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8.45pm WATCH: Cameron – The regime's violence in Libya "has got to stop"

7pm Two new pieces on Comment –

6.15pm WATCH: David Cameron arrives in Egypt

5.30pm Robin Simcox on Comment: The LSE and dictatorships

4.45pm ToryDiary: David Cameron's big Egyptian gesture

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2.30pm Jeremy Hunt on Comment: Our plans for the Olympics

1.15pm Tim Montgomerie on Comment: ITN's Tom Bradby questions Andrew Marr's £600,000 BBC salary

12.45pm ToryDiary: Cameron stops off in Egypt

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11am David T.Breaker on Comment: the Government is all substance and no style

9.30am ToryDiary: Hague poised to invade Libya…

ToryDiary: Cameron makes a big promise to end the state's public service monopoly

ConHome Competition: Win a free copy of British Political Facts

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International: A warning from Hamburg for David Cameron

Comment:

Local Government: John Bald – Where Cambridgeshire should cut

ThinkTankCentral: The IEA warns that tax burdens, energy prices, financial regulation and employment red tape threaten recovery

WATCH: Saif Gaddafi's broadcast: "We will fight till the last man." 

Hague: Libyan régime's actions "unacceptable and horrifying"

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"William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, called the regime’s response to the uprising “unacceptable and horrifying”. He telephoned Saif Gaddafi, who is believed to be reform-minded, to ram home the message, and will raise the matter at a meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels today.  The US State Department said that it was “gravely concerned” and expressed strong objections to the use of lethal force against peaceful demonstrators." – The Times (£)

"Britain faces growing condemnation over its courting of Colonel Gaddafi after the Libyan dictator ordered the slaughter of hundreds of his own people.  The United Nations and the U.S. Ambassador to London questioned the UK’s cosy trade links with Tripoli yesterday.  British weapons are believed to have  been used to murder more than 300 Libyan pro-democracy demonstrators." – Daily Mail

What price will we pay for Blair's sordid Faustian pact? – Michael Burleigh, Daily Mail

Alternative vote Yes campaign activists "breaking rules on cold calling"

"Thousands of voters who have asked not to be contacted on the phone are being cold-called by campaigners hoping to change the voting system.  The Yes campaign for the alternative vote is ignoring the rules of the Telephone Preference Service, which is meant to protect people from cold calling, ‘because of the importance of the campaign’.  The No campaign believes its opponents may be using electoral roll data to which they are not entitled to get phone numbers." – Daily Mail

"At every election since 1983 at least one poll has asked voters which party was their second preference. So we have a good idea of what would have happened if AV had been used before. The findings are not quite so encouraging for the Liberal Democrats as is often imagined.  True, the party would always have won more seats under AV…But close Lib Dem second places have been rare. So the benefit the party would have derived from AV at recent elections would typically have been not much more than 20 seats or so." – John Curtice, The Independent

Fox to crack down on military overspends

FOX GESTICULATING "The Defence Secretary will warn the poor practices will no longer be tolerated and will unveil tough new rules on when military projects are given the green light.  The criticism comes as the Ministry of Defence is braced for a scathing report from MPs today over its poor handling of equipment programmes.  The top 15 major procurement projects are now running at £8.8 billion over budget and, between them, are delayed by a total of 32 years." – Daily Telegraph

Clarke says Government will move to reform ECHR…

"The government is to try to reform the relationship between the European court of human rights and national parliaments when it assumes chairmanship of the Council of Europe in November after controversial rulings on sex offenders and votes for prisoners.  The pro-European Kenneth Clarke, the justice secretary, told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show that the government intended to scrutinise the relationship." – The Guardian

…But the Mail focuses on his plans to cut payouts to families of murder victims

"Cash payments to the families of murder victims are set to be slashed under controversial Government plans, the Daily Mail has learned.  Victims’ Commissioner Louise Casey has warned that ‘stark’ proposed cuts to the payouts – currently set at £5,500 for each relative – would have ‘untold consequences’ for bereaved families.  A leaked letter to Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke just two weeks ago urged him to reconsider the cuts." – Daily Mail

Yesterday –

Osborne admits Britain hit harder by inflation…

"Chancellor George Osborne has admitted that inflation on food and fuel is hitting British consumers harder than their counterparts in other countries.  Speaking at the close of the G20 summit of world leaders in Paris, Osborne said that the rise in inflation to 4 per cent had been partly driven by the fall in the value of the pound.  And he said the weakness of sterling had been inevitable because the British economy was riding an unsustainable wave of growth fuelled by high levels of debt." – Daily Mail

…and shelves bank tax plan

"It is understood that proposals to prevent banks from offsetting all their losses from the financial crisis against tax have been dropped. The chancellor had floated the idea while he was in opposition.  The ability to deduct past losses against future tax payments is expected to mean many of Britain's biggest companies will avoid paying corporation tax for years. It helped keep Barclays's tax bill down in a year when it rang up £11.6bn in profits." – The Guardian

