Scotland 1) “Our Union is precious.” Cameron’s appeal to Scottish voters…

Scottish flag“When the world wanted representation, we gave them democracy. When they wanted progress, we had the Scottish enlightenment and the industrial revolution. … When slavery bound innocent people, we abolished it; when fascism threatened freedom, we defeated it. A hundred years ago, our boys went off to war together – and they did so as comrades, united by purpose and hope for a better world. … As individuals and as nations, we have done extraordinary things. This is the special alchemy of the UK – you mix together Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland and together we smash expectations.” – David Cameron, Daily Mail

  • “…the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers – not over-populated by Cameron loyalists – has started to make discreet soundings on how to respond to a yes vote. Their exercise is only intended to be procedural at this stage, but Cameron will know his future may not rest in his own hands.” – The Guardian

And plenty of comment:

  • Newspaper mastheads“At last, an optimistic vision for the Union” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “…economic sovereignty is rarely absolute, and a go-it-alone Scotland would face many constraints” – Guardian editorial
  • “Pro-unionists must not lose their nerve as the polls turn” – Financial Times editorial
  • “Labour’s deadly legacy puts the Union at risk” – John Major, The Times (£)
  • “It’s not just better together. It’s bereft apart” – Alice Thomson, The Times (£)
  • “Clear off, good riddance and tell us where to send the bill for more than 300 years of subsidy.” – Simon Heffer, Daily Mail
  • “Scottish referendum casts a shadow over UK’s recovery” – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail
  • “All available options involve immense risks when it comes to delivering the promises made.” – Sir Andrew Large, The Sun (£)
  • “A yes vote in Scotland would unleash the most dangerous thing of all – hope” – George Monbiot, The Guardian
  • “How Salmond came top in Scotland’s competitive fear-mongering” – Rafael Behr, The Guardian
  • “A yes vote in Scotland will bring big change to UK civil service” – Akash Paun, The Guardian
  • “If there’s a Yes vote, Whitehall won’t know what to do” – Oliver Wright, The Independent
  • “Scotland should heed a harsh lesson from across the Irish Sea” – Ruth Dudley Edwards, Daily Telegraph
  • “Why should Scots wish to change the conditions that have made us what we are?” – Allan Massie, The Scotsman

> Today:

> Yesterday:

Scotland 2) …as he joins the other party leaders in Scotland

Cameron Fightback“With panic growing in Westminster over a surge in support for independence, Mr Cameron, Labour’s Ed Miliband and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg have taken the extraordinary step of agreeing to abandon Prime Minister’s Questions today. … Instead, they will make unscheduled trips to Scotland to try to rally the faltering No campaign. … With opinion polls suggesting the referendum is now too close to call, Mr Salmond dismissed Westminster’s promises about more powers. ‘This is the day the No campaign finally disintegrated and fell apart at the seams,’ the first minister said.” – Daily Mail

  • “On Tuesday, in a sweaty Labour party meeting room in Glasgow, [Gordon] Brown showed why he might be up to the job. Passionate – and at one point on the edge of tears – he took on one of Alex Salmond’s most potent claims: that only a Yes vote can save the National Health Service from Tory cuts.” – Financial Times
  • “Labour will win the next general election but only if Scotland decides against becoming an independent country, a latest poll has suggested.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “The Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones yesterday said independence offered a ‘false prospectus’ because no journey to social justice can start by walking away from your neighbours.” – The Scotsman

And comment:

  • “…we would be staggered if three of Britain’s least trusted politicians won over a single voter on their emergency trip to Scotland today.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “Party leaders are off to Scotland in near panic. They lack the poetry of independence but are armed with hard facts” – Times editorial (£)
  • “Gordon Brown: The Great Redeemer?” – Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph
  • “Panic, cynicism and desperation” – George Kerevan, The Scotsman

> Yesterday: Stephen Tall’s column – All three parties’ worst nightmare – winning the next election

Scotland 3) Tory MPs take issue with the promises of greater devolution

“Mark Field, Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, said he was opposed to the recent flurry of commitments to greater devolution, which include giving increased tax and spending powers to the Scottish parliament. … There are also private mutterings from some Conservatives that the overtures and promises being made to the Scots will open up another line of attack from the UK Independence party going into the 2015 national election.” – Financial Times

  • “Some Conservative MPs want Scottish voters excluded from the general election if the country decides to break away.” – The Independent
  • “Three major banks say Scotland will be plunged into ‘deep recession’ with wage cuts and rising unemployment if it goes independent.” – Daily Mail

Scotland 3) Could there be extra powers for England?

