Tory wars 1) Ministers plot against the “Osborne supremacy”

OSBORNE Blackberry“Senior ministers are jockeying for position to succeed David Cameron as Conservative leader, as a new poll puts the Tories neck-and-neck with Labour. … Another Conservative source said the Chancellor feared that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, rather than one of his own protégés, would win any leadership contest. … One Cabinet minister said he would support any candidate who ends the ‘Osborne supremacy’.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • “Will Boris try to end the ‘Osborne supremacy’?” – Iain Martin, Sunday Telegraph

> Today: ToryDiary – Today’s blue-on-blue attacks – what do they mean?

Tory wars 2) Morgan rejects Gove’s rhetoric

School“The education secretary, Nicky Morgan, has rejected Michael Gove’s portrayal of the education establishment as a leftwing ‘blob’ … In an interview with the Observer, which Morgan’s friends described as part of a counter-attack against those who say she is merely a ‘Stepford minister’ and a front for Gove’s ideas, she says overly combative language has obscured the government’s positive message on reforming schools and improving the lives of pupils.” – The Observer

  • “Nicky Morgan: ‘My task is to listen to teachers and lighten their burden.’” – The Observer
  • “Blackadder, the television series criticised by Michael Gove for giving pupils a warped view of the First World War, has been added to the A-level exam syllabus.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “England’s secondary schools are at risk of dropping even further behind their international competitors and slipping back into ‘an acceptance of mediocrity’, the chief inspector of schools will warn this week.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “Leading universities are drawing up plans to offer their own student loans packages in a move that could enable them to charge more than £9,000 a year for a degree after the general election.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “A bitter war has broken out at England’s first private university, whose head has stepped down ahead of an investigation of complaints alleging bullying and erratic management.” – Sunday Times (£)

Tory wars 3) Is May moving against Boris?

“Theresa May has stepped up her Tory leadership war with Boris Johnson by drawing up plans for him to be booted out as London Mayor. … The Home Secretary is insisting voters get extra powers to axe BoJo over his role in charge of the capital’s police force. … Cabinet colleagues were told about the plans last week — but Mr Johnson knew nothing about them until we contacted his office last night.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

Don’t worry, the Tories are fighting the Lib Dems too

CLEGG Bird“George Osborne opens up a coalition civil war over the economy today, warning voters that the Liberal Democrats as well as Labour are a threat to the recovery. … Making a pitch for a majority Conservative government, the chancellor says both parties would lead to a ‘return to economic chaos’. Warning that voters have to choose between ‘competence or chaos’ when they vote next year, Osborne says only the Tories will secure the recovery.” – Sunday Times (£)

  • “Vince Cable hailed the Autumn Statement as ‘excellent’ in Cabinet before heavily criticising the Chancellor in public, infuriating Conservatives who despair that aggressive Liberal Democrat rhetoric is badly damaging the coalition in its final months.” – Independent on Sunday
  • “Now, in a dramatic twist to the story, a new witness has come forward to claim that the plot to kill Scott to silence him and protect Thorpe from public humiliation extended to the highest levels of the Liberal Party.” – Sunday Telegraph

And comment:

  • “We’ll keep the recovery on course — and avoid another Balls binge.” – George Osborne, Sunday Times (£)

Paul Goodman: The Lib Dems face oblivion – and it’s starting to show

Paul Goodman portrait“This history of tit-for-tat goes all the way back to the Liberal Democrats’ refusal to support Jeremy Hunt in the lobbies over his handling of the BSkyB bid (and further, depending on whom you talk to). MPs report a Commons that has all but ground to a halt. Only last week, Nick Clegg was accused by the Tories of instructing his ministers to desert their Whitehall desks and head for their marginal seats – having set an example himself by boycotting the Autumn Statement to campaign in the West Country.” – Paul Goodman, Sunday Telegraph

  • “The former Lib Dem minister Jeremy Browne says: ‘The danger is we cast ourselves with one foot in government and one foot out.’ … But what else can they really do?” – Andrew Rawnsley, The Observer
  • “[Danny Alexander] should defect to the Conservative Party, where he has a great and serious future.” – Louise Mensch, Sun on Sunday (£)

