Economy recovers to pre Great Recession level

UnionJack arrows angled“The UK economy has returned to pre-crisis levels by expanding 0.8% in the second quarter of this year. On an annual basis gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 3.1%. The figures show the economy is now worth 0.2% more than it was at its peak in 2008, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. The service sector is the only part of the economy that has passed its previous 2008 peak, although that accounts for almost 80% of UK output.” – BBC

  • “DAVID Cameron last night toasted Sun readers — as official figures showed the six-year economic depression was finally over. The PM vowed to deliver a “recovery for all” after statistics revealed Britain’s economic output jumped by 0.8 per cent between April and June. It means GDP is back above the record levels of early 2008, before the credit crisis threw the world into a devastating recession. Mr Cameron said the recovery was a “tribute to the hard work of British people — including millions of Sun readers”.” – The Sun(£)
  • “Mr Osborne can take satisfaction in having confounded his critics, who predicted a prolonged slump due to the government’s determination to cut public spending. These included not only the Labour opposition but also the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which last year accused Mr Osborne of “playing with fire” on account of his austerity programme. The IMF has since had to raise its forecast four times for GDP growth in the UK in 2014. It now predicts growth of 3.2 per cent — pretty much in line with trend growth.” – Leader The Times(£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The economy grows past its 2008 peak

Miliband says he can’t win on image

Miliband coffee“Ed Miliband yesterday confirmed what most of us suspected – he IS weird. Launching Labour’s summer campaign, the party leader said it’s true he trails behind David Cameron in image – but he insisted politics should be about substance rather than style and “showbiz”.” – The Sun(£)

  • “Labour leader Ed Miliband has attempted to confront his perceived image problem – by saying it is not his top priority. In a speech launching his party’s summer offensive, he said he was “not going to be able to compete” with David Cameron’s slick approach. But he said he wanted to offer voters “something different” at next year’s general election. “The leadership this country needs is one that has big ideas to change things,” said the Labour leader.” – BBC
  • “Five days ago he abandoned his deputy to handle the key Commons debate over the MH17 disaster and flew to Washington for the single purpose of securing a chummy PR photo with President Obama. Yesterday, incredibly, he said this: “If you want a politician who thinks that a good photo is the most important thing, don’t vote for me.” – The Sun Says(£)
  • Ed Miliband’s attack on political cynicism is the most cynical thing I’ve seen in years –  Dan Hodges Daily Telegraph
  • Nightmare of how an Ed and Nick pact would wreck Britain – Simon Heffer Daily Mail

May urged to find new child abuse inquiry head quickly

“The government must find someone to lead its probe into historical child abuse allegations immediately, a children’s charity has said. Barnardo’s urged ministers to act after fresh claims of an abuse “cover-up”. Baroness Butler-Sloss stood down as head of an overarching inquiry nearly a fortnight ago amid concerns about her family links with the establishment. Home Secretary Theresa May then said a new chairman and inquiry panel would be announced “as soon as possible”.” – BBC

Lewis heralds the decline of Nimbyism

telegraphnimbys“Local communities that once opposed new housing developments now support them because of the Coalition’s controversial planning reforms, the Government’s new planning minister has claimed. In an article for The Telegraph, Brandon Lewis appeared to suggest that Nimbyism was on the wane as he said there had been a “dramatic swing” in public opinion – with almost half of people now in favour of new housing in their area. He claimed the Government’s reforms, which introduced a presumption in favour of sustainable development, were responsible for this transformation because people now had a greater say in where new housing goes.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “I was delighted to read the British Social Attitudes Survey on housebuilding, which I am publishing today. It shows that since the introduction of our planning reforms support for new homes has risen dramatically, from 28 per cent in 2010 to 47 per cent in 2013, while opposition to new homes over the same period has fallen from 46 per cent in 2010 to 31 per cent in 2013. This changing mind-set can now be seen in the pipeline of projects coming through the reformed planning system. Last year successful applications for major housing schemes were up 23 per cent, and planning permissions were granted for 216,000 new homes. The new planning system puts local people in control, so if they want to build more homes, they will.” – Brandon Lewis Daily Telegraph
  • Pickles came “within whisker” of being sacked – The Times(£)

Cameron considers new offence of domestic violence

“David Cameron has said the government will look into creating a separate offence of domestic violence, as he acknowledged the UK needs to “get to grips” with the problem. The prime minister commented when he was asked on BBC Gloucestershire about the case of Hollie Gazzard, who was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend in February. She had previously contacted police about her partner’s violent and threatening behaviour, and there is now a review by the Independent Police Complaints Commission is reviewing the force’s handling of her complaint.” – The Guardian

Big Society Network wound up

“David Cameron’s flagship Big Society Network is being investigated by the Charity Commission over allegations that it misused government funding and made inappropriate payments to its directors – including a Tory donor. The organisation, which was launched by the Prime Minister in 2010, was given at least £2.5 million of National Lottery funding and public-sector grants despite having no record of charitable activity. The Independent has learnt that it has now been wound up, having used much of the money on projects that came nowhere near delivering on their promised objectives.” – The Independent

Lord Hill “under scrutiny” over lobbying past

Lord Hill of Oareford“Lord Hill, 54, has spent more time as a lobbyist than as a politician. After leaving No 10 in 1994, he spent four years at the PR firm Bell Pottinger before co-founding Quiller Consultants, a small reputation-management firm that specialises in advising wealthy executives and crisis-hit companies. Quiller began disclosing clients’ identities in the industry’s voluntary register only in February 2010, shortly before Lord Hill was ennobled. However, The Times has established that during his time at the helm it represented a string of controversial clients, including the government of the United Arab Emirates, a consortium of four Russian oligarchs, an investment fund based in the Cayman Islands and, for 12 months until 2009, the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association. Quiller has also worked for Telefonica O2, HSBC and the Hedge Fund Standards Board.” – The Times(£)

