Cameron hails the Government’s efforts to help troubled families

CAMERON PPB Jobs“Almost troubled families have had their lives turned around, David Cameron will announce today. … Tiny tearaways have been sent back to school, parents are back in work and antisocial behaviour is down in the most difficult households. … It comes two years after the PM ordered hit squads to transform the lives of 120,000 failing mums and dads.” – The Sun (£)

  • “The scheme is now in danger of missing David Cameron’s target of helping 120,000 families by 2015.” – The Guardian

May unveils stop-and-search reforms

“More than 250,000 stop-and-searches conducted last year could have been illegal, Theresa May has warned, as she set out plans to overhaul the heavily criticised police practice. … But the Home Secretary backed off from fresh laws in next month’s Queen’s Speech to stamp out abuse of the power following a row with Downing Street over the need for legislation.” – The Independent

  • “The secrecy surrounding animal research is to be swept away with the public gaining the right to demand details of experiments conducted by scientists, the Home Office will announce today.” – The Independent
  • “Airline passengers faced disruption on Wednesday night after an IT glitch resulted in extended queues at immigration desks.” – The Guardian

The police are failing to record one-in-five crimes

Police shield“One in five crimes goes unrecorded because of  failures by police. … Up to 740,000 victims of  violence, burglary and other offences are being denied justice, a report revealed yesterday. … One rape was not logged because the officer thought it would be too much work. An attack on a boy with autism was written off as ‘sexual experimentation’.” – Daily Mail

  • “Prisoners approaching the end of their sentences are being offered HGV lessons to stop them reoffending once freed.” – Daily Mail
  • “The detective who headed the Jimmy Savile inquiry is to investigate claims that up to 18 paedophile teachers may have abused dozens of young boys over several decades at a top public school.” – Daily Mail

Osborne is angling to be Foreign Secretary, reports James Forsyth…

OSBORNE SWORD“I understand that George Osborne is lining himself up to take on this challenge, to become Foreign Secretary. One of those familiar with his thinking on the matter says, by way of explanation, ‘George likes to be where the action is’. … It is hard to imagine Osborne not wanting to be central to the policy that would determine the success or otherwise of a second Conservative term. As Chancellor, he is already involved in EU policy. But moving to King Charles Street would enable him to devote all of his considerable political energies to the matter.” – James Forsyth, The Spectator

  • “Boris Johnson is no born leader – but London turned him into one” – Ben Rogers, Financial Times
  • “The pro-EU camp is in crisis because no one in Westminster dares to argue for immigration” – Rafael Behr, New Statesman

…although his aides deny it

“George Osborne’s aides denied last night that he wants to become foreign secretary in the event of a Conservative election victory next year. … The claim, in The Spectator, was dismissed as ‘ludicrous’ by one of Mr Osborne’s senior aides, but is regarded as plausible by some Tory MPs.” – The Times (£)

The Chancellor already has a struggle with Europe on his hands

EU FLag“George Osborne’s bid to shield the City of London from EU rules has suffered its second blow this year, after a court threw out a UK suit against eurozone plans for a tax on financial transactions. … The defeat at the European Court of Justice, largely on procedural grounds, leaves the door open to a future legal challenge, should the 11 euro-area countries agree on a levy that Britain sees as illegally interfering with London trading.” – Financial Times

  • “Higher rate taxpayers will shoulder the burden of two thirds of Britain’s entire tax bill by the next election even though they represent just 16 per cent of the population, according to official figures.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “A City boom will bring gloom for exporters” – Ed Conway, The Times (£)

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – The economy may be growing, but it still isn’t nearly fixed

More questions about the Royal Mail sale

CABLE Vince Royal Mail sell-off“A city firm that was paid £1.5million to advise the Government on the sale of Royal Mail also made a fortune for its clients from selling shares in the postal giant, it emerged yesterday. … During a heated grilling by MPs, Lazard insisted that the two arms of the company were ring-fenced. But MPs said its involvement in both aspects of the sale  was ‘inappropriate’. … Yesterday Labour leader Ed Miliband accused David Cameron of ‘ripping off the taxpayer’ after the Government ‘grossly under-valued’ the postal giant.” – Daily Mail

