Published:

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"Three quarters of voters will not support the Liberal Democrat party whatever it does, an unpublished internal party poll suggests.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

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