Wollaston hits back at “blog bullies”

Sarah Wollaston“A prominent Tory backbencher has hit out at “aggressive male bloggers” who, she claims, target female MPs. Sarah Wollaston said that certain parts of the political blogosphere were “quite aggressive in their approach towards women”, particularly when discussing sexual violence or gender. “If you stick your head above the parapet you can expect some quarters of the aggressive blogging community to go for you,” she said.” – The Times(£)

  • “On the web, because there is little or no face-to-face accountability, anonymous individuals are often completely uncivilised. Some blog editors make no attempt to moderate the conversations that they host. Too often comment threads resemble argumentative sewers. One of the explanations for the worst examples of internet-based debate is said to be the dominance of men. Few of Britain’s main political bloggers are women. As traditional male only clubs close all over the country, the bloggers’ club remains unattractive to women, if not formally closed to them. Sarah Wollaston, the Tory MP, uses an interview with today’s Times to accuse some of the nation’s most prominent male bloggers of being unnecessarily “aggressive”. ” – Leader The Times(£)

> Today: ToryDiary: Political bloggers exercise equal opportunities in attacking people

> Yesterday: Columnist Iain Dale: Sarah Wollaston wants to know what others would have done about Nigel Evans. Here’s my answer

Penning calls for a curb on health and safety jobsworths

PENNING Mike ruins“A government minister has written to schools and local authorities in England urging a more common sense approach to health and safety. Work and pensions minister Mike Penning described those who misuse the legislation as “jobsworths”. He said he wants to avoid situations like a ban on school pupils wearing frilly socks after one girl fell over. Nearly 300 people have contacted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to challenge recent decisions.” – BBC

  • “Recent cases included a school in Hampshire not allowing a pupil to bring in a chick for a presentation due to concerns about bird flu, and a ban on Help for Heroes wristbands.” – The Times(£)

Labour’s new election guru backed higher energy bills…

axelrod“Ed Miliband has hired a  controversial American election guru on a six-figure salary to help him campaign on the cost of living and his vow to freeze energy prices. David Axelrod – who helped to mastermind Barack Obama’s two presidential election wins – is notorious in the US for a highly-criticised campaign to raise electricity bills. It is an embarrassing link for the Labour leader who has made a 20-month freeze on fuel prices a key promise ahead of next year’s election.” – Daily Mail

  • “The lobbyist’s energy campaign on behalf of the US firm ComEd ran television commercials warning of a “California-style energy crisis” if higher prices were not permitted in the state of Illinois was not approved. It failed to disclose that the group was being funded by the energy company itself. When the truth emerged, the 2006 campaign was described as “corporate money trying to hoodwink the public”.” – The Times(£)

…but Montgomerie warns the bash-the rich message could work

“If bashing the rich can deliver half the voters in the land of the free it might easily deliver 36 per cent of the British electorate where large numbers of voters want more taxes on high earners — even if those taxes lead to less revenue for the exchequer. And, lest we forget, 36 per cent is all that Labour needs to become the largest party. Mr Axelrod — who has actually been advising Mr Miliband for more than a year and helped with the cost-of-living offensive — is thought to dislike the “one nation Labour” theme. It has the same doorstep impact as Mr Cameron’s Big Society message. Expect it to be relegated.” – Tim Montgomerie The Times(£)

  • Axelrod can get Miliband elected – John McTernan Daily Telegraph
  • Labour’s cost of living campaign a diversion from their lack of economic credibility – Andrew Grice The Independent

Birmingham schools “isolate non-Muslims”…

Church shield“Schools in Birmingham are illegally segregating pupils, discriminating against non-Muslim students and restricting the GCSE syllabus to “comply with conservative Islamic teaching”, an official report leaked to The Telegraph discloses. Department for Education inspectors said that girls in a school at the centre of the so-called “Trojan Horse” plot were forced to sit at the back of the class, some Christian pupils were left to “teach themselves” and an extremist preacher was invited to speak to children.” – Daily Telegraph

