Rochester 1) Farage denies that UKIP would repatriate EU migrants, after Reckless comments…

Farage Nigel Eating Cakes“Nigel Farage has dismissed claims that Ukip backs the repatriation of EU migrants who have lived and worked in Britain for years. … He insists the party would allow lawful migrants to stay – even if the UK leaves the European Union. … His intervention follows a storm of protest after Ukip candidate Mark Reckless, who is set to win the party’s second parliamentary seat in the Rochester and Strood by-election tomorrow night, was accused of advocating the repatriation of existing migrants.” – Daily Mail

  • “…the Tory candidate, Kelly Tolhurst refused to condemn the comments and merely accused Mr Reckless of changing his tune. Ukip then accused the Tories of running a ‘BNP-lite campaign’.” – The Independent
  • “The astonishing scale of Eastern European migration to Britain is revealed today in figures uncovered by the Daily Mail. … They show that 1.3 per cent of Eastern Europeans living anywhere in Europe – including in their native countries – are now in the UK.” – Daily Mail
  • “A self-styled ‘pick-up coach’ accused of encouraging violence against women has been banned from Britain today.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “The failure to control immigration is a disgrace to all those who have governed us through the past generation. It is scarcely surprising that they should be punished for it at the polls.” – Max Hastings, Daily Mail
  • “It’s no good saying ‘Farage is right on immigration but don’t vote for him’. His rivals need a broader appeal to voters.” – Peter Kellner, The Times (£)

Rochester 2) …and targets “cocky” Cameron

CAMERON Marr Europe“Nigel Farage reckons Ukip will romp home in today’s by-election in Rochester and Strood – because of ‘cocky’ David Cameron. … The Ukip chief said the Conservatives had made a massive mistake in basing their campaign around the PM. … He told The Sun: ‘They thought their trump card was David Cameron. They couldn’t be more wrong. This will be a massive personal rebuke for him.'” – The Sun (£)

  • “Nick Clegg was left red-faced after mistaking Stroud in Gloucestershire as the site of tomorrow’s by-election – 120 miles away in Kent.” – The Sun (£)

Rochester 3) Will there be more defections after today’s vote?

UKIP glass“Two Conservative MPs are considering jumping ship to Nigel Farage’s party if it wins the Rochester and Strood byelection, Ukip candidate Mark Reckless said on Wednesday. … Further defections would be likely to prompt a crisis in Downing Street about the haemorrhaging of the Tory vote six months before the general election, and potentially a move on David Cameron’s leadership.” – The Guardian

  • “With Conservative HQ on high alert ahead of an expected byelection defeat to Ukip tomorrow, it emerged that staunch Eurosceptics Peter Bone, Philip Hollobone and Martin Vickers are canvassing constituents on whether they want to be in or out of the EU. … Both of the Conservatives who have jumped ship to Ukip, Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, conducted similar exercises before announcing their defections.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “The greatest damage will be if it emboldens other Tory MPs to become ’kippers. … David Cameron must talk them round. Then he must talk more to ordinary people.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “No sign yet of a solution to the shambles within the Tory party.” – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph
  • “Nigel Farage’s party can no longer get away with simply behaving like the outsiders of British politics.” – Daily Telegraph editorial

Rochester 4) Lord Ashcroft warns against insulting UKIP voters

ASHCROFT blue shirt“Lord Ashcroft, the Conservatives’ former deputy chairman, has accused David Cameron of putting ‘two fingers’ up to natural Tory supporters who are now supporting Ukip. … In a private meeting with fellow Tories, the businessman and former party donor warned that Mr Cameron’s ‘vote Miliband, get Ukip’ message would backfire. He said the Tories had decided to ‘scream abuse’ at ‘decent’ former supporters and were telling them they were ‘dumb’.” – The Independent

