Labour challenge Downing Street over Quango row…

guardianofsted“Downing Street will on Monday be dragged into the row over the sacking of the former Blair aide Sally Morgan when the cabinet secretary is asked to explain a “pattern of behaviour” that has seen the removal of a series of non-Tory supporters from high-profile public bodies. As Michael Gove defended the removal of Lady Morgan, chair of Ofsted, as “good corporate practice”, shadow cabinet office minister Michael Dugher said he would write to Sir Jeremy Heywood after the sacking of several high-profile figures.” – The Guardian

  • “Michael Gove has said outgoing head of Ofsted Baroness Morgan had done a “fantastic” job and denied she was being removed because she was Labour. The education secretary told the BBC the government believed “from time to time you need to refresh the person in charge… to bring fresh perspective”. Baroness Morgan has claimed to be the victim of a “determined effort from Number 10″ to appoint more Tories. Mr Gove said the decision was entirely his and nothing to do with No 10. ” – BBC
  • “Lib Dem schools minister David Laws hit out against his boss, protesting that Mr Gove was guilty of trying to get his “own people” into Ofsted, but a senior Tory official retaliated. “We know what they are doing, trying to differentiate and show relevance. We are just getting on with running the country,” the official told the Financial Times. As the dispute threatened to derail a planned focus on education policy this week, including announcements on enforcing discipline and bringing in a longer school day, Mr Gove denied suggestions of behind-the-scenes politicisation” – Financial Times
  • “Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan said: ‘Labour grandees regard quango appointments as theirs by right: hence their genuine bewilderment and petulance when they lose one.’ ” – Daily Mail
  • “Of course, the reason for Baroness Morgan’s exit could be some deeply Machiavellian corruption of public service; but it is just possible that Michael Gove simply needed a different person to help him tackle more effectively the most difficult task imaginable — reforming a pervasively rotten culture from within. Hercules had it easy by comparison.” – Melanie Phillips The Times(£)
  • A ruthess Tory takeover of  Quangoland? If only it were true! – Dominic Lawson Daily Mail
  • “Labour’s deputy leader said Michael Gove’s decision to ditch Baroness Morgan proved that the Conservatives have “a woman problem”. But Education Secretary Mr Gove insisted the role needed fresh blood. As the row erupted on-air during yesterday’s Andrew Marr show on BBC1, Miss Harman asked: “What’s your problem with women?” Mr Gove replied: “We have no problem with women. We made one Prime Minister.” – The Sun(£)

> Yesterday: WATCH: We appoint on merit says Gove

…as Gove proposes all 13-year-olds should sit Common Entrance exam

“State schools should make pupils sit the ‘robust’ Common Entrance exam used by leading private schools and subject them to old-fashioned classroom discipline, the Education Secretary will say today. Michael Gove will suggest that all  13-year-olds should study for the 100-year-old test to indicate how well they are ‘performing against some of the top schools around the world’. He will insist it is wrong that between national curriculum tests at age 11 and GCSEs at 16, children have no formal, externally assessed examinations.” – Daily Mail

  • “Mr Gove will say: “My ambition for our education system is simple – when you visit a school in England standards are so high all round that you should not be able to tell whether it’s in the state sector or a fee paying independent. “We know England’s private schools are the best independent schools in the world. Why shouldn’t state schools be the best state schools in the world?” – Daily Telegraph
  • Gove cuts £100 million from sixth form colleges – The Independent
  • 10 hour school day to be offered – The Sun(£)

Boris demands minimum threshold for strike ballots

borisfringe“I remind you of the continuing scandal that this strike was triggered by 30 per cent of those RMT members balloted. In other words there were fully 70 per cent of Bob’s members who were not in favour of this action. It is absolutely outrageous that London, the motor of the UK economy – now contributing 25 per cent of GDP – should be held to ransom by this tiny minority. We are talking here about an essential public service, on which millions depend for their livelihoods. We need a ballot threshold – so that at least 50 per cent of the relevant workforce has to take the trouble to vote, or else the ballot is void. That is surely the least we can ask. It is time for the Government to legislate.” – Boris Johnson Daily Telegraph

Hammond warns of public’s “irrational” fear of long military conflicts

HAMMOND Phil pursed mouth“Politicians must pledge that future wars will be short with clear goals that will convince a ‘war-weary’ public, says Defence Secretary Philip Hammond. A decade of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan has led to a ‘climate of scepticism’ and an ‘irrational fear’ about military intervention in broken states, he says. Even the threat of terrorism from volatile foreign countries no longer convinced British people that war was necessary…’There is definitely a fear, quite irrational in some cases, that any engagement anywhere will somehow lead to an uncontrollable commitment to large numbers of troops, a large amount of resources and a long-term intervention,’ he said. ” – Daily Mail

