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10 Sep 2013 08:31:36

Newslinks for Tuesday 10th September 2013

Eric Pickles

7.45pm WATCH: Pro-HS2 campaign releases new video laying claim to the Victorian engineering tradition

6.15pm Eric Pickles MP on Comment: "For the first time troubled families are being shown a bit of tough love. For too long the system allowed them to be cuddled into the system, giving the most vulnerable no obvious exit from the cycle of despair. This was not only damaging to one generation but to the future generations." Our troubled families programme is turning round thousands of lives

5pm ToryDiary: The BBC reports "softening attitudes on benefits" - but the polling numbers say the opposite

3.45pm International: The new Iron Lady: Conservatives win Norwegian election

2.30pm Jackie Doyle-Price MP on Comment: Lord Patten - more sinned against than sinning in the BBC Trust debacle

1.15pm LeftWatch: Ed Miliband fudges the union link, zero hours contracts and free schools

11.30am JP Floru on Comment: With Caroline Lucas in la-la land

RedlinesnewOn ToryDiary, the second post in our series exploring the terms for a second Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition reveals that Tory members' top "red line" for any post-2015 coalition deal is...the EU referendum & renegotiation

Stephen Tall's Other Half column: Seven ideas to unite liberal Conservatives and market liberals: a personal wish-list

In his weekly Foreign Affairs column, Garvan Walshe reflects on Russia: "Moscow's foreign policy has become the personal codpiece of its diminutive leader – he of the staged archaeological driving expeditions (think of the ageing medieval king whose servants would tie deer and boar to trees so they wouldn't escape the shaky royal arrow)." Putin - proof that size doesn't matter. Because he doesn't know what to do with it

Mark Prisk MP on Comment: Our new grassroots-led campaign to boost Right to Buy

On Majority Conservatism, POLLINGSTATION2Tim Montgomerie writes from Australia on the wisdom of a polling guru: "Abbott’s constant repetition of a few key messages – Scrap the carbon tax; Stop the boats carrying illegal immigrants; and Build more roads – sent political journalists to sleep but they were killer messages identified by Mark Textor’s opinion polling." Modern politics’ golden rule? Ignore media commentators and focus on your key messages

On Local Government, the second post in our series on sponsored academies reports on the pursuit of excellence in Nottingham

The Deep End: Third world schools provide a stark lesson on the need for pupil testing and league tables

Osborne pledges action on the cost of living...

Growth ConHome"George Osborne hinted at action to cut rail fares, energy, water, banking and housing bills yesterday as the political battle shifted from how to get out of recession to who benefits from recovery. In a keynote speech on the economy the Chancellor said that tackling “deep economic problems” rather than a “shopping list of interventions” was the best way of relieving “pressure on the cost of living”. He also made clear the areas where the Government would act to blunt Labour’s charge that most families were still substantially worse off than prior to the crash." - The Times (£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary - Your five (and a bit) point guide to Osborne’s big speech

>Yesterday: WATCH - The economy is "turning a corner", says George Osborne

…while the IEA warns that slow growth is here to stay

"Not all economists share Mr Osborne’s optimism. Another report out today says the economy is experiencing its slowest recovery for 170 years and will “flatline” for decades. The Institute of Economic Affairs, a think tank, says high tax, debt and regulation will ensure GDP typically grows by just 1 per cent a year, compared to a trend rate since the Eighties of about 2.5 per cent." - Daily Telegraph 

Glimmer of hope in Syrian chemical weapons proposal

"President Obama offered hope last night of a breakthrough on the looming military crisis in Syria after a last-minute Russian effort to put President Assad’s chemical weapons under international control. His remarks came after a day of intense manoeuvring in Damascus, Moscow, London and Washington as Congress returned from its summer break for a crucial series of votes. David Cameron welcomed a proposal to put Syria’s chemical arsenal out of Mr Assad’s reach, although the White House, equally surprised at the offer, urged scepticism." - The Times (£) 

>Yesterday: WATCH - David Cameron: "A political settlement is the only way to a stable, inclusive and democratic Syria"

Britain has become socially and economically liberal

Freedom"Britain has become a "live and let live" society over the last 30 years, with a striking desire for less interference in people's personal choices and sweeping changes in how the country views homosexuality, religion and almost every institution in the land, the annual British social attitudes survey shows…This social liberalism has come in the wake of a consensus around economic liberalism. The report points out that the proportion of people who believe the government has a responsibility to provide a decent standard of living for the unemployed has fallen from 81% in 1985 to 59% today. This break with collectivism appears to support the coalition's message of self-reliance." - The Guardian 

>Today: Stephen Tall's Other Half column - Seven ideas to unite liberal Conservatives and market liberals: a personal wish-list

>Yesterday: ToryDiary - More evidence emerges that young voters are shifting to the right - this time on the welfare state

Cameron to attack civil service chiefs over slow reform

"David Cameron will criticise the slow pace of civil service reform when he appears before a high-powered committee of MPs on Tuesday, intensifying pressure on Sir Bob Kerslake, head of the civil service. The prime minister’s remarks to the Commons liaison committee will come days after Iain Duncan Smith, welfare secretary, described how he had last year “lost faith” in the capacity of civil servants to implement Universal Credit, his flagship reform of the welfare system." - FT 

BBC Money FunnelBBC Trust may be scrapped as Patten forced to accept flaws

"The BBC's governing body may be scrapped because of the executive payoff scandal, Chris Patten conceded yesterday. As his predecessor as chairman of the BBC Trust admitted controversial payoffs to senior executives were ‘eye-watering’, Lord Patten confessed he had failed to protect the interests of the licence-fee payer by clamping down on the issue earlier." - Daily Mail 

  • Cheers in newsroom as MPs pilloried BBC bosses - Daily Mail 
  • Missed opportunity to axe Alan Yentob - Daily Mail 
  • New governance is urgently needed - FT  

Miliband stops standing up to the unions

Miliband Labour Left"Ed Miliband will today try to repair his battered relationship with union barons by insisting they are not ‘the enemy within’. The Labour leader, who owes his job to union voting power, will laud their 6.5million members as ‘the people who make Britain what it is’. But he will acknowledge that his party reforms could mean as few as one in ten union members who currently contribute to Labour coffers will do so in future." - Daily Mail 


