6pm Dan Hamilton on CentreRight writes on the second anniversary of the Russian invasion that the international community must stand with Georgia
The Daily Mail reports that William Hague is to speak at the Lib Dem conference…
"William Hague is being lined up to speak at the Liberal Democrats' annual conference next month in a move designed to cement relations between the coalition partners. The Foreign Secretary, widely seen as one of the best orators in the Commons, is expected to lead a Conservative charm offensive at the gathering in Liverpool in the hope of winning over disaffected LibDem activists. Tory sources suggest Mr Hague will give a 'witty' address, rather than focusing heavily on policy." – Daily Mail
…but the Lib Dems insist there is no slot for him on their official conference agenda
"William Hague is not part of the conference agenda and I can confirm that he has not been asked to speak at the Liberal Democrat conference. No Conservative ministers have ever been approached to speak at our conference. Fringe events are still being finalised, and it is of course possible that an independent group may have invited Mr Hague to speak at their Fringe event. But this is no different to any other year and it is common for MPs of all parties to attend these events." – Lib Dem spokesman quoted on Lib Dem Voice
David Cameron and President Zardari "become friends"
"Speaking after talks at Chequers that followed the furious row over Cameron's claim that elements of Pakistan's security establishment were looking "both ways" on terrorism, Zardari said he had looked the prime minister in the eye. "We had some straight talk and we became friends," he said. Downing Street described the talks as "positive and constructive", with "excellent dynamics" between the two." – The Guardian
"The President of Pakistan accused David Cameron yesterday of hurting him personally by implying that he supported the terrorism that had killed his wife, Benazir Bhutto. “Everybody is sensitive, as we have lost so many people, including my late wife,” Mr Zardari said in an interview with The Times. “So to have your credentials questioned does hurt sometimes. No matter how brave you are, it hurts.” – The Times (£)
David Cameron to shift drug addicts treatment to live-in schemes
"David Cameron plans to press ahead with an expensive shift in treatment for drug addicts, towards residential programmes and away from the use of methadone as a substitute licensed drug. The prime minister has ordered a revised drugs policy to be in place by the end of the year, by which time the Department of Health and Home Office will have been told their budgets." – The Guardian
Bruce Anderson: David Cameron must keep stoking the fires of radicalism
"David Cameron observed Tony Blair's failure and was influenced by it. He learned two lessons. The first was the need to understand and use the machinery of government: Number 10 should be a formidable signal-box, but nothing will happen unless the PM pulls the levers. The second was the importance of momentum. In politics, you are either pushing forward or being pushed back. It is crucial to keep stoking the fires of radicalism, because once they die down they are hard to relight." – Bruce Anderson in the Daily Telegraph
RAF "to shrink to WW1 levels"
"The RAF will shrink to its smallest size since the First World War, under unprecedented cuts being proposed at the Ministry of Defence. In the most significant changes to Britain’s defences since the post-Suez review of 1957, ministers and officials plan to scrap large parts of the Armed Forces. The Services will lose up to 16,000 personnel, hundreds of tanks, scores of fighter jets and half a dozen ships, under detailed proposals passed to The Daily Telegraph. But the RAF will bear the brunt of the planned cuts." – Daily Telegraph
Thousands earning more in benefits than average wage
"New figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that there are 100,000 households who receive benefits and tax credits worth more than £23,244 a year… Chris Grayling, the Work and Pensions minister, said the figures showed there was a “desperate need for reform” of the system. He said: “When thousands of people are earning more on benefits than hard working families struggling to get by, there must be something wrong and I’m shocked that this was allowed to happen." – Daily Telegraph
Gove's green light for school rebuilds
"Michael Gove lifted his freeze on new school building projects yesterday, giving the green light for 33 proposals. Another 44 new academy projects have also been approved, while the future of a further 75 will be decided by a comprehensive spending review." – The Independent
Fund to ease impact of immigration "scrapped by stealth"
"A £50m fund to ease the pressure of immigration on public services has been scrapped by the government without any publicity. The migration impacts fund was set up Gordon Brown in response to local government claims that they needed central help to deal with unexpected pressure on housing, schools and hospitals." – The Guardian
Ministers failing to provide 'Domesday scenario' for cuts – Daily Telegraph
Theresa May meets parents of Madeleine McCann
"Kate and Gerry McCann have held talks with Home Secretary Theresa May to discuss the search for their missing daughter Madeleine. The couple used the meeting on Wednesday to appeal for extra help from the coalition Government to look for the little girl. It is more than three years since Madeleine disappeared from a holiday resort in southern Portugal." – Press Association
Prisoners' legal aid bill hitting £60,000 a day – Daily Mail
Former MP Nigel Waterson to sue Lib Dem successor
"A former Conservative Sussex MP is to take the man who beat him at the general election to court over comments he made about his expenses claims. Lawyers for Nigel Waterson, who was Eastbourne MP until 2010, confirmed he was to sue Stephen Lloyd for libel." – BBC
Support for AV slumps
"Public backing for a new voting system has slumped in the past three months in a worrying trend for the Liberal Democrat party, which has staked its credibility on a Yes vote… On May 12, only a week after the UK general election, a poll by ComRes found that 59 per cent of people were in favour, with 32 per cent against. That commanding 27-point lead for the Yes camp has shrivelled since then, according to recent polls by YouGov. Four polls by the organisation in the past month have shown a single-digit lead, with one in mid-July suggesting a mere one-point gap." – FT
Jack Straw to retire from the Labour front line
"Jack Straw, one of the great Labour survivors, is to retire from frontbench politics after 30 years, he announced yesterday. The Shadow Justice Secretary said that he was returning to the back benches to help to give the party a fresh start. He will step down in the autumn when a new Shadow Cabinet is appointed under the party’s next leader." – The Times (£)
Alan Johnson compares the Miliband brothers
'“There’s a huge difference between the two brothers in terms of eloquence, vision and experience, in telling people what they don’t want to hear and in being obviously prime ministerial. This accusation that somehow Ed Miliband has all the social graces that David hasn’t got just isn’t true. David is far more of a rounded human being than he’s given credit for.” – Alan Johnson interviewed in The Times (£)
Rupert Cornwell: America wants its own David Cameron – The Independent
Polly Toynbee: The 'big society' is a big fat lie – The Guardian
And finally… Can we imagine Boris Johnson following the lead of his counterpart in Reykjavik?
"Reykjavik's comedian-turned-politician mayor, Jon Gnarr, opened the Icelandic capital's gay pride festival this week in drag, in a blond wig and with bright red lipstick. When Mr Gnarr was announced at the festival's opening ceremony on Thursday night, he appeared on stage wearing a floral-print dress over an ample bosom, explaining that "the mayor unfortunately could not attend himself." – Daily Telegraph
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