unit, he assured the local press that he would be Orpington’s “eyes and ears” in Number Ten. The phrase was characteristic: he presented himself as someone who would be there on other people’s behalf." Andrew Gimson profiles Jo Johnson, Boris' younger brother and a key figure in Tory policymaking

Adrian Hilton writes this week's Culture Column: Pompeii and Herculaneum – the original Ground Zero

Brooks Newmark MP on Comment: Five ideas from the Million Jobs Campaign to help young people get and keep work

MPsETC: Read the full text of Grant Shapps' letter of protest to the UN over their loony left Housing rapporteur

Local Government: "When Conservatives regained control of Croydon Council back in 2006, attainment in our secondary schools was below national average...Today Croydon’s schools perform significantly better than the national average, despite the fact that many of our brightest young people still go to independent schools in Croydon or grammar schools in neighbouring boroughs." As part of Sponsored Academies Week, Gavin Barwell MP writes about how competition is driving up standards in Croydon's schools

The Deep End: Journalists not politicians are the real masters of spin

"Loopy leftie" UN inspector causes outrage with political attack on the Government 

SHAPPS NEW"Furious Tories last night demanded the UN apologise for allowing a ‘loopy Brazilian leftie’ to attack the Government’s welfare reforms. Iain Duncan Smith said Raquel Rolnik had undermined the impartiality of the UN with her ‘outrageous’ call for his housing benefit shake-up to be axed…Tory MP Stewart Jackson said Miss Rolnick was a ‘loopy Brazilian leftie with no evidence masquerading as a serious UN official’." - Daily Mail 

>Today: MPsETC - Read the full text of Grant Shapps' letter of protest to the UN over their loony left Housing rapporteur

>Yesterday: Local Government - Scandal of the UN's attack on the spare room subsidy cut

Private sector growth and Whitehall cuts start to rebalance the economy

Growth ConHome"Fewer than one in five jobs are now taxpayer-funded in a boost for David Cameron’s claim to a private sector-led recovery. New figures reveal has public sector employment has fallen 104,000 in a year to 5.67 million, equivalent to 19 per cent of all jobs – the lowest level since records began 14 years ago. By contrast there are 380,000 more private sector workers than a year ago, taking the total number to a record high of 24.17 million." - Daily Mail 



Royal Mail privatisation gets the go-ahead

"The government will announce its intention to sell a majority of the world’s oldest postal service in the most ambitious privatisation since John Major sold off the railways in the 1990s. Vince Cable, business secretary, briefed the cabinet on the plans on Tuesday. It means the coalition is within sight of a goal that has eluded governments over 20 years. Lady Thatcher balked at selling Royal Mail. Subsequent efforts by Lords Heseltine and Mandelson, Conservative and Labour industry secretaries, to sell all or part of the company failed because of MPs’ opposition." - FT 


Shocking new figures on NHS death rates

"Death rates in NHS hospitals are among the highest in the western world, shock figures revealed yesterday. British patients were found to be almost 50 per cent more likely to die from poor care than those in America. They have five times the chance of dying from pneumonia and twice the chance of being killed by blood poisoning. Experts say that, despite recent improvements, NHS death rates still outstrip those in many other European countries." - Daily Mail 

  • NHS boss steps down just before Morecambe Bay baby death inquiry begins - Daily Mail 
  • 50 ideas to fix the health service - The Independent 

Syria prevarication risks leaving Assad in power

"[Russia and the West] are arriving in Geneva with a recipe for prevarication and the further erosion of the West’s moral authority. For Mr Putin, his Syrian ally and other despots, these are outcomes worth pursuing. For the rest of us, they are unacceptable. The White House has correctly argued that the cred-ble threat of US military action helped to loosen diplomatic gridlock over Syria. That threat cannot now be withdrawn; nor, more generally, can Washington continue to let Moscow dictate the terms of these negotiations." - The Times Leader (£) 

  • Hollande mocks Cameron's "schoolboy error" - Daily Mail 

John Redwood writes to William Hague expressing concern over the FCO's pro-EU bias

