6.30pm WATCH: Gibraltar's chief minister says that the dispute between Spain and the UK is "manufactured"

3pm Local Government: Council by-election results from yesterday

11.45am Lucius Winslow on Comment: For all our problems, let’s keep calm on crime

ToryDiary: Party membership data has much to teach us about how well – or how badly – we campaign

Zehra Zaidi on Comment: Amidst Egypt's turmoil and killings, the plight of the Copts is a sign of its endangered future

Cameron calls Brussels for support over Gibraltar


"David Cameron demanded ‘urgent’ action from Brussels last night over Spanish meddling with Gibraltar. … He phoned European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to tell him to send observers to the border immediately, rather than wait until next month as Brussels has suggested. … The Prime Minister repeatedly reminded the chief Eurocrat it is his job to ensure EU law is upheld." – Daily Mail

  • "Britain's involvement in the EU is too entrenched to achieve any reform" – Robin Harris, Daily Mail

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Is Cameron and Merkel's EU rebel alliance really a new hope?

And speaks to his European counterparts about Egypt

Flag 2"An emergency summit of foreign ministers will take place in Brussels next week. … On Friday, Mr Cameron spoke to Francois Hollande, the French president, after which the two leaders demanded an immediate end to the violence and a Europe-wide response to the killings." – Daily Telegraph

  • "All coups end in petty tyranny, however good the intentions" – Daniel Hannan, Daily Telegraph

> Today, by Zehra Zaidi on Comment: Amidst Egypt's turmoil and killings, the plight of the Copts is a sign of its endangered future

But if you want to speak to the Prime Minister, it could cost a cool £6,000

"Businessmen are being offered access to David Cameron for £6,000 at the Conservative conference – while ordinary party members are sidelined. … A brochure for businessmen wanting to meet the PM has revealed that only 38 per cent of the attendees at the last Tory conference were party members." – Daily Mail

"Only a third of people attending Tory conference are party members"

"Lobbyists and other commercial visitors now almost outnumber grassroots
Conservatives at conference. Thirty-eight per cent of people attending the conference are party members,
while 36 per cent are from commercial or charitable organisations. The disclosure will add to fears that the party’s rank-and-file membership is
collapsing, handing more power to a few wealthy financial backers and
professional politicians" – Daily Telegraph

Is Tory membership below 100,000? Daniel Hannan thinks so…

DH"The number of households receiving my newsletter since I was elected 15 years ago has fallen by 70 per cent. National party membership when I became an MEP – these things stick in your mind – was 330,000. Which gives us a ballpark figure of less than 100,000 members across the country. In early 1950s, there were nearly 3 million." – Daniel Hannan, on his Telegraph blog

"It's no wonder the Tories are losing members when Conservative associations appear to be stuck in the Fifties" – Graeme Archer, Daily Telegraph

  • "As Conservative Party membership plummets to as low as 100,000, competition is growing in particular for the support of disaffected young people on the right. For them, like older ex-Tories, there is Ukip. But alternative outlets are increasingly diverse in the digital age." – Independent

> Today on ToryDiary: Party membership data has much to teach us about how well – or how badly – we campaign

Ministers tell councils: thanks to Europe, we need to scrap weekly bin collection

Wheelie bin"Traditional weekly rubbish collections must be scrapped to meet European recycling regulations, ministers have told councils. … Under the new rules, more than 100 areas which still have traditional weekly bin rounds will lose them, to be replaced by fortnightly collections or similarly complicated rationing and recycling methods." – Daily Mail

Mark Hoban hails a fall in the number of workless people

"The number of workless people has plunged by 400,000 since the last election, figures show. … A minister claimed that the government’s welfare reforms were behind the fall in the number of those either not in work or not even looking for a job. … Much of the reduction is down to a fall in the numbers of people inactive because of long-term sickness." – Daily Mail

  • Number of people starting job schemes fell by 8 per cent over three years, according to report – Independent

Nick Clegg quietly lends his support to fracking…

"Mr Clegg’s team argues in a paper ahead of the Glasgow event that there is 'value' in promoting domestic production of gas rather than imports, despite unease over fracking among many Lib Dem members. … The document takes a more cautious tone than David Cameron’s aggressive promotion of shale gas exploration, playing down the prospect of a US-style revolution in domestic energy supplies." – Financial Times

  • "Energy consumption plunged by a quarter in England and Wales betweeen 2005 and 2011 as spiralling fuel bills forced households to cut back on energy use." – Financial Times

…as the Battle of Balcombe rages on: fracking company scales back its operations after protests

Fracking"Police were accused of bowing to the mob last night as campaigners brought drilling at a potential fracking site to a halt. … Hardcore activists celebrated as energy bosses announced they would ‘scale back’ operations in Balcombe on the advice of the police. The controversial decision came as senior officers feared an influx of another 1,000 protesters." - Daily Mail

"The Church of England has warned against 'cowboys and cavaliers' digging up the countryside in exploitative fracking processes but also criticised 'blanket opposition' to new fuel sources." – The Times (£)

