Public finances 1) Osborne argues that the cuts will mean economic stabilityOSBORNE scissors

“Spending cuts will have to last at least four more years, George Osborne suggested last night.  … ‘We are going to have to make savings – we are going to have to cut certain welfare bills like benefits that go to working-age people,’ he told the BBC. … ‘But the prize is economic stability, growth, jobs in the future, brighter future, I think that’s a price that works for our country.’” – Daily Mail

  • “Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will suspend their ‘war’ over future austerity plans this week by publishing a new fiscal framework committing the two parties to eliminating the structural deficit by 2018.” – Financial Times
  • “One of Britain’s biggest rural police forces will run out of cash to fight crime and protect the public within three years, its chief constable has warned.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “Mr Cameron believes that his crucial mistake in the run-up to the 2010 election was not ‘nailing down’ his strategy early enough. Determined not to make the same mistake he has committed to running on a simple campaign of promoting his economic record and exploiting doubts over Mr Miliband, reduced in strategists’ shorthand to ‘chaos v competence’.” – Francis Elliott, The Times (£)
  • “We are borrowing insanely. Another crash is inevitable.” – Ross Clark, The Times (£)
  • “Give up the dogma of the unshrinkable state.” – Janan Ganesh, Financial Times
  • “The Coalition flunked its great opportunity to rethink the state.” – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph

> Today: ToryDiary – A thumbs-up from Party members for the Autumn Statement. But doubts about deficit reduction linger.

Public finances 2) We spend £200 billion a year on benefits for pensioners

UK notes and coins“Britain spends nearly £200billion a year in old age benefits to pensioners – almost half the country’s entire welfare bill. … Official figures show OAPs pick up 44.7 per cent of the Government’s £443.3billion annual ‘social protection’ budget. … While Britain spends more than the EU average on pensioners, we spend less than the EU average on families, the disabled and the unemployed.” – The Sun (£)

  • “More than a million and a half pensioners will see their state pension income rise by just 87 pence next year, Labour has claimed.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “An increase in life-expectancy for men has led to a growing male population in care homes, figures published today revealed.” – Daily Mail
  • “Some firms are accused of using billing as a chance to make money and to push customers – many of them pensioners – to switch to an online account.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “Interest rate rises would be a welcome boost to older savers who have struggled for years.” – Daily Telegraph editorial

“May extends lead over BoJo.” Further coverage of ConservativeHome’s latest leadership poll.

MAY Warhol“A poll of grassroots Tories put the current Home Secretary a commanding 11 points ahead of the London Mayor. … That’s eight points more than a month ago. … The high-profile pair remain well ahead of their nearest rival, the Chancellor George Osborne.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Police in the West Midlands are investigating a potential security threat that led to its officers being called back to base.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Six out of seven violent crimes against children are never reported to police, a report claims.” – Daily Mail

> Yesterday:

The Prime Minister faces disgruntlement about devolution…

Scottish flag“Mr Cameron and William Hague, the leader of the Commons, will set out their proposals for so-called ‘English votes for English laws’ by next week, but are likely to walk into a row with their own backbenchers, MPs have told the Financial Times. … The argument centres on how radical the Tory leadership wants to be over its proposals, which Mr Cameron proposed as a way of balancing the extra powers given to Holyrood, including the ability to set the rates and bands of income tax.” – Financial Times

  • “Alex Salmond has refused to hand back a £65,000 ‘golden goodbye’ he claimed from the taxpayer when he stood down as an MP despite confirming he wants to return to Westminster.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “The Liberal Democrats warned Alex Salmond yesterday that he would face a tough fight in his attempt to wrest the Gordon constituency from their grasp.” – The Times (£)
  • “Plans by the Scottish government to change the law on succession could result in some of Scotland’s largest estates splitting up so they are no longer viable as businesses, landowners say, resulting in the ‘smashing up of property over the generations’.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “The former SNP leader may be more frozen out than welcomed in by London.” – Times editorial (£)

…as Soubry warns him against stoking fears about immigration

SOUBRY Anna Question Time“A conservative minister last night questioned David Cameron’s immigration policy – suggesting that he was in danger of stoking ‘false fear’. … Anna Soubry, the outspoken defence minister, said she wanted to know why the Prime Minister has pledged to crack down on European workers claiming benefits. … In a colourful interview, she said the Government should not be ‘pandering’ to the view of parties such as Ukip, and warned there was a risk of ‘playing to people’s prejudices’.” – Daily Mail

