Cameron to sing the praises of Help to Buy

Help to Buy

“More than 100 people every working day are buying new homes under the Government’s Help to Buy scheme. … David Cameron will announce today that 6,000 applicants have applied for a mortgage using the scheme at a rate of 500 a week in the three months since Chancellor George Osborne unveiled the plans. … Officials say that will mean a total of £910million in extra lending to those trying to get on the housing ladder or trade up to a larger property.” – Daily Mail

  • “A UK housing bubble should be tackled by building more homes, according to respondents to the FT’s annual poll of economists.” – Financial Times

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: David Cameron provides a cribsheet to his campaign plan

Fox tells Cameron: stop ring-fencing the NHS

“The ring-fencing that protects NHS spending must end, a senior Conservative has warned David Cameron. … Liam Fox, the former Defence Secretary and Shadow Health Secretary, and standard bearer of the Tory Right, said the idea that money could solve the health service’s problems had been ‘tested to destruction’ and despite massive investment Britain still lagged behind other countries.” – The Times (£)

  • “Liam Fox, one of the leading figures on the party’s Right, said that becoming ‘caught in short-term tactical battles’ with Nigel Farage’s party by attempting to embarrass it would not go down well with voters. … Instead, he urged Tories to win over UKIP supporters at the general election next year by arguing that voting Conservative was the only way to stop Labour. Dr Fox said that a ‘totemic’ tax cut, a strong commitment to weaken the EU and tougher immigration rules should be used to win their support.” – The Times (£)
  • “Britain should stop handing hundreds of millions of pounds in foreign aid to countries that do not ‘represent our values’, the former Tory minister has said.” – The Times (£)

And non-Fox, NHS-related news:

Ministers consider longer jail sentences as part of human rights review

Prison bars“Murderers could be given US-style jail sentences lasting more than 100 years, under plans being considered by ministers. … Senior Conservatives believe changing the sentencing regulations could overcome a ban on whole life terms being imposed by the European Court of Human Rights. … Sentences lasting several decades are understood to be one of the options put forward in a review of Britain’s human rights laws, which will be published in the coming weeks.” – Daily Mail

  • “The 2014 elections for the European Parliament will have a greater impact on the conduct of the continent’s affairs than any that have gone before.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “Europe is slowly strangling the life out of national democracy” – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

McLoughlin plans to pay trains to cut their first-class seating

high-speed rail“Train firms are to be paid millions by the Government to convert first class carriages for use by standard ticket holders to ease overcrowding. … Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin is preparing to pay train companies to do away with first class seats that are left empty, government sources say. … From next month, as a declaration of intent, one operator is expected to be told to remove at least one first class carriage from each high-speed train in its premier fleet and replace it with a standard class alternative.” – Daily Mail

  • “Brits are forking out three times more on rail fares than commuters in Europe, a report has found.” – The Sun (£)
  • “Rail fares are rising so fast that the Government will be making a profit from passengers by 2018, a study shows.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “Commuter fares go up an average of 3.1 per cent today, while wages are virtually standing still. … But we’ve grown so used to it — fares have risen by 20 per cent just since the Coalition came to power in May 2010 — that even the protests are muted. … It’s yet another example of how working people are treated with contempt.” – Sun editorial (£)

The Foreign Office condemns the release of Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan

“Britain has condemned the release of Taliban prisoners accused of killing and maiming Western forces in Afghanistan. … To the fury of the UK, the US and victims’ families, president Hamid Karzai has freed 88 dangerous militants from a jail at Bagram, the former US air base run by the Afghan government. … The US wants them to be prosecuted and says 30 per cent carried out direct attacks that killed or wounded 60 coalition troops, and 40 per cent killed 57 Afghans, including police and security forces.” – Daily Mail

  • “British taxpayers are forking out millions of pounds each year so that diplomats can continue to live the high life, despite the squeeze on public spending.” – Daily Mail

Davey’s idea to cut energy bills: an integrated market across Europe

Ed Davey“The only way Britain can benefit from US-style low energy prices is by creating a totally integrated power market across Europe, the Energy minister Ed Davey has claimed. … In an exclusive interview with The Independent, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said neither Labour leader Ed Miliband’s pledge to freeze energy prices for two years, nor a UK fracking boom, would reduce household bills.” – The Independent

  • “Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, was due to chair a meeting of the Government’s crisis committee Cobra in response to the bad weather and power cuts.” – The Independent
  • “Millions of trees have been chopped down to clear the way for wind farms in Scotland’s countryside since Alex Salmond came to power, according to official figures published today.” – Daily Telegraph

Labour accuse the energy companies of paying over the odds for electricity – and then passing on the costs

“Households may have paid £150 over the odds for their electricity over the past three years because energy companies bought their power for almost £4bn more than the average market rate, Labour has claimed. … In a new analysis of official figures, the Labour party said the big six energy suppliers appear either to be inflating their prices to make extra profits for their own power plants, or striking very expensive deals to the detriment of consumers.” – The Guardian

Miliband wants to cut the cost of your… gym membership?