Only five A&E consultants working overnight in the NHS

"Figures obtained by the Mail show that just five NHS trusts in England employ a consultant to work in A&E overnight – even though thousands of seriously ill and injured patients turn up during these hours. Although most of the other hospitals have an ‘on-call’ consultant who can be contacted after they have gone home, junior staff are often reluctant to trouble them. Even during the day, 90 per cent of trusts have only one consultant working in A&E at weekends." - Daily Mail 

  • Give every elderly patient a named GP, says Hunt - Daily Mail 

Lawson urges bigger tax breaks for married couples

Lawson Nigel"Introducing a generous tax break for married couples would be the most cost-effective way to help families, a former Tory Chancellor said yesterday. Nigel Lawson backed the idea of a transferable tax allowance that would give married people extra money. But he said the Prime Minister’s plans for a tax break worth an extra £150 a year is ‘very limited’ and should be ‘much more generous’." - Daily Mail 

Faith in pension saving falls further

"The amount that the majority of workers are willing to save into their pension each month has plunged by almost a quarter in the past year. Employees earning under £50,000 who are preparing to be placed onto pension schemes as part of the Government's automatic enrolment programme plan on saving less than they did a year ago, in spite of warnings that millions of people are heading towards retirement without adequate savings." - Daily Mail   

The English support Scottish independence more than Scots

England-flag"Support for Scottish independence is now higher in England than it is north of the Border, according to new research which also suggests a backlash against devolution. For the first time, more English people than Scots back Alex Salmond’s move to break up Britain — 25 per cent compared with 23 per cent — and while support for the policy has been declining over the years north of the Border, the opposite is true in England." - The Times (£) 

>Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment - What Scots voters think about Scotland's Parliament, leaders and Government

Predatory groomers target asian girls, too

"Groups of Asian men who sexually exploit young girls are targeting Asian Muslim as well as white girls, a report has found. An analysis of known victims of sexual exploitation, who were Asian, Muslim or both, found “the offenders were almost always from the same ethnic background as the victim”." - The Times (£) 

Chris Huhne managed to disgrace himself further 

"It would be difficult to think of an ex-politician who has brought as much ridicule and vitriol upon himself as Chris Huhne did on Monday, by claiming that the moral of the story of his downfall is that newspaper ownership in the UK should be more diverse. He must have suffered a lonely moment when even Nick Clegg disowned him. Whatever case Huhne had to make about the treatment politicians receive from the press, he is the worst person to make it." - Andy McSmith, The Independent 

  • What he claimed, and what really happened, point by point - Daily Mail 

News in brief

  • Information Commissioner under pressure on private eye data - Daily Mail 
  • Fracking offers bridge to a green future - Tim Stone, The Guardian 
  • Bob Crow launches Workers Against the EU - Daily Express 
  • Another Godfrey Bloom blunder - The Independent 
  • David Attenborough praises China's one child policy - Daily Mail 
  • "I still hate Thatcher" mugs for sale at the TUC conference - The Sun (£) 
  • Tasers fired five times a day by police - Daily Mail 
  • Councils refused to find space for 9/11 memorial - Daily Mail
  • Equalities minister calls for curvier shop dummies - 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.

9 Sep 2013 08:24:20

Newslinks for Monday 9th September 2013

Cameron7pm WATCH: Clips from Cameron's and Osborne's statements today...

5pm ToryDiary: More evidence emerges that young voters are shifting to the right - this time on the welfare state

2pm On ToryDiary, your five (and a bit) point guide to Osborne’s big speech: "His argument was that the major cause of declining living standards is a declining economy – and, for that, Labour doesn’t have the answers. This is rather cunning. As growth returns, Miliband & Co. would love to talk about micro measures rather than macro ones. Osborne is trying to deny them that opportunity."

12.15pm LeftWatch: Miliband's defeat in the trade union battle threatens Labour's entire election strategy

11.30am Local Government: Pendle Labour councillor defects to Conservatives

RedlinesWe open a series on what Cameron's "red lines" should be in any second Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition. ToryDiary: Party members want a say in any decision about a second Coalition with the Liberal Democrats in 2015

Two items about trade unions:

Lord Ashcroft on Comment: What Scots voters think about Scotland's Parliament, leaders and Government

On Local Government, Harry Phibbs writes the first post in a week-long series on sponsored academies, about the successful chain of Outwood Academies

The Deep End: The real reason why we won’t act on gender-specific abortions

"Our economy's turning a corner" – George Osborne's speech today

DT"The economy is 'turning the corner', George Osborne will declare on Monday as he claims a 'decisive' victory over Labour on public spending policy. ... The Chancellor will issue a message of optimism in a speech that marks a shift in Coalition rhetoric on the economy. ... Britain is experiencing the fastest growth since the 1990s, he will say, while arguing that criticism of the Coalition’s austerity programme by Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, has been proven entirely wrong." - Daily Telegraph

  • "He’s not Mr Popular, but George Osborne deserves credit for sticking to his austerity plan. It’s working." - Sun editorial (£)
  • "The key question to ask is what kind of recovery this is, and who is really gaining from it." - Guardian editorial
  • "Only a new wave of socialism can end the great squeeze on us all" - Owen Jones, The Independent

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: With his speech tomorrow, Osborne is trying to pre-empt a new set of political circumstances

Hague warns that Britain's standing could be "diminished" after the Syria vote

WH"The Foreign Secretary said he and David Cameron were working to ensure that Britain does not ‘matter less’ in the wake of the landmark vote, which effectively ruled out British involvement in any attack on the Syrian regime. ... ‘It wasn’t the vote the Government sought,’ he said. ‘We have to make sure that Britain isn’t diminished.’" - Daily Mail

  • "US Secretary of State John Kerry and the foreign secretary, William Hague, are expected to discuss the possibility of the US postponing any attack on Syria until after weapons inspectors have reported and the issue has been discussed again at the UN security council, when they meet in London on Monday." - The Guardian
  • "John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, will today try to reassure Britain that the “special relationship” between London and Washington is still intact despite the Commons decision not to participate in an American-led military strike against Syria." - The Times (£)

> Yesterday's video to WATCH: The G20 discussions about Syria were "heavy going", says Hague

But could Tory MPs give the go-ahead for military action in a second vote?

