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telegraphosborneOsborne says Britain must do better

“Britain has lost its sense of ambition and optimism and has allowed “the bits that were great” to wither, George Osborne has said as he called on the country to “up our game”. The Chancellor said Britain had become “defeatist” and had to improve in the face of the economic challenge posed by the “staggering” rise of China.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “He claimed, as he waited in Hong Kong for a flight home, that the positive attitude of the country during the Victorian era and while Margaret Thatcher was prime minister has been lost. “I do think there’s an ambition in the country and a sense of optimism and ‘can do’ which our country had in the Victorian age and had at other points in our history,” he said.” – The Independent
  • “The Royal Bank of Scotland is to be broken up by the Government into a “good bank” and a “bad bank” with the go-ahead to be given within the next few weeks, the Chancellor has disclosed. George Osborne said the future of RBS was his “priority for the next two or three weeks” and there was no chance the bank could be left in its current form.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “I’m looking forward to going back to Shanghai. My family lived there for four happy years and my younger son was the first Briton born in China since the communist revolution of 1949. I helped list the only joint venture Sino-British company on the Stock Exchange (Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington) and the first Chinese company to list in London (Zhenhai), founded and chaired the British Chamber of Commerce, helped create the first Anglo-Chinese charity Care4Children and re-founded the Shanghai Cricket Club.” – Richard Graham MP Daily Telegraph

Cameron backs send text messages to illegal immigrants…

homeofficemessage“David Cameron “agrees with the principle” of sending text messages suggesting the recipients are illegal immigrants, despite some going to the wrong people, his spokesman has said. The Home Office says just 14 people out of a total of 58,800 contacted were mistakenly asked if they had overstayed their visas.” – BBC

…as Sam Cam  has higher profile

“Since the summer, charities have started publicising the regular receptions that she holds for them. Last week, she was captured by a political photographer on a rare outing. While the picture was not a set-up, some find it hard to believe it was entirely accidental. “It was an unusual happening,”
noted one veteran observer. “She is normally very cautious to avoid her picture being taken.” – The Times (£)

  • “Cricket-loving David Cameron says his biggest thrill of 2013 was getting batting tips from England legend Geoffrey Boycott. The PM put on a Yorkshire accent as he described the moment one of England’s best openers – and Yorkshire stalwart – gave him pointers on his stroke. He said yesterday: “Boycott told me, ‘You’ve got to do it like this lad, you’ve got to do it like this’. He wouldn’t stop until he’d got my elbow sticking out properly. It was quite extraordinary.” – Daily Express

penningPenning says proper checks on disability benefit claimants are needed

“Only 6 per cent of new disability benefit claimants have a face-to-face assessment with a medic, it has been revealed. Disability minister Mike Penning said it is morally wrong that so many people get welfare payments ‘for life’ based on a form they often fill in themselves.” – Daily Mail

  • “Ninety per cent of Disability Living Allowance claimants get their handout without a doctor ever checking them over. They simply fill in a form. This is absurd — and will at long last be rectified under the newPersonal Independence Payment. Why did it take so long for a Government to correct such a basic flaw?” – The Sun Says (£)

Gove says governments should not lie to children on school performance

“The education secretary, Michael Gove, has urged politicians to stop “lying to children” about their life chances and allowing inflated exam grades that he compared to Soviet tractor production propaganda. “For years, ministers in previous governments looked at the way more and more people were getting GCSEs and they congratulated themselves, like Soviet economics ministers on the growth in statistics,” Gove told a US summit on education reform on Thursday night. Slipping into a mock Russian accent and syntax, Gove said: “Look in Russia, thousands more get GCSEs. Surely now we are education powerhouse?” – The Guardian

mailspyCouncil spy on parents who transfer property to avoid care home bills

“Councils are spying on parents who sign over their homes to their children to avoid care home fees. Local authority inspectors are rifling through residents’ financial records to see if they deliberately tried to conceal their property wealth.” – Daily Mail

Portillo: Mitchell did NOT use P word…

“Michael Portillo has said he “misspoke” when he claimed he had heard former Conservative chief whip Andrew Mitchell say the word “pleb”….In a live discussion on the BBC’s This Week, Mr Portillo revealed: “I have heard him use that word in private conversation – the pleb word, I mean.” But he now says he got “carried away”.” – BBC

…as more Plebgate footage is checked

“Prosecutors handling the Plebgate case are studying closed-circuit television footage of the Downing Street incident which has not been seen by the public. Operation Alice, the Scotland Yard investigation into the altercation between Andrew Mitchell and police officers last year, seized video from security cameras around Downing Street and Whitehall to build a full picture of it.” – The Times (£)