Will Osborne find another £2.4 billion for Europe?

osborne-budget“The EU budget is set to rise by £2.4bn this year, according to information buried in the chancellor’s autumn statement. … The Office for Budget Responsibility watchdog confirmed last night that calculations about Britain’s payments to Brussels are based on the assumption that the European Commission will succeed in extracting €4bn more from member states at a meeting later this month.” – Sunday Times (£)

  • “Britain has been forced to hand over £15 million to the European Union to settle a bizarre dispute over garlic.” – Mail on Sunday

More on the Autumn Statement:

  • “George Osborne has been accused of using his autumn statement to give tax breaks to Tory supporters as it emerged that several companies run by Conservative donors stand to benefit from a more generous tax regime on the profits of the oil industry.” – The Observer
  • “A coalition plan to get 100,000 people on to the property ladder by helping them buy new-build properties has actually helped just over 5,000 individuals, official figures have revealed.” – Independent on Sunday
  • “The Government will have to spend £2bn more on benefits than it planned a year ago because of delays to two flagship projects, official documents have revealed.” – Independent on Sunday
  • “Now there are fears that the historic rivalry between Newcastle and Sunderland is holding back the economic progress of the North-east, exposing tensions at the heart of the Government’s ‘super-councils’ project.” – Independent on Sunday
  • “Unlawful cash payments made to members of The Beatles were covered up by the Treasury, according to Government papers published for the first time today.” – Mail on Sunday

And lots of comment:

  • Newspaper mastheads“Even though George may conjure up a Tory victory, No 10 will elude him.” – Adam Boulton, Sunday Times (£)
  • “A chancellor can dream of surplus, but the truth is too few of us pay tax.” – Camilla Cavendish, Sunday Times (£)
  • “Team Osborne are confident they can win the argument about the ‘colossal cuts’ to come after the Election. They plan to do this, in part, by opening up a new front on welfare.” – James Forsyth, Mail on Sunday
  • “Well done, George – now we’re just £1,500,000,000,000 in debt.” – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday
  • “How do you pass off a vast deficit as triumph – and get away with it?” – Mark Littlewood, Mail on Sunday
  • “In their hearts, voters want a smaller state.” – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph
  • “When it comes to our economy, neither East nor West is best.” – Hamish McRae, Independent on Sunday
  • “Forget austerity – what we need is a stronger state and more taxation.” – Will Hutton, The Observer
  • “George Osborne is an ideologue chancellor determined to follow his road at a high cost to everyone bar the rich.” – Observer editorial
  • “Cutting the size of government over the next five years is a necessity.” – Sunday Times  editorial (£)

> Yesterday:

The BBC hits back at claims of bias

BBC logo“In fact, it is not the BBC that pointed out that reductions in public spending proposed by the Chancellor on Wednesday amounted to a return to state spending on citizens last seen in the 1930s. That was the point made by the Office of Budget Responsibility, the institution created by George Osborne precisely so that the public could peer through the politics to judge for themselves the consequences of decision taken by the Chancellor.” – James Harding, Sunday Telegraph

  • “I have lost count of the number of times the BBC (or The Guardian, or The Independent) has told me that we’re heading back to the 1930s.” – Rod Liddle, Sunday Times (£)
  • “George Osborne is right. The BBC is biased.” – John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday

Cameron demands a global fight against child porn

CAMERON Marr Europe“David Cameron has asked Unicef, the UN body that protects children in danger, to take on a new global role combating child abuse on the internet. … He will this week pledge £50m towards a new fund to support the work of Unicef and urge other governments to contribute, at a Downing Street summit on child sexual exploitation. … Of the 50 countries attending the summit, five — Holland, Ireland, South Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines — are understood to have indicated their support.” – Sunday Times (£)

