Further coverage of the ConservativeHome manifesto

ConManifesto_jobs“Conservative Home , the activist website owned by Lord Ashcroft, said that EU migrants should be forced to buy private insurance policies in lieu of access to welfare benefits and free NHS treatment in its election manifesto published on Monday morning. … Calling for a “new deal on immigration”, the influential blog site, which is edited by former Tory MP Paul Goodman, said: ‘Britain must regain full control of its borders, repatriating power over immigration policy from the European Union. With this renewed freedom, the existing immigration targets would be replaced by a points-based system emphasising the skills needed for economic growth.'” – Financial Times

  • “The Conservatives have pledged to abolish the ’15 year rule’ that prevents millions of British expats from being able to vote – if the party wins the next general election.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “ConservativeHome is deliberately demanding the impossible.” – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

> Today: ConservativeHome Manifesto – Part 2) Jobs: Full Employment

> Yesterday:

Local Tories follow Carswell by defecting to UKIP

FARAGE eating“A series of local Conservatives have joined the former Tory Douglas Carswell in his defection to Ukip. … Mike Wadham, treasurer of his old association, Clacton Conservatives, is among those to have jumped ship, citing loyalty to the former MP as his reason. He told his new colleagues that ‘if Douglas had joined the Teddy Bear Party, I would have gone with him’. His predecessor as treasurer, Ashley Mooney, has also pledged to switch to Ukip and campaign for Mr Carswell.” – The Times (£)

  • “David Cameron will this week urge Tory MPs not to throw away the 2015 general election with another round of infighting on Europe, amid fears that the defection of Douglas Carswell to the UK Independence party could trigger a wave of disunity.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “If I were a Tory MP obsessed with Europe I would calculate that a referendum in 2017 is still the best offer available and campaign energetically to bring it about. Cameron’s offer remains their best bet.” – Steve Richards, The Independent

> Today:

> Yesterday:

Cameron’s crackdown on extremists meets with resistance from his Coalition partners

Coalition Colours“David Cameron yesterday said it ‘sticks in the craw’ that fanatics can go abroad, pledge allegiance to the Islamic State and still expect to be free to return to the UK. … The Prime Minister said he was ‘clear in principle’ that a ‘targeted discretionary power’ was required – but cross-party talks were needed to see if it was workable and legal. … Dominic Grieve, the ex-Tory attorney general, last night claimed such a move was ‘probably impossible’ and many Liberal Democrats are fiercely opposed. … A senior Lib Dem source said: ‘Frankly, we are going to take a lot of convincing before we sign up to any new legislation in this area.” – Daily Mail

“Mr Cameron announced proposals to prevent extremists from travelling to the Middle East war zone and sketchy plans to stop British nationals from returning to Britain after fighting in the region. … Mr Cameron’s proposals to tackle extremism were criticised by lawyers who claimed that they would be challenged in the courts. Liberty, the civil rights group , said the measures were ill-defined and amounted to ‘sabre-rattling’.” – Financial Times

  • “UN officials are to investigate atrocities in Iraq after persistent reports that Islamic State fighters have carried out ‘acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale’, including beheadings and other killings, forced conversions, slavery and sexual abuse.” – The Guardian
  • “Granting asylum to persecuted Iraqi Christians and religious minorities could unwittingly aid Jihadists in their goal of ‘cleansing’ the Middle East of non-Muslims, a bishop has insisted.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “This is the Scottish private schoolgirl who travelled to Syria to join Islamic fighters – and is calling on Muslims to carry out a bloody atrocity on British streets.” – Daily Mail
  • “The British rapper suspected of beheading James Foley wanted to unleash terror at America’s biggest music event, his former managers feared.” – The Sun (£)

And comment:

  • Guardian logo“The prime minister sounded calm enough discussing the generalities of the Islamic State threat. But his specific proposals smacked of panic” – Guardian editorial
  • “Control orders weren’t perfect. There weren’t many of them, and they didn’t always work. … But they were our best weapon to prevent terror suspects from carrying out atrocities.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “…any attempt by the courts to water down this power would be welcomed above all by the extremists themselves.” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “We need proper security, not political games” – Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)
  • “The suspicion about Mr Cameron is that he is not a man you set your watch by.” – Janan Ganesh, Financial Times

