John Major rocks the boat (again) on the “shocking” power of the well-off

Major calls for windfall tax“The dominance of a private-school educated elite and well-heeled middle class in the “upper echelons” of public life in Britain is “truly shocking”, Sir John Major has said. The former Conservative Prime Minister said he was appalled that “every single sphere of British influence” in society is dominated by men and women who went to private school or who are from the “affluent middle class”.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: The Conservatives’ real class problem

Cameron hails Help to Buy as 75 people a day get mortgage support

Homes For All Big“A month after its launch, 2,384 people have put in offers on homes under the scheme, totalling £365million in new mortgage lending…Mr Cameron will say: ‘Help To Buy is already delivering. But the best thing isn’t the statistics – it’s who is really benefiting. Most applicants are first-time buyers, young and have a roughly average household income. This is all about helping hard-working people get on in life.’” – Daily Mail

>Today: David Hodge on LocalGovernment: New Homes Bonus or No Homes Bonus?

Colonel Tim Collins joins growing chorus offering sympathy to Marine A

“I will never condone what Marine A did but he is no threat to the public, and you will forgive me if I do not join in the demands that he be punished in the most severe way possible. I do demand, however, that we pause to consider why he did it. What turned a Royal Marine to this? We have to remember it was his service on operations on our behalf – and the horrors he faced in the line of duty.” – Colonel Tim Collins, Daily Mail

A&E fears rise as doctors move abroad

NHS_Logo“Half of all senior doctor posts go unfilled at accident and emergency departments, putting unsustainable pressure on life-or-death care. The College of Emergency Medicine (CEM) says that 383 of the 699 specialist registrar posts in A&E have been left vacant over the past three years, stretching emergency ward doctors beyond capacity and driving up waiting times.” – The Times (£)

>Today: Jeremy Hunt on Comment: I’m determined to do for hospitals what Gove is doing for schools

Osborne seeks cash to fund cuts in green taxes

gas-energy“The coalition is looking for ways to find £1.6bn a year through either tax rises or spending cuts to fund measures to cut household energy bills. George Osborne is considering shifting the cost of government-backed insulation schemes away from bills in a move that would reduce household energy prices by up to £75 a year.” – FT

  • Miliband has cost of living questions, but no answers – FT Leader

Government premium phone lines cost callers £56 million a year

“The Government was last night accused of profiting from ‘vulnerable’ people by forcing them to phone premium-rate numbers. A damning investigation has found that more than 100million calls to State-backed offices by crime victims, pensioners, the recently bereaved and students were to high-rate numbers charging up to 35p a minute.” – Daily Mail

SNP accused of taxpayer-funded independence propaganda

Union Jack Tree Logo“Plans to send out independence referendum teaching packs to schools provoked a furious backlash last night. The Conservatives warned the Scottish government not to use taxpayers’ money to push its own agenda. Labour described the packs as “government propaganda”.” – The Times (£)

Press twist the knife on Zahawi’s expenses, in return for his support for Leveson

“A millionaire Tory MP has admitted making an expenses claim for the electricity used by his horse riding business and a yard manager’s mobile home. Nadhim Zahawi, who was a successful entrepreneur before becoming an MP in 2010, had the highest energy expenses of any politician, a newspaper report revealed…Mr Zahawi has been a vociferous supporter of statute-backed Press regulation. Last year, he was one of 42 Tory MPs to sign a letter calling for tight controls.” – Daily Mail

Pressure mounts on Hague to pull out of Sri Lanka summit

“According to Foreign Secretary William Hague, Britain believes it can have ‘more impact’ by engaging in face-to-face talks with the country’s president, who has been accused of persecuting the country’s Tamil minority and political opponents. Yesterday Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh announced he was pulling out of the bi-annual summit.” – Daily Mail

  • Autumn statement to be delayed due to China visit – FT
  • Warning the Government might miss its £1 trillion export target – The Independent

News in brief

  • The success – and the worries – of Thatcherite Sajid Javid – Bloomberg
  • BBC spends £10 million on consultants, but won’t say what for – Daily Mail
  • Duke of Edinburgh rejects a State Funeral “fuss” – Daily Mail
  • US Congress threatens new Iran sanctions – FT
  • Meet the heroes still disposing of World War One bombs – Daily Mail
  • Does China need democracy to be rich? – Matt Ridley, The Times (£)
  • Ouch! Russian artist nails his genitals to Red Square in anti-Putin protest – Daily Mail

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