Big reshuffle “early next week”…

Guardiancameron“David Cameron is preparing to carry out a far wider reshuffle of his government than had previously been thought. Several sources in Whitehall have told me to expect substantial changes when the prime minister reshapes the team that he will lead in to the election. The consensus until now was that apart from a few Cabinet retirements, most of the changes would focus on refreshing the lower ministerial ranks. But I am told Mr Cameron is thinking big in the reshuffle that he is expected to carry out early next week.” – James Landale BBC

  • “The new entrants are expected to include Esther McVey, the work and pensions minister and former television presenter, and the public policy expert Liz Truss. Nicky Morgan, who attends cabinet as minister for women, may be promoted to a full cabinet post. Greg Hands, the deputy chief whip and a key Osborne ally, is being associated with a promotion to chief whip as the chancellor extends his control over the government. Sources close to Iain Duncan Smith dismissed as nonsense claims that he would be moving from his post as work and pensions secretary. Senior figures at Westminster have been speculating that Duncan Smith, a former Scots Guards officer, might swap jobs with the defence secretary, Philip Hammond.” – The Guardian

…IDS to stay – despite overheard phone conversation on train that he might go

“Friends of Mr Duncan Smith – responding to separate rumours that he is to be moved from the DWP – have told BBC News he is going nowhere. Romilly Dennys, a DWP special adviser, is at the centre of speculation that she was the woman on the train talking about the reshuffle. “It is just complete nonsense… some person on a train has heard two names and managed to cobble together a story,” she said. “I am pretty convinced she (Quinney) is a Labour supporter.” – BBC

  • “Michael Gove is in the process of restoring life chances to millions of children who were doomed to failure by Labour’s culture of mediocrity…Iain Duncan Smith, meanwhile, has been tireless in tackling Britain’s ruinously expensive, self-reliance sapping culture of welfare dependency…It would be nothing less than a tragedy for Britain and the Conservative Party if these two remarkable men were removed from their ministries with their mission only half complete.” – Leader Daily Mail

Osborne: Ending “help to buy” would be inter-generational theft

Conference 4“Scrapping the government’s flagship help-to-buy scheme would be an “outrageous act of intergenerational theft”, George Osborne has suggested. Mr Osborne said that he wanted people with “decent jobs and decent incomes” to have the same chance as his generation to own a home. He admitted that the housing market has the potential to do “real damage” to the economy if it overheats but added that there is no evidence it is doing so. He told LBC Radio: “I am going to say to people I am lucky enough to own my own home, you are not going to be able to buy your own home. That is not the politician I am.” – Daily Telegraph

Kinnock backs Warsi for EU Commissioner….

“Lord Kinnock, the former leader of the Labour party – and a former European Commissioner – said Lady Warsi would be the perfect choice. Speaking in the House of Lords on Thursday, he said the Conservative peer “demonstrated such a full understanding of the real nature of the role of the commissioner and the way in which the reform agenda has got to be promulgated and effectively developed in the European Commission”. Following calls for the job to given to a woman, he added that Lady Warsi was “manifestly a woman”….Lady Warsi said the former Labour leader’s remarks were “very kind”.” – BBC

…but will Villiers get the job?

VILLIERS Theresa purple“David Cameron is considering putting forward a woman to take one of Europe’s top jobs…Among possible candidates for the role are Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers and former Sunday Telegraph editor Patience Wheatcroft.” – Daily Mail

  • “There have also been suggestions that Mr Cameron might want to propose a female Commissioner. One possible candidate is the Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers, a former Euro MP. However, momentum is growing behind the former Tory leader Lord (Michael) Howard. He is close to Mr Cameron and would be a strong contender to land a plum role in the Commission such as an economic portfolio. If he were to go to Brussels, that would also avoid a potentially perilous by-election.” – The Independent

>Today ToryDiary: Lord Howard would be a good choice for EU Commissioner

Boris demands more funding for cycling

“Boris Johnson has challenged Downing Street to match his commitment to cycling, calling on the government to replicate his investment in London’s cycle network across the country. As Mayor of London, Mr Johnson has created a £913 million budget for cycling in the capital over the next decade. The government has spent a total of about £370 million on cycling provision for the rest of the country since 2010.” – The Times(£)

