Published:

6pm ToryDiary: "Shale gas stands to bring cheap energy, revitalised manufacturing and thousands of new engineering jobs. As a proud Geordie, I'd be delighted to see all of those benefits come to my home. If Lord Howell had made a better argument in more wisely chosen words, we could be winning votes in the North East by explaining them." Tory Peer comes under fire for recommending fracking in the "desolate" North East

1pm ToryDiary: The PM shames Labour's referendum filibusterers – but lets their Lib Dem allies off the hook

Noon ToryDiary: "Some of work of a budget and finance facility would be carried over from the Cabinet
Office.  Its remit would be to hunt for more savings in departments and
find taxpayer value for money – with the authority that only the
Treasury can carry."
How Maude believes government could save more taxpayers' money

ToryDiary: A majority of Party members now say that the Coalition is good for Britain

Screen shot 2013-07-30 at 06.53.13Stephen Tall's Other Half Column: We LibDems haven't chosen our strategy. The voters have chosen it for us.

Garvan Walshe's Foreign Affairs Column: Narendra Modi – India’s Barry Goldwater?

On LeftWatch, Andrew Gimson continues our series on what Labour should do next, as he writes The fighting speech Miliband should have made when Cameron denounced McCluskey

Nicholas Tyrone on Comment: Our voting system for the European elections is undemocratic – and anti-Tory. It's time to change it.

Local Government: Cutting the spare room subsidy will help the disabled in overcrowded housing

The Deep End: What will we do when robots take our jobs? Let’s remember what happened last time

Latest ConservativeHome survey finds that majority of Tory members now back the Coalition

Screen shot 2013-07-30 at 07.16.43
"A survey carried out by the ConservativeHome website found that a majority of respondents — 59 per cent — believe the coalition is “overall a good thing for the nation”, up from 47 per cent at the start of May. Paul Goodman, editor of ConservativeHome, said: “These results reflect the fact Abu Qatada has gone, an EU referendum Bill is here, the benefits cap is in place, the economy is gradually recovering. David Cameron is handling his parliamentary party better, and Ed Miliband is on the back foot over welfare and Unite.” – The Times (£)

  • Tory optimism marks a change in strategy – Benedict Brogan, Daily Telegraph

> Today: ToryDiary – A majority of Party members now say that the Coalition is good for Britain

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Almost two-thirds of Tory members now believe Cameron will be Prime Minister after 2015 – up from about half

Paul Goodman: But would the Liberal Democrats really join Cameron for a second Coalition after 2015?

"The Business Secretary has a significance beyond his own ambitions. His toings-and-froings between loyalty and dissent are a symbol of the Liberal Democrats’ wider uncertainties. It’s likely that in his heart of hearts Mr Cameron would prefer a second coalition with them, which would give him a reliable Commons majority, to governing with a small majority, which would leave him at the mercy of the 20 or so Tory MPs who want rid of him. The rest of them would probably accept such a coalition in the event of a hung Parliament. But it’s far from clear that the Lib Dems would do the same." – Daily Telegraph

  • Clegg under pressure from Lib Dem activists over 50p top rate of income tax – The Independent
  • Deputy Prime Minister snapped commuting to work with wife on riverbus – Daily Telegraph

> Today: Stephen Tall's Other Half Column – We LibDems haven't chosen our strategy. The voters have chosen it for us.

Home Office Minister Mark Harper fights back: It isn't racist to ask people who are here illegally to leave Britain, he says…

Harper Mark"Let me clear this up once and for all – it is not racist to ask people who are here illegally to leave Britain. It is merely telling them to comply with the law. Our campaign targets illegal immigrants without any discrimination at all between them. By no stretch of the rational imagination can it be described as ‘racist’. Furthermore, the campaign is not meant to, and does not, discourage legal immigrants who have earned the right to live or settle in Britain." – Daily Mail

> Yesterday:

…As Pickles and Baker lock horns over parking on double yellow lines in another Coalition clash

"Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, is keen on allowing motorists to park on double yellow lines for a “grace period” of 15 minutes as a way of boosting trade on Britain’s high streets. It would allow drivers to pop in to a shop without facing a fine. The idea was attacked almost immediately by Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat Transport Minister, who said he had been warned that it would be unsafe and reward illegal parking." – The Times (£)

…Meanwhile, Grayling says that cars will be seized to pay legal aid bills

Grayling Chris Yellow"New
Motor Vehicle Orders will be imposed on criminals who unfairly use legal
aid to fund their defence. Mr Grayling said: “Convicted criminals have
cheated innocent taxpayers for too long by dodging requirements to
contribute to the legal costs of their defence. “With £34million owed to
taxpayers from the last three years alone, it’s time to get tough. I am
clear – you can’t avoid paying your legal aid bill and expect to keep a
fancy car on the driveway.” – Daily Express

CLG guidance warns councils not to impose wind farm blanket ban

"Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, promised to “give local communities a greater say” on where wind farms are built, but new guidance from his department warns councils not to create “inflexible” turbine-free zones. The planning document, released after Parliament broke up for the summer, says the distance of a wind farm from housing does not “necessarily determine whether the impact of a proposal is unacceptable”." – Daily Telegraph

Rachel Sylvester: Maude, geeks and dress-down civil servants plan Whitehall technology revolution