Letwin speaks out against Europe, suggesting that he could vote to leave…

EU Exit“The Tory policy chief claims he will vote to leave Europe unless Brussels hands powers over border controls and justice back to Britain. … He added it was not clear that PM David Cameron could secure the necessary reform – but said the odds were ‘better than 50-50’. … Mr Letwin – who penned the party’s 2010 Manifesto – said: ‘If we don’t get the sort of position I was describing then I wouldn’t want to recommend anything. … I would want to recommend leaving.'” – The Sun (£)

  • “Mr Letwin is a key ally of the Prime Minister and his comments will be seen as a sign that Mr Cameron and other senior Conservatives are preparing to harden considerably the party’s line on the possibility of an EU exit.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Germany will not grant Britain a temporary moratorium or brake on EU migrant numbers, according to a close ally of Angela Merkel.” – The Times (£)

> Today:

…whereas Clarke speaks up for it

“Kenneth Clarke has launched a frontal assault on David Cameron’s EU reform plans, declaring that he was seeking to dismantle one of Margaret Thatcher’s greatest legacies by challenging the free movement of people in the EU. … In a provocative intervention on the eve of the Rochester and Strood byelection, the former Conservative chancellor also accused John Major of encouraging people to vote Ukip, after he floated plans to reform free movement on behalf of No 10.” – The Guardian

Prime Minister’s Putdowns

Cameron in PMQs on 16th October 2013“We no longer have Prime Minister’s Questions but Prime Minister’s Putdowns – pre-packaged insults both aimed and delivered by David Cameron.  … He enjoys this more than he should. His opponent (or punchbag) has plainly come to loathe the weekly ordeal and is increasingly terrible at it. … Mr Cameron, with unseemly alacrity, jested about Mr Miliband’s television clash with Myleene Klass. ‘He had a pasting from a pop star!’ Loud laughter.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

  • “Labour supporters have demanded Myleene Klass is dropped as the face of Littlewoods after she tore into Ed Miliband.” – The Sun (£)
  • “Labour MPs in London are urging Ed Miliband to revise his plan for a mansion tax amid fears that it will cost the party votes at next May’s general election. … Instead, they want Labour to bring in new council tax bands for the most expensive properties.” – The Independent

And comment:

  • “Myleene Klass and a telling insight into the vacuity and class envy of Miliband’s Labour Party.” – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • “Mansion tax: most voters are with Ed Miliband, not Myleene Klass.” – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

> Yesterday:

Cameron accused of neglecting the Big Society

“The Big Society has failed, according to charity chiefs who have accused David Cameron of ‘stifling civil society’ by preventing them from speaking out about service failures. … The Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo) has attacked the government, saying that some of its measures have been ‘constitutionally and morally disastrous’.” – The Times (£)

  • “The cabinet secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, has David Cameron ‘by the balls’ and the prime minister does nothing without Heywood’s permission, according to the former Conservative special adviser Dominic Cummings.” – The Guardian

Pay levels remain flat, but Morgan hails the closing gender gap

Pay“Weekly pay packets increased by just a pound last year – the lowest rise since 1997, official stats show. … But the Government hailed the pay gap between men and women falling to a record low level of 9.4 per cent – down from 17.4 per cent in 1997. … Women Minister Nicky Morgan said: ‘I am delighted that the gender pay gap has reduced to its lowest point in history.'” – The Sun (£)

  • “Women in their thirties are earning more than men for the first time on record, new figures show.” – Daily Mail
  • “Only a tiny minority of the people who use food banks work for a living, a study said.” – Daily Mail
  • “Westminster, London’s biggest borough for employment, has lost enough office space for 78,000 workers as a result of the government making it easier for developers to convert offices into homes.” – Financial Times
  • “Half of the British public expects another global financial crisis at some point in the next year, with corruption considered the most likely trigger.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “The rise of women in the workplace is welcome news.” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “It may not be all down to government policy, but it is the poorer half of society who have suffered most in recent years.” – Independent editorial
  • “Real wages are significantly lower, and younger workers are suffering.” – Chris Giles, Financial Times
  • “Austerity has clearly failed. So why don’t they ditch it?” – Seumas Milne, The Guardian