"It is starting to look as if the British government has completely lost the ability to fight back against its critics, especially when it comes to tax. Instead, it keeps trying to appease them, attempting to move to the left of Labour on the issue and failing to understand that such a strategy is doomed to failure.  A heavily spun story on Saturday about the amount of corporation tax paid by Barclays triggered off another bout of banker-bashing." – Allister Heath, City AM

Mitchell axes aid to 20 countries

Andrew Mitchell at Poznan talks
"Ministers will axe overseas aid to nearly 20 Third World nations this week following growing anger at the amount of taxpayers’ cash sent abroad.  Angola, Gambia and Niger are among African countries understood to be losing the hand-outs.  Bosnia, Kosovo and former Soviet Republics Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are also thought to be among those being struck off the aid list.  The move is part of an overhaul of Britain’s entire overseas aid budget by the Government, with ministers targeting cash where it is most needed." – Daily Express

Letwin concedes that nudging may not work

"Oliver Letwin, the minister for government policy, has admitted that a £500,000 "nudge unit" formed to apply the behavioural economics theory that people's habits can be improved without regulation is experimental and there is no concrete evidence that it will work.  Letwin told a committee of peers in the House of Lords that the unit, which is supposed to influence Whitehall policymaking, is not guaranteed to work, but that it was low cost with "almost zero risk" involved." – The Guardian

Coalition consider moving Britain to double summertime

"Long lazy summer evenings could be on the way as ministers prepare to move Britain's clocks forward by an hour.  The plan to bring in British Summer Time + 1 under a new 'tourism strategy' is backed by David Cameron, road safety campaigners and doctors.  It is also supported by tourism chiefs in England, who say the number of overseas visitors would increase if summer evenings were lighter and boost the economy by £3.5billion a year." – Daily Mail

Ministers' sun-sational plan – The Sun

Andrew Feldman paid £120,000 a year as Party Chairman

Screen shot 2011-02-21 at 08.14.46 "Cameron seems to trust Feldman like no other — the two have been best friends since they met as  teenagers at Brasenose College, Oxford.  But who would ever have  imagined the true extent to which Feldman’s loyalty to Cameron has been rewarded? I can disclose that Feldman is the first salaried chairman in the modern Tory  Party — and he is paid £120,000 a year.  Feldman hardly needs the money." – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail

Lansley agrees deal with food industry

"The three voluntary “responsibility deals” agreed with the food industry are aimed at helping the public to eat more healthily.  Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, believes that firms will be more likely to set ambitious targets for themselves if they are negotiated on a voluntary basis.  Rather than a “nanny state” approach, he is keen to arm the public with the tools they need to cope in an “obesogenic environment,” where people are bombarded with adverts for unhealthy food." – Daily Telegraph

Ministers "too close to alcohol industry to curb binge drinking" – The Times (£)

Willetts tells Universities to keep a lid on fees

"Universities have been warned that if they raise tuition fees too far, the sector will face a fresh round of public spending cuts.  David Willetts, the universities minister, told Sky News on Sunday that high course charges for students “will mean that the budget is less in the second year”. The government has raised the maximum tuition fee limit, now £3,290, to £9,000 for 2012-13. At the same time, direct subsidies for English universities will be cut heavily." – Financial Times (£)

Yesterday – WATCH: David Willetts on university tuition fees‬

Coalition and Political News in Brief

  • Katharine Birbalsingh: "I spoke at Tory conference so I must be evil" – Interview, The Guardian
  • 7/7 inquests: MI5 officer to give evidence – BBC
  • Private firms "reluctant to take on ex-public sector staff" – Politics Home (£)
  • Number of Eastern Europeans in UK jails goes up by 850% – The Sun
  • Dissident Irish terror cell at large in Britain – The Times (£)

Clegg seizes reins of green bank project

"Nick Clegg is now the main driving force of the government’s “green investment bank” amid a Whitehall struggle over how precisely the new entity will function.  He brings an increasingly close interest to bear on the project, chairing cross-departmental meetings on a scheme that is intended to provide billions of pounds of funding for low-carbon energy initiatives such as wind farms and nuclear power stations." – Financial Times (£)

Boris: devolve political power, shun ski helmets

Johnson Boris Ruffling Hair
"It is centralisation of power, over-regulation – and the meek acceptance of Whitehall diktat – that have massively pushed up the costs of government in this country, and the sensible way forward now is to simplify and devolve.  The only way to achieve a long-term fiscal pruning is to begin a thorough legislative pruning, hacking back the nonsense and letting people decide their own local priorities. Leave it to local authorities to decide about bat-counting officers, and leave it to the individual to decide about ski helmets." – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph

Other comment

  • One small U-turn, one giant leap for forests – Jonathan Porritt, The Times (£)
  • The dawning of Arab democracy – Mary Ann Sieghart, The Independent
  • Keeping your enemies too close for comfort – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

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37 comments for: Newslinks for Monday 21st February 2011

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