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The biggest road-building programme since the 1970s

Osborne worker“Ministers will announce a £15billion masterplan to build or upgrade 1,300 miles of roads. … The package unveiled today by Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin includes £1.5billion to add extra lanes to key motorways. New charging points every 20 miles on most routes will promote the use of greener electric vehicles. … ‘This is the biggest investment in our road network since the 1970s,’ said Mr Alexander, who chairs the Cabinet’s infrastructure committee.” – Daily Mail

  • “Car-free Sundays could be introduced to central London, Boris Johnson suggested today, after being inspired by cycling alongside thousands of Indonesians in Jakarta.” – Daily Mail
  • “The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has pocketed nearly £25million in five years selling sensitive personal details of millions of motorists to controversial parking enforcement firms.” – Daily Mail
  • “Air pollution, largely from diesel vehicle road traffic, may be to blame for as many as 60,000 early deaths in Britain each year, the Government’s scientific advisors are set to warn it.” – The Independent

Osborne announces more money for the health service…

Conference 4“Doctors surgeries will be upgraded using a new £1 billion fund paid for by bank fines, George Osborne announced today. … The Chancellor said the cash would pay for a ‘permanent improvement in GP services’ and comes on top of an extra £2 billion injection into the NHS budget set to be formally announced on Wednesday. … The funding will allow patients to undergo chemotherapy and dialysis closer to home.” – Daily Mail

  • “George Osborne, the chancellor, has come under fire after it emerged that a headline-grabbing extra £2bn a year being allocated to the NHS includes £750m being re-allocated from within the Department of Health.” – The Guardian
  • “Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls escalated the cash war yesterday. He said: ‘We will, over and above their plans, put in a further £2½billion. … Whatever they do, we’ll put in more money to the National Health Service.'” – The Sun (£)
  • “Health chiefs yesterday welcomed a £2.2 billion ‘down-payment’ on the estimated £30 billion more the NHS will need by the end of the decade.” – The Times (£)

Other NHS stories:

  • NHS“Stephen Dorrell, the veteran Conservative MP, has been accused of a conflict of interest after taking a job as an adviser with a private firm targeting a £1billion NHS contract.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Millions of people with HIV die because they cannot get access to Aids drugs, according to a cross-party group of MPs.” – The Guardian
  • “Up to 40% of people belonging to minorities could have their ethnicity wrongly recorded in their NHS hospital records.” – The Guardian
  • “Dementia patients are being failed at the end of their lives as they are not deemed to have a terminal illness, charities warn.” – Daily Mail
  • “The first police investigation into the death of an elderly hospital patient under the discredited Liverpool Care Pathway has begun, a police force revealed yesterday.” – Daily Mail
  • “Hundreds of patients are being given potentially deadly organs from drug addicts, cancer sufferers and the elderly.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • Newspaper mastheads“The Chancellor’s offer of extra money to the NHS is misleading. We need to know how he will pay for it.” – Independent editorial
  • “More money isn’t the right prescription for the NHS.” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “There may once have been a serious economic purpose behind this week’s autumn statement, but it’s hard to discern nowadays amid the Treasury’s hallmark spinning and pitch-rolling.” – Guardian editorial
  • “I wish Osborne and Balls would stop trying to bribe us with our own money.” – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail

> Today:

> Yesterday:

…downplays the prospect of any pre-election giveaways…

Tax Take“George Osborne has ruled out any traditional pre-election giveaways in this week’s Autumn Statement. … The Chancellor insists there will be no political tax breaks because Britain must ‘stay the course to prosperity’. ‘What you’re going to see is me avoiding the mistakes of Labour chancellors before elections with unfunded giveaways that lead to economic problems after the election,’ he said.” – Daily Mail

