Stephen Lawrence 1) Report exposes police misconduct

Stephen Lawrence“Two decades of shameful police lies about the Stephen Lawrence case were exposed in a damning official report yesterday. … Shocking allegations of corruption, a police cover-up and a ‘spying operation’ on the teenager’s grieving family were laid bare. … And the report also revealed that undercover police operations spanning decades may have led to scores of wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice.” – Daily Mail

  • “Yesterday’s revelations were shocking, but not surprising. This should render them more shocking still.” – Times editorial (£)

> Today: ToryDiary – It’s time to scale back stop and search

Stephen Lawrence 2) May announces a public inquiry

“Theresa May has announced a public inquiry into undercover policing over ‘profoundly shocking’ evidence that Scotland Yard spied on the family of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence. … The Home Secretary announced the judge-led public inquiry after the publication of a ‘deeply troubling’ report which found that an officer, codenamed N81, infiltrated an activist group which was close to Stephen’s family members. … She also announced plans to introduce a new offence of “police corruption” to overhaul the outdated law of ‘misconduct in public office’.” – Daily Telegraph

  • MAY Commons Ellison“While this expensive inquiry could take years to complete, the Lawrence family deserve nothing less. The truth must be unearthed, and the guilty punished.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “The home secretary is in the middle of a bold programme of reform that may be a big part of the long-term answer.” – Guardian editorial
  • “The Home Secretary is right to subject all those involved to the scrutiny of a public inquiry.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “At the end of this next chapter we should move closer to justice, and to determining what went wrong with so many of the previous inquiries that were supposed to set matters straight.” – Independent editorial
  • “…with all due respect to the feelings of the Lawrences and other victims, it is hard to see what purpose another public inquiry will serve.” – Daily Telegraph editorial

> Yesterday: WATCH – Theresa May announces public inquiry into undercover police officers

Stephen Lawrence 3) Doreen Lawrence speaks out

Doreen Lawrence“After being told she had been the victim of two decades of corruption, spying and cover-up, Doreen Lawrence might have vented fury at the Home Office minister opposite her in the House of Lords. … Instead she was dignity defined as she held her tears in check and spoke quietly of her ’21 years of struggle’ to get to the truth about Scotland Yard’s shameful behaviour over her son Stephen’s murder. … ‘We weren’t asking for anything special,’ she said. ‘Just what we should have had, like any other citizen of this country.'” – Daily Telegraph

Obama ratchets up the pressure on Putin…

“The US bolstered its military forces across Eastern Europe on Thursday and imposed its first sanctions in an effort to force Russia to scale back its intervention in Ukraine. … As European leaders met in Brussels, President Barack Obama denounced plans for a referendum on whether the occupied Crimea region should join Russia as ‘a violation’ of international law.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “America has a new weapon to use against Russia – the E-Bomb” – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: WATCH – Topless Femen anti-Putin protesters arrested in Crimea

…as Cameron does what he can

CAMERON China“David Cameron persuaded fellow leaders to agree a three stage regime of punishments for Moscow – but it fell far short of the ‘serious consequences’ promised this week. … The EU will immediately suspend talks on a new visa regime with Russia, abandon plans for the G8 summit and ditch plans for a new partnership deal between Russia and the EU – but none of them hurts President Putin now and all three had been floated in advance.” – Daily Mail

  • “Sad to say, Europe’s caution has been the handmaiden of pusillanimity rather than of diplomatic calculation; and without evidence of serious resolve Mr Putin has no reason to step back.” – Philip Stephens, Financial Times
  • “If we treat Vladimir Putin as a leader who wants to grab Russia’s empire back, we will be inviting him to do exactly that.” – Mary Dejevsky, The Independent
  • “Europe must match [American] sanctions with its own. It has more to lose than the US from a shrunken economic relationship with Russia, but more to lose from a war on its doorstep as well.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “Mr Putin will not heed token threats” – Guardian editorial