“Ed Miliband was branded out of touch last night after Labour unveiled its latest crusade over the ‘cost of living’ crisis – the price of a gym membership. … Shadow Public Health Minister Luciana Berger complained that two-thirds of local authority gyms and leisure centres have increased the cost of an annual membership in the last three years – by up to £100. … Labour blamed the Prime Minister, declaring: ‘Since 2010, David Cameron has made severe cuts to local government, leaving council services struggling for money.’” – Daily Mail

  • “How Ed Miliband can harness the right’s tactics to bring in a wave of left-wing populism in 2014” – Owen Jones, The Independent

Miliband is a far worse leader than Kinnock, writes Tim Montgomerie

MONTGOMERIE purple background“In truth Lord Kinnock — today slightly famous for being father-in-law to Denmark’s selfie-snapping PM — deserves a better press. Where Mr Miliband has indulged his party by telling it what it wants to hear, he told it what it needed to learn. In 1985 he confronted the Militant Tendency and gave perhaps the most compelling conference speech of the postwar era.” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

Labour would renationalise failing private prisons, says Khan

“Labour would take control of privately run prisons if their managers failed to meet a six-month ‘buck up’ deadline, the shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, has said in the wake of a damning report on a flagship jail run by G4S. … Tougher contracts would be negotiated, including stiffer financial penalties, after the chief inspector of prisons reported that inmates find it easier at HMP Oakwood to get hold of illicit drugs than soap, Khan said.” – The Guardian

Vaz greets Romanian and Bulgarian migrants – before saying we ought to vote on free movement

Keith Vaz“Labour MP Keith Vaz yesterday warmly greeted migrants arriving from Romania and Bulgaria – before calling for a referendum on free movement within the European Union. … Mr Vaz, the influential chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the British people needed to decide if the rules which allowed free-flowing migration across the continent should be changed.” – Daily Mail

  • “The government has failed to introduce measures to protect low-skilled UK workers whose jobs may be threatened by new migrants from eastern Europe, two senior shadow ministers have claimed.” – The Guardian
  • “Tory grandee Lord Tebbit has urged PM David Cameron to stand up to Brussels on immigration – or throw away any chance of winning next year’s General Election. … As Britain opened the doors to Romanians and Bulgarians today, the former party chairman told The Sun the Premier is handing precious votes to UKIP.” – The Sun (£)
  • “Academics who said Eastern European migrants had made a substantial contribution to the public finances were guilty of ‘schoolboy errors’, it was claimed last night.” – Daily Mail
  • “British companies have placed nearly 8,000 job adverts for Romanians to come and work as taxi drivers, hotel staff, nurses and even doctors.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “The lifting of the restrictions on Romania and Bulgaria – in defiance, according to the polls, of 80 per cent of the electorate – is proof that, when it comes to immigration, the politicians remain utterly contemptuous of the wishes of ordinary Britons.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “…the most unsatisfactory aspect of this whole affair has been the total lack of planning.” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Scapegoating migrants for Britain’s crisis will damage us all” – Seamus Milne, The Guardian
  • “The cynically stirred-up anti-immigration campaign has a long history” – Owen Jones, The Independent
  • “Working migrants will still drain the public purse” – David Green, The Times (£)

> Today on ToryDiary: Conservatives should stop being quite so frightened of immigrants

Only 15 per cent of people will retire by 65 in 2028, claims report

“At present, 80 per cent of workers retire by the age of 65, but by 2020 this is expected to have dropped sharply to 35 per cent. … By 2028, this will have fallen further to just 15 per cent, predicts the Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA).” – Daily Mail

News in brief

  • “Boris of the North” needed to help economic recovery, argues think-tank – The Times (£)
  • One-in-five millennium children “will become NEETs” – Daily Telegraph
  • The shortfall for all private sector pension schemes now stands at £150 billion, according to a new analysis – Daily Mail
  • One-in-three women have contemplated suicide, report warns – Daily Mail
  • 300,000 of Britain’s poorest people live at least 1km from a free ATM – Daily Mail
  • One-in-four US drone deaths in Pakistan are civilian, claims report – Daily Mail
  • Benefits changes causing anxiety in MS sufferers, says charity – The Guardian
  • Teather enjoys her freedom since departing from ministerial office – The Guardian

And finally 1: Margaret Thatcher, the politicians’ politician

THATCHER Statue“Politicians of all parties have voted Margaret Thatcher the most successful prime minister since the Second World War. … The Iron Lady was valued for her decisiveness, with most MPs citing this as a more important trait than principles, honesty or intelligence. … Mrs Thatcher, who spent 11 years at No10,  beat Labour’s Clement Attlee, who oversaw the creation of the NHS.” – Daily Mail

  • “Sensational” secret Profumo scandal papers will be preserved – Daily Telegraph

And finally 2: A political cocktail

“According to two years of consumer data gathered from GFK MRI and analyzed by the right-leaning National Media Research Planning and Placement, voting habits can be realized according to drink choices. … While the results were varied, the summary findings concluded that Democrats go for clear liquors, such as vodka and gin, while Republicans are more likely to opt for something darker, such as whiskey.” – Daily Mail