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister could support air strikes against the Islamic State…

ISIS“David Cameron last night opened the door to joining US air strikes against Islamic State forces in Iraq without Parliament’s prior approval. … The Prime Minister gave his strongest signal yet that he is considering supporting Washington’s attempt to build a coalition to expand air assaults on the jihadists. … He also told MPs Britain would ‘look very favourably’ on a request for help from Kurdish forces fighting extremists in Iraq, so they are ‘properly armed and equipped’.” – Daily Mail

  • “Only one in three people supports Britain launching air strikes against Isis in Iraq and Syria, according to a survey for The Independent.” – The Independent

…and criticises Israel’s latest expansion into the West Bank

“Israel’s decision to grab nearly 1,000 acres of Palestinian land to build settlements was condemned by David Cameron yesterday as ‘utterly deplorable’. … Israel announced on Sunday that an area of the West Bank, near existing settlements at Etzion, south of Bethlehem, has been designated as ‘state land’ which means it can be used for homes for Israelis. … The move came days after an indefinite ceasefire brought an end to weeks of conflict in Gaza during which more than 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed.” – Daily Mail

Osborne didn’t want Gove demoted, claims book

OSBORNE ConHome“George Osborne opposed the demotion of Michael Gove and wants him to take a central role in the Tories’ election campaign, according to his biographer. … David Cameron overruled the chancellor’s ‘preferences’ when he reshuffled his ministers in the summer, Janan Ganesh wrote in an new edition of George Osborne: The Austerity Chancellor. … Mr Osborne has also handed over some of his duties as Mr Cameron’s de facto political secretary to Lynton Crosby, his biographer quoted a No 10 source as saying.” – The Times (£)

Voters may have fears about intimidation, warns Clark

“A minister has warned that fear of intimidation in a London borough is so strong that voters are too scared to go to the police. … Greg Clark, the minister for cities, issued the private warning in a letter disclosed to The Times in which he spoke about fears of retribution in an area dogged by allegations of vote rigging. … He was writing to the head of the Electoral Commission after elections on May 22 in Tower Hamlets, east London, that led to Lutfur Rahman being re-elected as mayor.” – The Times (£)

> Today: Chris Wilford on Local Government – Tower Hamlets offers an indictment of the system of directly elected mayors

The Plebgate report: “Industrial levels of dishonesty by police…”

Police shield“A Scotland Yard report on the Plebgate affair shows ‘industrial levels of dishonesty by police working in Downing Street’, a senior Tory MP said last night. … David Davis hit out after the Met published a series of documents summarising its inquiry into the aftermath of the incident, which resulted in four police officers being sacked. … The Met also identified a female officer who texted a colleague two days after the incident to declare that she could ‘topple’ the Tory government. And it released new CCTV footage, of the heated disagreement between diplomatic protection officer Toby Rowland and then Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell at the gates of Downing Street in September 2012.” – Daily Mail

  • “The investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann was hampered because British police forces competed against one another, according to the author of a secret Home Office report.” – The Guardian
  • “Less than half of the £501.4m criminals owe in ‘confiscation orders’ is ‘realistically recoverable’, according to the Crown Prosecution Service – just £159.4m.” – The Independent
  • “New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police , will be put up for sale on Tuesday at a guide price of £250m, ending half a century of police tenancy in the iconic London office block.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “Nobody was blameless in the spiteful spat in Downing Street. But the Police Federation should drop its libel action against Andrew Mitchell” – Guardian editorial

> Yesterday: WATCH – Operation Alice. Andrew Mitchell at Downing Street’s Gate. New footage

Home Office researcher sent on “diversity course” after raising the alarm in Rotherham

“A researcher who raised the alarm over the sexual abuse of teenage girls in Rotherham more than a decade ago was sent on a ‘ethnicity and diversity course’ by child protection bosses who refused to act on her evidence. … The researcher, who was seconded to Rotherham council by the Home Office, was told she must ‘never, ever’ again refer to the fact that the abusers were predominantly Asian men.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Disgraced South Yorks police was last night urged to report itself to independent watchdogs over the ‘devastating’ Rotherham child abuse.” – The Sun (£)

