Cameron urged to personally reject the MPs’ pay increase… by Miliband

Pay“Ed Miliband last night piled pressure on David Cameron to personally reject an 11 per cent pay rise for MPs. … The Labour leader demanded cross-party talks on proposals to increase MPs’ pay by £7,600 to £74,000 from 2015. … A Labour source said the rise ‘cannot go ahead when people are going through the biggest cost-of-living crisis for a generation’.” – Daily Mail

  • “There are slackers and grafters in every walk of life, but nowhere are the disparities greater than in Westminster. The main reason is that there’s no job description for MPs. Beyond a few formalities, they don’t have to do anything to get paid. The flipside is that there’s not much they can do to get promoted either, no matter how hard they work.” – Peter Franklin, The Times (£)
  • “If we truly value democratic politics, then we must say MPs deserve their pay rise” – Steve Richards, The Independent
  • “Voters are yet to be convinced that [MPs are] worth the money” – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: MPs’ pay: “O reason not the need! Our basest beggars/ Are in the poorest thing superfluous.”

The Prime Minister claims that Hague is “making good progress” in EU negotiations…

“David Cameron has revealed he has appointed William Hague to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the EU. … And the PM also insisted he is already ‘making good progress’ on winning back powers ahead of 2017’s in/out referendum. … But his decision to entrust the key role to his Foreign Secretary – shared by himself and George Osborne – angered some Eurosceptic Tories.” – Daily Mail

“David Cameron’s refusal to appoint envoy to renegotiate EU membership increases chances of exit, says Douglas Carswell” – The Guardian

  • “The City of London still faces the risk of ‘significant damage’ from a proposed European financial transactions tax, senior parliamentarians were warning on Tuesday, insisting that the proposal remains ‘alive and deadly'” – Financial Times (£)

> Today, by Christopher Howarth on Comment: War-gaming the UK’s future relationship with the EU – inside and out

…as he and Clegg travel to South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service

Mandela“Britain’s six biggest political figures will represent the nation as the world gathers for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. … Former PMs Sir John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown will travel to the event in Johannesburg tomorrow, alongside David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. … Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg have flown out together.” – The Sun (£)

“David Cameron on Monday led parliamentary tributes to Nelson Mandela, but Labour MPs were determined not to let him forget that senior Tories had not always been so supportive of the former South African president.” – Financial Times

  • “[Mandela] was the standard-bearer for forgiveness and understanding. Yet the petty tribalists who cheapen British politics now squabble pathetically over his memory.” – The Sun (£)

> Today on ToryDiary: “She did more to promote peaceful change in southern Africa than all her predecessors combined.”

“There is no debacle” – IDS defends the Universal Credit

idspic“Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith angrily denied the scheme was in chaos, telling the Commons work and pensions committee: ‘There is no debacle on Universal Credit.’  … But trouble-shooter Howard Shiplee, who was brought in this year to rescue the £2.4billion scheme, said it still faced major challenges in dealing with all but the most straightforward benefit claims.” – Daily Mail

“IT failures within the government’s troubled universal credit welfare programme have cost more than £40m so far, Iain Duncan Smith admitted during a grilling by MPs.” – Financial Times

  • “The shambles over Universal Credit highlights a lack of accountability throughout the Civil Service” – Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)

> Yesterday, by Akash Paun on ThinkTankCentral: How to stop the strife between Ministers and civil servants

Hammond announces that British planes will join peace-keeping mission in Africa

“Britain is to join a peace keeping mission to the Central African Republic by laying on RAF heavy transporter flights. … Giant C17 jets will fly French troops and equipment to the country plunged into chaos by a coup. … Defence Secretary Philip Hammond’s announcement came as France’s soldiers clashed with rebels when they tried to disarm them.” – The Sun (£)

  • “The government is scrambling to salvage key elements of its drive to overhaul the Ministry of Defence’s £14bn procurement operations after the collapse of plans to fully hand over the job to private contractors.” – Financial Times

