Grayling promises tougher rules after Skull Cracker’s escape

untitled“Violent criminals will lose their right to automatic early release from prison under plans being drawn up by the Conservatives in the wake of the Skull Cracker case. The Telegraph has learnt that the Conservative Party manifesto for the general election next year will promise to reform rules that mean violent and sexual offenders are eligible for release halfway through their sentences. Instead of becoming eligible to be freed automatically, offenders would have to earn the right to be considered for release by building a record of good behaviour and participation in rehabilitation activities.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Kent Police said they had detained two men, aged 55 and 53, on suspicion of conspiracy to commit armed robbery. The force added: “The 55-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of being unlawfully at large.” – BBC
  • Honesty in sentencing policy is long overdue – Leader Daily Telegraph

Cameron “won’t resign” if Scotland’s votes for independence

“David Cameron has insisted he will not resign if Scotland votes for independence despite warnings from senior Tories that a ‘yes’ vote will plunge his premiership into unprecedented crisis. The Prime Minister has told friends he has ‘no intention’ of quitting if the Scots vote for independence in the referendum he agreed with Alex Salmond.” – Daily Mail

PM “wants more” from Pfizer

CABLE Dr Evil“David Cameron has called on US drugs giant Pfizer to ramp up its commitment to Britain before bidding again for rival UK firm AstraZeneca. The Prime Minister said he was ‘not satisfied’ with the American company’s promises to safeguard British jobs. He told MPs: ‘I want more.’ Mr Cameron said he agreed with Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable who refused to rule out intervening to block a formal bid.” – Daily Mail

  • “Labour is planning to force a Commons vote, probably next Wednesday, the last day of the current session, according to senior party figures. Under City rules, Dr Cable has, in theory, until May 24 before he must say a formal assessment should be held. A Whitehall source said that the business secretary would not be rushed into a decision, but conceded that the prospect of a Labour vote would “concentrate minds”.” – The Times(£)
  • An open letter to protectionists of all parties – Allister Heath City AM

UKIP is not racist says Farage

“The UK Independence Party “is not racist”, leader Nigel Farage has told activists in central London. Mr Farage said a “handful” of its thousands of candidates had said “stupid or offensive” things, but “they never have, and they never will”, represent the views of the party. He was speaking at an event designed to highlight UKIP’s female, black and ethnic-minority candidates.” – BBC

  • “At a rally in central London on Wednesday, the Ukip leader appeared on a platform alongside a number of the party’s black and ethnic minority candidates – including former boxer Winston McKenzie – to reject accusations that it has become a home for racists. “Let this be Ukip’s Clause IV moment,” he told cheering supporters, in a reference to Tony Blair’s famous announcement that he was scrapping Labour’s commitment to nationalisation.” – The Guardian
  • UKIP hiring EU migrants to deliver leaflets – Daily Mail
  • UKIP vote “more solid” for 2015 General Election – BBC
  • Roger Helmer cheered in Newark – The Guardian

> Yesterday: MPsEtc: Does Roger Helmer matter?


Cameron to raise mango ban with Indian PM

mango“UK Prime Minister David Cameron says he is “looking forward” to discussing the EU ban on Indian mango imports with the country’s new prime minister. Mr Cameron said the ban was a “serious issue”, there were concerns about possible cross-contamination and “we must make sure that that is got right”. But he told MPs he understood the strength of feeling on the matter.” – BBC

  • “Indians are feasting on some of the world’s most succulent mangoes after the European Union banned imports of the fruit, producing a glut and rock-bottom prices for local consumers. The EU has banned imports of Indian mangoes, including the Alphonso, considered the king of all the varieties grown in South Asia, because a large number of shipments were contaminated with fruit flies. The pests are considered a threat to crops grown in Europe. “Those jittery Europeans have taken fright at some fruit flies in our mango exports, flies which they fear will wreak havoc on their tomatoes and cucumbers,” the Times of India said. “Imagine sacrificing the king of fruits for salad!” – Yorkshire Post

