Cameron claims no deal possible in Ulster as Adams attacks negotiations

ulsterunionist“Prime Minister David Cameron has left political talks in Northern Ireland claiming that no deal between the opposing sides is possible, with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams branding the attempt as ‘amateurish and ham fisted’. Mr Cameron and his Irish counterpart Enda Kenny held late-night talks with the major Northern Ireland political leaders in Stormont which ended at 1.30am. The pair returned to the talks at 8am but left within an hour.” – Daily Mail

Times Editorial: A bad week for May, the ‘Queen of the Night’

“The “submarine” home secretary is known in Westminster for her canny media strategy of surfacing only for set-pieces. After a carefully chosen magazine cover, say, or a tightly scripted appearance on Desert Island Discs, she will, if possible, submerge again, get on with her job and let her cabinet colleagues hog the headlines… This strategy works when e inevitable policy and administrative failures of a huge portfolio are at the margin. When they reach a critical mass the minister risks seeming inept and insufficiently accountable, and that is what is happening now.” – The Times editorial (£)

  • 160,000 given UK passports without criminal checks in 2013 – The Sun (£)

>Yesterday: Lord Green on Comment: Why a points based system for immigration control is a bad idea

Wollaston hits out at “quacks charter”

Sarah Wollaston“A bill giving dying patients access to untested medicines is a “quack’s charter” that should not have government support, the chairman of parliament’s health watchdog has said. Dr Sarah Wollaston, who leads the Commons health committee, said the medical innovations bill proposed by Lord Saatchi would endanger patients and undermine genuine medical research.” – The Guardian

Pickles plans to publish online appraisals of council staff earning £100,000 or more

“Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, announced yesterday that councils will be forced to explain why 2,000 senior officials deserve to be paid more than £100,000 each. Details of their performance reviews will be released and any bonuses paid would also have to be justified in writing. Mr Pickles has been trying to drive down salaries in local authorities since the election and councils already have to publish all salaries over £50,000 and name employees earning more than £150,000.” – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Judy Terry on Local Government: Councils still have a culture of extravagance

Charles Moore: Conservation charities mask hidden agendas with uncontroversial issues

MOORE Charles blue background“RSPB campaigns circulate round confected dramas about wildlife crime and hugely expensive television advertising. The organisation knows well the huge damage done to garden birds by the domestic cat, but will not publicly admit this, lest it damage fund-raising. The corporate re-branding exercise last year spent lots of money turning the letters RSPB into rspb, and removing the black border from the logo, to no discernible benefit.” – Daily Telegraph

  • ‘Streetwise’ builders fighting hard against rural planning restrictions, claims the National Trust – Daily Telegraph

UK spies “may have seen” CIA torture, claims former Blair aide

“British spies may have been aware of torture carried out by the CIA, a former security minister admitted last night. In the most frank official acceptance yet of potential complicity, Lord West of Spithead accepted there may have been the ‘odd case’ where UK agents knew of mistreatment and may even have been in the building when it happened.” – Daily Mail

Miliband the Elder hints at Westminster return…

David Miliband“David Miliband has hinted at a return to Westminster and called for EU supporters to “make the case” for Britain’s membership. The former foreign secretary, who left parliament last year to take up a charity job in New York, told the Financial Times that he was not intending to stay in America for ever. Asked if he would ever return to British politics, he said: “You just don’t know, do you?” He added: “Tony Blair and John Major have said that they wish they’d done their post-premiership jobs before they became prime minister.”” – The Times (£)

Ed may be nice but he looks like a rabbit in the headlights – The Times (£)

…as the Younger is accused to “running away” from the English Question

“Mr Hague, the leader of the Commons, will put more pressure on Mr Miliband when he publishes a “command paper” setting out the Coalition’s proposals for English votes for English laws in the wake of the Scottish referendum. He will accuse Labour of being “afraid” to reach a cross-party agreement on the issue and pledge to put Conservative plans to a vote on the floor of the House of Commons before the General Election.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Ed backs limited restrictions on Scottish MPs for England-only laws – The Sun (£)
  • Tory plans to limit Labour MPs’ involvement in English legislation – Financial Times

Murphy would be happy to win Scottish Labour leadership by one vote

Scottish flag“Jim Murphy has said he would be happy to win the Scottish Labour leadership by one vote when the result is announced today amid concern that he could be “blindsided” by the trade unions in the same way as David Miliband. The former Scottish Secretary told the Telegraph that he was confident of victory, with his supporters predicting that he would win the overwhelming support of the party’s parliamentarians and rank-and-file members.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Murphy set to win but rival’s progress surprises – The Guardian
  • Misery for Miliband as SNP lead soars – The Sun (£)

Labour must resist urge to increase spending and tell people what to do, argues Kendall

“Labour must fight a tendency to tell people what to do and avoid being trapped into demanding a bigger state, one of the party’s rising stars has said. Liz Kendall, the shadow care minister, adds that Ed Miliband must not get stuck in calls for more spending but should make the case for reform. She told The Times that George Osborne had blundered in pledging “spending levels last seen 80 years ago”, but warned her own party to fight the “paternalism within us” and its belief in a “top-down state”.” – The Times (£)

