Cameron stands by ‘Snoopers Charter’ as Coalition row escalates…

Libdem bird vs TORY“The threat was taken extremely seriously amid growing concern that British jihadists are planning to copy the beheadings carried out in Iraq and Syria and broadcast over the internet. Counter-terror officers have allegedly picked up ‘chatter’ about abducting a serving soldier or police officer and filming their murder on the internet, the Times reported. It comes after David Cameron promised to revive legislation – blocked by the Lib Dems – to ramp up internet surveillance powers to prevent terrorists from plotting atrocities online.” – Daily Mail

…and Farage blames “moral cowardice” for allowing Sharia-run Muslim ghettos

“The Ukip leader said that Britain and European countries have suffered from “moral cowardice” and allowed “big ghettos” to develop. He said: “It’s happening right across Europe. We have got no-go zones in most of the big French cities. We’ve been turning a blind eye to preachers of hate that have been coming here from the Middle East and saying things for which the rest of us would be arrested.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The British newsagent stocking the new Charlie Hebdo magazine – Daily Mail
  • 2000 copies of Charlie Hebdo arrive in the UK – Daily Telegraph
  • Labour councillor apologises for accidentally tweeting in support of killers – Daily Mail


  • It’s tragic that many of my fellow British Muslims are turning their backs on freedom – Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Daily Mail
  • A critical moment for the destinies of Britain and Europe – Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph
  • We may be Charlie but our children are not – Alice Thomson, The Times (£)

Cameron supports magazine cover that depicts Mohammed

Charlie Hebdo Cover“David Cameron has backed the decision of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish a picture of the prophet Muhammad following a terror attack on its staff – even if it offends many Muslims. The prime minister told Heart radio that it would be wrong for newspapers and other media to appease the “fanatical death cult of Islamist extremism” by holding back from publishing anything within the confines of the law.” – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: On Islamist extremism, Javid’s moderation trumps Farage’s stridency

Osborne 1) MPs overwhelmingly back deficit charter

“MPs overwhelmingly backed George Osborne’s plan to force the next government to eliminate the deficit yesterday, but the debate saw furious rows over the coalition’s record. However Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, branded Mr Osborne’s proposal to introduce a charter for budget responsibility a “political gimmick” but voted in favour, claiming it was “fully consistent” with Labour’s approach.” – The Times (£)

  • Balls can defeat Osborne on his preferred economic battleground – The Guardian
  • Chancellor mocks Labour over deficit plans – Financial Times

Osborne 2) Record low inflation helps family budgets go further

OSBORNE non-broken sword“Record low levels of inflation mean families can ‘celebrate’ having more money in their pockets, the Chancellor will say today. The cost of living is now barely rising in the UK as inflation fell to 0.5 per cent in December – a rate only previously matched in May 2000. Falling oil costs and supermarket price wars mean a basket of goods which cost £100 a year ago now costs just 50p more, the Office for National Statistics said.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Video: Osborne welcomes record low inflation rate

Osborne 3) Chancellor tells MPs party spending plans mean May’s election will be like 1992

“Then, Sir John Major, who was the Tory Prime Minister, came from behind in the polls to defeat Neil Kinnock’s Labour party after a campaign accusing Labour of planning a “tax bombshell”. Prime Minister David Cameron and George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, addressed the Conservative Parliamentary party at a packed meeting in the Commons. According to sources Mr Osborne said: “This is the first time since 1992 that we will face the election with different spending plans”.” – Daily Telegraph

Osborne 4) Treasury heaps pressure on firms to slash energy bills

gas-energy“George Osborne heaped pressure on more fat cat energy firms to pass on cheaper gas prices after the first of the Big Six cut bills. In a victory for The Sun and the Chancellor, E.ON announced they are slashing charges by 3.5% from immediate effect. The move came after he revealed in The Sun last week he has begun a Treasury probe into high prices now that wholesale gas costs have dropped by almost 40% in the last year.” – The Sun (£)

  • Energy bills for poorest have risen at twice the average rate – The Independent
  • Davey accuses Osborne of damaging the energy sector – Financial Times

Opposition parties tell the Prime Minister debates will happen with or without him

“The leaders of the three main opposition parties have written to the prime minister saying that they will press ahead with televised debates with or without him. Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage have said they will ask broadcasters to set up the head-to-head events even if the Conservative leader refuses to take part. David Cameron has said he will not join in if the Green Party is not included but Labour, Lib Dem and Ukip leaders said such a stance was unacceptable.” – The Times (£)