EU Exit"The Foreign Office review of the balances of EU competences — documenting the powers that Brussels has over Britain — is important work. The title may not be catchy, but it is about our democracy and identity as a nation. The six chapters published so far read as whitewash to justify the existing settlement. The reader is alerted to the overarching bias of the exercise in the first sentence: “Membership of the EU is in the UK’s national interests.”…Surely the review should only conclude on the balance of the UK’s national interest once the whole exercise is complete?" - John Redwood, The Times (£) 


This is the BBC's "annus horribilis", says Maria Miller

BBC"The future of the BBC Trust is to be reviewed after an ‘annus horribilis’ for the corporation, the Culture Secretary said last night. In a scathing response to the payoff debacle, Maria Miller said the corporation’s handling of executive pay was ‘just not good enough’ and serious questions had been raised about the judgment of its top managers. She said she planned to strengthen the legal powers of the National Audit Office to allow it to demand access to all BBC documents whenever it wanted." - Daily Mail  

>Tuesday: Jackie Doyle-Price MP on Comment - Lord Patten - more sinned against than sinning in the BBC Trust debacle

Miliband's poll ratings slump to levels last seen during IDS' leadership

Red Ed"Ed Miliband’s popularity has slumped to its lowest level ever – rivalling even Iain Duncan Smith’s appalling personal ratings during his disastrous spell as Tory leader. The latest Ipsos MORI survey shows that six in ten British adults say they are dissatisfied with the Labour leader, compared to just 24 per cent who are satisfied. His net satisfaction rate of minus 36 per cent is comparable with the low point of Mr Duncan Smith's leadership, eight months before he was ousted as by the Tory party in 2003. Even among Labour supporters Mr Miliband has negative ratings, with 52 per cent of Labour supporters dissatisfied with his performance compared to 40 per cent who are happy with it." - Daily Mail  

Nigel Evans makes statement to the Commons on his resignation 

"Quitting as Deputy Speaker, he addressed hundreds of MPs including the Prime Minister about his desire to ‘robustly defend my innocence and seek acquittal’. Quoting Churchill, he referred to the death of his mother and the spiritual support of Parliament’s chaplain before thanking fellow MPs for their ‘hugs, prayers and good wishes’. Last night Evans was charged with the rape of a man between March 29 and April 1, 2013, five sexual assaults dating back to 2009 and two indecent assaults dating back to 2002. The Conservative says he will continue to represent his Ribble Valley constituency in Lancashire but as an independent MP." - Daily Mail  

>Yesterday: Tory Diary - Andrew Gimson's Commons sketch: Nigel Evans thanks his friends and colleagues for their "unstinting support"

On the spot fines fail to stop yobs, warns Grayling

"Yobs are putting aside cash to pay spot fines for drunkenness and violence, knowing they can then carry on offending, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling warns today. In a speech to magistrates he will warn that high streets have become ‘fair game’ for low level offenders who make life a misery for the public." - Daily Mail 

  • Home Office made police release shoplifting illegal immigrant - Daily Mail 

Gove is urged to delay school start until age seven

Gove"Traditional lessons should be put on hold for up to two years amid fears that successive governments have promoted a “too much, too soon” culture in schools and nurseries, it is claimed. In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, the group of academics, teachers, authors and charity leaders call for a fundamental reassessment of national policies on early education." - Daily Telegraph 

>Today: Local Government - Gavin Barwell MP writes about how competition is driving up standards in Croydon's schools

>Yesterday: Local Government - John Bald says "The Assistant Head could usefully do up his tie" in a review of a new Channel 4 series Trying hard to educate Yorkshire

News in brief

  • Government adviser shoots down Government HS2 economic case - FT 
  • Downing Street rejects Sir Chris Hoy's offer to become national cycling champion - The Times (£) 
  • Boris loses his temper with hecklers - Daily Mail 
  • After the Le Vell case, when will men get anonymity in rape cases? - Peter Lloyd, Daily Mail 
  • Flagship eco-school becomes uninhabitable - Daily Mail 
  • New claims MI5 and Special Branch "covered up" evidence against paedophile MP Cyril Smith  - Daily Mail 
  • Councillor accidentally approves "eyesore" by pressing the wrong button - Daily Mail 
  • Revealed: the most boring, snoring MPs - The Sun 


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11 Sep 2013 08:30:38

Newslinks for Wednesday 11th September 2013

11pm MPsETC: Read the full text of Grant Shapps' letter to the UN Secretary-General in protest at their biased Housing investigator

