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The Prime Minister attends Nelson Mandela’s memorial service…

Cameron Obama selfie

“British Prime Minister David Cameron attended Tuesday’s memorial, along with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Labour leader Ed Miliband and former British Prime Ministers Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and John Major.” – BBC

“Sir John Major has admitted that the Conservative Government led by Margaret Thatcher was wrong to oppose tougher sanctions against South Africa during the apartheid era.” – The Independent

  • “Mandela was an African political leader with qualities that were apt at a crucial juncture in his nation’s affairs. That was all and that was enough. Yet his reputation has fallen among thieves and cynics. Hijacked by politicians and celebrities from Barack Obama to Naomi Campbell and Sepp Blatter, he has had to be deified so as to dust others with his glory.” – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian
  • “Figures such as Sharnsky and Mandela understood that saying ‘it’s tough being me’ is self-destructive” – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)
  • “Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to attend Nelson Mandela’s memorial service speaks of Israel’s growing isolationism” – Matthew Norman, The Independent
  • “But while the occasion appeared shambolic, didn’t the memorial in Soweto also bear eloquent testimony to the greatness of Nelson Mandela?” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “It wasn’t the glittering memorial anyone imagined for Nelson Mandela. But poetic moments still reminded us of his greatness.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “South Africa must seize this moment to move on from the politics of revolution to the challenges to its stability” – Times editorial (£)

> Yesterday:

…suggests that the Tories would get more done without the Lib Dems…

Lib Dem bird cage“‘Increasingly, today, I feel very strongly and see very clearly the case for more accountable, more decisive and active government.’ He means government without the Lib Dems. He starts to reel off his areas of frustration. ‘I think we could go further on welfare reform, to sharpen work incentives and get more people out of poverty, I think that on the European question I can see very clearly now what needs to be done in terms of our relationship with Europe, in terms of the European convention on human rights and the way the human rights act works. I can see when it comes to building a pro-enterprise economy how we go further and faster on backing entrepreneurship, cutting business taxes, getting our economy moving.’” – David Cameron, interviewed by Fraser Nelson in The Spectator

  • “David Cameron has declared his support for Nigella Lawson — saying he is a member of her ‘team’.” – The Sun (£)

…and calls for a global effort to tackle dementia

“Scientists seeking new treatments for dementia will have their funding doubled by 2025, the Prime Minister has pledged, as world leaders meet in London for the first ever G8 Dementia Summit. … The government has already pledged to increase its spend on dementia research to £66m in 2015. This figure will increase with an ‘ambition’ to double public, commercial and charitable spending on research over the coming decade.” – The Independent

  • “…one thing that is not an option is to think that today’s summit marks the culmination of a process, rather than a beginning.” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Taxes will rise if we reject the nanny state” – Alice Thomson, The Times (£)

Fracking gets the green light from Lord Deben

Fracking“Britain should press ahead with fracking, the chairman of the Government’s climate change advisory body said yesterday. … Lord Deben dismissed claims by green groups that fracking would cause significant damage to the environment, adding that Britain needed to drill shale wells to reduce reliance on foreign imports of fossil fuel.” – The Times (£)

“Watering down the UK’s efforts to tackle global warming would risk wiping out at least £100bn in cost savings even if shale gas production takes off, the government’s chief climate change advisers have calculated.” – Financial Times

  • “Thousands of pensioners will pay more for fuel this winter after energy giant E.ON scrapped a cheaper tariff for the elderly. … The company blamed a Government plan to simplify tariffs for the closure of its Age UK deal which offered a cheaper fuel price to those over 60. … It has written to customers to tell them that they have been ‘renewed’ on to its standard fixed rate variable tariff – which costs around £78 more per year.” – Daily Mail
  • “The Archbishop of Canterbury has summoned the bosses of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies to a private meeting on Wednesday to discuss fuel poverty and rising energy prices.” – Daily Telegraph

Osborne makes banking concessions; MPs ready to accept his reform Bill

“Legislation to make banks safer and improve corporate governance is expected to be finally signed off by MPs on Wednesday, after George Osborne agreed a series of last-minute concessions to toughen up the bill. … The Banking Reform Bill, the government’s response to the financial crash in 2008 and last year’s Libor scandal, will create a ringfence around risky investment banking operations and a new regime for vetting senior managers.” – Financial Times

> Today:

Goldsmith reckons that the Chancellor is set on a third runway at Heathrow

Zac Goldsmith“A Conservative MP has claimed the government was trying to push through a third runway at Heathrow by hiding behind initial recommendations made by the independent airports commission led by Sir Howard Davies, whose interim report is due out next week. … Zac Goldsmith accused George Osborne of ‘yearning for a China-style government’, saying on Twitter: ‘Osborne has spent public money on a review whose only purpose is to make a 3rd runway decision look like it was reached independently.'” – The Guardian

