Cameron’s New Year message: Let’s stick to the plan…

CAMERON-PENSIVE“In his New Year statement, Mr Cameron says 2014 will be ‘a vital year’ for the economy. ‘It’s a new year – and for Britain there can only be one New Year’s resolution – to stick to the long-term plan that is turning our country around,’ he says. .. ‘When we came to office, our economy was on its knees. Three and a half years later, we are turning a corner. The plan is working.’” – Daily Mail

  • “David Cameron was urged last night to make a new year’s resolution to stop condemning military widows to a life of solitude out of fear of losing their pension if they remarry.” – The Times (£)

> Today:

> Yesterday:

…and remain as a union

“David Cameron has used his new year’s message to plead with the Scots to stay in the UK, while also warning there is still difficult work ahead when it comes to repairing the economy. … In a televised statement, the prime minister said 2014 was a historic year because of the vote on Scottish independence, which could ‘change our country for ever’.” – The Guardian

  • “Is the state of our union strong? Many people will feel that the answer is no” – Guardian editorial
  • “The Conservatives should embrace a yes vote for Scottish independence now” – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian
  • “The English question will need an answer” – Allan Massie, Daily Telegraph

Cameron’s New Year article for the Times: No, seriously, let’s stick to the plan – and not let Labour wreck it

The Times

“If you doubt how disastrous a return to Labour-style economics would be, just look at countries that are currently following that approach. They face increasing unemployment, industrial stagnation and enterprise in free fall. The opposite of what’s happening here. Our recovery is real, but it’s also fragile, and there are more difficult decisions ahead. A return to that economic madness would devastate this country.” – David Cameron, The Times (£)

  • “The Prime Minister must convince Britain that he has a plan to ensure all parts of the nation benefit from economic recovery” – Times editorial (£)
  • “Britain is in the lucky category and our economy is likely to outperform our neighbours in 2014. We also have a stake in America’s leadership and Asia’s success. As such, we should be part of the benign trends of 2014.” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “If we start to feel better off, Mr Cameron has got a chance of staying in No10 in 2015. … Without that, then it doesn’t matter what he does on Europe, welfare, crime or anything else — he’ll be a goner.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “The recovery will continue but many voters will not feel the gain. Beyond that, the crystal ball is fuzzier. Will Ukip or Labour win the Euro elections? Will the coalition survive the year? And how significant is it that Tory party members favour Lib Dems like Danny Alexander and David Laws ahead of some of their own cabinet ministers, or that Iain Duncan Smith has been knocked off the top of the popularity poll by Michael Gove?” – Guardian editorial, referencing ConHome’s latest Cabinet league table
  • “The problem is that debt-fuelled growth is not to be relied upon, as the 2008 crisis amply demonstrated. Yet more concerning is the incipient housing bubble that the Government’s Help to Buy scheme risks inflating.” – Independent editorial

The Prime Minister has achieved one thing already: reaching his aid target

aidgraphic“The Prime Minister’s goal of devoting 0.7 per cent of Britain’s income to foreign aid was reached yesterday. The target required a 30 per cent increase in the foreign aid budget last year – making it more than the amount set aside for the entire Home Office. … But the revelations about corruption will fuel concern that much of the aid never reaches those it is intended for.” – Daily Mail

  • UK gives £12.5 million aid for South Sudan refugees – The Guardian

The transitional controls on Romanian and Bulgarian immigration are lifted

“Hundreds of thousands of people from poor countries outside the European Union will be free to find jobs in Britain as a result of restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians being lifted today. … Romania and Bulgaria, whose citizens will now have the right to work freely in the UK, are offering passports to people in non-EU countries including Moldova and Macedonia.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “MPs on the all-parliamentary party group on Gypsies, Travellers and Roma sounded the alarm about provocative language as a prominent Tory council leader suggested some Roma are planning to come to the UK to ‘pickpocket and aggressively beg’ following the end of labour market controls on the two eastern European countries.” – The Guardian

> Yesterday, by Cameron Penny on Comment: Europe’s free movement of peoples is a blessing, not a curse

