Cameron: Britain is doing all it can to combat ISIS

Cameron1“The threat posed by the ‘disease’ of Islamic extremism will last for a generation, David Cameron warned today as he rejected claims Britain was not doing enough to take on ISIS. … In an exclusive interview with MailOnline, the Prime Minister insisted the government was doing all it could to ‘defeat the monstrosity’ of ISIS. … But he warned it would require ‘long-term determination and perseverance’ in a fight which might not end in his lifetime.” – Daily Mail

  • “David Cameron has said he watched video footage of Islamic State militants beheading British hostages to understand what their families had suffered.” – The Times (£)
  • “Isis has released a manifesto detailing the role of women in the jihadist group – stating it is ‘legitimate’ for girls to be married to fighters at the age of nine and emphasising their role as wives, mothers and homemakers.” – The Independent
  • “The British army is exploring ways to recruit more Muslims as the latest figures reveal they make up less than 1% of the total. Resistance is partly down to the UK’s involvement in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “Isil’s barbarism is modern, not medieval.” – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • “The grim truth about our defence budget.” – Michael Clarke, Daily Telegraph

Javid vows to protect journalists from counter-terrorism laws…

“The Culture Secretary declared ‘journalism is not terrorism’ yesterday as he vowed to change counter-terror laws used for official snooping on reporters. … Sajid Javid said he was ‘shocked’ by the extent of police accessing journalists’ phone records revealed in a report this week. … He said new safeguards requiring the authorisation of a judge before such evidence is released would be rushed through before May’s general election.” – Daily Mail

…and warns that the BBC may have to pay for itself…

JAVID Sajid BBC“A new Tory Government may withdraw funding for the Beeb and make it pay for itself, a Senior Minister signalled yesterday. … Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said a ‘long-term sustainable model’ was needed for the BBC. … And he repeated that every aspect of the state broadcaster would be looked at in the upcoming review of the BBC Charter, which he wants to begin in June. … The comments came as the Minister said he would not ‘shed a tear’ if Britain left the EU.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Privately educated actors such as Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch should not be ‘knocked’ for succeeding because of the school they attended, the Culture Secretary has said.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Failing to pay your TV licence will remain a criminal offence after peers voted down Government plans to water down the draconian punishment.” – Daily Mail

…as the Sun calls him a “star in the making”

“Nothing much is certain about the election in May. Whoever wins, we are sure Britain will hear a lot more about Sajid Javid. … The Pakistani bus driver’s son went to a comprehensive and made a fortune in the City in his mid-20s. He was promoted to the Cabinet less than four years after being elected as an MP. … He’s a decent bet as a future Tory leader, maybe even Prime Minister. … The lefties at the BBC have every reason to fear him.” – Sun editorial (£)

Did Osborne ignore Treasury advice to launch Help to Buy?

help-to-buy-logo-jpg“The Chancellor’s economic justification for his Help to Buy programme was contradicted by the Treasury’s own internal analysis, The Independent has learned. … Last September, the Chancellor claimed Help to Buy ‘is driving a big increase in house building, boosting the construction industry and increasing housing supply’. … But Treasury advice from two years ago, when the policy was being formulated, predicted that such equity loans ‘will have a limited impact on housing supply since most of the sales are likely to be for homes which would have been built anyway’.” – The Independent

  • “George Osborne ‘took a large risk with the economy’ when he imposed deep spending cuts in 2010, and the resulting slowdown may have cost 5% of GDP, according to a new analysis of the coalition’s record by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.” – The Guardian
  • “Homeowners who bought their house for £250,000 in the mid-1990s face being ensnared by the mansion tax after London’s property price boom, it has emerged.” – The Times (£)
  • “A mortgage rate war among banks has reduced the cost of a typical home loan by £1,700 in just four weeks, figures show.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Hundreds of thousands of buy-to-let landlords could be hit with thousands of pounds worth of bills under new green targets for their properties.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Britain has experienced the highest level of immigration per head of population among the major members of the European Union.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “We do not need to concrete over England. We do need to stop constraining the growth of the places where people really want to live.” – Martin Wolf, Financial Times

