Scotland 1) Cameron wraps the Union’s cause in the Olympic flag

Screen shot 2014-02-07 at 08.14.30“We come as a brand – a powerful brand,” he will say. “If we lost Scotland, if the UK changed, we would rip the rug from under our own reputation. “The plain fact is we matter more in the world together.” In an impassioned speech at the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London, the Prime Minister will wrap himself in the colours of the Union flag, appealing to the “red, white and blue” of the UK. Citing the patriotism which “came out of the shadows and into the sun” during the 2012 London Olympics when everyone cheered “as one” for Team GB, Mr Cameron will say: “It’s Team GB I want to talk about today. Our United Kingdom.” – Scotsman

  • Sturgeon slams a  “tawdry bid” – Herald Scotland
  • Darling cites economy as pro-Union weapon – Financial Times
  • Support for Scottish independence growing – The Sun
  • Former Blair Chief of Staff Powell warns that a Yes vote would throw Stormont into crisis – Belfast Telegraph

> Yesterday: Columnist Brian Monteith – A Scottish Yes vote would have a vast impact on the 2015 general election

Scotland 2: “Labour would need nearly a quarter of a million extra votes to win a majority at the next election if Scotland becomes independent”

“An analysis by John Curtice, Scotland’s leading pollster, shows that a vote for independence in September’s referendum would theoretically deprive Labour of more than 40 MPs, requiring the party to win an estimated 250,000 extra votes from the rest of the UK to compensate…One Labour adviser said: “We can’t even contemplate what might happen to the party if Scotland went. This is nightmare territory for us.” –  Financial Times (£)

Scotland 3: Philip Stephens: Who speaks for English Unionists in Scotland’s debate?

Screen shot 2014-02-07 at 08.17.04“Where, though, in all the Whitehall propaganda is the admission that England has something to lose from Scotland’s departure? Where is the tribute to the Scots who have played a disproportionately important role in UK politics and public policy, in the armed forces and diplomatic and intelligence services and in the economic and cultural life of England? Or is it simply too obvious that England’s voice in the world would be greatly diminished by the break-up of the union?” – Financial Times

  • Cameron has a delicate task in lobbying for the Union –  The Times (£)

Prime Minister “takes personal control” over flooding

“David Cameron has taken personal control of emergency efforts to help households stricken by floods and promised “no restrictions” on help, as Labour accused the government of leaving people isolated and unable to cope with homes under water. The prime minister led a meeting of Cobra, the government crisis response committee, moving aside Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, amid criticism of the official response to weeks of flooding, power outages and transport chaos.” – The Guardian

  • CAMERON POINTINGMarines begin Somerset evacuation – The Independent
  • Environment Agency puts birds before humans – Daily Telegraph
  • Paterson: Priti Patel slams Labour attack on Environment Secretary who “faced blindness” – Daily Telegraph
  • Pickles: “The Keighley seadog rose to make his statement. “One of the defining characteristics of Britain,” he began, “is weather.” (He’s not wrong. Records show that Britain has had weather going back centuries. It was one of the things that most surprised the Romans, coming as they did from a land with no weather at all.)” – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph
  • What this picture of the devastated Dawlish railway line tells us about the choices facing Britain – Andrew Marr, Daily Mail
  • Atlantic storm heading straight for Britain – Daily Express

Dredging: the debate goes on

“For farmers in the Somerset Levels who have suffered weeks of misery this year, the need to move water away as quickly as possible by such means is obvious. Somerset West Conservative MP, Ian Liddell-Grainger, says the Environment Agency is guilty of a “catastrophic” failure to do such work. Many conservationists disagree, saying it would be cheaper and more environmentally sound to let waters flow more naturally, even if that causes a loss of farmland.” – Financial Times

Reasons to be cheerful 1): Tory poll boost as economic optimism reaches highest level since New Labour victory in 1997

CAMERON Popular“In a major boost for the Tories, the improvement in the economy has fed through to better poll ratings for David Cameron. Asked by IpsosMORI if what will happen to the ‘general economic condition of the country’ over the next 12 months, 50 per cent said improve and 24 per cent said it would get worse, a net result of +26 per cent. The last time the economic optimism rating was so high was in May 1997, when Tony Blair’s New Labour swept to power in a landslide general victory, when it stood at +28.”  – Daily Mail

  • IFS says consensus politics hurts economy – The Times (£)
  • House prices highest since 2008 – Daily Express
  • Four in ten rely on credit to pay their bills: Personal debt now stands at £139billion – Daily Mail
  • Osborne backs Manchester Northern Hub rail project – The Times (£)
  • Fight, Osborne, Labour! Fight him! Fight him! – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
  • Cameron names Perfect Circle by R.E.M as the track they fell in love to – Daily Mail

Reasons to be cheerful 2): Economy will surge back to pre-recession peak (says left-leaning think-tank)

“Growth is expected to hit 2.5 per cent and unemployment will continue to fall, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research claims. In a report, NIESR said: “The UK’s economic recovery has become entrenched. “Above trend growth returned in 2013, while the remarkable performance of the labour market persists.” NIESR economist Simon Kirby said there were still “a number of years” before consumer income would fully recover.” – The Sun

  • The Lib Dems are strangling our economic recovery – Stephen Pollard, Daily Express

> Today: ToryDiary – George Osborne, man of limitations

> Yesterday:

