Cameron vows to debate Farage

FARAGE eating“David Cameron is prepared to go head to head with the UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, in a televised debate before the next general election. … The prime minister is willing to take part in three leaders’ debates with his rivals. Under the ‘2-3-5’ proposal drawn up by his aides, Cameron would hold one head-to-head debate with the Labour leader, Ed Miliband — as the other potential prime minister — a second, which would also include the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, and a third with Farage and the Green party leader, Natalie Bennett.” – Sunday Times (£)

  • “Six out of ten people believe Nigel Farage’s anti-EU outfit is packed with extremists. Yet they are still prepared to desert mainstream political parties to support him.” – Sun on Sunday (£)
  • “Ukip: the Asian and ex-Labour voters who could help party break mould” – The Observer
  • “A Muslim Scout leader who has brought together hundreds of young people from different faiths and backgrounds has won an award from the Prime Minister.” – Independent on Sunday

And comment:

  • “Even if people think the party is full of nutters, voting for a Ukip candidate is a way of showing how betrayed they feel by the main parties. That’s a message David Cameron and Ed Miliband have to absorb.” – Sun on Sunday editorial (£)
  • “Ukip will probably be the night’s winner – but in the past, voters have behaved very differently at subsequent General Elections.” – John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday
  • “Feel like a chicken tonight, Nigel? That’s because you are one” – Rod Liddle, Sunday Times (£)
  • “Could a vote for Nigel Farage put Labour into No 10?” – Iain Martin, Sunday Telegraph
  • “Since his return to Conservative campaign headquarters at the end of last year, Crosby has  been far more than just a backroom figure. … He is rapidly becoming the most powerful electoral strategist in recent British political history.” – James Forsyth, Mail on Sunday

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – UKIP is not a racist party but it thrives on pessimism

The Prime Minister also wants the Iraq War report published…

CAMERON China“The former Prime Minister has been accused of trying to delay publication of the Chilcot Inquiry over well-sourced reports that it will  savage his handling of the conflict. … Now Mr Cameron has stepped into the dispute by making it clear Sir John Chilcot’s findings should be made public as soon as possible. … ‘The PM believes there is no excuse for any further lengthy delay in publishing Chilcot,’ said a No 10 aide. … It would be unreasonable to postpone it beyond the next Election.’” – Mail on Sunday

  • “The frontrunner to chair the House of Commons’ influential Defence Select Committee has vowed to ramp up pressure on ministers by frequently hauling them before inquiry hearings to explain their actions.” – Independent on Sunday

…seeks compensation for IRA victims…

“David Cameron has appointed his senior security adviser to lead a new drive for compensation for British victims of IRA terrorism. … Last week, Mr Cameron met informally senior Unionist politicians, including Peter Robinson, the First Minister, over the issue of compensation. According to one MP present, Mr Cameron promised ‘to lead a reinvigorated effort’ in the case.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • “Ireland’s prime minister has indicated Dublin will provide no political support for Sinn Féin in its opposition to Gerry Adams’s arrest over the murder of the IRA victim Jean McConville.” – The Observer
  • “Sinn Féin is in contention to win three of the Irish Republic’s 11 seats in the European parliament, a poll showed on Saturday, before an election the party says the arrest of leader Gerry Adams was timed to disrupt.” – The Observer

And comment:

  • “The police are right to continue their quest for the perpetrators of this particularly gruesome murder.” – Sunday Times editorial (£)
  • “The Troubles’ awful legacy must not be quietly buried” – Sunday Telegraph editorial

> Today: ToryDiary – Is Adams history?

…and joins the battle against Islamism in schools

School“This weekend the prime minister intervened in the row about the alleged Islamist plot to take over schools in the West Midlands, which was first exposed in The Sunday Times. … ‘I am hugely concerned about the allegations … I don’t want to see Islamist entryism into our schools. That is a very worrying development,’ Cameron said. … ‘We will not have extremism, entryism, Islamism in our schools.'” – Sunday Times (£)

  • “Teachers in Bradford are fighting to prevent a takeover of Muslim-majority state schools by a group closely linked to the alleged ‘Trojan Horse’ plotters in Birmingham.” – Sunday Telegraph

And comment:

  • “Foreign jihadis in Syria pledge their own 9/11” – Patrick Cockburn, Independent on Sunday
  • “Where is the anger over Syria?” – Jane Merrick, Independent on Sunday
  • “The world’s media have failed in their response to the kidnap of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls” – Joan Smith, Independent on Sunday
  • “Boko Haram is a vile manifestation, yet the liberal press stays silent, fearful of ‘demonising the other'” – Nick Cohen, The Observer