  • “Teachers could be told to contact the police if they discover pupils texting naked images of themselves amid concerns that ‘sexting’ has become endemic among teenagers.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “The leader of the Girl Guides has urged parents and teachers to start informing young girls about pornography.” – Mail on Sunday

More trouble for the Home Secretary’s abuse inquiry

MAY Home Office“Two members of Theresa May’s panel inquiring into child sex abuse are facing calls to resign after being accused of sending threatening or insulting emails to victims who had criticised the inquiry. … Lawyers for one abuse survivor have written to the home secretary to complain of a string ofunsolicited communications, including an allegedly threatening email sent two days before an official meeting that both panellists and an abuse survivor were due to attend.” – The Observer

  • “More than 1,000 alleged paedophiles have been arrested in Britain in the past 12 months thanks to new high-tech cyber tracking methods, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “Detectives are investigating claims that former Conservative Home Secretary William Whitelaw ordered police to drop an investigation into a VIP paedophile ring.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “Britain’s most vulnerable children are being put in peril following cut-backs to services that help young runaways.” – Independent on Sunday
  • “A detective who told a 12-year-old boy to ‘do it with someone your own age next time’ after he confessed to raping a girl aged five has taken early retirement.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “Black and minority ethnic lawyers are nearly four times less likely to be appointed as judges than white candidates, according to the latest statistics from the Judicial Appointments Commission.” – Independent on Sunday

And comment:

  • “There is hope in how child abuse has been exposed.” – Nick Cohen, The Observer

Goldsmith wants the Mayor of London to look into the Met

Police shield“A leading Tory MP has called on Boris Johnson to investigate claims that Scotland Yard officers have abused their position by trying to shut down newspaper investigations into Ukip. … Zac Goldsmith made the demand after a former Ukip official received a harassment warning for talking to The Mail on Sunday about her claims an alleged ‘former mistress’ of Ukip leader Nigel Farage had fabricated a sexual assault case against a fellow Tory MP.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “Three men have been arrested by anti-terror officers on suspicion of supplying forged documents, Scotland Yard has said.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “Private firms run by former police officers are to be placed under investigation after accumulating millions of pounds from motorists attending speed awareness courses.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “Jailed publicist Max Clifford is being sued by former Royal butler Paul Burrell.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “A top gay police officer awarded the MBE has been arrested on suspicion of supplying drugs.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

The security services have questions to answer, says Tyrie

TYRIE Andrew“A Conservative MP has called for the security services to respond to claims that they were involved in the questioning and alleged mistreatment of Lee Rigby’s killer by Kenyan security services in 2010, three years before he went on to murder the young soldier in south London. … On Friday Mr Tyrie wrote to the chair of the Intelligence Security Committee, Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, asking him to call spy bosses back to answer further questions about the role played by British security services.” – Independent on Sunday

  • “Be careful what you write in your office emails because the monitoring of gripes and gossip by staff is about to move up a gear: GCHQ is involved. … The secret listening post, which unmasks spies and tackles those attempting to undermine the nation’s security, is now turning its attention to ‘insider’ threats within organisations.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “A British-born father and three of his four sons have been stripped of their citizenship for alleged links to terrorism amid claims that he and his family are victims of the UK’s secret courts.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “British jihadist parents who have joined Isis and other terror groups abroad risk having their children taken into care if they attempt to return home.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “A third of people in Britain believe they cannot speak freely on controversial subjects such as immigration and religion for fear they may be criticised, lose their job or be prosecuted.” – Sunday Times (£)

Hammond announces a new military base in the Middle East

HAMMOND Philip white background“Britain will set up a permanent military base in the Middle East for the first time in more than four decades. … Four minesweepers have operated from the Mina Salmon port in Bahrain, but the new facility will also be a base for much larger ships including destroyers and aircraft carriers. … Foreign secretary Philip Hammond said the deal with Bahrain would guarantee the Royal Navy’s presence in Bahrain well into the future.” – The Observer

  • “Building a British naval base in Bahrain is a ‘symbolic choice’ – for no clear reason.” – Patrick Cockburn, Independent on Sunday

Will RAF planes fly against the Taliban again?

