Cameron accused of trying to “buy the general election”

CAMERON looking right“David Cameron has been accused of an unjustifiable bid to ‘buy the general election’ as it emerged that ministers have quietly slipped through an unprecedented hike in the amount that parties can spend during the campaign. Before this week’s official start to the run-up to the 2015 general election, the Observer can reveal that the Conservatives have ignored Electoral Commission recommendations and secured a 23% increase in spending. Lucy Powell MP, Ed Miliband’s key general election strategist…accused the prime minister of seeking to ‘buy an election they don’t deserve to win’” – Observer

  • The Tories want to spend big in their pursuit of power – Lucy Powell MP, Observer
  • Miliband strikes as we tire of Cameron replaying Downturn Abbey – Adam Boulton, Sunday Times (£)
  • The spirit of the Thirties lends Ed Miliband a withered hand – John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday
  • The parties prepare for a hung, drawn and quartered parliament – Andrew Rawnsley, Observer

Rifkind demands unredacted CIA report on British role in torture…

“The head of the powerful Commons intelligence and security committee is demanding that the US hand over its archive of material documenting Britain’s role in the CIA’s abduction and torture programme developed in the wake of the 9/11 attack. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chair of the parliamentary inquiry into the complicity of British intelligence agencies in the US programme, has told the Observer that British MPs would seek the intelligence relating to the UK that was redacted from last week’s explosive Senate report” – Observer

…as police question Straw over renditions

Jack Straw“The former Labour foreign secretary Jack Straw has been questioned by police investigating the abductions of two Libyan dissidents who say they were handed to Colonel Muammar Gadaffi and tortured by his regime. Straw was interviewed as a ‘witness’ by Scotland Yard following claims the British government was complicit in the rendition of the two men and their families. The dissidents, Abdel Hakim Belhadj and Sami al-Saadi, believe Straw authorised the operations in 2004 which led to their mistreatment in Libya” – Sunday Times (£)

  • New torture allegations against British soldiers come to International Criminal Court – Independent on Sunday
  • British soldiers told not to yell at terrorist suspects – Sunday Telegraph
  • Now put Blair and Straw on trial for torture – Craig Murray, Mail on Sunday
  • It is time to nail the lies in this shameful episode in US and British history – Observer Comment
  • Corrupted and defeated by our own shameful cruelty – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday
  • At least the Americans came clean. In Britain, no one is held to account – Henry Porter, Observer
  • America lost its mind after 9/11 – but did it lose its soul? – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph

UK troops back in Iraq to halt ISIS

“Hundreds of British soldiers are set to return to Iraq in the new year to prepare Iraqi and Kurdish troops for a spring offensive against Isis. Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, yesterday confirmed that the force will be deployed to four separate sites in the country next month to train Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers. Two companies from the 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment have been placed on standby to fly to Iraq to provide ‘force protection’ for the training teams, defence sources said” – Sunday Times (£)

  • Our troops who fell in Afghanistan and Iraq deserve a national memorial – Michael Fallon, Sun on Sunday (£)

Evidence that benefits cap acts as a spur to find work

DUNCAN SMITH AITW“Slashing benefits has given Britain’s biggest claimants the spur they need to find work, official figures reveal. Those whose handouts were cut under the welfare cap are 41 per cent more likely to look for a job…The findings have convinced ministers that making the cap even lower will drive thousands more into work” – Sun on Sunday (£)

Rival inquiry into child abuse to be held

“Theresa May’s troubled child abuse inquiry suffered a fresh setback last night as it emerged that a rival investigation is to be held by a top human rights lawyer. Michael Mansfield QC, who represented Mohamed Al Fayed at the inquests into the deaths of Princess Diana and Al Fayed’s son Dodi, has been appointed as the judge of a new ‘people’s tribunal’ on historic abuse claims. The Home Secretary’s official inquiry has barely started, even though it was launched several months ago” – Mail on Sunday

UKIP chief says half his time is spent weeding out “lunatics”…

UKIP logo“The man in charge of vetting Ukip’s election candidates has complained that ‘half my time is spent weeding out the lunatics’. David Soutter, who found himself at the heart of a party sex scandal last week, has been conducting psychological tests on prospective MPs and MEPs in order to ensure that they are ‘vaguely sane’. During a speech at Ukip’s Welsh conference last weekend, Soutter admitted that the party lacks discipline” – Sunday Times (£)

…but a UKIP candidate denounces his “pooftah” colleagues

“The UKIP activist picked last week to fight a key Parliamentary seat made homophobic, racist and obscene comments and accused Nigel Farage of corruption, it was revealed last night. In tape-recorded phone calls leaked to The Mail on Sunday, Kerry Smith, chosen to fight Ukip target seat of Basildon South in Essex, mocks ‘f***ing disgusting old pooftahs’…Makes baseless claims about party leader Farage accepting a bribe to promote a Ukip ally over another rival” – Mail on Sunday

  • Stuck between Brand and Farage is a place no one wants to be – Camilla Cavendish, Sunday Times (£)
  • UKIP suspends five candidates in Scotland – Sunday Herald
  • Farage attacked over “rate an immigrant” survey – Mail on Sunday
  • Please let this UKIP panto never end – Rod Liddle, Sunday Times

Labour’s new Scottish leader faces revolt on the left

MURPHY Jim headshot“Labour is facing a fresh crisis in Scotland as it braces itself for an exodus of left-wing members and the possible severing of links by a leading union after Jim Murphy’s election as Scottish party leader. Yesterday the former shadow international development secretary convincingly won the leadership contest caused by the acrimonious resignation of Johann Lamont. He secured 56 per cent of the vote compared with 35 per cent for left-wing MSP Neil Findlay and 9 per cent for MSP Sarah Boyack” – Sunday Times (£)

  • Murphy claims Labour won’t lose a single seat to the SNP – Observer
  • Scottish independence poll puts Yes on 52 per cent – Scotland on Sunday
  • If Labour loses Scotland, the Union is done for – Iain Martin, Sunday Telegraph


Air traffic failure: there was a warning

“Air traffic control bosses were warned their plans to avoid and deal with technical failures lacked ‘detail and clarity’ only four months before Friday’s IT malfunction saw thousands of passengers suffer delays and cancelled flights. National Air Traffic Services (Nats) insisted yesterday that the failure was one that had ‘not been seen before’, but the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) told the partly privatised agency this summer it needed to be better prepared” – Independent on Sunday

Jenkin feeds Walters on 4p-a-bowl porridge

Food bank“‘Ah, you’ve come for some Marie Antoinette budgeting tips,’ says Anne Jenkin as she greets me at the door of her home in South London. Sure enough, two small homemade jam cakes straight from the oven are on the table as I enter her kitchen. She can smile about it now, but only just. In fact, I have come for one of her now-famous 4p porridge breakfasts. Four days earlier, Baroness Jenkin of Kennington sparked a major political row after declaring ‘the poor can’t cook’ at a Commons press conference” – Simon Walters, Mail on Sunday

News in brief

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