8.30pm Melanchthon on CentreRight: Why are we going to spend £100 million on a referendum that almost no-one favours?
3.15pm LeftWatch: The CCHQ press office is back and ready to put the summer heat on Labour
Mark Wallace on Local government: Eric Pickles is the most radical member of the Coalition
'Despite David Cameron being on holiday, Clegg has NOT been left holding the reins of power'
"From this morning Clegg might be the most senior working politician in the country but there will be no moving into No 10 and he will stay in his suite of offices at 70 Whitehall instead. "The PM remains in charge but while he's on holiday Nick will be around and picking up some events," a Downing Street spokesman said. Nevertheless, the next fortnight represents the most power a Liberal has had in Britain since Lloyd George stood down in 1922." – Guardian
"The Liberal Democrat leader has drawn up a full programme of speeches and speaking engagements, in which he will promote projects close to the heart of his party which have largely been soft-pedalled by his Conservative colleagues." – Telegraph
Simon Hughes rules out pact with Tories – Independent
Appointment of Alan Milburn as Social Mobility Tsar is victory for Clegg – Guardian
Labour MP Frank Field tells Andy McSmith how he incurred the wrath of his own party by becoming the coalition's 'poverty tsar' – Independent
> Yesterday's LeftWatch: Alan Milburn set to become latest Blairite to get job advising Coalition
The Financial Times: Does George Osborne have a Plan B?
"Perhaps the biggest challenge the government faces is one over which it has no control – the macroeconomic picture. The Budget does not cut the deficit recklessly fast so long as the economy grows as much as forecasts suggest. The risk is that the Bank of England will be unable to maintain output through loose monetary policy and the country will slip back into recession. The government would have been wise to have a plan B explaining what it would do if growth was worse than expected. But this was spurned. As things stand, it will only change tack when conditions deteriorate. If this is left too late, the political cost of changing course may become extremely high." – FT leader (£)
More than half a million people have falsely claimed sickness benefits for the last 10 years – at a cost to taxpayers of a massive £28billion – Express
"The numbers, published by Chris Grayling, the Employment Minister, will prepare the way for savage welfare cuts expected to be unveiled in George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review in October. Mr Grayling said: “The sheer amount of people who have been left behind without any help or support to get back into work is outrageous. Thousands of people who have simply been cast aside by a welfare system that does nothing but put them in a queue for benefits and then forgets about them. Well those days are over. Everyone on incapacity benefit will be reassessed to see whether, with the right help and support, they could get back into work, and with the new Work Programme they will benefit from the right support at the right time. We will no longer accept a system which writes people off at a drop of the hat and expects the taxpayer to foot the bill.” – Times (£)
Stephen Glover: Does Cameron care about the middle classes?
"Its generally very privileged members may care about the poor — don’t we all? — but a stream of announcements and leaks suggests that they are less exercised by those who may regard themselves as being barely a rung up the ladder. Only yesterday it was reported that the Coalition is — inexplicably — planning to shake up final salary private pension schemes, which may have the effect of reducing pay-outs by up to 25 per cent. Meanwhile, Vince Cable is muttering about introducing a graduate tax, and seems to have argued round his Tory colleagues. This would add another tier of onerous taxation for people who already regard themselves as being squeezed. Plans to raise the inheritance tax threshold have been binned under pressure from the Lib Dems. Very rich people such as the Camerons do not generally pay inheritance tax." – Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail
LibDem peer Matthew Taylor wans that spending cuts will hurt rural Britain most
"Lord Taylor of Goss Moore, who as Matthew Taylor MP advised the Labour Government on its rural planning policy, warned of a disproportionate impact of spending cuts on the countryside. He said that rural communities relied more on public services like bus services, GP surgeries, post offices and village halls, which made them more vulnerable to swinging spending cuts." – Telegraph
Rural Coalition expresses doubts about Coalition housing plans
"Government plans to hold local referendums on new housing schemes in England could tear village communities apart, rural campaigners have said. They say plans to require at least 90% of local people to approve new building schemes in villages would create conflict and bring projects to a halt." – BBC
Government's decision to put pollution standards 'on hold' raises possibility of dirtiest coal plants going ahead – Guardian
Ed Miliband to publish study showing party lost six votes from lower-income bracket for every vote lost in professional class – Guardian
Cameron marks VJ Day
"The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall joined Prime Minister David Cameron, defence chiefs and veterans of the war in the Far East for a poignant service at the Cenotaph in London." – Express | Sun
Cameron's statement issued on the 10 Downing Street website: "“We must never forget the sacrifices made and the dedication showed by those who served our country in the Second World War. They fought and suffered around the world in ferocious conditions. They witnessed incomprehensible horrors. They lost their lives – and many were imprisoned. And they did all this for us – to protect the freedoms we all enjoy today. VJ Day, the day the Second World War ended, is a time for this generation to reflect and show its gratitude to our veterans for their bravery, dedication and sacrifice.”
And finally… Cameron 'lookalikes' can earn up to £500 a day
"The slicked-back hair, the stiff upper lip, the distinctive mannerisms and that rather 'pleased with himself ' air - there's something strangely familiar about these men. Perhaps you can't quite put your finger on it, but the clue's in their Tory-blue ties - they are, in fact, David Cameron lookalikes. All seven of our models are convinced that they bear a strong enough resemblance to our Prime Minister to work as his professional double, and have signed on with the country's leading lookalikes agency in the hope of cashing in." – Inspect the look-a-little-likes in the Daily Mail
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