> Yesterday:

Tory Lords join forces to combat Britain’s aid commitment

“Some of the Conservative party’s most senior politicians Lord Lawson, Lord Lamont, Lord Macgregor and Lord Forsyth are launching a bid to ‘defang’ Britain’s spending commitment on aid money in Parliament today. … The Tory peers – all former Cabinet ministers in the Thatcher and Major Governments – have tabled amendments to water down the Coalition’s commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income in the developing world.” – Daily Telegraph

The benefits cap has helped people into work, says IDS

IDS on Marr“Some 200 people a week are ‘turning their lives around’ and moving off welfare due to the benefits cap, Iain Duncan Smith said. … The threshold of £26,000 a year per household has now capped the handouts of 55,000 families since it was introduced in 2013. … In total about 800 people per month have either found employment or are no longer claiming housing benefit, the Department for Work and Pensions said.” – Daily Mail

  • “Disabled people are told to call a premium rate government advice line more than a year after a No10 order to end them.” – The Sun (£)

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – IDS presents a future model for changing society for the better

Hayes is fighting for better motorway service stations

“Motorists are to have a motorway station ‘tsar’ to drive up poor greasy spoon standards on Britain’s motorways. … Roads minister John Hayes said he is to launch an inquiry into the service offered and prices charged to motorists. … He will soon be appointing a chairman or ‘tsar’ to head it. … He wants to see fewer mass market chains and more independently run shops, bistros and outlets, as well as more green spaces in which to relax.” – Daily Mail

Gove 1) His plan to include universities in the A-Level process has been scrapped

School“Michael Gove’s education reforms have suffered a fresh blow after his flagship policy of giving universities a say over the content of A-levels was discontinued. … He wanted universities to take ‘ownership’ of the exams by dictating their syllabus and reviewing them annually. … But the A-Level Content Advisory Board formed 18 months ago to oversee this process has been mothballed, it has emerged.” – Daily Mail

  • “Chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw today hits back in the row over inspectors’ investigations into homophobic bullying – accusing critics of creating a ‘smokescreen for their own palpable weaknesses of leadership and management’.” – The Independent
  • “Lord Williams of Oystermouth, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, is leading a drive to have Humanism included in the new Religious Studies Curriculum alongside Christianity and Islam.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “Is Gove a modern-day Thomas Cromwell?” – Sue Freestone, Daily Telegraph
  • “Nigel fought with politicians. They didn’t like his attitude to catchment areas or the radical way he worked — he would not be bound by rules if they prevented him achieving better results.” – Simon Heffer pays tribute to his old headmasters in the Daily Mail

Gove 2) He raises the dread prospect of a Labour-SNP coalition

Scottish flag“Ed Miliband could end up leading a ‘Frankenstein administration’ with the SNP and other minority parties if Labour emerges as the largest party in a hung parliament, Michael Gove has said. … In a speech designed to warn undecided voters of the alleged dangers of voting Labour, the Tory chief whip raised the prospect of a Labour-SNP coalition in which Alex Salmond could serve as deputy prime minister or chancellor.” – The Guardian

  • “Chief whip and former education secretary, Michael Gove, has defended Boris Johnson’s credentials as a candidate for a top role in a future Conservative government, saying he’d like to see the London mayor in a ‘succession of frontline roles’.” – The Guardian
  • “Britain’s membership of the European Union is a ‘business transaction’ rather than an ’emotional tie’, Michael Gove has said.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “A Labour failure in Scotland will lead to a battle for Britain itself.” – Martin Kettle, The Guardian

> Yesterday: To The Point – The historic scale of Labour’s probable collapse in Scotland

Raab: Westminster should not be stuffed with private school MPs

“After years of denial from the education establishment, Michael Gove’s reforms — emphasising academic rigour, teaching innovation and extra funding for hard-up pupils — will boost the number of high-achievers leaving state schools. … But that takes time. For those restless for change, why not let free schools in deprived communities surrounded by poorly performing schools become selective, creating a ladder of social mobility while driving up standards in neighbouring schools?” – Dominic Raab, The Times (£)

> Yesterday: Graeme Archer’s column – Not-working: class and politics

Is Clegg creeping towards Labour with his promise of higher taxes?