England flag“The English regions will be given extra powers as a domino effect if Scotland votes to remain in the UK, Nick Clegg said yesterday. … The move would also affect Wales and Northern Ireland and would result in a ‘much needed rewiring’ of how the UK is governed. … Mr Clegg described England as an ‘unusually over-centralised country’ and said the changes that would occur in the next parliament were the ‘missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle’.” – Daily Mail

  • “A call for the establishment of an English Labour party in the wake of the proposed transfer of further powers to Scotland is made on Wednesday by Labour MP John Denham, suggesting there is a growing concern that England is missing out in the race to the devolution of powers.” – The Guardian
  • “…a row broke out over Mr Brown’s offer to hand control to Scots on welfare handouts and income tax. Constitutional Reform Committee chief Graham Allen last night demanded the same powers for other UK nations.” – The Sun (£)
  • “But the flag made it only halfway up the pole atop Number 10 before it fell back down, an event that somehow encapsulated the limpness of the response in England towards the prospect of Scots leaving the UK.” – Financial Times
  • “The English, Welsh and Northern Irish are being urged to call any Scottish friends and family — and persuade them to vote against independence.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Proms in the Park may represent the ‘last chance’ that people get to celebrate the union ahead of the Scottish independence referendum, one of Britain’s most eminent historians has said.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “The whole of Britain needs a say in its future” – Daily Telegraph editorial

Scotland 4) Salmond criticised after apartheid comparison

SALMOND on Marr “Alex Salmond sparked outrage yesterday by comparing the Scottish referendum to South Africa’s post-apartheid election. … The first minister said the sight of his countrymen waiting in line to register to vote was similar to that of black South Africans forming long queues outside polling stations in 1994. … But while Scots have long enjoyed the full trappings of democracy – and elect both Scottish and UK MPs – black South Africans were having their first sight of the ballot box after centuries of cruel exclusion.” – Daily Mail

  • “First Minister reportedly taunted the Westminster government over whether an independent Scotland should take on its share of the national debt, saying: ‘What are they going to do – invade?'” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “It reminded me of Cleggmania in April 2010. Salmondmania may last longer.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

Scotland 5) The Queen declines to get involved

“The Queen issued a rare public statement last night to deny claims she had been asked to step in over the Scottish referendum. … Following a report that a number of MPs were suggesting privately that the Monarch, who is thought to be strongly in favour of the Union, should intervene, Buckingham Palace insisted she would remain neutral. … Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister, risked controversy yesterday by declaring that he had met the Queen recently at Balmoral and insisting that she would be proud to reign over an independent Scotland.” – Daily Mail

Fallon gives £1.6 million worth of weaponry to the Kurds in Iraq

FALLON Daily Politics“Britain is gifting heavy machine guns and ammunition worth £1.6million to help Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in Iraq. … The weapons will arrive tomorrow and will be used to battle the extremist army, which is believed to include hundreds of Britons. … Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: ‘The Kurdish forces remain significantly less well equipped than Isil (ISIS) and we are responding to help them defend themselves, protect citizens and push back advances.'” – Daily Mail

  • “Britain is looking to establish three military bases in the Middle East to help to contain the threat posed by Islamic State, The Times understands.” – The Times (£)
  • “Barack Obama has launched a process familiar in Washington but rare during his own time in office – of preparing the population at home and America’s allies overseas for a new military conflict in the Middle East.” – Financial Times
  • “The United States will start lining up a coalition of Arab countries against Islamic State (Isis) today after Gulf nations appeared poised to join the military campaign.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “However subtle Mr Obama’s strategy – and the signs are that he is thinking along the right lines – it is only as strong as the alliance behind it.” – Financial Times editorial
  • “It is time for the nations of the Sunni Middle East to take responsibility” – Times editorial (£)
  • “Firepower is vital in Iraq – not false friends” – Roger Boyes, The Times (£)
  • “Don’t let I.S. traitors come back to Britain” – Jane Moore, The Sun (£)

Gove: Britons “must stand united against hate”

