Cameron’s and Osborne’s tributes to the fallen, 100 years after Britain entered World War One


“A hundred years ago today, Britain entered World War One. … I’ll be marking that centenary at two events — one in Scotland, one in Belgium. We will lay wreaths, observe silences and remember the millions who died. No one reading this paper fought in the World War One and very few will have any memories of it at all. … But I believe it is our duty to commemorate this centenary.” – David Cameron, The Sun (£)

“It is not often that civil servants from the UK Treasury are described as unsung heroes. But as we remember the outbreak of the first world war, and the momentous sacrifice of those who fought and died, spare a thought too for those in Whitehall who, though far from the field of battle, fought hard for their country.” – George Osborne, Financial Times

  • telegraph“Such ceremonies, and others like them, remind us that old enmities can be overcome – that friendships and alliances can be just as powerful and enduring as hatreds and resentments.” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “…it is important that we do not just solemnly commemorate. We should also celebrate those who served and hail their selflessness and courage.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “The historian Adam Tooze has written of the gigantic and uncompleted task of managing ‘the vast unwieldy dynamic of the modern world’. In the Middle East, in the Pacific and in Europe itself, that task remains unfinished.” – Guardian editorial
  • “Those qualities should also inform British policy as it tries to take stock of the flashpoints in the world today” – Times editorial (£)
  • “The war was fought with good cause. But a spirit of vengeful nationalism corrupted the peace, and lives on today.” – Independent editorial
  • “All of a sudden a century seems like the blink of an eye and our settled order an alarmingly fragile thing.” – Andrew Murrison, Daily Telegraph
  • “The legacy of how we responded is still felt today.” – Dan Jarvis, The Sun (£)
  • “My father threw away his poppy in disgust” – Robert Fisk, The Independent

Top general warns that British troops may have to return to Afghanistan

“Britain’s decade-long involvement in Afghanistan has produced a ‘warrior generation’ of troops who are ready to be deployed to the world’s trouble spots, according to the head of the British Army. … General Sir Peter Wall, the Chief of the General Staff, suggested that as the Armed Forces make their final withdrawal from Afghanistan, Britain might have to get involved in the country again if terrorists return there. … He said a ‘resurgent’ Taliban and al-Qaeda could require Britain to make ‘more effort’ in Afghanistan despite moves to achieve a total pull-out by the end of the year.” – Daily Telegraph

The Prime Minister is criticised for dishing out more peerages…

Cameron1“David Cameron will be ‘degrading’ Parliament when he stuffs the House of Lords with yet more political party cronies this week, it has been claimed. … The Prime Minister is to hand out around 20 peerages nominated by the three main parties boosting numbers in the upper chamber to their highest since most hereditary peers were removed. … Paul Flynn, a member of the Political and Constitutional Reform select committee, said: ‘It is a nonsense to add to the number of unelected people in Parliament. … Bringing in these party political appointments degrades Parliament, it is a backwards step.'” – Daily Mail

  • “David Cameron has been criticised for failing to appoint more peers from the United Kingdom Independence Party, despite the party’s success in May’s elections.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “This House of Cronies discredits our politics” – Daily Mail editorial

…for using RAF planes at taxpayers’ expense…

“David Cameron has been accused of wasting taxpayers’ money after he used an RAF jet to fly back from his summer holiday after just one day abroad. … The Prime Minister flew to Portugal with his wife and three children on Saturday where they are enjoying a 10-day break staying in a villa. … But after just a few hours in the sun, he was yesterday flown home by the Royal Squadron so he could attend the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. … He will today use the RAF plane to fly to France and Belgium for the First World War commemorations before flying back to Portugal on a commercial flight at his own expense.” – Daily Mail

  • “A Royal Navy ship yesterday evacuated 108 Britons from strife-torn Libya.” – The Sun (£)

…and Boris’s attacks haven’t finished, either

BORIS angel devil“The London Mayor will unveil a report on how Britain could thrive outside the EU if new trade links are built elsewhere. … In a direct challenge to the Prime Minister’s authority, he will heap pressure on Mr Cameron to toughen up his negotiating stand in Brussels. … Mr Johnson is also expected to go much further than the PM on immigration — by calling for blocks on unskilled arrivals from the EU. … Friends said his speech on Wednesday will kick off a careful campaign to plot his return to Westminster.” – The Sun (£)