….as Hunt joins calls to stop religious extremism in schools

“Tristram Hunt, Labour’s shadow education secretary, is to warn against religious extremism in schools. In a speech to the NASUWT teachers’ union, Mr Hunt will say schools should not have “gender-based segregation” and that teachers must not be “undermined”. Mr Hunt will welcome Birmingham council’s investigation into the “so-called Trojan Horse conspiracy”.” – BBC

  • “All Islamist schools of thought are hostile to democratic processes, many explicitly so. They strive to create a global society in thrall to their version of Islamic law. As we learnt when Islamists educated in British comprehensive schools blew themselves up and killed 52 – mainly their fellow citizens – in July 2005, some use violence to try to bring this about.” – Charles Moore Daily Telegraph

Davis says selling HMRC data would be “borderline insane”

David Davis“The Tory MP David Davis, a former minister and shadow home secretary, described the proposal as “borderline insane”, adding: “The Treasury lists no credible benefits and offers a justification based on an international agreement that does not lead other governments to open up their tax database,” he said. “The officials who drew this up clearly have no idea of the risks to data in an electronic age. Our forefathers put these checks and balances in place when the information was kept in cardboard files, and data was therefore difficult to appropriate and misuse.” – The Guardian

Welby’s anguish over gay marriage

telegraphwelby“The Archbishop of Canterbury has suggested he is powerless to provide blessings for gay marriages because to do so would split the global Anglican Church. In an interview with The Telegraph, the Most Rev Justin Welby says that the Church had probably caused “great harm” to homosexuals in the past — but there was not always a “huge amount” that could be done now to rectify the situation.”- Daily Telegraph

  • “Homosexuality and the consecration of women as bishops (not in themselves central teachings of Christianity) have hypnotised Church leaders and frustrated many lay people. The Archbishop’s imperative is to convince Christians with deeply opposed views that they form part of the same body….For all that, there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. Holy Saturday, the body of Christ lies in the tomb. God is dead. But if love ended in the death of Jesus, his Resurrection, which Easter re-enacts, is the triumph of hope.” – Leader Daily Telegraph

Unite plans to swallow PCS

“Britain’s biggest trade union is poised to swallow 270,000 public sector workers as it begins formal merger talks with a rival. Unite rulers have given general secretary “Red” Len McCluskey the go-ahead to open negotiations about a deal with PCS – the Public and Commercial Services Union. A memo seen by the Sun reveals a deal could be struck by January next year. Tories yesterday warned a merger would create a “Godzilla” super union threatening jobs across the country.” – The Sun(£)

Carey: Marriage is still penalised

“Some economists estimate the couples’ penalty — which is the amount they lose each year in tax credits when they start to live together — can reach as much as £7,100 a year. It is a scandal, and a great injury to children, that parents are penalised for living together. Furthermore, an estimated 240,000 couples with children are pretending to live apart to get better benefits, according to a report by the Marriage Foundation.” – Lord Carey Daily Mail

Parris: I want to die aged 83

parris“I’ve decided to write myself a letter to be opened at the age of 75 and thereafter revisited annually. It sets out my criteria for carrying on. These are the criteria for me alone and I don’t apply them to others, who must frame their own…It’s a beautiful Derbyshire day outside as I write. Life is sweet. The moment it turns permanently sour I should be doing neither myself nor my fellow men any service by remaining. I don’t know how Professor Webb would feel about this, but Satan and the Chancellor would surely approve.” – Matthew Parris The Times(£)

News in brief

  • British Gas “paid bonuses to staff who inflated customers bills” – Daily Mail
  • Cable’s crackdown on “rogue directors” – BBC
  • Paul Sykes still backing Farage – The Times(£)
  •  Scottish independence would hot cross border workers – The Guardian
  • NUT plan more strikes – The Times(£)
  • EU threat to filter coffee – The Sun(£)
  • CBI backs No vote on Scottish independence – The Guardian

And finally…Was the jellyfish attack on Cameron revenge?

“Andrew Roberts, the historian, had been holidaying with Cameron in the south of France when a school of vicious jellyfish had attacked him as he swam. Hearing him “yelping and squealing,” Cameron selflessly plunged in, got some goggles on to his distressed friend, and, flicking away the jellyfish, helped him to safety.” – Daily Telegraph