“Brits are failing to stand up to soaring numbers of anti-semitic attacks – and ‘must stand united against hate’, Michael Gove has warned. … The Chief Whip said there had been ‘insufficient indignation’ from people about a fivefold increase in anti-Jew incidents. … He slammed attempts to compare Israel’s actions in Gaza to the horrors suffered by Jews at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust.” – The Sun (£)

Javid: The BBC can take cuts

BBC“The size of the BBC proves it can find more savings despite its protestations, the culture secretary Sajid Javid has said, as he condemns the large number of employees it sent out to cover one news story. … Mr Javid, who spoke at the Royal Television Society conference yesterday, said more ‘can and must be done’ to make the BBC more efficient. … Saying the corporation can ‘continue to work harder’, he pointed out the size and scope of the BBC had made it evident there are still savings to be made.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Rona Fairhead, who is set to become the first woman to lead the corporation, had her appointment approved by MPs yesterday. … But hours after the Commons hearing it emerged the 53-year-old is facing a class action lawsuit by HSBC shareholders over allegations the bank allowed terrorists and Mexican drug cartels to launder money.” – Daily Mail
  • “The new head of the BBC’s governing body has promised to defend the interests of licence fee-payers but indicated that she would not support radical change to the annual TV levy.” – The Times (£)

Boris wants discounts on British cars

“Boris Johnson today calls for motorists to get bumper discounts on new British cars as part of a £300million scrappage scheme for old diesel vehicles. … Backing The Sun’s Diesel Weasels campaign, the London Mayor urged ministers to act and sort out a ‘gigantic European mess’. … He said motorists forced to sell pollution-belching diesel cars should be handed up to £2,000 toward the cost of a new, greener, vehicle. … The biggest discounts should go to those ‘buying British’, he said.” – The Sun (£)

Davies complains that prisoners have better libraries than the public; Grayling agrees

Prison bars“Prisoners are ‘far better served’ by library facilities than the general public, an MP has claimed. … Some prisons carry more than 16 books for every inmate, compared to just one book per resident in a community library, Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, told the Commons. … Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary who has faced criticism after banning inmates from receiving books in the post under a crackdown on perks, said Mr Davies was ‘entirely right’.” – Daily Telegraph

A new climate change pact won’t include financial penalties, reveals Davey

“A pivotal global climate change deal due to be signed in Paris at the end of next year is unlikely to include financial penalties for any countries that end up breaching it, the UK energy and climate secretary has revealed. … ‘I think that’s going to be quite a stretch,’ said Ed Davey, in one of the first public comments on how the pact might work by a senior minister involved in the complex international negotiations shaping the agreement.” – Financial Times

  • pound-coin“Families could end up forking out more for smart energy meters than they will save, MPs have suggested. … The Public Accounts Committee said the average cost of installing 53million of the devices over five years could amount to £215 per household, or £43 a year, with the expense added to bills. … But over the same period, households can expect to shave only around £26 a year off their bills, the MPs said.” – Daily Mail
  • “Customers who are owed £153million by rip-off energy firms could get their money back under a scheme unveiled by the industry today.” – Daily Mail
  • “British Gas will be forced to advise its 9m household customers that they would be better off switching to Sainsbury’s Energy, under plans from regulator Ofgem.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “Prophetic visions can rouse politicians from complacency to save the planet” – Rowan Williams, The Guardian

> Yesterday: LeftWatch – The Lib Dems will fight the next election as a left wing party

Vaz calls for an emergency law to sack the Rotherham police commissioner

Keith Vaz“Keith Vaz, the home affairs select committee chairman, is to inquire about an ’emergency law’ to sack Shaun Wright, the embattled South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner (PCC), in the wake of last month’s child abuse revelations. … MPs called Wright a charlatan and ‘a dead PCC walking’ after he claimed he was doing a ‘very good job’. Wright said resigning would be the easy option, after widespread calls for him to step down.” – The Guardian

  • “Shaun Wright, the embattled police and crime commissioner who has refused to resign over the Rotherham child abuse scandal, sits on a Home Office task force combating child sexual violence, it has emerged.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Meredydd Hughes, the former head of the South Yorkshire force, said that he felt sick when he read the reports of the extent of abuse that was reported during the time he was in charge of the force.” – The Independent
  • “A councillor who ran up a £2,400 bill on sex chat lines, using a mobile phone funded by council taxpayers, has been banned from speaking to female members of staff.” – The Independent

