Cameron: We could miss our migration target

cameron-face“David Cameron has admitted he has not got immigration down by ‘as much as I’d like’ – as Brits rated it their new top concern. … The Premier conceded for the first time that his government is failing to reduce the tidal wave of newcomers – which is on the up again at a net 212,000 a year – saying numbers are ‘still too high’. … He also suggested for the first time that he will fail to meet his solemn 2010 election promise to slash annual arrivals to below 100,000.” – The Sun (£)

But Farage would deal with the Tory leader if it meant an EU referendum

Farage Nigel Eating Cakes“Nigel Farage is prepared to form a coalition government with David Cameron after the next General Election, The Sun can reveal. … The Ukip boss said he was willing ‘to put the interests of the country above the interests of my party’ in order to guarantee an in-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. … The move marks a dramatic shift for the Ukip chief, who has previously ruled out doing any deals with the Conservative leader.” – The Sun (£)

  • “If Ukip do win Westminster seats and their vote is strong, they’ll have wrecked Tory chances in key marginals which decide the election. … There won’t be a potential Tory Government to make a deal with. … It’s a paradox that Mr Cameron is Ukip’s only hope of achieving their dream — and the man they are most likely to destroy.” – Sun editorial (£)

> Today:

A UKIP rising star quits the party over its “racism”

“A UKIP poster girl described by Nigel Farage as a ‘rising star’ has quit after describing it as a ‘racist’ and ‘terrifying’ party that she cannot vote for. … Sanya-Jeet Thandi, 21, a British-born Indian who had starred in a party election broadcast and spoken at its annual conference, accused Ukip of deliberately attracting racist voters. … The university student said the party had abandoned its core supporters and called on others to end their memberships and boycott the upcoming European elections.” – Daily Mail

  • “Ukip is playing the race card, so I’m quitting the party” – Sanya-Jeet Thandi, The Guardian

Other UKIP news, including “cash-for-seats” allegations

UKIP glass“Ukip faces a ‘cash-for-Euro-seats’ scandal after forcing MEPs to donate large sums and threatening to bar those who refused from standing again, its former deputy leader says. … Ex-Ukip insiders have also raised concerns that the party favoured wealthy MEP candidates before this month’s European elections.” – The Times (£)

  • “Nigel Farage has been embroiled in a fresh controversy, over a UKIP candidate who appeared to brush off the terrorist killing of a policeman after a loyalist bomb attack in Northern Ireland.” – The Guardian
  • “Nigel Farage has blamed the media for an alleged attack on the home of a Ukip MEP who has called for British Muslims to sign a code of conduct.” – The Guardian
  • “A police chief has admitted that it was a mistake for officers to visit the home of a blogger and ask him to remove a tweet criticising Ukip.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “With Ukip leading the opinion polls for the European elections and expecting to win 20 seats in the European Parliament, it does not count, for the moment at least, as a small party. It has to contend and live with the scrutiny given to all the other parties.” – Times editorial (£)

Councils should stop unnecessarily threatening the green belt, says Boles

BOLES Nick“In a debate in the Houses of Parliament, Mr Boles urged councils which were enthusiastically trying to promote building not to set aside too much land for development. … Mr Boles said: ‘While we do want all communities to embrace growth nevertheless a vaulting ambition is not sufficient justification for putting some kind of a threat over protected land. … Ambition – the desire to grow even faster than your neighbours – is not sufficient justification for putting those protections under threat.” – Daily Telegraph

Davies’ halal amendment is defeated, but labelling could still be introduced

“Supermarkets could be forced to label all products containing halal meat if there is ‘widespread demand’, ministers said last night. … Business minister Jenny Willott said the Government would consider the move if it was supported across the EU. … It comes after Sun investigations exposed how halal meat is widely sold but not labelled as such. … Last night Tory MP Philip Davies’ amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill calling for compulsory labelling of halal meat was defeated in a Commons vote 281 to 17.” – The Sun (£)

Boris rails against Heathrow’s and Gatwick’s new proposals

borisfringe“The M25 could be expanded to an unprecedented 14 lanes in a tunnel underneath a third runway at Heathrow, as part of a radical new plan, it emerged yesterday. … The airport unveiled its controversial expansion proposal in a submission to the Government’s aviation commission – as it battles to fend off growing competition from its rival Gatwick. … But London Mayor Boris Johnson dismissed both airport’s plans. His chief airport adviser said Heathrow’s bid was ‘lunacy’ while Gatwick’s bid for a second runway was a ‘humongous red herring’.” – Daily Mail