  • “Philip Hammond has told his defence ministers to privately lobby the shipbuilding unions because of concern within government that Labour MPs are turning against Ed Miliband’s decision to back plans to replace the Trident nuclear deterrent.” – The Guardian

The Independent reports on the Conservative Home poll on a pact with UKIP

“Two fifths of Conservative activists are in favour of forging a pact with UKIP before the next election, according to a poll by the ConservativeHome website. Growing support for the idea is a sign of the nerves within the party over the rising popularity of Nigel Farage’s anti-EU party.” – The Independent

 >Yesterday: ToryDiay: Two out of five Tory members want a pact with UKIP

Tory modernisers push for green manifesto

“A group of modernising pro-green Tories will today launch a fight-back within the party when they publish a manifesto outlining plans for a £5bn-a-year boost in economic growth, creating 300,000 jobs, by pursuing environmentally friendly policies. In a sign of their determination to challenge Tory climate-change sceptics after a leading minister said that David Cameron was getting rid of “green crap”, the modernisers will say that the most successful economies of the future will embrace both the environment and competitiveness.” – The Guardian

The Environment Agency can protect towns or country – not both – says Lord Smith

telegraphflood“Britain must decide whether to protect “town or country” from flooding because it can’t afford to protect both, the chairman of the Environment Agency says. In an article for The Daily Telegraph, Lord Smith of Finsbury says the country must make “difficult choices” about which areas it wants to defend because “there is no bottomless purse”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Environment Secretary Owen Paterson says “everything possible” is being done to help those affected by flooding – as more bad weather is expected. The Environment Agency has three severe flood warnings, meaning danger to life, on the Severn estuary, near Gloucester. Six fishermen were rescued after their boat foundered in “treacherous” conditions off the north Cornish coast.” – BBC
  • “Flood Suckers” – Environment Agency charge flood victims premium phone rates – The Sun(£)

Health Ministers attaacked for meeting food industry representatives

Mailfood“The food industry lobby has been given unprecedented access to the heart of government, a Daily Mail investigation has found. Fast food companies, supermarkets, restaurant chains and chocolate and fizzy drinks firms have had dozens of meetings with ministers. Yet health campaigners say they have been shunned – at a time when the Coalition has been resisting calls for tough laws to restrict the amount of sugar in food.” – Daily Mail

Red Len welcomes union reforms

“Union baron Len McCluskey yesterday hailed Ed Miliband’s reforms to Labour’s links with the trade unions as ‘music to my ears’. The Unite general secretary, whose union has given Labour more than £8 million since Mr Miliband became leader, said they would allow potentially hundreds of thousands more union members to ‘play a more active role’.” – Daily Mail

  • “Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman has defended plans to change the rules on how the party’s leader is elected, rejecting fears of union domination. She said allowing union members to pay £3 to affiliate to Labour and then vote in the leadership elections would “breathe fresh light” into the party.” – BBC

Consumer debt down – but not by enough says Heath

“The overall private sector debt/GDP ratio (the gross unconsolidated debts of household and non-financial firms) has fallen from a bonkers record of 218 per cent of GDP in the first quarter of 2009 to 185 per cent of GDP in the third quarter, according to Citigroup. Here too there is no cause for declaring victory against our culture of excess leverage. On the plus side, private debt (again excluding financial firms) fell by eight percentage points of GDP in the year to the third quarter of 2013. The scale of this decline means that for the first time in ages the UK’s overall debt – public and private non-financial- is down slightly as a share of GDP. Pension fund deficits have also shrunk, reducing further an off balance sheet measure of total UK debt. But despite this genuine, incontrovertible progress, Britain’s households and government remain far too indebted for comfort.” – Allister Heath City AM

Social mobility is not dead says Ridley

“Does income generally grow faster for people in the lowest fifth of the population or people in the highest? It’s the lowest, because many of those people are young, low-paid people just starting out on their careers, while many of the richest fifth are older people at the peak of their pay, about to retire. That is to say, the category “poorest fifth” may not seem to show much change, but the people in it do. Income mobility is far from dead: 80 per cent of people born in households below the poverty line escape poverty when they reach adulthood.” – Matt Ridley The Times(£)

News in brief

  • Demand for loan curbs over housing “bubble” – Daily Mail
  • Tory spin doctors “more obsessive” than Blair’s – The Guardian
  • Natalie Elphicke heads review into social housing supply – The Independent
  • Motorway speed cameras to catch those driving at over 70 mph – Daily Telegraph
  • More cold-related A&E admissions – The Guardian
  • Benefit cheats abroad claim millions for dead OAPs – The Sun(£)
  • Thatcher “drove Scots to drink” claim SNP – The Scotsman

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