Ministers try to block HS2 report… because it’s too negative

high-speed rail“Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin called on David Cameron to veto releasing a report that labelled HS2 ‘red/amber’ and in danger of failing. … They claim it would cause ‘political and presentational difficulties’ and could seriously damage the project.” – Daily Mail

Ministers try to block immigration report… because it’s too positive

“The freedom of movement report is said to be causing particular problems. It has yet to be circulated outside the department, leading to accusations that Mrs May is deliberately stalling. Sources said that the Home Secretary was concerned that much of the evidence submitted was broadly positive about current rules for freedom of movement.” – The Times (£)

> Yesterday, by Charlotte Leslie MP on Comment: The Good Will of the EU v the Brute Facts of border control

May accused of keeping the Home Office wrapped in red tape

“Theresa May has been accused by cabinet colleagues of undermining the government’s pro-business agenda by refusing to cut red tape in the Home Office. … The Home Secretary was sent a ‘scathing letter’ late last month by Michael Fallon, the Conservative business minister, and Vince Cable” – Financial Times

Boles plans compensations for homeowners who put up with developments

BOLES valley of death“Planning Minister Nick Boles said pay-outs could ‘help people overcome their objections’ to projects such as nuclear power stations, rail links or industrial plants. … He told MPs yesterday the proposal was a ‘radical departure’ from Britain’s current planning rules, but would help speed up major infrastructure that will boost growth.” – Daily Mail

“Ministers want to slow house price inflation by forcing councils to build more new homes in popular areas, the planning minister has said.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Travellers living on an illegal campsite are being handed £500 of taxpayers’ money to spend on improving their caravans if they agree to move, it emerged yesterday.” – Daily Mail

Willetts looks towards Mars

“Britain will help get a man on Mars within 30 years, under ambitious new plans mapped out by ministers. … Under an £80million cooperation deal signed with China last week, UK-built robots will be on board the new Eastern superpower’s first rocket to the moon. … And that mission could help set up a permanent lunar base to be a stepping stone for a manned rocket to reach the Red Planet, Science Minister David Willetts has revealed.” – The Sun (£)

Farron, via Polly Toynbee, attacks Osborne’s cuts

“Tim Farron, the MP and Lib Dem chair, tells me he’ll have none of it. ‘This is the kind of thing we’re in coalition to stop. Nothing we agree can go beyond 2015. If we voted for Osborne’s bill, that would write most of our manifesto, so I have no intention of signing up to those kinds of cuts. We should not need to take a scalpel to the rest of the state.'” – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

  • “The more sustainable course is a redoubling of the nation’s efforts to cut borrowing, indeed to run a surplus, to ensure that money is not wasted in debt interest.” – Times editorial (£)

The SNP hits back against claims of higher prices

“The Scottish government and nationalists have scrambled to counter suggestions that independence would lead to higher supermarket prices, amid increasingly fierce debate about the implications of quitting the UK. … The Financial Times reported a warning from executives at three of the big four UK supermarkets that an independent Scotland might no longer be included in the ‘national pricing’ policy that keeps store prices in line throughout the UK.” – Financial Times

Janan Ganesh: Britain is entering an age of clashing ideologies

Janan Ganesh“…the deepest faultline of all has emerged this year. No longer do the parties merely disagree over how much government should tax and spend the output generated by the market. They also take different views on the market itself.” – Janan Ganesh, Financial Times

  • “If Gove opens this new grammar school, there will be an explosion” – Fiona Millar, The Guardian

Carney says that interest rates aren’t his only tool for recovery…

“Mark Carney said on Monday that he favours initially using tools other than interest rates to help control the UK’s economic recovery and to prevent the housing market rapidly moving from ‘stall speed to warp speed’. … In a dovish speech, the governor of the Bank of England indicated he was minded not to pull the lever on interest rate rises if unemployment falls quickly.” – Financial Times

