3.15pm ToryDiary: The Coalition's four defences of its deficit reduction strategy
Terrorism and attacks on computer networks are set to be named as among the biggest threats to UK security
"After months of study and debate, the National Security Council has produced a paper that identifies 16 threats to the UK. The most serious – which they are calling "Tier 1" – comprises acts of international terrorism, hostile computer attacks on UK cyberspace, a major accident or natural hazard such as a flu pandemic, or an international military crisis between states that draws in the UK and its allies." – BBC
"MI5, MI6 and eavesdroppers at GCHQ are deemed too vital to our security to be targeted for huge spending cuts, The Sun can reveal. Instead their £2.4billion budget will be boosted – with £650million extra ploughed into guarding us from attacks via the internet."
"The UK's national interest is threatened by a lack of strategic thinking at the heart of government, a committee of MPs has warned. The cross-party Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) identified a tendency for Whitehall to "muddle through" and pointed to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as examples where there has been a lack of over-arching strategy." – Express
Oxfam condemns Tory's plan for military link to aid
"A plan to focus more Government aid on failed states which threaten Britain's security will put even more humanitarian workers at risk, the head of one of Britain's biggest charities has warned. Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, has pledged to increase aid spending by 40 per cent in Afghanistan in his drive to make humanitarian work contribute more to Britain's national interest." – Independent
35 business leaders back George Osborne's deficit strategy
"Addressing the debt problem in a decisive way will improve business and consumer confidence. Reducing the deficit more slowly would mean additional borrowing every year, higher national debt, and therefore higher spending on interest payments." – From the business leaders' letter to The Telegraph
The Guardian lists the infrastructural investments protected by George Osborne:
- London's £16bn Crossrail link, which had been in peril.
- The Mersey Gateway bridge.
- Blt The Thames Gateway bridge.
- Investment of £69m in the diamond synchotron – a particle physics project at Harwell in Oxfordshire.
- £230m to help 2m homes in rural areas access faster broadband speeds by 2015.
Local authorities will be free to stop funding certain social priorities
"Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, will announce that he is abolishing the ring-fences for £7 billion of local government funding, letting councils spend the money as they please. Specific grants for schools, the police and fire services will be protected. But the rules that forced councils to spend money on other areas such as travellers, homelessness and the disabled, often by commissioning voluntary groups, look likely to be relaxed."- Times (£)
"Greg Clark, the decentralisation minister, has warned local authority chief executives that they must not “pull up the drawbridge” on the voluntary sector by passing on “disproportionate” cuts." – FT (£)
Boris Johnson: We need to be building more affordable homes NOW
"The last year of the Labour government was the worst for building new housing for 40 years. And when the economy takes off again, as it undoubtedly will, that shortage of new homes will combine with a growing population to produce the most almighty spike in prices – and young people will be less able than ever to buy a home." – Boris Johnson in The Telegraph
Bank levy will become permanent
"Big banks have been given until next month to sign up to a tax code of conduct. Chancellor George Osborne is also due to introduce legislation this week to bring in a permanent levy on bank profits. The levy, which could raise up to £2.5billion a year, is part of a joint venture by the UK, France and Germany." – Daily Mail
Liam Fox has attacked Government colleagues for smearing him over his lifestyle because they do not like the spending settlement he has secured for the Ministry of Defence – Telegraph
> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Liam Fox dismisses newspaper smears as the "rufty-tufty" of politics
Jackie Ashley: There aren't enough women making decisions in the government
"There are just four women cabinet ministers. One is very junior, and comes from the Lords. One is Welsh secretary. As home secretary, Theresa May has some clout, but not on economic issues. Ditto Caroline Spelman at environment. The sole female minister with an economic portfolio is the relatively junior Justine Greening. The big spending review battles, affecting the budgets, families and opportunities of millions of women, were fought out by David, George, Nick, Danny, Iain, Kenneth, Andrew, Michael and Vince." – Jackie Ashley in The Guardian
Andrew Pierce: Has expense-abusing Bill Wiggin survived because he's an Old Etonian?
"Why on earth has Wiggin kept his £64,000-a-year government job as a junior whip? Surely nothing to do with the fact that Wiggin was a contemporary of Cameron’s at Eton?" – Andrew Pierce in the Daily Mail
BBC debate on funeral plans for Baroness Thatcher branded 'in poor taste' by angry listeners – Daily Mail
Huhne backs nuclear power surge – FT (£)
David Laws is back making political arguments this morning…
"New policies are often hailed as being transformative; few really are. But the confirmation by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg on Friday that the coalition is to introduce a “pupil premium”, attaching more money to schoolchildren from low-income families, could prove to be just that." – David Laws with Centre Forum's Julian Astle in the FT (£)
…and Mr Laws, interviewed by Five Live, hints at return to government…
"Asked by BBC 5 live's chief political correspondent John Pienaar if he missed being a minister, Mr Laws replied: "Everybody in politics wants to be in the front line… "Everybody wants to have their hands on the levers. I don't think I'm exceptional in that regard politically. Everybody wants to be in the front line."" – BBC
The UK political mindset doesn't judge the Coalition for its actions but condemns its existence, and damns Clegg for compromising – Julian Glover in The Guardian
Melanie Phillips on the firing of inspirational teacher Katharine Birbalsingh: Home truths are practically unsayable in the state sector – over the years, other educational whistle-blowers have been punished for saying them – Daily Mail
Blair left office with 76 prime ministerial gifts – Independent
Youngsters can get drunk for HALF the price of a bar of chocolate – The Sun
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