Reshuffle 1) Hague stands down as Foreign Secretary – and will leave Parliament in 2015

HAGUE William looking right“William Hague has stood down as foreign secretary and will stay in the cabinet as Leader of the Commons, Downing Street has said. … Mr Hague is to leave Parliament at the 2015 general election after 26 years as MP for Richmond, North Yorkshire. … Senior ministers have told the BBC that the current defence secretary, Philip Hammond, will replace Mr Hague.” – BBC

  • “William Hague is a man of great talent but he was an invisible Foreign Secretary” – Simon Heffer, Daily Mail
  • “William Hague, the brilliant Tory who lost his passion for politics” – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • “Ukraine, Syria, Middle East… a baptism of fire awaits new Foreign Secretary at the Foreign Office” – Oliver Wright, The Independent

> Yesterday:

Reshuffle 2) Paterson, Clarke, Grieve and Willetts are out, among others, in a cull of middle-aged men

CAMERON reshuffle“William Hague dramatically quit as Foreign Secretary last night as David Cameron embarked on a cull of white, middle-aged men in his most brutal reshuffle since becoming Tory leader. … More than a dozen ministers – including Cabinet veteran Kenneth Clarke, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, Attorney General Dominic Grieve, Welsh Secretary David Jones and leader of the Commons Andrew Lansley – are leaving the Government. … it risks a backlash from the Tory old guard, who protested that many were being unfairly axed simply for being ‘pale and male’. One senior Conservative said: ‘This is a massacre.’” – Daily Mail

  • “[Ken Clarke] warned Mr Cameron that he intended to campaign ‘vigorously’ for Britain to remain in the EU ahead of the Prime Minister’s promised referendum.” – Daily Mail
  • “The leader of the Commons, Andrew Lansley, is blocking a debate on whether to make MPs accountable to the parliamentary standards committee for exceptional wrongdoing in their ‘private and personal lives’, triggering a clash with the commissioner responsible for overseeing MPs’ standards.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “…this paper will be shedding few tears over the departure of Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who has tirelessly championed the European Court of Human Rights” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “Ken Clarke was a terrible Justice Secretary whose sacking we called for more times than we can remember. … But he is an amiable, clever, blunt-spoken bloke who once made an excellent Chancellor and we wish him well as he leaves Government.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “There always comes a moment in any parliament, too, when one generation has to yield to another.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “David Cameron’s reshuffle is more symbol than substance” – Janan Ganesh, Financial Times
  • “Spin doctors? Media managers? Call it arrogance if you must, but Ken never needed them.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • “The question is why for the first time in the coalition are the Lib Dems sitting out a reshuffle?” – David Maddox, The Scotsman

> Today:

Reshuffle 3) Female MPs set to replace them today

Conservative women“Miss McVey, the MP for Wirral West in her native Merseyside, impressed Conservative chiefs with fluent TV appearances to defend the Government’s welfare reform record. … Her success is set to be mirrored by around a dozen women, including schools minister Elizabeth Truss. … Other possible promotions include Nicky Morgan, financial secretary to the Treasury and women’s minister. … Penny Mordaunt, an aide at the Ministry of Defence, could also get a step up. … Darling of the right, Priti Patel, is another name being spoken of as a new minister. … Margot James, Amber Rudd, Claire Perry, Harriett Baldwin and Nicola Blackwood could also see themselves advance, and there is speculation defence minister Anna Soubry could do well.” – Daily Mail

  • “Caroline Spelman warned that reforms introduced after the expenses scandal in 2009 had spawned ‘significant unintended consequences’ that were putting women off running for parliament.” – Financial Times
  • “Despite a century of advances in the workplace, the majority of British women still shoulder the bulk of responsibilities in the home, research published today shows.” – The Independent

And comment:

  • “In terms of the women’s cause in the Conservative Party, there is little behind the symbolic changes.” – Steve Richards, The Independent
  • “A token reshuffle does nothing for women” – Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)
  • “The cost of child care is holding back the emergence of true gender equality” – Isabel Hardman, Daily Telegraph

> Today: Rebecca Coulson on Comment – Conservatives must reclaim the mantle of niceness from the left