Syria"However, a survey of Conservative MPs found that if the Prime Minister were to return to the Commons he might be able to carry a vote on military action. ... The PM would be able to rely on the support of at least nine MPs who did not vote, with at least a further eight willing to consider voting for military action if a clear strategy for intervention were presented." - Daily Telegraph

Ministers launch a new initiative to support jobs in the defence industry

"David Camerom said its aim was 'to deliver a long-term strategic vision to maintain our position on the leader board – maximising opportunities for British business and further strengthening the economy'. ... But companies worry that little can help make up for defence cuts if the Ministry of Defence keeps its pledge to buy kit 'off the shelf' and the government steps back from fighting wars." - Financial Times

Police Association boss warns that government cuts could threaten neighbourhood policing

Police"Bobbies on the beat could become an endangered species whose demise could cost Britain vital intelligence on terrorism and security, the head of the Superintendents' Association has warned. ... Ch Supt Curtis said: 'We need the Home Secretary and her colleagues in the Coalition Government to hear this. Neighbourhood policing is a core function of policing in this country - but it risks becoming a victim of cuts.'" - Daily Telegraph

  • Criminal courts should play a more active role in cutting reoffending rates, claims report - Financial Times
  • Prisons are secretly handing out condoms to inmates - The Sun (£)

The FT calls on the Government to withdraw its lobbying legislation

FT"The government has acted with undue haste, simply in an effort to ensure that the law is in place a year before the general election. This is not good lawmaking. ... The bill should be withdrawn. Campaign measures should be decoupled from the lobbying proposals and considered independently. In any case, legislation affecting political funding and elections should be the subject of cross-party agreement." - Financial Times editorial

Boris proposes a "London visa" to boost tech companies

"Boris Johnson, London mayor, has proposed a new 'London visa' which would make it easier for talented tech experts and fashion designers around the world to get jobs in the capital. ... The plan, submitted to the Home Office, is an attempt by City Hall to boost tech start-ups and fashion studios which struggle with the bureaucracy and cost of the newly tightened visa system." - Financial Times

Tim Montgomerie: Tony Abbott and the BoreCons show how to win

TM"The brand of conservatism that is succeeding is what we might call Boringsville conservatism. ... There’s nothing flashy or clever about Boringsville conservatism. Exciting conservatism slashes government spending. BoreCons look for efficiencies, protect key public services and plot slow but steady paths to balanced budgets. They’re more interested in cutting household electricity bills than (futile) attempts to stop climate change." - Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

  • Can we clone Tony Abbott, please, and put him into Number 10 forthwith?" - Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail
  • "British Tories eager to interpret Mr Abbott’s victory as proof that David Cameron should embrace a more traditional conservatism need to remember the unpopularity of the outgoing government. They should also note that Mr Abbott is a more subtle politician than caricatures of him suggest." - Times editorial (£)
  • "The general election victory of Tony Abbott’s Liberal-National coalition has two important lessons for British Conservatives: keep your party united, and hammer home a clear message." - Daily Telegraph editorial
  • "Abbott’s term will be bumpier than his electoral stroll" - Financial Times editorial
  • "Conservatives should not conclude that a lurch to the right will deliver victory in 2015" - Independent editorial

Steve Webb pushes for a cap on pension fees

"Steve Webb, pensions minister, is pressing for a cap in certain special cases, in what would be a dramatic reversal of current policy, which is to make the pensions industry more transparent rather than forcing down charges. ... A study by the FT in 2011 showed that some savers are losing more than a third of their pension pots in fees and commissions over the lifetime of a scheme." - Financial Times

Huhne attacks the "Murdoch press" for its role in his downfall, and for corroding trust in polititcs

CH"The moral of this story? First, none of this would have been possible without my own mistakes. I am no saint (but nor did I claim to be). Second, politicians now have to live with a 24-hour media, which is more intrusive and hurtful for the people they love, and this is having a corrosive effect on how the public view politicians, and politics itself." - Chris Huhne, The Guardian

  • "We desperately need more female MPs, but I want the 146 who have already clawed their way onto the green benches to man up, stop whingeing and to fight dirty." - Janet Street Porter, Daily Mail

Miliband plans to crack down on zero-hours contracts

"In an address to the TUC, Miliband will set out proposals to tackle the spread of zero-hours contracts, now believed to affect millions of workers ... Miliband's commitment stops short of an outright ban on the contracts but will be welcomed by unions demanding he shifts focus from union-Labour reforms to proposals to help working people." - The Guardian

Alistair Darling implores his party leader: stop the squabbling, and spell out some policies

"Ed Miliband is told today by one of Labour’s most respected figures to show 'strength of conviction' as union leaders warn that a 'squabbling' party is heading for electoral defeat. ... Alistair Darling, the former Chancellor, tells the party leadership that it needs urgently to spell out policies and be honest with voters about limits on public spending." - The Times (£)

  • "Milisecond (n): the time it takes Ed to do the unions’ bidding" - Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph
  • "The unions have more credibility today than Labour" - Ross Clark, The Times (£)
  • "The Labour leader looks weaker than ever." - Daily Mail editorial
  • "Miliband must not falter in plans to loosen ties to the unions" - Independent editorial

What really lay behind Miliband's Falkirk decision?

