7.30pm ‪WATCH: Rudd and Abbott clash in first Australian election TV debate

2.30pm MPsETC: Newspapers report Conservative membership figures

10.30am LeftWatch: Like Foot, Kinnock, Hague and Howard, Miliband fails the Capable Leader test. Is he doomed too?

ToryDiary: Defence – a simmering problem that could boil over for Cameron

A teacher writes pseudonymously on Comment: The education system is rotten – and the rot starts with the regulators

Cameron keeps on making the news, this time over the Sochi Games

DC"The Prime Minister has rejected a plea from the broadcaster Stephen Fry to boycott the Winter Olympics in Russia in protest over its treatment of gay people, claiming that 'we can better challenge prejudice' by attending the event. … David Cameron responded to Fry's Twitter appeal for the Games to be moved from Sochi yesterday morning." - Independent on Sunday

  • "The Prime Minister's tweet yesterday opposing a possible sporting boycott of Russia was just the latest example of his and his team's ostentatious not-at-the-beachmanship." – James Cusick, Independent on Sunday

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Twits – and worse – on Twitter

But has the Prime Minister's original vision been squandered, as his former speechwriter suggests? 

DK"David Cameron's vision of a compassionate Conservatism has been lost in a lurch to the right, according to the prime minister's former adviser who coined the 'hug a hoodie' line. … Danny Kruger, Cameron's former speechwriter, said the prime minister had allowed his ambitions to be hijacked by a rhetoric centred on 'bashing burglars and sending immigrants home', instead of an optimistic agenda that would benefit communities." – The Observer

  • "I’m not sure that I don’t find Bloom’s boorish saloon bar banter less offensive than the prime minister’s attempt to defend his overseas aid programme as a contribution to keeping foreigners out." – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times (£)
  • "Take note, Ukip: political discourse isn’t a free-for-all" – Matthew d'Ancona, Sunday Telegraph

"Tory activists desert party," reports the Sunday Times 

EXIT"The scale of the collapse in Tory membership has been revealed by data showing that up to half the activists in some cabinet ministers’ seats have deserted the party since the election. … The worst-affected ministers include Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, Theresa Villiers, the Northern Ireland secretary, and Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary. All of them have seen falls of at least a third in their constituency membership." – Sunday Times (£)

Is Bercow set to quit his seat after the next election … to be replaced by Boris?


"Commons Speaker John Bercow is planning to stand down after the next Election – paving the way for a sensational return to Parliament by Boris Johnson. … High-level sources have told The Mail on Sunday Boris is already being identified by local party grandees as Mr Bercow’s ideal successor – and that the Speaker is ‘privately inclined’ to be ‘helpful’ to the Mayor. They added the constituency would select Mr Johnson ‘in about ten seconds flat’." – Mail on Sunday

  • "Boris Johnson had to hand £10 to an angry cabbie after short-changing him on a fare a week earlier." – The Sun on Sunday

In the meantime, the Speaker proposes a new expenses system

PAY RISE"Commons Speaker John Bercow has suggested the current expenses system should be replaced with a single allowance. … In a letter to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which oversees MPs’ pay, he said it would be 'easier to administer'." – The Sun on Sunday

  • "… they are considering a sneaky flat-rate, tax-free allowance for second homes and food that could pay £20,000 a year without them showing a single receipt. … To be fair, some MPs will also be horrified by this idea. … They must kick it out." – Sun on Sunday editorial

Good news for Osborne: Britain's economy is outpacing its rivals

Upturn"The data revealed that activity in Britain expanded at its fastest pace for 16 years in July and was higher than any other leading economy — including China. … The figures confirm widespread evidence that the British economy has accelerated since recording growth of 0.6% in the second quarter. This is equivalent to an annualised rate of 2.4%, compared with growth of 1.7% in America over the same period." – Sunday Times (£)

  • "Osborne steps up as Cameron stumbles" – Sunday Times editorial (£)
  • "Osborne’s starting to Get Lucky" – Kathryn Cooper and David Smith, Sunday Times (£)

The NHS must reform, or fail, warns Hunt

Jh"Asked whether the NHS was sustainable in its current form, Hunt said: 'I think it’s sustainable in the medium term if we are prepared to take some difficult decisions about how we deliver healthcare. But we are up for those decisions.' … Hunt singled out GPs, warning: 'If we’re really going to be sustainable we need to have proper out-of-hospital care.'" – Sunday Times (£)