> Yesterday: MPsETC – The Optics Nerve

Butler-Sloss steps down from the child abuse inquiry

Butler-Sloss“Theresa May was accused of presiding over a ‘shambles’ as the head of the Government’s child abuse inquiry resigned six days after being appointed. … Baroness Butler-Sloss, 80, had faced pressure from MPs, lawyers and child protection experts over her brother’s involvement in an alleged cover-up of an Establishment paedophile ring. … The former judge said that, when accepting the inquiry role, she had not ‘sufficiently considered’ the  difficulties posed by allegations about her brother, the former attorney general Sir Michael Havers, might cause.” – Daily Mail

  • “Another week, another Home Office fiasco” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “Baroness Butler-Sloss’s decision to stand down as head of the historic sex abuse inquiry could be a blessing in disguise” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “It was incompetent to appoint Baroness Butler-Sloss to chair an inquiry into child abuse. She was right to stand down” – Times editorial (£)
  • “That neither she nor Theresa May seem to have been aware of the impossibility of her appointment is evidence of a worrying insensitivity.” – Guardian editorial
  • “Lady Butler-Sloss? That was not what Keith Vaz called her. Time and again, chairman Vaz said ‘Butler-Schloss’.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • “The notion of a huge paedophile conspiracy is dreamt up by irrational people convinced that ‘they’ are out to get ‘us’” – Hugo Rifkind, The Times (£)
  • “A child abuse inquiry requires a truth-seeker. Grabbing a grandee isn’t enough” – Beatrix Campbell, The Guardian

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – A scandal is a man-versus-horse race – Butler-Sloss was a slip on the scree

Another problem for the Home Office – asylum fraud

“Ministers will be panned for failing to tackle widespread fraud in the asylum system – and not doing enough to throw out bogus applicants. … A series of scathing reports will attack the Government for blowing taxpayers money on fraudsters who claim asylum – and then rake in state support while their application is being processed. … Sir John Vine, Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, will say there is no strategy for tackling the fraud and chasing debts.” – The Sun (£)

May puts water cannons on hold

MAY Theresa menacing“No decision is imminent to authorise the use of water cannon on the streets of Britain despite the fact that the first of three German vehicles bought by the mayor of London has already been delivered, the home secretary has said. … May told MPs that she could not yet give a timeframe for her required decision on whether to authorise the use of water cannon, adding that there were scientific and medical issues to be resolved.” – The Guardian

Police chiefs adopt a new attitude towards whistleblowers

“Police chiefs have ended a clampdown on whistleblowers to the media with a new code of ethics that puts officers under a ‘positive obligation’ to challenge failings by their colleagues and their bosses. … The guidelines, produced by the College of Policing, come after criticism from the home secretary among others about falling standards and failings. It is also part of a drive to turn policing into a profession similar to medicine or law.” – The Guardian

  • “Schools are referring to the police record numbers of pupils and staff identified as being at risk of radicalisation.” – The Guardian

Government lawyers reveal the spy agencies’ methods

Spying“Britain’s spy agencies do harvest a ‘haystack’ of private communications by innocent people in order to target terrorist suspects, Government lawyers have admitted. … GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 need to intercept the phone calls, text messages and emails to find their criminal ‘needle’, a tribunal heard. … But lawyers representing intelligence chiefs said the mass surveillance was ‘lawful and appropriate’ and said claims it acted illegally were ‘outlandish’.” – Daily Mail

  • “The UK intelligence agency GCHQ has developed sophisticated tools to manipulate online polls, spam targets with SMS messages, track people by impersonating spammers and monitor social media postings, according to newly-published documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.” – The Guardian
  • “Government hopes of pushing through an emergency surveillance bill without disagreement between parties hit a setback on Monday when Labour tabled amendments requiring six-monthly reviews of the laws and a legal commitment to hold an independent overarching review of surveillance legislation by the end of 2016.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “Even dogged campaigners for privacy ought to concede that the balance between freedom from prying and security is tricky to get right. It is precisely because the balance is difficult, however, that any adjustment should be put forward properly, with every implication tested in debate.” – Guardian editorial
  • “Forgive me for not taking lectures on national security from traitors like Snowden and Assange (or their Guardian fan club)” – Max Hastings, Daily Mail

Juncker could punish Cameron for tying to block his appointment

cameron-face“Jean-Claude Juncker is to be confirmed as president of the European Commission, amid fears that he will punish David Cameron for trying to block his appointment. … Mr Cameron believes the post of internal market commissioner would allow him to repatriate powers from Brussels in the coming years. … Officials have said that Mr Juncker will deny Britain the post because of Mr Cameron’s repeated calls for tougher restrictions on the free movement of migrants in the EU.” – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – England and Germany – Strange Meeting 

