Iraq 1) “We will not be cowed”

Cameron in PMQs on 16th October 2013“David Cameron today vowed the country ‘will not be cowed’ by threats from ISIS extremists to murder a British hostage – and vowed to fight back until the terrorist group was ‘squeezed out of existence’. … The Prime Minister told a sombre House of Commons of his ‘shock and anger’ that Steven Sotloff’s killer appeared to be British and insisted: ‘This country will never give into terrorism.’ … Mr Cameron told MPs that Britain had an opportunity ‘to marshal international support and backing for the view that this ISIL so-called Islamic caliphate is unacceptable and needs to be squeezed out of existence’.” – Daily Mail

  • “David Cameron today urged European leaders to ‘be good to their word’ and stop funding ISIS fanatics by paying ransoms.” – Daily Mail
  • “David Cameron’s plans to tighten the anti-terror laws are in trouble amid a deepening split inside the Coalition.” – The Independent

> Yesterday:

Iraq 2) The Prime Minister may push for greater military involvement

“David Cameron and Barack Obama will today prepare the ground for multi-national air strikes against Islamic State and for sending troops to form a Nato training force in Iraq. … There is intense pressure on Mr Cameron and the US President to use a Nato summit to act decisively against the ‘terrorist state’. … Government sources suggested that as well as backing air attacks, in the longer term Britain was ready to contemplate putting boots back on the ground in Iraq in a potential Nato force to train Iraqi and Kurdish forces – if requested by Baghdad.” – Daily Mail

  • “…an exclusive YouGov poll for The Sun — carried out after the latest beheading atrocity — also reveals the British public are now firmly behind military action too.” – The Sun (£)

And comment:

  • OBAMA headshot blue“We will not be cowed by barbaric killers” – David Cameron and Barack Obama, The Times (£)
  • “Terrorism won’t be beaten by removing people’s passports” – Dominic Grieve, The Guardian
  • “The Isis danger is all too real and Britain can’t beat it alone” – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • “We need leadership – not dithering, posturing and waffle” – Max Hastings, Daily Mail
  • “This lofty rhetoric, crafted to create the impression of showing leadership, sorely failed to convince.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “Obama and Cameron have belatedly grasped the scale of the crisis. They must match fine words with the right actions.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “David Cameron and Barack Obama have a few things in common. One is that they both need to grow a spine.” – Sun editorial (£)

> Today: ToryDiary – A majority of Party members now support intervention in Iraq

Iraq 3) The British hostage

ISIS“The government could make a fresh attempt to rescue a British hostage threatened with execution by ISIS militants who have already filmed themselves brutally beheading two American journalists. … Foreign secretary Phillip Hammond said the UK is looking ‘at every possible option to protect’ the 44-year-old British citizen after a previous U.S-led rescue attempt failed to secure his release. … Details of his capture emerged in a chilling propaganda video titled ‘A Second Message to America’, in which U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff is savagely murdered by an ISIS executioner who speaks with a British accent – believed to be the same man who beheaded James Foley two weeks ago.” – Daily Mail

  • “A British hostage threatened with beheading by Islamist terrorists spent years helping Muslims rebuild war-torn communities in the Balkans, it has emerged.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “The daughter of a British hostage threatened with beheading by an Islamic State jihadist said that the family had been told to keep his captivity secret for 19 months.” – The Times (£)
  • “The devastated family of executed journalist Steven Sotloff said they would not be held hostage to fear as they mourned the gruesome death of their son.” – The Sun (£)
  • “The British terrorist dubbed ‘Jihadi John’ is a ‘dead man walking’ after killing his second US hostage, the former UK security minister said.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “The Prince of Wales has written an impassioned letter to Christians in Iraq speaking of his ‘heartbreak’ at their suffering at the hands of Jihadists.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Farage said the reason why radical individuals like Choudary have emerged in the UK was due to a decline in traditional values.” – The Independent