The Prime Minister is dragged into the immigration row

“The row erupted after the new immigration minister, James Brokenshire, said uncontrolled immigration benefited only the ‘wealthy metropolitan elite’ who wanted cheap labour. … But his comments backfired after critics pointed out that the Prime Minister currently employs a nanny from Nepal and previously hired an Australian. … The Deputy Prime Minister admitted hiring a Belgian ‘lady’ as a ‘home help’.” – Daily Mail

  • “A ‘suppressed’ government review which concluded there is little evidence that foreign migrants push British workers out of jobs during periods of economic growth, has finally been published. … Its findings called into question claims by Conservative ministers, including Theresa May, the Home Secretary, who has repeatedly cited research suggesting that for every 100 immigrants, 23 British workers would not be employed.” – The Independent

And comment:

  • “It is disturbing that the latest report on immigration has taken so long to be made public. Voters deserve a debate that is informed by all the data available.” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Here’s why migrants want to come to Britain” – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – The net migration rise doesn’t stop Theresa May topping our leadership survey for a third month running

Osborne faces further fiscal strain

OSBORNE red and blue“George Osborne faces a black hole of more than £20bn in the public finances, according to official government economic models. … The news suggests that Britain might have to endure an extra year of austerity before the books are balanced. … The models by the Office for Budget Responsibility , which the Financial Times has replicated, indicate that the government should no longer rely on an economic recovery to eliminate part of the budget deficit.” – Financial Times

  • “Deep austerity cuts are crippling local councils and have put Britain in breach of its international obligations, the Council of Europe has said.” – The Guardian

Paterson backs a £20.5 million plan to counter flooding

“The Somerset Levels and Moors Flood Action Plan outlines measures including dredging, a tidal barrage and extra permanent pumping sites. … The action plan – commissioned by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson – was compiled by Somerset County Council, the Environment Agency, residents and other interested parties. … Mr Patterson welcomed the £20.5 million already put forward as an ‘extremely good start’ and said there would be ‘significant national money’.” – BBC

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Three out of five Tory members believe that overseas aid money should be used to tackle Britain’s flood damage

Measures to cut the cost of childcare are in the Government’s legislative agenda

“Measures to cut the cost of childcare and overhaul pensions will be used by ministers to counter claims that the ‘clapped out’ Government has ‘run out of steam’ more than a year before the general election. … Officials are also scrambling to finalise a new law that will hand constituents the power to sack their MP for inclusion in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.” – The Times (£)

  • “School cooks will be ordered to serve no more than two deep-fried dishes every week, under new Government plans. … Pastry-based foods will also be limited to twice a week, and at least one portion of vegetables must be on offer every day.” – The Sun (£)
  • “Eating meals together as a family is to be officially recognised as a mark of happiness as part of David Cameron’s plan to measure Britain’s national ‘well-being’.” – Daily Telegraph

Shapps plans to exploit Labour’s record in Wales

SHAPPS Grant favourite“The Welsh Government’s ‘poor’ performance on delivering public services will play a major role in the Conservatives’ general election campaign next year, party chairman Grant Shapps has confirmed. … In an exclusive interview with the Western Mail, Mr Shapps said the Tories would point to ‘service failures’ in Wales in policy areas like education and health, and warn people elsewhere in the UK what they could expect if Ed Miliband enters Downing Street.” – WalesOnline

> Yesterday: Local Government – Council Tax rises in Wales at more than double inflation rate

Halfon strikes out at “abhorrent and frightening” UKIP members

“Some members of the UK Independence Party are  ‘literally akin to the Nazis’, according to a Tory MP. … In an incendiary attack ahead of the European elections, Robert Halfon said the anti-EU party had played a helpful role in ‘cleansing’ the Conservatives of people with extreme views. … ‘In many ways UKIP have done us an enormous favour because they’re cleansing people from the Tory party that had these kinds of views, which is great because I don’t want people who have those kinds of views in my party,’ Mr Halfon told political magazine The House.” – Daily Mail

Tyrie’s target is the Bank of England

“The foreign exchange scandal embroiling the Bank of England has exposed its ‘Byzantine’ governance structure and weak board of directors, Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Commons Treasury committee, said on Thursday. … Mr Tyrie said the BoE needed ‘a board worthy of the name’ to get a grip on claims of wrongdoing, arguing that allegations of market manipulation in the forex industry were the first big test of the recently beefed-up central bank.” – Financial Times