The FT says that Britain needs a defence strategy

“Britain’s party leaders know they can cut the MoD because it is an easy political target. After the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, voters lack any appetite for military engagement and are increasingly indifferent to defence cuts. Even so, the relentless Treasury trimming of the MoD looks set to continue without any vision being offered by Mr Cameron and his colleagues of what kind of military role the UK should play in the world. This cannot continue.” – Financial Times editorial

  • “‘Unseen enemies’ are only part of the battle for the Armed Forces” – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph

Osborne warns that Salmond is “in denial” over Scotland’s economy

Scottish flag“George Osborne today warned that Alex Salmond is ‘in denial’ about the three major problems that would face a separate Scotland’s economy with only weeks to go before the independence referendum. … Writing for the Telegraph, the Chancellor said the Scottish Government has no plan for the currency, dealing with the deficit or managing the impact of rapidly declining North Sea oil and gas revenues. … But he warned that ‘our economic security hangs on the answers’ to these questions thanks to their influence over everything from mortgage and tax rates to spending on schools and hospitals.” – Daily Telegraph

£22 billion: the amount owed to the Exchequer

“The Government is owed £22billion – enough to give every taxpayer a £750 rebate or build 1,500 new schools. … A report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee reveals a further £32billion has been written off over the last five years – equal to more than £1,000 per taxpayer. … Most of the debt stems from uncollected taxes, but huge sums are also owed in overpaid benefits and tax credits, unpaid court fines and student loans. Much of it has languished uncollected for years, with little prospect of ever being recovered.” – Daily Mail

  • “Thousands of celebrities, sports stars and wealthy professionals will be warned today that they face massive bills following a clampdown on tax avoidance schemes. … HM Revenue and Customs is publishing a list of 1,200 avoidance schemes whose members will be told to pay up within 90 days.” – Daily Mail
  • “A respected former chair of the Commons Defence Select Committee has condemned Margaret Hodge’s high-profile leadership of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), claiming that her ‘confrontational approach’ is ‘counter-productive’…” – The Independent

Hunt reveals plans to charge foreign visitors who use the NHS

HUNT Doctor Carla Millar“Visitors to the UK from outside Europe who seek treatment on the National Health Service will have to pay 150 per cent of the cost as part of a government move to discourage foreigners from coming to the UK specifically for free medical treatment. … Jeremy Hunt, the UK health secretary, on Monday announced plans for the charge as part of a change in policy intended to recoup up to £500m in healthcare costs from treating foreign visitors and migrants.” – Financial Times

  • “Jeremy Hunt is preparing plans to place GPs into special measures if they are judged to be failing their patients, in a significant extension of the accountability system in the NHS.” – The Guardian
  • “More NHS organisations should become staff-led ‘mutuals’, according to a government-commissioned review that suggests worker-run organisations would deliver better, safer care and help the health service to cope with cash constraints.” – Financial Times
  • “Hospital patients should demand action if they wait more than 30 minutes for pain relief or see other ‘red flags’ that indicate that wards are short-staffed, the NHS treatments adviser says.” – The Times (£)
  • “Patients are being denied access to vital surgery by NHS bodies, which are ignoring guidelines and choosing to ration some operations, according to an investigation by the Royal College of Surgeons.” – The Guardian

Peers promise not to wreck the assisted suicide legislation

“In a letter to The Times, six peers who have led opposition on the issue say that they still object to the bill in principle and call the safeguards that it contains ‘minimal and perilous’. If passed, it would allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients with only six months to live, if they request them. … However, the signatories say that after the Supreme Court ruled last month that parliament should consider the matter rather than leaving it to the courts, they will not attempt to stop the bill at its second reading with a wrecking amendment.” – The Times (£)

  • “People are risking prison by helping their loved ones die because MPs and peers keep ducking the issue, according to a peer campaigning to change the law.” – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: Cllr Chris Whitehouse on Local Government – The Bill that would transform our doctors into licensed killers

Gove wants schools to get real

“Education Secretary Michael Gove will today launch consultations on new content for A and AS-levels in maths, further maths, geography, ancient languages, modern foreign languages, PE, music and dance. … There is a new emphasis on problem solving in maths A-levels. … For the first time, students must interpret at least one real, large data set for example mortality and health statistics for countries across the world.” – Daily Mail