4pm Peter Wilding on Comment: "Europhobes will of course ignore all this. For them the rhetoric is sexier than the reality. Butthe fact is that the British Government has a serious reform plan, has allies to support it and wants to push it through. If repatriation is on the agenda it is repatriation for all, not just for one."  After Barroso, reform with allies to limit EU powers is within Britain's grasp

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 15.42.14
3.45pm LeftWatch: Vince Cable, the Psammead Business Secretary

3.15pm Local Government: "Earlier this year the United Nations Human Rights Council criticised Canada. Among those making the criticisms were representatives from the Governments of Cuba, Iran and North Korea. Now a left wing politician from Brazil complains that our Government's housing policy breaches human rights." Scandal of the UN's attack on the spare room subsidy cut

3pm on Tory Diary, Andrew Gimson's Commons sketch: Nigel Evans thanks his friends and colleagues for their "unstinting support"

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 11.47.05

11.45pm Greg Clark MP on Comment: "HS2 offers the prospect of transforming the economic geography of our country. It can make our cities as well-connected with each other as is London itself."  We need cities to drive growth. And we need HS2 to connect cities.

11am ToryDiary: The same refrain from the employment statistics: good topline figures, but problems persist in the detail

10.30am Local Government: John Bald says "The Assistant Head could usefully do up his tie" in a review of a new Channel 4 series Trying hard to educate Yorkshire

ToryDiary: Fewer and equal seats. The benefits and immigration cap. And shale gas. High priorities from Tory members for any Coalition talks

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 05.57.39Columnist Stephan Shakespeare: Should an opinion poll affect the outcome of a critical vote in Parliament?

Henry Hill's Red, White and Blue column: HMP Maze peace centre 'killed off' by Castlederg rally

Matthew Elliott on Comment: Barroso's EU plans will enable Britain to change our relationship with Brussels

On Local Government, the third post in our series on sponsored academies: Brooke Weston Trust - boosting standards in Northants and Cambridgeshire

The Deep End: Our banks behave like a bunch of toddlers – but the naughty step of regulation won’t restore order

Obama pulls back from the brink over Syria

Obama-close-up“President Obama postponed the drive towards conflict with Syria last night but sent a clear signal to the Assad regime and a sceptical American nation that he is prepared to use military might if diplomacy fails. After two days of frantic international diplomacy, he went live on prime-time American television to directly blame the Syrian regime for gassing children to death…But he said after some encouraging signs in recent days he had asked Congress to pause while Russia’s plan to put Assad’s arsenal of chemical weapons beyond use could be considered” – The Times (£)

Cable accuses Osborne of being “complacent” about the recovery…

“Vince Cable has criticised a growing ‘complacency’ towards the economy, in a calculated swipe at George Osborne before the Liberal Democrat conference. The Liberal Democrat Business Secretary will suggest today that Britain is not seeing ‘the kind of growth we want’…Dr Cable will add that he sees ‘a number of dangers. One is complacency, generated by a few quarters of good economic data’” – The Times (£)

…but the FT says Osborne is winning the battle on austerity

 “Since unveiling his strategy to reduce the UK’s yawning budget deficit in 2010, George Osborne has faced immense pressure to change tack. In a replay of Margaret Thatcher’s first-term battle in the early 1980s, an alliance of Keynesian economists and the Labour opposition has accused the government of choking off growth. The prophets of doom predicted years of stagnation with soaring unemployment and falling living standards. After a run of positive economic date, Mr Osborne has reason to feel vindicated” – Financial Times Editorial

McLOUGHLIN PATRICK 2McLoughlin mounts HS2 fight-back

“The proposed high speed rail line between London and the north could boost the UK economy by £15bn a year when it is fully opened in the 2030s, the government will say on Wednesday, with the regions benefiting more than London.The claim, based on an analysis by consultants KPMG, is part of a robust defence of the £42.6bn High Speed 2 scheme that the transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin will mount in a speech to counter the rising criticism of the project” – Financial Times

  • Why I support HS2 – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)
  • HS2 chief takes three months off with torn calf muscle - Independent