  • “Motorists must get used to driving at 40mph on the motorway, the civil servant in charge of Britain’s roads has said as he admitted the roads will get ‘slower and slower’.” – Daily Telegraph

Lord Howell says it again: Fracking should happen up north

“George Osborne’s father-in-law has warned that the Conservatives will lose thousands of votes if fracking goes ahead in the Tory heartlands of southern England and the home counties instead of the ‘derelict’ north, where Labour dominates. … Lord Howell of Guildford said that areas such as the northeast and northwest ‘where the Industrial Revolution has left the worst historical scars’ would welcome drilling for shale gas.” – The Times (£)

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Want a Tory victory in 2030? Fight to turn the North East blue

Truss to name and shame the schools that shun science

s216_Elizabeth-Truss“Schools which fail to get enough kids studying A-level maths and physics are to be named and shamed. … The move is aimed at encouraging more pupils to take the vital subjects. … Under the new arrangement, the proportion of young people studying them in every college and school sixth form will be published by the Government. … Schools minister Liz Truss said it would help get rid of ‘science deserts’ where the subjects are unpopular.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Schools in England are neglecting, and may even be actively harming, the physical and mental health of their pupils, a group of leading experts have claimed.” – The Independent
  • “Schoolchildren should be taught about the ‘pleasurable aspects of sex’ as part of an overhaul of the curriculum, according to an academic.” – Daily Telegraph

> Today: 

Clegg’s free school meal plan is in danger of failing…

CURSE OF CLEGG one“Nick Clegg’s £1bn plan to give free school meals to infants has been rated ‘red’ on the Whitehall risk register that warns when a project is in danger of failing, government sources have said. … The revelation suggests David Cameron has not been successful at calming down the bitter coalition clash over education policy by calling a halt to a series of anonymous briefings and leaks over the last few weeks.” – The Guardian

…as the Lib Dem leader is pressed to make welfare changes

“Nick Clegg is under pressure from Liberal Democrat activists to water down the Coalition’s controversial welfare reforms because they fear that vulnerable people are ‘falling through the safety net’. … Grassroots Lib Dems want the ‘bedroom tax’ changed or abolished, and are demanding emergency government cash help for food banks.” – The Independent

Baker urges the Chilcot Inquiry to get a move on

“Norman Baker, a Home Office minister, accused the former premier of trying to block the release of secret communications between him and George W Bush. … He has told Sir John Chilcot, who is heading the inquiry, of his deep concern at the length of time it is taking. … A letter from the former Whitehall mandarin – seen by the Daily Mail – shows that publication of notes sent by Mr Blair to former US president Bush, and records of their conversations, is an issue.” – Daily Mail

  • “Prosecutors in the Hague have launched a ‘preliminary examination’ into allegations UK forces tortured and mistreated Iraqi prisoners between 2003 and 2008.” – Daily Mail
  • “Taxpayers face a bill of more than £31million for the public inquiry focused on false allegations that British troops murdered Iraqi prisoners of war and mutilated their bodies.” – Daily Mail
  • “Britain could send drones into Nigeria to help find more than 200 schoolgirls captured by Islamic militants, Downing Street has said.” – The Sun (£)

Labour panic sets in

Miliband coffee“Ed Miliband’s ratings are worse than those of Gordon Brown and he has ‘nothing to say’ on key issues, senior Labour MPs are warning. … The Labour leader faces growing unrest over an alleged ‘35 per cent’ election strategy – which aims to deliver victory thanks to disaffected Liberal Democrat voters and Commons boundaries which favour Labour. … It is believed one unnamed ‘senior party staffer’ yesterday said of Labour’s vanishing poll lead: ‘If we draw, we still win.’” – Daily Mail

“The gloomy poll findings overshadowed Labour’s attempt to put the National Health Service at the top of the political agenda ahead of the European and local elections a week on Thursday. If Labour does badly, Mr Miliband will face demands from some of his MPs to match David Cameron’s offer of an in/out referendum on Europe.” – The Independent