Gay marriage and HS2 prompt loss of Conservative members

“Local Conservative chiefs have issued a series of warnings to David Cameron about declining membership in some areas before next year’s election, with “lethargic and depressed” supporters, a continuing “mass exodus” over gay marriage, and the loss of 170 members in the prime minister’s own constituency. Tory sources insist their core membership will be roughly stable at more than 134,000 when full-year figures are published later this month, but low morale in some local parties is revealed in their annual reports for 2013.” – The Guardian

Miliband lobbies for Obama meeting

MILIBAND Red Ed“How do you look more prime ministerial? That’s a question that faces any leader of the opposition. One answer is for people to see him doing the things which prime ministers do – like meeting the President of the United States. Sources on both sides of the Atlantic have told me that Ed Miliband has been lobbying hard for a meeting with President Obama.” – Nick Robinson BBC

  • “LABOUR aim to convince Brits that Ed Miliband has what it takes to lead the country — by portraying him as BORING. Polls consistently show voters do not believe the geeky Opposition chief can be PM. But Labour strategists plan to contrast his lack of charisma with the “flashiness” of David Cameron in the run-up to next year’s General Election.” – The Sun(£)
  • “THE plan to package Ed Miliband as a “boring” man of the people proves Labour remains obsessed with spin. The idea that the public will suddenly fall in love with Miliband because a PR team has rebranded him like a soap powder is laughable. It’s also an insult to voters’ intelligence. They are lukewarm about Miliband because he consistently fails to spell out what he would do as PM.” – The Sun Says(£)
  • Labour to present Miliband as “Mr Normal” – Daily Mail
  • Miliband is weird says Kinnock – Daily Telegraph

Wilshaw says councils should report failing schools

“Ofsted’s chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, lambasted local authorities today for their “worrying” failure to keep tabs on poorly performing schools. “The problem is far too few of you are [raising concerns about schools with the Government or Ofsted],” Sir Michael said. “My postbag is not exactly bulging with letters from concerned directors of children’s services imploring Ofsted to go in and inspect a poorly performing school within their boundaries.” – The Independent

>Today: Chris Skidmore MP on Comment: The EBacc is boosting the number of pupils taking core subjects

Carey backs “right to die”

telegraphcarey“Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, is supporting moves to legalise assisted dying, it has emerged. His intervention is a dramatic breach with the official line of the Church of England. It comes days before the House of Lords considers a Bill tabled by Lord Falconer allowing doctors to prescribe terminally ill patients a lethal dose of drugs. Lord Carey argues that upholding the sanctity of human life without regard to suffering caused in the process could go against the spirit of Christian teaching.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Abuse, coercion and intimidation can be slow instruments in the hands of the unscrupulous, creating pressure on vulnerable people who are encouraged to “do the decent thing”. Even where such pressure is not overt, the very presence of a law that permits assisted suicide on the terms proposed by Lord Falconer of Thoroton is bound to lead to sensitive individuals feeling that they ought to stop “being a burden to others”. What sort of society would we be creating if we were to allow this sword of Damocles to hang over the head of every vulnerable, terminally ill person in the country?” – Justin Welby The Times(£)

Charles Moore warns of child abuse hysteria

“There is such a mood got up about child abuse that no one in authority dare question any complaint. On Radio 4 news on Wednesday evening, I heard the BBC reporter solemnly intone that “one man who alleged he was the victim of abuse in a care home says the appointment [of Lady Butler-Sloss] shows a complete lack of empathy”. This man was not named, nor was the care home; his claim of abuse was not described or proved; his opinion of Lady B-S may be of no value. And yet, in this climate, who dares resist? Perhaps Mrs May congratulates herself on having escaped censure this time. But her critics will be back: they can smell her fear.” – Charles Moore Daily Telegraph

Parris: We are losing the battle for internet freedom

PARRIS Mathhew“The IT machinery deployable by snoopers, censors and web-wardens changes all the time. Providers and users try to keep one step ahead of blockers and spies: but only one step. Most Cubans, most Chinese people and most Saudis stay in the dark. Software may for a while exist for citizens to circumvent state control. “Tor”, for instance, free software that relays and encrypts internet traffic, keeping users anonymous, even works in China. For the moment. Chinks of light do get through the blackout blanket — always have, always will. But because control is not complete does not mean it is not formidable.” – Matthew Parris The Times(£)

News in brief

  • Cameron to allow motor racing on public roads – BBC
  • Winslow’s referendum on more housing – The Times(£)
  • Court backs tighter rules on visa eligibility – BBC
  • Challenging civil servants is “silly” says Lord O’Donnell – The Times(£)