The reshuffle backlash continues, with Cameron set to make the case for Hill…

CAMERON EU fence“David Cameron is to hold tense talks with Jean-Claude Juncker after his candidate for European Commissioner announced he was selling hundreds of thousands of pounds in shares following a conflict of interest row. … Mr Cameron will push for Lord Hill of Oareford to be given one of a handful of key economic posts in his first meeting with Mr Juncker since he tried to block his appointment as President of the European Commission.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Mr Cameron came under fire today from Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, who said MEPs in the assembly – which has to rubber-stamp all Commission posts – could refuse to back Lord Hill if he proved to be too Eurosceptic.” – The Independent
  • “Andrew Lansley may be given a job as a UN humanitarian chief by the prime minister as a consolation for missing out on becoming Britain’s next European commissioner.” – The Times (£)
  • “A summit of European leaders held to pick the three remaining top EU jobs broke up early Thursday morning with no deal on any of them, and the summit’s chairman said he would reconvene the group in six weeks to try again.” – Financial Times
  • “The EU was blasted for spending as much as million pounds on four ‘temporary’ Commissioners.” – The Sun (£)

And comment:

  • “How crass of Mr Cameron to choose a lightweight PR crony to be Britain’s man in Brussels” – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • “This is the worst reshuffle since 1989” – Charles Moore, The Spectator
  • “This fiasco almost looks like an act of sabotage” – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph
  • “[Cameron’s] reshuffles, if he does them well, can make more of an impact because of their rarity value and considered timing. And he did this one well.” – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • “The reshuffle prepared the Tories for battle. But what does Cameron stand for beyond a desire to win?” – George Eaton, New Statesman
  • “Most significant in the reshuffle are its implications for Mr Cameron’s European policy.” – Financial Times editorial
  • “The Prime Minister’s reshuffle of the Cabinet gives it a much more Eurosceptic composition” – Daily Telegraph editorial

> Yesterday:

…peers raging against Stowell’s demoted status…

LORDS logo“David Cameron was last night accused of a ‘constitutional outrage’ after he demoted the woman chosen to be new leader of the House of Lords. … The upper house was united in anger after it emerged Baroness Stowell would not be a full member of the Cabinet – unlike her predecessor. … They pointed to House of Lords standing orders – the rules of the chamber – which demand the leader of the house should be a full member of the Cabinet.” – Daily Mail

  • “The Daily Mail’s coverage of the new women in the cabinet on the ‘Downing Street catwalk’ has provoked outrage from female MPs and mockery from Nick Clegg, who tweeted a picture of himself posing in a suit.” – The Guardian
  • “Watching glamorous women walk through the doors of No 10 will inspire a whole new generation of young girls to become politicians, Esther McVey has said.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “Three extra women in cabinet is hardly a whiteguymageddon” – Suzanne Moore, The Guardian
  • “The PM doesn’t want the new women in his cabinet to do anything but look nice” – Melissa Kite, The Spectator
  • “Esther McVey’s one-woman whirlwind brings a breath of fresh air” – Hannah Betts, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: WATCH – McVey: Female ministers are role models for girls

…Fox “angry and humiliated”…

FOX GESTICULATING“Mr Cameron’s treatment of Liam Fox, the former defence secretary, could be a particular problem, with one senior Tory MP claiming that Mr Fox was ‘angry and humiliated’ by the whole episode. … Briefings appeared in newspapers last weekend that Mr Fox might return to the cabinet, instead of which Mr Cameron offered him a junior post at the Foreign Office, a move Mr Fox rejected immediately.” – Financial Times

  • “In the most damaging reshuffle misjudgment, it emerged that the job offer to Dr Fox was not even delivered by the prime minister. Instead, Mr Cameron’s parliamentary aide Gavin Williamson was dispatched to sound out Dr Fox about a role that he held 20 years ago.” – The Times (£)
  • “David Cameron’s reshuffle is likely to have cost the taxpayer over £200,000 in tax-free pay-offs to ministers and special advisers.” – Daily Telegraph

…and The Spectator asking: “have Cameron’s Etonians just given up on state school reform?”

michael-gove“The Prime Minister and his coterie embody the problem. Gove was out to fix it, fighting a battle on behalf of the state school pupils – a battle that even Thatcher shied away from. Cameron has now decided that he’d rather this battle was not fought. His decision to abandon from this battle and move Gove to become Chief Whip puts party before pupils. It raises new questions over his own commitment to the social justice agenda. And as our political editor James Forsyth says in the above video, it makes sure more Etonians will dominate public life in years to come.” – Spectator editorial