Russia agrees to a ceasefire in Ukraine

Russian flag“Hopes of peace were raised yesterday as Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared they had agreed a ‘ceasefire process’ in a phone call. … It came as the EU drew up radical plans for sanctions including stripping Russia of the 2018 World Cup unless its troops leave eastern Ukraine. … France announced it was suspending delivery of a warship to Russia. The crisis will also be discussed by world leaders including US President Barack Obama at today’s Nato summit in Wales.” – The Sun (£)

  • “President François Hollande halted the delivery of the first of two warships to the Russian navy on Wednesday, the clearest sign yet that the west was preparing to take further punitive action against the Kremlin despite claims by Vladimir Putin he was pursuing a ceasefire in Ukraine.” – Financial Times
  • “Russia could be stripped of the 2018 World Cup under radical plans being drawn up by the EU.” – The Sun (£)

And comment:

  • “We have heard such lines before, but the best hope is that [Putin] also has a sense of risk, not just of a wider war but of a long period of Russian isolation.” – Guardian editorial
  • “A ceasefire suits both parties – but how long will it last?” – Mary Dejevsky, The Independent
  • “From what we know of Putin, it’s clear that Nato’s best option is to press on.” – Andreas Whittam Smith, The Independent

Fallon tells other countries to increase their defence spending; Tories tell Fallon to increase our own

DEFENCE cuts“Britain is under pressure to extend a commitment to spend at least 2 per cent of national income on defence as it demands Nato allies boost their investment. … Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said every member should increase military spending to deal with ‘unpredictable and uncertain threats’, particularly from Russia. … But critics, including senior Tories, pointed out that the Government has only pledged to maintain that level until the current spending round ends in April 2016. Pressure is growing on David Cameron to enshrine the commitment in legislation for good.” – Daily Mail

  • “Nato must rediscover its sense of purpose” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Nato nations have to pay the price for security” – Liam Fox, Daily Telegraph
  • “Far from keeping the peace, Nato is a threat to it” – Seamus Milne, The Guardian

Osborne-a-go-go! The recovery is stronger than previously imagined

“The recent recession was shorter and shallower than previously estimated and the economy has grown faster than thought under the Coalition, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics. … Chancellor George Osborne welcomed the ‘double dose of good news’, ahead of a General Election in which the economy is set to be the key battleground. … Optimism spread to the City of London, where the FTSE100 stock index briefly reached a 14-year high of 6898.62.” – Daily Mail

  • “The UK has seen more net employment growth over the past four years than the rest of the EU put together, according to official data that highlight the wide disparities within the region.” – Financial Times
  • “More than half a million manual jobs will disappear over the next eight years, a shock report reveals today.” – The Sun (£)

> Today: ConservativeHome Manifesto – Part 4) Money – A Future Free From Debt

Greening: The Conservatives need to be a party of social mobility

Greening Justine Feb 2012“But what can ministers like her do to improve the lot of people growing up in less than privileged households, as she did? She suggests tax cuts are part of it: ‘It’s about helping working people get on with their lives and keep more of their money.’ … She goes on: ‘I do think as we come out of recession and people look ahead to what kind of Britain is emerging from this, it’s got to be a Britain where our focus is on social mobility. As a party we need to be helping people climb up the ladder. I think the elections we’ve done best on are where people have understood that we know what they are trying to achieve in their lives.’” – Justine Greening, interviewed by Melissa Kite in The Spectator

Raab wants stamp duty scrapped for homes under £500,000

“As well as ruling out a mansion tax, we should make clear our intention to overhaul stamp duty – scrapping it for homes under £500,000, and indexing the remaining thresholds to inflation. While the economic stimulus may well generate additional revenue, we should be prepared to pay for it by further restraining government spending – as part of a wider package to cut both the deficit and taxes after the next election.” – Dominic Raab, Daily Telegraph

  • “Political leaders are to study an award-winning plan to create around 3.5million new homes by expanding up to 40 towns and cities. … Planner David Rudlin was awarded the Wolfson Prize this week for his idea to double the size of existing towns and cities by building more than 80,000 homes in ‘garden cities’ in the green belt.” – Daily Mail