SNP promise 5 per cent cut in energy bills if Scotland votes Yes to independence

“Scotland’s deputy first minister has unveiled plans to cut energy bills by about 5% a year if the country votes for independence. Nicola Sturgeon told the SNP’s conference in Perth the reduction of about £70 would be achieved by removing a number of “green” charges. She believed the measure would not be a short-term fix, but a “real and lasting cut”.” – BBC

  • “Alex Salmond will argue on Saturday that supporting independence in next year’s referendum is a natural, commonsense act of “national self-belief” rather than a dangerous leap into the unknown.” –  The Guardian
  • “There is a dangerous surge of opposition to green levies, while families on tight budgets face real hardship.” – Leader The Guardian

Assad’s forces target pregnant women

“Pregnant women in Syria are being picked off by snipers in a sickening war game in which their unborn babies appear to be used for target practice, according to a British surgeon.” – The Times (£)

  • “The war in Syria is quite unlike any conducted by a free society, however, in that its very purpose is to attack a civilian population: Syrians who are held captive by an increasingly desperate autocracy. The Times has argued for intervention in Syria’s implosion, to enable a threatened people to defend itself. The depredations of this war are so extreme that the great powers must at least demand a ­humanitarian corridor within which medical supplies can get through and volunteers can work.It was predictable that Assad’s assault would have harrowing consequences, but this is an agony far beyond not only his own paltry imagination.” – Leader The Times (£)

Robinson says unionists should drop “siege mentality”

“First Minister Peter Robinson has challenged unionists to drop their “siege mentality”. He said they should move forward with nationalists to overcome the problems facing Northern Ireland.” – BBC

Charles Moore says lawyers put our troops at risk

” ‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,’’ cries Shakespeare’s King Henry V before Harfleur, ”Or close the wall up with our English dead.’’ We are brought up to believe that these were fine words. But was the king human-rights compliant? Did he have due regard to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007?” – Charles Moore Daily Telegraph

  • “Britain’s Armed Forces deserve a declaration of independence from European human rights laws that cannot reasonably be expected to apply to them. The alternative may be the worst sort of military defeat: a self-inflicted one.” – Leader The Times (£)

PARRIS MathhewMatthew Parris says the English like winning

“We indulge a bit, as all races do, in the glorification of defeat — Tolpuddle Martyrs, the Light Brigade, striking coalminers, and all that — but neither on the left, where organised labour is happier celebrating victory than defeat, nor on the right, where our long and bloody retreat from Empire is brushed aside, does humiliation in our history inspire us. We don’t talk about Singapore in the way Australians talk about Gallipoli.” – The Times (£)

Call for faith schools to be stopped from promoting their faith

“Faith schools could lose the right to teach religion from the perspective of their own creed, but instead lessons would have to give greater weight to other beliefs. A report by the Religious Education Council for England and Wales to be published next week says that it is time to reconsider the special status given to religious education (RE) in schools for the past 70 years.” – The Times (£)

News in brief

  • High speed rail losers published – BBC
  • Blair holds fund raiser for Gloria De Piero and Luciana Berger – The Times (£)
  • Tristram Hunt backs performance related pay for teachers – The Guardian

And finally…Jumpergate

“David Cameron believes anyone struggling to pay high energy bills should turn their heating down and wear a jumper at home, an aide said last night. The suggestion follows outrage at an announcement by British Gas that it was increasing fuel bills by 9.2 per cent, leading to misery for millions. When Energy Secretary Ed Davey was asked whether people should dress more warmly, he said: ‘I’m sure people do wear jumpers, I wear jumpers at home.’ ” – Daily Mail

  • “A Downing Street spokesman was asked at a daily press briefing whether Mr Cameron believed that wearing a jumper could keep bills down. “Clearly, he is not going to prescribe necessarily the actions individuals should take about that,” the spokesman began. Fatefully, however, he added: “But … that is something that people may wish to consider.” – The Times (£)
  • “He may be rich enough to cope even with the British Gas price rise but Michael Ashcroft is putting on his jumper in a show of support for the Prime Minister.” – The Independent
  • “After a Downing Street official agreed with a suggestion that wrapping up warm could be a good idea as we head towards the winter months all hell broke loose. Labour’s class warriors rolled into action to imply that the Prime Minister and his inner-circle have no other answer to rip-off energy bills than for people to shroud themselves in woollies instead of turning the heating on.” – Daily Express

26 comments for: Newslinks for Saturday 19th October 2013

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