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Lord Dannatt urges the Prime Minister to recall Parliament

Iraq flag“As the Prime Minister began his third holiday of the year, the former head of the Army, Lord Dannatt, said ‘the nation would expect’ Parliament to be recalled. … Lord Dannatt, a former defence adviser to Mr Cameron, said the potential implications of the conflict – which Mr Cameron warned this week could bring ‘mayhem to our streets’ – meant that Britain’s response should be fully debated. … Tory MP Conor Burns said: ‘I want Parliament to come back and I want us to hold the Government to account. Why are we not arming the Kurds? Why are we only providing humanitarian aid?’” – Daily Mail

  • “In a chilling warning at the end of grisly film, the executioner, who speaks with what sounds like a British accent, parades another American journalist, Steven Joel Sotloff, who went missing in August 2013, saying: ‘The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.'” – Daily Mail
  • “One of the US officials said President Barack Obama was expected to make a statement about the killing today.” – The Times (£)
  • “When Islamic State militants stormed into a northern Iraqi village and ordered everyone to convert to Islam or die only one person refused. But that did not satisfy the Sunni insurgents who are even more hardline than al Qaeda.” – Daily Mail
  • “Islamic State terror chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has survived a US drone strike, it was claimed last night.” – The Sun (£)

And comment:

  • “We don’t need all these demands to recall Parliament” – Independent editorial
  • “The Arab world has to take on Isis in its own backyard” – Shashank Joshi, Financial Times
  • “Stay clear of double-dealing Iran, Mr Cameron” – Richard Kemp, The Times (£)

> Today: Matthew Glanville on Comment – Iraq, IS – and a failure of British intelligence

> Yesterday:

More questions and doubts about Cameron’s Big Society Network

Camerons thinking copy“Britain’s main distributor of lottery money granted almost £1m to an organisation with close links to David Cameron that made a series of claims on its funding application which are now being disputed, The Independent has established. … The revelations raise further questions over the practices employed by the Big Society Network which was behind the project and was launched by the Prime Minister to great fanfare shortly after he entered Downing Street.” – The Independent

May prepares new laws to tackle bullying partners

MAY Home Office big“Men and women who trap their partners in a cycle of emotional cruelty would be prosecuted and jailed under tough new laws proposed by ministers. … In a dramatic shake-up, Home Secretary Theresa May today launched a consultation on creating a specific criminal offence of domestic abuse. … Police and prosecutors would be expected to take action against those who trap their partners in a ‘living hell’ through a campaign of psychological and financial control.” – Daily Mail

  • “Ninety rapists have received only a caution since the Coalition came to power, even though the crime carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, shocking new figures have revealed.” – Daily Mail
  • “Secretive documents on cases in the family courts could be disclosed to the Press to help them ‘perform their watchdog role’, a leading judge said yesterday.” – Daily Mail
  • “An MP gave a convicted killer’s mother a job — after helping his victim’s family fight for justice. … Yvonne Collins was stunned to find Lorraine Clarke — mum of the man who killed her son Anthony — working in Tory MP Jessica Lee’s office.” – The Sun (£)

And comment:

  • “How would a new law work? How would it decide when the anger voiced in most troubled relationships crosses the line into behaviour which could put one partner in jail?” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “Domestic abuse may be made an offence. But how would such a law be policed?” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Controlling behavior is abuse and it’s time we criminalised it.” – Polly Neate, Daily Telegraph
  • “Long-term bail allows lazy police and prosecutors to leave cases to gather dust” – Oliver Wright, The Independent
  • “Our Victorian prisons have had their day” – Danny Kruger, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: Charlotte McLeod on Comment – Do we need a specific offence of domestic violence?

Perry faces rail commuters’ wrath

PERRY Claire“Commuters reacted with fury yesterday after the new rail minister declared that they enjoy ‘fair fares for comfortable commuting’ – on the same day they were warned of another inflation-busting rise in ticket prices. … Claire Perry, facing accusations of shocking complacency, also insisted that high prices could be avoided by simply booking ahead. … Yesterday it was revealed that next year’s increase is likely to be 3.5 per cent and some prices could rise by as much as 5.5 per cent.” – Daily Mail

  • “The Rail Minister might share their anger if she ever stood all the way to the capital from Wiltshire at peak time with her nose in a stranger’s back.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “If ever there was an example of how disconnected politicians are from ordinary voters, this is it.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “Rail fare increases are painful, but subsidies are not the answer” – Times editorial (£)
  • “When earnings have lagged behind the cost of living for a whole parliament, every government-controlled price rise – from fuel duties to energy bills – becomes a political issue, all the more so in an election year.” – Guardian editorial
  • “To put the railways back on track we must first rip out the waste” – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph
  • “Rail fare rises are a legacy of decades of underinvestment” – Simon Calder, The Independent

