Cameron calls for children to be taught about the dangers of “sexting”…

CAMERON byline photo“Children are to be taught about the dangers of online bullying and ‘sexting’ in sex education classes, David Cameron said last night. … The Prime Minister told MPs he wanted youngsters to be warned about the perils of using the internet and smartphones. … Existing sex education guidance has not been updated since 2000, and contains no reference to the internet.” – Daily Mail

…and for rewards for those living near fracking sites…

“The prime minister, who this week set out incentives for communities that approve shale gas drilling, told MPs he hoped to see the large-scale extraction of ‘clean, low-cost gas’ in the future. … He told the Commons liaison committee that he would welcome rewards for local people either through direct payments or community trusts.” – Financial Times

  • Npower is, by some distance, the most complained-about energy firm – Daily Telegraph
  • The number of onshore wind farms granted planning permission has risen by two-thirds in the past three years – Daily Telegraph
  • “We have to back fracking” – Alice Thomson, The Times (£)

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Cameron argues that householders should be given “cash payments” in return for nearby fracking

…and for an inquiry into the Amritsar massacre of 1984

“David Cameron has ordered an inquiry into apparent British involvement in the planning of the 1984 raid on the Golden Temple in Amritsar that led to the killing of hundreds of Sikhs. … Downing Street confirmed on Tuesday that the prime minister has asked Sir Jeremy Heywood, the UK’s top civil servant, to look into claims that an SAS officer advised the Indian government on its attack on Sikh separatists.” – Financial Times

May’s immigration report is shelved by the Prime Minister

“David Cameron shelved a government report on EU migration, after Theresa May, home secretary, failed to provide evidence to support her case for imposing tighter curbs on immigrants. … Ms May, whose department was responsible for drafting the report, said last month there was ‘abuse of free movement’ rules and that some migrants were attracted by ‘access to benefits’ – although she has struggled to prove her contention that limiting EU migration would be good for Britain.” – Financial Times

  • “Home Office officials are being rewarded with shopping vouchers for helping to ensure failed asylum seekers lose their attempt to stay in the country, new documents reveal.” – The Guardian
  • “A flagship Government scheme to kick out foreign criminals has seen just 13 deported from Britain in the first seven months.” – The Sun (£)
  • “The BBC has a “vested interest” in mass immigration because it means more income, a former Channel 5 chief has claimed.” – The Sun (£)

Or is it the Lib Dems?

Curse of Clegg 2“The Liberal Democrats are blocking a Home Office report recommending curbs on immigration within the EU in a new coalition row, sources said on Tuesday night. … Whitehall sources said there is a ‘blockage’ over the publication of the review written by Theresa May’s department because of concerns over its conclusions on freedom of movement reform.” – The Guardian

  • “The PM and Chancellor appear to be promising to deter mass immigration, while insisting that our doors remain open to the best and brightest” – Daily Telegraph editorial

“We can’t go on like this” – Osborne joins the EU battle

“The European Union must halt the continent’s ‘continuing decline’ by backing business and cutting welfare spending if Britain is to remain a part of it, George Osborne is to warn in a speech on Wednesday. … Europe’s current economic performance is unacceptable and only a significant improvement will persuade Britain to continue as a member of the EU, the Chancellor will suggest.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “The head of Europe’s hated Court of Human Rights has been blasted for attacking Britain over its wish to seize powers back from Brussels.” – The Sun (£)
  • “Brussels has hit back at Conservative claims that ‘anti-science’ EU policies are threatening to hold back the UK in medical research and biotechnology.” – Financial Times
  • “No court can order a child from Europe to be taken from their parents or given up for adoption, said Britain’s most senior family law judge, Sir James Munby.” – Daily Mail

But Soames says it’s time for pro-Europe Tories to fight back

EU FLag“The time has come for pro-European Conservatives to fight back and make the case for keeping Britain in the EU, a Tory grandee has said. … Nicholas Soames said that Europhile Tories had ‘only themselves to blame’ for allowing Eurosceptic colleagues to dominate. His intervention came as Liberal Democrats privately compared David Cameron to Neville Chamberlain, so frustrated are they that he keeps giving into anti-Brussels demands.” – The Times (£)

Can the Chancellor see an end to the squeeze? Wages are set to outstrip prices

“The Office for National Statistics said yesterday inflation dropped to 2 per cent in December – the first time it has been at or below the Government’s target of 2 per cent since November 2009. … Private sector bosses expect to reward their workers with an average pay rise of 2.5 per cent this year. … This would represent the first inflation-beating pay rise since the financial crisis began. At present, private sector workers are getting average pay rises of just 1.3 per cent. … Chancellor George Osborne said yesterday: ‘You see in the inflation numbers that the economic plan is working for people.’” – Daily Mail