Screen shot 2013-07-30 at 08.16.52"Mr Maude talks scathingly of an “oligopoly” of large IT contractors whose time is up — until recently 70 per cent of the money went to only seven large contractors. Indeed, the Office of Fair Trading has launched an investigation into whether there is a lack of competition in the supply of technology to the public sector, with the biggest companies earning about £10.4 billion from the State. The Government is now actively seeking to renegotiate more than 100 contracts and the aim is to get out of as many as possible altogether." – The Times (£)

  • Website shows taxpayers where the money is spent – Financial Times
  • Taxpayers’ £35,000 funds website to identify waste – The Times (£)
  • Inside Whitehall: £200m windfall that could be well spent saving bad apples – The Independent

Crisis for 111 helpline as NHS Direct pulls out

"NHS Direct runs the non-emergency phone line in nine English regions – but it now says it is “seeking to withdraw” from its contracts. While officials said patients would continue to get a good service, the BMA said that some parts of the service were “in chaos”. A spokeswoman for NHS Direct said the contracts had become “financially unsustainable”. The NHS 111 line has been dogged by problems since it was launched on April 1 after patients complained of unanswered calls and poor advice." – Daily Express

  • ‘Arms race’ over £5bn in NHS work – Financial Times
  • Nurses ‘too busy’ to provide basic care for their patients – The Times (£)
  • Surgeons reveal full extent of heart ops crisis in Wales – Wales Online
  • Cure for the 111 crisis lies in doctors' hands – Daily Mail Editorial
  • Withdrawal of a major supplier of the NHS 111 phoneline results from a failure in the contract negotiations – Times Editorial (£)
  • Out-of-hours GPs are the answer, not NHS helplines – Ross Clark, Daily Express
  • Those who can should unburden the health service, so it can
    act as the good, basic provider that Beveridge intended – Melissa Kite, The Guardian

The way we live now: women MPs receive death and rape threats via Twitter

Perry Claire"Stella Creasy was told on Twitter she would be tracked down and raped, with the terrifying threat: ‘Shall we meet near your house?’ The second MP, Claire Perry, received death threats relating to her fight against pornography on the internet. A senior police chief said Twitter had not done enough to tackle trolls. More than 64,000 people called for the networking service to act against abuse." – Daily Mail

  • Biggest sponsor of the Scottish Open says he won't agree to it being
    held at any golf club that discriminates against women – Scotsman
  • Maria Miller plans crackdown on nuisance calls and texts – Daily Mail
  • Nick the trolls – Sun Editorial

Select Committee Report 1) Home Affairs Committee raps net providers over child abuse and terror sites

"The report said: “It is still too easy for people to access inappropriate online content, particularly indecent images of children, terrorism incitement and sites informing people how to commit online crime.” The warning comes days after David Cameron urged internet companies to do more to stop child pornography. The prime minister did not pledge any more money to help tackle the problem. They called on the UK to support an increase in funding to the European cybercrime centre, something likely to prove controversial among eurosceptic MPs." – Financial Times

Select Committee Report 2) Lords Committee says that MPs should quiz the taxman

Screen shot 2013-07-30 at 08.18.49"HM Revenue & Customs should be scrutinised behind closed doors — like spy chiefs, the Lords Economic Affairs Committee will say. Currently, tax bosses can dodge giving evidence to Parliament due to “confidentiality” reasons. But amid growing outrage over tax avoidance by corporate giants, peers want a new joint body with MPs — similar to the Intelligence and Security Committee, which probes the work of spooks. The new tax committee would not publish any secret details but would say whether deals have been bad for taxpayers." – The Sun

Select Committee Report 3) Climate Change Committee blasts "toothless" OFGEM

"Energy watchdog OFGEM is toothless and does not do enough to help hard-up Brits understand their bills, MPs blasted yesterday. And the power giants in turn file complex accounts to make it difficult to calculate the extent of their profits, the committee said. The MPs hit out just weeks after Ofgem chief exec Andrew Wright — on £200,000 a year — was slammed for not holding energy firms to account." – The Sun

  • Former Minister Charles Hendry takes job with energy interest party donor – The Guardian

Spain defies Hague over Gibraltar

Screen shot 2013-07-30 at 08.20.31"The Foreign Secretary phoned his Spanish counterpart after Civil Guards caused eight-hour traffic jams by stopping every car and motorbike trying to leave the British colony. But his call for a speedy resolution to the border problems fell on deaf ears as Madrid bragged it would continue with its controversial policy. Spanish Foreign Secretary Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo allowed diplomats to brief journalists they would continue to carry out 'exhaustive checks' whenever they deemed it necessary." – Daily Mail

Janan Ganesh: Politicians should stop ganging up on London

"London has not flourished because of favourable treatment by the national political class. If anything, it has been short-changed by successive administrations. The government’s alacrity in commissioning the high-speed rail extension makes its procrastination over London’s airport capacity look even more complacent. Between 1986 and 2000, London was not even allowed to have a citywide government of its own, and its current mayoralty is weak compared with similar offices abroad." – Financial Times

News in Brief

  • Celebrity campaigners accused of hijacking Sussex fracking protest – The Times (£)
  • Police double value of diamonds stolen in Cannes Pink Panther heist to £88 million – Daily Mail
  • Man with petrol bomb restrained by patrons at Belfast bar – Belfast Telegraph
  • Sunshine lures UK shoppers back to stores – Financial Times
  • Mortgage rates slashed again – Daily Express
  • Savers hammered by interest rates – Daily Telegraph
  • Inflation has killed the minimum wage, says chief architect – The Independent
  • The apocalyptic ruins of Homs as Syrian army retakes city – The Sun
  • Pope Francis signals openness towards gay priests – The Guardian
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