Hammond talks down the prospects of an Iranian nuclear deal by next Monday

“A nuclear deal with Iran is unlikely to be completed on schedule by next Monday but there may be enough progress to warrant extending the deadline, Britain’s foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, has said. … Talks between Iran and six world powers on the future of the country’s nuclear programme are in their last week in Vienna, with significant gaps remaining between the negotiating positions on how much capacity for enriching uranium Tehran should have, and the speed at which international sanctions should be removed.” – The Guardian

Pickles: Commemorate the First World War by volunteering

PICKLES Eric 2009“The First World War was defined by those who volunteered for the greater good – millions of Britons who believed in fighting to make the world a better place. That’s why our ‘Remember WW1’ campaign is about much more than reflection. … We are encouraging people to pledge an hour of their time – in whatever sphere – to show just a small token of gratitude to those who fought for our liberty.” – Eric Pickles, Daily Telegraph

Gibb wants schools to return to textbooks

“Ministers will today urge schools to bring back traditional textbooks to end a growing reliance on worksheets and the internet. … They will say that an ‘anti-textbook ethos’ has contributed to England’s slide in international rankings of pupils’ performance in key academic subjects. … In a speech to the Publishers Association, School Reform Minister Nick Gibb will call on all schools – both primary and secondary – to reintroduce good quality textbooks in most subjects.” – Daily Mail

  • “Riot police clashed with student protesters today as campaigners attempted to break into Conservative Party headquarters in central London.” – The Independent

East London school faces extremism accusations

School“A leading state school will be put into special measures by Ofsted today amid claims that pupils have been exposed to Islamic extremism. … Inspectors visiting the Church of England school in East London discovered girls and boys were being segregated in the playground.  … They also found that an Islamic society set up by sixth formers had posted links on its Facebook page to hardline Islamist preachers.” – Daily Mail

  • “A school missed out on a top grade — for having too few black or Asian pupils.” – The Sun (£)

And comment:

  • “Ofsted’s criticism of a primary school for not being multicultural enough is a triumph of idiotic political correctness.” – Sun editorial (£)

Was there a Westminster paedophile ring and police cover-up? Clegg demands an investigation

Nick Clegg portrait“Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg today called on Scotland Yard to investigate ‘grotesque’ claims police helped to ‘cover up’ the death of an eight-year-old boy at the hands of a Westminster paedophile ring. … Vishambar Mehrotra claims his son Vishal was murdered by a Westminster-based abusers after disappearing on the day of the Royal wedding in 1981.” – Daily Mail

  • “The detective who led the investigation into Britain’s most notorious child abusers said its files could provide evidence for Scotland Yard’s investigation of an alleged Westminster paedophile ring.” – The Times (£)
  • “Children suffering abuse and exploitation would have the right to take their governments to an international human rights court under proposals announced by Gordon Brown on Wednesday.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “There is no justice for those falsely accused of abuse.” – Libby Purves, The Times (£)

Hughes calls for jail sentences of under one year to be scrapped

HUGHES Simon“Simon Hughes said there should be a legal presumption that no one goes to jail for less than 12 months, with criminals given community or suspended sentences instead. … But figures show such a move would mean 60,000 fewer criminals going to prison every year, including thousands of violent thugs, burglars, sex attackers and robbers.” – Daily Mail

  • “A Lib Dem minister has risked a fresh Coalition drugs row by attacking the Conservatives’ failure to back major reforms.” – The Sun (£)
  • “The number of children being hospitalised with stab wounds has nearly doubled in just four years, The Sun can reveal.” – The Sun (£)
  • “An astonishing arsenal of 15,429 knives, guns and other potential weapons has been seized by security staff in crown and magistrates courts in England and Wales in just over two years, the government has revealed.” – The Guardian
  • “A retired English judge has opened a new front in the war on waffle, saying his former colleagues “echo in a different universe” with their use of legal terminology.” – Financial Times
  • “Cuts to the civil legal aid budget are not delivering better value for money for the taxpayer, the UK’s top spending watchdog has found.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “As another hung parliament looms, the Tories and Labour are contemplating minority rule.” – George Eaton, New Statesman

> Today: Peter Riddell on Comment – What would a minority government be like?