Fighter jet“Britain is considering sending warplanes back to Afghanistan, six weeks after it officially ended its war in the country, after two direct pleas from the country’s president to David Cameron. A British general told The Sunday Times that he expected more troops and fast jets to be sent next year in what would be seen as an admission that Britain had withdrawn too quickly.” – Sunday Times (£)

  • “The British Army stripped its biggest military camp in Afghanistan so bare that Afghan guards without radios had to use hand signals to communicate, a film charting the UK’s withdrawal has revealed.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “British Jews, Christians and Muslims are opening up their homes to Syrian refugees in a grassroots campaign to shame the government into doubling the number offered sanctuary in the UK from 750 to 1,500 a year.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “A British-born photojournalist has been killed by al-Qaeda militants in Yemen during a failed rescue attempt by US special forces.” – Independent on Sunday
  • “Al-Qaida’s chief of global operations – who was indicted in the US over a plot to bomb New York’s subway system – has been killed in an army raid in Pakistan’s lawless tribal region.” – The Observer

And comment:

  • “We have to confront the terror threat at home and abroad.” – Sunday Telegraph editorial

Maude wants Whitehall to JFDI

Francis Maude“A massive £20billion in new Whitehall cuts will be found by ministers telling officials: ‘Just f***ing do it.’ … In a speech, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude will say the same tough approach has already delivered £14.3bn savings — despite claims it couldn’t be done. … His plans include putting more government services online, slashing bureaucracy, ditching expensive buildings and ending costly long-term IT contracts.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

Ministers urged to act against nuisance telephone calls

“Ministers are being urged to crack down on nuisance telephone calls by forcing businesses to tackle the problem at board level. … A Government-appointed task force will recommend tomorrow that a named company director be given the job of ensuring there is no illegal use of private phone numbers, and that householders are not inconvenienced by unwanted calls and text messages.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “While sports fans may once have grumbled about high ticket prices and even seen secondary sites as a force for good in enabling them to sell on tickets they were unable to use at a small profit, there is a sense that consumer sentiment has turned.” – The Observer
  • “Complaints by consumers about their energy supplier have tripled in the past year and are on target to hit 50,000 for 2014, according to figures from the industry ombudsman.” – Mail on Sunday

Tebbit confronts the Greens

TEBBIT Lord“Lord Tebbit said the Green party should be treated with ‘utter contempt’ last night after it picked as its candidate for a council seat an activist who claimed the Brighton bombing was justified. … That same year, Richard Stanton described the bombing as a ‘justifiable act of political warfare’, earning him national condemnation from across the political spectrum, including his then colleagues in the Labour party.” – Sunday Times (£)

Webb prepares to unveil new rates for pensioners

“Pensioners are ‘livid’ that their retirement incomes have been hit by low interest rates, the pensions minister has said, as the government prepares to launch new savings schemes with more generous returns for the over-65s. … Ministers will announce the interest rates that will apply to new ‘pensioner bonds’ on Friday, with experts expecting the savings schemes to pay rates of up to four per cent.” – Sunday Telegraph

Miliband should be talking about England, says Grayling

MILIBAND Red Ed“Ed Miliband is threatening to cause a constitutional crisis by obstructing moves to ban Scottish MPs from voting on English laws, a senior Cabinet minister has warned. … Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor, said Mr Miliband’s refusal to engage in cross-party talks with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats over proposals for ‘English Home Rule’ risked fracturing public trust in British democracy.” – Sunday Telegraph

Miliband should be talking about the cuts, says McBride

“So instead of trying to persuade us there’s some magical alternative solution that will work but will also be fair, why don’t Miliband and Balls be honest? … Admit the deficit is going to be with us a long time, but say they’ll keep cutting it bit by bit, year on year. That will mean cuts, but nothing like as big, fast or harsh as Osborne proposes.” – Damian McBride, Sun on Sunday (£)