A blast of the trumpet from Gove against Clegg…

CURSE OF CLEGG one” ‘Good Nick, the angel on one shoulder, is saying, “What Gove is doing is socially progressive, socially mobile, and in tune with good old Gladstonian principles”,’ he said. ‘Wicked Nick,  sitting on his other shoulder, is saying, “Yes! But some of your more radical activists dislike it, so pander to them”. ‘He will have to decide whether it’s the good or the bad Nick that he indulges.’ ” – Daily Mail

…As Grant refuses to sound fanfares for First World War

“The Government will not be “celebrating” the 100th anniversary of World War One, the minister in charge of marking its centenary has said. Helen Grant, a Conservative, said that while Britain and its allies had won an “absolutely vital victory”, there should be no “sounding of triumphant fanfares” given the loss of millions of lives. Her comments, in an article published by The Lady magazine, come after Education Secretary Michael Gove attacked “left-wing academics” – and television programmes such as comedy Blackadder – for “denigrating virtues such as patriotism, honour and courage”.” – The Independent

Fraser Nelson: If the LibDems don’t like Coalition, they can always leave it

frasernelson“Cameron could keep this charade going for another year, but there is a simpler and more honest way of doing things. This is for the Lib Dems to leave government, and oppose the Tories as much as they like from the back benches – offering no more support than is needed to keep things going until the election. Clegg can then start rebuilding his party’s identity, boasting of his achievements in government while preparing for the election. It would hardly be a failure; the Coalition was always expected to break up – the only question was when. And for reasons that have more to do with Lib Dem nerves than Tory beastliness, that time seems to be now.” – Daily Telegraph

Police officer who lied over Mitchell is jailed for a year

“Following Wallis’s guilty plea last month, Mr Mitchell said justice had been done and there were calls for his return to Government. In victim impact statement given to the court ahead of today’s sentencing, Mr Mitchell spoke of his ‘acute demoralisation and sense of isolation’. Met commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe apologised to Mr Mitchell and said that Wallis’s behaviour fell ‘way below the standards expected’ of his officers.” – Daily Mail

  • The Police Fed must recognise it is in a deep hole and it should stop obstructing the IPCC and drop its backing for the libel action – Guardian Editorial

Attack dog Grayling takes a nip at the BBC

GRAYLING Chris blueMr Grayling, in an interview with The House magazine, said: “I think there’s still an inclination to cover issues in a way that is very much about the culture of a slightly left-leaning, metropolitan group of people who are disproportionately represented there.” He said: “They’ve been on the wrong side — they’ve been unbalanced in the debate over the years about immigration, about Europe. And I think they’ve wised up to that.” – The Times (£)

Full interview – PoliticsHome

> Yesterday: The Deep End – Bye-bye BBC, your days are numbered

Raab turns his fire on Miliband over tube strike

“Firebrand union Tube strike bosses have kept Labour silent with nearly £500,000 in party donations, a Tory MP has claimed. Backbencher Dominic Raab said figures revealed Bob Crow’s RMT and the TSSA have donated a total of £442,432.75 to Labour since 2010. TSSA alone has donated £194,648.24 to the cash-strapped Labour Party central office since Ed Miliband became leader.” – The Sun

> Yesterday: Rupert Myers on Comment: On your bike! Why conservatives should support cyclists

Hain warns that UKIP poses a threat to Miliband…but Ashcroft poll finds Labour has huge Wythenshawe lead

ASHCROFT blue shirt“Ukip is targeting second place in next week’s parliamentary by-election Manchester and Sale East, a safe Labour seat. A poll funded by Lord Ashcroft, the Tories’ former deputy chairman, published yesterday, put Labour on 61 per cent in the constituency, with Ukip second on 15 per cent, the Conservatives on 14 per cent  and the Liberal Democrats fourth on five per cent. Lord Ashcroft said his polling in the 40 most marginal Conservative-held seats showed that Tory “defectors” and Ukip voters are not the same people.” – The Independent

> Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment: With a week to go in Wythenshawe, Labour’s grip looks firm

Davies news: Welsh Tory leader announces stamp duty cut plan

“The Tory plans would see no levy on any property valued up to £250,000, if they were in power when the stamp duty land tax is devolved to Wales. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and Welsh Secretary David Jones confirmed last year the UK Government would devolve stamp duty to Wales as part of a raft of new financial powers for the National Assembly. The Tories said it would have affected 13,000 homes last year, with an average saving of £1,600.” – Wales Online

Davis news: former Shadow Home Secretary claims that new NHS database will give police access to your health records

DAVIS LOOKING“David Davis MP, a former shadow home secretary, told the Guardian he has established that police will be able to access the health records of patients when investigating serious crimes even if they had opted out of the new database, which will hold the entire population’s medical data in a single repository for the first time from May. In the past, Davis said, police would need to track down the GP who held a suspect’s records and go to court for a disclosure order. Now, they would be able to simply approach the new arms-length NHS information centre, which will hold the records.” – The Guardian

News in Brief

  • Screen shot 2014-02-07 at 08.42.52Miller, Paterson, Pickles, Warsi hit by mystery Cabinet illness – The Sun
  • Blue gossip from Conservative Black and White Ball – Daily Mail
  • The more you win on the lottery, the more Tory you become – The Independent
  • U.S apologises after an American official says “F**k the EU” over the phone – The Guardian
  • Hodge hits out at tax reform failure – Financial Times
  • West gives rebels cash and arms to take on Damascus – The Times (£)
  • Sack for female high court judge who sunbathed nude – The Sun
  • Bill Roache cleared of sex charges – Daily Mail
  • Gun salutes mark 62nd anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne – Daily Express

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