  • “Serco, the outsourcing company that runs prisons and air traffic control towers, is to ask shareholders to pump in £170m in emergency funds in a share placing representing about 10 per cent of the business.” – Financial Times
  • “Richard Desmond is set to sell UK broadcaster Channel 5 for £450m to US group Viacom” – Financial Times
  • “Over-50s’ group Saga is ready for a mass scramble to buy shares in its stock market float, after one in three of its customers said they want to invest.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “Why did Mr Cable trust these cash-hungry corporations?” – Independent editorial

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Hand-wringing about AstraZeneca is baseless – this is a victory for low tax Britain

1.4 million people are on zero-hours contracts

“The number of workers on zero-hours contracts has almost tripled to 1.4 million since last year’s estimate, according to official data on Wednesday that piled pressure on Vince Cable, the business secretary, to provide more safeguards for workers with no guaranteed minimum hours or pay. … More than one in 10 employers are using such contracts, which are most likely to be offered to women, young people and people over 65.” – The Guardian

  • “It will no longer do to dismiss zero-hours working as something affecting a tiny proportion” – Guardian editorial

> Yesterday: Charlie Ephicke MP on Comment – Labour did nothing on zero-hours contracts – but we should

Ministers prepare to tackle problem gambling…

UK notes and coins“Gamblers who want to place bets of more than £50 on controversial fixed-odds machines will have to do so over the counter. … Ministers want to force punters to interact with staff when placing large bets on the highly-addictive electronic devices – on which they can lose £100 every 20 seconds. … Under a range of options to offer gamblers ‘better protection’, the Government will also force the betting industry to warn players about the amount they are spending.” – Daily Mail

…and to cut solar farm subsidies

“The government is preparing to cut subsidies for solar farms, under plans to curb the rapid spread of the technology across the countryside. … Whitehall sources said a review of subsidy levels under the Renewables Obligation scheme would be announced within weeks and would likely propose cutting subsidies for ground-mounted solar farms while increasing those for solar panels on commercial rooftops.” – Daily Telegraph

A British spaceport could be operating within five years, says Willetts

“David Willetts announced yesterday that a group of space, defence, business and transport experts has been formed to find a suitable base for the launch site. … The spaceport could be operational as early as 2019 to take advantage of a new era in space tourism, with Mr Willetts saying he hoped Virgin Galactic would take off from the new site.” – Daily Telegraph

Around 40 Conservative MPs could rebel over plain packaging

PATEL Priti preferred“Dozens of Tory MPs are threatening to defy David Cameron by voting against plans for plain cigarette packets. … Priti Patel, a member of the Prime Minister’s own policy advisory board, is leading the charge – warning it will be the ‘final nail in the coffin’ of hundreds of newsagents. … Rebels say around 40 Conservative backbenchers may vote against what they regard as a nanny state measure.” – Daily Mail

Lamb moots using hidden cameras to stop abuse in care homes

“Staff in a scandal-hit care home called elderly people by their room numbers instead of using their names, it was revealed yesterday. … Care Minister Norman Lamb even suggested last night that spy cameras could have a role in putting an end to abuse in care homes. The Lib Dem minister told BBC Radio 5 Live the permanent use of such cameras was among ‘weapons the CQC should consider’.” – Daily Mail

  • “I wouldn’t send my granny to a home that relied on CCTV” – Ross Clark, The Times (£)

Webb defends the Government’s pension reforms

“Mr Webb, who has previously said people could use their savings to buy a Lamborghini if they wanted to, told the committee pensioners would not be left impoverished. … ‘There will be fall back in the form of the state pension, so they won’t be destitute,’ Mr Webb told the Department of Work and Pensions select committee.” – Financial Times