  • “Nearly one million more people will be paying the higher rate of income tax even if the Tories raise the 40p tax threshold to £50,000 by 2020, the Treasury has admitted.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Multinational companies are braced for a tax crackdown after George Osborne vowed to use his Autumn Statement on Wednesday to put a stop to businesses abusing the system.” – Financial Times
  • “Almost 60% of adults in the UK don’t believe politicians’ promises to tackle corporate tax avoidance, according to a damning poll published ahead of this week’s autumn statement.” – The Guardian
  • “None of the four main UK parties are proposing a tax cut package that would predominantly benefit low earners, the Resolution Foundation thinktank said on Monday.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “George Osborne must play Scrooge, not Father Christmas.” – Dominic Raab MP, Daily Telegraph
  • “How much pain must middle classes take?” – Daily Mail editorial

…and targets Labour’s mansion tax

House icon“Ordinary homeowners will be end up being ‘clobbered’ by Labour’s mansion tax, George Osborne claimed yesterday. … The Chancellor dismissed Opposition claims that the annual levy would apply only to homes worth £2million or more, insisting it would end up being charged at far lower property valuations. … Ed Balls gave further details about who will be hit by the charge yesterday, saying it would be staggered so that the owners of the most valuable properties are hardest hit.” – Daily Mail

But will the deficit overshadow everything else?

Pay“The Government will have to borrow as much as £75bn more than it intended over the next five years, delivering a damaging blow to Chancellor George Osborne’s hopes of claiming that the Government has the country’s deficit under control. … Collapsing revenues from oil sales, stamp duty and income tax mean the Chancellor will be forced to admit his plans to bring the deficit down could be knocked off track.” – The Independent

  • “The UK economy maintained ‘healthy’ growth over the last three months but faces threats from political uncertainty at home and an economic slowdown in the eurozone, a leading business group will warn on Monday.” – The Guardian

Cameron was sat on by the Germans, says Paterson

Paterson Owen 2010“The Prime Minister announced last week that he would ban migrants from claiming benefits for four years after moving to Britain. But he failed to include a controversial ‘emergency break’ on migration if the benefit cuts did not lead to a fall in the number of EU workers moving to the UK. … Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson today said he did not think Mr Cameron could ‘deliver’ even his watered-down pledge. He said: ‘It looks as if we’ve already been sat on by the Germans.’” – Daily Mail

  • “Landlords who let out a second home are likely only to rent to ‘white tenants with British-sounding names’ to avoid immigration red tape, campaigners have warned.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “Indonesia adores the Brits, so why aren’t we trading there?” – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph
  • “We mustn’t let a small cabal of dubiously motivated MEPs tear the guts out of the new common fisheries policy.” – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, The Times (£)
  • “Does Britain really want to be the country nobody would migrate to?” – Zoe Williams, The Guardian

Swayne: Isis atrocities have been matched by Christians

ISIS“The acts of violence committed by Islamic State militants have been more than equalled by Christians down the centuries, according to an international development minister. … Desmond Swayne, a former aide to David Cameron who served a six-month tour of duty in Iraq in a break from the Commons, also said that the war against Isis could not be won without ‘boots on the ground’ in Iraq.” – The Times (£)

  • “A British team has secretly saved a Christian town in Lebanon from advancing Isil forces by constructing a network of watchtowers, The Telegraph can disclose.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Pope Francis said last night that equating Islam with violence was wrong and called on Muslim leaders to issue a global condemnation of terrorism to help dispel the stereotype.” – Daily Mail

Burnham wants to impose limits on unhealthy foods

“Labour was accused last night of trying to ‘ban mince pies at Christmas’ over plans to put draconian legal limits on sugar, fat and salt in food. … The party’s health spokesman Andy Burnham said he was looking at mandatory maximum levels of the amount of fat, salt and sugar in foods specifically designed for youngsters. … He also said GPs should be sending obese patients for exercise classes to help them lose weight.” – Daily Mail

Johnson would be interested in a Cabinet position

Alan Johnson“Alan Johnson, the former Labour home secretary, has said he would be interested in taking a cabinet job if Ed Miliband wins the election. … He conceded that he could be criticised for taking a cabinet post given that he has spent most of this parliament on the backbenches, but admitted he would find the offer of a government post more appealing than an opposition one.” – The Guardian

  • “Mr Johnson, who was shadow Chancellor under Mr Miliband for seven months from 2010 to 2011, expressed exasperation that Labour had not been more effective in attacking Chancellor George Osborne over the economy in an interview in GQ magazine.” – Daily Telegraph

Cash for ermine?

