After the reshuffle, more good news for Osborne: the IMF doubles its growth forecast

Osborne red and blue background“In a huge boost for the Government, the IMF said UK output will increase by 1.4 per cent this year – twice the rate predicted in April when it warned Chancellor George Osborne was ‘playing with fire’ by pressing ahead with his austerity programme. … Britain’s economy is now the fastest growing among the European members of the G7 group of the world’s richest nations, including France and Germany.” – Daily Mail

> Today on the Deep End: The Conservative Party needs a new economic theory

> Yesterday:

The second part of Help to Buy launches early – but is it all that attractive?

“David Cameron unveiled the second – and most contentious – stage of his Help to Buy scheme on Tuesday, insisting it would help people on to the property ladder without inflating a housing bubble. … Yet, early indications suggested the government-guaranteed 95 per cent mortgages offered under the scheme may not prove as attractive as some predicted.” – Financial Times

“While the new deals under-cut existing deals available to those with a 5pc deposit, analysts cautioned borrowers that they will still find themselves paying a ‘premium’ for taking out a high loan-to-value home loan.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Help to Buy should be dubbed Help to Vote” – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian

Royal Mail sale: demand outstrips supply

“Dozens of banks, hedge funds and other institutional investors will be prevented from buying any Royal Mail shares as demand for stakes in the privatisation hugely outstrips supply. … Michael Fallon has said he will do all he can to ensure as many people as possible are able to share in the privatisation. ‘I’m committed to making sure smaller investors get their fair share,’ he said.” – The Guardian

Miller takes aim at Downing Street over its part in the Leveson mess

Pile of newspapers“[Maria Miller] suggested it had been a disaster for Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin to be sent into Labour leader Ed Miliband’s office in the early hours last March to stitch up a cross-party deal over takeaway pizza with lobby group Hacked Off in attendance. … Aides said months of painstaking work towards a system which major publishers would sign up to had been undone at a stroke.” – Daily Mail

As the talks continue

“Cross-party talks are to be held over the next two days to revise parliament’s royal charter on press regulation in what is likely to be a fruitless effort to persuade the industry to sign up to it before its delayed sealing at the privy council on 30 October.” – The Guardian

  • “Parliament’s proposals for press regulation are dangerous and inhibit freedom of speech” – Times editorial (£)
  • “Our politicians are proposing to bring back statutory press control for the first time in more than 300 years. This is unacceptable.” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Labour should not be muzzling free speech with its support of the Royal Charter” – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • The Sun pledges to fight to keep papers free and noisy

> Today on ToryDiary: Cameron warned against crossing the Rubicon of state control of the press. His Government is now preparing to cross it

McLoughlin to announce a cap on rail fares

McLOUGHLIN Patrick mouth“Increases in train fares are to be capped in the first of a series of government moves to cut the cost of living. … Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin will announce today that the rail industry’s powers to raise the cost of tickets year after year is to be curbed, saving commuters up to £200 a year.” – Daily Mail

But… price rises on some routes set to hit 6% under new formula – Financial Times

  • “We need to drive bus fares down for the poor passenger” – Will Straw, The Times (£)

Hammond and the Scottish Government do battle over defence numbers

“The armed forces’ presence in Scotland is set to increase despite the overall cuts in defence spending, the defence secretary has claimed, triggering a row with the Scottish government. … His fresh estimate fuelled an ill-tempered dispute over defence policy with Scottish ministers and the Scottish National party, who accused the Conservative MP Hammond of misrepresenting the scale of previous defence cuts.” – The Guardian

Hague reveals positive Iran talks

“Britain and Iran have taken a significant step toward reopening their respective embassies in Tehran and London by appointing chargés d’affaires and holding talks about staffing … William Hague revealed to MPs that on Tuesday that talks with the Iranian government had taken place last week in a much more positive atmosphere following the election of the moderate President Hassan Rouhani…” – The Guardian

Javid launches a campaign to track down the “lost” victims of Equitable Life

“Ministers will today launch a campaign to find 400,000 ‘lost’ victims of the Equitable Life scandal who cannot be traced. … Mr Javid will today extend the deadline for claims by at least a year to give people more time to come forward. … He will also announce plans for a national advertising campaign to highlight the existence of the Equitable Life Payments Scheme…” – Daily Mail

  • Facebook paid no corporation tax in Britain last year – Daily Mail

Paterson to declare the pilot badger cull a success, but halve the Government’s targets

Badger“Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, will declare that the pilot badger cull has been a success, but admit that ministers have nearly halved targets for the number of animals to be killed. … It believes the badger population could have slumped because of last year’s harsh winter and a lack of food for the animals.” – The Independent

Ministers take on prosecutors in the row over gender-based abortions

“Health ministers have said abortion on the grounds of gender alone is ‘unacceptable and illegal’ in defiance of the Director of Public Prosecutions, who said the law does not ‘prohibit gender-specific abortions’. … The Department of Health has asked medical regulators to update the advice and guidance on carrying out abortions, amid concerns that Keir Starmer’s decision effectively legalises sex-selective abortions.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Cameron and Hunt know the next leader of NHS England could cost them an election” – Oliver Wright, The Independent
  • NHS patients urged to be more pushy – The Times (£)

Philip Davies attacks the Government’s record on imprisonment

“In 2012, some 594 people convicted of between five and nine crimes were not jailed. Nine people who committed between 10 and 14 crimes were not jailed. Three people who guilty of 15 or more crimes were not jailed. … Mr Davies, who obtained the information through Parliamentary Questions, said the figures were ‘an absolute disgrace’.” – Daily Telegraph