  • “Adults believe conditions have grown harder for families, and four in ten think children will grow up to have a worse life than adults now.” – Daily Mail
  • “More than 100,000 families face penalties of up to £500 for failing to declare they are no longer allowed child benefit.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “There is no getting away from the fact that people feel worse off.” – Independent editorial
  • “Labour will cling to their ‘cost of living crisis’ strategy for a while yet. But the chances are that by this time next year they’ll need a new slogan.” – Sun editorial (£)

Hague to make the global case against Scottish independence

HAGUE William looking right“The Foreign Secretary William Hague will outline the case for Scotland remaining in the UK, based on the country’s ‘unique role’ in world affairs. … William Hague will be in Glasgow on Friday with Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander to publicise the latest of the UK Government’s ‘Scotland analysis’ papers.” – The Scotsman

> Today: Henry Hill’s Red, White and Blue column – Child-care battle sees SNP voting down its own policies

Government departments said to have dumped Chinese equipment over spying fears

“Whitehall officials are believed to have scrapped technology used in meetings amid fears they are being used by the Chinese government to eavesdrop. … The Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Crown Prosecution Service are all said to have stopped using equipment because of concerns they are being intercepted by the Communist state. … It is believed products manufactured by telecoms company, Huwaei, could be among the devices which pose a threat because of possible ‘vulnerabilities’.” – Daily Mail

  • “Britain will increase aid to Nigeria this year despite its introduction of harsh anti-gay laws.” – Daily Mail
  • “The Department for International Development should produce an overarching strategy on disability as it would send an important message to its staff and other organisations that it was taking disability seriously, aid experts have said.” – The Guardian

Brandon Lewis reckons that people should be consulted about bins

Wheelie bin“Nearly six million households have seen the size of their wheelie bins shrink as councils try to save money and hit recycling targets, official figures have revealed. … Brandon Lewis, the local government minister, said residents must be consulted about the changes and warned of the growing problem of ‘bin blight’.” – Daily Telegraph

Howarth argues that we should be more judgemental about parents who separate

“Britain should be more ‘judgemental’ and criticise parents who split up, a senior Conservative MP has said. … Family breakdown is costing the taxpayer tens of billions of pounds a year and people should not be afraid to condemn couples who separate, Sir Gerald Howarth said.” – Daily Telegraph

Firms paying less than the minimum wage to face new fines, says Cable

“Firms paying workers less than the minimum wage face huge fines based on the number of employees they rip off, ministers will say. … Business secretary Vince Cable will confirm plans to quadruple the penalty on companies breaching pay rules to get staff on the cheap. … But for the first time, he will also reveal that firms found to have underpaid workers by more than £20,000 will face a £20,000 fine PER employee cheated out of money.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Funds to help disadvantaged students attend university could be slashed by as much as 60% as the Treasury seeks to close the budget deficit of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, according to a group that represents universities.” – The Guardian

Miliband’s big, new plan: he considers a cap on the size of banks

MILIBAND Red Ed“Labour is considering a cap on the market share of individual High Street banks as part of efforts to increase competition for customers. … The party would compel the ‘big five’ banks to sell more branches, Ed Miliband will say on Friday. … It is designed to make way for new banks capable of competing and to focus on what Labour calls a ‘cost of living crisis’, the BBC’s Nick Robinson said.” – BBC

“George Osborne will face more pressure over bank bonuses on Wednesday, as Labour demands that he blocks state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland from paying bonuses to senior staff worth twice their salaries.” – Financial Times

  • “America has had the guts to go after banking’s rogues” – Ross Clark, The Times (£)

But the Labour leader’s other big, new plan is already under fire

“Ed Miliband’s claim that he would be the champion of the middle classes if he won power was yesterday dismissed by critics who warned his plans would squeeze struggling families still further. … last night there were few indications of how Mr Miliband intends to fulfil his claim – or any acknowledgement that the last Labour government squeezed the middle class with more than 150  stealth tax rises.” – Daily Mail

  • “…the Tories would be foolishly complacent to dismiss Mr Miliband’s intervention as claptrap from a union puppet who has no sympathy whatever with middle-class Britain. … For every issue he raises resonates loudly with a section of the electorate David Cameron takes for granted at his peril.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “…it’s a smart move of Mr Miliband to recognise that the squeezed middle now describes pretty well the whole middle class.” – Guardian editorial
  • “Mr Miliband has once again demonstrated his talent for identifying weaknesses in David Cameron’s approach and exploiting them to the full.” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Red Ed’s claim to be saviour of the middle classes isn’t just laughable, it’s beneath contempt” – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail
  • “Ed Miliband should come clean – the rich will have to pay more” – Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: LeftWatch – Miliband seeks to invade new territory, just as his own stronghold is collapsing