Ed Miliband"An uneasy truce between Unite and the Labour leadership after Ed Miliband's decision to abandon an inquiry into voting malpractice in Falkirk was threatening to fray on Sunday amid claims that witnesses had been bullied into dropping accusations and a claim by a Labour MP that Unite threatened to stop £3m in party donations unless an apology was given." - The Guardian

  • "Unite, one of the country’s biggest public sector unions, did not pay any tax in 2011 and 2012, despite owning £51.6 million of stocks and shares, it has been claimed." - Daily Telegraph
  • Len McCluskey rival calls for Unite leadership election result to be annulled - The Guardian
  • Unite invests £10m in hotel built for members - The Times (£)
  • Boost for Ed Miliband as union members support his "opt-in" reforms of Labour-union relations - The Independent

> Today:

The union bosses' warnings for the Labour leader

DP"Britain's union leaders branded Ed Miliband a ‘schoolboy’ yesterday – and warned the Labour leader he was ‘living in cloud cuckoo land’ if he thought his party reforms would succeed. ... Dave Prentis, general-secretary of Unison, said Britain’s biggest public sector union would cut its annual funding to Labour by £210,000..." - Daily Mail

The union bosses' warnings for the rest of us

"Nurses, teachers, postmen, firemen and train drivers could soon conduct ‘the biggest wave of industrial action in a generation’, union bosses warned yesterday. ... Dave Prentis, the head of Unison, said workers are close to breaking point after years of pay restrictions as a result of the recession." - Daily Mail

Lord Ashcroft's latest poll reveals that only one-in-four Scots want independence

Poll"Surveying over 10,000 people, the poll gives an insight into voting intentions for the next Scottish elections, opinions of party leaders and achievements of the Scottish Parliament, while putting support for independence at 26 per cent, the no vote at 65 per cent and just 10 per cent undecided." -

> Today, by Lord Ashcroft on Comment: What Scots voters think about Scotland's Parliament, leaders and Government

Thousands of schools are "coasting", according to Ofsted figures

"More than 2,000 schools in Britain are coasting and could face sanctions if they do not improve as part of a toughening up of Ofsted inspections, it has emerged. ... Almost a third of schools inspected between September 2012 and June this year fell into the 'requires improvement' category following the introduction of the new system, according to figures released today." - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday, by Michael Gove on Comment: Why traditional education is a work of social justice - one that I'm striving to deliver

Select Committees 1): The case for HS2 is fading, says Public Accounts Committee

HS2"In a stark assessment, the Commons Public Accounts Committee said the case for the 351-mile link was fading. ... Chairman Margaret Hodge said: ‘The Department for Transport... has not yet demonstrated that this is the best way to spend £50billion on rail investment in these constrained times, and that the improved connectivity will promote growth in the regions rather than sucking even more activity into London." - Daily Mail

  • Welsh government demands £2bn compensation for costs of HS2 - Financial Times

Select Committees 2): Name the bosses who enjoyed huge payoffs, MPs tell the Beeb

"The BBC was at the centre of a fresh pay row last night as MPs demanded it name 150 fatcats who pocketed huge payoffs. ... It has fought to keep the recipients’ identities secret, citing data protection issues. ... But the influential Public Accounts Committee is to use its powers to force the broadcaster to hand over the list of names." - Daily Mail

  • "The real problem with the BBC is that it doesn’t think it’s done anything wrong" - Stephen Pollard, Daily Telegraph
  • "Chop monster Beeb down to size or this saga will run and run" - Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun (£)
  • "The Director-General must make it clear that the culture of astronomical payoffs is now in the past" - Libby Purves, The Times (£)
  • "The BBC has had a culture of paying senior executives too much. This needs to come to an end." - Times editorial (£)

Select Committees 3): Will MPs release the names of those companies linked to phone hacking?

Phone"Westminster’s home affairs committee was due to publish the dossier, which contains the name of X Factor millionaire Simon Cowell, later today.... But after sustained pressure from the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Metropolitan Police and the Information Commissioner Sir Christopher Graham, MPs will discuss whether to proceed." - Daily Mail

News in brief

  • Sir John Vickers, who chaired the Independent Commission on Banking, reckons that the banks should double their capital levels - Financial Times
  • Young voters supports pensions ahead of unemployment benefits, suggests poll - Daily Mail
  • 8 in 10 nurses say that A&E strain is putting lives at risk - Daily Mail
  • Nigel Evans will resign from his position if he is charged with rape and sexual assault, according to his friends - The Times (£)
  • EDL leader arrested at London march - The Times (£)

And finally 1)... Cameron has no time for Cristina Kirchner

[Argentina’s president Cristina Kirchner] was mounting a long diatribe in Spanish, attacking President Barack Obama’s plans for military strikes on the Assad regime. ... Frustrated by it all, Mr Cameron then provocatively pulled out his translator’s earpiece. ... To show he had stopped listening, he then waved the device at a furious Mrs Kirchner across the table — prompting her to bring her 20-minute speech to a swift conclusion." - The Sun (£)

And finally 2)... Did Cameron leave his red box unattended?

Red Box"David Cameron was left red-faced after apparently leaving his ministerial red box unattended on a train – with the key still in its lock. ... It was photographed by a fellow passenger, seemingly unattended on a table, after Mr Cameron wandered to another part of the train. ... Downing Street insisted that claims of a security breach were ‘nonsense’, and that a member of Mr Cameron’s police protection team was keeping watch at all times." - Daily Mail


> 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.

8 Sep 2013 09:00:48

Newslinks for Sunday 8th September 2013

6.15pm WATCH: A pair of clips from earlier today...

LP1.30pm On Comment, Laura Perrins asks: What is a ‘sex expert’ and where can I find one? "The point is, that this area is just too diverse and complex to be adequately dealt with in schools by sexperts or otherwise. Parents should be the ones to pass down the necessary values to their children and young people." 

ToryDiary: With his speech tomorrow, Osborne is trying to pre-empt a new set of political circumstances

On Comment, the second part of Michael Gove's essay: Why traditional education is a work of social justice - one that I'm striving to deliver

Also on Comment, by Luke de Pulford: The CPS is wrong to turn a blind eye to the abortion of baby girls on demand

The Government admits that, between 2004 and 2010, Britain sold chemicals to Syria 

MoS"Between July 2004 and May 2010 the Government issued five export licences to two companies, allowing them to sell Syria sodium fluoride, which is used to make sarin. ... The Government last night admitted for the first time that the chemical was delivered to Syria – a clear breach of international protocol on the trade of dangerous substances that has been condemned as ‘grossly irresponsible’." - Mail on Sunday

  • Voters oppose attack on Syria – even if Assad used chemical weapons - Sunday Telegraph
  • Samantha Cameron's visit to a Syrian camp, which stirred her husband into action - Mail on Sunday
  • Obama uses gas attack footage to convince US legislators to back military intervention in Syria -Mail on Sunday
  • John Kerry's eight-minute speech – in French – to persuade France to join any military action - Mail on Sunday

