Darling triumphs over Salmond in Scotland’s first televised debate

Scottish flag“The First Minister failed to secure a decisive victory in the first TV debate of the referendum campaign, floundering when questions about a future currency and labelled ‘snide’ by audience members. … Better Together leader Alistair Darling shed his reputation for being dull to go on the attack, branding plans to keep the pound ‘stupidity on stilts’ and accusing the Yes campaign of being based on ‘guess work, blind faith and crossed fingers’. … A snap exit poll by ICM of more than 500 viewers after the STV debate found that 56 per cent believed Mr Darling won, with just 44 per cent backing the SNP leader.” – Daily Mail

  • “Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond was forced on the defensive over the question of what currency an independent Scotland would use…” – Financial Times
  • “Polling company Ipsos Mori said its latest poll had found a four-point reduction in the pro-union lead ahead of the debate” – Financial Times
  • “Broadcaster STV faced criticism on Tuesday night after online viewers reported problems trying to watch the head-to-head debate on Scottish independence.” – The Guardian
  • “A pledge by David Cameron and the Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders that Holyrood will get new powers if voters reject independence has been branded a ‘desperate bribe’ by one of the architects of the Scottish Parliament.” – The Scotsman

And comment:

  • “Perhaps the most telling testament to the state of the nation came from a member of the audience who said there was not enough clear information before the public who were having to ‘wade through the political spin’. That being the case, then on that one, crucial criterion there were no winners last night.” – Scotsman editorial
  • “…it turned into the Big Silence night, with neither side confronting the real issues and harsh realities about the future of an independent Scotland.” – Max Hastings, Daily Mail
  • “Darling wins debate – but consolation may be Salmond’s” – Janan Ganesh, Financial Times
  • “Alistair the Animated even produced recognisable soundbites.” – Michael White, The Guardian
  • “If Scotland is to gain more freedoms, shouldn’t the same thing happen to the north of England?” – Hamish McRae, The Independent

> Today: Henry Hill’s column – Father of Dunblane victim attacks SNP drive for armed police

Warsi resigns, to little sympathy from some…

Sayeeda Warsi“Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi today dramatically resigned in protest at the government’s ‘morally indefensible’ policy on Gaza. … In an extraordinary resignation letter, Baroness Warsi claimed she could not ‘live with myself’ for the decisions she was being asked to support. … But senior Cabinet ministers hit back, dismissing the resignation as ‘frankly unnecessary’ and rejecting her complaints as a call for ‘megaphone diplomacy’. … It is understood Mr Cameron was ‘informed’ about the resignation before she tweeted it but they only spoke afterwards.” – Daily Mail

  • “George Osborne has condemned Baroness Warsi’s ‘disappointing and frankly unnecessary’ decision to resign over the situation in Gaza, as it emerged she had not told the Prime Minister about her concerns beforehand.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “The Conservative MP Michael Fabricant has been criticised after appearing to suggest that Baroness Warsi’s resignation over the conflict in Gaza was a ‘Muslim issue’.” – The Independent

And comment:

  • “Baroness Warsi’s tragedy is that although she is a lady of considerable energy and fortitude, her abilities have never matched her estimation of them.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “Baroness Warsi’s attack on the government’s Middle East policy was misguided” – Times editorial (£)
  • “Baroness Warsi’s resignation won’t promote peace in Gaza” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “As a display of cynicism and disloyalty, the timing of Baroness Warsi’s resignation from the Government could not have been more calculating.” – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail

…and more sympathy from others

Dominic Grieve portrait“David Cameron was struggling to contain a growing revolt over his handling of the Gaza crisis yesterday after the dramatic resignation of Baroness Warsi as foreign office minister. … Dominic Grieve, the former attorney-general, added his voice to the chorus of senior Conservatives questioning the proportionality of Israel’s military operation and piling pressure on the prime minister to condemn the country’s airstrikes on Gaza. … The issue was becoming increasingly politicised yesterday as Mr Cameron faced a pincer movement from Labour and the Liberal Democrats. While Ed Miliband called for a toughening of the language aimed at Israel, the Lib Dems attempted to use the issue to differentiate themselves from the Tories and win back former supporters.” – The Times (£)