Labour wage class war with election broadcast…

FIST Red“The Labour leader was accused of reverting to class war with the release of a party political broadcast depicting the Conservatives as bullying, out-of-touch toffs who have reduced Nick Clegg to a cowering figure. The campaign film, a parody of a 1950s B-movie, features actors playing Coalition ministers with caricature posh voices. However it was quickly criticised as ‘childish’ after its release online last night.” – Daily Mail

  • “Labour has been accused of engaging in “class war” after using an election broadcast to paint the Tories as yacht-obsessed buffoons who have never heard of the NHS.” – The Times(£)
  • “Labour’s puerile comedy video attacking the Cabinet of “evil toffs” is entertaining stuff if you’re 18 and already committed to fashionable loathing of the Tories. Indeed, it appears to have been made by just such folk. To everyone else it unwittingly advertises that Ed Miliband has nothing to offer Britain but playground insults and class hatred.” – The Sun Says(£)
  • Proof that Labour has gone insane – Dan Hodges Daily Telegraph

…as southern Labour candidates revolt at Left-wing drift

“Ed Miliband is facing a revolt from southern Labour candidates who believe his Left-wing agenda will cost them next year’s election, The Sun can reveal. Prospective MPs standing in key target seats say the party must stop talking about things like the so-called Bedroom Tax if they are to appeal to swing voters. They aired their views directly to Mr Miliband during a tense meeting a few weeks ago. Outside London, Labour have just 10 MPs in the South of England – compared to more than 50 when Tony Blair swept to power in 1997.” – The Sun(£)

Clegg pledges to veto automatic jail for knife possession

Nick Clegg portrait“The deputy prime minister says he will not allow the government to support “headline-grabbing solutions” in the aftermath of the murder of the Leeds schoolteacher Ann Maguire. Writing in the Guardian, Clegg argues that such draconian measures could “turn the young offenders of today into the hardened criminals of tomorrow”.” – The Guardian

  • “Imagine a vulnerable young girl hanging round with members of a gang. She could be forced into carrying a knife by another gang member; it happens a lot. When stopped by the police, she doesn’t mention that she was forced to carry the knife, fearing retribution from the gang. Putting someone like that into prison could push them into the arms of hardened criminals, and let the gang leaders off the hook. Instead of prison, we need to divert vulnerable people away from gang culture.” – Nick Clegg The Guardian

Cable backs Green Belt development

“Local councils are ‘absolutely right’ to allow house building on the Green Belt in areas of high demand, Vince Cable said last night. The Business Secretary said Britain’s housing crisis meant that building on Green Belt land should be ‘encouraged’ provided it is done in a ‘proper way’. Mr Cable backed local authorities like Cambridge City Council, which has sparked local anger by pushing through plans to allow 430 new homes on the city’s precious Green Belt as part of a wider expansion of the city.” – Daily Mail

Former Chancellors warn of housing bubble

Nigel_Lawson_006“Three former chancellors of the exchequer have urged George Osborne to rethink his Help to Buy programme, with the OECD also calling on the government to scale back the mortgage support scheme.Lord Lawson, Lord Lamont and Alistair Darling – all predecessors of Mr Osborne at the Treasury – said the second phase of the scheme, which guarantees very high loan-to-value mortgages, has the potential to inflate a future housing bubble.” – Financial Times(£)

British special forces join hunt for kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls

“British special forces have joined a growing international effort to locate and rescue hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamist militants in Nigeria. SAS liaison officers, based in the capital Abuja, have switched their focus to evaluating Britain’s capacity to help the rescue, which has been dogged by claims of delays and incompetence. They will be joined within days by a team of Whitehall experts that is being sent in direct response to the hostage crisis. .. David Cameron spoke by telephone yesterday to Goodluck Jonathan, the president of Nigeria, and condemned the kidnapping of more than 250 female students in the remote northeast of the country three weeks ago as “an act of pure evil”.” – The Times(£)