Davey leads Britain into a £700 million donation

Ed Davey“Britain will donate a stunning £700 million of taxpayers’ cash to a global green fund – £100 million more than thought. … Sources said the pledge would come at a ‘donors meeting’ in Berlin – despite fury from Tory backbenchers. … The Government refused to comment ahead of the summit. Energy secretary Ed Davey – a Lib Dem green campaigner – has been leading the talks.” – The Sun (£)

  • “A review into the £24.5 billion project to build the country’s first nuclear reactor for a generation has been ordered secretly by the government amid fears that its completion will be delayed for years, threatening the secure supply of energy.” – The Times (£)
  • “The Government’s £11bn plan to install ‘smart’ energy meters in every home is being delayed by up to a year, after the company in charge of the communications system for the devices warned it would not be ready in time.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “Flood defence? Sure… but only overseas.” – Rod Liddle, The Sun (£)
  • “The Green Blob believes in science – except when scientists disagree with it.” – James Delingpole, The Spectator

Former Lib Dem treasurer: People tried to buy seats in the Lords

“A senior Liberal Democrat has revealed that he was approached dozens of times by wealthy supporters who offered £1million or more to buy seats in the House of Lords. … In remarks that threaten a new cash for honours controversy, the party’s former treasurer Lord Razzall admitted yesterday he told business people who made such approaches ‘several times a year’ to ‘keep quiet’.” – Daily Mail

Labour wants the Lottery to be more transparent

Lottery“Labour are to force lotto bosses to reveal whether poorer ticket buyers are getting their fair share of cash back for good causes, The Sun can reveal. … The intervention over the long-running scandal came as the National Lottery last night marked its 20th birthday. … Owners Camelot detail where all lottery grants go to geographically. … But they have refused to publish any breakdown of ticket sales by area or region for the last 15 years.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Harriet Harman held talks with the Charity Commission before it decided to launch an investigation against George Galloway.” – The Times (£)

“We live in a new era of Scottish democracy.” Sturgeon succeeds Salmond

Scottish flag“Nicola Sturgeon has been voted in as the first female First Minister of Scotland,sealed with a hug from outgoing leader Alex Salmond.  … Watched from the sidelines by her proud family, Ms Sturgeon achieved her lifelong ambition to become Scotland’s first female leader yesterday as she vowed to ‘open the gate to greater opportunity’ for all women. … The SNP leader was elected First Minister by MSPs in a historic vote as Salmond’s seven-and-a-half-year reign officially came to an end.” – Daily Mail

  • “Ruth Davidson has used the election of a new First Minister to set out a powerful Tory agenda for Scotland that contrasted her belief in individual freedom with the other parties’ obsession with ‘hectoring’ people.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “Scotland’s political earthquake – and what it will do to Westminster.” – James Forsyth, The Spectator

> Yesterday: Henry Hill’s column – Labour’s Scottish meltdown continues

NHS 1) Waiting times for new drugs to be cut

HUNT Doctor Carla Millar“Waiting times for cutting-edge drugs will be cut in half under government plans to rip up a ‘broken’ system that has denied many NHS patients life-extending treatments. … Ministers want to bypass traditional clinical trials by using patients as a ‘test-bed’ for promising new drugs, linking their health service data to pharmaceutical company records to discover much more quickly how effective treatments are.” – The Times (£)

  • “Jeremy Hunt is under severe pressure from the Prime Minister to explain why his department has failed to agree a deal with the makers of a new life-saving meningitis vaccine.” – The Independent

And comment:

  • “Britain’s drug approval system is beyond repair. It is time to start again.” – Times editorial (£)

> Today: Profile – Jeremy Hunt, the restorer of calm at Health. But will it last the winter?

