Cameron gets behind Davidson’s plan for Scottish devolution

Scottish flag“David Cameron has warned left-wing parties they will ‘reap what they sow’ if they punish Scots with higher taxes. … Writing exclusively in today’s Scottish Daily Mail, the Prime Minister says he will ‘seek support’ from other parties to deliver the biggest shake-up of devolution after the 2015 General Election. … His predecessor Gordon Brown also paved the way for a formal cross-party pact on devolution yesterday as he argued that Westminster is united on the issue.” – Daily Mail

  • “An independent Scotland would be forced to either slash spending or increase taxes to balance the books, a leading think tank has warned. … The Institute of Fiscal Studies said the country would have a budget deficit of £8.6billion in its first year outside the UK.” – The Sun (£)
  • “Sweden’s foreign minister has warned that Scottish independence would lead to the ‘Balkanisation of the British Isles’ and have far-reaching consequences for the rest of Europe” – Financial Times
  • “Alex Salmond has said he supports the ‘heresy’ of compulsory voting at elections, similar to the Australian model where residents who fail to vote can be fined.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “Mr Cameron’s pledge appears crude, coming late in the campaign. It is nevertheless worth supporting.” – Financial Times editorial
  • “Now the Tories suddenly look to be the party of devolution.” – Alice Thomson, The Times (£)
  • “Devolution – but what about England?” – Allan Massie, The Scotsman

> Yesterday: Brian Monteith’s column – Canny Cameron now owns devolution – leaving Labour far behind

May confronts Gove over extremism in schools

MAY Warhol“The home secretary Theresa May has gone public with direct criticisms of education secretary Michael Gove’s handling of the Trojan Horse affair – suggesting an internal cabinet tussle over who can be toughest on threats of extremism. … In a letter released on Tuesday night, May upbraided Gove for the Department for Education’s handling of allegations regarding Islamists in Birmingham schools for what she called ‘the inability of local and central government to tackle the problem effectively’.” – The Guardian

“A Home Office source said: ‘Why is the DfE wanting to blame other people for information they had in 2010? Lord knows what more they have overlooked on the subject of the protection of kids in state schools? It scares me.'” – The Times (£)

Read the full text of May’s letter to Gove (£)

  • “Theresa May has stormed into a 12-point lead over Boris Johnson as the next leader of choice for grassroots Tories. … Conservative Home editor Paul Goodman said: ‘I can think of no other reason for the Home Secretary’s rampaging advance than her impressive speech to the Police Federation.'” – The Sun (£)
  • “Many Conservatives are now convinced that [May] must be taken seriously as a frontrunner to replace David Cameron, noting that she has built a reputation as a party moderniser and a tough voice of law and order. ‘There’s no doubt she wants the job,’ one MP said.” – The Times (£)
  • “Victims of ‘modern slavery’ are to become eligible for compensation and reparations from their traffickers, in recognition of the exploitation and loss of dignity they have suffered, the home secretary, Theresa May, is to announce.” – The Guardian
  • “A Whitehall mole has sabotaged hundreds of raids against immigrants working illegally in Britain by leaking sensitive government documents to activists, it was claimed last night.” – Daily Mail
  • “The government has called on Sudan to release Meriam Ibrahim on bail while she appeals against a death sentence for abandoning Islam, amid rumours that she has recanted her Christian faith.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “Plot or no plot, we cannot permit the Islamification of schools” – Times editorial (£)

> Yesterday:

Dozens of exams to be axed, in bid to toughen up the system

School“Regulator Ofqual plans to cull 14 GCSEs and 29 AS and A levels, while reforming other qualifications. … Media studies, for example, is to be reformed in GCSEs, AS and A levels. Under the proposals, film studies will be revamped at GCSE and AS-level but scrapped at A-level. … The aim is to make qualifications in different subjects ‘similar in their level of demand and assessment structure’ and to cut out ‘similar or overlapping’ courses.” – Daily Mail

  • “One in five workers in low-skilled jobs now hold degrees, a report published today warns.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “Schools must enthuse the coders of tomorrow” – Kenneth Baker, Financial Times
  • “A university education is priceless” – AN Wilson, Daily Telegraph