The Government hails Watford’s grey workforce

growth flag“The usually unremarkable English town of Watford has a claim to fame: it is in the vanguard of one of the trends reshaping the UK labour market. … Data from the Department for Work and Pensions show that in this town on the outskirts of London, almost 90 per cent of people aged 50 to 64 are in work, the highest employment rate for that age group in Britain. … The department published the figures as part of a campaign to encourage employers and workers to embrace longer working lives.” – Financial Times

  • “A cap on excessive pension charges could boost savers’ retirement funds by £1 billion – five times more than previously estimated – one of Britain’s largest insurers indicated on Tuesday.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “The Telegraph has plundered official data on average weekly incomes, crime rates, health, home ownership and economic activity to construct an index of towns and cities across England and Wales.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “London is the world’s hottest city for international home buyers – and yet it has become one of the least appealing places to live in Europe, according to new figures.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “Britain’s youth risk being locked out of any recovery” – Tom Clark, The Guardian

HMRC bids for more power

Tax Take“HM Revenue & Customs has already faced anger over its request to be able to raid bank accounts for unpaid taxes without obtaining a court order first. … Yesterday it launched a fresh power grab, setting out plans for a new criminal offence of failing to declare income from money held in offshore accounts. … Anyone found to have withheld details of their funds could face ‘unlimited’ financial penalties, or up to six months in prison in the most serious cases.” – Daily Mail

  • “Holyrood has backed legislation to establish Scotland’s first tax collection system for 300 years.” – The Scotsman
  • “David Cameron is finding it difficult to recruit a Whitehall chief executive to drive through reform as suitable candidates are being put off by the prospect of working for Ed Miliband.” – The Times (£)
  • “Members of the public who have ever looked at a rather forlorn building and hankered after buying it can find out if it is in government hands through a website launched on Wednesday by the Cabinet Office – and make a case for it to be sold on the open market.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “More can be done, but the Chancellor has made a good start in tackling corporate tax evasion” – Independent editorial
  • “The debacle over eBorders is a reminder that a digital project cherished by one government can soon be ditched by its successor.” – Financial Times editorial

Ministers won’t block Bercow’s choice for Commons clerk

John Bercow“Ministers have indicated they are not prepared to block the controversial appointment of an Australian to a senior £200,000-a-year post in the House of Commons. … Despite growing cross-party anger over the selection of Carol Mills as the next clerk, Downing Street is reluctant to become involved for fear it could trigger a constitutional crisis, the Mail understands. … Blocking the appointment – made by a panel led by Commons Speaker John Bercow – would be ‘extraordinary’ and ministers believe there are no grounds for doing so, a source said.” – Daily Mail

  • “Frontbenchers on both sides of the House of Commons are arguing for a delay in the appointment of a new chief executive at Westminster, to protect the Queen from the fallout of a growing row.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “John Bercow is right to fight for a more modern House of Commons” – Steve Richards, The Guardian
  • “This House rejects Aussie rules” – Max Davidson, Daily Telegraph
  • “Arrogant Bercow should be brought to heel” – Jill Kirby, The Times (£)

> Today: ToryDiary – Why we now need a Labour Speaker

Children’s mental health services are “dysfunctional”, says Lamb

Norman Lamb“Children’s mental health services in England are ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘crying out’ for a complete overhaul, the Care Minister Norman Lamb has said, in a stark admission that thousands of children are being let down by the NHS’s ‘institutional bias’ against mental health. … Young people suffering with serious conditions including depression, schizophrenia, and drug and alcohol problems are being cut off from the care they need in many parts of the country because of a ‘hopeless’ system in which mental health services are commissioned by four different organisations, Mr Lamb said.” – The Independent

  • “Easy access to online pornography is wrecking adolescence for many young people, a new survey of teenagers warns today.” – Daily Mail
  • “Charles Napier, the half-brother of Conservative MP John Whittingdale, has been charged with sexually abusing 21 boys aged between eight and 13.” – The Guardian

The Lib Dems let Rennard back in

“The Liberal Democrats were plunged into crisis last night after former party president Lord Rennard was cleared of bringing the party into disrepute despite claims he groped a series of female activists. … In an extraordinary statement, officials said the Lib Dems had ‘decided not to proceed with the disciplinary process against him’. A spokesman added: ‘This brings the matter to a close and means the suspension of his membership is lifted.’ … The decision means that Lord Rennard can retake his place among the Lib Dem group in the Lords and, potentially, play a major role in the party’s election campaign.” – Daily Mail