  • “London could lose more than a million jobs if Britain quits the EU and fails to adopt more outward-looking trade policies, according to a report commissioned by Boris Johnson, the London mayor. … At the same time, it says, Britain could leave the EU without disastrous consequences, but only if it does not turn in on itself.” – Financial Times
  • “Mr Osborne, due to give his own speech tomorrow, is certain to be asked for his reaction to a report, commissioned by Mr Johnson, which suggests more jobs could be created if Britain were to leave than to stay in an unreformed EU.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “The barbaric events that pushed Poland into the arms of the EU” – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph
  • “The Tory civil war over the EU is down to weak leadership” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)
  • “Europe is what drives the Tories and Boris has made the argument his own.” – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun (£)

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – With a glimmer in his eye, Boris performs an EU fan dance

Hunt to announce an extra £250 million for clearing the NHS’s surgery backlog

NHS“The NHS is to spend £250million to clear a massive backlog of knee, cataract and hip replacement operations. … Jeremy Hunt will today announce that the injection of cash will help ensure no one waits more than a year for treatment – unless it is clinically necessary. … Officials admit that meeting the backlog will cause a short-term rise in the number of people waiting more than 18 weeks – still the most important target for hospitals – breaching a national pledge that 90 per cent of patients should be treated within this timescale.” – Daily Mail

  • “Hospitals last night faced huge pressure to sack pirate parking squads after it emerged more than three quarters of NHS  trusts are using them to police their car parks.” – Daily Mail
  • “Patients treated over the phone rather than face-to-face are far more likely to seek further medical help, a study has found.” – Daily Mail
  • “Jeremy Pemberton, the first gay British clergyman to have a same-sex marriage, has had an NHS job offer withdrawn because a bishop refuses to grant him the licence he requires to work.” – The Independent

> Today: Charlotte Leslie MP’s column – When competition and privatisation work – and when they don’t

Is Osborne’s Help to Buy scheme on the wane? Lloyds to cut its lending

help-to-buy-logo-jpg“Britain’s biggest mortgage lender has slashed the amount customers can borrow under the Government’s Help to Buy scheme in a move branded ‘bad news for first-time buyers’. … Lloyds Banking Group cut the amount it is prepared to lend by 70 per cent – from £500,000 to £150,000. … The state-backed bank, which owns the Halifax, currently offers around half of all the mortgages taken out under Chancellor George Osborne’s scheme to help young people who cannot rely on wealthy parents for a downpayment on their own home.” – Daily Mail

  • “The chancellor should more than halve the £600,000 limit on Help to Buy and start to wind up the mortgage subsidy scheme before it distorts the UK housing market, the head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has said.” – The Times (£)
  • “Britain’s banks have stepped up opposition to the creation of an EU financial services chief, saying the move could fracture the single market and ‘harm the UK’s national interests’.” – Financial Times
  • “HSBC is set to become the latest bank to take a fresh charge for mis-sold payment protection insurance as Britain’s largest lenders set aside billions of pounds for past misconduct.” – Financial Times
  • “Economists are expecting the first official pressure for a rise in UK interest rates to emerge this week, when the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee (MPC) meets.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “It is time to wind up the Help to Buy scheme” – Times editorial (£)
  • “The British economy struggles to pay its way abroad. It will require more than good luck in the casino of the foreign exchange markets to fix that.” – Financial Times editorial
  • “No previous macroeconomic policies for three centuries have been so disastrous.” – David Blanchflower, The Independent

> Today: Lord Flight on Comment – Retrospective, arbitrary, unfair – problems with the Finance Act

Will the Government start sharing our private data?

“Details of the financial history, qualifications and property wealth of millions of Britons could be shared across Whitehall for the first time without their consent, the Telegraph can disclose. … Information including voters’ driving licences, criminal records, energy use and even whether they use a bus pass could be shared under a radical blueprint to link up thousands of state databases used by schools, councils, police and civil servants.” – Daily Telegraph

Baby-boomers are leading a social revolution, says the Government’s champion for older workers

elderly“Baby boomers are spearheading a social revolution by redefining retirement and old age, the government’s champion for older workers says today. … They will force companies to recognise the benefits of a gradual and phased withdrawal from the world of work, rather than a sudden cut-off retirement date. … Ros Altmann, a former director-general of Saga, said that the change was being driven by people living longer and healthier lives, along with poor pension prospects for those heading towards retirement age.” – The Times (£)

  • “People in their mid-50s could have to pay charges running into thousands of pounds to access their pension pot next year.” – Daily Telegraph

