Hunt tries to curtail NHS pay rises

Jeremy Hunt by Carla Millar“Ministers have sparked a new confrontation with NHS staff by trying to derail a pay rise they were promised next year and to scrap their pay progression system linked to length of service. … In a surprise move, the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, urged the two independent pay review bodies that set earnings for the NHS’s 1.3 million workforce to cancel the 1% rise due in April 2014” – The Guardian

  • “The number of A&E units failing to meet the government’s four-hour target has almost trebled in a year” – The Guardian

Osborne likely to reject climate recommendations

“George Osborne is expected to reject the recommendations of the Government’s independent advisers on climate change by slowing its drive to tackle global warming. … Allies of the Chancellor said the committee’s advice would be ‘taken into account’ but would not necessarily reflect the Government’s final word on carbon emissions.” – The Independent

  • “Green dreams that have been blown away” – Geoffrey Lean, Daily Telegraph

> Today on ToryDiary: The tale of two trajectories that Osborne will tell in his favour

One-in-ten council houses goes to migrants – Pickles attacks Labour

PICKLES Eric 2009“One in ten of the families given taxpayer-subsidised social housing last year was foreign, figures revealed yesterday. … Yesterday, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles blamed Labour for allowing local people ‘to be pushed out of the housing queue by foreign nationals’. .. He said ‘tough new guidance’ to give priority to local residents would be published soon.” – Daily Mail

Hague in talks with Russia over Greenpeace activists charged with piracy

“William Hague, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, raised the case with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, last Wednesday. Further talks are expected, although officials say Britain’s concerns are based purely on ‘consular’ issues of welfare.” – The Independent

Did MoD cuts help the Taliban storm Camp Bastion?

“Military recommendations to strengthen security at Britain’s main base in Afghanistan, made six months before an attack last year in which 18 soldiers were either killed or wounded, were rejected by the Ministry of Defence on cost grounds, The Independent can reveal.” – The Independent

  • “People giving money to help millions of refugees from the civil war in Syria are inadvertently supporting terrorism, the charity watchdog has warned.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “A British jihadist is suspected of developing chemical weapons for the terrorists behind the Kenyan shopping centre massacre” – The Times (£)

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Is Cameron waking up to his Defence difficulties?

McLoughlin bans driving tests in foreign languages

Learner plates“From early next year candidates will no longer be able to use prerecorded foreign language voice-overs – which are used to read out questions – or interpreters in theory and practical tests. … The decision by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin follows a spate of fraud convictions involving ‘back seat’ interpreters who help their clients cheat by using the foreign language to give covert coaching.” – Daily Mail

A side-effect of the Government’s pension reforms: families may have to stump up more for their nannies and cleaners

“Under the Government scheme, they will also have to fund pension contributions for cleaners, gardeners and home helps whose pay exceeds £9,440 a year. … Parent groups say this will add to the burden on the already-squeezed middle, with mothers accusing the Government of treating parents ‘like a profitable business’.” – Daily Mail

  • “In promising to do something about the cost of living the Conservatives are risking intellectual disgrace” – Matthew Parris, The Times (£)

Simon Burns quits as rail minister to stand as deputy speaker – what does it mean for HS2?

BURNS Simon“Rail Minister Simon Burns quit ahead of David Cameron’s ministerial reshuffle next week in order to fight for the post vacated by Tory MP Nigel Evans … Mr Burns’ decision to walk out comes amid growing political opposition to [HS2]. … The future of the scheme is looking increasingly doubtful following predictions that the cost of the project, officially £50billion, could spiral to more than £80billion.” – Daily Mail

> Today on Tory MPs: What might the reshuffle look like?

> Yesterday’s video to WATCH: Simon Burns resigns to stand as Deputy Speaker. Here’s his view of his possible future boss

Nick Gibb calls for smaller schools

“Nick Gibb, a former Conservative education minister who remains a policy adviser to the prime minister, said parents were right to be concerned about growing school sizes and urged the Tories to make a commitment to reduce numbers. … ‘I think comprehensive schools over 1,000 are suboptimal and I think primary schools over 500 are too big.'” – Financial Times

Watch out, Laura Sandys – Farage is set to contest the Kent seat of South Thanet

FARAGE eating“Mr Farage, the Ukip leader, has decided to run in one of the two Thanet seats, according to his allies, and will most likely pick South Thanet, currently held by Laura Sandys, a modernising, pro-European Conservative. … The Ukip leader ran for the South Thanet seat in 2005, but came a distant fourth. Since then, however, his party has rocketed to 11 per cent in the polls.” – Financial Times

  • “Farage is out of touch with UKIP voters,” claims Godfrey Bloom – The Times (£)

Voters tell Boris: stop playing jester if you want to lead the country

“Boris Johnson must stop acting the buffoon and decide to grow up as a politician, according to a Times/YouGov focus group of swing voters. … The Mayor of London brings a touch of humour to politics, but risks becoming a jester if he is not careful, with only a couple of participants ready to think of him as a front-rank politician.” – The Times (£)

  • “Ed Miliband lacks statesmanship, is bland and leaves voters unsure about what he stands for, according to a Times/YouGov focus group of swing voters in key marginal seats.” – The Times (£)

What’s this?! Cameron praised by Simon Heffer?

