Russia and Ukraine on brink of war

Snip20140303_1“Europe’s two biggest states were on the brink of armed conflict last night after Russia tightened its grip by surrounding Ukrainian military bases and President Putin defended the invasion as ‘an appropriate response’. Ukraine warned that it was ‘on the brink of disaster’ as it put its military on high alert on a day of increasing tensions. Ukraine’s new Navy chief defected to Moscow, and the United States threatened Russia with sanctions and diplomatic isolation, including possible exclusion from the G8 group of states” – The Times (£)

  • World rounds on Russia over Crimea move – Financial Times
  • West in new Cold War crisis as Crimea stand-off goes from Vlad to worse – The Sun (£)
  • Tories say Miliband’s Syria vote gave green light to Putin – Daily Mail
  • Russia’s stockmarket falls – Daily Telegraph

And the commentators are divided…

  • Nato should not over-react to Putin’s pursuit of Russian interests in Ukraine – Christopher Meyer, The Times (£)
  • We should hit Putin in the wallet – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail
  • A second Cold War threatens Europe – Financial Times editorial
  • A short history of the blood-soaked Crimea – Edward Lucas, Daily Mail
  • John Kerry and Nato should back off – Jonathan Steele, Guardian
  • What does it matter to us if Crimea leaves Ukraine? Leo McKinstry, Daily Express



Tory MPs: Osborne should cut taxes for middle classes

OSBORNE Horatius head“George Osborne is being urged by senior Conservative MPs to ease the tax burden on millions of middle-class professionals in his Budget later this month…senior Tories believe middle-class families need more help and that Mr Osborne should use his budget to raise the 40p tax threshold, with some saying it should go from £41,450 to £44,000…David Ruffley, a Conservative member of the Treasury select committee, said that the move could prove a ‘game changer’ for the Conservatives” – Daily Telegraph

  • UKIP to back tax cuts in attempt to woo Tory voters – The Times (£)
  • Populus poll dispels UKIP image as party of disgruntled Tories – Financial Times
  • Shapps expresses “hope” that migrants target will be met – Daily Express
  • Tyrie urges Bank of England to clamp down on bank bonuses – Financial Times
  • Bercow spent £41,884 on trip to Burma and New Zealand – The Sun (£)

Montgomerie: Osborne and Gove take on Johnson

“The Chancellor hopes to move next door when Mr Cameron moves on. He has built a network of loyal supporters in the commentariat and among MPs. His most loyal lieutenant is Michael Gove. The Education Secretary is honest when he says he does not want to be leader himself but one notion is that he becomes Osborne’s running mate. He is already using private gatherings to big up the Chancellor and talk down London’s Mayor…But…Boris will inherit the crown if he passes one simple test: opinion polls must convince Tory MPs that he’ll win more voters” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

Boris: we need a law against turning children into terrorists

BORIS at rally“The law should obviously treat radicalisation as a form of child abuse. It is the strong view of many of those involved in counter-terrorism that there should be a clearer legal position, so that those children who are being turned into potential killers or suicide bombers can be removed into care – for their own safety and for the safety of the public. That must surely be right. We need to be less phobic of intrusion into the ways of minority groups and less nervous of passing judgment on other cultures” – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph

Policy Exchange says benefits withdrawn unfairly

“Nearly 70,000 job seekers have had their benefits withdrawn unfairly, making them reliant on food banks, the right-of-centre thinktank Policy Exchange has said. The intervention is the first by a respected right-wing voice claiming that something has gone wrong with the administration of benefits. A chorus of churches, charities and Labour has been warning the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, for months that the administration of benefit sanctions has become too punitive” – Guardian

  • Charities attack “anti-competitive” public sector reforms – Financial Times
  • NHS whistleblower threatened with the sack – Daily Mail

>Today: Guy Miscampbell of Policy Exchange: Benefit sanctions: we need a regime both more compassionate and more strict

Gove: schools must instil team spirit

michael-gove“Schools must do more to instil character in pupils by encouraging team sports, cadet forces and drama, the Education Secretary will say today. Michael Gove will say that children must learn life-skills such as how to be ‘creative in the face of adversity’ and how to be ‘quick thinking’ when they are presented with unexpected challenges. In a speech on apprenticeships, Mr Gove will say that employers are looking for young people who are ‘self-disciplined [and] capable of subordinating their own instincts and interests to the needs of the team’” – Daily Telegraph

Huhne: fixed-term Parliaments make coalitions inevitable

“The traditional Labour-Conservative view was that you should not go into coalition if you became the largest party in the Commons without a majority, but should form a minority government instead…This strategy worked for Labour and Harold Wilson in 1966: his 1964 majority of four MPs ballooned to 98…However, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act means that the prime minister can no longer call an election at a time of his choosing. The Wilson strategy is as dead as the dodo” – Chris Huhne, Guardian

Squeezed councils to make rat-control pay

Rat“Households face inflation-busting rises to parking, pest control and waste charges this year as councils struggle to balance their books. Several authorities are planning to introduce fees in new areas, such as rat control, with one even charging parents whose children use care home facilities, an analysis by The Times has found. Parking charges are going up by 10 or 20 per cent in some boroughs and several councils are setting up CCTV in bus lanes for the first time to make it easier to fine motorists who use them” – The Times (£)

>Today: Harry Phibbs: Cotswold District Council cuts Council Tax share by three per cent

News in brief

  • Over 30 dead in knife attack in China – The Times (£)
  • Pistorius murder trial opens in South Africa – Guardian
  • Lord Levy tells Ed Miliband to solicit big private donations – The Times (£)
  • Silk Commission could recommend devolved policing for Wales – WalesOnline
  • Tory MP pro-fracking except in his back yard – The Times (£)
  • Tears and triumph at the Oscars – Daily Mail
  • Parliament to be used as film set for first time, for Suffragette starring Meryl Streep – The Sun (£)