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6pm WATCH: Former Labour Home Secretary Lord Reid explains the fundamental unfairness of AV

4.15pm Local government: Labour councillors declared as opposing AV nearly doubles to 700

GREENING JUSTINE3.15pm Justine Greening MP on Comment: Ed Miliband and Ed Balls are demonstrating that for Labour, integrity and credibility play second fiddle to political manoeuvring

12.45pm Latest video:

11.30am On Comment, Graeme Archer nails three myths about Alternative Vote (including the one repeated by Nick Clegg today that the Tory leader is elected by AV)

ToryDiary: We need to address the abusive relationship rather than just stop the latest punch from Brussels

Donal Blaney on Comment: If the Law Society wants to continue charging a compulsory levy on all solicitors, it must stop playing politics

Local Government:

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ThinkTankCentral: The Adam Smith Institute argues that Free Schools should be able to make a profit

WATCH: Leaders on Scottish election trail 

Cameron brands EU budget plans "unacceptable".  Osborne says that the Commission needs "a reality check".  But the Government faces the charge that it will none the less roll over

Screen shot 2011-04-21 at 05.20.11 "David Cameron and George Osborne set themselves on a collision course with European Union officials after they flatly opposed a 4.9% increase in the EU budget next year…Cameron and Osborne said the proposals were unacceptable, and intend to use the support of their French and Germans counterparts to rein in the EU commission. The prime minister's spokesman vowed Cameron would take a tough stance. Osborne said the EU needed a reality check, while the shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander described the request as ill-judged and unwise." – The Guardian

"Last night the Government refused to say what, if any, increase in Britain’s contributions ministers were prepared to accept, prompting charges that they would eventually “roll over” and agree to hand over more taxpayers’ money.Wary of raising false expectations on this year’s budget fight, government spokesmen were yesterday careful not to say what, if any, increase Britain was prepared to accept." – Daily Telegraph

Comment –

  • Brussels shouldn’t be given a penny more – Daily Telegraph Editorial
  • "Where – I ask the question with genuine bafflement – is the protest march? I mean, if 400,000-odd people brought London to a standstill over mooted cuts of £6.2 billion, where are the protests against the increase in our tribute to Brussels to £19.7 billion (£9.2 billion net)?" – Daniel Hannan's Blog
  • The EU should slash its spending, axe its overseas aid, repatriate fishing and farming – John Redwood's blog

Yesterday in Comment: Martin Callanan MEP -  Why the True Finns' success could be bad news for UK Taxpayers 

Liberal Democrat Lord Carlile lashes out at ECHR in new report by Dominic Raab MP

Rulings by unelected judges in Strasbourg are having a ‘chilling effect’ on public safety in Britain, a senior government adviser warns today.  Lord Carlile, a Liberal Democrat peer, said the European Court of Human Rights had placed itself on a ‘collision course’ with the UK Parliament…The peer made his remarks in the foreword to a new report by Tory MP Dominic Raab, an expert in international law who led the backbench revolt against prisoner voting." – Daily Mail

European Court of Human Rights and Nick Clegg's chilling effect – Daily Mail Editorial 

Cameron turns tail over tailcoat

Screen shot 2011-04-21 at 11.03.47 "After revealing that David Cameron was about to become the first Prime Minister in British history who thought it was appropriate to wear a lounge suit to a royal wedding, Downing Street said yesterday that he would wear a morning suit.  The announcement, which followed three days of debate in which more attention was paid to his choice of dress than the bride’s, contradicted briefings given at the weekend that Mr Cameron, who has often been seen as sensitive to being called a “toff”, was planning to wear an ordinary suit." – The Times (£)

Huzzah! – Benedict Brogan's Blog 

Yesterday in ToryDiary: Does it matter what David Cameron wears to the Royal Wedding?

Clegg battles to regain initiative for the Yes to AV campaign…

"Writing for The Daily Telegraph, the Deputy Prime Minister said his preferred voting system would have meant fewer fraudulent and excessive expense claims at Westminster.  Mr Clegg, the leading advocate of AV, said the current first-past-the-post system means “hundreds” of MPs are almost immune from losing their seats at elections. That encourages them to make as much as they can from their allowances, he said, adding: “Power without accountability always leads to trouble.”" – Daily Telegraph 

…But its troubles roll on…

"Willie Sullivan was in charge of Vote For A Change, a pressure group which actively pushed for a hung parliament, when he was accused of behaving like the fictional Mafia boss Tony Soprano after signing off inaccurate accounts during the 2010 campaign.  He is now ‘head of field operations’ for Yes To Fairer Votes which is pressing for a switch to the Alternative Vote system in May’s referendum on electoral reform." – Daily Mail

…And one of Clegg's own MPs denounces him as an "opportunistic careerist"…

Screen shot 2011-04-21 at 08.06.18 "Nick Clegg has been accused of being an “opportunistic careerist” by one of his own Liberal Democrat politicians in a blistering attack on the party’s leadership.  Adrian Sanders, the MP for Torbay, said the behaviour of Mr Clegg and other senior Lib Dems since joining the coalition had fractured the party’s core vote and lost it a generation of young voters.  In an article for the Liberator magazine…Mr Sanders said the Lib Dems had “irrevocably damaged” their public image and were in trouble." – The Times (£)

"We’ve lost a generation of supporters": Seven out of 10 Lib Dem voters desert party – Daily Mail 

…While the Deputy Prime Minister's advisers debate what on earth to do next

"In the event of a no vote on AV… there is an internal debate about what Clegg should claim as his consolation prize. Some such as Richard Reeves, his special adviser, are telling him to ask for nothing – a partial return to the original Reevesian strategy which was that Clegg and Cameron should not be seen to have separate victories and desires…Other Lib Dems disagree. They think one of the concessions Clegg should get is a commitment to use the parliament act to drive through Lords reform." – The Guardian