…as the Council of Mortgage Lenders warns of home repossessions

House icon“The ‘benign period’ during which the number of families being repossessed or falling behind with their mortgage has remained exceptionally low ‘may be coming to an end’, the Council of Mortgage Lenders said yesterday. … the CML said the number of families who lose their homes will pick up when the Bank of England raises the base rate, which has been frozen at 0.5 per cent since March 2009.” – Daily Mail

  • Number of surveyors predicting a rise in house prices reaches 14-year high – Daily Mail
  • “Conditions are right for the large-scale social housing that the UK urgently needs. Why wait?” – Independent editorial

Pensioners are losing £1,000s to rapacious middlemen

“A generation of pensioners is being let down by regulators failing to stop Britain’s insurers and brokers from ‘burgling’ OAPs through charges and fees on retirement plans, the industry watchdog has said. … A report has called for an unprecedented investigation into the ‘excessive’ profits the insurance industry is making from annuities” – Daily Telegraph

Commons committee highlights the border failures that could let crime lords into Britain

“The chairman of an influential committee in Parliament warned that the failure of border officials to conduct passport and other checks on small aircraft could be ‘letting billionaire gangsters off the hook’. … Labour MP Margaret Hodge made her warning in a damning report about failures at the Border Force – a Home Office agency tasked with protecting Britain’s borders.” – Daily Mail

“Bungling border chiefs may have let thousands of illegal immigrants into the UK by dropping lorry checks, a damning report has revealed.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Gaps in our borders remain unplugged” – Daily Telegraph editorial

Bosses question the British work ethic

“The boss of Domino’s Pizza said yesterday he could create 1,000 jobs tomorrow – but too many British people do not want the work. … His comments came after the former boss of Marks & Spencer, Sir Stuart Rose, also attacked the work ethic of many Britons and said it was wrong to criticise  immigrants prepared to work for lower salaries.” – Daily Mail

The A&E crisis, continued

NHS“Last week alone nearly 4,500 patients were kept in [ambulances] for at least half an hour because staff were too busy to look after them…. Figures obtained by BBC News under the Freedom of Information Act covered the three months until the end of October, and revealed that a patient in Wales was forced to wait six hours and 22 minutes” – Daily Mail

  • “Tens of thousands of hospital patients each year are harmed by basic blunders in the use of drips, warn experts.” – Daily Mail
  • “NHS job cuts have harmed hospital care and patient safety, according to more than half of UNISON union members working in the health service” – The Independent

News in brief

  • Birmingham City Council to cut a further 1,000 jobs – The Times (£)
  • 500 writers sign a petition calling for an end to “mass surveillance” by the NSA – The Guardian
  • Royal Mail workers win pay increase of 9 per cent over three years – The Guardian
  • Comic Relief accused of investing donors’ money in controversial companies – Daily Mail
  • Over 614,000 households switched energy suppliers in November; the highest figure for three years – The Sun (£)
  • Protester who disrupted Varsity boat race wins bid to stay in UK – Daily Telegraph
  • “Any intrusions into privacy must be within the law” – Malcolm Rifkind, Daily Telegraph

And finally 1: Zac Goldsmith and the London Mayoralty

Boris and Goldsmith“Billionaire Tory MP Zac Goldsmith won’t be giving up his leafy Richmond Park and North Kingston constituency to allow Boris Johnson a return to the Commons in 2015, nor is he planning his own run as London mayor, despite suggestions being made yesterday. … ‘Richmond is far too marginal for Boris for starters, and Zac is far, far too posh for City Hall,’ says my Tory source.” – the Daily Mail’s Ephraim Hardcastle column

And finally 2: We wish you a MiliChristmas

“Ed Miliband swings his son into the air on the Brighton seafront in a happy family snap for his official Christmas card. … UKIP leader Nigel Farage turned his nose up at the trend for politicians to feature on their own cards. … ‘Rest assured any cards sent from family Farage will be suitably festive rather than have my face on it,’ he tweeted.” – The Sun (£)

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