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Flooding 1) Three people dead

mosfloods“The great Valentine’s Night storm left three people dead and caused continuing mayhem across Britain yesterday. In the most shocking incident, a freak wave in the English Channel smashed through the window of a cruise ship, killing a pensioner as he dined with his wife. Fallen trees and masonry paralysed road and rail networks in the worst devastation since the winter storms began.” – Mail on Sunday

Flooding 2) Hundreds of new homes planned for flooded areas

“Councils in some of the areas worst affected by Britain’s flooding crisis have published plans to build hundreds of homes on land that is currently under water. Dozens of potential sites have been earmarked for development in areas hit by the floods, such as the village of Wraysbury in Berkshire and Chertsey in Surrey. Potential housing development is also scheduled for Walton-on-Thames and Molesey — two riverside sites in Surrey that are subject to “severe” flood warnings involving danger to life.” – Sunday Telegraph

Flooding 3) Environment Agency spent thousands on gay rights campaigning

“The government agency responsible for dealing with floods was last night under pressure to explain why it had spent thousands of pounds on what appeared to be ‘pet projects’  of its chairman Lord Smith. A Mail on Sunday investigation has established that the Environment Agency, headed by Lord Chris Smith – Britain’s first openly gay Cabinet Minister – spent £639 on mugs promoting gay rights…It has also emerged that the agency spent £30,000 sponsoring Birmingham’s Gay Pride festival in 2009 and that staff were provided with ‘proud to be at Pride’ T-shirts and banners with the organisation’s logo on at Manchester Gay Pride marches in 2009 and 2007.” – Mail on Sunday

Flooding 4) Daley wants more emotion

daley“Maybe this current crop of politicians – being, as they are, rather old-fashioned English public school types – haven’t noticed, but the British have become less reserved, less embarrassed about expressing their feelings and more conditioned to expect reciprocity when they do. If you hate this phenomenon you might call it the vulgarisation (or maybe the Americanisation) of social mores. But whether you welcome it or not, there is something quite different in the air now.” – Janet Daley Sunday Telegraph

  • “It’s ironic that the Royal Fusiliers have been deployed on Defence Secretary Philip Hammond’s doorstep while they face losing a battalion under his cutbacks. Massive troop reductions mean our forces will be seriously stretched when called on to do their main job in the world’s trouble spots. To assume they could always handle an emergency at home at the same time seems naive.” – The Sun Says(£)
  • Just 30 per cent think Cameron has “got a grip of the situation.” – The Independent on Sunday

Tories hit back at Archbishop Nichols over welfare reform

“A spokesman for his Department for Work and Pensions said: “It’s wrong to talk of removing a safety net. We re spending £94 billion a year on working age benefits and the welfare system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed so they can meet basic needs.” A source close to Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said the Archbishop seemed to be “ill informed”.” – Sunday Telegraph

 d’Ancona warns against meeting UKIP half way

“Strategic integrity – broad consistency on the big issues – is one of the principal signs of leadership. It is quite possible to admire and even to vote for the party of a politician without approving of every policy he proposes, every action he has taken. What counts is his (or her) bearing: the capacity to turn competence into statesmanship. This is how to beat Ukip. Farage’s party holds up a mirror to the Tories and shows them their fears. Time to look away from the mirror.” – Matthew d’Ancona Sunday Telegraph

Miliband says climate change is a national security issue…

obsmiliband“Climate change is now an issue of national security with extreme weather threatening homes, livelihoods and businesses, Ed Miliband has warned. In an interview with the Observer, the Labour leader said the country was sleepwalking towards a crisis. This, he said, was because of a failure to recognise that climate change was causing the storms and floods.” – BBC

  • “One of the Met Office’s most senior experts yesterday made a dramatic intervention in the climate change debate by insisting there is no link between the storms that have battered Britain and global warming. Mat Collins, a Professor in climate systems at Exeter University, said the storms have been driven by the jet stream – the high-speed current of air that girdles the globe – which has been ‘stuck’ further south than usual. Professor Collins told The Mail on Sunday: ‘There is no evidence that global warming can cause the jet stream to get stuck in the way it has this winter. If this is due to climate change, it is outside our knowledge.’ ” – Mail on Sunday
  • Sceptics must put up or shut up – Henry Porter The Observer

…as Labour candidates tell him to “hug a banker”

stmiliband“Ed Miliband is facing dissent from his own party over his attacks on banks and big business and plan to raise tax for top earners, with Labour candidates warning that companies believe the party will treat them “like an ATM”. Leaked recordings of a meeting attended by would-be MPs and MEPs reveal their fears that Labour is seen to “hate” those on high incomes and warnings that the party risks being “categorised as anti-business”. One candidate warned that Labour needed to “change its language on banking” and “hug a banker” to build credibility in the City.” – The Sunday Times(£)

