Autumn Statement 1: Osborne to link pension age to life expectancy

Osborne Growth“Young people currently in their 20s could be forced to work until their 70s, under a radical shake-up of the state pension system which will be revealed today by Chancellor George Osborne. … In the biggest change for a century, the age at which a person can begin to claim their state pension is to be linked directly to life expectancy.” – Daily Mail

  • “Politicians are right to look for ways of reducing the cost of pensions. Intelligent reforms can achieve this while also making longer lives more fulfilling.” – Financial Times editorial
  • “The pensions burden is a time bomb for the young. Higher contributions and retiring later are the only solutions” – Times editorial (£)
  • “A link between life expectancy and retirement age is so obvious, it’s strange it wasn’t introduced before” – Guardian editorial
  • “A longer working life is to be celebrated, not deplored” – Independent editorial
  • “The young get the worst of Britain’s cost of living squeeze” – Chris Giles, Financial Times

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Here you go, George: Conservative members’ priorities for the Autumn Statement

Autumn Statement 2: The Chancellor looks forward to a surplus…

“George Osborne will proclaim on Thursday that a budget surplus is in sight for the first time since the millennium, raising Tory hopes of significant tax cuts in the next parliament after nearly a decade of austerity. … The chancellor will deliver his Autumn Statement against a backdrop of sharply rising growth forecasts, which could pave the way for Britain to be back in the black by 2018-19 – almost two years earlier than seemed likely in March.” – Financial Times

  • “The Tories say major tax giveaways are still years away, when the economy is truly fixed. Economically they are right, of course. Politically it is a big gamble.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “George Osborne has given the Tories a working plan for victory” – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph
  • “…even as Mr Osborne savours what he believes is his decisive victory over Labour on the economy, the chancellor is already weighing up the potential political risks to the Tories of the recovery going too well.” – George Parker, Financial Times
  • “The autumn statement is a political ritual without economic relevance” – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • “Most importantly, he must leave scope for a genuine giveaway — tax cuts — in the two budgets before polling day.” – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun (£)
  • “Osborne faces a complex political task. He needs gently to shepherd public opinion towards the good times, and eschew the loudhailer.” – Patrick Wintour, The Guardian
  • “Let voters express their views on how their tax is spent” – John Kampfner, The Times (£)

> Yesterday, by David Kirkby on Comment: Good news for the economy may be bad news for the Conservatives

Autumn Statement 3: …and readies £3 billion of extra cuts to help it along

Scissors“Another £3bn of public spending cuts will be announced by George Osborne as he warns that the job of clearing the nation’s deficit is far from finished. … The Chancellor has angered some cabinet colleagues by ordering them to find a new round of savings totalling £1bn a year over the next three years to help him balance his books in today’s Autumn Statement.” – The Independent

  • “Doing things locally, quickly and efficiently makes economic sense. The problem is that the political incentives point in the other direction. Big projects that take years to complete suit national governments very well. While they’re being built, money flows into the economy, creating jobs and winning votes, but the bills don’t arrive until after the next election or the one after that.” – Peter Franklin, The Times (£)
  • “MoD tanks are parked on the Treasury lawn” – Sue Cameron, Daily Telegraph
  • “Mandarins routinely take Fridays off and sometimes can’t spell minister’s names. Why does this go on?” – James Forsyth, The Spectator

> Today, by Dominic Raab MP on Comment: Spending must be cut if tax hikes are to be stopped

Autumn Statement 3: Wind farms to be nudged off shore

“George Osborne has secured a 5 per cent cut in wind power subsidies amid increasing concerns about the hostility turbines have caused in rural areas, and to head off a revolt by Tory MPs. … But the green levies paid to companies building them off the coast – and out of sight – will increase slightly in the coming years.” – Daily Mail

  • “Consumers face paying millions of pounds too much for solar farms after ministers handed the industry subsidies 10 per cent higher than it had asked for.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Iran yesterday said it wants to produce as much oil as possible once sanctions have been lifted in a move that could drive down petrol prices in Britain.” – Daily Mail