  • "More A&E departments will have to close for safety reasons as they are weeded out under a tough new hospital inspection regime, the new boss of the health watchdog has admitted." – Mail on Sunday
  • Spanish A&Es are forcing Britons who fall ill on holiday to pay up front for treatment despite EU insurance scheme – Mail on Sunday
  • £77 million-a-year is spent on on work-related compensation for NHS staff in England - Mail on Sunday

> Yesterday, by John Spiers on Comment: Hunt is right about inspections. But they shouldn't be confined to hospitals and death rates.

"State school pupils will be squeezed out of university by Michael Gove’s A-levels shake-up, experts have warned … They fear fee-paying toffs will get top places"The Sun on Sunday (£)

  • "Teenagers are opting in their droves for academic subjects that will gain them places at top universities, this year's A-level results will show." – Independent on Sunday
  • Universities woo elite students with cash and iPads – Sunday Times (£)

"Panic" among defence officials over recruitment levels

Panic"The confidential army memos reveal that in the past three months the number of people enlisting in the Army Reserve, the new name for the Territorial Army, was just 367 — barely a quarter of the target. Over the year, the number of recruits is predicted to be half what is needed. … Expanding the reserves is at the heart of the coalition’s new defence strategy." – Sunday Times (£)

British aid has fallen into the hands of Al-Qaeda, admits DfiD

"Almost half a million pounds of British taxpayer-funded aid and equipment has fallen into the hands of al-Qaeda, the Department for International Development has admitted. … The terror group’s Somali franchise, al-Shabaab, 'confiscated' the equipment from DfID contractors in multiple incidents over at least three months before any action was taken." – Sunday Telegraph

Nick Herbert hails crime-mapping, as new figures reveal the country's crime hotspots

NH"It has had more than £9 billion spent on its regeneration, and boasts a modern transport hub, Europe’s biggest shopping mall and the vast Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. … But today Stratford in East London is awarded a less welcome accolade as the country’s worst crime hotspot … Nick Herbert, the former Policing Minister who has championed crime maps, said last night: ‘The power of crime mapping is putting information in the hands of people.’" – Mail on Sunday

Peter Hitchens: Tories don't understand the sacrifices made by full-time mothers

"Revolutionaries hate the strong family, the fortress of private life, tradition and individuality. They believe in the parental state, all-wise and  all-powerful. … The Tories have taken the wrong side, and betrayed their supporters, on this and on all other issues. No wonder they now have fewer than 100,000 members. They should have fewer than 100,000 voters." – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday

Priti Patel slams Huhne as a "disgrace" after he lands new energy job

PP"Priti Patel, the Conservative backbencher and current member of the Public Administration Select Committee, said Huhne was a 'disgrace' and added: 'This new jobs shows up flaws in the culture of politics that such individuals can swan into such roles.'" – Sunday Telegraph

  • "A soft landing for Chris Huhne" – Sunday Telegraph editorial

RBS sell-off is five years away, suggests Cable

"In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Cable revealed that he believed there was very little prospect of any sale taking place before the next election and that it is probable the state will retain its 81pc stake in RBS for the majority of the next Parliament as well. … His comments are in sharp contrast to the Prime Minister, who said in May that the stake should be sold 'as soon as possible'." – Sunday Telegraph

Labour goes on the attack … against itself

EDM"Criticism of the Labour leader’s ‘slumbering’ summer performance was led by a senior frontbencher who told The Mail on Sunday it was ‘bonkers’. … And health spokesman Andy Burnham yesterday openly warned that Labour had to ‘shout louder’ or risk losing the Election. … Pro-Miliband figures then added to the rancour by briefing that Mr Burnham was ‘trying to save his job’ ahead of an expected reshuffle next month." – Mail on Sunday

"Even [Miliband's] supporters see him as hesitant. One said: 'His dithering is a legacy of the Gordon Brown era.'" – The Sun on Sunday (£)

"'I would like the Labour party to speak out more strongly about the positive alternative,' Meacher told the Observer." – The Observer

  • "[Miliband's] team thinks that this autumn’s conference is so crucial for them that they can’t afford to use any of the announcements they’ve got stored up for that occasion now." – James Forsyth, Mail on Sunday
  • "The Labour leader would love to lay out his left-wing stall, but he is thwarted by the realities of capitalism" – DJ Taylor, Independent on Sunday
  • "Be confident, be strong: how Ed Miliband can convince Britain" – Hopi Sen, The Observer
  • "Miliband has been the Tories’ greatest asset since the unions elected him Labour leader." – Sun on Sunday editorial (£)

> Yesterday on LeftWatch: Has Burnham gone public because he thinks that Miliband will demote him? 