Bercow’s difficult day in the Speaker’s chair

John Bercow“Here was the Speaker – the Speaker of our House of Commons! – as a figure reduced, conquered, caught. How far we have fallen since Bernard Weatherill and Betty Boothroyd. … At the start of the afternoon he made a brief Statement about his failed attempt to nobble the Commons Clerkship. … When a Commons has no option but to ask such questions of its supposed Olympian, its semi-judicial grandee, its allegedly impartial helmsman, we are in a bad, bad place. … His spine bent like a willow whip. He said that there would be ‘a modest pause in the recruitment process’ for a new Clerk.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

  • “Political parties should start publishing detailed information about why they have chosen to make someone a member of the House of Lords, the body which oversees the awarding of peerages has said.” – The Independent
  • “Rona Fairhead, chosen by the government to chair the BBC Trust at one of the most critical points in the corporation’s history, will face a grilling next week by MPs sceptical that she is the right person for the job.” – The Guardian

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – It’s time for Bercow to go

Two more Tory MPs to depart the Commons in 2015

PARLIAMENT“A Tory MP allegedly reduced to tears by David Cameron after rebelling on Europe has announced he will not stand at the next general election. … Dudley South MP Chris Kelly is the ninth member of the 2010 intake of MPs to quit the Commons after a single term – sparking accusations that many are ‘giving up’ on the Prime Minister. … Veteran Tory MP Sir Tony Baldry will stand down at the next election, he announced today.” – Daily Mail

> Yesterday: MPsETC – Kelly and Baldry decide to step down – why are MPs really leaving the Commons?

Boris Island surrounded and under attack

“Boris Johnson’s dream of building a £100billion airport in the Thames estuary appeared to be dead in the water last night after Government advisers warned it was unrealistic. … The extravagant scheme should be dropped from a review of Britain’s future airport capacity, former CBI chief Sir Howard Davies is expected to tell ministers today. … One source said the Boris Island idea would be attacked with ‘every conceivable sledgehammer’.” – Daily Mail

Scotland’s Yes campaign closes the gap to just 6 points

Scottish flag“Support for independence has surged dramatically among Scots – meaning the United Kingdom could well now break up in just 17 days’ time. … A landmark YouGov poll for The Sun put the Yes campaign within just SIX points of victory. … And it revealed the No vote to be in severe collapse from its 22 point lead less than a month ago on August 4 … First Minister Alex Salmond is scoring major success with his controversial claim that only a free Scotland can save the NHS, the poll exposed. … And Scots also increasingly think the London government’s heavy-handed threat to stop them using the pound is actually just a bluff.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Alistair Darling has urged undecided voters to say No to independence, arguing that staying in the UK was the ‘right’ thing to do for their children.” – The Scotsman
  • “More than 60 Scottish medical experts specialising in areas such as cancer, neuroscience and genetics have signed an open letter warning that their cutting-edge research would be ‘eroded and lost’ after a yes vote in the independence referendum.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “The polls are tightening in the Scottish independence debate, but the separatist case is still lacking in coherence” – Times editorial (£)
  • “…if the result is a yes vote the shock to the UK will be extreme” – Paul Mason, The Guardian
  • “All heat and no light in indy debate” – Peter Jones, The Scotsman

> Today: The Deep End – If ever we get an in/out referendum here’s the most important lesson we need to learn from the Scottish referendum

The changing demographics of Britain’s schools system

School“White British children will be outnumbered in state school classrooms in England within 23 years, research reveals. … Population trends since 2004 have seen ethnic minorities soar by 61 per cent in primary and secondary schools as the number of white Britons dropped by 12 per cent. … The findings in a Department for Education report suggest increased immigration and falling birth rates will see classroom demographics shift dramatically by 2037.” – Daily Mail

  • “The country’s biggest academy chain has been censured by inspectors for failing pupils, prompting the Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, to renew his demand to be allowed to inspect all chains.” – The Independent
  • “One in four primary school children has better handwriting than their parents. … Adults who are over-reliant on emails, texts and social media are being left behind when it comes to handwriting legibility, said research today.” – Daily Mail
  • “Nearly two million infants will be eligible for free school meals from today – despite a row over how much it costs.” – The Sun (£)