Co-op bosses “don’t know the difference between debit and credit

coop“The Co-op’s dramatic decline is ‘one of the great national business calamities’ but its leaders are still in denial, a damning report into its failings warned today. Former Labour City minister Lord Myners said half of the group’s net worth, built up over 150 years, has been wiped out in just four disastrous years. Unveiling his plans to rescue the Co-op, he said it could yet be saved but he was not confident that bosses will take the action needed, claiming some on the board do not know the difference between credit and debit.” – Daily Mail

Britain will have no say in new EU Commission chief

“The frontrunner for the EU’s top job has told the Guardian that David Cameron will have to yield to the rest of Europe’s choice on his selection – even though no one in Britain will have voted in the European parliamentary election for the bloc he leads. Under a new system, the leading bloc in the election will be able to propose a candidate to head the European Commission.” – The Guardian

Lords committee warns of red tape delaying shale revolution

Shale Gas“The report expresses deep concern that since 2012 the Environment Agency has not received a single permit application to undertake fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, where chemicals are used to break up shale rock and release gas. The EAC believes shale explorers such as Cuadrilla Resources, led by former BP boss Lord Browne, are being stymied by confusing and time-consuming regulations.” – The Guardian

  • “The peers back moves to change trespass laws so that shale companies could drill under people’s property without their permission. The committee concludes that the environmental risks of fracking are small. The report says: “The only significant risk posed to groundwater by hydraulic fracturing is of methane or wastewater entering aquifers as a result of a poorly constructed or sealed well.” They say that the best way to convince the public that fracking is safe and necessary is to deliver “a successful working example”.” – The Times(£)

IRA fugitives suspected of 300 murders

AUTOAHfrt_1_gdn_140508_01_s_“Almost 100 IRA fugitives who were given “letters of comfort” from Tony Blair’s government stating they were no longer wanted for past crimes are suspects in nearly 300 murder cases, a senior police commander admitted on Wednesday. Drew Harris, assistant chief constable of the PSNI, initially told MPs each of the IRA “on the runs” included notorious individuals who were linked to 200 murder investigations – immediately angering unionists already unhappy with the so-called “get-out-of-jail” scheme.” – The Guardian

  • “In five cases, police believe there could be enough evidence to bring charges. Officers are also closely examining the remainder to see if they can be pursued. However, it is possible that some may escape justice because they had received so-called comfort letters.” – Daily Telegraph

Tories have still not selected a candidate in Edgbaston

“If you were a Conservative strategist looking down a list of marginal seats to target at the next election, it should be hard to ignore Birmingham Edgbaston. Labour’s Gisela Stuart has a majority of just 1,274 in one of the most affluent areas of the city, where the unemployment rate is lower than the city’s average… and falling….But so far the Conservatives have yet to select a candidate for Edgbaston, are not putting resources into the seat and are concentrating their energies on a far less likely target a few miles away.” – The Independent

> Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment: With only one year to go here’s what the parties need to do

Oborne: The Tories must defend the BBC

oborne“Again and again, Patten devoted his efforts to putting the best possible gloss on the incompetence, greed and moral corruption of the most senior management. This did not help the BBC; instead, it gave enormous encouragement to its enemies. These range from tycoons such as Rupert Murdoch to Right-wingers who believe that the BBC ought to be sold off, in whole or in part, to the private sector. There is an urgent Conservative defence to be made of the BBC, and it starts with the essential but often forgotten distinction between conservatism and the free market.” – Peter Oborne Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: ToryDiary: How should Patten’s successor at the BBC be chosen?

News in brief

  • Abu Hamza “worked for MI5” – Daily Telegraph
  • Rules tightened to stop Lee Rigby’s name being used on ballot paper slogans – BBC
  • Labour childcare plan “to put 100,000 mothers back to work” – The Guardian
  • 12,000 retired public sector workers on pensions of over £50,000 a year – Daily Mail
  • Plaid leader warns Scots against believing promises of more devolution – The Guardian
  • Finding Patten replacement could take BBC six months – The Times(£)
  • 63 teenagers each have over 40 convictions – The Sun(£)


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