  • “The BoE should act decisively and transparently.” – Financial Times editorial

Rosindell calls for an end to the religious slaughter of animals

BBC“An MP and animal welfare campaigner yesterday supported the leader of Britain’s vets by demanding an end to the religious slaughter of animals. … Andrew Rosindell, secretary of Parliament’s animal welfare group, demanded that Muslims and Jews stop killing more than half a million creatures a week by cutting their throats in accordance with holy texts.” – The Times (£)

MPs rally behind Bridgen’s licence fee proposal

“More than 100 MPs have backed a Tory MP’s plan to decriminalise the BBC licence fee. … Backbencher Andrew Bridgen is spearheading a Commons fight to make non-payment of the £145.50 fee a civil offence – rather than a criminal one. … Such offences make up a staggering one in 10 of all cases dealt in magistrates’ courts.” – The Sun (£)

Alexander: Voters are worried about the prospect of Scottish independence…

“Voters across Britain are flooding their MPs with their concerns at the prospect of Scottish independence, a Cabinet minister will warn today. … Liberal Democrat Danny Alexander will attack Alex Salmond’s plan to end the union, calling the Scottish leader ‘a man without a plan.’ … He will warn of a long list of potential disasters for the Scots if they vote Yes to independence, from the dangers to pensions and Isas to disruption for entrepreneurs.” – Daily Mail

  • “One of the UK’s leading economists has said it would not be in Britain’s interest to share the pound with an independent Scotland” – The Scotsman
  • “Shell has become the latest big business to issue a warning against Scottish independence, saying it needs political stability in the UK to underpin its investment decisions.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “I understand that in his speech at the conference on Saturday, Mr Alexander will step things up a notch, claiming that the ‘DNA of the recovery’ is a Lib Dem one.” – Isabel Hardman, Daily Telegraph

…Cable also has something to say on the subject (and it involves an attack on the Tories, natch)…

“Vince Cable will today warn UKIP leader Nigel Farage he is putting the union with Scotland at risk. … The Business Secretary will also accuse Tory Eurosceptics of unwittingly helping Scottish nationalists. … At the opening rally for the Lib Dem spring conference in York, Mr Cable will say: ‘How on earth do you expect to persuade the Scots to ignore the siren voices of nationalism and separatism when you indulge in British nationalism and Euro-separatism?'” – The Sun (£)

  • “Threats to leave the EU only damage the economy” – Independent editorial

…whilst Labour argues with itself about the limits of devolution

Scottish flag“Deep divisions emerged within the Scottish Labour party over plans to be unveiled this month that propose the control of income tax should be handed to Edinburgh. … Labour members of the UK and Scottish parliaments voiced disquiet amid expectations that the party’s Devolution Commission will recommend greater fiscal powers for Holyrood in the event of a ‘no’ vote.” – Financial Times

  • “What next for Scots after No vote?” – John McTernan, The Scotsman

> Yesterday: Brian Monteith’s column – Now it’s Labour’s turn to take the fight to the Scottish nationalists

Business against Miliband

“A leading businessman last night launched a thinly-veiled attack on Ed Miliband, warning that an anti-business government would damage the economy and cost jobs. … Sir Mike Rake, president of the CBI and chairman of BT, said the economic recovery is ‘increasingly being exposed to political risk’.” – Daily Mail

“British business is using migrants because UK workers simply aren’t up to the job, the head of the CBI said last night.” – The Sun (£)

  • “The best politicians don’t bash the wealthy” – Ian King, The Times (£)

Labour against energy supremos

“Labour has made a personal attack on the woman representing Britain’s energy companies. … Caroline Flint, the Shadow Energy and Environment Secretary, criticised Dame Angela Knight, the head of Energy UK, which represents the industry. … ‘No offence to Angela, but I couldn’t believe they gave the person who was in charge of the British Bankers’ Association the job of head of Energy UK,’ she told The House magazine.” – The Times (£)