Tory council questions Gove’s admissions policies

michael-gove“Michael Gove has been warned of a major flaw in the practice of allowing academies to determine their own admission policies in a letter from the prime minister’s local Tory-led county council. … Academies can turn pupils away even when they have surplus capacity, according to Oxfordshire county council. This forces councils to pay to transport children to other schools. It claims the policy potentially puts at risk the option for parents to send their children to a ‘good, local school’ and wants such admission freedoms to be fettered.” – The Observer

  • “Children at one of the Government’s free schools learnt nothing for a whole term, head teachers will be told today.” – Independent on Sunday
  • “Schools could ditch the traditional six week summer holiday amid calls from head teachers to radically overhaul the academic year.” – Sunday Telegraph
  • “A group of leading private schools has warned that the A-level system is still blighted by a ‘shambles’ of incompetent marking, unexplained swings in results and unfair treatment of pupils.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “State school pupils could get bursaries to study subjects such as classics, music and Mandarin at private schools under proposals being drafted for the Labour party.” – Sunday Times (£)

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Gove should broaden the Tories school choice offer

Matthew d’Ancona: Is this recovery built to last, or just a Bullingdon bubble?

“A rather more pressing task for Osborne is to persuade the public that the recovery is for the many, not the few: built to last, rather than a Bullingdon bubble. …  The big question will be: has the economy been repaired in a way that reflects and respects the needs of the whole nation? What today’s voters expect is not pure equality of outcome, or even of opportunity, but something much simpler and harder to deliver: equality of worth.” – Matthew d’Ancona, Sunday Telegraph

  • “Economic recovery means things are moving back to normal – but a very different normal” – Hamish McRae, Independent on Sunday

Boles to detail the Government’s “right to build” scheme

BOLES Nick“Nick Boles, the housing minister, will announce details of the government’s ‘right to build’ scheme at a Grand Designs event in London on Tuesday. … The policy is a riposte to Labour’s calls for rent controls in the private sector and will form the centrepiece of the Tories’ housing policy if they win a second term — but the scheme will be approved anyway before next year’s general election.” – Sunday Times (£)

  • “A study analysing the political beliefs of the 10% of Britons who move home each year has found that ‘movers to safe Conservative seats became more economically rightwing and more likely to vote Conservative after the move’, whatever their political views before. It also found that the longer someone lives in a Conservative constituency, the more likely an individual is to support the Conservatives. However, there is no equivalent effect on those moving to Labour seats and staying there.” – The Observer
  • “Two-thirds of the growing number of self-employed workers are failing to pay anything into a pension policy, leaving themselves at risk of financial insecurity later in life, a report will warn this week.” – The Observer
  • “Almost a third of fathers will not even consider taking the new shared parental leave because paternity pay is too low, research by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) shows.” – Independent on Sunday

Grayling said to be blocking report into sexual assualt in prisons

“Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Justice, is blocking the work of the first ever independent inquiry into the extent of rape and sexual assault in Britain’s prisons, sources have told The Independent on Sunday. … Academics, former prison governors, politicians and health experts were recruited to carry out interviews with serving prisoners. Sources said the work was welcomed by Ken Clarke, the then Justice Secretary, but that relations soured when Mr Grayling took on the role in September 2012.” – Independent on Sunday

  • “A group of leading private schools has warned that the A-level system is still blighted by a ‘shambles’ of incompetent marking, unexplained swings in results and unfair treatment of pupils.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “The Conservatives have scuppered plans for the Liberal Democrats to sign an EU declaration against homophobia.” – Sunday Times (£)

And comment:

  • “Mr Grayling’s short-sighted attitude to prisons is storing up problems for the future.” – Independent on Sunday editorial

Patel denies a conflict of interest over plain packaging

PATEL Priti preferred“A Conservative MP who is leading a rebellion against plans to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes is a former tobacco lobbyist and chairs a parliamentary group whose secretariat is provided by two tobacco industry-funded organisations. … Patel, the MP for Witham, Essex, denied suggestions that her links to big tobacco represented a conflict of interest. ‘The proposed introduction of standardised packaging is a cause for serious concern for independent retailers and small shops,’ she said.” – The Observer

Bercow’s accusers say he wants to Disney-fy the Commons

“John Bercow is planning a worldwide search for a £200,000- a-year Commons chief executive to  help to drive forward his controversial plans to commercialise the  Palace of Westminster. … The move follows last week’s announcement that Clerk of the House, Sir Robert Rogers, is retiring after just two-and-a-half years in the post. … But relations between him and  Mr Bercow had become increasingly strained as the Speaker explored ways to boost Parliament’s revenues, described by critics as the ‘Disneyfication of the Commons’.” – Mail on Sunday