Labour policy 1) The party would bring back rent controls

MILIBAND Red Ed“In a dramatic intervention in the free market, the Labour leader will vow to cap rent rises in the private sector and force landlords to offer long-term tenancies. … Mr Miliband will claim new laws are essential to help millions trapped in ‘generation rent’ who are at risk of being ripped off by grasping landlords. … But the move raises the spectre of previous attempts to control private rents, which have led to housing shortages and a decline in the standard of rented property.” – Daily Mail

  • “Half of all 30-year-olds could be living with their parents in 2040 as average house prices soar towards £1 million.” – The Sun (£)

And comment:

  • “Ed Miliband has dug up another decades-old corpse from the grave of failed socialist policies.” – Sun editorial (£)

> Yesterday: LeftWatch – “Exactly how brilliant are we?”, Labour asks the electorate

Labour policy 2) No u-turn on an EU referendum

“Ed Miliband won’t U-turn on his decision to rule out an EU referendum even if Labour are beaten by Ukip in next month’s Euro elections, The Sun has learned. … The Labour leader has said that if he becomes PM, he’ll only hold an in-out referendum if more powers are transferred from Westminster to Brussels.” – The Sun (£)

Labour policy 3) More bureaucrats in the schools system

“Ministers accused Labour of attempting to bring back tiers of bureaucracy after the party unveiled plans for dozens of new local directors overseeing heads and governors. … Schools would also face an admissions crackdown to stop middle-class pupils dominating places at sought-after schools.” – Daily Mail

  • “Oxford is the second worst university for social mobility, a new league table claims.” – Daily Mail

Creasy: Women must cheer each other on

CREASY Stella“Women need to ‘grab some pompoms and start cheering’ for their ‘sisters’ if they want to do more to create an equal society, according to an article by an influential Labour MP published to on Thursday. … Stella Creasy, the shadow minister for business, argues that the scarcity of women in top jobs is not just to do with sexism but women holding themselves back and lacking confidence.” – The Guardian

“Once a woman accepts, she accepts.” The latest UKIP controversy…

“A major Ukip donor claimed yesterday that a husband can never rape his wife, insisting: ‘Once a woman accepts, she accepts.’ … Demetri Marchessini, a retired Greek business tycoon, also said black slaves had a ‘much better life’ than they would have had in Africa, gays are incapable of fidelity and women should be banned by law from wearing trousers.” – Daily Mail

  • “One of Ukip’s most senior MEPs has claimed homosexuality is ‘abnormal and undesirable’ – and should not be ‘celebrated’. … Roger Helmer, 70, also said being gay is ‘not a valid lifestyle worthy of equal respect’.” – The Sun (£)
  • “Ukip opponents are returning flyers using an address they claim is Freepost, while others have chosen to send heavy items, including bricks, in an attempt to rack up a huge postal bill for the party.” – The Independent
  • “Ukip will select a candidate for the Newark by-election within days amid hopes that it can deliver its first MP.” – The Times (£)
  • “One third of Britons believe that Ukip is a racist party, according to a new poll.” – The Independent

…but the party could still snare one-third of the vote on 22nd May

Farage Nigel Eating Cakes“The latest polling claims Nigel Farage’s self-styled party of the people may even claim 30 per cent of the vote on May 22 — thumping the mainstream. … Ukip’s success is largely down to voters wanting to register their fury with a protest vote next month. … But Labour and Tory MPs feel the blunders are damaging Ukip’s support. … One Tory MP yesterday said: ‘More people I’m talking to are beginning to realise Ukip are just a bit potty.'” – The Sun (£)

  • “…if patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, shouting ‘bigot’ has too often become the first resort of modern-day liberals when they are challenged by people they don’t understand.” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)
  • “You should have taken risk, Nige” – Rod Liddle, The Sun (£)
  • “Nigel Farage has bottled his by-election chance, and Ukip is over” – John Rentoul, The Independent
  • “Newark has flushed out the real meaning of Nigel Farage” – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • “Ukip isn’t a national party. It’s a Tory sickness” – Matthew Parris, The Spectator
  • “If Ukip aren’t racist, how come so many racists seem to like them?” – Hugo Rifkind, The Spectator
  • “Nigel Farage’s reluctance to contest the safe Tory seat of Newark is an acceptance of Ukip’s limited support” – Daily Telegraph editorial