Britain’s first gay weddings will take place on 29th March, ministers announce

“Britain’s first gay weddings will take place on March 29 next year, ministers announced yesterday. … The date is several months earlier than expected – and led to warnings that it could reopen deep Tory divisions over gay marriage in the run-up to next year’s European parliament elections.” – Daily Mail

“The first gay couples will be able to marry on 29 March 2014, which is also the day that the former Conservative Party chairman, Norman Tebbit, will turn 83.” – Andy McSmith, The Independent

  • “Biblical scriptures are in danger of becoming too politically incorrect to be expressed in modern Britain thanks to the campaigning of gay rights activists, the Court of Appeal hears” – Daily Telegraph

Miller speaks out against football match-fixing

“Mrs Miller said: ‘The Sun should be praised for their work on the issue and I’m thankful that they passed on their files to the police. … Match-fixing is a real threat to the integrity of sport. The message is clear to players who go down that road — you will be caught and punished.'” – The Sun (£)

  • “The Sun welcomes the hastily arranged Whitehall talking-shop on match-fixing. But let’s see some action too.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “The danger is that the less a sport appears to be regulated, the more it appeals to those looking to make money” – Guardian editorial

IDS’s claims are challenged by the National Audit Office

idspic“The government’s official independent auditors have challenged claims by the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, that IT problems associated with that new universal credit scheme have cost taxpayers only £41m. … The National Audit Office points out that the DWP has been forced to write down a further £91m of software assets three times more quickly than was previously envisaged.” – The Guardian

“A senior civil servant blamed for a string problems with the government’s flagship welfare reforms was given a £20,000 bonus last year, according to newly published accounts.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Why must our governments be so incompetent at IT?” – Ross Clark, The Times (£)

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Universal Credit must carry on, but Whitehall can’t carry on like this

And the NAO also takes on Gove’s free schools

“The government’s flagship education policy has not helped large parts of the country facing shortages of primary school places, according to the public spending watchdog. … The National Audit Office found that 70 per cent of all free schools opened so far were in areas with a need for new places. But the Department for Education had received no applications to open primary free schools in half of all areas with high or severe forecast needs.” – Financial Times

  • “The cost of establishing a free school has doubled to £6.6m because the Department for Education has failed to exert control over expenditure, the government’s independent auditors have found.” – The Guardian

> Yesterday on Local Government: At last, incompetent teachers are being removed from our schools

Hammond abandons his defence procurement plan

HAMMOND Phil pursed mouth“The government has abandoned plans to privatise its defence procurement body after only one bidder was left in contention for the contract. … Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said there was no longer a ‘competitive process’ and the risks of continuing were ‘too great to be acceptable’.” – The Sun (£)

  • “David Cameron will hand over a massive £12million in sinning bankers’ fines to needy forces vets – to mark The Sun’s sixth Millies Awards. … It is the third lump sum from the Treasury’s pool of fines to punish the Libor rates fixing scandal, and the biggest yet.” – The Sun (£)

Mark Harper: British firms should pay higher wages rather than relying on cheap, imported labour

“Businesses complaining about a lack of British applicants to fill job vacancies should pay higher wages, the immigration minister declared last night. … Mark Harper said that, if firms were unable to find willing workers, they were not paying the market rate and should ‘reflect’ on the salary package they are offering. … Mr Harper said there was no question of the government relaxing immigration rules so Domino’s could ‘keep wages low’.” – Daily Mail

  • “According to the principal estimates – those the ONS considers most likely to come true – the population will rise to 73.3million in 2037, and the politically sensitive 70million point will come as early as 2027.” – Daily Mail
  • “Special border control measures are to be put in place to prepare for a potential surge in Romanian and Bulgarian migrants arriving in Britain next month when restrictions are lifted.” – The Times (£)
  • “This village in Romania is deserted — because nine out of ten locals are in the UK.” – The Sun (£)

And comment:

  • “No one, especially the Government, has a clue how many Romanians and Bulgarians will come here once all restrictions are lifted in three weeks’ time.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “How long before the curse of the Home Office descends on Theresa May? … For the plain fact is that immigration is out of control, more than when the Tories came to power in 2010.” – Andrew Alexander, Daily Mail
  • “Despite the economic misery of the last five years, Europe remains a success story” – Hamish McRae, The Independent
  • “Worry about Europe’s Left, not its Far Right” – Roger Boyes, The Times (£)

> Today:

> Yesterday, by Christopher Howarth on Comment: War-gaming the UK’s future relationship with the EU – inside and out

Tories call for the Government to come clean over HS2

high-speed rail“Senior Tory MPs demanded that the government publish a damning report into the £50 billion High Speed Rail project yesterday after the Mail revealed ministers are trying to suppress it. … Conservative Vice Chairman Michael Fabricant broke ranks and warned that failure to come clean about the project would fuel ‘growing mistrust about HS2’.” – Daily Mail