  • “Speaking to Channel 4 News, Warsi also revealed there is concern ‘at ministerial level’ about the government’s failure to condemn Israel’s shelling of civilians in Gaza as disproportionate. One minister has talked about resigning and another senior Conservative backbencher has been in tears on the phone about it, she said.” – The Guardian
  • “Britain should pile pressure on Israel to lift ‘unnecessary’ economic restrictions against the Palestinians, MPs have declared.” – The Sun (£)
  • “Former President Jimmy Carter reprimanded Israel for heavy handed attacks on Gaza today and called for the creation of a Palestinian state.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • Newspaper mastheads“What matters is that she resigned from the Government because of her principles. That’s something that’s all too rare.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “…it is what her resignation says about her party’s openness to diverse opinion that will be most damaging in the long run.” – Guardian editorial
  • “…it is imperative that the ceasefire should be developed into something more durable – rather than simply a pause before another round of destruction and bloodletting.” – Financial Times editorial
  • “Warsi’s resignation isn’t about Gaza, it’s about the prime minister being disinclined to take advice from people who are unlike him” – Rafael Behr, The Guardian
  • “Wouldn’t we all resign if we were in Baroness Warsi’s position?” – Matthew Norman, The Independent
  • “Baroness Warsi’s resignation seriously dents the Tories’ ‘inclusive’ image” – Oliver Wright, The Independent
  • “If Israel wants peace, it must talk to Hamas” – Lord Steel, The Independent
  • “The Warsi resignation was avoidable” – Matthew Parris, The Times (£)

> Today: ToryDiary – Labour is out-campaigning us on the Middle East. Here’s how to fight back.

> Yesterday:

We’ve heard about it all week, but today it finally happens: Boris’s intervention over Europe

borisfringe“Boris Johnson will today declare Britain has ‘nothing to be afraid of’ in pulling out of Europe – putting him dramatically at odds with David Cameron. … In his most powerful intervention yet on the European Union, the London Mayor says the UK would have a ‘great and glorious future’ if it set itself free from ‘job-destroying’ Brussels. … He will argue that if the Prime Minister’s hopes of renegotiating our relationship with the EU fail, we should consider leaving altogether and forging trade relationships with the rest of the world.” – Daily Mail

  • “Boris is right when he tells David Cameron to get tougher with the EU.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “Nothing to fear from EU exit” – Daily Telegraph editorial

> Today: Hjörtur J. Guðmundsson on Comment – If Britain wants to trade with the world, its relationship with the EU has to change

> Yesterday:

Osborne’s blueprints for a Crossrail of the North

OSBORNE SWORD“George Osborne says it is better to spend public money on transport links in the North than continuing to fund so many people on welfare. … The Chancellor yesterday pledged billions to fund a ‘Crossrail of the North’ to prevent cities such as Manchester and Leeds from lagging behind London and the south. … He said that although the plans could cost as much as £15billion, the benefits that would accrue in terms of prosperity would be better than spending so much on benefits.” – Daily Mail

  • “…although the One North report received broad support from chancellor George Osborne and the opposition Labour party, infrastructure experts questioned how the £15bn projects over 15 years would be funded.” – Financial Times
  • “London is the millionaire capital of the world, with almost 3% of the population commanding more than $1m in net assets, according to a new study.” – The Guardian
  • “Almost a hundred lives a year have been saved by closing local stroke units in London, according to a study which suggests that hundreds of people may be dying because health chiefs elsewhere have failed to do the same.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “Big investment in the north of England is smart politics and sound economics. Now for other deprived areas too” – Independent editorial
  • “Investment in infrastructure can link the great cities of the north and help to create a more balanced national economy” – The Times (£)
  • “Yes, Chancellor, of course the welfare budget — £180billion at the moment — should be cut.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “Will George Osborne be able to reawaken the nation’s industrial heartlands or is is just electioneering?” – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail
  • “The time is right for the North to rise again” – Allan Massie, Daily Telegraph

> Today: The Deep End – Conservatives must resist the lure of ‘Londonism’

> Yesterday: LISTEN – Osborne discusses plans for a “northern powerhouse”

Energy bosses could be jailed for rigging the market, under new Government plans

Prison bars“Energy firm bosses found guilty of rigging wholesale gas and electricity prices could face up to two years in prison under plans unveiled by the Government. … The proposed laws would make it a crime to fix prices or use insider information to buy or sell energy on the wholesale market. … Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: ‘Manipulating the energy market is absolutely unacceptable, and these proposals provide a much stronger deterrent – more in line with the approach taken in the financial markets.'” – Daily Mail