Ministers plan a crackdown on “legal highs”

“New powers to tackle the growing use of ‘legal highs’ are to be introduced. High-street ‘head-shops’ and those behind UK-based websites offering products that mimic the effects of banned substances such as cocaine and heroin could face the same punishments given to banned drug dealers. … Ministers are taking action after an expert review, delivered last month, set out the options for tackling a booming market in legal highs.” – The Times (£)

  • “Britain’s most wanted man has been found and arrested in South Africa, following nearly three years on the run … The arrest was lauded by Crimestoppers chief, Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC, who said: ‘Crimestoppers is extremely relieved to hear the news of Operation Zygos fugitive Martin Evans’ arrest.'” – The Independent

“England is the last remnant of the British Empire.” Sir Merrick Cockell speaks to the Independent

England flag“He’s passionate about devolution for England. ‘It’s not called that in Whitehall,’ he says, laughing. ‘They like to speak in terms of “earned autonomy”.’ But, he adds, however it is described, England needs more of it, and a greater say in how public money is spent. … As chair of the LGA, he heard complaints from communities in England that public services in Scotland were not being cut to the same extent as south of the border. ‘England is the last remnant of the British empire. Everyone else has been given back their freedom.'” – The Independent

  • “Councils are being driven to financial disaster as they struggle with budget cuts of almost a third over five years, the Government is warned today.” – The Independent
  • “Crackdown begins on drivers who leave engines running, as council officials say they will target diesel vehicles” – Daily Telegraph
  • “An entrepreneur has gambled his home on building a toll road after becoming frustrated at council delays in clearing a commuter route blocked by a landslip.” – Daily Telegraph

Immigration speech 1) Clegg to say that the public has lost faith in politicians

CLEGG Bird“The public has lost faith in government claims about tackling immigration because it does not tally with what they see on the ground, Nick Clegg will admit. … In a speech on immigration tomorrow, the Deputy Prime Minister will say it is ‘no wonder’ that people do not believe what ministers tell them when they have been ‘repeatedly told one thing only to then see another’. … He will speak out in favour of the free movement of European citizens but seek reforms to ensure that fewer Eastern Europeans move here if more countries are admitted to the EU in future.” – Daily Mail

  • “One of the UK’s most influential businessmen has hit out at European Union and US sanctions against Russia, claiming that they are ill-conceived and may result in the loss of British jobs.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Reducing immigration into the UK will have strong negative effects on the economy and would result in an income tax hike, a new study predicts.” – The Guardian
  • “Calais was at crisis point last night as French riot police prepared to raze a camp of East African migrants desperate to make their way to Britain.” – Daily Mail

Immigration speech 2) Reeves to move against benefit tourism…

“Labour’s welfare spokesman Rachel Reeves will also call for reforms to the freedom of movement – to tackle benefit tourism – in a speech tomorrow. … But the Tories claim her idea – to stop people being able to claim welfare unless they have built up sufficient National Insurance contributions – was likely to be illegal under EU law. … On Saturday, Labour’s Ed Balls said the party could not win the election unless it became tougher on immigration.” – Daily Mail

…or is it a move against UKIP?

FARAGE eating“Ukip could cost Labour victory in next year’s general election by winning several key seats thanks to dramatic advances made by Nigel Farage’s party in a range of largely working-class constituencies. The most detailed analysis yet of Ukip’s performance in recent ballots, including those for this year’s European Parliament and local elections, allied with the latest census data, concludes that complacency in Labour ranks over the Ukip threat could be a major factor in Ed Miliband’s battle for Downing Street.” – The Independent

  • “Labour needs to set out a clearer agenda for European Union reform, including restrictions on immigrants claiming benefits for a year or more and compulsory language lessons, to help win back ground from the UK Independence party, according to a new pamphlet from the Fabian Society.” – The Guardian

Miliband is hampering peace in Gaza, suggests Grayling

“The Labour leader criticised the Government for its ‘inexplicable silence’ over civilian casualties in the Palestinian territory and its failure to tell Israel that its actions are ‘unacceptable and unjustifiable’. … Yesterday Justice Secretary Chris Grayling hit back, saying ultra-critical comments about Israel would make it harder for Britain to help find a peaceful solution. … And Downing Street accused Mr Miliband of playing politics with the Middle Eastern conflict because he feels the public is increasingly taking the side of the Palestinians.” – Daily Mail