  • “Children will be expected to spot an adverbial, subtract fractions and extract facts from an extended piece of writing in new primary school tests that are being developed.” – The Times (£)

The Coalition is set to miss its own carbon targets, warn advisers

Nuclear power towers“The coalition’s flagship insulation programmes have failed to put the UK on the right track to meet its commitments on cutting greenhouse gases, a review by the statutory advisers on climate change has found. … If policies remain the same, the UK will cut carbon dioxide emissions by only about 21% to 23% from 2013 to 2025, compared with the government’s own targets of a reduction of 31% over the same period, according to the Committee on Climate Change” – The Guardian

  • “Drax Group has won an appeal against a decision to exclude it from receiving a £1.3bn investment contract to fund the conversion of one of its coal-fired generating units to biomass.” – Financial Times

Could the Tories prosper as UKIP wane?

“Ukip support has plunged back from its high point of the European elections, giving a boost to all the established Westminster parties and pushing the Tories into the lead, according to a new Guardian/ICM poll. … Nigel Farage’s party drops back into single figures to stand on 9%, down seven points from last month’s score of 16%. The Tories pick up the lion’s share of these deserters, gaining three points to climb to 34%, enough to put them a single point ahead of Labour, even though the opposition also edges up one to 33%.” – The Guardian

  • “However, a poll by the Tory peer Lord Ashcroft still showed Labour four points ahead.” – The Times (£)

Kinnock was a better leader than Miliband, says Clarke

KINNOCK Neil“Ed Miliband is a worse Labour leader than Neil Kinnock and will lose next year’s General Election, a former Labour Home Secretary warned last night. … Mr Clarke said the Labour leader had ‘no narrative’ and had set out an ‘assembly of odd policies’ which were failing to appeal to voters. … And he said Labour would be doing better in the polls if Ed Balls was replaced by Alistair Darling.” – Daily Mail

  • “Ed Miliband may be even worse than Neil Kinnock, as he says. But 2015 won’t be a re-run of 1992.” – Sun editorial (£)

> Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment – Labour lead by four points in this week’s Ashcroft National Poll

The Church of England votes to allow women bishops

“The Church of England finally voted yesterday to let women become bishops – to the anger of many traditionalists. … The move was passed by a comfortable majority at a tense gathering of its parliament, the General Synod, in York. … It ended 14 years of hand-wringing and faction-fighting, delighting Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and almost all of his fellow bishops. … The decision freed the Church from the risk of intervention by politicians.” – Daily Mail

  • “It was important for Anglicans to show unity at a time when other challenges, most notably gay marriage, loom ahead of them” – Daily Telegraph editorial

The resilience of the over-60s

UK notes and coins“Pensioners and those on the verge of retirement have fared better than all working age adults since the financial crisis, according to research which highlights a deepening generational divide. … While the declining income of the 20-something “jinxed generation” has preoccupied politicians and policy makers, research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank suggests that those in their thirties, forties, and fifties have also suffered substantial falls. Only the 60-plus cohort has avoided any drop in income at all.” – Financial Times

  • “Young voters were hardest hit by the recession – could they determine the next General Election?” – David Williamson, WalesOnline

News in brief

  • Israeli military shoots down a drone flown from Gaza – Daily Mail
  • Three Israelis admit kidnapping teenager and burning him to death – The Independent
  • Egypt announces the terms for a proposed ceasefire between Israel and Hamas… – Financial Times
  • …which the armed wing of Hamas promptly rejects – The Times (£)
  • UN security council votes to deliver aid to rebel-held areas of Syria – The Guardian
  • Russia snubs Farnborough – The Guardian

And finally 1) Bercow’s secretary’s secretary

John Bercow“I am told that he is now looking to recruit a secretary for his secretary. The lucky minion will earn just under £23,000. Only those with robust personalities should apply: the turnover of staff in Bercow’s office is high.” – Tim Walker, Daily Telegraph

And finally 2) Cameron on Craven

“He has presented Countryfile for 25 years. … But to many, including Prime Minister David Cameron, John Craven will forever be remembered best for his children’s TV roles. … Mr Craven first found fame in the early Seventies when he presented the BBC’s first children’s news programme John Craven’s Newsround. … He revealed: ‘When I met David Cameron, he came straight up to me and said, ‘I grew up on you.’ I thought, Really? Am I that old?’” – Daily Mail