“Moderniser” attacks Cameron…

guardianukip“David Cameron is guilty of “pandering to prejudice, uncertainty and anger” as he responds to the threat posed by the UK Independence party by championing a “negative and uninspiring” form of politics, a leading moderniser has warned. Ryan Shorthouse, the head of the Bright Blue thinktank, warns No 10 that it cannot “outdo Ukip” – echoing deep concerns among modernising ministers that the prime minister has abandoned his early optimistic approach, which won him the Tory leadership in 2005 and unsettled the Labour party.” – The Guardian

  • “The UK Independence Party will “completely change British politics” if it wins next year’s European elections, head of policy Tim Aker has said. He told the BBC that UKIP was “attracting former non-voters” by giving “people who have given up on the other parties a reason to turn out”.” – BBC
  • Labour must consider impact of immigration on working class wages – Peter Wilby The Guardian
  • Nigel Farage could well be the big winner of 2014 – Andrew Grice The Independent

> Today:ToryDiary:The uber-modernisers should show the Conservative Party a little bit of love

…as Geoffrey Howe urges him to make the case for the EU

“Prime Minister David Cameron must spell out the case for the UK’s continued membership of the European Union, Conservative grandee Lord Howe has said. He said the prime minister had made his position more difficult by his “repeated concessions” to Eurosceptics. Lord Howe, a foreign secretary in Margaret Thatcher’s government, said a strong and clear case was needed.” – BBC

England “most overcrowded country in Europe”

mailcrowded“England has become the most overcrowded major country in Europe. Population growth is so rapid that four times as many people will soon be crammed in as France and twice as many as Germany. England has overtaken the Netherlands to become second only to tiny Malta as the most densely populated nation in the EU. Over the next 30 years the gap will widen because Germany, France and Holland will either decline or grow only slowly. The House of Commons figures – based on data from the UK and EU statistical agencies – show the huge impact of Labour’s open-door immigration policy.” – Daily Mail

  • “Only three decades from now, unless there is a significant tightening in border controls, there will be almost 495 people living in each square kilometre – compared to only 374 when Labour came to power in 1997. Vince Cable and his colleagues  on the Left disgracefully suggest that it is somehow racist to worry about immigration. As our revelations show, it has nothing to do with race – and everything to do with how schools, social services, the NHS and housing can possibly be expected to cope with such unprecedented pressure.” Leader Daily Mail

> Yesterday: Andrew Lilico on Comment: Most of Britain would benefit from more immigration, not less

Grayling to block “absurd” plan to extend EU human rights rules

timesgrayling“The Government has vowed to block a fresh push to introduce new EU human rights, such as the right to marry and the right to collective bargaining, into Britain. Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, dismissed as “absurd” the latest moves to integrate the Charter of Fundamental Rights into UK courts. The plan was revealed in a European Commission document published last month.” – The Times(£)

House of Lords running costs up by 17 per cent since 2010

“David Cameron’s pledge to cut the cost of politics was in tatters last night after it emerged that the bill for the House of Lords has soared by £42million in the last three years. Some 103 additional peers have been created since 2010 – most of them Tories and Lib Dems – taking the total number to nearly 900. In addition, the amount that taxpayers have to fork out per unelected peer has surged by 17 per cent since the Coalition came to power.” – Daily Mail

  • “Much of this is due to the Coalition’s financially reckless decision to create more than 100 new peers. That’s 100 extra ermine-clad cronies tucking into subsidised food and drink that costs taxpayers an estimated £60,000 every week. It’s 100 more political placemen claiming attendance allowances and expenses at an annual rate of almost £115,000 a year.” – The Sun Says(£)
  • “Government spin doctors cost taxpayers nearly five times as much as they did 20 years ago, it has emerged. Salaries for special advisers now total £7.2million, compared with just £1.5million in the early 1990s. In opposition, David Cameron and Nick Clegg said there would be a limit on the number of special advisers. But research by the House of Commons library shows there are now 98, compared with 76 under Labour.” – The Sun(£)

Furious flood victims confront the PM

CAMERON byline photo“When the Prime Minister visited the disaster-hit town of Yalding in Kent, he was confronted by one angry victim. Ericka Olivares, 49, told the Prime Minister she had been without electricity for days and had been offered no support from her local council. Mrs Olivares walked up to Mr Cameron on the street outside her 18th-century home in Yalding, Kent, which was completely cut off on Christmas Eve after the banks burst on three converging rivers – Medway, Teise and Beult. The only way in and out of the village for more than 50 hours was via boat.” – Daily Mail