Steve Webb warns against pensioning off older workers

“Routinely pensioning off older workers to make way for unemployed youngsters would hurt the economy, a minister claimed yesterday. … Employees in their sixties tended to be more experienced, more productive and took less time off sick than younger staff, said pensions minister Steve Webb.” – Daily Mail

  • “If you want to avoid loneliness in later years, don’t look to the penniless State. Start planning now” – Alice Thomson, The Times (£)

Norman Baker won’t be allowed to see certain classified files in his new job

top secret“The Home Office told spy chiefs the Liberal Democrat conspiracy theorist will not learn their secrets, security sources said. … Whitehall officials say ministers are given security clearance on a ‘need-to-know basis’ and Mr Baker’s brief, dubbed ‘drugs and drunks’, will mean he is frozen out of security issues.” – Daily Mail

  • “As it happens, I don’t share Mr Baker’s belief that Dr Kelly was murdered, but it seems that there are disturbing questions which have never been answered by the authorities.” – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • “What seems dead easy to predict is that Mr Clegg will now be torn to the tiniest shreds for the most eye-catching, head-scratching ministerial appointment in Westminster history.” – Matthew Norman, The Independent

Burnham receives an apology for email leaks

“…last night the Department of Health permanent secretary Una O’Brien said in a letter to Burnham that there had been an unacceptable lapse and the protocols were not properly observed over the way in which 40 emails concerning Burnham had been released to a Tory MP.” – The Guardian

Miliband sacks Abbott

Diane Abbott“Diane Abbott, the high-profile leftwing shadow public health minister, has been sacked by Ed Miliband in his reshuffle after she was told she had failed to show sufficient loyalty. … The Hackney North MP said she was sad at being asked to leave, but was looking forward to being a free agent again.” – The Guardian

  • “Once a firebrand, Diane Abbott has now paid the price for going off message” – John Rentoul, The Independent

Blairites don’t really exist, contends Steve Richards

“There are some in the Labour party who agree more with Cameron and Osborne than they do with Miliband. They are on the centre-right without quite realising it. But a lot of those mentioned here have moved on from the 1970s and 80s, the election-losing decades that shaped Blair’s approach to politics. None of them are Blairites, not even Blair.” – Steve Richards, The Guardian

  • “Ed Miliband could be the PM who leads us out of Europe” – Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph

The Snowden files are a “gift” to terrorists, says the head of Mi5

Edward Snowden“In a blistering attack, Andrew Parker said the publication of confidential files leaked by US fugitive Edward Snowden had caused huge ‘harm’ to the capability of Britain’s intelligence services. … Security officials say the exposé amounts to a ‘guide book’, advising terrorists on the best way to avoid detection when plotting an atrocity.” – Daily Mail

OECD highlights problems with literacy and numeracy among Britain’s children

“Researchers said England had ‘one of the strongest associations between socio-economic background and literary proficiency among young people and the broader population of 16 to 65-year-olds’. … Unlike most other countries, ‘this association is stronger among young people than among the overall adult population’.” – Daily Mail

  • “This was the day the British education Establishment’s 50-year betrayal of the nation’s children lay starkly exposed in all its ignominy.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “England’s poor communities have been left behind, and among other things the OECD has captured some of the consequences.” – Guardian editorial
  • “As others raced ahead, Britain’s schools stood still” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “There is no easy solution to the crisis in British education” – Richard Garner, The Independent
  • “Labour failed poor kids” – Sun editorial (£)

Report slams the “electronic borders” system that isn’t doing its job

“A £1.2billion ‘electronic borders’ system supposed to stop terrorists, foreign criminals and illegal immigrants getting into Britain has descended into a shambles, an official report reveals today. … Ten years after it was devised by Labour ministers, e-borders is failing to meet most of its objectives, leaving a string of gaping holes in the protections it promised to deliver.” – Daily Mail

  • Home Office “go home” vans banned over misleading figures – The Guardian
  • Brussels denies that benefits tourism exists – The Times (£)

Now Oxford demands the right to charge £16,000 a year

“Oxford University’s vice-chancellor wants to charge undergraduates up to £16,000 a year, saying fees should reflect more fully the cost of teaching a degree course. His move reflects growing frustration within leading universities with the £9,000 cap on tuition fees.” – The Times (£)

News in brief

  • Tommy Robinson quits the EDL, calling for greater tolerance – Daily Mail
  • The number of civil partnership break-ups rose by 20 per cent last year – Daily Mail
  • Development quango sent staff to pottery classes – The Independent
  • Campaigners attack the ONS’s cost-cutting plan to reduce its data-sets – Financial Times
  • BBC boss outlines £100m future – The Times (£)

And finally: I get mad on my husband’s behalf, says Sarah Vine, wife of Gove

Sarah Vine“Now, I have never met Mrs Syms. But I like her style. For I, too, know how it feels to be hopping mad on your husband’s behalf. I, too, have occasionally lost my rag on Twitter. And I, too, have been told more than once to step away from the keyboard. … Me and Mrs Syms, we’re part of a new breed of political wife: the lioness. And we roar.” – Sarah Vine, Daily Mail

  • “It’s reassuring to see the ex-wife of one of David Cameron’s reshuffle casualties livid on his behalf” – Rowan Pelling, Daily Telegraph

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