Labour seeks talks with broadcasters over TV debates

Television“Labour has asked to open formal negotiations with broadcasters on the format of TV debates between party leaders in the 2015 general election, saying it would like to see a repeat of the 2010 arrangements but did not rule out the participation of the UK Independence party. … Ed Miliband has instructed his election co-ordinator Douglas Alexander to start talks with the TV companies next week as soon as parliament returns.” – The Guardian

  • “Labour could have won the argument in 2013, but its leader Ed Miliband wasted the chance” – Dan Hodges, Daily Telegraph

Lord Harris tells Labour: keep your hands off our academies

“The businessman behind a leading group of academies has said that he may drop plans to open more schools if a future Labour Government attempts to rein in their freedoms. … Lord Harris of Peckham, the executive chairman of Carpetright and the sponsor behind the Harris Federation of 27 academies and free schools, warned that returning any power over his schools to local authorities would be a ‘very backward step’.” – The Times (£)

UKIP membership on the rise

UKIP logo“The UK Independence Party has benefited from a surge in membership in the last 12 months as Conservative  numbers have dipped, it emerged yesterday. … Ukip now has 32,500 members – up from 19,500 last January. … Nigel Farage’s party has been advancing in the polls and has been tipped to beat the Conservatives in the European elections to be held in May.” – Daily Mail

  • “This crisis of powerlessness for the Coalition is an opportunity for Ukip and we expect to gain electoral strength as people turn against unrestricted mass immigration and membership of the EU” – Nigel Farage, Daily Telegraph website
  • “The three main parties suffered in the polls this year. Only UKIP truly did well” – John Curtice, The Independent

Sir Andrew Motion lambasts the Government over its planning policies

“The emerging political consensus, with its gung-ho emphasis on growth, promises a future of urban sprawl and exploitation of the natural world, whichever leaders we elect. … CPRE has warned repeatedly about the Coalition’s planning policies, arguing that they have made England’s countryside – our priceless national inheritance – more vulnerable than ever. … But the situation is even more worrying now the Opposition has jumped on the same bandwagon: for their ‘right to grow’, read ‘right to sprawl’.” – Sir Andrew Motion, Daily Mail

A brouhaha over the bankers and their bonuses

WELBY, Justin“Fury over bankers’ pay erupted again last night after the new boss of RBS was quietly handed an astonishing £1.5million in free shares. … The bumper packages were disclosed as Archbishop Justin Welby said foreign-owned banks in the City of London were ‘in denial’ about their role in the financial crisis” – Daily Mail

  • “The Church of England still holds a stake in Wonga, the payday loans company that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said he wanted to ‘compete out of existence’.” – Daily Telegraph

Mid-Staffs campaigner subjected to online abuse after earning New Year’s honour

“Julie Bailey set up the group Cure The NHS after her mother died from horrific care on the wards … This year she was forced to move out of her home in Stafford and close down her café after receiving death threats and abuse from local residents and hospital staff. … After she was named in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list yesterday, many of these individuals, including local councillors and nurses, took to the internet to vent their rage.” – Daily Mail

  • “Leaders of key NHS organisations have demanded an end to what they describe as relentless criticism of the service which exaggerates the extent of poor care and sees GPs and hospital doctors ‘unfairly bashed’ for problems beyond their control.” – The Guardian
  • “Britain’s A&E crisis could have been averted two years ago if the Government had heeded warnings of a looming collapse in casualty ward staffing, the country’s top emergency doctor has said.” – The Independent

> Yesterday on MPsETC: Congratulations to the Tories – from MPs to grassroots activists – who appear in the New Year Honours List

News in brief

  • Labour MP Paul Goggins is seriously ill after collapsing whilst jogging – Daily Mail
  • MPs told that BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 cost commercial stations £50 million a year in lost advertising revenue – Daily Mail
  • Julian Assange to speak on Radio 4 – Daily Mail
  • House prices may actually be falling in parts of the North – Daily Mail
  • Four-in-ten resolve to save more money in the New Year – Daily Mail
  • “Bedroom tax” affects 60,000 families with carers – The Independent

And finally: HMRC declines surgery

“A glamour model’s £2,500 claim for a boob job has been slapped down by the taxman. … It was among dozens of cheeky expenses submissions revealed by HMRC yesterday. … Brits can cut their taxable income by claiming relief for legitimate working expenses, like a plumber for equipment.” – The Sun (£)