Clegg demands publication of Iraq War enquiry

Nick Clegg portrait“Nick Clegg yesterday demanded publication of the long-delayed official report into the Iraq War before the general election as relatives of soldiers killed in the conflict complained of ‘the biggest cover-up of our time’. The Deputy Prime Minister said he would be ‘very disappointed’ if the Chilcot Inquiry does not conclude before voters go to the polls next May. ‘I very, very much want to see this Chilcot report published because it is not fair on the relatives,’ Mr Clegg told LBC radio.” – Daily Mail

Liberal Democrat MPs support protest against restrictions on risqué pornography

“Sex workers were among hundreds of campaigners who staged a demonstration and sang the Monty Python song Sit on My Face to protest against a crackdown on “aggressive” sex acts in internet porn, introduced by the government earlier this month. Julian Huppert, the Lib Dem MP for Cambridge, who is leading calls for a reversal in the ban, said it was “very odd” to outlaw the filming of sexual acts that people were allowed to do in the bedroom.” – The Times (£)

UKIP 1) Party in ‘civil war’ amidst allegations that millionaire donor is trying to buy Hamilton a seat

UKIP glass“One of Ukip’s biggest donors has threatened to stop funding the party unless the disgraced former Tory Neil Hamilton is given a parliamentary seat, it was claimed last night. Stuart Wheeler’s alleged intervention has sparked a furious reaction – with his replacement as party Treasurer Andrew Reid insisting that ‘nobody gets to buy a seat’ for their friends. The row blew up on Wednesday night after a letter to Mr Hamilton asking him to explain his expenses was leaked – forcing him to pull out of a contest to become the party’s candidate in a winnable seat in next year’s election.” – Daily Mail

UKIP 2) Sex, lies and texts… the strange battle at the heart of UKIP

“Gradually, though, during our conversation, questions began to arise about the credibility of the woman who only a few months ago had reached Ukip’s approved candidates’ list and was expected to become the party’s parliamentary candidate in the key seat of South Basildon. Inconsistencies emerged — about her education, her age and even the number of children she has — raising doubts about the vetting procedures of a party that has ambitions to hold the balance of power in parliament in five months’ time.” – The Times (£)

  • Former star candidate Natasha Bolter’s life story falls apart – Daily Mail
  • UKIP is a joke, but it isn’t funny – Hugo Rifkind, The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Iain Dale in Columnists: Roger Bird – not exactly Brad Pitt in the looks department, is he?

UKIP 3) Farage twice asked Enoch Powell to stand

Enoch Powell“Nigel Farage personally begged Enoch Powell to support his attempt to win a key by-election nearly two decades ago, The Telegraph can disclose. Mr Powell, the rightwing former Conservative MP famed for his Rivers of Blood speech, also twice turned down requests to stand for election for Ukip. However, despite this cool response, Mr Powell endorsed three Ukip candidates for election to Parliament in the mid-1990s.” – Daily Telegraph

UKIP 4) Desmond defects from Labour with £300,000 donation to Farage’s party

“Richard Desmond, the owner of the Express and Star newspapers and adult TV channels, has given £300,000 to the UK Independence party, renouncing his former allegiance to Labour and instantly becoming one of Ukip’s most generous backers. People close to the situation confirmed the publisher had handed over the six-figure sum. The donation comes just five months before the general election, giving the anti-EU party a much-needed financial boost.” – Financial Times

Matthew Parris: Fear not, the populist parties won’t be popular

ukip-cover“This surprised me. A tweet on Thursday from an entirely sober political scientist, Nottingham University’s Philip Cowley: “Last YouGov poll: two main parties combined: 66 per cent. Last general election: two main parties combined: 67 per cent. What’s really changed is the rest.” He’s right. Big-party allegiance has been weakening for decades but hardly at all since the last election. Labour and the Conservatives are still there: tall trees; it’s in the undergrowth we see change.” – The Times (£)

BBC criticised over Brand and Farage’s “farcical” clash

“But unimpressed viewers complained that guests were simply shouting at each other and likened the broadcast to an episode of The Jeremy Kyle Show, which gets together troubled families in front of a studio audience for heated rows about topics such as infidelity and parenting. On Twitter, viewer Alice Hassall, wrote: ‘Wow this is like posh Jeremy Kyle.’ Dr Sarah Quinnell posted: ‘Is this Question Time or is it in fact Jeremy Kyle? Will Dimblebot announce that Farage is Brand’s father?’” – Daily Mail

  • How could Question Time sink so low? – Amanda Platell, Daily Mail
  • No escape from UKIP – Ann Treneman, The Times (£)
  • Brand rendered speechless by challenge to stand for Parliament – The Independent
  • Audience member who challenged Brand was UKIP MEP’s brother – Daily Mail

News in Brief:

  • Drug addict in IDF t-shirt who attacked George Galloway is jailed – Daily Mail
  • Chaos as air traffic system crashes – The Times (£)
  • Revealed: the family life of Winston Churchill – Daily Telegraph
  • Pensioner locked up for racist remark in his own garden – The Sun (£)
  • Bulldozers move in on Earl’s Court – The Independent
  • Ban the veil in court, top judge demands – Daily Mail

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