As Syria features in Cameron's and Putin's arguments at the G20 summit

"And it was a tough two days for David Cameron: shunted to the sidelines by Parliament’s reluctance to intervene against Assad, the butt of barbs from the Russians, and summoned to a testy meeting with Putin at 2am where they rowed for 20 minutes over Syria. ... Cameron also raised the issue of deteriorating gay rights, which have prompted calls for a boycott of next year’s winter Olympics in Sochi." - Ian Birrell, Mail on Sunday

Other comment on Syria:

  • Syria"We can’t pretend the world didn’t change after September 11" - Matthew d'Ancona, Sunday Telegraph
  • "Fail to act on Syria, and tinpot tyrants will triumph" - Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph
  • "The PM must accept genuine doubts over Syria" - Sunday Telegraph editorial

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: The Prime Minister's good decision on Syria and aid

Cameron calls to congratulate Tony Abbott, as Tory MPs call for Abbott-esque policies


"A Downing Street spokeswoman said: 'The Prime Minister offered his warmest congratulations to prime minister-elect Abbott and spoke of the very strong links between the two countries. ... Prime minister-elect Abbott agreed and stressed his full support for the United Kingdom, saying that he very much looked forward to the closest possible cooperation during his time in office.' ... Tory MP Douglas Carswell seized on Mr Abbott's victory to urge Mr Cameron to adopt similar policies." - Mail on Sunday 

  • "New Australian PM Tony Abbott is known as an all-action figure — who volunteers as a surf lifesaver and a firefighter." - Sun on Sunday (£)

> Yesterday on International: What does Abbott's win mean for Cameron?

As he hatches another EU reform with Angela Merkel

"David CAmeron and Angela Merkel have begun drawing up plans for an assault on Brussels bureaucracy by slashing the number of European commissioners. ... According to Whitehall sources, the two leaders have told officials to start work on a blueprint that could see the number of commissioners reduced from 28 to between six and 12." - Sunday Times (£)

The economic recovery brings about a recovery in Osborne's fortunes, too

Upturn"George Osborne has been reinstated as Tory MPs’ favourite to succeed David Cameron after receiving a personal ‘bounce’ from the accelerating economic recovery. ... Mr Osborne will celebrate today with a barbecue for his closest political friends at Dorneywood, his country retreat. And tomorrow he will use a major speech to hail the recovery and goad Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls for claiming that the economy was ‘flatlining’." - Mail on Sunday

  • "Now the recovery’s starting, are we all in that together, too?" - Camilla Cavendish, Sunday Times (£)

> Today on ToryDiary: With his speech tomorrow, Osborne is trying to pre-empt a new set of political circumstances

The Tory leadership fights to scrap a major salary hike for MPs

"Sir Ian Kennedy, chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), was told by Leader of the House Andrew Lansley it was the Prime Minister’s view that he should row back on his plans. ... But Sir Ian, who has been under political attack since floating the idea of raising MPs’ salaries from £66,396 to £74,000, refused, saying: ‘I am independent and intend to stay that way.’" - Mail on Sunday

Further details about Hunt's plan for more proactive GPs

JH"GPs will be relieved of box-ticking duties and have more time to care for patients under reforms to be unveiled this week. ... Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt hopes that the move will divert up to a third of people away from over-stretched casualty units. ... In an exclusive interview he told The Sun: 'Since 2004, we’ve made it easier and easier to get into A&E and harder to go and see a GP. It’s not because GPs aren’t working hard, it’s that Labour changed the nature of their job.'" - Sun on Sunday (£)

  • "Half of all A&Es will fail to hit waiting-list targets this winter" - Independent on Sunday
  • "As many as 370,000 older people have been abused in their own homes by a carer, relative or friend in the last year, according to figures, exposing what has been described as a hidden national scandal'." - The Observer

McLoughlin admits that ministers didn't sell HS2 very well

"The Conservative begins with a startling admission. Ministers were 'wrong' to try to sell HS2 to a sceptical public on the basis of its speed and shorter journey times. ... In an attempt to regain the initiative, McLoughlin says the key argument for HS2 is, in fact, the prevention of a looming train overcrowding crisis." - Sunday Times (£)

  • "A police crackdown on the use of mobile phones by drivers has been ordered by Patrick McLoughlin" - Sunday Times (£)

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: The Treasury dislikes HS2. Labour is equivocal. Tory backbench opposition could kill it off.

Ministers planning to axe the BBC trust

BBC"The BBC Trust is facing the axe after the outbreak of 'civil war' between its chairman, Lord Patten, and Mark Thompson, the former director-general, over excessive pay-offs to senior executives. ... Ministers are planning to hand regulation of the BBC to Ofcom, which oversees the rest of broadcasting, in a sign of the government’s exasperation with the scandal-prone corporation." - Sunday Times (£)

Claims that the Government is "bribing" grammar schools to take on poorer pupils

"Until now, priority for oversubscribed places has been given to children who have passed the 11-plus exam and live closest to the school. ... But a rule change introduced by Education Secretary Michael Gove now means schools can offer poor children places ahead of better-off youngsters who live nearer – with heads picking up hundreds of pounds in extra funding." - Mail on Sunday

> Today, by Michael Gove on Comment: Why traditional education is a work of social justice - one that I'm striving to deliver

> Yesterday, by Michael Gove MP on Comment: Be angry on behalf of those failed by the education system – if we aren't, who will be?

Liam Fox lists the "ten global nightmares that should keep us all up at night"

Fox"When economic and government systems fail, anarchy or terrorism can follow all too easily. We are already battling these forces in places such as Somalia and Yemen, but one country stands out in terms of the risks it poses: Pakistan. ... I believe Pakistan will be one of the most important puzzles for the international community to solve if we are to maintain peace and stability and stop the export of transnational terrorism." - Liam Fox, Mail on Sunday

"Britain's nuclear subs could be sent to sea unarmed under a Lib Dem money-saving plan" - Sun on Sunday (£)

Lib Dems look to extend free childcare scheme...