  • “The consequences of Brown’s hubris, as we now see, are that public spending has soared from £322 billion a year to £732 billion, still remorselessly rising every year.” – Christopher Booker, Sunday Telegraph
  • “Moody, angry, naive: yes, he was flawed but Gordon Brown did save the world.” – Andrew Rawnsley, The Observer

And a related news story:

  • “Ed Miliband is not in control of Labour’s economic policy, according to comments by the former chancellor Alistair Darling, quoted in a new book.” – Sunday Times (£)

But the Labour leader is talking about climate change

MILIBAND soulful“David Cameron has ‘abdicated responsibility’ on the environment and left Britain trailing the world on climate change, Ed Miliband says today. Ahead of UN climate talks in Peru this week, the Labour leader, writing for The Independent on Sunday, launches a savage attack on the Prime Minister for turning the UK from being a world leader on environmental targets into a ‘laggard’ because Mr Cameron believes it is no longer a ‘fashionable’ subject and Conservative MPs are ‘flirting with climate change denial’.” – Independent on Sunday

  • “Saving the planet is about leadership, not fashion, Mr Cameron.” – Ed Miliband, Independent on Sunday

Blair wants Umunna to succeed Miliband

BLAIR Europe“Tony Blair is backing Chuka Umunna to be the next Labour leader, the former prime minister’s friends have revealed, in an intervention that will set the battle for succession alight. … But being anointed by the party’s most successful leader could be either a blessing or a curse for Mr Umunna, the shadow Business Secretary, given how far Mr Blair’s popularity in the wider Labour movement has fallen.” – Independent on Sunday

  • “A trawl of charity and company documents shows how Mr Blair has attracted millions of pounds in donations from the super-rich, as well as from the US government and even the Swedish lottery, largely for foundations he has set up since leaving Downing Street.” – Sunday Telegraph

NHS 1) Lord Winston hits out at Tory support for homeopathy

“Leading scientist Robert Winston has mounted an outspoken attack on a Tory MP’s ‘lunatic’ support for homeopathy. … The celebrated fertility expert and Labour peer said that he ‘could not believe’ that Bosworth MP David Tredinnick was allowed to sit on the Commons Health Committee despite believing in the alternative therapy.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “MPs from all three main parties, including the Tory chair of the health select committee, have warned time is running out to introduce a law that would see cigarettes sold in unbranded packs, a measure experts claim would deter young people from smoking.” – The Observer

NHS 2) The 999 blunders that are leading to deaths

NHS“A heart attack victim died after an ambulance was delayed by a dirty sat nav, a Sun on Sunday investigation has found. … And an asthma patient died after an eight-minute hold-up when staff took down the wrong address. … The cases are part of a three-year list of more than 120 blunders, where 999 patients have died or suffered severe problems.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

  • “The NHS is under mounting pressure in Scotland, even though the service receives more money per head than in England, according to a Sunday Times investigation.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “The UK’s biggest mental health NHS trust is in turmoil following widespread allegations of bullying.” – Independent on Sunday

And comment:

  • “There’s two sides to every story – even in the ‘uncaring’ NHS.” – Liz Jones, Mail on Sunday

> Yesterday:

UKIP picks its Hastings & Rye candidate from off the telly

UKIP glass“Nigel Farage was last night accused of recruiting ‘toffs for the top’ of Ukip after a candidate in a key target seat expressed fury that he had been ousted in favour of a star of the TV programme Gogglebox. … Andrew Michael, a wealthy, retired hotelier who features on the Channel 4 programme, has been parachuted in as Mr Farage’s candidate in Hastings and Rye, where the sitting Tory MP holds a wafer-thin majority.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “A parody account on the social media site Twitter called @Trumpton_UKIP, which satirises the right wing party as out of touch with modern Britain, has angered its members and even led one of its MEPs to threaten legal action.” – Sunday Telegraph

Salmond will run for Westminster in 2015

“Alex Salmond, Scotland’s former first minister, will announce that he is to run for the Gordon constituency in Aberdeenshire at next year’s UK general election. He will make his declaration at a meeting in Ellon. … The constituency is now held by retiring Liberal Democrat Malcolm Bruce, with a majority of 6,748. Salmond holds the similar Aberdeenshire East seat in the Scottish parliament with a majority of 15,295.” – The Observer