More from Soubry:

  • “Kim Kardashian is ‘the most appalling role model’ for young women, a top Tory has claimed. … [Soubry] insisted the reality TV star did not have a ‘normal body’ which ordinary women could aspire to.” – Daily Mail

More stories about immigration:

  • “A senior German MP will tonight advise David Cameron to start extolling the economic gains of immigration rather than trying to beat Ukip at its own game by bashing migrants.” – The Times (£)
  • “Foreign criminals and illegal immigrants have pocketed almost £17million in compensation for being locked up for too long while officials fight to deport them, it has been revealed.” – Daily Mail
  • “Builders are hiring Portuguese bricklayers on £1,000 a week because not enough Britons can do the job.” – Daily Mail
  • “Britain spends nearly four times more on providing health and welfare cover than Romania, according to European Union officials.” – Daily Mail

Cameron looks to Turkey for help in the fight against ISIS…

Turkey flag“David Cameron will call for greater co-operation from Turkey over British jihadists destined for Syria during a visit to Ankara today. … The prime minister will meet President Erdogan and Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish prime minister, on his trip. … His visit comes amid fears about Britons travelling to join Islamic State (Isis). Turkey is a main thoroughfare for would-be jihadists thanks to cheap flights aimed at holidaymakers and a long, porous border with Syria.” – The Times (£)

  • “Isis have beheaded four Christian children in Iraq for refusing to convert to Islam, a British vicar based in the country has claimed.” – The Independent

And comment:

  • “David Cameron must persuade Turkey to turn its guns on Isil.” – Daily Telegraph editorial

…and wants everyone to learn about computer coding

“Everyone in Britain should learn about computer coding, David Cameron has declared. … Speaking during a visit to a school in south London, the PM said the knowledge was vital in the modern world. … Thousands of teachers will also go back to school to brush up their skills in maths and science.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Cambridge graduates are the most employable in the world, according to a global league table.” – Daily Mail

Morgan announces the establishment of a College for Teaching

School“The government is to set up a College of Teaching, to drive up standards and put teaching on an equal footing with high-status professions like medicine and law, the Guardian has learned. … Education secretary Nicky Morgan and schools minister David Laws, writing in the Guardian on Tuesday, say a professional body will allow teachers to set their own standards for members and to take a lead in improving the profession’s skills and abilities.” – The Guardian

  • “Religious campaigners are vowing to turf out Education Secretary Nicky Morgan at the election – for her U-turn on gay marriage.” – The Sun (£)

And comment:

  • “At long last, teachers are set to become high-status professionals.” – Nicky Morgan and David Laws, The Guardian
  • “The education secretary needs to be far more radical if she wants to help the have-nots.” – Anthony Seldon, The Times (£)
  • “Schools need stability to implement reforms.” – Brian Lightman, Daily Telegraph

> Today: Damian Green MP on Comment – Why it’s time to create new grammar schools

> Yesterday:

Hunt: 17,000 more patients a year are surviving cancer

HUNT Jeremy“More patients are surviving cancer than ever before because it is being picked up earlier and treatment is improving, Jeremy Hunt will say on Tuesday. … The Health Secretary will publish new figures suggesting that up to 17,000 more patients are surviving cancer every year under the Coalition. … He will say that Britain is catching up after having had some of the worst cancer survival rates in the developed World.” – Daily Telegraph

Fallon speaks out about the “barefaced lies” that cost taxpayers £30 million

“An inquiry into alleged ill-treatment of Iraqis by British soldiers cost taxpayers £30 million to expose what appear to be ‘barefaced lies’, the defence secretary said yesterday. … Speaking ahead of the publication this month of the findings of the four-year Al-Sweady inquiry, Michael Fallon expressed anger over the case and revealed the extent of a growing culture of expensive, war-related litigation against the Ministry of Defence.” – The Times (£)

Baroness Jenkin apologises for suggesting that poor people don’t know how to cook