"Toddlers aged between one and two would get 10 free hours of nursery every week, under the plan likely to be approved by Nick Clegg's party in Glasgow on Saturday. All two-year-olds, rather than just the poorest children, would get 15 free hours, while the current free entitlement for all three-year-olds would rise from 15 to 20 hours." - Independent on Sunday

  • "These childcare proposals suggest that the party has matured in office and will still have a distinctive and attractive programme to offer at the next election." - Independent on Sunday editorial

...and hit the rich

"The Liberal Democrats are drawing up plans to hit the rich by restoring the 50p income tax rate, in addition to introducing a mansion tax and overhauling the way inheritance is taxed." - Sunday Times (£)

Ed Davey warns against shale gas "hype"

Fracking"Ed Davey, the energy secretary, is to deliver a warning against 'hype' that shale gas could revolutionise Britain’s energy supplies. ... In a speech tomorrow Davey will warn that the country is unlikely to see benefits from shale gas until the next decade, adding: 'We can’t bank on shale gas to solve our energy challenges today or this decade.'" - Sunday Times (£)

"The equalities minister has called on high street clothes stores to introduce plus-size and petite mannequins to promote more positive body images for women" - Sunday Times (£)

Sarah Teather to leave Parliament at the next election – "It is time to close this chapter"

The prominent Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather has announced that she is to quit the House of Commons because she no longer feels that Nick Clegg's party fights sufficiently for social justice and liberal values on immigration" - The Observer

Read the Observer's interview with Teather in full

Miliband's Falkirk decision – did he take it because Labour could go bust?

"Ed Miliband is facing the gravest crisis of his leadership after former Home Secretary David Blunkett warned that he was putting the ‘entire Labour project’ at risk ... Mr Miliband was last night said to have been forced into a humiliating climbdown in his battle with the union barons because he feared the loss of their vital funds. ... One Labour MP publicly described the situation as a ‘catastrophe’ which had put the party’s ‘very existence’ at risk." - Mail on Sunday

  • "I fear Ed is putting Labour in jeopardy" - David Blunkett, Mail on Sunday

> Yesterday on LeftWatch: In July, Miliband said Falkirk was the dying "old politics". Now, he gives it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation

But he plans to proceed with changes to Labour's relationship with the unions

EDM"Ed Miliband is heading for his biggest confrontation yet with union leaders after vowing to press ahead this week with plans that will reduce their influence in the Labour party ... The Labour leader issued a defiant message, saying he was more determined than ever to change the relationship with the unions, even though claims of malpractice by Unite in Falkirk had not been substantiated." - The Observer

"Ed Miliband was at war with his union paymasters last night after refusing to say sorry for calling them vote-riggers." - Sun on Sunday (£)

  • "Ed Miliband can't retreat from his battle with the union bosses" - Andrew Rawnsley, The Observer
  • "Miliband knows the real threats to him are the backbiters and bitter union 'brothers' who are out for blood" - James Forsyth, Mail on Sunday
  • "Ditching union funds is Ed Miliband's sound investment" - John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday
  • "It is a mess — and one of the Labour leader’s own making." - Sunday Times, editorial (£)

New opinion poll puts Labour just one per cent ahead of the Tories - Sunday Telegraph

As McCluskey plots a wave of strikes

"Unite boss Red Len McCluskey put activists on an industrial war footing, saying: 'Prepare for crisis.' ... His paper shows how to shut down supply chains by hitting 'choke points'. It also explains how to target power supplies and services that keep firms afloat. ... His plot to wreak havoc is revealed in a leaked memo obtained by The Sun." - Sun on Sunday (£)

  • "Len McCluskey’s masterplan for mayhem should worry anyone who cares about the economy getting back on its feet. Which is to say, all of us. ... It should also remind Labour about the calibre of the people they are in bed with." - Sun on Sunday editorial (£)

Labour should target "Aldi Mum", says Flint

Aldi"Everything Labour does between now and the 2015 election must be seen through the eyes of 'Aldi Mum', one of the party's leading women said yesterday. ... Caroline Flint, the Shadow Energy Secretary, said 'Worcester Woman' was now feeling living standards squeezed and was just as likely to shop at discount supermarkets such as Aldi." - Independent on Sunday

Cooper urges police forces to favour ethnic minority candidates

"Police chiefs will be encouraged to favour ethnic minority candidates when it comes to recruitment and promotion, even if the law has to be changed to allow them to do so, under new proposals from Labour. ... The pledge to help forces increase the diversity of their officers will be made by the shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, in a speech tomorrow." - Independent on Sunday

  • "Labour is planning to ambush a parliamentary Bill that threatens to semi-privatise the defence organisation Defence Equipment and Support." - Independent on Sunday

UKIP founder launches centre-left Eurosceptic party

UKIP"The founder of UKIP has launched a Eurosceptic centre-left party to challenge Labour and provide an alternative for those who feel his old party has become 'racist' under the leadership of Nigel Farage. ... As well as advocating Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, the fledgling party, called New Deal, will pledge to renationalise the railways and scrap the coalition’s 'bedroom tax'." - Sunday Times (£)

Officials were warned about the ties between blue-chip firms and phone-hackers two years ago

"Ian Hurst, a former Army intelligence officer and key witness to the Leveson Inquiry, warned Britain’s equivalent of the FBI two years ago that a private detective convicted of hacking into bank accounts and telephone records had ‘cultivated’ contacts with Special Branch. ... But he says his warnings were ignored" - Mail on Sunday

News in brief

  • "If I can work, so can others," says paralysed man in charge of assessing benefit claims - Sunday Times (£)
  • "The golden age of inquisition dies with Frost" - Adam Boulton, Sunday Times (£)
  • Disgraced MSP Bill Walker – convicted of a string domestic abuse offences – has resigned from the Scottish parliament - The Observer
  • UK urged by campaigners to invest £50 billion in a greener economic recovery - The Observer
  • Claims that Nigel Evans will not resign, even if he stand trial over alleged sexual assault - Mail on Sunday
  • Tony Blair strikes new deals to advise Vietnam and Peru - Sunday Telegraph
  • Church of England has £10 million invested in arms firm - Independent on Sunday

And finally 1)... Mark Carney is already having a tangible effect

"But new Bank of England boss Mark Carney has caused some cutbacks sooner than planned – after removal men knocked down a huge tree branch while moving him into his luxury London home. ... The entire street was sealed off and police and fire crews were called out after a giant container truck containing the new governor’s belongings smashed into the tree." - Mail on Sunday

  • "Mark Carney is a symbol of George Osborne's failure, not his success" - William Keegan, The Observer

And finally 2)... Cameron follows his Love Actually moment with one wedding and no funerals


"David Cameron was given some respite this afternoon as he and Samantha attended her half-sister's country wedding. ... Fresh from the G20 summit in St Petersburg, Mr Cameron was seen taking pictures on his mobile phone outside Sutton-on-the-Forest Parish Church near York following Alice Sheffield's wedding to Etienne Cadestin." - Mail on Sunday


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7 Sep 2013 08:39:34

Newslinks for Saturday 7th September 2013

Screen shot 2013-09-07 at 15.41.11
3.30pm International: What does Abbott's win mean for Cameron?