Labour’s Hunt wants a “discipline tsar” in every school

“Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt will unveil his blueprint to get tough on disruptive pupils. … Top of the ex-TV historian’s list is a new teacher who specialises in behaviour management to lead every school’s fight. … The Sir or Miss – a new member of staff, or an existing one given extra skills – would take pressure of heads in the key area.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Hunt’s solution, which also includes better training for wannabe teachers in disciplining troublemakers, is a smart election policy. … Gove would do well to steal it.” – Sun editorial (£)

> Today: Local Government – 645 primary schools are now sponsored academies – no thanks to Labour

Uh-oh: Unite ups its strike fund, as it urges Labour to relax strike laws

Unite logo“The Unite union has built a £30 million war chest to bankroll strikes in the run-up to the next election. … Minutes from its board meeting last month also show that Unite – Labour’s biggest donor – is stepping up pressure on party leader Ed Miliband to relax strike laws introduced in the wake of the industrial chaos of the 1970s.” – Daily Mail

Oliver Wright: The doors of the Civil Service need bursting open

“[The Civil Service Commission] says it believes the country is best served by a Civil Service which recruits and develops the best and most diverse talent. … If that is the case it should push the civil service to open up Whitehall recruitment across all grades, question the very existence of the fast track scheme and encourage the extensions of innovative ideas likes the summer diversity internships. Then, perhaps, we would have a civil service that represented Britain.” – Oliver Wright, The Independent

Finkelstein: Benefits Street is a challenge for the Right

“Benefits Street is an extraordinary piece of journalism. With great diligence and professionalism, the makers of the programme have captured the difficult lives being lived in so many houses on James Turner Street. … The reason I offer my acclaim is not because Benefits Street confirms every prejudice I had before watching it. On the contrary. I think the programme poses a serious challenge to people of all political persuasions, but perhaps most of all to people like me on the centre right.” – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

  • Information about Universal Credit can now be found on Nintendo Wii consoles – The Independent

HS2 will end the property price spiral, says the project’s new boss

“The £50 billion HS2 railway will ease housing problems in London and the South East by breaking a ‘vicious cycle’ of speculation and rising prices, the project’s new boss said yesterday. Commuters from Crewe, Birmingham or Peterborough would be able to get to work in the capital in less than an hour, while big businesses would feel confident to move out of London, Sir David Higgins said.” – The Times (£)

  • “We’ve had the HS2 debate before – about the London Olympics” – Simon Kelner, The Independent

> Today: ToryDiary – The Right to Buy even appealed to Scargill, but which policies today have such a wide reach?

Duggan mob won’t face charges

“Yesterday, MPs questioned whether failing to take legal action against those responsible for the ‘hail of spittle and abuse’ would ‘bring the law and police enforcement into disrepute’. … But Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley told Westminster’s Home Affairs committee ‘emotions’ had been running high after the verdict and he did not plan to pursue ‘every minor offence’.” – Daily Mail

  • “Almost two thirds of people believe Mark Duggan was lawfully shot dead by cops, a survey for The Sun reveals today.” – The Sun (£)

The disability boss who earns £850,000, courtesy of the taxpayer

pound-coin“The chief executive of a taxpayer-funded scheme that leases cars and scooters to the disabled earned about £850,000 in pay and perks last year. … Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘It is vital that mobility allowances are used to help those who really need it. … This is a staggering sum of money for someone to earn from a business whose only customer is taxpayers.’” – Daily Mail

  • Floods agency to pay new boss more than David Cameron – Daily Telegraph
  • “Department of Transport chiefs were panned for blowing £20 million of taxpayers cash in a cock-up over driving tests.” – The Sun (£)

News in brief

  • “It is neither the time nor the place.” Hollande tries to stick to the economy – Daily Telegraph
  • Christians are facing a new age of “martyrdom” across much of the world, says the Archbishop of Canterbury – Daily Telegraph
  • Penny Mordaunt defends her decision to appear on the TV reality show Splash!The Times (£)
  • James Harding hits back at Tory MPs, and says that the BBC isn’t weakening local newspapers – Daily Mail
  • But the BBC has weakened its own pension scheme: a £1.1 billion deficit has almost doubled in three years – Daily Mail

And finally 1) Tebbit blames the fat for being fat

Burger“Lord Tebbit says fat people have only themselves to blame for their obesity if they insist on ‘stuffing themselves silly’. … He was cheered in the House of Lords when he told peers that rather than setting up government initiatives to persuade  people to eat more healthily, ministers should simply tell them that weight is a matter of individual responsibility,” – Daily Mail

And finally 2) Is the “crystal methodist” writing a book?

“Former Co-op Bank chairman Paul Flowers appears to have revealed on Twitter how he is planning to write a ‘no holds barred’ book about his ‘recent exploits’. … The announcement, made on an account believed to have been set up by the disgraced 63-year-old, came as it also emerged Flowers was still being paid a church salary of more than £11,000, despite being suspended.” – Daily Mail