LORDS logo“Donors who gave political parties £14million were later appointed to the House of Lords, a report revealed last night. … That was the total sum handed over from 2001 to when the Peers were ennobled by the parties to whom they donated the money, anti-corruption campaigners found. … In total, members of the upper house gave £39million over 13 years to the major political parties, Transparency International said.” – Daily Mail

  • “The integrity of Britain’s centuries-old military honours system has been questioned amid allegations that a second Military Cross has been awarded after exaggerated accounts of a soldier’s gallantry.” – The Times (£)
  • “A senior Lib Dem who promoted two girlfriends in succession to £7,500-a-year council roles has been condemned as a ‘liar and cheat’ by the first.” – Daily Mail

Sturgeon tries to reassure businesses about her administration

Scottish flag“Scotland’s new first minister Nicola Sturgeon has told companies they have ‘nothing to fear’ from her administration as she moves to ease business concerns that radical land reform plans do not signal a class war. … In an interview with the Financial Times, Ms Sturgeon also made clear her determination to use next year’s general election to push for more powers to be transferred to Scotland beyond the devolution promised last week in a cross-party deal brokered by Lord Smith of Kelvin.” – Financial Times

Police 1) The Sun’s Plebgate source speaks out

Police shield“Ex-PC Jim, the source for The Sun’s original story revealing then Tory Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell called Downing Street police officers f****** plebs”, was dismissed by Met chiefs desperate to sweep the row under the carpet. … But he said: ‘I’d do it all again tomorrow. I have no regrets about coming forward. I thought the public deserved to know how someone that senior in the Government behaved.'” – The Sun (£)

  • “The treatment of the cops who exposed Plebgate is a national disgrace that shames the Met Police and its commissioner.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “The pleb case on its own tells you a lot about police priorities, the public interest, our right to know and the determination of public officials to stop us finding out.” – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun (£)

Police 2) More than half of all elected commissioners have been accused of misconduct

“More than half of police and crime commissioners have had misconduct complaints made against them. … The police watchdog has received allegations of wrongdoing against 23 of the 41 officials who were elected in November 2012. … The commissioners replaced police authorities in England and Wales in a bid to make policing more accountable, but as concerns grow over their conduct a parliamentary committee is due to investigate the high level of complaints.” – Daily Mail

  • ballot_box“Muslims have greater faith in the police compared to the rest of the population despite claims of discrimination against the community because of a perceived terrorist threat, according to an analysis of crime data out today.” – The Independent
  • “The treatment of a 16-year-old girl who was kept in a police cell due to a lack of mental health beds has been called ‘unacceptable’ and ‘appalling’.” – Daily Mail
  • “Charities could face punitive costs if they challenge government decisions in future, a coalition of 35 organisations warns on Monday ahead of a crucial parliamentary vote.” – The Guardian
  • “Prosecutions for begging have rocketed across England and Wales over the past year with dramatic increases recorded in many police force areas.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “Elected police commissioners have provoked many complaints but above all, they have proved inadequate in performing their responsibilities.” – Times editorial (£)

Councils demand new powers…

MANIFESTO Power“The leaders of 119 councils warned that voters in England will not accept greater devolution to Scotland unless there is a similar redistribution of power south of the border. … The councils – including 65 controlled by Labour, 40 by the Conservatives and ten by the Liberal Democrats – want powers over tax and spending similar to those being given to Holyrood in the aftermath of Scotland’s No vote in September’s independence referendum.” – Daily Mail

  • “Boris Johnson wants to secure control of the courts and the prosecution service, a move which would put London’s mayor in charge of the criminal justice system in the capital, the Guardian has learned.” – The Guardian
  • “According to figures produced by the Office for National Statistics, 58,220 people aged between 30 and 39 left London between June 2012 and June 2013. It is the highest number on record and a 10 per cent increase on 2010.” – The Independent

And comment:

  • “Devolution should not stop at Scotland.” – Daily Telegraph editorial

> Today: Judy Terry on Local Government – Do we need so many councillors?