Conservative council candidate quits over tweets

“David Bishop, who was due to stand in this month’s council ­elections, resigned after attacking the religion for a ‘psychopathic level of misogyny’ and saying it was ‘good to be anti-Islam’. … Bishop also retweeted a message which read: ‘How can a gay guy keep a straight face?’” – Mail on Sunday

Probe into the dealings of two disgraced Tories

“A senior Tory MP is to study a dossier of secret emails in an investigation into a £5 billion deal plotted by two disgraced Conservatives on the public payroll. … The inquiry has been ordered by former Tory Minister Henry Bellingham, who is responsible for the Policy Research Unit, which advises Conservative MPs and is funded by their Parliamentary expenses.” – Mail on Sunday

Lib Dems consider offering incentives for doctors to work in poorer areas

NHS“The Liberal Democrats are considering offering GPs financial incentives to practise in impoverished areas that have few doctors’ surgeries. …. Lib Dem Health minister Norman Lamb thinks that reviving and developing a party policy from the last election could be a vote-winner. The ‘patient premium’ would make sure it pays for GPs to work in poor communities.” – Independent on Sunday

  • “GP surgeries are ‘bursting at the seams’ and lack the resources, staff and even the ‘physical space’ required to deliver on ambitious government plans to provide seven-day care and an enhanced service for the over-75s, one of England’s most senior GPs has said.” – Independent on Sunday
  • “The brightest graduates are to be encouraged to train to be mental health social workers amid warnings that councils are unable to cope in the under-resourced sector.” – Independent on Sunday
  • “One of Britain’s top cancer doctors has called for expensive cancer drugs to be rationed for the frail elderly in favour of being given to younger patients.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “The NHS could face its largest tribunal payout, and total costs of up to £20 million, over the suspension and sacking of a whistleblowing doctor.” – Sunday Telegraph

Miliband wants to preside over a nanny state, according to the Mail on Sunday

MILIBAND Red Ed“Leaked documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday show the Labour leader is proposing sweeping new laws to force people to live healthier lives if he wins next year’s General Election. They include banning cheap beer and wine, flying in the face of Mr Miliband’s campaign to cut the cost of living. … The Labour leader believes his policies will be a vote-winner in an increasingly health-conscious nation. But they have sparked a backlash from Labour moderates led by Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna, tipped as Mr Miliband’s successor.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “If he can seriously contemplate this level of interference in our private decisions, has he not revealed himself as the most radically leftist leader in British politics in modern times?” – Mail on Sunday editorial
  • “Chuka Umunna is having a good upturn. As capitalism recovers from its worst crisis since before the war, he has switched smoothly from being a naive anti-market leftie to a Mandeltine-Heselson cheerleader for business.” – John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday
  • “Labour will lay before the British people the boldest, most radical offer in a generation.” – Douglas Alexander and Spencer Livermore, The Observer

He also has doubts about the Pfizer deal

“The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, will warn today that Pfizer’s takeover bid for the British drugs firm Astra Zeneca may not be in the national interest. … As Miliband prepared to step up his party’s attack on the government’s handling of the deal, Lord Davies of Abersoch, a trade minister in the last Labour government, urged the coalition to demand legally binding guarantees from Pfizer to protect UK jobs.” – Sunday Times (£)

  • “Tens of thousands of vulnerable gas and electricity customers could be going without power for up to three months, despite promises from the big six companies that no one will knowingly be cut off. The Labour party argues that an unacceptable ‘disconnection by the back door’ has taken hold because many on prepayment meters are not receiving early help from suppliers.” – The Observer

And comment:

  • “Caution: drugs takeover may hit new treatments and cause asset-stripping” – Camilla Cavendish, Sunday Times (£)

Labour’s rent control plan – just add Unite cash

Unite logo“Union baron Len McCluskey’s Unite gave £3,000 each to 50 Labour MPs days before the party announced his pet idea on rent control. … Labour policy chief Jon Cruddas, deputy leader Harriet Harman and several Shadow Cabinet ministers were among the MPs who registered the flurry of donations during April. … The handouts from Labour’s biggest donor — whose leader has threatened to cut funding if his lefty ideas are rejected — came just before Ed Miliband unveiled meddling plans to cap spiralling rents.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

  • “Ed Miliband and his union paymasters have come up with an idea so potty that, if they get their hands on the keys to No 10, today’s soaring house prices will fade into insignificance.” – Stephen Pollard, Mail on Sunday
  • “If Labour actually believes it will help those it is intended to, however, it is in for a disappointment.” – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times (£)
  • “Labour’s policy ghosts stalk the earth again” – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph

The party’s candidates demand even more state control…

“Ed Miliband has come under pressure to bring the rail network back into national ownership if Labour wins the next election, as more than 30 of his party’s parliamentary candidates call for a bold new policy to improve services and control train fares. … In a joint letter to the Observer, the prospective MPs – many of whom will fight in marginal seats where they say the commuter vote could be crucial – argue that a policy of gradual renationalisation would allow fares to be kept under control and profits to be reinvested in services.” – The Observer

…as its MPs accuses Coalition ministers of pushing money to their own constituencies

“Ministers have been accused of funnelling taxpayers’ money into Conservative and Liberal Democrat constituencies ahead of this month’s local elections, intended to improve access to railway stations. … Labour’s transport spokeswoman, Mary Creagh, said: ‘Cabinet ministers such as Jeremy Hunt, Philip Hammond and William Hague will be delighted at more money for their local stations, while Tory MPs in marginal constituencies will be hoping this investment will save their seats.'” – Independent on Sunday

  • “Ed Miliband and David Cameron are almost neck-and-neck with one year to go until the general election as a clear regional divide opens up between Labour and the Tories” – Sunday Telegraph

Brown’s calculator claim

“Ex-Chancellor Gordon Brown has claimed a £1 calculator on expenses, The Sun on Sunday can reveal. … Mr Brown — who ran our finances for ten years before becoming PM — also billed taxpayers for a 32p ruler and 48p scissors. … Tories pointed out that news of his 2013 expenses comes almost exactly 15 years since he blundered by flogging £2.1 billion of our gold cheaply.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

The Sunday Herald becomes the first Scottish paper to back independence

Sunday Herald“The paper declares its editorial position this weekend with a front page designed by Alasdair Gray, the famous artist, author and advocate of a Yes vote. … In its editorial, the Sunday Herald states: ‘Scotland is an ancient nation and a modern society. We understand the past, as best we can, and guess at the future. But history is as nothing to the lives of the children being born now, this morning, in the cities, towns and villages of this country. … On their behalf, we assert a claim to a better, more decent, more just future in which a country’s governments will be ruled always by the decisions of its citizens.'” – Sunday Herald

  • “He lights a cigarette, and stubs it  out with the nauseous thought that Salmond will be drinking champagne. Sir Jeremy suavely states the obvious: ‘I’m afraid we’re in uncharted territory, Prime Minister.’ … Samantha, still in the fetching tartan wrap she wore for the cameras yesterday, gives her husband a hug of consolation and a bacon sandwich. ‘Eat something,’ she says, softly. ‘Look on the bright side, at least you’ll get to see more of the children.’” – Allan Massie, Mail on Sunday
  • “Wouldn’t Scotland and England be better off as best friends but separate countries?” – Louise Mensch, Sun on Sunday (£)

News in brief

  • Terrorists with links to Al-Qaeda questioned over the disappearance of MH370 – Mail on Sunday
  • Thomas Piketty, economist of the moment, accused of domestic violence – Mail on Sunday
  • Asda recruits panel of mothers to make pre-election demands – Sun on Sunday (£)
  • Two days of fighting in Ukraine, as the country moves towards civil war – The Observer

And finally 1) Obama’s stand-up routine

“The President used his traditional speech to tease TV networks for their negative coverage, saying: ‘MSNBC is here. They’re overwhelmed. They’ve never seen an audience this big before’. … Highlighting how an American had won the Boston Marathon for the first time in 31 years, he said: ‘It was only fair, and inspiring as a Kenyan has been president for the past six years’.” – Mail on Sunday

And finally 2) Boris, stage star

borisfringe“He bumbles, he harrumphs and he has ambitions to run the country. A new play set in the near future will tell the story of a familiar-looking London mayor who makes a determined leadership bid. … Kingmaker, which will star acclaimed stage actor Alan Cox, is inspired by the career of Boris Johnson and is the latest in a line of speculative political plays based on real figures.” – The Observer

  • “Most cars could be driven off London’s roads by a series of increases to the congestion charge.” – Sunday Times (£)

And finally 3) Crystal balls-up

A Government unit which was set up to predict the future has been savaged — for foreseeing nothing in almost a year. … Dubbed the Crystal Ball Unit by critics, the ‘horizon scanning programme’ was launched last July. … But a damning report by the Commons Science and Technology Committee — chaired by Labour MP Andrew Miller — blasted the unit for ‘substantial weaknesses’.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

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