> Yesterday, by Nadhim Zahawi MP on Comment: It’s time to get big businesses to pay promptly

Autumn Statement 4: A quantum leap in science funding

“Quantum technology, which takes advantage of the strange behaviour of materials on an extremely small scale, will receive £270m government funding in Thursday’s Autumn Statement. … George Osborne announced the five-year investment, which covers capital and recurrent spending, at a meeting with physicists at 11 Downing Street on the eve of his fiscal update to parliament.” – Financial Times

Autumn Statement 5: No more tax discs

Tax disc“Car tax discs are to disappear from our windscreens after 90 years, Chancellor George Osborne will announce today. … Cops can now tell who has not paid the levy by checking a computer database — making the paper discs obsolete.” – The Sun (£)

Cameron wants British children to learn Mandarin

“Children in Britain should ditch French and German and study Mandarin instead, David Cameron has said. … On his final day of a visit to China, the Prime Minister said he wanted education ties with the country dramatically strengthened. … He said he plans to double the number of Chinese language assistants in the UK by 2016 and increase funding to reduce the cost to schools of providing Mandarin training.” – Daily Mail

  • “David Cameron today gives his personal backing to The Independent’s campaign to safeguard the future of Africa’s elephants. … Speaking on his trade mission to China – where demand for ivory has fuelled poaching – Mr Cameron said he had raised his concerns with the Chinese Premier during official talks.” – Oliver Wright, The Independent
  • “…yes, we want a flourishing trade relationship. Yes, we believe in realpolitik. But it would be a huge mistake to ignore the threats posed by an increasingly rapacious China.” – Daily Mail editorial

A report, published on the Prime Minister’s behalf, says that “timid politicians” have aided the spread of extremism

“Timid politicians with a ‘misplaced’ fear of offending Muslims have allowed Islamist extremism to take root in the institutions of Britain, the Prime Minister warned yesterday. … A task force chaired by David Cameron said the policy of treating different cultures as ‘separate and distinct’ – known as multiculturalism – had been a ‘mistake’.” – Daily Mail

  • “There is nothing ‘educational’ about giving a platform to bigots at university events in the name of free speech, the Home Secretary has said.” – The Times (£)
  • “Thousands of visas are being handed out to Ukrainians without proper checks despite warnings that a high proportion of applications are supported by forged documents, the chief inspector of borders has warned.” – The Times (£)

Greening axes aid project after financial concerns

Greening Justine Feb 2012“Shocked insiders said at least one official working on the  £100 million Trademark Southern Africa scheme was being paid more than David Cameron’s annual £142,500 salary. … The revelation came as International Development Secretary  Justine Greening announced that the flagship scheme would be axed with immediate effect, after investigators revealed ‘serious concerns’ about financial oversight of the programme.” – Daily Mail

Now the Plebgate police officer is suing Mitchell

“The police officer at the centre of the Plebgate controversy is suing Andrew Mitchell – and his superior has backed his version of events. … Sergeant Ben Mills said he was told by PC Toby Rowland that Andrew Mitchell called him a ‘f****** pleb’ two minutes after his run-in with the then chief whip at Downing Street. … PC Rowland has announced he is suing Mr Mitchell for saying he lied.” – Daily Mail

Tim Montgomerie: Britain no longer needs to envy Germany

MONTGOMERIE purple background“Being the strongest economy in Europe isn’t enough. It’s like being the best CD retailer in an age when everyone downloads their music from the internet. The way for George Osborne to put the Tories in a winning position at the next election is not to retreat German-style, but to recapture that early vision and ambition.” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

Hannan: Why British lefties should love their country

“Our indigenous radical tradition has deep roots: roots that stretch back through the suffragettes and the Chartists; back through John Wilkes and Thomas Paine; back, arguably, even through the Levellers to the Lollards. So why has patriotism come to be associated largely with the political right?” – Daniel Hannan, The Guardian

  • “Patriotism is not the same as spineless adoration of the Establishment” – Owen Jones, The Independent

