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MPs’ Pay: Downing Street distances itself from IPSA plan for a rise, as Cabinet Ministers rush to declare they won’t take it….

IPSA“The Prime Minister has described a rise on that scale as “unthinkable” and a Downing Street spokesman said: “We believe the cost of politics should be going down, not up”…But Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said most people would find it “utterly incomprehensible” such a large increase was being recommended…Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, also said he would not take the rise and suggested cabinet colleagues would follow suit.” – The Independent

…MPs seethe (in private)…

“Party leaders were warned that there is “never a right time” to increase MPs’ pay yesterday as angry backbenchers attacked David Cameron for leaving them stuck “between a rock and a hard place”. Parliament’s expenses watchdog is expected to announce an 11 per cent salary increase this week, worth about £7,600 a year, to come into force after the next election…behind the scenes Tory MPs fumed at the Prime Minister for letting the situation descend into chaos.” – The Times (£)

…Bottomley, Straw, Ruffley defend the proposal (in public)…

BOTTOMLEY Peter“Tory MP Sir Peter Bottomley backed IPSA’s recommendation. He said: “It was the leaders who set up the system. IPSA are given the responsibility to set the level of pay — and people can’t interfere with it.” Colleague David Ruffley added: “I am minded to accept it. It is an inconvenient truth that MPs’ pay has fallen behind other equivalent occupations for some years, such as the judiciary.” Labour grandee Jack Straw — standing down at the next election — also backed the rise. He said: “There is never a good time to increase MPs’ pay.” – The Sun

…The media turns its firepower on IPSA…

“The civil servants who run the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority are even better paid than MPs. Three are on more than the backbench salary of £66,396, while ebullient chairman Professor Sir Ian Kennedy earned almost the same for an estimated three days a week. IPSA agreed to pay an interim chief executive £650 a day for just 50 days’ work last year – the equivalent of an annual salary of £169,000.” – Daily Mail

…And the Times says: Give Them The Money

UK notes and coins“The national average is not necessarily the standard to which the salary of an MP should be compared. To hold the government to account, and to provide the pool of talent from which the executive is drawn, is a responsible and difficult task. The more a democracy can draw on the best available talent, the healthier it is likely to be…There were, without doubt, some MPs who were revealed as venal by the saga over their expense but most were not. If we want to best quality representation then we cannot begrudge paying them properly.” – The Times (£)

> Today: ToryDiary – MPs’ pay: “O reason not the need! Our basest beggars. Are in the poorest thing superfluous.”

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – MPs should be paid £26,000 a year

Universal Credit 1) IDS faces Select Committee over delayed delivery…

“Figures reveal that only 400,000 benefit claimants will be using the universal credit system in 2015-16 compared with the 4.5 million that had been planned. Instead, the vast majority of the 7 million people due to transfer to the new £2.billion programme will do so in the two years leading up to 2017. The figures were earthed by the Labour Party in the small print of a report produced by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to accompany last week’s Autumn Statement.” – The Times (£)

Universal Credit 2) The Work and Pensions Secretary defends his scheme

IDS headshot“In his first full interview since two public spending watchdogs delivered excoriating criticism of poor management of the welfare shake-up, Mr Duncan Smith said he “made no excuses” and took “complete responsibility . . . from start to finish”. He said the IT problems that have dogged universal credit were small within the context of a £2bn programme that will bundle all working-age benefits into a single payment.” – Financial Times

> Today: Akash Paun in ThinkTanks: How to stop the strife between Ministers and civil servants

Charles Walker makes history in debate over black deaths in custody

“Something heartening happened in the Commons last week – the first parliamentary debate on black deaths in custody. There have been at least 135 black and ethnic minority deaths since 1990. African-Caribbeans account for 3% of the population; 15% of the prison population but 20% of the deaths in custody. Even allowing for our disproportionate presence in the criminal justice system and all others areas of custody, those stats need explaining. And they were presented to the nation, in a way that has never occurred before, by a white Tory MP from Hertfordshire.” – The Guardian

Balls’s Catherine Tate moment

Screen shot 2013-12-09 at 08.28.27“Labour MPs are openly speculating Mr Balls might be dumped by Ed Miliband following last week’s disastrous Commons performance as he responded to George Osborne’s mini-Budget. But when asked yesterday if he feared for his future he copied comic Catherine Tate — by insisting he was “not bothered”. He added: “The reason why you ask me these questions is because you want me to be bothered. Frankly, I couldn’t give a toss.” – The Sun