> Today: Lee Davis on ThinkTankCentral – An education system to change the lives of the most disadvantaged

> Yesterday: John Bald on Local Government – August was a good month for education reform

British parents kept from their ill child in Spain

World-shield“Desperately ill Ashya King was left alone in hospital last night after his parents were locked up for a further 72 hours. … Brett and Naghmeh King had begged a Spanish court to be allowed to visit their five-year-old son’s bedside. But a judge ruled they must stay in custody pending a decision on their extradition back to Britain. … Lawyers and relatives say the pair are being treated like criminals for smuggling their son abroad to treat his aggressive brain tumour.” – Daily Mail

  • “Thousands of patients are being struck off their GP list under a cost-saving drive by NHS managers – without their family doctor even being consulted.” – Daily Mail
  • “A patient died from a brain haemorrhage after she was left on an A&E trolley for more than six hours, an inquest heard.” – The Sun (£)
  • “Britain risks being considered a ‘rogue state’ if it pushes ahead with developing ‘genetically modified people’, MPs were told.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “Ashya King’s parents are not murderers, terrorists or vicious thieves. They are just a couple from Hampshire who are determined to do the best for their dreadfully-sick son who lies under police guard in a foreign hospital bed, torn from his family.” – Ian Birrell, Daily Mail
  • “Ashya King’s parents have been criminalised for caring” – Suzanne Moore, The Guardian
  • “A clumsy way to treat an anguished family.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “Ashya King’s devoted parents have put his interests first at every turn. Their treatment by police is an outrage.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “The parents of Ashya King should be granted bail and allowed to see their son” – Times editorial (£)
  • “…we are fast approaching a moment when we know what the worst of all worlds resembles.” – Daily Telegraph editorial

Nato’s plans to protect the Baltic states from Russia

Putin hunting“Nato plans to create a crack squad of 4,000 troops and special forces – including Brits – to protect Baltic states from Russia. … Officials meeting in South Wales later this week will be asked to approve plans for the high-readiness force. … Nato secretary general Anders Rasmussen said the force would be drawn on a rotational basis from Nato allies. … It would be separate from the 10,000 strong British-led expeditionary force that is also being proposed.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Signalling an important shift in strategy, Valeriy Heletey, Ukraine’s defence minister, also announced that the country’s ‘operation to liberate [eastern Ukraine] from militants is over, Ukraine must defend itself against Russia’.” – Financial Times
  • “Vladimir Putin has boasted to European leaders that his forces could sweep into Kiev in two weeks if he wanted.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “David Cameron has vowed to ‘turn the ratchet’ on Vladimir Putin, as he warned Western sanctions would ‘permanently’ damage the Russian economy.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “Vladimir Putin’s boots are on the ground – why not ours?” – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph
  • “Call Putin’s bluff – he will not cut off Europe’s gas” – Matthew Bryza, Financial Times
  • “This week’s summit marks the start of a new era for Nato.” – Financial Times editorial

> Today: Garvan Walshe’s column – Machiavelli’s advice to NATO on Russia

News in brief

  • Apple investigates security issues, after hacker publishes celebrity photos – Daily Mail
  • British ebola victim “seems to be pretty well”, according to his parents – Daily Mail
  • Jewish carer denies George Galloway attack – Daily Telegraph
  • China condemns British inquiry into progress of Hong Kong democracy – The Guardian
  • Manchester United sign Colombian striker as the transfer window closes  – The Sun (£)

And finally: Diplomatic standoff

Lamb“Leading chefs have urged Matthew Barzun, the United States’ ambassador to the United Kingdom, to broaden his mind – and palate – after he complained of having his fill of ‘lamb and potatoes’ since arriving in London. … Asked by Tatler to describe his ideal dinner party, the Harvard graduate replied undiplomatically: ‘I’ll tell you what I would not serve – lamb and potatoes. I must have had lamb and potatoes 180 times since I have been here. There are limits and I have reached them.'” – The Independent

  • “Her Majesty told Matthew Barzun, the US ambassador, that she finds it ‘strange’ to see nothing but the backs of mobile phones whenever she looks up.” – Daily Telegraph