Attract young voters by running as the National Liberals, suggests Boles

BOLES valley of death“The Conservative Party cannot win a majority unless it wins around young people by “shouting from the rooftops” about liberal policies like gay marriage, a Tory minister has said. Nick Boles, an ally of David Cameron, said that the Conservatives will struggle to win a Commons majority because “a significant number of people will not even contemplate voting Conservative”. Because the Conservative Party image still repels many voters, the party should consider running candidates under a new National Liberal banner, Mr Boles said.” – Daily Telegraph

Hammond faces Army cuts rebellion

“John Baron, a Conservative MP and critic of Mr Hammond’s bid to hire more than 10,000 part-time soldiers, while laying off 20,000 regular troops to save money, said that he wanted the Ministry of Defence to freeze the reforms until it proves the programme is viable. “Rising costs and badly missed reserve recruitment targets confirm the reserve plans are in trouble, and raise the real prospect of unacceptable capability gaps and false economies,” he said. “We ought to revert to the original plan in 2011 to maintain the Regulars until the Reservists are ready to take their place.” – The Times (£)

  • Defence Secretary warns of the amendment’s “serious damage” to forces – The Sun (£)
  • Head of the Army warns rebels, too – The Guardian
  • Demands for troops to defend Gibraltar – Daily Mail
  • Spanish boats could be shot at – Daily Telegraph
  • Tension on the Rock is the EU’s fault – The Sun Says (£)

Glowing forecasts for UK growth

GROWTH Krieg“Booming Britain will grow more than twice as fast as the eurozone in 2014, a major report revealed yesterday. Our economy will expand by 2.4 per cent — dwarfing the one per cent average of countries in the single currency, the renowned OECD global think-tank said.” – The Sun (£)

  • Britain’s inward investment is second only to China – FT
  • Ed Balls got it wrong. Again. – The Sun Says (£)
  • Shapps celebrates 10,000th Start-Up Loan – City AM
  • £1,430,000,000,000 – the scale of British personal debt – The Independent
  • We need a smaller state, not higher taxes – Daily Telegraph Leader

>Today: ThinkTanks: Tom Papworth: Zombies are real, dangerous and created by governments. Entrepreneurs to the rescue!

Student loans to Bulgarians and Romanians frozen after surge

EU FLag“Student loans to Bulgarians and Romanians have been frozen after a “suspicious” surge in the number enrolling at British colleges. David Willetts, the Universities Minister, said he had suspended loans to students from the two countries after an unusual increase in the number receiving support from the Student Loans Company.” – Daily Telegraph


Shapps asks Labour: how much did they know about the crystal meth banker?

“Labour faced further damaging questions last night about its links with shamed Co-op bank chief Paul Flowers. Pictures emerged of a lavish reception hosted by Ed Miliband and Ed Balls at 10 Downing Street for drug abuser Flowers and fellow Co-op grandees while Labour was in power.  Three meetings followed between Flowers and Mr Miliband.” – Daily Mail

  • The Co-Op should stop playing politics – Ruth Sunderland, Daily Mail
  • Ignorant bankers deserve to fail – The Times Leader (£)
  • Without Co-Op’s help, the only credit Labour could get would be from Wonga – The Times (£)
  • Tyrie urges tighter controls on bank personnel – FT
  • Rachel Reeves considers scrapping benefits for under-25s – The Times (£)

Hunt presents post-Stafford reforms to the NHS

Hunt Jeremy 15“Outlining his response to the Francis report in the Commons yesterday, Mr Hunt said: ‘Cruelty became normal in our NHS and no-one noticed. The inquiry shows the devastating effects of overly defensive responses – hurting families, suppressing the truth and preventing lessons being learned. The NHS is a moral being or it is nothing. I do not simply want to prevent another Mid Staffs, I want our NHS to be a beacon across the world, not just for equity but its excellence.” – Daily Mail

  • Some wards have only one nurse overnight – Daily Mail
  • Solve problems by listening to patients – The Times (£)
  • We are Hunt supporters – The Sun Says (£)

>Today: The Deep End: Old people aren’t responsible for escalating health costs, fat people are

Are new SpAds really the answer to civil service problems?

“Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith have faced Titanic struggles with their officials – many of them politicised during the squalid Blair years – over free schools and welfare reform. But, while the Coalition’s frustration is understandable, the plan to allow ministers to hire up to ten new political aides each – on civil service contracts – is deeply troubling for transparency and democracy.” – Daily Mail Leader

Backbenchers fear for the future of the green belt

“All over England, communities are trying to fight off big developers. Not everyone in the Tory Party is complicit in this treacherous assault on our green spaces. To their credit, backbenchers are in open revolt and putting increasing pressure on Mr Cameron to wake up and smell the cement mixers.” – Melissa Kite, Daily Mail

Gove’s reforms come under attack from the CBI

School“Michael Gove’s school reforms risk squeezing out a rounded education by focusing too much on exam results, the head of the CBI has warned. John Cridland told The Times that many schools produced pupils who were “exam robots” with little to encourage heads to offer broad extra-curricular opportunities.” – The Times (£)

Cameron calls the Iranian President

“David Cameron became the first British Prime Minister to speak to an Iranian president in more than a decade yesterday in the latest sign that relations between London and Tehran are thawing. Mr Cameron made the approach to President Rowhani on the eve of crucial negotiations in Geneva over the Iranian regime’s nuclear programme.” – The Times (£)

– Weak Obama won’t stop the nuclear programme – Roger Boyes, The Times (£)

Even Dimbleby agrees the BBC is too big

BBC“David Dimbleby – who has been at the Corporation for more than 50 years – called on the director-general to hand out the licence fee to its commercial rivals to create ‘more variety’ in TV and radio output. He said the BBC should ‘cut out some of the gardening and the cookery’ on TV, merge BBC4 with BBC2, and reduce its online presence to prevent it ‘crushing’ local newspapers.” – Daily Mail

Whistleblower accuses police of making crime records “vanish”

“Crime figures are routinely massaged by police desperate to show that they are making the streets safer, it was claimed yesterday. Serious offences including rape, child sex abuse, robberies and burglary are disappearing in a ‘puff of smoke’, MPs were told. Police are accused of downgrading crimes to less serious offences and even erasing them altogether by labelling them as accidents or errors.” – Daily Mail

News in brief

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