Umunna criticises the Coalition’s rebalancing act

Umunna on Marr“Efforts to rebalance the UK economy away from London and the southeast using a regional growth fund have been ‘mired in chaos and delay’, the shadow business secretary will say on Wednesday. … The £3.2bn fund is £900m behind schedule in attracting private investment, and £750m of the first £1.9bn of public money allocated to projects had yet to be drawn down, in the year to March … The government responded that the ‘slower than expected delivery of private investment reflects the progress of the economic recovery’, but added momentum was building.” – Financial Times

Female MPs are “less inclined to discuss the big issues”, claims the, er, ever-serious and upstanding Mitchell

“The growing number of female MPs will create a ‘problem’ because they are ‘less inclined to discuss the big issues’ such as ‘should we invade Iraq’, a Labour MP has said. … Austin Mitchell, the Labour MP for Grimsby who is stepping down at the next election, said that women will make Parliament focus more on ‘family and social issues’. … His remarks sparked a furious response from Anna Soubry, the Conservative defence minister.” – Daily Telegraph

Labour MP accused of encouraging “mob rule” after anti-Israel protest

Mob“A Labour frontbencher was accused of encouraging mob rule last night after she boasted of taking part in an anti-Israel protest that forced a supermarket to close. … Shabana Mahmood lay in the street outside a Sainsbury’s store in Birmingham alongside dozens of pro-Palestine campaigners, protesting against the fact that it was ‘stocking goods from illegal settlements’. … Her ‘direct action’ forced the supermarket to close for several hours on a busy Saturday.” – Daily Mail

  • “Rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on Tuesday, causing the Israeli military to resume its bombing campaign there and bringing to an end talks in Cairo meant to agree a long-term truce between the two sides.” – Financial Times
  • “The wife and daughter of a Hamas military chief were said to have died in a fresh Israeli airstrike as heavy fighting in Gaza resumed following a collapse in ceasefire talks.” – Daily Mail
  • “Respect MP George Galloway has been interviewed by police under caution after claims that he incited racial hatred by declaring Bradford an ‘Israel-free zone’.” – The Guardian

> Yesterday: Mohammed Amin on Comment – Palestine must be handled carefully at home, as well as abroad

Rahman accused of exerting “spiritual influence” in Tower Hamlets

“Britain’s first elected Muslim mayor has been accused in the High Court of exerting unlawful ‘spiritual influence’ over voters, who were allegedly told that it was their religious duty to vote for him. … Electors were told that they could hope for rewards in the afterlife if they voted for Lutfur Rahman, but might be punished in the next world if they supported his Labour rival, documents filed at the court claim.” – The Times (£)

  • “The conduct of recent ballots in Tower Hamlets shames local politicians and raises disturbing questions about electoral abuse on a wider scale.” – Times editorial (£)

NHS England’s “do not resuscitate” question

NHS“Nurses are visiting the elderly at home to see whether they would agree to a ‘do not resuscitate’ order. … They are asking patients they have never met sensitive medical questions, including what should happen if their health suddenly fails. … The questionnaires are part of an NHS England scheme to improve care of the elderly and keep them out of hospital. It is not clear why DNR is on the forms.” – Daily Mail

  • “Some of Britain’s leading hospitals stand accused of exploiting the coalition’s controversial lifting of the cap on the number of private patients they can treat to increase their income as part of a ‘creeping privatisation’ of the NHS.” – The Guardian
  • “Taking the bus or walking or cycling to work is linked with a healthier bodyweight, a study has found, leading experts to say government policy should focus on reducing use of the car.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Overweight Brits should be forced to exercise publicly in local parks, the PM’s favourite think tank claims.” – The Sun (£)

And comment:

  • “Doubtless the NHS will say there is no malice intended, but this approach is as deeply troubling as it is insensitive.” – Daily Mail editorial

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Your doctor may well be killing you

GCSE results tomorrow; GCSE concerns today

School“Teenagers are dropping marks in GCSEs because they struggle to write in full sentences using capital letters and basic punctuation, examiners have revealed. … New rules that penalise candidates for poor spelling, grammar and punctuation have exposed ‘worrying’ standards of written English among large numbers of pupils. … A series of reports to teachers detail a litany of errors that resulted in candidates losing up to 5 per cent of the available marks in subjects requiring extended writing such as history and geography.” – Daily Mail

  • “Concern that disadvantaged children will miss out on free school meals despite making them available to all four- to seven-year-olds is voiced today by a leading anti-poverty campaigner and Labour MP.” – The Independent
  • “More than a third of grandparents in Britain are helping to pay, or planning to help to pay, for their grandchildren to go to university, a report revealed yesterday.” – Daily Mail

> Today: John Bald on Local Government – The new national curriculum offers a welcome fresh start