Noon ToryDiary: "Before the G20, we were already the second largest supplier of aid to Syrians, committing a package of assistance worth almost £350 million.  Cameron announced at the summit that total UK funding for assistance in Syria and neighbouring states will rise to £400 million." The Prime Minister's good decision on Syria and aid

ToryDiary: The Treasury dislikes HS2. Labour is equivocal. Tory backbench opposition could kill it off.

Michael Gove MP on Comment: Be angry on behalf of those failed by the education system - if we aren't, who will be?

LeftWatch: In July, Miliband said Falkirk was the dying "old politics". Now, he gives it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation

G20 1) Cameron's Love Actually moment

Screen shot 2013-09-07 at 07.47.53
“But let me be clear — Britain may be a small island, but I would challenge anyone to find a country with a prouder history, a bigger heart or greater resilience. Britain is an island that has helped to clear the European continent of fascism and was resolute in doing that throughout the Second World War. Britain is an island that helped to abolish slavery, that has invented most of the things worth inventing — including every sport currently played around the world — that still today is responsible for art, literature and music that delights the entire world.” - The Times (£)

  • Henry Smith MP says that Putin is a "t****r" - Daily Express
  • Well done, Cameron AND Smith - The Sun
  • Far from being 'just a small island', Britain is showing leadership by challenging America's approach to foreign policy - Simon Heffer, Daily Mail
  • UK embassies "blew over £6 million on wining and dining" - The Sun
  • Cameron: Children should be taught about the dangers of online porn in classroom - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: ToryDiary - "Just a small island … no one pays any attention to them..." (See above)

G20 2) £52 million extra aid for Syria

Screen shot 2013-09-07 at 08.07.24"Speaking at the G20 summit in St Petersburg, the Prime Minister said much of the new money will go towards medical training and equipment to help civilians targeted by chemical attacks. Mr Cameron also called for international action to secure humanitarian access to war zones…Mr Cameron announced Britain's new aid contribution - bringing the total UK funding for assistance in Syria and neighbouring states to £400million - at a meeting he called to urge fellow leaders to dig deep to fund a $3billion (£1.9billion) shortfall in the United Nations appeal for Syria." - Daily Express

  • Obama assembles fragile alliance against Assad - The Guardian
  • If we are judged on whether we bomb people I’m delighted our standing has fallen, says Nigel Farage - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: Justine Greening MP on Comment: The key question on international aid is this – do you want to shape the world, or be shaped by it?

Charles Moore: Blair is right about Syria

BLAIR head looking left"Tony Blair is right – again – when he says that the fall of Assad would be “long, bloody, difficult and expensive”, but that the alternative would be “long, bloody, difficult, expensive – and worse”. It would be better if the Western allies, led by America, had a strategy about this. The cliché rolls out (sometimes from Americans) that “America cannot be the world’s policeman”. Perhaps it can’t, but no one else can, without American help, and an unpoliced globe is not a happy place." - Daily Telegraph

  • If we must fight in Syria, we must have a plan - Philip Lee MP, Daily Telegraph

Cameron may appoint a "Minister for HS2"

"Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin is expected to respond to a critical report from MPs on the spiralling costs of HS2 next week with a major speech making a fresh case for the potential economic benefits. There is also speculation that Mr Cameron may appoint a dedicated ‘minister for HS2’ in a Government reshuffle expected after next month’s Conservative party conference." - Daily Mail

> Today: ToryDiary - The Treasury dislikes HS2. Labour is equivocal. Tory backbench opposition could kill it off.

GCSE and A-level reforms timetable delayed

GOVE MICHAEL NW"Michael Gove's ambitious timetable to overhaul GCSE and A-level examinations has been put back after exam regulator Ofqual said reforms to a series of subjects should be delayed. Glenys Stacey, Ofqual's chief regulator, told the education secretary that new A-level exams in mathematics would not be ready until 2016, while many new GCSEs would not be prepared in time to meet Gove's target for them to be taught in 2015." - The Guardian

  • Department of Education paper says that secondary schools face 'timebomb' shortage of places - Daily Mail

> Today: Michael Gove MP on Comment: Be angry on behalf of those failed by the education system - if we aren't, who will be?

GPs must be proactive with older patients, says Hunt

"Family doctors must do more to prevent the health of older patients deteriorating in order to reduce the time they spend in hospital and relieve pressure on hard-pressed A&E units, the health secretary has said. Jeremy Hunt wants GPs to spend more time undertaking preventive work with the growing number of elderly people, whose health needs are driving unprecedented demand on all NHS services. "The role of GPs in caring for older people needs to be proactive – checking up on people, finding out how they are, heading off problems before they happen – rather than reactive," Hunt told Sky News." - The Guardian

May orders review of police domestic violence cases in wake of murders

May Theresa Home Office6"Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) will carry out a wide-ranging inquiry into the way police forces respond to allegations of domestic violence. It will focus on whether the police do enough to protect victims who say they are in danger from partners or ex-partners. Mrs May said she had commissioned the review after the cases of Maria Stubbings, who was strangled with a dog lead by a jealous ex-boyfriend, and Clare Wood, who was strangled and set on fire by a man she met on the internet." - Daily Telegraph

Sajid Javid: We shouldn't be afraid of leaving the EU

"He told The House magazine: "The best outcome is we do have a renegotiated relationship. I've done thousands of negotiations in my job in business and you never go into a negotiation without some sort of weapons in your arsenal, so we are right to have a referendum as it increases our ability to negotiate. "I think the European Union should be much more focused for us on free trade in goods and services. If the British people decide that they want to leave the European Union, that's not something I'd be afraid of." - Daily Express