  • “Michael Gove’s furious wife branded his Cabinet demotion ‘a shabby day’s work’ by the PM … Ms Vine tweeted the phrase yesterday which was a newspaper headline. … And she retweeted another protest that read: ‘Biggest losers in today’s reshuffle? Bright kids at low achieving state schools’.” – The Sun (£)
  • “Michael Gove’s sacking risks ‘killing the goose that laid the golden eggs’ of school reform, one of his allies warned last night.” – Daily Mail
  • “Nick Clegg warned Mr Cameron late last year that the Liberal Democrats were going to target Mr Gove because he was so disliked.” – The Independent
  • “Michael Gove lost his first vote in his new role as the government’s chief whip today after Labour ambushed him by staging a surprise vote in the House of Commons.” – The Times (£)
  • “Private school head awarded himself pay rise of £134,000” – The Times (£)

And further comment:

  • “Crosby’s growing power did for ‘toxic’ Gove” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)
  • “I understand that Gove has been aware for some time that he would be shuffled in this way, but it took a lot of time and persuasion to make him accept the move.” – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • “That is the true measure of the Prime Minister’s regard for Mr. Gove: he has been thrown overboard because a slight advantage might be gained in some marginal constituencies.” – Andreas Whittam Smith, The Independent
  • “Gove was the only reason, in my opinion, to even consider voting Conservative at the next election.” – Rod Liddle, The Sun (£)

> Today: John Bald on Local Government – Nick Gibb’s return is essential

The Prime Minister seizes on Harman’s remarks about taxation

Cameron in PMQs on 16th October 2013“David Cameron accused Labour’s Deputy Leader of backing higher taxes on millions of hard-working families on middle incomes. … As he came under fire from Ed Miliband over Britain’s ‘cost-of-living crisis’, the Prime Minister hit back quoting Ms Harman telling LBC radio: ‘Yes I think people on middle incomes should contribute more through their taxes.’ … Ms Harman, sitting next to the Labour leader at Prime Minister’s Questions, appeared to stand by the statement, reportedly saying ‘true, true’.” – Evening Standard

  • “David Cameron wilfully quoted her out of context. … What Labour’s deputy leader DID say still exposes the flimsiness of her party’s pose as champions of the ‘squeezed’ middle.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “David Cameron’s dishonest attack on Labour spending plans is a shocking warning of the debate to come” – Guardian editorial
  • “Ed Miliband rose. Labour MPs were soon wishing he had remained sitting. The Labour leader had another shocker.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

> Yesterday: Andrew Gimson’s PMQs sketch – Cameron the martinet cracks down hard on indiscipline

The biggest annual increase in employment since records began

GROWTH Krieg“Nearly one million people have got a job over the past year, the biggest annual increase in employment since records began in 1971, according to figures published yesterday. … Ministers hailed ‘an important milestone’ in the country’s economic recovery, with more people working in Britain than ever before. … Despite this wages are still failing to keep pace with inflation. The average pay rise is only 0.7 per cent, the lowest on record and less than half the current rate of inflation – 1.9 per cent.” – Daily Mail

  • “One in six families are covering essential costs with payday loans or unauthorised overdrafts, or are defaulting on household bills, in the most financially distressed parts of Britain, according to research…” – The Guardian
  • “Almost a fifth of parents had to call in sick last year because they could not find enough childcare during the summer holidays.” – The Independent

And comment:

  • “Britain’s jobs market is booming far beyond the capital” – Chris Giles, Financial Times
  • “Britain has a colossal economic resource in its older population who are wasted without jobs” – Ros Altmann, The Times (£)
  • “Iain Duncan Smith’s controversial reforms to the benefits system may help to explain Britain’s buoyant jobs market” – Times editorial (£)
  • “Great news on jobs, now give us tax cuts” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “There is no point in the Government urging young people to strive for stellar careers when decent jobs are scarce and stagnant pay is falling way behind prices.” – Sun editorial (£)

> Today: Matthew Hancock MP on Comment – We are the party of small business – and here’s the proof

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – The new employment statistics in three charts

Maude wants civil servants to speak candidly

Francis Maude“The civil service is more hierarchical than the military, Francis Maude has suggested, as he urged Whitehall officials to offer ‘candid and challenging’ advice to ministers. … Addressing an audience of civil servants in London on Wednesday, Mr Maude said officials should be frank with their government bosses – provided they raised potential problems before a policy had been implemented.” – Financial Times

  • “The ousting of the part-time head of the Civil Service marks the failure of an attempt to split the top jobs” – Sue Cameron, Daily Telegraph