  • Cameron facing growing pressure over TV debates – The Guardian

Defence cuts threaten the Special Relationship, warns senior officer

Army“David Cameron will damage Britain’s special relationship with America if he fails to keep defence spending above 2 per cent of GDP, the UK’s former defence attaché in Washington DC has warned. Sir Anthony Dymock, Britain’s most senior military officer in America and later at Nato for much of the last decade, told The Telegraph the United States would be “very pissed off” and “extremely disappointed” if we reneged on the spending obligation.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Philip Dunne MP on Comment: Our Equipment Plan will deliver for service personnel

Schools face population crisis

“A survey by Labour suggests almost one in five primary schools is already full to bursting. But Tory schools minister Nick Gibb accused the last Labour government of failing to ‘plan for the future’ during a baby boom by cutting school place funding while allowing unchecked immigration. The Coalition, he claimed, had put an extra £5billion into new places and spent £18billion improving buildings.” – Daily Mail

  • Councils claim an extra £5bn needed to fund school places – Financial Times

>Today: John Bald on Local Government: Schools are for teaching, not social awareness

Robert Halfon: White van men and women are “backbone of Britain”

HALFON-robert“I proudly support Conservatives who, instead of sneering, really speak up both for White Van Alison and White Van Dan, who create more than two million jobs and two million apprenticeships, with the vast majority employed from Britain. They have the backing of a political party that is the modern trade union for working people and shares their values.” – The Sun (£)

Cameron orders whips to open their black books to child abuse investigators

“The Tory leader and Prime Minister has personally written to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to make clear that both the whips and Tory headquarters had to “co-operate fully” with the Home Office’s inquiry into child sexual abuse, which is still seeking a chairman. This will mean that party’s infamous “dirt books”, in which whips recorded the indiscretions by MPs to help to keep them in check in Parliament, will be scrutinised by Home Office officials.” – Daily Telegraph

Pickles speaks out against rise of anti-Semitism…

PICKLES Eric smiling“Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: ‘Jews are an important part of the British community, and we would be diminished without them. ‘Anyone who peddles anti-Semitic views is attacking Britain and British values. ‘This Government has done much to enhance Britain’s status as a safe, tolerant place for Jewish people but we are not complacent. We remain committed to tackling it wherever and whenever it occurs and continue to take a zero-tolerance approach.’” – Daily Mail

  • Clegg refuses Israel’s demand to sack controversial MP David Ward – The Sun (£)
  • Support for British far-right groups hits 20 year low – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Anti-Semitism rising: a poisonous alliance of prejudice and moral weakness

…as not one council uses his funds to restore weekly bin collections

“Just one council has sought to restore weekly bin collections using a flagship £250million Government fund – and now even that one has decided not to go ahead because it would be too expensive. In opposition, David Cameron and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles repeatedly pledged to restore the ‘fundamental right’ to a weekly bin round, and on winning power unveiled a scheme encouraging councils to do so.” – Daily Mail

Daniel Finkelstein: Cameron is right to duck the debates

Television“If Mr Cameron agrees to a debate this time with four parties in it, the same thing will happen. Nigel Farage would win it. He would be able to do what Nick Clegg did in 2010, attacking the insiders on behalf of the viewers without being held to account himself. If the Greens were also in the debate the structure and impact might be different. Without them, Mr Farage would have to himself the role of viewers’ champion. He has no record to defend and can pretty much say anything.” – The Times (£)

Labour’s energy price freeze in chaos as prices continue to tumble

“Labour’s flagship energy freeze policy was plunged into chaos last night as power companies finally started cutting their bills. In a major U-turn, the party was forced to issue a ‘clarification’ that the plan would be converted to a ‘cap’ if energy prices continue to fall. A senior source also warned that the idea – launched in a blaze of publicity by Ed Miliband in 2013 – may have to be ‘re-branded’ to make it clear that bills will not be frozen at a high level if tariffs are dropping.” – Daily Mail


Prescott warns that Miliband will lose a ‘presidential’ election

Miliband Odd and Red“Labour will lose the election if it allows Ed Miliband to be pitted against David Cameron in a presidential-style contest, John Prescott warned yesterday. The former deputy prime minister said Labour had to ‘run as a party’, rather than relying on its struggling leader, who could cost it the election. Lord Prescott, who has previously criticised the ‘pointy-heads’ running Labour’s campaign, suggested the party still had to explain to voters ‘what we stand for’.” – Daily Mail

Rotheram’s Labour MPs to sue UKIP over “sickening” abuse claims

“A group of Labour MPs has announced that it is to sue two Ukip politicians over “sickening” allegations regarding the child abuse scandal in Rotherham. Sarah Champion, John Healy and Kevin Barron have issued a joint statement saying they are taking legal action against Jane Collins, the Ukip MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, as well as the Rotherham Ukip group leader Councillor Caven Vines.” – The Independent