> Yesterday: MPsETC - Sajid Javid says he’d “embrace the opportunities” that leaving the European Union would bring

Gove and May are pulled out of Windsor Conservative Renewal Conference "at 11th hour"

Screen shot 2013-09-07 at 08.19.44"The Cabinet minsters, along with junior Culture minster Ed Vaizey had been lined up to speak at next weekend’s Conservative Renewal conference. However with days to go, the organisers said that they had pulled out, amid claims that they had come under pressure from an unhappy 10 Downing Street. A Conservative Renewal spokesman said that it had only been told on Thursday about the withdrawals, in what appeared to be a coordinated move." - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: Adrian Hilton on Comment - Why Number 10 is wrong to pull Ministers from the Windsor Tory Renewal Conference

Miliband's deal with McLuskey over Falkirk. Murphy reinstated as member of Party, withdraws from contest for seat...

"Ms Murphy, 49, and Steve Deans, the constituency chairman, were suspended amid allegations that the Unite union were trying to fix the selection process. Labour has so far refused to publish an internal report into the goings-on at Falkirk. However, the pair were reinstated after “key evidence” relating to the alleged vote rigging was withdrawn and Labour said there was no proof of wrongdoing by them or Unite." - Daily Telegraph

...Activists who filed complaints now withdraw them (funny, that)...

Miliband ball and chain"But local activists said to have filed complaints are now understood to have withdrawn them, leaving Labour with little choice but to back down/ A Labour spokesman said ‘key evidence’ had been withdrawn. The decision, which was slipped out last night, is deeply embarrassing for Mr Miliband, who infuriated Unite by calling in the police to investigate its conduct." - Daily Mail

...and insiders say Miliband "made the wrong call"

"While party officials are keen to draw a line under the affair, behind the scenes there remain deep divisions within the Labour movement over how the row was handled. Some party insiders have questioned Ed Miliband's judgment in calling in the police and allowing Murphy's suspension before party officials had fully examined the allegations. One said: "Ed Miliband was not in full possession of the facts but still rushed to judgment in the middle of a media frenzy. He made the wrong call." - The Guardian

  • Blair rounds on Miliband over Syria - The Times (£)
  • Euan Blair gets married this weekend, has Westminster in his sights - The Independent
  • Miliband's tormentors ignore the constraints of leadership - Steve Richards, The Guardian

> Today: LeftWatch - In July, Miliband said Falkirk was the dying "old politics". Now, he gives it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation

BBC Trust hits back at Mark Thompson

Screen shot 2013-09-07 at 08.26.49"The BBC Trust has attacked as “bizarre” leaked evidence from Mark Thompson, its former director-general, claiming the corporation’s governing body misled parliament over pay-offs to senior executives. Mr Thompson, who left the BBC last September to become chief executive of the New York Times, alleges that Lord Patten, chair of the trust, and trustee Anthony Fry, told “specific untruths and inaccuracies” to MPs at the Commons public accounts committee on July 10 this year." - Financial Times (£)

  • "Cleaning house at the top of the BBC still has a long way to go" - Times Editorial

It's a LeftWatch column from Matthew Parris in the Times, as he mocks Blanchflower, Portes and Mason for wrong economic predictions (plus Kaletsky and Wolf)

"We can all make vague, undated, long-term predictions, but the expertise we look for in professional analysts is to name the dates. Where’s the evidence that economists are any good at this? Our impression that they keep getting it wrong is technically false: they get it right 95 per cent of the time. They achieve this by assuming that tomorrow will be like today, which, 95 per cent of the time, it is. But the 5 per cent of the time when tomorrow is unlike today is the only time we actually need economists to warn us. And they rarely do. In their timings they’re hardly better than astrologers." - The Times (£)

Australia goes to the polls today. Abbott expected to be Prime Minister

Screen shot 2013-09-07 at 08.29.16
"Tony Abbott is being ferociously heckled as he visits the seat of Barton in Sydney. Lots of shouting and placard waving from protesters, as well as from Coalition supporters trying to drown them out. Sky News says this is what democracy's all about. Well, that and the voting…Abbott also said he would keep up his exercise routine if he became prime minister, but probably wouldn't adopt the John Howard tracksuit. "I'm not sure that his fashion style will be my fashion style. He never seemed to fancy the budgie smugglers, for instance." So there's some imagery for you this morning." - The Guardian

> Yesterday: International - Tim Montgomerie lists ten things you should know about Australia’s next prime minister, Tony Abbott

News in Brief

  • Falklands protest group threaten to disrupt Princess Anne's trip to Argentina - Daily Mail
  • Soldiers step in to rescue army recruiting - The Times (£)
  • New Press watchdog set up by papers in wake of Leveson Inquiry prepares for launch within months - Daily Mail
  • East London mosque awaits EDL march - The Guardian
  • Four arrested as Brian May heads to front line of badger cull protests - The Independent
  • Criminal who burned woman's face can stay in Britain because of his human rights - Daily Telegraph
  • Charities win reprieve on new lobbying bill - Financial Times (£)
  • Simon Cowell on secret list of rogue private eye clients. Keith Vaz tells SOCA it must be published - The Times (£)
  • Security scare at Buckingham Palace as two men break into it - The Sun

And finally…the Daily Mail introduces its new columnist, Sarah Vine, a.k.a Mrs Michael Gove, who is "warm, funny, naughty and wonderfully indiscreet — particularly when it comes to sharing delicious titbits about her eccentric husband. Who just so happens to be Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education"...who -

  • Screen shot 2013-09-07 at 08.30.33"Owns a ukulele".
  • Has a "penchant for posh moisturisers, facials (‘I send him off for one when he’s a bit ruddy around the gills’) and scented bath oils?"
  • "Is never without a book (even at the cinema, just in case the film’s boring)"
  • "Changes into his special ‘home trousers’ — a pair of bright orange corduroys — the minute he gets home from Westminster."
  •  "Is utterly incompetent when it comes to driving airport trolleys, bicycles and cars, gorges himself on almond croissants and has a burgeoning interest in golf".
  •  "Once found himself in hot water with Mick Jagger after making derogatory comments about the size of his manhood."


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