- Localis says Councils will need to find 20% spending cuts
- Green Party councillor backs "No Platform" for "Climate change deniers"
George Osborne laments the UK's continued recession
"After decades of outperforming the continental economies, Britain seems set to become the "sick man of Europe", languishing at the bottom of the European growth league table. Official figures released by Eurostat yesterday revealed that the eurozone economies, comprising 16 of the EU's 27 member states, are now officially out of recession, having grown by 0.4 per cent in the third quarter… The shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, added: "Far from 'leading the world out of recession' as Gordon Brown has claimed, the evidence shows how his economic policies have failed." – The Independent
Tories say Glasgow by-election result has "little significance" for next year's election
"The Tories said Labour’s campaign literature made little reference to the Prime Minister and third place was a good result in an area where they have no support base. David Mundell, the Shadow Scottish Secretary said the result has “little significance” for the general election, when voters will be faced with a straight choice between the Tories and Labour. Both parties agreed the result had put pay to Alex Salmond’s target of increasing the number of SNP MPs from seven to 20 at the general election." – Daily Telegraph
"Labour's victory in the Glasgow North East by-election was dismissed as not relevant to the rest of the UK by Shadow Chancellor George Osborne. He said last night: “Come the General Election what we will be looking at is Labour’s record in power and Gordon Brown will be the incumbent, and he will be the one who has to explain why he has got so much badly wrong.” – Daily Express
Ed Vaizey: Cultural Olympiad "will be a fiasco as big as the Millennium Dome"
"An arts extravaganza to showcase the finest British creative talent in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics could become as much of a fiasco as the Millennium Dome, Ed Vaizey, the shadow culture minister, has warned. Speaking to The Independent, Mr Vaizey said that while he was a "big fan of the Cultural Olympiad", he had reservations about the £80m project. He particularly questioned whether it was suitable for Tony Hall, the director of the Royal Opera House, to run the Olympiad part-time. I would want to ensure that it would not become the next Millennium Dome, there's always that fear. It's important that the opening and closing ceremonies have a clear vision. What I fear is that it becomes a dome, an event-by-committee," he said." – The Independent
Michael Gove wants teachers to start their own schools
"Groups of “ambitious” classroom teachers will be encouraged to set up their own state-funded schools if the Conservatives win power at the next general election. Until now, much of the focus on the Tories’ plans to broaden school supply has been on groups of parents opening schools in their communities – akin to the free school system in Sweden. But while the Conservatives claim parent groups are expressing interest in the idea, it is thought to be far more likely they will turn to teachers to set up schools. This more closely follows the charter school programme in the US… Shadow schools secretary Michael Gove said the proposals to encourage teachers to set up on their own was part of the Conservatives’ push to raise the status of the teaching profession." – Times Educational Supplement
Tories "want more policing decisions made in Wales"
"A Conservative Government in Westminster would be keen to devolve aspects of policing to Wales, the Shadow Home Secretary revealed yesterday. Chris Grayling told the Western Mail that a possible future Tory administration would want more decisions about policing to be taken in Wales and not at the Home Office in London." – Western Mail
Peter Oborne: It's dawning on Cameron that victory isn't yet in the bag
"Gordon Brown, despite his continuing unpopularity, is in a far stronger position than John Major was in the winter of 1996. The lead then enjoyed by the Labour Opposition was prodigious. For almost all of 1996, Blair's Labour Party enjoyed a poll rating of well over 50 per cent, while its advantage over the Tories was consistently in double figures. y contrast, Cameron's Tories have only enjoyed a rating of approximately 40 per cent over the past year and a lead over Labour of just over 10 per cent. History shows us that governments tend to improve their popularity in the polls during the run-ups to general elections, so Cameron's lead is likely to drop away slightly in the coming months. But these comparisons dramatically understate a more fundamental problem faced by David Cameron. This is the fact that the electoral system is cruelly skewed against the Tories." – Peter Oborne writing in the Daily Mail
Andrew Grice: Whi
sper it, but Whitehall is already preparing for a change at No 10
"You can almost sniff the expectation of change in the Whitehall air.
Meetings between permanent secretaries and Shadow Cabinet members last
longer and are much more business-like than in 2001 and 2005. "Then, we
went through the motions about our policies and then had a cup of tea
and a gossip," recalls one Tory frontbencher. This time, Whitehall
senses it is for real. "The Civil Service has given up on Labour and
Labour has given up on the Civil Service," claims one shadow minister.