Rob Wilson accuses Patten of making a “chilling” legal threat

“A Tory MP accused Lord Patten of Barnes of making a ‘chilling’ legal threat as a row about the BBC’s handling of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse allegations escalated last night. … Rob Wilson, the MP for Reading East, has threatened to release a potentially embarrassing tape recording in which Nick Pollard, the head of a £3 million inquiry into the scandal, is heard undermining his own findings.” – The Times (£)

Matthew Parris: Let MPs have their pay rise

“I’m not sure MPs ‘need’ more money as individuals; and in the many candidate selections I’ve moderated for the Conservative Party I haven’t noticed a diminution in the calibre of applicants. But when an MP stands up to a chief constable, a local doctor or a council leader, and these last are paid twice or three times what the MP gets, the fact is that both sides know it. It’s about status, stupid.” – Matthew Parris, The Times (£)

  • 4-in-10 voters could tolerate a pay rise for MPs if it was offset by reductions to other perks – The Times (£)

Clegg under fire from Lib Dems for backing cuts

Libdem bird vs TORY“Nick Clegg is facing a grassroots revolt by Liberal Democrat members who claim he has signed up to another three years of deep spending cuts after the 2015 general election. … The Social Liberal Forum, the main pressure group on the left of the Lib Dems, has warned that the party will stand for nothing if it commits to more ‘Tory cuts’ at the election and said it must not be locked into such ‘economic illiteracy.'” – The Independent

  • “In supporting George Osborne’s ‘fiscal contract’, Nick Clegg mapped out his party’s future – and his own” – Independent editorial

> Yesterday on LeftWatch: Danger! Danger! Osborne’s Budgets are becoming a focus of Lib Dem confusion and angst

Former Lib Dem minister calls for new spying laws

“David Heath, a former deputy leader of the House of Commons who left the government two months ago, is launching an attempt to tighten up the rules around interception of communications amid fears spies may be using legal loopholes to expand their powers. … He told the Guardian there were gaps in legislation governing the intelligence services that had to be closed” – The Guardian

Labour should adopt universal childcare, suggests IPPR

“A universal state-funded childcare service delivered through children’s centres is set to be one of the themes of a major report into the condition of Britain to be published this week by centre-left thinktank the IPPR. … The study is being closely followed by Jon Cruddas, the head of the Labour policy review and one of the staunchest advocates of the left’s duty to the family as the bedrock of society.” – The Guardian

  • “Now Labour could become the party of marriage and the family” – Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph

Ofsted chief: Rowdy pupils are bringing Britain down

“Rowdy behaviour in class and a contempt for learning are dragging English pupils behind their peers in Asian countries, the chief inspector of schools will warn today. … The education of 700,000 children – one in ten overall – is suffering because teachers are failing to crack down on ‘horseplay’, Sir Michael Wilshaw will say.” – Daily Mail

“The uneven quality of schools across the country means England is a nation divided into ‘lucky and unlucky children’ in terms of access to high-quality teaching, and poverty is no longer a predictor of educational failure, the head of Ofsted will argue today.” – The Guardian

  • “How London Challenge turned capital’s schools around” – Mike Tomlinson, The Guardian

New NHS chief says that current models “won’t cut it”

NHSSimon Stevens, who will become NHS England chief executive next year, said urgent changes should be made in the way care is provided, and that those in charge of services should be open to ‘a profoundly changed relationship’ with those they serve. … ‘I want to suggest that our current healthcare models mostly won’t cut it,’ he told delegates.” – Daily Telegraph

Comic Relief promises to mend its ways

“The beleaguered boss of Comic Relief yesterday promised to carry out a full review of its investments following revelations that it had pumped millions of pounds into tobacco, arms and alcohol companies. … Critics say the investments undermine its work to help the victims of smoking-related diseases, alcohol abuse and war.” – Daily Mail

News in brief

  • Britons plead guilty to terrorism in US court – Daily Telegraph
  • RSPCA told to drop “alarmist” campaign over badger cull – Daily Telegraph
  • Ketamine should be a Class B drug, says government advisory panel – Financial Times
  • Overseas students could be worth £12bn a year in higher education fees by 2020 – Financial Times
  • Only 46 per cent of women get the full state pension – Daily Mail
  • Fraud and error in the benefits system costs £110 a second – Daily Mail
  • A payday loan advert is broadcast every 78 seconds – Daily Mail
  • Campaigners warn about cuts to bus routes – BBC
  • Barclays to end sponsorship of Boris Johnson’s London bike hire scheme – The Guardian
  • 1-in-10 calls to the NHS 111 helpline are from people needing dental treatment – The Sun (£)

50 comments for: Newslinks for Wednesday 11th December 2013

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