Salmond attacks “bullying” Cameron

“Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has written to David Cameron to accuse his ministers of bullying behaviour. He claimed recent interventions had been contrary to both the letter and spirit of the Edinburgh Agreement. Earlier this week, UK Chancellor George Osborne said a vote for independence would mean walking away from the pound. The Herald newspaper also quoted a “senior coalition source” saying a yes vote might not guarantee independence if talks did not go smoothly. In the letter, Mr Salmond urged the prime minister to distance himself from such a position as quickly and publicly as possible.” – BBC

  • “George Osborne’s pledge to veto a currency union with Scotland in the event of independence would cost English companies hundreds of millions of pounds, according to Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National party (SNP).” – Sunday Times(£)

Boris challenges Miliband over tube strike

BORIS open mouth“We will get on with our programme of using new technology to upgrade the Tube, with air-conditioning even on the deepest lines, automatic trains, a 24-hour service and so on. But it is when the going gets tough that you see who your friends are, and I have to say I thought the performance of Ed Miliband was spectacular in its spinelessness. He said nothing to denounce the strike. He said nothing to oppose the action of the militants (even though 70 per cent of the union membership actually DID NOT VOTE for the strike). He was about as much use as a catflap in a submarine.” – Boris Johnson The Sun on Sunday(£)

Yeo’s deselection claims backfire

“Claims by sacked Tory MP Tim Yeo that he was the victim of a witch-hunt by anti-gay marriage Tory fanatics in his rural Suffolk constituency have been dismissed as ‘tosh’ by his leading local critic. Mr Yeo, who was deselected after a ballot of local party activists earlier this month, blamed Conservative ‘extremists’ angry with him for supporting same-sex marriage. But the claim backfired last night when the man who led opposition to Mr Yeo revealed that his son is gay and will be among the first in Suffolk to have a same-sex wedding.” – Mail on Sunday

Charles Walker calls for end to “humiliating” stop and search

charleswalker“A senior Tory MP has told David Cameron that he has “a moral duty” to curb the “humiliating” use of stop and search against black and Asian people by the police. In a move that will ratchet up cabinet tensions over the police’s use of the power, Charles Walker, the vice-chairman of the influential Tory 1922 committee, wrote to the prime minister last week to demand that he back plans by Theresa May, the home secretary, to stop the “injustice”.” – Sunday Times(£)

Sikhs “could boycott Conservatives”

“Thousands of Sikh voters could boycott Conservative candidates at next year’s general election in protest at David Cameron’s refusal to launch a public inquiry into Britain’s role in the 1984 Amritsar massacre. Sikh groups said their members were “angry” that the Prime Minister had failed to meet with them to discuss their concerns over the narrow scope of a Whitehall review into the atrocity at the city’s Golden Temple. Mr Cameron has been given a deadline of this Thursday to agree to an urgent meeting with representatives of the Sikh Federation or face a mass protest outside Downing Street and political consequences at future election.” – Sunday Telegraph

Labour attack hedge fund donations to Tories

“Hedge fund chiefs have donated £1.32m to the Conservative Party in the space of only three months, official figures revealed yesterday. The money from 18 individuals and companies made up around a quarter of the total amount given to the Tories between September and December 2013, the latest Electoral Commission figures show. Longstanding Tory donor Michael Farmer, of RK Capital Management, gave the largest donation out of the group, with £267,000, followed by James Lupton of Greenhill with £259,000 and Christopher Rokos of Brevan Howard, who donated £230,000. Ten of the 18 donors, including these three, attend the exclusive leaders’ group dinners with David Cameron and other senior Cabinet ministers. Labour claimed the figures showed that Mr Cameron relies heavily on funding from hedge fund bosses.” – The Independent on Sunday

MPs paying “over the odds” for websites on their expenses

“A web design firm owned by a public relations adviser to a Tory minister has received £220,000 in taxpayers’ money to build sites for Conservative MPs including Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith, despite charging up to 10 times the average rate. According to expenses claims submitted by MPs, the average cost of creating and operating websites since 2010 has been £1,500. But Mike Penning, the minister for disabilities, has paid more than £15,000 to Buttermountain, a firm owned by Jonathan Mole, his parliamentary aide, PR man and a former Tory councillor.” – Sunday Times(£)

Clegg leadership rivals told to “rev up”

LibDemDead“The strongest contenders to succeed Nick Clegg as leader of the Liberal Democrats have been warned to start forming their campaign teams or risk losing the crown to party president Tim Farron by default. Senior MPs and peers said this weekend that Lib Dem Cabinet members Ed Davey, Danny Alexander, and Alistair Carmichael should be preparing themselves in the event of a vacancy after next year’s general election.” – Independent on Sunday

Thousands of council homes have tenants on six figure salaries

“Thousands of wealthy professionals are living in taxpayer-subsidised council houses despite earning more £100,000 a year, official figures have disclosed. Up to 5,000 people with six-figure salaries – including transport union boss Bob Crow – are enjoying the benefit of paying cheap rents for council homes or properties let by housing associations. Analysis by the Department for Communities and Local Government suggests that these rich tenants, who are in the top 5 per cent of all earners, are subsidised by about £4,200 each a year through the low rents that they pay.” – Sunday Telegraph

News in brief

20 comments for: Newslinks for Sunday 16th February 2014

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