Stop meddling with our benefits system, IDS tells Europe…

IDS on Marr“Mr Duncan Smith said Britain wanted to go further, and demanded ‘the right to say to migrants that we require a much longer record of commitment before you get benefits and shortening the duration of any benefit claim that is allowed’. … He condemned EU interference in the UK welfare system as ‘unwarranted and unwanted’ and said it should abandon its efforts to hold up a series of further welfare reforms he would like to make with a ‘constant stream’ of legal challenges.” – Daily Mail

…and he’s not the only one with harsh words for Brussels…

“Brussels officials came under attack from senior Tories – even europhile Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – for ‘lecturing’ Britain on its economic policy, despite growth here far outpacing that of struggling eurozone countries. … London Mayor Boris Johnson said the European Commission could ‘take a running jump’ over one proposal for the UK to impose higher property taxes on owners of expensive homes.” – Daily Mail

  • “Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, rejected the European Commission analysis suggesting the UK should limit the Help to Buy scheme, build more houses and reform property taxes.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “The latest EC sally into British affairs offers a critique of government housing policy … It contains much sound counsel.” – Independent editorial
  • “But the Tories are mistaken if they think that [the economy is] really all the next election will boil down to. Immigration, Europe and anger at the main parties will be big factors too.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “Shouldn’t [Cameron] make clear that if he cannot get a deal that is right for our country, he’ll recommend pulling out?” – Daily Mail editorial

…as a possible “compromise candidate” emerges to challenge Juncker

EU FLag“German chancellor Angela Merkel has secretly proposed the French IMF boss – who has the strong backing of the UK – as the next European Commission president. … In public Mrs Merkel has thrown her weight behind Jean-Claude Juncker – who champions a European superstate – but David Cameron is vehemently opposed to his appointment. … But she has now privately approached French President Francois Hollande to see if he would be willing to put Ms Lagarde forward as a candidate, French sources claimed last night.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Nick Clegg has put aside his differences with David Cameron over Europe to join the Prime Minister in opposing the arch-federalist Jean-Claude Juncker’s bid to lead the European Commission.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Jean-Claude Juncker was forced to resign as Luxembourg’s prime minister following a spy scandal. Now he is bidding to be the European Commission’s next president.” – The Sun (£)
  • “Eurozone inflation fell unexpectedly to 0.5 per cent last month, intensifying pressure on Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, to act against the rising threat of deflation.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “Europe is stumbling into an avoidable disaster. The appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker would stifle reform, enrage an already angry European fringe and render all but impossible a worthwhile renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the European Union.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “For good or ill, Mr Juncker’s pitch for the commission presidency is a moment of truth.” – Nikolaus Blome, Financial Times

> Today: ToryDiary – Why the Conservatives and the Alternative für Deutschland should join forces

A Queen’s Speech for floating voters

The Queen“A long list of new laws packed full of measures to target floating voters will today be unveiled by the monarch. … The final Queen’s Speech before next year’s General Election has 17 bills in it, all to be passed in just nine months. … At its centre is a major shake up of pensions – to win back older Ukip backers – and free childcare for working mums and dads, to coax Labour voters back to the Tories and Lib Dems.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Voters will be handed the right to sack misbehaving MPs under new powers to be included in today’s Queen’s Speech, it has emerged.” – The Times (£)
  • “In one unexpected measure, the government will seek to defuse continued objections to renewable energy by giving communities enforceable rights to take a stake in commercial renewable energy projects in their localities.” – The Guardian
  • “A 5p charge for plastic bags expected to cut their use by at least three-quarters will be introduced next year, the Queen will tell Parliament today. … The levy – applying to supermarkets and larger stores – is to be implemented by the Government following a six-year campaign by the Daily Mail.” – Daily Mail
  • “Unveiled for the first time, the new Diamond Jubilee State Coach is only the second royal carriage to be built in a century and joins the unrivalled royal collection of coaches, phaetons, landaus, broughams and barouches.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • BROGAN Benedict official“If you haven’t seen it, Mark Wallace has a helpful round-up over at ConHome which makes two valuable points: first that Labour’s complaint of not enough legislation misses the thing – we’ve had too much (less is definitely more); second that there are some things in the Queen’s Speech that shouldn’t be – he singles out protection for ‘heroes’ and new criminal offences for those who help gangsters, among others.” – Benedict Brogan, Telegraph Blogs
  • “It’s Elizabeth we revere, not the monarchy” – Matthew Parris, The Times (£)
  • “Today’s Queen Speech will see another long-neglected policy area given the priority it needs with major and far-reaching changes to pensions due to be unveiled.” – Daily Telegraph editorial

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – The Queen’s Speech: What should be in but isn’t? What will be in but shouldn’t be?