“The Labour leader rejected Downing Street claims that he was trying to score political points, pointing out that Cameron criticised Israel in 2006 for taking disproportionate action and risking civilian lives with its incursion into Lebanon.” – The Guardian

  • Israel flag“An Israeli attack on a UN school in Gaza which killed 10 people today was ‘a moral outrage and a criminal act’, according to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon” – The Independent
  • “The bulk of Israeli ground forces in the Gaza Strip pulled back to positions close to the border with Israel on Sunday, while other units have withdrawn from the territory entirely, according to military officials.” – Financial Times
  • “Israel spied on the US secretary of state, John Kerry, during peace talks with Palestinians and Arab states last year, the magazine Der Spiegel has reported.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “You’re not getting the real truth about Gaza” – Melanie Phillips, The Times (£)

> Today: Mohammed Amin on Comment – My perspective on the Gaza conflict

Harman blames the Coalition for a decline in after-school activities

harman“The number of primary school pupils taking part in extra-curricular music, drama and dance activities has slumped under the coalition, Harriet Harman, the shadow culture secretary, has said. … A Labour analysis of official figures also identified a widening gap between the participation of white children and those from black and ethnic minority backgrounds in after-school arts classes.” – The Guardian

  • “Oxford and Cambridge universities could increase fees to £16,000 a year under new plans expected to appear in the Conservative manifesto.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “One in five teenagers could miss out on a place at a top university as a result of ministers relying on ‘flawed’ data for their exam reforms, according to researchers.” – The Independent

A brouhaha over Blair’s Faith Foundation

“Tony Blair’s faith charity has hit back at an ex-staff member who raised questions about the amount of time the foundation devoted to protecting the reputation of the former prime minister. … Martin Bright, a former website editor for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, wrote about his five-month job in an article for the Mail on Sunday, saying there was much that was ‘puzzling or frankly weird’ about the former prime minister’s web of charity and business interests.” – The Guardian

One day to go until Darling’s first television debate with Salmond

Scottish flag“Alex Salmond has been advised to address his television audience directly and temper his optimism about the case for Scottish independence with a sober, statesmanlike tone when he takes on Alistair Darling in their first televised head-to-head this week. … The first minister’s aides believe he must focus on persuading more than half a million undecided Scottish voters to back independence when he faces Darling, the leader of the pro-UK Better Together campaign, for the potentially defining contest on STV on Tuesday.” – The Guardian

  • “The Commonwealth Games has not affected how the majority of Scots are likely to vote in the independence referendum, according to a new poll.” – The Scotsman
  • “The Scottish Government’s promise of free childcare to Scotland’s poorest families is ‘an absolute shambles’ with many two-year-olds across the country losing out on places, the Scottish Conservatives have claimed.” – The Scotsman

And comment:

  • “People are wise enough these days to separate sport from politics: the success of the Games will probably not affect the independence referendum either way” – Guardian editorial
  • “For Scotland, the independence debate is about more than the economy, stupid” – Chris Huhne, The Guardian
  • “TV debate a chance for Darling” – Brian Monteith, The Scotsman

News in brief

  • The Commonwealth Games close in Glasgow, with a little bit of help from Kylie – Daily Mail
  • Lineker calls on England to boycott the next World Cup, in protest against FIFA corruption – The Sun (£)
  • Ebola scare at Gatwick – The Sun (£)
  • “This ebola epidemic should frighten us all” – Matt Ridley, The Times (£)
  • Charities warns against the closure of domestic violence refuges – The Guardian
  • Earthquake kills hundreds of people in south-west China – The Guardian
  • Isis seizes control of Kurd enclaves in north-west Iraq – Financial Times

And finally 1) Milimocked

Ed Miliband stare“…it will do nothing to help Ed Miliband’s self-confessed image problems that it appears even children are now mocking him. … The Labour leader was yesterday dealt an embarrassing blow when a young boy sneaked up behind him and poked his tongue out during a media appearance. … The boy pulled off his prank behind the back of the unsuspecting politician after riding up on a toy scooter, much to the glee of onlookers.” – Daily Mail

And finally 2) Heaton-Harris, stand-up

“Rib-ticking Tory Chris Heaton-Harris has them rolling in the Ayes — after garnering an army of online followers with his witty tweets. … The MP for Daventry, Northants, brings the house down with rapid-fire punchlines and cringeworthy puns. … Here we bring you some of the gags which have won him an impressive 7,500-plus followers on Twitter.” – The Sun (£)

8 comments for: Newslinks for Monday 4th August 2015

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