“Ed Miliband is one of the ‘least business-friendly leaders’ of a political party in many years, former Labour trade minister Lord Digby Jones has said.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “…the big story of the recent opinion polls is not a Tory surge but a Labour collapse.” – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail
  • “A surge in Conservative support will help the Yes campaign – working-class Labour supporters in Scotland will be more likely to vote for independence if the alternative is another five years of Tory government from Westminster.” – George Kerevan, The Scotsman
  • “Whatever the reason for the current Tory surge – the predictable benefit of economic recovery – Miliband must find a contrasting narrative. Most serious, he must show he has a route map through the policy morass that followed 2008.” – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – The polls with a pinch of salt (reprised)

Balls wants Osborne to rein in Help to Buy

BALLS Ed looking left“Ed Balls, shadow chancellor, said Mr Osborne needed to rein in the Help to Buy scheme in London, and put fresh effort into building new towns and more social housing to boost supply. … ‘You can’t, as chancellor, wash your hands of responsibility for balancing the housing market,’ Mr Balls said. He added that Labour would use fiscal powers, such as a tax on homes worth more than £2m, to damp price rises.” – Financial Times

  • “As Labour stalls, it’s time to bring on the new Balls” – Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph

After Alexander, Labour assigns more of its “big beasts” to Scotland’s No campaign

“Senior figures from the last Labour government have been drafted in by the anti-Scottish independence campaigns to reach out to the hundreds of thousands of male working class voters most likely to vote yes. … The decision to enrol ‘big beasts’ including John Reid, the former defence secretary, Jim Murphy, the shadow international development secretary, and Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary, follows complaints that Labour has been too slow to mount its campaign against independence.” – The Guardian

> Yesterday: LeftWatch – God help the Union as Douglas Alexander, Labour’s blunderkind, gets the reins of Better Together

Salmond goes for Cameron

Scottish flag“David Cameron personifies ‘everything that is wrong’ with British politics, Alex Salmond said as the Prime Minister prepared for his latest intervention in the independence contest. … The First Minister said an expected visit to Scotland by Mr Cameron would be counter-productive and provide a further boost to the Yes campaign. … The Prime Minister is expected to travel to Scotland soon and Whitehall is working on its latest analysis papers about the issues around independence.” – The Scotsman

  • “Westminster has been accused of hiding the findings of an opinion poll on Scottish independence, amid allegations it shows a rise in Yes voters.” – The Scotsman
  • “The SNP has been accused of running a ‘ruthless’ underhand campaign to prevent Holyrood’s committees publishing criticism of Alex Salmond’s government.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “At the risk of sounding immodest, can I suggest that if there was such a game as Scottish Top Trumps, you would definitely want me as one of your cards.” – Alistair Carmichael, The Scotsman
  • “The Union is in much better shape than many think” – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

> Today: Toby Fenwick on ThinkTankCentral – No to independence, yes to federalism – a liberal solution for the whole UK

AstraZeneca boss: We’ll sell up if the price is right… although lives could be damaged in the process

Pfizer“The boss of AstraZeneca last night admitted he would consider selling out to Pfizer if the price increases – just hours after telling MPs the controversial bid could cost lives by delaying the development of anti-cancer drugs. … In an apparent change of tone, he made clear that the AstraZeneca board was willing to consider further bids from its bigger rival.” – Daily Mail

  • “If – as yesterday so dismally proved – Westminster lacks the willpower, expertise and rigour to establish if this deal is in the national interest, it should order an independent inquiry that can.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “The question raised by Pfizer’s disturbing move to acquire AstraZeneca is whether there is any ‘efficient’ British governance at all in matters of industrial policy.” – Guardian editorial
  • “It is one thing for Britain to be supportive of business. It is quite another for the Chancellor’s obsession with low taxes to have paved the way for the asset-strippers.” – Independent editorial

> Yesterday: Mohammed Amin on Comment – Pfizer and AstraZeneca belong to me (and my fellow shareholders)

Domestic violence laws could be updated for the Facebook age

“Ex-boyfriends who send abusive messages to their former partners on Facebook and Twitter face prosecution under a shake-up of domestic violence rules. … Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said cops and prosecutors must modernise the way they investigate domestic abuse. … She warned that teenage girls in abusive relationships – who do not share a home with their partner – are likely to be targeted on social networking sites.” – The Sun (£)