Food bank“‘The poor use food banks because they ‘don’t know how to cook’, a Tory peer claimed yesterday. … Baroness Jenkin of Kennington said making basic meals was cheaper than buying packets or ready meals, but suggested low-income families lacked the basic skills to prepare them. … She later apologised, saying she had meant that the lack of cooking skills in ‘society as a whole’ was a problem, but she still insisted that cooking food from scratch saved money.” – Daily Mail

  • “Thousands of tinned foods and ready meals could be given the official five-a-day logo as the health authorities try to cut obesity levels in Britain.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “The west’s leading economic thinktank on Tuesday dismissed the concept of trickle-down economics as it found that the UK economy would have been more than 20% bigger had the gap between rich and poor not widened since the 1980s.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • Newspaper mastheads“Lady Jenkin is one of the more saintly Tories in Christendom but her remark was easily caricatured as that of a modern Marie Antoinette.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • “The food bank row has reopened the long-running split between the Conservative party’s moralists and pragmatists.” – Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)
  • “Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK can’t afford food, and the Government isn’t helping them.” – Maria Eagle, The Independent
  • “For the sake of justice, this attack on judicial review must be resisted.” – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
  • “Baroness Jenkin’s claim that poor people can’t cook was sweeping and clumsy but not heartless.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “This paper is also deeply wary of asking the state or EU to fund the country’s highly successful food banks, adding yet another layer to the quangocracy.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “Food banks are a blight on modern Britain.” – Financial Times editorial

> Today: ToryDiary – When the Church Urban Fund agreed with Baroness Jenkin

> Yesterday:

Mills evades punishment for playing Candy Crush. The hunt is on for the person who filmed him.

Candy Crush“Nigel Mills admitted having a ‘game or two’ of Candy Crush and promised not to do it again after footage emerged of him playing on his taxpayer-funded iPad. … But while he will face no further action, the person who filmed him looks likely to lose their job after Commons authorities launched a mole hunt to find the culprit. … A Commons spokesman said the footage, taken over Mr Mills’ shoulder, broke parliamentary rules.” – Daily Mail

  • “A plan to install new cameras in the Commons has been approved after complaints that the current ones give an unflattering and obscured view of ministers.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “The reaction of Parliament’s authorities to our exposure of an MP idly playing Candy Crush at a key Commons meeting is staggering and chilling.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “Nigel Mills MP isn’t alone in his Candy Crush addiction.” – Robert Colvile, Daily Telegraph
  • “This part-time Parliament (and its Candy Crush playing MPs) are a national embarrassment.” – Max Hastings, Daily Mail

Praise for the Coalition! From Cable! Over apprenticeships!

CABLE Dr Evil“Vince Cable finally hailed the Tory-led Coalition – as the Government unveiled its two millionth apprentice. … The Lib Dem Business Secretary met with Paige McConville, a 16 year-old signed up with engineering firm FMB Oxford. … Yesterday he said: ‘Reaching the 2 millionth apprenticeship is testament to this Government’s commitment to apprenticeships.'” – The Sun (£)

Britain faces an extra £500 million bill from Brussels…

“Britain faces a monster £500millon bill from Brussels — after another inflation busting rise in the EU Budget. … The EU agreed plans to spend £111.1billion in 2015 — a 4.2 per cent increase. But the EU also ‘topped up’ the amount for 2014, by nearly £4billion. … The Open Europe think tank said that together, Britain was likely to have to fork out an extra £500million.” – The Sun (£)

…but Labour urges businesses to speak up for Europe nonetheless

“Labour today urged supporters of the European Union to speak out before it is ‘too late’. … Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said business leaders have a ‘patriotic duty’ make the case for Brussels. … And he warned that the Conservative Party’s approach to Europe poses ‘the biggest risk to British national prosperity in a generation’.” – Daily Mail

Miliband 1) He admits to never taking drugs

MILIBAND soulful“Ed Miliband yesterday said he had never taken illegal drugs – but added that he had ‘read about’ the effects of cannabis. … The Labour leader said he was opposed to the decriminalisation of drugs, including cannabis, warning it would send out a dangerous message to young people. … Mr Miliband said Labour was still finalising plans to promise a cut in university tuition fees at next year’s election.” – Daily Mail

  • “The Labour leader Ed Miliband said on Monday that he was willing to examine the use of exclusion zones outside abortion clinics.” – The Guardian
  • “A drugs giant was accused of ‘scamming the British public’ to avoid paying its fair share of tax.” – The Sun (£)