Tory MPs speak out over court case

“A drug dealer caught with a huge block of cannabis when he was in a serious car crash is in line for a multi-million pound payout. … [His] Tory MP Dan Byles said: ‘I’m sure I speak for the majority of my constituents who would be horrified that a drug dealer is getting extremely large amounts of taxpayers’ money for what is essentially a self-inflicted injury. It seems highly unfair.’ … Dominic Raab, the eurosceptic Tory MP for Esher and Walton, said it was absurd ‘criminals can sue the government at huge taxpayers’ expense for harm suffered in the course of committing their crimes’.” – Daily Mail

  • “…Delaney could end up with a lottery-sized bung from taxpayers while the family still traumatised by the smash got a few thousand. … And Europhiles wonder why so many want freedom from the EU.” – Sun editorial (£)

Curiouser and curiouser: the police kept on denying Mitchell entry to Downing Street

Andrew Mitchell“Andrew Mitchell was repeatedly denied entry on his bicycle to Downing Street by armed police officers more than a year before the so-called Plebgate incident in September 2012, prompting a formal complaint by No 10 to the Met. … A ‘restricted’ letter from the head of security in the prime minister’s office to the Met’s diplomatic protection group in June 2011, released by No 10, warned that there was ‘no just reason’ why Mitchell should have been prevented from entering Downing Street on his bike.” – The Guardian

“Curry, clubbing and coupling”: the Tory machine in Newark

“Hundreds of young Conservative activists have been lured to the Newark by-election with the promise of curry, clubbing and coupling, creating a fearsome local election campaign unit that has unnerved some Labour figures. … The promotion of ‘Team 2015’, led by Grant Shapps, is seen as a last-ditch attempt by the Conservative party chairman to hold on to his job in the forthcoming reshuffle. Up to 300 young activists have been in Newark, helping the Tories to maintain their lead in a by-election they are expected to win comfortably tomorrow.” – The Times (£)

  • “The Newark by-election campaign has been mired in class warfare over the leading candidates’ wealth as the UK Independence Party’s Roger Helmer attacked his Tory opponent over his £5 million property portfolio. … The outspoken attack by Mr Helmer led Chris Grayling, the Tory Cabinet minister, to defend the party’s candidate Robert Jenrick, insisting that the party’s candidates should not be ashamed of being rich.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Ukip’s candidate Roger Helmer was asked what canine category he put himself in. ‘Oh, an Irish wolfhound, I think,’ he said sipping his un-Farage-like lime and soda in the Butter Cross pub in Bingham.” – The Independent
  • “…huge swings in by-elections are almost always the result of momentum and, with only 36 hours left to polling day on Thursday, that seems to have deserted the UK Independence party.” – Financial Times

> Today: Grant Shapps MP’s column – A hundred ways in which the Conservatives have delivered for you

Creasy takes on Farage

CREASY Stella“Without immigration British women will have to have ‘a lot of children very quickly’ to keep the economy and the NHS afloat, a Labour rising star has claimed. … Stella Creasy, 37, said Nigel Farage was ‘deeply unpatriotic’ because his policies on Europe and immigration were ‘basically talking about managing the decline of Britain’. … The unmarried Labour MP said without immigration women already in the UK will have to breed for Britain to support the growing number of pensioners.” – Daily Mail

  • “Ed Miliband will live or die on the altar of immigration” – Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph

Labour could scrap the licence fee, reveals Harman

“Labour could scrap the TV licence fee and replace it with another way of funding the BBC, Harriet Harman has revealed. … The party’s deputy leader said they wanted to know whether a “better way” could be found to bankroll the Corporation. … It is the first time a senior Labour figure has speculated about ending the £145.50 a year charge.” – The Sun (£)