Letter casts fresh light on Harman’s relationship with pro-paedophile group

“Deputy leader Ms Harman has insisted she ‘never had anything to do’ with the Paedophile Information Exchange. … But The Sun has discovered a letter dated July 1979 from a PIE supporter to Ms Harman. … He asks for her help in defending three PIE members facing prosecution over a conspiracy to corrupt public morals. … At the top of the letter in the NCCL’s Hull archives is a note featuring Ms Harman’s initials. … It says: ‘Can we talk about this Friday? HH.'” – The Sun (£)

Leaves on the line: Documents hint at the disruption that HS2 may cause

high-speed rail“Millions of passengers on the West Coast mainline face a decade of ‘catastrophic’ disruption caused by work on the £50billion HS2 high-speed project, a damning dossier of official papers reveals today. … Train bosses also warn of delays and train shortages on the link between London, the North and Scotland and chronic passenger overcrowding on platforms at London Euston, one of Britain’s busiest stations. … Up to four out of 10 trains risk running late between 2016 and 2026 as preparation and construction work is carried out on the southern terminus of the proposed high-speed project.” – Daily Mail

  • “Hundreds of level crossings expose the public to an unacceptable risk of death, MPs warn today in a report that calls on Network Rail to withhold bonuses from its executive directors.” – The Times (£)

> Today: Richard Tracey on Local Government – Driverless trains vital for lower fares and Tube investment

Report cautions against wasted aid to Afghanistan

“Much of the £1.6billion sent in aid to Afghanistan by Britain since 2006 has been wasted, a major report warns today. … The Independent Commission for Aid Impact says that much of the programme to cut opium production has ‘performed poorly’, with little monitoring of value for money. … The study says Dfid’s £20million ‘rural development programme’, which aimed to persuade farmers to switch to legal crops, produced ‘no evidence of long-term sustainable change’.” – Daily Mail

The shrinking value of money

pound-coin“The shrinking value of money means that £9.48 in 1973 would have the same spending power as £100 in your wallet today. … A detached house would set a 1970s buyer back £16,980, but a family now looking for a similar home faces paying 18 times this, at £305,391. … Overall, the value of money has dropped by 91 per cent over the last 40 years, according to Lloyds Bank’s analysis of Office for National Statistics figures.” – Daily Mail

  • “The speed UK property prices are rising at is ‘approaching madness’, analysts have warned, after data showed house prices jumped 2.4pc in February, the biggest monthly increase in five years.” – Daily Telegraph

The threat of antibiotic-resistant infections

“A steep rise in the number of patients who do not respond to antibiotic treatment risks causing a ‘national health threat’, NHS officials have warned. … Officials said the scale of such infections had become a matter of ‘national concern’ with 600 cases reported last year, compared with just five in 2006.” – Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Max Clifford in the dock… – Daily Mail
  • …and Rebekah Brooks, too – Daily Mail
  • Prince Harry launches an “Olympics” for wounded troops – The Sun (£)
  • Has Bitcoin’s founder been discovered? – Financial Times
  • Lawyers to strike again, in protest at legal aid cuts – The Guardian
  • The Vicar of Dibley will deliver Radio 4’s Thought for the Day – Daily Telegraph

And finally 1) Gotcha Gove

GOVE, Michael blue sky“A satirical article headlined ‘Michael Gove decides to teach all children himself’ was left by ‘hackers’ on the Department for Education website for a month, despite staff being notified. … the article claimed that the Conservative politician had ‘unveiled plans to single-handedly teach every child in the UK’ in a single ‘cavernous classroom’ filled with 14 million school children.” – The Independent

And finally 2) “Too many tweets…”

“David Cameron was mercilessly mocked on Twitter last night for posting a cringeworthy photo of himself on the phone to Barack Obama. … The PM showed his serious side as he spoke to the US President about the crisis in the Ukraine. … But he unwittingly sparked a raft of copycat snaps – with even Star Trek legend Sir Patrick Stewart getting in on the act.” – The Sun (£)