Home Office accused of “complacency” after losing track of 175,000 illegal immigrants

Home Office logo“The Home Office has lost track of nearly 175,000 illegal immigrants and will struggle to find them, it was revealed yesterday. … The beleaguered department faced fresh humiliation after MPs were told how many of those who had been refused permission to be in Britain had gone missing. … Officials were accused of ‘unacceptable complacency’ after admitting they had no idea where the missing immigrants and failed asylum seekers were.” – Daily Mail

  • “Whitehall’s new boss needs powers” – Financial Times editorial

> Today: The Deep End – There’s more to Theresa May’s record as Home Secretary than dodging disaster

Will the next Tory manifesto insist on streaming in schools?

“Secondary schools would be required to teach pupils in sets according to ability under plans being considered by the Tories. … They would be penalised for teaching mixed-ability groups for key subjects under controversial proposals to make sets effectively compulsory. … The idea is being considered for inclusion in the 2015 Conservative Party manifesto. … One report claimed Downing Street was pushing for the policy to be announced sooner and had even booked a venue for a launch. … But Education Secretary Nicky Morgan insisted in the Commons there was ‘absolutely no truth’ in the ‘rumours’.” – Daily Mail

Newmark tells charities to keep out of politics

Knitting“Charities should stay away from politics and ‘stick to their knitting’, a Tory minister has claimed. … Brooks Newmark, the minister for civil society, criticised charities that ‘stray’ from their remit of ‘helping others’. … In his first major speech since his appointment this summer, Mr Newmark said: ‘We really want to try and keep charities and voluntary groups out of the realms of politics. … The comments come after several Tory backbenchers attacked Oxfam earlier this year for opposing benefit cuts and zero-hour contracts, claiming that the organisation’s campaign was too political.” – Daily Mail

Villiers declines to name IRA suspects

“IRA suspects who were sent official letters telling them they were not wanted by the authorities cannot be named because of their ‘human rights’, a minister declared last night. … Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said she had seen the list of names but it would not be ‘appropriate’ or ‘helpful’ to publish it because it could breach their right to life and their right to privacy under the Human Rights Act. … In a statement to MPs, Miss Villiers said anyone who received a letter could still face prosecution and possession of one did not amount to a ‘get out of jail free card’.” – Daily Mail

Patel hints that she may have been approached by UKIP

“A Conservative Government minister has hinted that she was approached about defecting the UK Independence Party. … Priti Patel, who joined the Treasury as a junior minister in July, failed to deny that she has been approached by members of Ukip to switch sides. … Miss Patel, whose father was a Ukip candidate, refused to answer whether she had been approached by members of Ukip regarding defecting from the Conservatives.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “David Cameron can chart a course past Nigel Farage the revolutionary” – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph
  • “Douglas Carswell’s defection gives others on the Tory right new leverage – and they’re not afraid to use it” – Isabel Hardman, The Spectator

> Yesterday: Stephan Shakespeare’s column – For every Labour voter who shifts to UKIP, two or three Tories shift too

Who said what about Boris Island?

Boris Hurdles“Boris Johnson has hit back at claims that he lied about a private conversation with the head of Britain’s airport commission over the need for new runways in the South East. … The Mayor of London’s office last night released a copy of Mr Johnson’s handwritten notes which it said proved that Sir Howard Davies had told him a second commission would be needed in 2020. … Sir Howard prompted a furious row between the pair after he rejected the Mayor’s ambitious scheme for a new hub airport in the Thames estuary on Tuesday.” – The Times (£)

  • “Matthew Offord and John Stevenson said in a joint article that Mr Johnson would prove his ‘suitability as a potential future leader of the Party’ if he stands in Clacton. … In an article on Conservativehome, the pair urged Mr Johnson to come to the party’s aid and stop ‘a potentially seismic moment’ by stopping Ukip electing its first MP.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “Osborne is wrong to flirt with BoJo Toryism” – David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)