  • “Tens of thousands of households were still without electricity yesterday as companies failed to cope with blackouts caused by power lines being blown down. More than 3,000 customers in Kent, Surrey and Sussex had been without power since the storm on Christmas Eve. There were 13,000 homes without electricity in the south of England and Wales, 6,500 in North Wales, 5,000 in Northern Ireland and 3,000 in Dumfriesshire.” – The Times(£)

Northern Ireland peace talks resume

“The former US diplomat Richard Haass is due to host resumed talks in Belfast aimed at solving some of Northern Ireland’s most contentious issues. Talks by the main parties on parades, the flying of the union flag and the legacy of past violence broke up without agreement on Christmas Eve.” – BBC

Former DPP chief to advise Labour

“Former chief prosecutor Keir Starmer is to advise Labour on the best way to protect rape victims and abused children from harrowing questioning during court cases. He said it was a “golden opportunity” to change the law, while Labour called the current code of conduct followed by barristers “toothless”.” – BBC

Online gambling tycoon has donated £400,000 to Labour

“The Labour Party has had good reason to be grateful as more people are being lured into gambling online. For Mr Coates and his companies have given the party more than £400,000 since 2004.” – Daily Mail

Labour attacks “sexist” Thomas the Tank Engine

“Thomas the Tank Engine is sending out the wrong message to children and needs more female engines to encourage girls to become train drivers, Labour’s shadow transport secretary has said. Mary Creagh said the lack of female train drivers in Britain was a “national scandal” and that the “negative stereotypes” seen in children’s shows were partly to blame.” – The Independent

> Yesterday: Left Watch: Here are some other cartoons that Mary Creagh might want to make more progressive

RSPCA “has become sinister and nasty”

telegraphrspca“The RSPCA has turned into a “sinister and nasty” organisation, the head of the Countryside Alliance warns today. Gen Sir Barney White-Spunner urged his members to stop donating to the “once great institution”. The charity has become more interested in animal rights than promoting welfare, while its inspectors have been given intrusive powers with no proper basis in law, Sir Barney said. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, he also says the BBC is guilty of a metropolitan bias, portraying rural people as “Neanderthals”.” – Daily Telegraph

Party leaders issue humanitarian plea over Syria

“David Cameron and Ed Miliband will set aside their differences on Syria today as they issue a joint humanitarian plea. The Conservative and Labour leaders will join Nick Clegg in urging other nations to support a United Nations appeal to help the nine million people forced from their homes in the war-torn country. The unusual cross-party statement will call on leaders around the world to assist the organisation in raising the £4 billion it needs to address the scale of the crisis. It will say: “This is an urgent humanitarian issue that transcends the differences of party politics.” – The Times(£)

Scottish independence campaign “may get nasty” says Alex Massie

“Both campaigns are determined to scare voters. It is not an edifying spectacle, but with so many minds already made up the battle for the remaining left-leaning voters who are open to the idea of independence will be furious, rancorous and, most probably, increasingly dishonest.” – Alex Massie The Times(£)

Children’s Commissioner wants ban on smacking

“Parents should be banned from smacking children, the Children’s Commissioner for England has told The Independent. Maggie Atkinson said it was her personal view that the current law gives pets and adults more rights to be protected from violence than children. Under current legislation parents can hit a child if it constitutes “reasonable chastisement” and does not leave a serious mark.” – The Independent

News in brief

  • French unemployment hits new record – Daily Mail
  • SNP “would scrap marriage tax breaks” – BBC
  • Blunkett calls for new TV satire rules – The Times(£)
  • Government Departments told to axe 0845 lines – BBC
  • IPPR warns of increased household debt – The Guardian
  • Army warning of Taliban advances – BBC
  • Exodus of doctors to Australia puts pressure in NHS – The Guardian

And finally…The Queen’s plot to hit Idi Amin on the head with a sword

“The Queen planned to hit Idi Amin over the head with a ceremonial pearl sword if he “gatecrashed” a Silver Jubilee church service, according to a new book. The little-known anecdote was revealed by Lord Mountbatten in his diary, demonstrating how seriously the Queen took the potential threat posed by the Ugandan dictator in the Seventies.” – Daily Telegraph

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