  • “The UK’s new energy minister has suggested an independent Scotland would not be able to ‘keep the lights on’ as she claimed the SNP’s policy on renewables would not meet the nation’s needs for electricity.” – The Scotsman
  • “Most people could be bribed by free or cheaper energy bills into supporting a garden city nearby, according to new polling today.” – The Times (£)
  • “Militant anti-fracking protesters have petrol-bombed the home of a security guard working at a shale gas drilling site.” – The Sun (£)

Shapps hits backs at Clegg over immigration

SHAPPS Grant favourite“Grant Shapps accused Nick Clegg of hypocrisy yesterday as he insisted the government still intended to reduce migration to ‘tens of thousands’ a year. … The Tory party chairman denied the Liberal Democrat leader’s claim that his party had secretly dropped their pledge to reduce net migration less than 100,000. … In an interview, he said the target ‘remained party policy’. Last year net migration was 212,000.” – Daily Mail

  • “Migrants applying for a passport or driving licence will no longer be offered subsidised translation services, Nick Clegg has announced.” – The Independent
  • “More than 51 east African migrants desperate to reach the ‘El Dorado’ of the UK were injured in ethnic clashes early today in Calais over access to lorry parks, in the second night of rioting near the ferry terminal.” – The Independent

One of Rennard’s victims speaks out

“‘We got to the top of the staircase and he brushed my back again. I turned round and said: “I’m off to bed. Really nice to have had that conversation.” … ‘He said: “No, no, no. Let’s get a couple more drinks and we’ll go to my room and we can discuss your future political career.” … ‘When I got into my room, that was when the tears started. I phoned my dad and said: “Dad, I think I’ve just wrecked my political career because I turned down Chris Rennard.”’” – Daily Mail

  • “The Church of England faces fresh scrutiny over its handling of historic child abuse after the outgoing Bishop of Gloucester was placed at the centre of a police inquiry over allegations of indecent assault on a child more than 30 years ago.” – The Independent

And comment:

  • “I was proud of my school — then I heard about the abuse” – Robert Peston, The Times (£)

Reeves highlights the rise in tax credits

UK notes and coins“The amount of taxpayers’ cash spent topping up the wages of low-paid workers is set to soar by a staggering £2.5billion over the next five years, it has emerged. … Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said the figures showed Britain is in the grip of a low-pay crisis. … The Treasury expects to spend £21.2billion on tax credits in this financial year. … But that is forecast to rise to £23.7billion in 2018/19.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Labour’s ‘basic instinct’ is to spend money and their economic policies will leave Britain £500 billion worse off, a Cabinet minister will say today. … Sajid Javid, the Culture Secretary, will say that labour MPs believe that spending money is a ‘mark of success’ and they are ‘simply not comfortable’ with austerity measures.” – Daily Telegraph

Balls fined £900 for driving incident

“Ed Balls has been spared a driving ban but fined £900 and given five points on his licence today for failing to stop after an accident. … The Shadow Chancellor revealed in May he had been charged with driving away from a crash after he bumped his car in his constituency of Morley and Outwood, West Yorkshire. … It was said he was trying to perform a ‘seven point turn’.” – Daily Mail

Abbott: We’re worried that we’re heading for defeat under Miliband

ABBOTT Diane open mouth“The majority of Labour MPs fear Ed Miliband is leading their party to electoral disaster, a former frontbencher has admitted. … In a major blow, Diane Abbott said ‘most’ were worried that they won’t win next May. … She also said a ‘substantial minority’ had completely written off their chances. … And in a swipe at shadow chancellor Ed Balls, she said he ‘reminds people of the Brown years’.” – The Sun (£)

  • “David Cameron feels sorry for Ed Miliband ‘in his quieter moments’ following particularly bruising exchanges in the House of Commons, Iain Duncan Smith has suggested.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “A cut-price NHS revolution would be Ed Miliband’s biggest gamble” – Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph

Unions decline to cooperate with the inquiry into their bullying tactics

“Employment expert Bruce Carr QC was asked by David Cameron to lead a review after Unite was accused of bullying bosses at Grangemouth refinery in Scotland last year. … Mr Carr had been due to make legal recommendations this autumn. But yesterday he said he was ‘increasingly concerned’ about a lack of testimony from employers or unions. … He said he would still produce a scaled-down report, but would make no legal suggestions.” – Daily Mail

Are schools turning away from A-Levels?