…yet just six per cent of them manage weekly bin collections

Wheelie bin“Families are having to wait 12 days on average to have general rubbish collected – and face spiralling charges for extra waste-removal services, it has been revealed. … This comes despite the Conservatives’ repeated pledge that they would restore people’s ‘fundamental right’ to have their bins emptied once a week. … Figures from a comprehensive survey suggest that just 6 per cent of local authorities in England collect all bins weekly.” – Daily Mail

Campaigners fear that Britain’s universal postal service is under threat

“Britain’s postal service is under major threat in rural areas because private postal firms are cherry picking lucrative delivery contracts in towns and cities, campaigners have warned on Monday. … They warned that ‘unfettered competition’ was making threatening the universal postal service, which means that a letter or package can be delivered to 29 million addresses within the United Kingdom six days a week for the same price.” – Daily Telegraph

Students could swing the next election

Opinion Poll graphic“Students are likely to tip the balance of power in next year’s general election and could decide the outcome in at least 10 constituencies, according to research on their voting patterns. … Researchers found that since students are likely to vote according to parties’ policies on tuition fees, they have moved away from the Lib Dems – who broke their 2010 pledge not to increase the charges – and towards Labour, which is considering cutting fees by a third to £6,000.” – Financial Times

  • “Whether Nick Clegg retains his seat next year may be determined by the efforts of his local university to help their students register to vote.” – The Independent

And comment:

  • “My glimpse of grass-roots politics had lessons for all the main parties.” – Ian Birrell, The Independent

> Today: Nick Hillman on ThinkTankCentral – How students may vote next year – and how much difference they’ll make

News in brief

  • British MPs banned from Hong Kong visit amid protests – Financial Times
  • Sophia is the most popular name for baby girls; Muhammad for boys – Daily Mail
  • Some privately educated pupils have attitudes that “hurt society”, says head – The Times (£)
  • Doctor refused help at British ebola clinic, later died – The Times (£)
  • Ex-MI6 officers “found corruption” in Russian World Cup bid – The Independent
  • Beckham is “lucky to be alive” after car crash – The Sun (£)

And finally 1) Cameron’s one-man war on pigeons

CAMERON POINTING“These days he prefers not to discuss his love of deerstalking. … But David Cameron still treats pigeons as fair game – and has taken a 12-bore shotgun out to hunt them near his home, it has been claimed. … The Prime Minister even asked Scotland Yard protection officers to seal off woodland in Oxfordshire while he took aim, according to a startling disclosure.” – Daily Mail

  • “A woman Tory MP who kept saying ‘cock’ in a Commons speech has escaped a carpeting. … PM David Cameron is refusing to publicly discipline Penny Mordaunt, 41 — despite her admission she did it for a dare by tabling a debate on ‘poultry welfare’.” – The Sun (£)

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Make your mind up, Britain: do you want politicians to be ‘normal’ or not?

And finally 2) Bercow takes over Boxing Day

John Bercow“John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, is to spend a day as guest editor of Radio 4’s Today programme. … Mr Bercow will edit the programme on Boxing day and will interview Jimmy Wales, the Wikipedia founder, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader, and his personal hero, the tennis player Roger Federer.” – The Times (£)

  • “Humphrys, the veteran Today programme journalist, has said he fundamentally disagrees with Paxman’s interviewing tactic of presuming his opponent is a ‘liar’.” – Daily Telegraph

12 comments for: Newslinks for Monday 1st December 2014

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