> Yesterday: Matthew Offord MP and John Stevenson MP on Comment – Step up to the plate for the Party, Boris – and run in Clacton

Another bad day at the office for Bercow

“Even by his own peculiar standards, Speaker Bercow mishandled things. Asked about his blatant attempt to rig the selection of a £200,000 Clerkship and neuter Parliament, he snootily told MPs to ‘rise to the level of events’. … In front of a full Chamber he scrambled for a superior tone yet managed only to sound sour. He tried to belittle his critics and made only himself look cheap. … It was ghastly, grisly, fascinating to watch. The House has not heard a Speaker treat MPs with such anger since the dying days of Speaker Martin.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

  • “Commons Speaker John Bercow was sensationally accused of misleading MPs over his bid to hand a key job to an Aussie. … Tory MP Michael Fabricant said Mr Bercow was wrong to suggest that a recruitment firm had not been prevented from giving evidence about the suitability of Carol Mills for the £200,000 Commons clerk post.” – The Sun (£)
  • “David Cameron openly mocked the Speaker in front of Conservative MPs, it emerged today, as John Bercow faced further pressure over the appointment of a new Commons clerk.” – The Times (£)

> Today: Profile – John Bercow, one of the best Speakers of modern times, but also by far the rudest

Scotland 1) Miliband reassures Scots: don’t worry, I’ll be in charge soon

Scottish flag“Ed Miliband will today tell Scottish voters not to use their referendum to rid themselves of the Tory-led government… because he says he’ll win the general election. … The Labour leader will claim the Conservatives are ‘on their way out’ in an attempt to persuade his party’s traditional voters to reject independence. … The tone of the speech is in marked contrast to the pro-union campaign so far, which has seen the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats working closely together. It is understood the new tactic was signed off by Tory strategists within the Better Together campaign.” – Daily Mail

  • “Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Tories, said in a television debate on Tuesday night that ‘frankly it isn’t looking likely’ that the Conservatives would win next year’s general election, according to opinion polls.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “The general election is now Ed Miliband’s to lose. This is not a controversial statement: the polls say it, the bookmakers say it and in the last week several of David Cameron’s own ministers have come to believe it.” – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • “Ed Miliband has to make a better case for Better Together” – Times editorial (£)

> Today: LeftWatch – Pinning Down Miliband: Jobs

Scotland 2) Cameron and Alexander warn of economic fallout

pound-coin“Cameron has described Alex Salmond’s threat that an independent Scotland may not share the UK’s debt as ‘the most chilling thing’ he has heard in the independence debate. … The Prime Minister warned that not honouring Scotland’s portion of the UK’s £1.6 trillion debt would lead to punitive interest rates in Scotland.” – The Scotsman

“A Scottish vote for independence would trigger an economic ‘earthquake’ with consequences for the whole of the UK, Danny Alexander has warned. … In an interview with The Independent, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury described the recent fall in the pound in the wake of a poll which showed large gains for the Yes campaign as ‘tremors’ which pointed to a larger catastrophe.” – The Independent

  • “Every Scot would be £480 worse off under independence due to sharply declining oil revenues, according to an analysis published today that attacked the SNP’s claims that separation would ‘magically’ make people wealthier.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Scottish independence would herald a new wave of painful public spending cuts, an increase in mortgage costs and a eurozone-style currency crisis, economic experts have warned amid claims ‘the penny is finally dropping’ about the dangers.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “The chairman of Lloyd’s of London has become the latest head of a large financial institution to throw his weight behind the campaign to keep Scotland in the UK, arguing that the insurance market would be ‘best served’ if the union remained intact.” – Financial Times
  • “Punters in Britain have placed more bets on the outcome of the independence referendum than on any other political event, according to bookmakers.” – The Scotsman

And comment:

  • “I am just as much British and European as I am Scottish. And I don’t mind England either.” – Sir Menzies Campbell, The Independent
  • “What’s the real cost of uncertainty?” – Bill Jamieson, The Scotsman
  • “…the threat to walk away from its fair share of liabilities is shabby, and in no one’s interest.” – Scotsman editorial

> Yesterday: Henry Hill’s column – This referendum is a starting gun, not a finish line

Scotland 3) What would happen to next year’s general election if Scotland goes independent?

ballot_box“David Cameron will face calls to take the unprecedented step in modern peacetime of postponing next year’s UK general election by 12 months in the event of a vote for Scottish independence to avoid the prospect of a Labour government that would depend on Scottish MPs. … Amid warnings of a ‘constitutional meltdown’ after a yes vote, which would place severe personal political pressure on the prime minister, a growing number of Tory MPs are saying they will call for legislation to be introduced to postpone the general election. It would be the first time since 1940, a year into the second world war, that a general election would have been postponed.” – The Guardian

  • “The Prime Minister and other party leaders were urged by senior Tory MP Sir Edward Leigh to spend the next two weeks focusing on saving the Union.” – Daily Mail

We Greens offer “real change”, says the party’s leader

“Steadily climbing in the polls and surging in membership numbers, the Greens are the only party promising ‘real change’ to disillusioned left-leaning voters, their leader has claimed – as she called for new taxes on the super-rich and the renationalisation of the railways. … Speaking ahead of the party’s annual conference, Natalie Bennett also attacked broadcasters for failing to give her party a fraction of the coverage they have provided for the ‘dangerous and divisive’ Ukip.” – The Independent

Councillors in Rotherham were told to keep quiet about grooming

“Councillors in Rotherham were told about the abuse and rape of children in the northern town at a seminar almost a decade ago but were told to keep it “confidential” to avoid jeopardising police investigations, it emerged yesterday. … The disclosure came at an angry council meeting in Rotherham when a member of the public questioned why councillors had failed to act on information about child sexual exploitation.” – The Times (£)

  • “A teenager who was abused from the age of 12 by paedophile gangs in Rotherham has accused the town’s authorities of continuing to ‘do nothing’ about the scandal.” – Daily Telegraph

The police are outsourcing their work to the public

Police shield“Police are routinely telling victims of crime to become ‘DIY detectives’ and investigate offences themselves. … Officers are washing their hands of thousands of crimes unless the public can provide them with clues. … Victims are asked to interview neighbours, look for fingerprints, find CCTV footage and even check eBay for their stolen property.” – Daily Mail

How to fund the care system, according to the King’s Fund

“Benefits for well-off pensioners should be axed to pay for radical reform of England’s broken care system, a major report concludes today. … They should be stripped of free prescriptions, free TV licences and the winter fuel allowance to free up billions of pounds to fund long-term care for an ageing population. … The report, commissioned by the King’s Fund think-tank, said tax rises to pay for the type of care that a ‘decent society’ should be providing must be targeted at the middle aged and middle class – even those who have saved all their lives to fund their retirement.” – Daily Mail

  • “One way or another, the problem of an ageing population has to be faced. We cannot pretend that it is possible to guarantee universal healthcare free at the point of use for all and security and dignity without imposing a heavy tax burden on the healthy and not-yet-old.” – Independent editorial

Britain reduces its booze intake

beer“Britons have dramatically reduced how much they drink, cutting back over the last decade by the equivalent of 110 glasses of wine a year or 73 pints of beer. … Drinking – at home as well as in pubs and clubs – has fallen by some 18 per cent since a peak in 2004, against a background of rising prices driven by inflation-busting increases in tax and duty, according to industry figures. … The fall calls into question the image of Britons as a nation of heavy drinkers and lager louts.” – Daily Mail

  • “Discerning beer drinkers are increasingly turning to locally brewed products, helping to revive an ale industry hit by rising duty, pub closures and the growth of supermarket sales.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “We’re not yet convinced the future’s that rosy for our pubs.” – Sun editorial (£)

News in brief