School“Rising numbers of schools are abandoning A-levels in favour of alternative qualifications amid anger at constant ‘meddling’ with the exam system. … Demand for exams created for pupils in China, India and the United States has soared nearly 50 per cent in a year, with top private schools leading the charge away from the ‘gold standard’ A-level. … With teenagers across the country awaiting A-level results next week, it emerged that more than 100 British schools entered pupils for an international version of the exam amid ‘instability’ in the domestic system.” – Daily Mail

  • “Scottish pupils have achieved a record number of top Higher grades, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has announced as teenagers across the country find out their exam results.” – Daily Telegraph

Young offenders institution compared to Lord of the Flies in official report

“A notorious young offenders institution has been compared to Lord of the Flies after an official report linked hundreds of incidents of self-harm and several suicides to high levels of bullying and violence. … Prisoners at Glen Parva YOI in Leicestershire, one of the biggest such institutions in the country, felt so unsafe that many deliberately committed offences to ensure they were placed in segregation units, according to chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick.” – The Independent

  • “A judge apologised to a murder victim’s family yesterday after he said that impact statements made no difference to the decision on whether to move killers to open prisons or give them parole.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “Thank goodness that the heartbreaking testimonies of grieving families have no influence over our justice system” – Helen Rumbelow, The Times (£)
  • “We have too many legal parasites. Shut some law schools” – Ross Clark, The Times (£)

> Today: Cllr Dexter Smith on Local Government – Slough’s Children Services keep failing… and nobody ever apologises

Britain’s first genetically-modified crops to be harvested

Crop“The first genetically modified crops, enriched with nutrients to improve health, will be harvested within weeks following a landmark field trial in Britain. … In a major step towards GM food, a crop of camelina (false flax) has been spliced with genes which make Omega-3 so that its seeds will produce an oil rich in fatty acid normally only found in fish.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Japanese red cedar, giant redwoods and trees from the continent will replace oaks and pines in Britain’s forests as woodlands must adapt to climate change to survive, a study suggests.” – Daily Telegraph

Food Standards Agency accused of cover-up over supermarket chickens

“Food watchdogs have been accused of a cover-up after it emerged six in ten supermarket chickens carry a dangerous bug. … Official estimates suggest the bug, campylobacter – which causes stomach upsets, vomiting and diarrhoea – is responsible for more than 100 deaths each year. It costs the economy about £900million in treating the sick and lost days at work. … The figures were published yesterday by the Food Standards Agency. But it refuses to name the stores involved, following lobbying from retailers and Whitehall.” – Daily Mail

  • “British Airways has temporarily suspended its flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia for the rest of the month amid an Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 880 people.” – Daily Mail
  • “Prices are falling across the high street on the back of a supermarket price war and fierce discounting in the summer sales.” – Daily Mail

News in brief

  • Passenger jet makes emergency landing at Manchester after suspected bomb hoax – Financial Times
  • US general shot dead in Afghanistan attack – Financial Times
  • Egypt to build a new Suez waterway – The Times (£)
  • The Australian Government is “cautiously optimistic” about finding MH370 – Daily Mail
  • BBC conducts secret inquiry into Jeremy Clarkson’s alleged racism – Daily Telegraph
  • The Duchess of Cambridge and Princes William and Harry walk through the Tower of London’s ceramic poppy display – The Sun (£)
  • Hurricane Bertha could affect the UK – The Independent

And finally: For cod’s sake

Fish“In cod we trust. If it’s summer, it must be the traditional photo opportunity of the Camerons in a fish market. The coalition may be floundering, but the prime minister knows his plaice. … There is nothing, it seems, that David Cameron likes more when forced to pose for the official holiday snap than pointing at cold, lifeless forms on a slab. It probably reminds him of cabinet meetings.” – Patrick Kidd, The Times (£)

  • “Mr Cameron appears to have listened to his critics and ditched his favourite but dull navy blue polo shirt – for another blue polo shirt, albeit a slightly more upmarket label.” – Daily Telegraph

10 comments for: Newslinks for Wednesday 6th August 2014

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