More details emerge about Miliband's forthcoming reshuffle

"The Observer has learned that the Labour leader has pencilled in the first few weeks of next month for what will be his fourth reshuffle in three years … Labour women tipped for promotion include Emma Reynolds, the shadow Europe minister, Liz Kendall, a health spokesman, and Stella Creasy, the shadow crime prevention minister." – The Observer

The tragedy of Gordon Brown, according to the writer who turned it into a play

GB"In a real-life Game Of Thrones, the prize of power that Gordon Brown had plotted and schemed for all his life eluded him even after he finally seized the crown from his usurper Tony Blair. … Like some ancient Greek hero, Brown ruined the better part of himself by his fateful indecision, a wilful denial of reality, and by the warped and dysfunctional court of acolytes he had created around him." – Kevin Toolis, Mail on Sunday

Lord Leveson's investigations into phone hacking were "focused far too narrowly", says the Mail on Sunday

"Private detectives working on behalf of a major British insurance company illegally trawled through the mobile phone records of a 14-year-old schoolgirl who suffered brain damage after a horrific car crash, The Mail on Sunday can reveal." – Mail on Sunday

  • "Now it is clear that Lord Justice Leveson’s investigations were focused far too narrowly. … The undoubted misdeeds of the press were only part of a much larger invasion of privacy. Major companies, prominent law firms and even celebrities have paid freelance detectives to spy on the lives of private individuals." – Mail on Sunday editorial

Adam Boulton: The assassins of Oz loom over Dave, Nick and Ed

AB"With British politics in the doldrums and no party tipped to win a governing majority in 2015, strategists here must wonder if an Aussie-style leadership switch could bring about a similar change in political fortunes for any of our contenders." – Adamn Boulton, Sunday Times (£)

Henry Porter: England needs to start thinking about itself before it is too late

""This is not just about Scotland's future, but most acutely about England's, too. And the debate will occupy so much of next year that it is bound to bring into focus the way the English are governed; the growth of English, rather than British consciousness; the future of the Westminster parliament and the gathering disillusionment with politics and the parties south of the border." – Henry Porter, The Observer

News in brief

  • Average earnings in Britain, after inflation, have dropped by 5.5 per cent since 2010 – one of the biggest falls in Europe – The Sun on Sunday (£)
  • "Commuters will get more bad tidings this week when a figure is put on fare rises across the rail network for next year." – The Observer
  • The nation's exercise levels are "shockingly low", claims report – The Observer
  • Parliament could ditch its £31 million-a-year contract with Scotland Yard, and find cheaper security elsewhere – Mail on Sunday
  • Energy bills could rise by up to 10 per cent before winter – Mail on Sunday
  • "Eco-taxis" championed by Tim Yeo actually pump out more nitrogen dioxide than older black cabs – Mail on Sunday
  • Planning inspectors accused of favouring wind farms – Sunday Telegraph

And finally 1)… Pray to stay in Europe?

Pray"The Church of England was at the centre of an extraordinary row last night over claims it is being used to stop Britain leaving the European Union. … Prayers for Britain to stay in the EU forming part of a Brussels-backed event to mark the 40th anniversary of the UK joining the Common Market are to be said in a service at Salisbury Cathedral." – Mail on Sunday

And finally 2)… Michael Fallon and Michael Fallon

"Earlier this year Fallon, who was already a Business Minister, also became an Energy Minister. … Within 24 hours of his new appointment, ‘Business Fallon’ found himself signing a pre-drafted letter, addressed to himself at the Energy Department, making a policy proposal. ‘Energy Fallon’ then wrote back to his alter ego – rejecting his own idea." – the Black Dog column in the Mail on Sunday


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