Osborne reconsiders ‘Snoopers Charter’ after Paris attacks

OSBORNE non-broken sword“George Osborne has dropped his strongest hint yet that the Conservatives want to bring back the so-called Snooper’s Charter. The Chancellor pledged on BBC Breakfast to give the security services “all the resources and all the legislation” necessary to prevent a terrorist attack in the UK. It follows a warning from the MI5 boss that al-Qaeda is planning a Paris-style terrorist atrocity against Britain.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “We will give the security services whatever they need” says Cameron – The Guardian
  • PM backs call for more snooping powers – The Sun (£)
  • Do spy agencies need more powers? – The Guardian
  • Extra £100m for the security services to monitor returned jihadists – The Independent
  • These events have not reset the basic arguments about security and privacy – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: The horrors of France have at least made clear what we are fighting for


Sajid Javid: Killers want to offend but be spared offense

“As David Aaronovitch wrote in this paper, the attack on Charlie Hebdo crossed a boundary that cannot be recrossed. But if we cannot step back over the line, we must instead be clear about how we are going to move forward. We must be clear that we don’t have a right to silence voices we find offensive. We must be clear that tolerance must be reciprocated as well as offered, that arbitrarily to deny basic freedoms to one individual is to deny them to all of us.” – The Times (£)


  • Liberals who cheered on traitors like Assange should take the security services’ point – Max Hastings, Daily Mail
  • Will our politicians now let us have free speech? – Norman Tebbit, Daily Telegraph
  • Murderous misfits, not a clash of civilisations – Matthew Parris, The Times (£)
  • There is a price for living in a free society – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • First they came for the cartoonists, then the Jews – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian


>Yesterday: The Deep End: Heresy of the week: Our politicians will respond strongly to the Paris massacre, but not to protect free speech

Election 1) The Coalition give their flagship policies a publicity drive

Rosette shield“Public money is being used to fund a multimillion pound, pre-election advertising campaign that thrusts key Conservative and Liberal Democrat policies on to prime time television. The government is running newspaper and television campaigns at present to promote the Help to Buy scheme, healthy school meals, and advances in the health service.” – The Times (£)

>Today: Mark Field MP on Comment: The coming election in numbers

Election 2) Row over TV debates rumbles on

“The invitation for the Greens and Ukip to take part in Britain’s first online leaders’ debate comes after Ofcom, the media regulator, declined to give the Greens the status of a “major party”, something that is likely to exclude them from proposed debates to be hosted by conventional broadcasters like the BBC. Mr Cameron has said he is not willing to participate in debates that exclude the Greens, who have one MP and are currently on around 8 per cent in the polls. His position has raised doubts about whether the broadcasters’ debates will go ahead at all.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Those TV election debates should happen. That they won’t is the broadcasters’ fault – not Cameron’s.

Election 3) Tories overturn ban on agency staff covering strikes

On strike“Strike laws will be dramatically tightened in key public services to prevent disruption if the Conservatives win the General Election, ministers will say today. A ban on agency workers being brought in to cover for striking workers will be overturned and a new threshold introduced before industrial action is legal in health, schools, transport, and fire services. The plans, to be in the Tories’ election manifesto, will require unions to get a turnout of at least 50 per cent.” – Daily Mail

Patrick McLoughlin: Union leaders are holding Britain to ransom

“I’m a union man, and I believe trade unions are a vital part of our democracy. I used to be a member of the National Union of Mineworkers. But 30 years ago, I worked through the miners’ strike – I crossed the picket line. Why? Because then, like now, I took issue with a trade union boss waging war without a mandate.” – Daily Telegraph

There will be pain whoever wins, warns Deutsche Bank

Building shield“What outcome to May’s General Election should investors be hoping for? Well, according to Europe’s biggest investment bank, it doesn’t matter – you’ll be feeling the pain either way. In a research note released on Friday, Deutsche Bank said asset prices would be threatened by either a Labour or a Conservative government. “For investors, there may be no good outcomes at this general election,” said Deutsche’s Oliver Harvey and George Buckley.” – Daily Telegraph

Grayling toughens up probation drug checks

“Under new rules, the Probation Service will have the powers to launch on-the-spot tests for cannabis and amphetamines. Until now, they could only check for Class A drugs such as cocaine or heroin. And they could only test lags if they believed they had breached their licence conditions. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said the tests were critical to proving prisoners are “sticking to their rehabilitation plan”.” – The Sun (£)

More NHS woe as private provider seeks end to contract

NHS_Logo“Soaring numbers of emergency patients were blamed by the company running the first privately managed NHS hospital as it walked away from its contract yesterday. Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire, was placed in special measures yesterday after Circle announced that it was abandoning its management contract.” – The Times (£)

  • A&E performance dipped to new lows in New Year week – The Independent
  • Was privately run hospital stiched up by statists? – Daily Mail
  • More private contracts in the NHS – Financial Times
  • Government aims to end extra pay for weekend NHS shifts – The Independent
  • The Hitchingbrooke saga will only make NHS problems worse – Robert Colvile, Daily Telegraph
  • Bitter truth is the NHS needs far more sweeping reform – Nicholas Timmins, Financial Times