  • “A police chief has been suspended and placed under investigation over ‘serious’ allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards female staff and officers in his force.” – The Guardian
  • “Google and other US internet giants are braced for a blizzard of requests from European citizens demanding that sensitive personal information be removed from search results after a landmark ruling that redefines privacy in the internet age.” – Financial Times

Create a watchdog for spies, says former MI6 chief

Spying“An independent committee should be created to oversee the work of Britain’s spy agencies in the wake of damaging revelations from former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, according to the former head of MI6. … Sir Richard Dearlove told the Reuters news agency that while he did not believe that the UK’s spies had acted illegally, the heated public debate around Snowden’s actions meant that there was now a greater need for transparency and assurances that they were not misusing their powers.” – The Independent

  • “The authors of a far-reaching report on the Internet and Islamic extremism have called on the Foreign Office to take a more active role in Twitter debates and challenge views which encourage young Britons to participate in jihad.” – The Independent
  • “Foreign Office under fire for not releasing historic secret files fast enough” – The Independent

Director of the IFS: The UK’s tax system is “absurd”

Tax Take“Paul Johnson, director of the economic forecaster, launched a withering attack on a tax system which he said is riddled by complexity and shows ‘few signs of a wider coherent strategy.’ … He criticised council tax for becoming ‘increasingly absurd’, claimed stamp duty was ‘a strong contender for the UK’s worst-designed tax’ and condemned the increase in the number of higher rate taxpayers to around five million people.” – Daily Mail

  • “Many middle-class professionals are paying an income tax rate of 60 per cent as a result of a little-understood policy introduced by the last Labour government which affects more than 500,000 people, a leading economist has warned.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “A host of celebrities, bankers, sports stars and other luminaries used the same massive tax-avoidance scheme as the musician Gary Barlow in an attempt to shelter £336 million from the taxman.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “Becker won the Nobel prize because he demonstrated the way in which economics was about more than money. Understanding people’s incentives, and structuring social institutions in response to them, does not mean that people’s incentives are purely selfish.” – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)
  • “Britain’s elaborate tax-avoidance industry must be tackled. But public anger on that issue should not lead ministers to write laws that are far too draconian.” – Financial Times editorial
  • “We need a tax system that is clear and fair” – Daily Telegraph editorial

Mortgage approvals fall by a fifth after introduction of new checks

House icon“Mortgage approvals have fallen by a fifth since tougher checks were introduced less than three weeks ago, according to one of the UK’s biggest lenders. … The startling figure – disclosed to the Mail – is the first sign that more borrowers are being rejected for home loans since the new rules were enforced on April 26.” – Daily Mail

Does Welby think same-sex marriage is “great”?

“The Church of England has been forced to reaffirm its opposition to same-sex marriage after the Archbishop of Canterbury appeared to suggest that he thinks it is ‘great’. … In his first interview with a gay publication, the Most Rev Justin Welby, told PinkNews that the Church had to accept that same-sex marriage is now the law in England and Wales after securing overwhelming support in Parliament. … He said it was ‘right and proper’ that same-sex marriage has now come into force, adding: ‘And that’s great.'” – Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • NHS brings in 5,000 EU nurses for understaffed wards – Daily Mail
  • Australia’s spending-cutting, tax-raising Budget – Daily Mail
  • Explosion in Turkish mine kills at least 200 – Financial Times
  • China cracks down on dissent ahead of Tiananmen anniversary… – The Guardian
  • …and accuses a British executive in bribery case – The Guardian
  • Boko Haram to announce list of key militants it wants freed – Daily Telegraph

And finally 1) It’s official Government policy: England won’t do well in the World Cup

England football manager Roy Hodgson“David Cameron’s plans to relax drinking laws during games have been based on the assumption that Roy Hodsgon’s side will not progress far beyond the group stages. … The Home Office has decided there is a ‘high probability’ that England will not make it into the knock out games, so the impact of extended pub opening hours will be limited.” – Daily Mail

And finally 2) Campaigning for the European elections, Continental style

  • “Featuring a bare-chested hero called Voteman, the [Danish] advert starts as he is in bed with five women, and follows him as he punches non-voters in the face and interrupts another couple having sex in order to get them to a voting station.” – Daily Mail
  • “A political party in the Czech Republic is urging young people to vote in the upcoming European elections by saying it can help them get a job and therefore have sex at work.” – Daily Mail

26 comments for: Newslinks for Wednesday 14th May 2014

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