  • "At last, Church and State are noticing that fanatics have been steering the fracking debate in the wrong direction – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • "Mob rule cannot win the day on fracking" – Daily Mail editorial

> Yesterday:

Tom Watson urges Miliband: publish the report into Unite and Falkirk

Tom Watson"Senior Labour MP Tom Watson has accused Labour of botching its response to the Unite controversy in Falkirk, saying his party has been guilty of a "huge injustice". The former general election co-ordinator said the party had created a storm in a teacup by calling in police over allegations that Unite tried to stitch up the selection of Labour's candidate to fight a byelection. … Watson said he agreed with Miliband that the party needed to be more transparent and called on his leader to publish the report into the Falkirk allegations in full." – The Guardian

The full Tom Watson interview

  • "These claims are potentially very difficult for Mr Miliband." – Guardian editorial

And what's this? Labour will introduce the rent controls that Unite have asked for, suggests Jack Dromey

"Labour backed controversial rent control plans — days after paymasters Unite told it to support the policy. … Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey told a private party meeting he supports proposals to slap strict limits on rent rises 'without hesitation'. … A recording of Mr Dromey reveals him enthusiastically backing the idea at the behind-closed-doors meeting." – The Sun (£)

  • "One day the Unite union urges Ed Miliband’s party to demand rents be capped to foil profiteering landlords. … A week later it happens." – Sun editorial (£)

Yet more discontent among Miliband's backbenchers: Keith Vaz criticises his party's stance on immigration

"A former Labour minister has rebuked his party for taking part in a political 'war of words' over immigration, including its attempts to 'lecture' companies about recruiting too many foreign workers. … In an article for his local newspaper, Vaz said: 'It is not an answer to lecture companies such as Next on where they should recruit their workers from.'" – The Guardian

And Jack Straw chips in, too

JS"Ed Miliband needs to 'turn up the volume' and prove that he, not the trade unions, runs the Labour Party, a former Cabinet minister has warned. … Jack Straw, who was Foreign Secretary under Tony Blair, made the plea as a current Shadow Cabinet minister set out a series of measures that Labour could deploy to attract voters." – The Times (£)

The full Jack Straw interview (£)

Cut stamp duty and the Treasury won't lose a penny, claim the Taxpayers' Alliance

"Stamp duty could be slashed to help struggling homeowners – and the government would not lose a penny, an analysis has found. … Campaigners say the cut would stimulate house buying and building, creating more jobs and raising the amount received from income tax, national insurance and VAT." – Daily Mail

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Please, Chancellor, don't be tempted to extend Help to Buy in the Tory manifesto

The Chairman of the Independent Schools Council criticises universities' state school policy

"Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council (ICS), claimed it was ‘so wrong’ that institutions are asked to set targets on the numbers of state school and poorer youngsters they recruit. … Many university modern language departments would ‘be forced to close’ if it were not for private school students, he insisted." – Daily Mail

We need more funding to properly care for the elderly, GPs tell survey

GP"Most GPs fear they will not be able to give elderly patients proper care, leading doctors have said. … More than four in five think that ‘spiralling workloads and dwindling resources’ will make it increasingly hard to help vulnerable older people, a poll by the Royal College of General Practitioners found." – Daily Mail

  • The Government is treating the NHS like a "failing bank", claims the Lancet – The Guardian

Civil servants spared tax on their perks

"Some senior civil servants are having their tax bills paid on benefits such as official cars and accommodation, it has emerged. Whitehall departments are picking up tax charges related to perks for a number of senior officials, when this would often be paid by employees themselves in the private sector." – The Guardian

  • "More than one-third of civil servants believe the Government is botching its attempt to cut the size of Whitehall by allowing the most talented workers to leave." – Independent

News in brief

  • Economic optimism is at its highest level for three years, according to poll – Daily Mail
  • The number of students achieving A* grades at GCSE has quadrupled in nine years – Daily Mail
  • Offshore gaming tax rule to net £300 million – The Guardian
  • All five Respect councillors in Bradford have resigned to be independents, after George Galloway reveals London Mayor ambitions – Independent
  • Justin Welby refuses roles as a patron of the RSPCA – The Times (£)
  • Philip Pullman criticises Michael Gove for putting too much emphasis on spelling and grammar – The Times (£)
  • Andrew Marr has made his first public speaking appearance since suffering a stroke – Daily Telegraph
  • Stuart Wheeler reckons UKIP would be finished without Farage – Daily Telegraph

And finally… The donation intended to pay off our national debt

Pounds"The £500,000 bequest from the former nurse Joan Edwards that embarrassed the government this week has been left in the shade by an anonymous donation of the same size made 85 years ago – which is now worth £350m. … The donor specified that the fund should be held in trust until the country had collected enough money to pay off the whole debt, which currently stands at £1.2tn." – Financial Times

  • "Leaving money to a government is odd, but praiseworthy" – Financial Times editorial
  • "Wealthy individuals should take after those who quietly donate some of their gains to benefit the nation" – Guardian editorial

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