German embassy officials monitor Tory Eurosceptics

“German officials are being sent to spy on meetings of Tory Eurosceptics amid mounting fears in Berlin that Britain will quit the European Union. Representatives from the German Embassy in London regularly attend the Westminster get-togethers to monitor proceedings. Members of the Fresh Start group of Tory MPs in favour of leaving the EU were left stunned when the staff started turning up at their gatherings.” – The Sun (£)

Miliband’s energy policy has kept bills high

money“George Osborne has warned energy firms and airlines to cut their prices. Some estimates suggest families should have seen average annual bills fall by £140 due to tumbling wholesale prices. But analysts now believe that Labour’s promise to freeze energy bills for 20 months if they win office – to fix the ‘broken energy market’ – may be keeping prices high.” – Daily Mail

  • There’s still no sign of Ed’s inner poet – Ann Treneman, The Times (£)

Miliband aide calls for “English manifesto” explaining why southern voters should back Labour…

“Labour voters in England have been left asking “what is in this for us” after the party revealed that 1,000 Scottish nurses would be funded with a mansion tax hitting Londoners hardest, a former Labour cabinet minister has said. John Denham, a close adviser to Ed Miliband, called on the Labour Party to publish an “English Manifesto” ahead of the next election to spell out why southern voters should back them.” – Daily Telegraph

…as Murphy rallies the Blairites north of the border

Scottish flag“The Blairite leader of the Scottish Labour party hires a former Blair aide – who also happens to have been his SpAd during the last two years of his time as Scottish Secretary under Gordon Brown – John McTernan. But it’s part of a bigger story that, strangely, means that the same man who declared that New Labour was over – Ed Miliband – is now vital to the short-term prospects of a Blairite revival.” – Daily Telegraph

Labour leader claims Blair and Brown will “do their bit” for his campaign

“Ed Miliband has said insisted that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown will “do their bit” to help him in the run up to the general election. Last month Mr Blair suggested that Ed Miliband has veered too far to the left and risks taking Labour back to the dark days of the 1980s and 1990s, when the party suffered a series of heavy defeats to the Conservatives.” – Daily Telegraph

Blair wrote to Bercow to try to “wriggle out” of enquiry into Northern Irish ‘pardon’ letters

BLAIR Europe“Tony Blair phoned the Commons Speaker and begged him to overturn an order to appear before Parliament to explain ‘comfort letters’ sent to IRA fugitives, the Mail has been told. The former prime minister contacted John Bercow in an apparent attempt to wriggle out of giving evidence to MPs investigating a secret deal to offer Republican terror suspects an amnesty, it is claimed.” – Daily Mail

Liberal Democrats give Tories ultimatum over Chilcot

“Tim Farron, the Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman, accused the Conservatives of being keen to delay the report because they “failed miserably” by supporting the US-led invasion. Ministers have said that should Sir John Chilcot deliver his one million-word report after the end of February, they would delay its publication until after the election. Mr Farron has now written to Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, demanding that it is published within a week of being received.” – The Times (£)

UKIP general secretary forced out over internal reform

UKIP glass“The Independent can reveal the inside story of how Mr Bird was pushed out – amid claims from his allies that he was doomed before the scandal erupted, having made enemies two of the most powerful figures in Ukip – party secretary Matthew Richardson and treasurer Andrew Reid. These men are said to have taken exception to the successful internal reforms he established after his promotion to one of the party’s most senior positions last July.” – The Independent

UKIP will count as a major party for election coverage

“Nigel Farage will become a near permanent fixture on television screens during the election campaign after the broadcasting watchdog ruled that Ukip is a “major party”. Television and radio news programmes must give similar levels of airtime to Ukip as the other three main parties during the six-week formal campaign, according to a consultation published by Ofcom yesterday.” – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Local Government: A UKIP demand for higher council tax

Hugo Rifkind: UKIP have earned their new place in election programming

TV“Intuitively, it would be odd if Ukip didn’t have a place in the leaders’ debates. Mad, harrumphing racists they may be, but they were still the largest party in the last nationwide election we had (to the European parliament). The Greens, meanwhile, remain a political novelty act. Yes, they have an MP, but only in Brighton, where a tofu sausage in a hemp rosette could have won in 2010. Personally, I’d like to see them included. Leave them out, though, and only they will really notice.” – The Times (£)

News in Brief:

  • Isle of Wight MP under pressure to stand down after partner makes “laughing stock” of him – Daily Mail
  • English farmers could grow commercial GM crops for the first time – Daily Telegraph
  • Nearly £90k of goods stolen from Parliament in the last four years – The Sun (£)
  • London population to reach record high – Financial Times
  • Woman who faked cancer sentenced for defrauding donors – The Guardian
  • Senior judge supports stronger marriage tax allowances – Daily Mail