Lord Ashcroft: Polling shows Tories still vulnerable on the NHS

ASHCROFT blue shirt“Labour has put the health service at the centre of its campaign. The party looks ready to focus on spending the proceeds of its mansion tax – and, of course, on attacking the Tories’ record. But there is no sign of the harder, longer term kind of thinking the previous Labour government was prepared to grapple with. Labour knows the choices are unpalatable, not least with its own voters.” – The Guardian

>Today: Ryan Bourne’s column: Four ideas to reduce pressure on A&E departments

Blair apologises to Hyde Park Bomb victims for mistakes in “comfort letter” scheme…

“Tony Blair this afternoon issued a dramatic public apology to the victims of the IRA Hyde Park bombing for mistakes in a government scheme which allowed suspected perpetrators to escape justice. The former Prime Minister told victims that he ‘took full responsibility’ for a programme which saw around 200 ‘comfort letters’ sent to fugitive terror suspects assuring them they would not face prosecution.” – Daily Mail

  • Voters don’t want empathy, warns former PM – The Times (£)
  • Blair warns Cameron not to pursue on-the-run IRA terrorists over the Troubles – The Independent

…but faces hostile questioning from MPs and criticism from IRA victims

BLAIR Europe“Under hostile questioning from the Commons Northern Ireland affairs committee, Mr Blair refused to apologise for setting up a process which victims said effectively handed the recipients ‘get out of jail free’ cards. But he did say sorry to the victims of the 1982 Hyde Park bombing, which killed four soldiers, because chief suspect John Downey was mistakenly given a ‘comfort letter’ in 2007 which led to the collapse of his Old Bailey murder trial in February last year. Last night, those who lost loved ones in IRA atrocities said they were ‘disgusted’ with Mr Blair.” – Daily Mail


  • He’s back, and this time it’s much more personal – Ann Treneman, The Times (£)
  • The strange smile of Tony Blair – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph
  • “I am the Prime Minister”, Blair told MPs – Donald Macintyre, The Independent


Murphy woos separatist voters by claiming he’s “no unionist”…

LABOUR dead rose“Jim Murphy’s campaign to persuade independence supporters to back Labour in the general election has attracted derision after he insisted he had “never been a Unionist”. The Scottish Labour leader said his family’s Irish Catholic background meant that belief in the 308-year-old Union between England and Scotland was not part of his “political tradition”. He said the Better Together referendum campaign had seen a “temporary” alliance between the dogmatic Unionism of the Tories and Labour’s principle of “socialist solidarity” between the people of Britain.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Labour leader joins calls to abandon plans for Scottish super-prison – The Guardian

…but insists Labour don’t want a coalition with the SNP

“Jim Murphy put himself on another collision course with Ed Miliband by speaking out about the party’s possible plans for May. He insisted he did not want to be “combative” with Ed Miliband and Labour Shadow Ministers in Westminster. But he blasted: “We don’t expect, we don’t need, we don’t want and we are not planning for a Coalition with the SNP or anyone else.” Experts noted he still had not ruled out a Coalition.” – The Sun (£)

Alexander claims Tory spending plans herald “Dickensian” future

Alexander Danny Jan 12“Tory spending plans beyond 2017-18 will lead to “Dickensian” public services, the Liberal Democrat chief secretary, Danny Alexander, has said in comments exposing coalition splits over public spending and the deficit. Speaking in a Commons debate on public spending after the general election, Alexander said that “as a country we should not be wedded to austerity for austerity’s stake”, adding that he thought the UK would not support an ideological drive for an ever smaller state.” – The Guardian

Lib Dem MP calls for urgent review of NHS helpline’s nonsense questions

“Liberal Democrat Andrew George claimed the non-emergency 111 service went into ‘meltdown’ in his St Ives constituency over the Christmas period. In one case, a pensioner said they were left feeling ‘frustrated, patronised and ultimately quite vulnerable’ after speaking to a phone operator with no medical training.” – Daily Mail

News in Brief

  • Oxford University Press bans mention of pigs and pork from books to increase audience – Daily Mail
  • Fifty die under secret 999 priorities policy – Daily Telegraph
  • Give guns to Europe’s Jews, rabbi urges – The Times (£)
  • BBC’s Robinson in anoter run-in with Russell Brand – The Sun (£)
  • MI6 forced to show how it may snoop on privileged lawyer-client exchanges – The Guardian
  • Axed staff rehired by councils in £5bn spree – The Times (£)