Tredinnick says astrology can cure the sick

“The sick should turn to astrology for answers, a Tory MP has declared. David Tredinnick said astrology had a ‘proven track record’ at helping people recover from illness and should be incorporated into standard medical treatments. The MP for Bosworth in Leicestershire also admitted he had prepared astrological charts for fellow MPs – but refused to say who.” – Daily Mail

Male millionaire Estate agent chosen as Tory candidate as pressure for more women continues

Margot_James_MP“A millionaire estate agent who once lived in a castle has been chosen as the replacement for a Tory MP forced out by her local party. Kevin Hollinrake was selected as the Conservative candidate in Thirsk and Malton at a meeting of local party members last night. He replaces Anne McIntosh, who has represented the north Yorkshire constituency and its forerunner since 1997. The selection of Mr Hollinrake, who was chosen from a shortlist of two men and two women, leaves the Conservatives without a female candidate in any winnable northern seat.” – The Times(£)

  • Women should not have to be more like men to get on – Margot James MP interviewed in The Times(£)

>Yesterday: MPsETC: Kevin Hollinrake selected to fight Thirsk and Malton

Ban supersized food says Wollaston

“Supersized” food and drinks should be banned by law in a bid to combat Britain’s obesity epidemic, the new head of the Commons health select committee has said. Dr Sarah Wollaston, a Conservative MP and former GP, said the state had a “duty to intervene” to protect current and future generations from unhealthy habits threatening to shorten their lives.” – Daily Telegraph

Brooks to stand for UKIP?

UKIP logo“The husband of the former News International executive Rebekah Brooks, is said to be considering standing for Ukip at the general election next year. Charlie Brooks and his wife were close friends of David Cameron before the eruption of the phone-hacking scandal at The News of the World. Last month the couple were cleared of all charges against them after a nine-month trial at the Old Bailey. The racehorse trainer and Old Etonian was upset at the prime minister’s treatment of his wife at the height of the row and, in a move certain to irritate his old friend, he appears to have taken a shine to Nigel Farage.” – The Times(£)

Developers using “poor doors” for affordable housing

“Multimillion pound housing developments in London are segregating less well-off tenants from wealthy homebuyers by forcing them to use separate entrances. A Guardian investigation has discovered a growing trend in the capital’s upmarket apartment blocks – which are required to include affordable homes in order to win planning permission – for the poorer residents to be forced to use alternative access, a phenomenon being dubbed “poor doors”. Even bicycle storage spaces, rubbish disposal facilities and postal deliveries are being separated. The Green party accused developers of showing “contempt for ordinary people” by enforcing such two-tier policies.” – The Guardian

Moore: Salmond is the Great Pretender

charlesmoore“Mr Salmond is skilfully, shamelessly, attempting to draw the hardy and intrepid race of men and women, otherwise known as Scotland, into the service of something different – himself. It is really a brilliant bluff. Scotland had the Old Pretender and the Young Pretender; today, in Mr Salmond, it has the Great Pretender. His trick is to use the powers which devolution has given him to act as if Scotland already exists as a state, embodied in him.” – Charles Moore Daily Telegraph

Deacon: In defence of Bercow

“After 40 minutes or so, John Bercow rose, and surveyed the remaining Conservative MPs who had yet to ask the new Education Secretary a question. He sighed. “What an embarrassment of riches,” he observed, witheringly. “Mr Bob Stewart…” This charming vignette, from Tuesday afternoon, exemplifies the qualities that have driven so many MPs to resent their Speaker. According to reports this week, some resent him so much that they’ve begun an anonymous letter campaign, demanding he be deposed. They find Mr Bercow rude, pompous, arrogant and supercilious. As The Telegraph’s parliamentary sketch writer, I have the privilege of watching Mr Bercow at work every day, and can confirm that I too find him rude, pompous, arrogant and supercilious. But these characteristics don’t make me yearn to see him dropkicked out of the chamber. On the contrary: they’ve made me come to like him.” – Michael Deacon Daily Telegraph

Parris: China will face a backlash for the growth of its economic empire

PARRIS Mathhew“The day is coming when China will be an ageing power with an aged population, in effective control of much of the world’s natural resources and most of its minerals. China will never have felt more powerful or more exposed, with the sources of much of this wealth, and many pockets of her own population, situated outside her borders. It will have bought governments and leant hard on many more. But her allies will be hollowed out, many of her statesmen friends drunkenCalibans or compromised tyrants in fear of their own populations, and her enemies forever on the lookout for rebellions to foster. But not yet. These are your salad days, China; this is your empire’s callow youth. Soon it gets harder. Ask us British.” – Matthew Parris The Times(£)

News in brief

  • Green Party proposes Wealth Tax for those with assets of over £3 million – BBC
  • RBS profits bounce – Daily Mail
  • Deaths from accidents at work fall to new low – The Sun(£)
  • Church of England fails to pay staff the Living Wage – Daily Mail
  • Lib Dems apologise to Rennard – The Guardian

And finally…Cameron confuses Tyneside and Teesside

“David Cameron appeared to get his north-east England regions mixed up as he trumpeted the latest economic growth figures in a BBC radio interview. In an interview with BBC Tees, the prime minister kept referring to examples of economic revival on Tyneside – 40 miles further north. Presenter Lisa McCormick said: “You keep mentioning the River Tyne. “That’s not our region prime minister. I’m sorry, we are the River Tees.” – BBC