Sturgeon takes on the Queen

Scottish flag“The Queen is set to lose funding worth millions of pounds a year thanks to a republican snub by Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP government. … In a move that threatens an explosive cross-border row, Scottish Ministers have signalled they will refuse to contribute to the costs of running the Royal Family. … A deal to hand new devolved powers to Scotland after September’s referendum on independence will effectively rob the Royals of more than £2 million in cash a year.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “Half of the royal flight of 12 executive jets and helicopters is to be axed as part of George Osborne’s attempts to cut Britain’s deficit.” – Sunday Times (£)

And comment:

  • “The battle for Scotland is not over.” – Mail on Sunday editorial

MPs give their spouses a £1.3 million pay rise

“Memebers of parliament paid their relatives and loved ones more than £3.7m last year, an increase of more than 50% since the last general election. … The £1.3m rise prompted accusations that MPs were milking the system and calls for a tightening of the rules that let them put family members on the public payroll.” – Sunday Times (£)

> Today: Mohammed Amin on Comment – How to downsize the House of Lords

Welby calls on the state to do more for food banks

Food bank“A new row over food banks erupted last night after a report backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury called for a £150 million state-backed system to combat hunger in Britain. … The Most Reverend Justin Welby appeared to be on course for a clash with David Cameron after calling on the Prime Minister to reverse his decision not to take European funds to boost UK food banks.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “It has emerged that a proposal to save taxpayers some money by making peers and MPs share a catering department has been rejected ‘because the Lords feared that the quality of champagne would not be as good if they chose a joint service’.” – The Observer
  • “Only two per cent of grub wasted by supermarkets and restaurants is given to help feed the poor. … The rest is either dumped in landfill or turned into biofuel using public subsidies worth up to £70 a ton.” – Sun on Sunday (£)
  • “Ground-breaking new analysis of the friendship networks of almost 4,300 people aged from 13 to 80 has identified churches and sporting events as the last bastions of neighbourliness and integration in Britain.” – Sunday Telegraph

And comment:

  • “I have seen the hunger that stalks our country… it shocks me more than Africa.” – Justin Welby, Mail on Sunday

News in brief

  • Net migration will continue rising next year, according to Autumn Statement projections – Sunday Times (£)
  • Heathrow Airbus narrowly escapes collision with a drone – Mail on Sunday
  • A third of children don’t know that Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus – Mail on Sunday
  • Obama rushed to hospital with a sore throat – Sun on Sunday (£)
  • Temperatures forecast to plunge as low as minus 8 – Sun on Sunday (£)
  • Mothers stage breastfeeding protest outside Claridge’s – The Observer
  • Councils’ dismal Christmas cards – Sunday Telegraph

And finally 1) Cameron the grump?

cameron-face“First it was Andrew Mitchell, then David Mellor and now the PM himself is the latest Tory to be caught sneering. … ‘Nick [Clegg] was very friendly,’ said a tour guide, pointing out that the Lib Dem leader took time to talk to all the staff at [Stonehenge]. … ‘But the PM was very grumpy and rather rude.'” – Guido Fawkes, Sun on Sunday (£)

And finally 2) Pickles discusses his weight-loss regime

“Heavyweight Tory MP Eric Pickles has spoken frankly about his battle to shed the pounds. … The burly Cabinet Minister revealed he had been on a diet since April and even disclosed that his body mass index (BMI) was 32, and falling. … Sources last night said the Local Government Secretary had lost more than two stone in the past six months.” – Mail on Sunday

And finally 3) Sally straps her skis on

Sally Bercow raising middle finger“Sally Bercow is to give her Speaker hubby the TV shivers again — this time on ski show The Jump. … The MP’s missus has signed up for the celebrity snow sports contest on Channel 4 next month, The Sun on Sunday can reveal.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

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