Salmond tries to reassure Scottish voters about his currency intentions

Scottish flag“Ahead of a lecture on Tuesday night in Glasgow from Mr Beveridge, Mr Salmond had been trying to refine his message to stress that, while he is sure Westminster would quickly agree to a currency union in the event of a Yes vote, an independent Scotland would have other viable options. Mr Salmond refuses to name his Plan B, but topping his list of alternatives – at least as a stopgap – seems to be the continued use of sterling without a currency union.” – Financial Times

  • “Alex Salmond’s chief economic adviser has insisted that Scotland has several viable options for its currency, and could renege on its debt after independence, if UK ministers veto a sterling pact after a yes vote.” – The Guardian
  • “Alex Salmond has admitted he would be prepared to give up his political career and see the SNP abolished if that was the price of gaining independence for Scotland.” – The Scotsman
  • “Alex Salmond’s claims Scotland’s NHS is in jeopardy from a No vote is the ‘most scandalous deceit of this referendum campaign’, MSPs have heard as he faced accusations of trying to scare people into voting for independence.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “The Future of England Survey found that people south of the border are overwhelmingly against Scotland leaving the UK, with 59 per cent saying they would like the Union to stay intact and only 19 per cent favouring separation.” – The Independent
  • “Refuting First Minister Alex Salmond, who has promised Scots they would keep programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing and Doctor Who, John Birt said a Scottish broadcaster would not be able to afford all of the BBC’s shows.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “Scots beware: the English backlash is about to begin” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)
  • “Scottish independence would have a devastating impact on the BBC” – John Birt, The Guardian
  • “A No vote dooms us all” – Canon Kenyon Wright, The Scotsman
  • “It is hard to escape the conclusion that the cumulative effect of the referendum seems to have been to sour relations between Scotland and its southern neighbour.” – Scotsman editorial

> Yesterday: Jaber Jabbour on Comment – What a visit to Glasgow taught me about Scots, and the Conservatives’ role in saving the Union

Daniel Finkelstein: We must stick with our Human Rights Act

FINKELSTEIN Danny“‘Human rights’ is not a joke. And it hasn’t ‘gone mad’. It’s a vital idea, it is right that it should be embodied in law, and it needs to be defended. … In his classic book The Rule of Law the late Lord Bingham makes the point that, for instance, ‘a state which savagely represses or persecutes sections of its people cannot in my view be regarded as observing the rule of law’, even if the repression was decided upon by parliament. … It seems to me that Conservatives should be the most eager to accept this argument.” – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

Could another Pope retire? Francis suggests he doesn’t have long left to live

“Pope Francis has said he might have only two or three years left to live. … On a plane trip back from South Korea, he told journalists he believed he only had limited time left to complete his reforms of the Roman Catholic Church. … He also revealed that he would consider retiring if he felt he could no longer perform his duties. … ‘If you asked me if, in the future, I felt I could not go forward, would I do the same? I would do the same. Benedict has opened a door,’ Francis said on board the papal plane.” – Daily Mail

News in brief

  • Fears of another ash cloud, as one of Iceland’s volcano’s threatens to erupt – Daily Mail
  • BBC faces corruption allegation over its Cliff Richard coverage – The Independent
  • Cilla thinks Cliff is innocent – The Sun (£)
  • The National Guard confront protestors in Ferguson, Missouri… – The Sun (£)
  • …as police kill a knifeman in a nearby town – Financial Times
  • Deadly landslides in Japan – The Guardian
  • Raúl Castro’s daughter first lawmaker to vote No in Cuban parliament – The Guardian
  • Tony Martin, 15 years on – Daily Telegraph

And finally 1) Mensch vs Danczuk

Louise Mensch“‘Westminster wag’ Karen Danczuk has become embroiled in a furious online Twitter spat with the former Tory MP Louise Mensch – over pictures of her cleavage. … The Labour councillor today told her thousands of Twitter followers that she has been sunbathing topless on holiday after Mrs Mensch publicly accused her of demeaning women in politics by posting pictures of her cleavage online. … But Karen, wife of Labour MP Simon Danczuk, hit back – accusing Mrs Mensch of being ‘obsessed’ with her chest and called on her to stop ‘bitching’ about other women in politics.” – Daily Mail

And finally 2) Open-toed Cameron

Holiday“He is well known for his holiday fashion faux pas. … And as his latest family photographs show, David Cameron has once again managed to put his foot in it. … Posing in a battered pair of open-toed leather sandals, the Prime Minister showed that when it comes to dressing, there are some things he has yet to learn from his time in office.” – Daily Mail

  • “The culture of presenteeism, by which people are judged by the number of hours that their jacket hangs from the back of their chair or their handbag sits on the floor beside it, is a curse that entirely misrepresents what contributes to useful productivity.” – Guardian editorial

18 comments for: Newslinks for Wednesday 20th August 2014

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