Miliband blinks first in union stand-off

“Ed Miliband retreated from a showdown with the unions yesterday amid warnings that he would fail to secure curbs on their influence. After weeks of expectation that the Labour leader was going fundamentally to change the unions’ grip on policy-making, he was accused of backing down at the TUC conference… ‘There is no question that this is a retreat,’ a senior figure on the Blairite wing of the party claimed – The Times (£)

  • Red Ed fled – The Sun Says
  • Labour and the unions face disaster – Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph
  • Labour’s links with the unions are its biggest asset – Seumas Milne, Guardian
Hunt promises to boost A&E consultant numbers at night

Hunt Jeremy 15“The number of senior doctors working in A&E at night is to be boosted after the Daily Mail revealed there are only five across all of England. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said a portion of the £500million being given to hospitals over the next two years to ease A&E pressures would go towards paying consultants to work out-of-hours. At nearly all A&E units in England consultants go home between 8pm and midnight, leaving patients in the hands of junior doctors” – Daily Mail

  • The changes I want to see in the NHS – Jeremy Hunt, Daily Telegraph
  • Treat heart attacks and strokes at home, says senior doctor – Daily Telegraph
  • NHS problems could wreck coalition’s election chances, says former adviser - Guardian
  • Why I’m furious to be denied rare calves’ liver at the House of Lords – Norman Tebbit, Daily Telegraph

IFS says benefit reforms will improve incentives to work

IDS TO CSJ“Iain Duncan Smith’s plan to  persuade millions of people that working is more lucrative than living on benefits could succeed, Britain’s leading economic think tank said today. Reforms will widen the gap between wages and the income of people living on handouts, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said. It added in its report that tax increases, benefit cuts and Mr Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit system ‘will strengthen people’s incentives to work’” – Daily Mail

…but Cameron casts doubt on timetable for introducing IDS’s plan

“The Prime Minister said he was not ‘religious’ about the timetable for introducing the new benefits regime by 2017. Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has repeatedly said the deadline will be met. The Prime Minister also appeared to reject Mr Duncan Smith’s claims that civil servants were to blame for management problems with the reforms” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Shocking” bedroom tax should be axed, says UN investigator - Guardian

CPS accused of targeting stars after actor cleared of child abuse charges

Snip20130911_3“Actor Michael Le Vell was celebrating his dramatic acquittal from child abuse charges last night amid claims he was the victim of a ‘celebrity witch-hunt’. The popular Coronation Street star, 48, walked free after a jury decided unanimously in just four hours that he did not carry out a series of assaults on a six-year-old girl. But Le Vell’s angry family and friends questioned why child-sex charges were ever brought. They claimed the actor was the victim of a hysteria prompted by last year’s Jimmy Savile scandal and accused the Crown Prosecution Service of targeting stars” – Daily Mail

Nigel Evans charged with eight sexual offences

“Commons Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans was last night charged with a string of sex attacks on seven young men. The 55-year-old Tory MP was told he will stand trial accused of eight offences, the most serious of which carries a maximum life penalty. The decision to charge the openly-gay politician – a popular figure in Westminster – came after he was arrested for a third time yesterday morning…Evans has now resigned from his Speaker duties, but last night said he would ‘robustly’ fight to prove his innocence from the back benches” – Daily Mail

Will this weekend’s meeting of Tory MPs be plotting against Cameron?

“David Cameron suspects an innocent-sounding meeting of the Conservative Renewal group at the Castle Hotel, Windsor, on Saturday is in reality a nest of leadership plotters. Welcomed by local Tory MP Adam Afriyie – a moneybags figure suspected of coveting Cameron’s job – the throng includes other Dave-averse Tories such as Douglas Carswell, Daniel Hannan, Tim Loughton and Jesse Norman” – Ephraim Hardcastle, Daily Mail

News in brief

And finally…Sarah Vine (Mrs Michael Gove) celebrates the end of the holidays

“Love my children, obviously. Love my husband, too. But honestly, having them hanging around the house all summer is a complete nightmare. The mess, the noise, the constant demands for food. The bellowing of the radio, the battles over the TV remote control. The sheer amount of stuff: books, papers, toys, half-finished homework, displaced cushions, muddy sports equipment — and the washing. Oh Lord, the washing” – Daily Mail


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