Cameron announces that flood victims will be exempt from council tax…

Screen shot 2014-02-20 at 07.58.18“Flood victims will be exempt from paying council tax while their homes are uninhabitable, David Cameron announced yesterday. The Treasury will put £4million aside to make sure councils can give homeowners a rebate if they are forced to move out, the Prime Minister said. The sum would cover at least three months for every property that needs major repair work – although each local authority is allowed to determine the level of discount itself.” – Daily Mail

  • Ten day weather nightmare: another storm on the way – Daily Express
  • Prescott complains to LBC after presenter makes joke about him causing the floods by getting out of the bath – The Independent
  • Prime Minister going grey – Daily Express

…As he warns Yanukovych over Ukraine

“The Prime Minister told President Viktor Yanukovych that he will be “held accountable” for his brutal treatment of anti-government protesters. Britain’s intervention followed a threat of EU sanctions amid further conflict between riot police and demonstrators opposed to Kiev’s ties with Russia. The riot police hurled stun grenades and fired water cannon at crowds, who flung firebombs and rocks dug up from the cobbles of the capital’s Independence Square.” – Daily Express

Now 27 Anglican bishops attack Government over welfare reforms

Screen shot 2014-02-20 at 07.59.57“We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must “heat or eat” each winter, harder than those faced by families whose wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years. Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using foodbanks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.” – Daily Mirror

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Two reasons why Cameron will find it difficult to persuade Archbishop Nichols

Osborne warns that the recovery is at risk from complacency

“In a call against complacency, the Chancellor will say in Hong Kong that this is no time for Britain to “rest on our laurels and say ‘job done’”, insisting that the country still needs to roll up its sleeves to repair the damage of the ­recession. Mr Osborne will admit that the economic recovery has been overly dependent on consumer spending and financial services — the same com­bination that led to the last financial crisis.” – The Times (£)

  • Chancellor has been consistently underestimated by his critics – Leo McKinstry, Daily Express
  • Osborne is on the 5-2 diet – The Sun

Record numbers of women in work as unemployment falls by 125,000…

Screen shot 2014-02-20 at 07.29.21“The tally of female workers passed 14 million at the end of last year despite a rise in overall unemployment, official figures showed yesterday. The proportion of women in work in December was also the highest since records began 43 years ago, according to the Office for National Statistics. It reached 67.2 per cent, a significant increase on the 52.7 per cent recorded in 1971. Today’s equivalent male rate remains higher, however, at 77.1 per cent.” – Daily Telegraph

…But what about younger workers? 10 per cent of new jobs went to Romanians and Bulgarians

“Data from the Office for National Statistics showed there were 144,000 migrants from the two nations in employment in the UK in the final three months of 2013. The figure was 41 per cent higher than in 2012 when the total was 102,000. Campaign group MigrationWatch’s chairman Sir Andrew Green said: “This looks to be consistent with our estimate of 50,000 net migrants a year for the next five years from these two countries.” – Daily Express

  • Commission claims that Cameron’s ‘minimum earning threshold’ is not compatible with EU law – Daily Mail
  • Cut migration to give our young a chance – Daily Mail Editorial

> Yesterday: Employment statistics bring good news on almost every front

Bowie to Scotland: “Stay”

“The 67-year-old musical chameleon was named British male artist of the year – making him the oldest ever recipient of a Brit. And reading out an acceptance speech on his behalf, supermodel Kate Moss said the music legend thanked his fans. She then made a throwaway remark on his behalf saying: “Scotland, please stay with us” – obviously referring to the referendum. Wearing one of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust shirts, she accepted the prize – Bowie’s first Brit for 18 years.” – Scotsman

  • Lloyds to domicile TSB in England as Scottish fears mount – Daily Telegraph
  • Welsh Government demands Scottish-style power to issue bonds – Wales Online
  • Judge brands Sean Connery ignorant and obstructive in land dispute – Herald Scotland
  • Salmond and co are acting like spoilt children – Martin Kettle, The Guardian

> Today:

Conservative backbenchers support Fox, Lilley or Paterson as the next EU Commissioner. But Clegg wants Lansley or Mitchell.

“Nick Clegg has warned David Cameron he will veto the choice of a eurosceptic as Britain’s next commissioner in Brussels.  The demand will enrage many Tory backbenchers who want a tough negotiator to replace Baroness Ashton later this year. But the Deputy Prime Minister wants a commissioner who will approach the job ‘constructively’.” – Daily Mail

  • Farron says that the LibDems could be wiped out in European elections – The Times (£)

Tim Montgomerie says that Labour is yearning for an NHS crisis…

MONTGOMERIE purple background‘My hunch is that when George Osborne presents his next Budget or Autumn Statement, he is as likely to find extra money for the NHS as he is money for tax cuts. If he has any cash to spare from the recovery he will want to protect David Cameron’s NHS credentials as much as burnish his own tax-cutting ones. Hospitals and GP surgeries may get emergency funding and will play up their challenges in order to secure it.” – The Times (£)

…But there is one already: in Labour-run Wales

“The disclosure on Wednesday night provoked a political row, with Labour accused of presiding over serious failures at NHS hospitals in Wales, where it has held power since devolution. Emails seen by The Telegraph show that Prof Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS England medical director, called for an investigation three months ago. MPs on Wednesday night raised fears that “deeply disturbing” failings were being allowed to continue.” – Daily Telegraph

  • RMT to fund Crow’s bid for seat in European election – The Times (£)
  • Blair advice to News International claim – Financial Times
  • Ex-Yard chief calls on Labour trio to admit backing paedophilia was a ‘huge mistake’ – Daily Mail

> Today: LeftWatch – Pinning Down Miliband: What is Labour’s education policy?

> Yesterday: Rachel Joyce on Comment – Hitting the 999 response time target is great, but we must not forget the next step

Both Britain’s and Australia’s Prime Ministers are breaking with the 24 hour news cycle, claims Sue Cameron

Screen shot 2014-02-20 at 08.28.55“Quietly and without any fanfare, Cameron has been cold-shouldering the hack pack that inhabits the Westminster bubble. Until the floods flushed him out last week, he hadn’t held a full press conference in Britain for 238 days. He has been boycotting some political TV programmes for even longer – he has not been on Newsnight, BBC2’s flagship current affairs programme, since before the general election…Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the Right-wing Tony Abbott, who became Australia’s prime minister last September, has also taken a vow not to be part of the 24-hour news cycle, in contrast to his Labour predecessors Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

  • MP dynasties: one in 12 politicians is related to another politician – Daily Mail
  • Vaizey accuses broadcasters of ignoring ‘east of India’ ethnic groups – The Independent
  • PSNI struck deal with loyalists over Union flag protest claim – Belfast Telegraph
  • The Syrian city ruled by Islamists – The Guardian
  • Record Japanese trade deficit – Daily Telegraph
  • Facebook strikes $19bn deal to buy WhatsApp – The Times (£)
  • Toxic chemicals in food health risk – Daily Express
  • Detention of ex-Guardian journalist’s partner ruled lawful – Financial Times
  • Kym Marsh fling with hunk from the gym – The Sun


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