Clegg accused of u-turn over betting machines…

CURSE OF CLEGG one“Nick Clegg was yesterday accused of a betrayal on gambling reminiscent of his U-turn on tuition fees as Liberal Democrats refused to act to curb fixed odds betting machines. … The Deputy Prime Minister had posed for pictures in March alongside campaigners trying to reduce the stakes and payouts on the machines where punters can lose £100 every  20 seconds.” – Daily Mail

…as he scraps with Team Gove over free school meals

“Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced £150million to to build and extend kitchens to cope with the expected demand for the scheme to give free hot lunches to every child under the age of seven. … But the Department for Education claims an £80million underspend in schools maintenance budget earmarked for the work does not exist, which the Lib Dems dismissed as ‘b*******’.” – Daily Mail

“David Cameron has sanctioned an emergency raid on the Government’s education budget to help Nick Clegg fulfil his pledge of giving free school dinners to young schoolchildren … The raid has infuriated Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, and his advisers, who regard the issue as ‘unresolved’.” – The Times (£)

  • “Clegg has made coalition work. Now he must show he believes in more than hung parliaments” – Rafael Behr, New Statesman

> Yesterday:

Norman Baker: David Kelly’s death is “unfinished business”

Norman Baker“Baker, who stepped down from the Lib Dem frontbench in 2006 in order to devote a year to writing a 424-page book (The Strange Death of David Kelly) claiming that David Kelly was murdered, told me that he stil regarded his death as ‘unfinished business’. He told me: ‘People who attack it by and large haven’t read it. And I’d like them to come back and deal with the facts, if they want to deal with the facts.'” – George Eaton, New Statesman

The former Lord Chief Justice calls for deep reforms to the Human Rights Act

“The former head of Britain’s judiciary last night demanded sweeping reforms to the Human Rights Act to make it clear our courts do not have to follow European rulings. … Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice until September, said issues such as prisoners’ voting rights were a matter for Parliament alone and not for the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.” – Daily Mail

The NSA tracks 5 billion mobile phones each day

“The National Security Agency tracks the locations of nearly 5 billion cellphones every day overseas, including those belonging to Americans abroad … The NSA inadvertently gathers the location records of ‘tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad’ annually, along with the billions of other records it collects by tapping into worldwide mobile network cables, the Washington Post said in a report on its website.” – Daily Mail

News in brief

  • Up to 4 in 10 adults in some parts of the UK have no qualification – Daily Telegraph
  • 600 under-16s take up smoking each day, according to a report – Daily Mail
  • The Beeb has spent £1.3million flying staff between London and Salford in the past two-and-a-half years – The Sun (£)
  • MI5 leaves MPs in limbo over spy chief hearing – The Guardian
  • Two reports strengthen Salmond’s case for Scottish independence – The Guardian
  • Health chiefs want to raise cancer awareness among older people – The Guardian

And finally 1: Can you outperform Boris in an IQ test?

“During a radio appearance this week, Boris Johnson dismally failed an IQ test,  only days after saying the population is divided between the dunces who do terribly in IQ tests and the geniuses who pass them with flying colours. Harry Mount compiled some typical questions so you can find out which one you are…” – Daily Mail

> Today on ToryDiary: Boris retains his lead as Party members’ favourite to succeed Cameron

And finally 2: Brown vs Blair, in auction

Blair and Brown“At another auction, tea with Tony Blair had gone for £20,000, so expectations of exceeding the guide price for a chance to meet Mr Brown were high. But a trip to Italy and a vacation in Vermont attracted more enthusiastic bidding. The evening raised $15,000 and the dinner date with Mr Brown went for a disappointing $350.” – The Times (£)

And finally 3: Voters reckon MPs behave like morons

“Furious voters have accused MPs of behaving like ‘morons’ in the Commons. … Speaker John Bercow has received dozens of letters from disgruntled Brits branding them “rowdy buffoons” and “over aged schoolchildren” after watching Prime Minister’s Questions. … They were released under Freedom of Information laws.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Politicians may soon be faced with a stark choice – either they agree to spend at least £1bn on disruptive repair work, or abandon the building that has housed Parliament for centuries.” – The Independent

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