Me-OW! Mitchell’s tax bill

“Former Cabinet Minister Andrew Mitchell is facing a large tax bill after investing in a children’s film based on the comic-strip cat Garfield, it emerged last night. … The ex-Government chief whip has been identified as an investor in a film-financing company which has been declared a tax avoidance scheme by the authorities. … People who invested in the scheme are to receive ‘accelerated payment notices’, ordering them to settle up.” – Daily Mail

  • “Chris Boardman, the former Olympic gold medallist, who has been an outspoken critic of the government’s lack of spending on cycling safety, was an investor in an aggressive tax-avoidance scheme.” – The Times (£)
  • “The Chief Executive of HMRC has said she ‘deserved’ a bonus worth up to £20,000 last year, despite overseeing a £1.9 billion error that saw officials overstating the amount of extra revenue they were collecting.” – Daily Telegraph

Farage has a vision for Britain, admits Sandys

“Nigel Farage is a threat because he offers a ‘vision for Britain’ that goes beyond material wealth, the outgoing Conservative MP for one of Ukip’s top target seat has admitted. … Laura Sandys, the MP for South Thanet, suggested the Tories currently have a ‘transactional’ manifesto that emphasises how people can become wealthier.” – Daily Telegraph

Fabricant vs Bercow

Fabricant Moustache“The Speaker was confronted by the Conservative MP Michael Fabricant, who suggested that the outburst had contributed to the decision of Sir Robert Rogers, the Commons clerk, to retire from parliament after 42 years. … Mr Fabricant said that Mr Bercow had told Sir Robert to ‘f*** off’. … The Speaker, who is deeply unpopular among Tory MPs for what they regard as his high-handed manner, denied the claims.” – The Times (£)

Tories to consider proposals for further cuts to child benefit…

“Large families could see their child benefit slashed under plans being submitted to ministers. … Payments should be cut sharply for children after the third and limited to just four children in future, an influential think tank said. … The proposal, which is published today by the centre-right Policy Exchange, would save £1billion over five years as benefit payments to large families would rise at a lower annual rate than those to smaller families.” – Daily Mail

  • “Limiting child benefit to four children is a logical extension of the current system” – Daily Telegraph editorial

…just as the Lib Dems turn on the Government’s housing benefit changes

CURSE OF CLEGG one“Nick Clegg has reversed on a major Coalition policy by deciding the Liberal Democrats will now oppose the so-called ‘bedroom tax’. … His party will argue that the policy where working-age people who live in council housing and have spare rooms pay more must be axed. … The move creates a rift with the Lib Dems’ Conservative coalition partners who support the measure. … Last year Mr Clegg defended the policy in the House of Commons, telling a Labour MP that it would help the 1.8million people on the list waiting for a council house.” – Daily Mail

And another intra-Coalition split: Lamb backs the Right to Die legislation

“The minister in charge of care for the elderly  last night dramatically backed a change in the law on assisted dying. … On the eve of a crucial vote in the House of Lords, Norman Lamb said he had changed his mind about current rules and would support controversial reforms to allow assisted dying for the terminally ill with less than six months to live. … Yesterday, the Prime Minister and the leaders of Britain’s major faiths opposed the new legislation.” – Daily Mail

  • “A peer with an incurable form of blood cancer is to urge the House of Lords to support controversial assisted dying legislation that would give him the option of allowing doctors to hasten the end of his life.” – The Guardian
  • “Britain’s best-known disabled actress has urged parliament to throw out moves to legalise assisted dying, saying she does not trust doctors with extra power to prescribe lethal drugs.” – The Times (£)
  • “A leading oncologist has warned against the passing of an assisted dying bill, saying that the move could create ‘death squads’ out of doctors.” – The Independent

And comment:

  • “Instead of promoting assisted dying, we should help the living” – Ephraim Mirvis, Daily Telegraph

> Today: ToryDiary – The Right to Die must be resisted, for it would introduce a presumption of death into our law

Miliband’s brush with the President

Ed Miliband stare“Ed Miliband faces a crucial test on the world stage next week as he is due to meet Barack Obama at the White House. … It is expected Mr Obama will grant Mr Miliband a short meeting on Monday, known as a ‘brush by’, during which the president will drop in on a meeting between the Labour leader and high-level US officials. … This is typical for an opposition leader and is the same level of courtesy offered to David Cameron when he met George Bush in 2008.” – Daily Mail

The unions take control of Labour’s manifesto…

“Miliband union barons have taken an iron grip of Labour’s next election manifesto, it was claimed last night. … Members of the party’s National Policy Forum will meet on Saturday to finalise their plans for next May. … It has around 200 members, of which 30 are officially trade unionists. … But The Sun has learned that a further 83 of them have union links.” – The Sun (£)