> Today: Brian Monteith’s column – UKIP’s poll performance in Scotland is encouraging for unionists

> Yesterday:

Gerry Adams arrested over 1972 murder

Gerry Adams“The 65-year-old, who for decades has dodged difficult questions about his alleged terrorist past, was detained overnight by detectives investigating the murder of Jean McConville – abducted and killed by the Provisional IRA in 1972 and later buried on a beach in the Republic of Ireland. … She is one of Northern Ireland’s Disappeared – those who were abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republicans during the Troubles.” – Daily Mail

Sir Robert Rogers quits the Commons

“Westminster’s whiskered fixer has quit. MPs were yesterday given the sorry news that Sir Robert Rogers, Clerk of the Commons, is to ‘surrender his warrant to Her Majesty the Queen’. … When his departure was announced yesterday, he was rewarded with a prolonged burst of applause – of thanks for his long service but also surely of sympathy for having had to work so closely with the ghastly Speaker Bercow.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

Paxman quits Newsnight

“Jeremy Paxman has announced he is quitting the flagship current affairs show Newsnight saying he wants to ‘go to bed at much the same time as most people’. … In a statement, he said: ‘I have decided it is time to move on from Newsnight. After 25 years, I should rather like to go to bed at much the same time as most people.” – Daily Mail

  • “So long, Paxo – and thanks for all the stuffings you gave our lying leaders” – Daily Mail

GPs warn of “meltdown”

NHS“Hundreds of thousands of patients face losing their family doctor in a ‘catastrophic meltdown’ caused by funding reforms, GPs’ leaders claim. … Almost 100 practices around the country could go to the wall within months because of arcane changes to the way money is allocated, the Royal College of GPs says, as it calls for an emergency bailout.” – The Times (£)

  • “It is just a matter of time before the NHS runs out of money, the King’s Fund has warned in a new report.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “More children die from poor families — and the UK has the worst toll in western Europe, doctors revealed today. … A report complied with the National Children’s Bureau says 3,000 babies died before the age of one and 2,000 aged one to 19 died during 2012.” – The Sun (£)

And comment:

  • “Government and doctors are both to blame for the GPs’ funding crisis” – Times editorial (£)
  • “People power drives the fight to cure cancer” – Maurice Saatchi, Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Peaches Geldof died of a heroin overdose – Daily Mail
  • Morrisons could triggers a big supermarket price war – Daily Mail
  • Clarkson accused of using the n-word on camera – Daily Mirror
  • Toronto mayor, Rob Ford, takes leave to deal with drug problem – The Guardian
  • UK roadworks run for almost 3,000 miles – The Guardian
  • Government papers shed new light on the sinking of the Lusitania – Financial Times
  • Bob Hoskins dies, aged 71 – Financial Times

And finally 1) Why Beyoncé is a conservative icon, by Fraser Nelson

Beyonce“She is, without doubt, an advocate of female empowerment — but she defines marriage as the fulfilment of that empowerment. The critics who complained about her raunchy dance routine with the rapper Jay-Z at the Grammy awards missed a rather important point: the two are married. She is evangelistic about marriage’s virtues.” – Fraser Nelson, The Spectator

And finally 2) No-selfie zone

“Voters will be banned from taking selfies in polling booths — and could be jailed for flouting the rule. … Watchdogs launched the clampdown ahead of this month’s Euro elections — sparking calls for a change of heart.” – The Sun (£)

  • “The ‘integrity of the ballot box’ is under threat because councils are allowing interpreters in polling stations, a minister has said.” – Daily Telegraph

And finally 3) Bumbled lines

reagan“Ronald Reagan could acquire the image of a ‘bumbler’ or a ‘bozo’, British diplomats in Washington warned as they reported back to London on the US president who developed a close relationship with Margaret Thatcher, hitherto-secret files released on Thursday show.” – The Guardian

  • “The Foreign Office showed a disdainful misjudgment of Ronald Reagan” – Times editorial (£)

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