Curse of Clegg 2“Nick Clegg yesterday announced plans for an £8 billion tax hike after the election, as he laid the groundwork for a coalition with Labour. … In a significant shift towards Labour’s position, Mr Clegg said the Lib Dems would pursue a higher ratio of tax rises to spending cuts if they find themselves still in power again after the election. … He said this would involve ‘at least’ £8 billion in tax rises, more than half of which have yet to be set out. … David Cameron condemned the move, saying it would hit millions of ordinary families.” – Daily Mail

Further stories about Clegg:

  • “Nick Clegg has promised voters light at the end of the tunnel in three years, saying the Liberal Democrats are the only party promising to bring austerity to an end by 2017-18.” – The Guardian
  • “The only business leader cited by Nick Clegg as a backer of the Liberal Democrats has distanced himself from the party, saying he hopes David Cameron remains as Prime Minister.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “The Conservatives have joined efforts to ‘decapitate’ the Liberal Democrats by unseating Nick Clegg in his Sheffield Hallam constituency.” – The Times (£)

About tax:

  • “The taxman is seeking £14 billion from wealthy individuals and companies that have used avoidance schemes to get round paying the Exchequer money they owe.” – The Times (£)
  • “HM Revenue & Customs has some of the best managers in Whitehall but needs to do ‘much more’ to improve customer service, says the government’s spending watchdog.” – Financial Times
  • “MPs have called for greater regulation of the tax advice industry after accusing a leading firm of accountants of promoting avoidance ‘on an industrial scale’.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “Cleggie’s vision from the Shard is lost in the mist.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • “What happens if nobody wins the UK election? 1974 is a warning.” – Steve Richards, The Guardian
  • “Choices on tax and spend are political — the range of options is wide.” – Financial Times editorial
  • “Lamentable Lib Dems.” – Daily Telegraph editorial

Another day, another round of Labour attacks on Miliband…

MILIBAND Ed red background“Senior Labour figures piled pressure on Ed Miliband over his row with British business last night, with one of the party’s biggest donors claiming it is ‘in danger of promoting communism’. … And in a separate attack, former minister Geoffrey Robinson accused his party’s leadership of a ‘terrible, neglectful’ attitude to its relations with captains of industry. … Mr Robinson, who worked in the Treasury as paymaster general alongside Mr Miliband, then an adviser to Gordon Brown, insisted: ‘The mood music is wrong. I don’t know how it’s happened but it needs to be corrected.’” – Daily Mail

  • “In 2005, Sir Charles Dunstone was one of 63 business people who signed a letter supporting Labour. Now the co-founder of Carphone Warehouse says he is ‘frightened’ by the idea of the party winning the general election.” – Financial Times
  • “One of Labour’s most prominent donors has described the memory lapses of Ed Miliband and Ed Balls as very embarrassing and raised concerns that such gaffes could reinforce the perception that the party cannot be trusted on the economy.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “Labour’s business policy is in tatters because voters have rumbled the party leader’s lack of interest in wealth creation.” – Philip Collins, The Times (£)
  • “Membership of the EU is what matters to business leaders – not the Miliband sideshow.” – Chris Blackhurst, The Independent
  • “Here’s how Labour should tackle the tax avoiders: an Office of Tax Responsibility.” – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

> Today: Iain Dale’s column – No, Balls isn’t anti-business. Indeed, he understands business.