…will they be satisfied with a part nationalisation of the railways?

high-speed rail“Labour has insisted that part-nationalisation of the railway system will not scare away private companies, claiming operators would rather ‘cut their own throats’ than withdraw. … Ed Miliband’s radical plan for the railways, to be announced at a conference this weekend, involves creating a state-owned operator that would be able to compete in most franchise competitions as they come up for renewal.” – Financial Times

NHS bosses fear budget shortfalls

“One in four finance directors of NHS trusts expect to overspend their budgets, according to the King’s Fund think-tank. … In the latest evidence of the financial strains facing the health service, the think-tank’s quarterly monitoring report says the number forecasting a deficit stands at its highest since 2011 when it began reporting on the data.” – Financial Times

  • “The Tories have accepted tens of thousands of pounds in donations from a director of a company whose care homes for the elderly have been extensively criticised by inspectors.” – The Independent
  • “Cracks are starting to show in the NHS, with one in 20 of the entire population now on a waiting list for treatment, an authoritative analysis warns.” – The Times (£)
  • “Pharmacies and high-street health specialists are ‘key to the survival of the NHS’ and should be the ‘first point of contact’ for tackling smoking and obesity levels, according to a coalition of leading primary healthcare experts.” – The Independent
  • “Poll shows support for raising taxes to sustain NHS” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “The health secretary is right to say that too many care homes are not good enough” – Times editorial (£)

> Today: LeftWatch – Pinning Down Miliband: Health

> Yesterday: Andrew Haldenby on Comment – The election campaign mustn’t get in the way of public service reform

660 suspected paedophiles arrested as part of child abuse investigations – and thousands more identified

Police shield“Britain’s senior police officers said they were at risk of being overwhelmed by an unprecedented number of child abuse investigations after the arrest of 660 suspected paedophiles. … The National Crime Agency (NCA) said it had uncovered hundreds of Britons previously unknown to police, including teachers and doctors, who had been using hidden corners of the internet to view obscene images of children.” – The Guardian

“A massive police operation targeting online paedophile activity in Britain has identified more than 10,000 suspects, it was revealed last night.” – The Times (£)

  • “A senior detective investigating sex abuse claims against Cyril Smith told the force there was prima facie evidence of the late MP’s guilt in 1970 – but this claim was overruled, newly released documents show.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “The rows over Gaza and child abuse have a disturbing similarity: an intolerance on all sides of reasoned public debate” – David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)

The UK must stand up for Hong Kong, says the FT

“The UK should spell out to China that it is in Beijing’s own economic interest for Hong Kong to remain a thriving global financial centre, something that can only be sustained by political stability and the rule of law. … Mr Cameron should recall that, in its dealings with world leaders, Beijing respects strength not weakness. Intervention on this issue might temporarily threaten some British commercial interests in China. However, the freedom of the people of Hong Kong is a matter on which the British government under Margaret Thatcher has made a firm treaty commitment.” – Financial Times editorial

  • “Nick Clegg said he would not shy away from promoting democracy in Hong Kong after China accused him of interfering in its internal affairs.” – The Guardian

And further comment:

  • “The West should be in no doubt about China’s global ambition” – Times editorial (£)

Israel and Hamas agree short ceasefire after the deaths of four young boys

Israel flag“Israel and Hamas have agreed to a five-hour ‘humanitarian pause’ in their nine-day battle. The suspension of hostilities, brokered by the UN and starting at 10am on Thursday, comes after four Palestinian children died in an Israeli strike on a Gaza beach and follows an earlier Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that was observed only by Israel. … The brief truce has been called to allow restocking with food, water and other essentials by the many Palestinians who have been trapped in their houses for days.” – The Guardian

  • “Western governments are sending millions of pounds of aid to areas held by the radical Islamic group Isis in northern Syria, The Independent can reveal.” – The Independent

And comment:

  • “Gaza cannot be rescued from its misery without relieving it from the consequences of Hamas’s isolation” – Guardian editorial
  • “Palestinians need a state of their own” – Financial Times editorial

News in brief

  • Teen pregnancy rates fall – is Facebook the cause? – Daily Mail
  • Met Office warns of a heatwave followed by storms – The Times (£)
  • Wind turbine fire risk highlighted by researchers – Financial Times
  • Archbishop of Canterbury departs club over its no-women policy – The Independent
  • Meet the Changyuraptor: new four-winged dinosaur discovered – The Independent
  • Criminals renting fake passports for £250 – The Sun (£)
  • Louis van Gaal’s first day at Manchester United – The Sun (£)