Miliband 2) A pledge to give 16-year-olds the vote by May 2016

“A law to give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote would be one of the first acts of a Labour government, Ed Miliband declared last night. … Legislation would be rushed through so they could vote from May 2016 in time for elections to the Scottish Parliament. … Such a move – the first change in the national voting age since 1969 – would enfranchise more than 1.5 million young people.” – Daily Mail

  • “Imagine if 16-year-olds were natural Tories. Would Ed Miliband still be keen to give them the vote?” – Sun editorial (£)

Miliband 3) Mandleson attacks his “resentment of those who are better off”

MANDELSON Peter Sky“Peter Mandelson has launched a thinly-veiled attack on Ed Miliband by warning that undecided voters don’t share his ‘resentment of those who are better off’. … The Labour peer also warned his party that simply appealing to their traditional voters would be ‘an act of great self-destruction’. … He said: ‘They don’t like the polarisation of politics between rich and poor.'” – The Sun (£)

  • “Miliband should lead the fight to make life affordable for all of us.” – Steve Richards, The Independent
  • “Turning to the Left is a dead end for Labour.” – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph
  • “Ignore the flaws. For only Labour can beat the Tories.” – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

Blair avoids questions over IRA “comfort letters”

“Tony Blair’s efforts to avoid appearing before an inquiry into the ‘comfort letters’ granted to IRA fugitives are laid bare today. … The former prime minister claims that his ‘commitments in the Middle East and elsewhere’ mean that it will be ‘challenging’ for him to give evidence in person to MPs, adding that he has nothing new to say.” – The Times (£)

  • “The US government suspected that a mole inside the FBI was passing secrets to Irish republican militants who repeatedly plotted to assassinate Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s and 90s, files released to the Guardian showed on Monday.” – The Guardian

UKIP 1) Candidate quits the party, claiming sexual harassment

UKIP glass“Natasha Bolter, a headline speaker at Ukip’s party conference, has pulled out of hustings today in South Basildon, where she was widely expected to be elected as parliamentary candidate in the winnable seat. … Ms Bolter, 35, claims that Roger Bird, Ukip’s general secretary and the man in charge of vetting parliamentary candidates, propositioned her over dinner at his London club on the day that he interviewed her as a prospective candidate.” – The Times (£)

  • “The fate of Roger Bird, who is general secretary for the anti-Brussels party, now depends on the outcome of a full investigation into the allegations made by Natasha Bolter.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “Ask Nigel Farage anything, and you can guarantee there will be outrage.” – Grace Dent, The Independent

UKIP 2) They’re a much bigger threat to the Conservatives than to Labour, finds report

Farage Nigel Eating Cakes“Most so-called ‘core Labour’ voters switching to Ukip had already deserted the party between 2001 and 2010 as a reaction to Tony Blair and New Labour, they have found. … By contrast, switches from the Conservatives to Nigel Farage’s party are more recent and still happening – seriously undermining David Cameron’s chances of winning a Commons majority in May.” – Daily Mail

  • The fracturing of the two-party political model is illustrated by YouGov research putting ‘other parties’ on 35 per cent, leading Labour (33) and Conservatives (32) for the first time since the last election.” – Financial Times
  • “The Liberal Democrats may be facing a greater wipeout than previously predicted, leaving them with fewer than 20 MPs after the next election, research based on the British Election Study has suggested.” – The Guardian

> Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment – Labour lead the Conservatives by a single point in my latest poll

UKIP 3) Hamilton could return to the Commons

NEIL (Nicky - cropped)“Neil Hamilton, the disgraced former Conservative MP, could be on the verge of a parliamentary comeback at the age of 65 – for Ukip. … The Independent has learnt that the Thatcherite former minister has been shortlisted for one of Ukip’s best prospects at next May’s general election. He will go up against four other candidates in South Basildon and East Thurrock on Wednesday night.” – The Independent

  • “Paul Lambert has not quit the Tories but the BBC to join Ukip. As a producer with the broadcaster’s political team, he became almost as great an institution as those which his reporters held to account.” – The Independent
  • “The UK Independence Party has pledged to cut the tax bills of the owners of listed buildings, in a move that could benefit the party’s biggest donors.” – Daily Telegraph

News in brief

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