Hospital bosses warn against an “unsustainable” NHS

NHS“The NHS will become ‘unsustainable’ in its current form unless politicians urgently work out how to modernise and fund the service so that it can cope with sharply rising pressures, hospital bosses warn today. … In a letter to the Guardian, 71 NHS leaders urge the three main parties to start producing solutions to help the NHS survive or risk it ceasing to be a universal service that is free at the point of need.” – The Guardian

  • “Hospitals are being put under unprecedented pressure as record numbers of people live to 100 or more, experts warned last night.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “Talk of an existential crisis, repeated most recently by Labour veteran Frank Field, no longer looks alarmist” – Guardian editorial
  • “…over the next 18 months the NHS is facing an unprecedented combination of challenges that, if not managed effectively, could become the dominant issue in next May’s election.” – Oliver Wright, The Independent

We’re the fourth richest country in the world!

growth flag“The UK is the fourth richest nation in the world with the average family better off than those in France and Japan, according to official figures yesterday. … Gross domestic product per capita – the total size of the economy divided by every man, woman and child in Britain – was £21,692 in 2012. The measurement was only higher in the United States, Canada and Germany.” – Daily Mail

  • “Royal Bank of Scotland has become the second UK lender to cap large mortgage loans, amid rising concerns that the London property market is overheating.” – Financial Times
  • “House prices soared by 11.1 per cent in the last 12 months, the strongest growth in seven years, according to Nationwide. … However, the month-on-month increase was lower in May than in April, suggesting the overheated market could be cooling.” – Daily Mail
  • “Discounts on clothing and bank holiday offers on DIY and gardening products resulted in prices in British shops continuing to fall last month, according to the British Retail Consortium.” – The Guardian
  • “More than half of households are in credit with their energy supplier and could claim refunds of up to £1.2billion between them, according to a study published today.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “…we are richer, happier and walk more lightly on the earth if we live in cities.” – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

> Today: Stephan Shakespeare’s column – In defence of big corporations

News in brief

  • The Bowe Bergdahl row continues: White House accused of bypassing normal procedures and ignoring intelligence concerns – Daily Mail
  • Vicars to face the sack if they join the BNP or the National Front – Daily Mail
  • Glasgow aims to be one of the first tech-based “smart cities” in the world – Financial Times
  • G7 presses Vladimir Putin to pursue peaceful end to Ukraine crisis – The Guardian
  • Syrian votes in its presidential election – The Guardian
  • Tiananmen Square, 25 years on – The Independent
  • British woman believes she saw MH370 billowing smoke – The Independent
  • Stephen Sutton charity song looks set to top the charts – The Sun (£)

And finally 1) Mandelson moves to the country

MANDELSON Peter Sky“Lord Mandelson reveals in this week’s Spectator diary that he is moving to the country. … ‘I am going to rent a modest dwelling in deepest Wiltshire next door to the herdsman and his family. … ‘My lambing and milking skills will soon be tested. Baa and moo.’ … How typical of the former Labour Cabinet minister to be economical with the truth. For the house he will be living in is not quite the shepherd’s hut he suggests.” – Sebastian Shakespeare, Daily Mail

  • “Tony Blair is a narcissist with a messiah complex who is passionate about making money and lives a ‘strange life’ among the super-rich, according to a former close friend.” – Daily Mail

And finally 2) The Lamb and Flagging

“A photo opportunity in a pub might have seemed just the thing to prove that Nick Clegg and Vince Cable are still good friends. … But the Lib Dem duo looked decidedly awkward as they posed with a pint in a Soho watering hole this morning, in an echo of the desperate attempts by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to appear united while privately at war.” – Daily Mail

  • “Nick Clegg will try to calm the turmoil in the Liberal Democrats by promising to listen to his critics and learn lessons from the party’s disastrous local and European election results.” – The Independent

> Yesterday: WATCH – Nick Clegg and Vince Cable visit the pub for a pint (of bitter, presumably)

And finally 3) Michael Crick remembers his boozy Newsnight years

beer“During my 19 years on Newsnight, I spent many a late, boozy night in the Green Room. It was the place to go after the show – and a way of releasing all the tension of the evening; something to look forward to. Journalists and Cabinet ministers would mingle until the early hours, gossiping and drinking masses of free wine. You were often so relieved to be there, you could end up drinking far too much.” – Michael Crick, Daily Telegraph

6 comments for: Newslinks for Wednesday 4th June 2014

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