  • Shadow Chancellor performs Schumann’s Kinderszenen, a piano piece for children, at a North London arts centre – Daily Mail
  • Miliband’s energy plan slammed – The Sun
  • Puttnam says selecting Miliband was gift to Tories – Daily Telegraph
  • Kinnock says rich should pay more tax – The Independent
  • Osborne to waive VAT from X-factor single – The Sun
  • Treasury commits to railways investment – Financial Times

> Yesterday: WATCH – Balls cracks under pressure, snaps “I couldn’t give a toss”.

Labour’s Falkirk choice: a campaign worker for USDAW

“A former MSP, Karen Whitefield, said she hoped to begin the work of uniting Falkirk Labour party after being selected as its new parliamentary candidate on Sunday. She fought off challenges from Pam Duncan and Monica Lennon to win the backing of local party members as the candidate to replace Eric Joyce, who was expelled from Labour after committing an assault in a House of Commons bar…Whitefield is a campaign officer for Usdaw, the shopworkers’ union, and as soon as her selection was announced the Conservative party claimed her victory showed Labour was in the grip of the unions.” – The Guardian

Farage stands by ‘expel all migrants’ councillor

UKIP glass“He argued that the comments made by the local councillor were taken completely out of context and only applied to illegal immigrants. Mrs Ayling’s comments were broadcasted online in a video that she had recorded in 2008. In the video posted by the Mail On Sunday, she talked about the need to control the numbers of “illegals and failed asylum seekers” entering the UK. The councillor in East Lindsey, Lincolnshire is heard telling him: “I just want to send the lot back but I can’t say that.” – Daily Express

  • Godfrey Bloom’s self-mocking Christmas card – Daily Mail

> Today: Bill Borrett on Local Government – Vote UKIP, get rag-tag-and-bobtail

Boris: As Christmas approaches give, give, give to charity (and, by the way, my recent speech was a warning about the perils of inequality)

“The money-making instinct is a valid driver of economic activity, and for better or worse we have found no other way of efficiently running our societies. But, as I said the other day, we need to recognise that there is a problem of growing inequality in this country, and if we are going to have a great new fizzing Eighties boom, and a new breed of Gordon Gekkos, then they need to show – this time round – that they understand they are part of a wider society that is in many cases having it very tough.” – Daily Telegraph

Sam Freeman: The learning towers of Pisa

School“There are, though, reasons to question this narrative. Pisa tests a quite specific set of skills. Timss, another international test that looks more closely at the type of content we have in our curriculums, finds the UK and US up in the top 10, not so far off the far east. Moreover the seemingly intuitive relationship between education and economic success is not that clear. In the first international mathematics test, in the early 1960s, the US came last, yet has remained an economic superpower.” – Financial Times

  • How PGCE courses are turning out semi-literate teachers – Graeme Archer, Daily Telegraph
  • 860 primary schools fail to reach targets on three Rs – Daily Mail

Dominic Lawson: Mandela – warm to strangers, cold to family

“Richard Stengel, who worked for three years with Mandela on his autobiography, and whose superb memoir of the man was published in the Mail on Saturday.  ‘We’ve kind of made him into Santa Claus. He wasn’t. He had tremendous anger and bitterness in his heart,’ Stengel said. ‘What made him such a fantastic and astonishing politician was that he never let anyone see that.’ ” – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail

  • Prince Charles will represent Queen at Mandela funeral – Daily Express

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Nelson Cameron???

News in Brief

  • Kiev protesters topple Lenin statue – The Independent
  • Cameron accused of hypocrisy after being seen shopping in Waterstones on Small Business Saturday – Daily Mail
  • Police allow immigrant offenders to slip the net – The Times (£)
  • Tech companies demand sweeping changes to US laws – The Guardian
  • Don’t have children unless you are ready to marry, says judge – Daily Telegraph
  • Airport owners all expect backing for new runways in report – Financial Times
  • Ex-Premier stars in match-fixing probe – The Sun
  • Storms for Christmas, with 90mph winds and torrential gales – Daily Express

40 comments for: Newslinks for Monday 9th December 2013

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