The postcode lottery in passport delays

“Passport chiefs are targeting 100 postcode areas for fraud investigations as they tackle the backlog which hit hundreds of thousands of families, it has been revealed. … Staff at the Passport Office have been ordered to give extra scrutiny to applications for travel documents for children from districts on the watchlist. … Critics said the ‘postcode lottery’ was unfair on innocent people who could face delays just because of where they live.” – Daily Mail

  • “Bungling officials have blown £9million since 2010 on deportation flights for immigrants that never leave the ground.” – The Sun (£)

Fears of a “GP crisis” as doctors try to stop taking on new patients

NHS“Soaring numbers of GP practices are demanding to close their doors to new patients and force current patients to go elsewhere as doctors warn that services are ‘teetering on the brink of collapse’. … New figures show that last year 104 GP practices applied to NHS authorities for permission to stop accepting patients – more than twice as many as two years before.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “A temporary NHS boss was paid more than £1,000 a day when she was parachuted in to help a health trust. … Interim chief executive Kim Hodgson received up to £95,000 for just two-and-a-half months’ work.” – Daily Mail
  • “At least 150 patients a year wake during surgery, with many feeling as if they are being tortured or ‘buried alive’, the Royal College of Anaesthetists says.” – The Times (£)

Public service markets need fixing, says think-tank

“Half of voters feel that no one takes responsibility when outsourced public services go wrong, according to a leading think-tank, which is urging the government to focus on fixing ‘broken’ public service markets. … The finding, in a poll commissioned by the Institute for Government, came as it called on politicians to increase transparency in the way such markets worked and ensure there was clear accountability for failure.” – Financial Times

Carney warns of an interest rate rise

Mark Carney“An interest rate rise will hit workers long before most see their pay increase, the Bank of England governor warned yesterday. … Mark Carney said a rise was ‘getting closer’, indicating it is likely to take place next spring in line with predictions. … For workers going through the biggest squeeze on pay since the 1920s, this will mean facing the threat of higher mortgage payments before benefiting from a higher salary. The combination will put impossible pressure on millions of families.” – Daily Mail

  • “Optimism over the economy has risen more in Britain than in any other nation over the past year, according to a study.” – The Times (£)

> Today: Alexandra Jones on Local Government – More jobs alone will not drive our prosperity

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Why isn’t growth translating into votes?

British students lag behind in literacy and numeracy tests

“Only in one in four graduates is good at maths and English, a study revealed yesterday. … The dismal results come despite a surge in education spending and record numbers of university students. … The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development found that just 25 per cent of Britons with a degree scored highly in a literacy test. … Yet their peers in Japan and Finland scored 37 per cent, the Dutch 36 per cent and Australians 32 per cent. Norway with 28 per cent and Belgium with 26 per cent also fared better.” – Daily Mail

  • “Children raised in stable marital homes are better behaved than classmates brought up by unmarried parents, according to a major government-backed study.” – Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • “We are very happy!” Prince Charles on the prospect of becoming a grandfather again – Daily Mail
  • The Apple Watch is announced, alongside the new iPhone 6 – Daily Mail
  • The Invictus Games, for wounded servicemen and women, start tonight – The Sun (£)
  • Yorkshire tries to claim Robin Hood for itself – The Sun (£)
  • Turkey unveils legislation to tighten state control over the internet – Financial Times
  • British writers dominate Man Booker shortlist – Financial Times
  • The British nurse who contracted ebola wants to return to Sierra Leone – The Guardian
  • A ship from the 1845 Franklin expedition has been discovered – The Guardian
  • Stonehenge had a sibling just two miles away – The Independent

And finally: Mistaken identity

parris“The [Clacton] Gazette is an exceptionally good local paper, but it’s a pity about the big photo they published to show irate readers what the villainous Parris looks like. Whoever this anonymous, ruddy, chubby, thirtysomething guy wearing a purple shirt and a tentative smile may be (the mistaken image has now been removed from the online version), he might have a case for damages against the newspaper should he ever visit the seaside town and be tarred, feathered, torched and thrown off the pier by a howling mob.” – Matthew Parris, The Times (£)