“How deeply refreshing. At last, David Cameron set out this week some powerful reasons for voting Conservative. … By defining the Tories as the party of business, in celebrating profit as the means to provide private sector jobs and public services, and in having the guts to rein in the Welfare State, he displayed a grasp of reality that both Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg painfully lack.” – Daily Mail

  • “Once David Cameron wanted to hug a hoodie; now he’d rather make him homeless.” – Janice Turner, The Times (£)
  • “Tories don’t understand my generation, and there will be consequences” – Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, The Guardian

Women should ask male colleagues how much they earn, suggests Jo Swinson – to see if they are on equal pay

“Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson said the only way to close the 17.4 per cent gender pay gap was to ditch the ‘very British’ reluctance to discuss money. … Many women do not realise they are being paid less than their male counterparts, Miss Swinson said. … ‘I think sometimes there’s something very British in our culture where we don’t talk about money, and I think that holds women back.’” – Daily Mail

  • “Outside of employment tribunals, there isn’t much gender-based oppression” – Graeme Archer, Daily Telegraph

Calls for Burnham to be sacked in NHS cover-up row

NHS“Tory MPs demanded Ed Miliband fire Mr Burnham as shadow health secretary after the Mail published damning emails which show the health watchdog was asked to stop the release of a report on Basildon and Thurrock hospital in Essex where patients were left to die. … Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood was last night examining whether he needs to set up a Whitehall investigation into whether civil servants breached their code of conduct.” – Daily Mail

“A coroner’s officer has been suspended over claims she accused the parents of children who died in a maternity hospital scandal of a ‘witch-hunt’.” – Daily Mail

  • “Time for an inquiry into the culture and practices of Labour” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “Andy Burnham has been tipped as a future Labour leader. This time next week he should count himself lucky if he’s still on Ed Miliband’s frontbench.” – Sun editorial (£)

Miliband claims his energy price freeze would save businesses £1.5 billion

“Companies would save £1.5bn as a result of the 20-month energy price freeze proposed by Labour, Ed Miliband claimed today. … The Labour leader seized on figures calculated by researchers in the House of Commons Library as he tried to answer criticism by the Conservatives that he is ‘anti-business.'” – The Independent

  • “After the last month, it is more difficult to dismiss Mr Miliband as a mix of empty and wonky ambition” – Guardian editorial

The Labour leader shouldn’t use his row with the Mail to attack press freedom, says Leveson adviser

“A member of Lord Justice Leveson’s advisory panel on the media has said that Ed Miliband would be ‘misguided’ if he seeks to use his disagreement with the Daily Mail as a ‘cudgel to try to beat the press’. .. George Jones, former political editor of the Daily Telegraph, warned the Labour leader that his demands for taste and decency in reporting could ‘seriously compromise’ freedom of speech.” – Daily Mail

  • “How a newspaper runs its affairs in a free country is none of Ed Miliband’s business” – Daily Telegraph editorial

The Mail’s attack on Miliband is worse than anything I ever faced, says Kinnock

KINNOCK Neil“Kinnock said the Daily Mail’s attacks on Miliband’s late father, Ralph, were ‘worse than I had’ and accused the media of being out to ‘scrag Ed from the start’. … He spoke out as Miliband’s team claimed a major victory, when a senior representative of the Daily Mail admitted that the article depicting Ralph Miliband as ‘The Man Who Hated Britain’ may have been ‘wrongly labelled’.” – The Guardian

Read the Guardian’s interview with Kinnock in full

  • “The real target should not have been Miliband senior, but his son” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • “Agreement with the Daily Mail’s views is no test of Britishness” – Simon Schama, Financial Times

Mehdi Hasan’s application for a job at the Mail

HASAN, Mehdi“Mehdi Hasan, who writes for the Huffington Post UK blog, attacked the Daily Mail over the Ralph Miliband controversy on BBC1’s Question Time on Thursday. … But the senior political journalist was not always such a passionate opponent of this newspaper. … Indeed, in July 2010, while working at the left-wing New Statesman, Mr Hasan wrote to the Daily Mail editor asking if he could write for the paper.” – Daily Mail

  • Miliband furore thrusts Mail tensions into the headlines – Financial Times

> Yesterday on LeftWatch: Is Mehdi Hasan really a man of the Left?

Alex Brummer versus Jonathan Freedland – is the Mail anti-semitic?

  • “Hatred of Jews is often more coded than explicit, but the Daily Mail’s attack on Ralph Miliband pressed all the same old buttons.” – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
  • “It’s deplorable to say the Mail is anti-Semitic” – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail

News in brief

  • “We want to talk with David Cameron.” The Syrians congregating at Calais in hope of reaching Britain – Daily Mail
  • New campaign seeks special low-interest loans for troops – The Sun (£)
  • Families risk missing child benefit deadline – The Times (£)
  • Andrew Mitchell row: prosecutors say they have received all evidence from police – The Guardian
  • Philip Morris accused of leaning on MEPs ahead of vote on the sale of cigarettes – The Independent
  • Halliburton lined up as potential fracking partner – The Independent
  • Cuadrilla pulls out of shale gas site in Lancashire – The Independent

And finally 1: Sensuous Thatcher, according to Aitken

Jonathan Aitken“[Jonathan Aitken’s] book shows a very different side of Mrs Thatcher, from the dysfunctional family lunches — Mark in a sulk, Carol being cross, Margaret insisting on doing everything, from cooking (Denis liked bacon only the way she prepared it) to washing up — to the difficulties and intransigence of her later years. … ‘She was a very sensuous woman. There was a more sensuous side to her than ever became apparent.’” – Daily Mail

And finally 2: David Cameron, TV chef?

“Downing Street last night laughed off a bid to give David Cameron his own cookery show as ‘a half-baked idea’. … Cable channel Food Network UK said it wanted to make Baking With Dave after the PM revealed he makes his own bread.” – The Sun (£)

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