Yeo goes

YEO Tim grey‘Tim Yeo, the chairman of a select committee and a former minister, will not be re-adopted as the candidate for South Suffolk after he lost a vote among local Tories. It comes just days after Anne McIntosh, the MP for Thirsk and Malton, was also deselected after a revolt by her local party. Before last week, only four Tory MPs had been deselected after a vote among their local party members in the previous 25 years…Mark Wallace, the executive editor of the Tory grassroots website ConservativeHome, said that activists were now “more willing to stand up to MPs whom they feel are lacking”.’ – The Times (£)


Quango Wars 1) Unelected officials keep Labour in power

‘Significantly, in Mr Brown’s last year, the figure hit 70 per cent – as the party prepared to put in place a ‘government in exile’ that would allow its ideological bedfellows to hold sway over public life even with a Tory prime minister in power. The truth is that however loud Labour squeals about Michael Gove’s ejection of Sally Morgan from her role as head of schools watchdog Ofsted, it remains in control of the unofficial levers of power. This is in part down to David Cameron’s own failure to redress the balance.’ – Daily Mail


Quango Wars 2) MPs want Environment Agency boss sacked for Somerset floods

Environment (Deep End)‘The chairman of the Environment Agency has admitted that it should have acted earlier to dredge rivers and reduce the impact of flooding on the Somerset Levels. Lord Smith of Finsbury said: “We probably have not done as much as we should have done up to now, and I regret that, but we have had very difficult choices to make, reducing budgets to cope with”…Ian Liddell-Grainger, the Conservative MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said that Lord Smith had put up a “smokescreen of guff” to hide his own failings as chairman, and called on him to resign.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Abolish the Environment Agency

Gove: No more bog standard comps

GOVE, Michael blue sky‘The ‘bog standard’ comprehensive is becoming a thing of the past as state schools catch up with and even overtake independents, Michael Gove claimed yesterday. The Education Secretary said a crackdown on poor literacy and numeracy, bad discipline and the teaching of soft subjects to boost league table results was leading to the ‘death of the sink school’. Parents no longer have to ‘escape – either into a better postcode or into the private sector’.’ – Daily Mail


UKIP’s Commonwealth Spokesman was a convicted kidnapper from Pakistan

‘A man who served as UKIP’s Commonwealth spokesman for a year is the former leader of a kidnapping gang in Pakistan, BBC Newsnight can reveal. Mujeeb ur Rehman Bhutto’s gang were behind a high-profile kidnapping in Karachi in 2004 and he then took a £56,000 ransom payment in Manchester. In 2005, Bhutto, of Leeds, admitted being the gang’s “boss” and was jailed for seven years by a UK court.’ – BBC News

Labour’s damning report into the Falkirk scandal is leaked

LABOUR dead rose‘Arrangements were made for an investigating officer to conduct interviews in the constituency. Deliberate attempts were made to frustrate these interviews. There is evidence that members were recruited without their knowledge. There is evidence that the join date of members was set to the first receipt of forms even though those forms were incorrectly completed. There is evidence that members were pressured into completing direct debit forms. There is evidence that members were persuaded to supply financial details without being aware they were completing a direct debit mandate. There is evidence that signatures were forged on either application forms or direct debit mandates or other documents. There can be no doubt that members were recruited in an attempt to manipulate party processes.’ – The Guardian

New fast-track planning system to cut court time

”Disputes over big construction projects, from schools to shopping centres, will be fast-tracked through a new planning court under plans to curb costly legal challenges. An estimated 400 planning cases will go before specialist judges working to fixed time limits as part of a move by ministers to stop “meritless” challenges that clog up courts and delay or scupper building schemes. The proposal for the new court is included in a package of measures to be put forward by Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary’ – The Times (£)

Lloyds shares to go on sale by Easter

Lloyds_Bank_2013_Logo‘Ministers are pushing ahead with plans for a £5 billion sale of shares in Lloyds Banking Group by Easter, in spite of a tough stance from regulators that have dashed the bank’s hopes it could resume dividend payments next month. A hybrid share sale in which retail investors can piggy-back on an institutional offer is pencilled in for early April, with a more ambitious traditional offer aimed at small investors, or “Sids”, planned for September or October.’ – The Times (£)

Clegg: We fought the drugs, and the drugs won

‘The Deputy PM last night ratcheted up his row with David Cameron over the need to reform our laws. The provocative intervention came during his visit to Colombia after talks on drugs policy with its reforming leader, President Juan Manuel Santos, in Bogota. The Lib Dem boss said: “I believe we owe it to both our young people at home and countries abroad – like Colombia – who have been blighted by this unwinnable war, to look at different approaches that could cut the levels of violence, addiction and criminal profit.”‘ – The Sun (£)

Majority of English and Welsh want Scotland to stay

Scottish flag‘Britain today reveals its secret love for the Scots – as we declare: ‘Please dinnae go’. A massive YouGov poll for The Sun shows the English and Welsh want Scotland to remain part of the 307 year old union, by a margin of more than two to one. A total of 54% want north of the border voters to reject independence in the historic referendum on September 18. And just 24% – less than a quarter – want Scotland to break away from the United Kingdom, with 22% saying they don’t know.’ – The Sun (£)

  • We’re the most successful political union in history – Boris Johnson, The Sun (£)
  • Emotion starts to trump economics – The Sun Says (£)
  • Smells of fear drifting across the border – Michael Portillo, FT
  • Salmond demands money to undo benefit changes – Daily Mail
  • The Brazil Nut’s back: UN publishes ‘Marxist diatribe’ – Daily Mail
  • Four admit fraud at A4E – Daily Mail
  • Universal Credit chief has been off sick for a month – FT

Nick Ross: Make the BBC a subscription service

‘The BBC licence fee should be scrapped and replaced with a voluntary subscription service, TV presenter Nick Ross has claimed. The former host of Crimewatch warned support for the BBC would ‘fall off a cliff’ if the mandatory charge for all owners of a television set is not axed.’ – Daily Mail

  • Mark Thompson apologises for £100m failure – The Times (£)

German foreign minister claims eurosceptics risk war

Euro meltdown‘Warning against the type of ‘nationalism’ which caused the First World War, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the European Union had convinced countries to ‘get together, politically’ after years of conflict. Speaking on his first visit to London since being appointed in December, he warned, when asked about Tory Eurosceptics calling for Britain to exit the EU, that this route could have ‘dangers’. But the minister gave a glimmer of hope to David Cameron by saying Germany is not against the principle of changing EU treaties to return some powers to national parliaments.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: And Tory members’ choice for the next EU Commissioner is…Daniel Hannan

Sally Bercow pictured kissing another man

‘A witness told yesterday how Sally Bercow threw herself into a passionate kiss with a clubber — without a care who saw her. Sally, 44, outspoken wife of Commons Speaker John Bercow, clung to the muscular mystery man during a boozy night out clubbing with friends.’ – The Sun (£)

News in brief

And finally…

Cameron overrules Lib Dem killjoys to keep pubs open for the World Cup

‘Lib Dem minister Norman Baker sparked anger yesterday when it emerged he has refused brewers’ requests for later licences. Mr Baker insisted the Brazil competition was not a “one-off” special occasion, leaving him being branded “a killjoy”. But Downing Street have now stepped in on David Cameron’s personal demand to order a nationwide consultation. The PM wants “to make it happen.” – The Sun (£)

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