"Exactly the same happened to us before 1997." – Andrew Grice writing in The Independent
Speaker under fire over grace-and-favour flat renovations…
"The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, has had his grace-and-favour Westminster apartment refurbished at a cost of £45,000 to the taxpayer… In August, the Speaker admitted that he spent just over £20,000 on
refurbishing his official apartment before moving in with his wife and
children… A source close to the Speaker said that most of the extra work was to parts of the official residence which are not used as the family’s private living quarters. He said that the £20,000 figure which had been released originally represented the additional cost to the taxpayer of the Speaker being someone with children. “We tried to isolate the costs to the taxpayer of Mr Bercow and his family moving in,” he said. “A lot of the other work is beyond the control of the Speaker and is determined by English Heritage and other bodies. Mr Bercow has no plans to do anything, this is a one off.” – Daily Telegraph
…as he says he is relaxed about his wife's political ambitions
"The Commons Speaker and former Tory MP John Bercow has said he is "very relaxed" about his wife standing for office as a Labour candidate… Asked about her decision to stand for office – in a interview to be broadcast on Sunday – Mr Bercow said it would not make his life as Speaker difficult. "It has long been known that my wife is a supporter of the Labour party so I don't think there is anything odd, embarrassing and certainly nothing underhand about it," he told the Andrew Marr Show." – BBC
Nicholas Soames and Frank Field say immigrants applying for UK visas should undergo English language test
"Immigrants applying for UK visas should undergo an English test, two senior MPs said yesterday. Former Labour social security minister Frank Field and former Tory defence minister Nicholas Soames also called for new restrictions on spouses coming into the country. They warned that stringent new checks were necessary to curb abuses of the system and bring immigration 'firmly and fairly under control'." – Daily Mail
Andrew Haldenby: Public services want to be more accountable. Why don't banks?
"I don't think it's possible that in two or three years' time there will be a consumer revolution in the public sector, but with no consequent surge in ordinary people's power over the banks. The internet will be key to both." – Andrew Haldenby writing in The Guardian
Richard Reeves: It's not about the size of the state – it's what David Cameron does with it
"One of the central insights of Cameron's conservatism is that a strong society is made up of strong individuals and communities. Here he is on solid intellectual and political ground. He is right to propose a radical redistribution of power away from the central state. He correctly criticises Labour for having fallen into a "Jim'll Fix It for You" political mindset, assuming that the expert state can tackle all our problems, rather than drawing on the Left's radical liberal heritage founded on choice and freedom… But there are some big holes and deep contradictions in his position. In this year's party conference speech, he railed against "big government" – even, absurdly, blaming it for the financial crisis – but, in fact, relies heavily on big government in his policies." – Demos Director Richard Reeves writing in the Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph: It is past time for a general election
"The State Opening is a great ceremonial event marking the beginning of a new parliamentary session; it is an act of constitutional renewal. Yet next week’s is a speech too far – it is the one the British people do not want to hear. It is past time for a general election. This Government, and the Parliament itself, have run out of steam, the former bereft of any new ideas and the latter stripped of all credibility by the expenses scandal. We now face a six-month period in which few, if any, of the proposed Bills will make it on to the Statute Book before it will be necessary for Gordon Brown to go to the country." – Daily Telegraph editorial
Boris's ex-Deputy sentenced to paint toilet blocks
"A former aide to Boris Johnson is painting toilet blocks as punishment for fraudulently claiming meals with his girlfriend on City Hall expenses. Ian Clement, who enjoyed a £127,000 salary as deputy mayor until the fraud was uncovered in June, was sentenced to 100 hours of community service last month. He was pictured alongside other offenders earlier this week in an orange “community payback” vest, refurbishing the lavatories and changing rooms at a recreation ground in Sidcup, Kent." – The Times
Brown hopeful over Afghan boost
"Gordon Brown has said he is hopeful he will be able to persuade countries both in and outside Nato to send more military personnel to Afghanistan. The prime minister said he had "taken responsibility" for making the case for reinforcing the Afghan effort and believed "burden sharing will happen". He told the BBC his strategy was "in line" with the US, which is considering how many more troops to send." – BBC
Brown had "friendly" conversation with Rupert Murdoch after Sun assault this week – Guardian
Global warming is not our fault, say most voters – The Times
Did Britain collude with US in abuse of Iraqis? – The Independent
And finally… David Cameron finds Cherie Blair at his side at awards dinner
"Believe it or not, it’s Cherie Blair and David Cameron sitting next to each other at a glitzy dinner yesterday. The ex-Labour Prime Minister’s wife, 55, found it hard to hide the embarrassment on her face when she realised husband Tony’s former foe was seated to her right. Conservative leader David Cameron, 43, also looked less than comfortable as the two found themselves so close to each other at the Women of the Future awards in London. The pair were among West End stars, entrepreneurs and high fliers celebrating “talented young females” at the event. Mr Cameron made a short speech while Mrs Blair, a patron of the awards, presented prizes." – Daily Express
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