Vince Cable should back the Government or resign from it – Harry Phibbs, Daily Mail 

Nick Gibb barracked at teachers' conference

Screen shot 2011-04-21 at 08.09.31 "Teachers heckled and jeered the Schools minister yesterday as he tried to justify a range of government policies to them.  Nick Gibb was harangued by delegates at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' annual conference over government threats to teachers' pensions, cuts in education funding and university tuition fees…After his address Mr Gibb said he thought the teachers had been "very polite", adding: "They laughed at some of my jokes." – The Independent 

Fox compares Libya to Afghanistan, John Baron says Prime Minister may have misled the Commons…

"He said the situation was ‘not that different from what’s happening in Afghanistan, where we’ve decided that training up security forces so that the Afghans themselves can look after their security is the best way forward’…Tory MP John Baron said Mr Cameron was shifting his position from protecting civilians to regime change. Pressed on whether he thought Mr Cameron has misled Parliament about the real purpose of the war, he said there was a ‘fair chance’ he had." – Daily Mail 

…Cameron and Obama discuss Libya military advisers move…

"The two leaders agreed that U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding that the Libyan government cease violence against civilians must be fully implemented. "In addition to increasing military pressure and protecting civilians through the coalition operation that Nato is leading, the leaders discussed the importance of increasing diplomatic and economic pressure on the Gaddafi regime to cease attacks on civilians and comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions," a White House statement said." – Daily Telegraph 

…David Davis backs regime change

"There is all the difference between change to put in a government whose ideology you prefer, and change to remove from a mass murderer the power to continue his crimes.  If the Prime Minister puts it in those terms, I suspect that Parliament would support him and will him the means. This is why MPs should debate this issue in a substantive motion at the first opportunity. Without that mandate, I fear that the alliance will be confined to a hesitancy of action that will, for many innocent Libyans, prove fatal." – The Times (£)

Libya news and comment –

Grayling slams "Too fat to work" culture

Screen shot 2011-04-21 at 05.20.49 Britain's benefits culture was laid bare yesterday as ­figures showed nearly a million people have been on sickness handouts for a decade.  They include more than 22,000 who are deemed too fat to work or are addicted to drink or drugs.  This group alone has cost hardworking taxpayers up to £1billion. There are nearly 500 ailments claimants can use to get handouts, including spots, indigestion and sunburn." – Daily Express 

New peers "have brought 'yah-boo' politics to the Lords"

"The House of Lords has been over-run by an "avalanche of not-so-distinguished peers" which has turned the chamber into a "very unpleasant place" to be, the leader of Britain's independent peers has warned.  Baroness D'Souza, convener of the crossbenchers in the Lords, said that the second chamber had become overwhelmed since the election with political appointees who had brought "yah-boo" politics into the Lords." – The Independent

Yesterday in Parliament: Cameron warned against appointing more peers

Coalition and Political News in Brief

SNP hits 45 per cent – and opens up "unassailable" 11 point lead" over Labour

Alex Salmond square "Alex Salmond and the SNP have stormed into an almost unassailable election lead over Labour and are now within touching distance of winning an overall majority at Holyrood on May 5, according to a dramatic new opinion poll for The Times.  The Ipsos MORI poll of 1,000 Scots voters has also produced the tantalising prospect for a re-elected Nationalist government in Scotland of having just enough parliamentary support among SNP and Green MSPs to hold their much-desired referendum on independence." – The Times (£) 

DUP may profit from fears of Martin McGuinness as first minister

"Fears that Martin McGuinness could become Northern Ireland's first citizen are driving pro-union voters further into the arms of the Democratic Unionist party, veteran watchers of Ulster politics say.  DUP strategists have tapped into concerns that if McGuinness were elevated to first minister it would mark a psychological victory for republicanism and convince more unionists that a united Ireland was inevitable." – The Guardian 

 

Lib Dem peers intend to delay police commissioner plans

"Liberal Democrat peers intend to delay plans to introduce locally elected police commissioners across England and Wales, the BBC has learned.  They want the idea piloted before it is implemented nationwide and say they will disrupt the timetable by introducing amendments to legislation.  The first commissioners, with the power to hire and fire chief constables, are planned to be in place by May 2012." – BBC

Work to begin on Bomber Command Memorial in MayDaily Telegraph

Other Comment

  • Amoral judges, shameless celebrities and a Britain that's coming close to a police state – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • University reforms are sinking by degrees – Camilla Cavendish, The Times (£)
  • Our republican conspiracy of silence – Steve Richard, The Independent

Purple prose from Miliband on Blue Labour

Screen shot 2010-09-30 at 08.47.01 He is also showing interest in the “blue Labour” tract of the social activist and academic Maurice Glasman, now Lord Glasman after he was elevated to the peerage by Mr Miliband…“Purple Labour, blue Labour,” says Mr Miliband as he heads for a day’s campaigning in Wales. “I would be tempted to say, let a thousand flowers bloom,” he smiles. “But that’s not a particularly appropriate historical analogy.” – Ed Miliband interview in The Times (£)
  • The leader of the opposition has made some progress, but is yet to look like a plausible prime minister – The Economist

And finally…Scissors, paper, stone, Boris

"Chipmunk and Boris Johnson's game of paper, scissors, stone ended in stalemate yesterday outside City Hall. They should have made it best of three.  The mayor joined the rapper at the launch of his Rhythm Of London scheme to encourage kids to take up music.  He said: "Boris is a cool dude and understands there needs to be a connection between young people and politics. He needs a new haircut, though." – The Sun

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72 comments for: Newslinks for Thursday 21st April 2011

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