> Yesterday: Jeremy Hunt MP on Comment – Why NHS culture still needs to change

NHS 2) Hospitals told to publish cancer survival rates

“All hospitals have been ordered to publish their cancer survival rates, as part of plans to give patients a legal right to information comparing standards across the country, the Health Secretary has announced. … Jeremy Hunt told The Telegraph he will propose new powers – enshrined in law – in a bid to move away from the ‘dark days’ of Labour, which he said had left the public with no idea which hospitals were safe.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “For the first time, GPs have been told to refer patients with seemingly banal symptoms, such as a cough or tiredness, for urgent tests within 48 hours. … NICE, the NHS watchdog which has issued the guidelines, warns that delays in spotting signs of cancer is ‘costing the lives of thousands of people’ every year.” – Daily Mail

NHS 3) Obesity costs the country £47 billion a year, claims report

NHS“Obesity is a greater burden on the UK’s economy than armed violence, war and terrorism, costing the country nearly £47bn a year, a report has found. … The study, commissioned by consultancy firm McKinsey and Company, reveals obesity has the second-largest economic impact on the UK behind smoking, generating an annual loss equivalent to 3% of GDP.” – The Guardian

  • “Private health firms are on course to win more than £9bn of NHS contracts to look after patients as a result of the coalition’s ramping up of competition in the health service, research shows.” – The Guardian
  • “The amount the NHS spends per patient would fall between £98 and £191 – a real term drop in spending of at least £5.5bn – by 2020 under the main political parties’ funding pledges, analysis reveals.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “There are better ways to improve the NHS than this online ratings system.” – Jane Merrick, The Independent
  • “Integrating hospital and community care is right, but it won’t save money.” – Guardian editorial

Millions will have to retune their TV sets, following sell-off

Television“Millions of households will have to retune their TV sets and up to 300,000 will need to move their aerial or install a new one following a decision to sell off the broadcasting frequencies used by Freeview. … Regulator Ofcom yesterday announced the decision, which will create space on the nation’s airwaves to expand high-speed mobile phone services.” – Daily Mail

  • “Britain’s mobile operators will offer to invest tens of millions of pounds to boost rural coverage and eliminate so-called ‘partial notspots’, The Telegraph can reveal.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “The BBC has been accused of celebrating drugs culture in its news reports about the launch of a Bob Marley cannabis company.” – Daily Mail

Beer to cost less!

beer“Britain’s drinkers could see the price of a pint fall in the biggest shake-up of the pub industry in centuries. … MPs have voted to scrap the ‘beer tie’ under which breweries that rented out pubs to landlords locked them into selling their beer. … The surprise move means landlords will now be able to shop around to get the best deals when ordering beer.” – Daily Mail

  • “Rebel MPs have wrong-footed ministers and passed a measure that could help to revive the pub trade. Cheers to that.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “The best reason to free landlords from the big pub companies is how empty the bars are.” – Financial Times editorial

News in brief

  • RAF jets destroy ISIS bunker in Iraq – Daily Mail
  • ISIS suicide attack in Kurdish capital – The Independent
  • Five dead in New York snowstorms – The Independent
  • New ash cloud crisis could be imminent, according to scientists – Daily Telegraph
  • Prince Harry visits one of world’s largest mosques – Daily Telegraph
  • Being King won’t prevent Charles from speaking his mind, say sources – The Guardian
  • Schumacher is paralysed, claims one of his friends – The Guardian

And finally 1) Catty remarks

Osborne New Year speech“Business minister Matthew Hancock, a protege of George Osborne, has named his new cat Gideon – after the Chancellor’s hated real first name. Osborne is unamused. … Telling journalists over lunch Hancock had ruefully confessed he had called the feline ‘after the name my mother gave me’, the Chancellor rages: ‘It’s about the most disloyal thing Matt has ever done.’” – Ephraim Hardcastle column, Daily Mail

  • “George Osborne has denied Danny Alexander’s claim that he padlocks his personal fridge to keep out milk thieves.” – The Sun (£)

And finally 2) Currie in the jungle

“She had an affair with a Prime Minister and claimed Northerners were dying of ‘ignorance and chips’. … Edwina Currie isn’t for the faint-hearted and has warned her soon-to-be jungle chums that she ‘will drive them crazy.'” – The Sun (£)

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