…and on the Coalition’s pension reforms…

“Pension reforms will allow claimants to game the UK benefits system and are a ‘shambles’, lawmakers have warned ministers. … Baroness Hollis told the House of Lords on Thursday that ‘sensible’ rules for people of working age seeking means-tested benefits had been ‘blown apart’ by the new pension freedoms.” – Financial Times

…but the Coalition hits back over voter registration

ballot_box“The Government has accused Labour of ‘opportunism’ as it hit back at Ed Miliband’s claim that one million people have gone missing from the electoral register. … The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats rejected Labour’s criticism that the switch from household to individual registration has been rushed.” – The Independent

Labour plan to encourage employee ownership

“On Friday Ed Miliband will commit a Labour government to ushering in a new era of employee ownership as he seeks to regain the initiative following attacks on party policies from a succession of business chiefs. … Mr Miliband will argue that many entrepreneurs who decide to move on or retire would like to sell their business to their staff and that the policy would boost companies by tapping into the skills and enthusiasm of existing employees.” – The Independent

“The real Monster Raving Loony Party.” The Daily Mail takes on the Greens

green20party (1)“Some members have an ingrained anti-Western mentality. This is graphically reflected in their enthusiasm for the ‘Truther’ movement, which holds that the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11 was actually committed not by Al Qaeda but by George W. Bush’s government to provide a pretext for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. … Green candidate Martin Deane, from Hull, asked whether 9/11 was ‘the greatest show on earth’, expressing his belief that ‘there is culpable U.S. Government complicity in the events’.” – Leo McKinstry, Daily Mail

The country’s largest private landowner speaks out against the SNP’s proposals

“The Duke of Buccleuch, the UK’s largest private landowner, has spoken out for the first time against Edinburgh’s land reform proposals and revealed he plans to slim down his estates in response. … The duke’s comments highlight the depth of concern among landowners at the Scottish National party’s proposals, which include possible powers of intervention against landowners whose scale and conduct is judged to be a barrier to sustainable development.” – Financial Times

The former MPs who received £650,000 in payoffs between them – but are now standing again

UK notes and coins“Fourteen former MPs given huge payoffs when they were kicked out by voters at the last General Election have been selected to stand again in May. … The 12 Labour and two Liberal Democrat MPs were each given ‘golden goodbyes’ worth up to £55,000 when they lost their seats in 2010. … Between them they were handed a total of £650,898, and since then they have also been paid lucrative MPs’ pensions.” – Daily Mail

Further allegations hang over Tower Hamlets

“Muslims were warned against voting for a Labour mayoral candidate because he was an ‘infidel’, the High Court was told yesterday. They were also told that it was their religious duty to vote for their ‘Muslim brother’ Lutfur Rahman, the serving mayor. … Mr Rahman is fighting a High Court petition brought by four voters who want his re-election last May to be declared void.” – The Times (£)

Former Rotherham council boss refuses to apologise

Rotherham“There was growing outrage over the failures by Rotherham council, which turned a blind eye while Pakistani grooming gangs sexually preyed on an estimated 2,000 girls. … As it emerged that a string of those responsible have gone on to lucrative jobs at other councils – some in charge of safeguarding children – the Labour former deputy council leader Jahangir Akhtar was asked if he wanted to apologise to the victims of sexual abuse. … In response, he shouted: ‘Absolutely not – go away.’” – Daily Mail

  • “The deputy children’s commissioner failed to speak out about child sex grooming by Asian gangs because she was too timid and feared being labelled a racist, a former MP has said.” – The Times (£)
  • “A boy aged six months died after social workers from the same council that failed Baby P ruled he was not at risk — despite knowing his mum was an on-the-run killer.” – The Sun (£)
  • “Dozens of men were yesterday charged with a wide range of sex crimes against vulnerable girls after two separate police investigations.” – Daily Mail
  • “Gary Glitter is likely to die behind bars after being convicted yesterday of sex attacks on three schoolgirls.” – Daily Mail
  • “Rolf Harris, the former broadcaster, has been interviewed under caution over alleged sex offences.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “Those who denied that Asian men have been mainly to blame for the Rotherham grooming scandal have betrayed its victims.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “Rotherham’s doctrine of multiculturalism was fundamentally flawed — it’s time for ‘inter-culturalism’” – Nigel Farage, The Independent
  • “These child abuse failures show that Rotherham is probably not alone.” – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian

FGM trial has created a climate of fear, warn critics

“The ‘ludicrous’ prosecution of a doctor for female genital mutilation has created a climate of fear in which other medics are too scared to do their jobs, it was claimed yesterday. … The Crown Prosecution Service is now under pressure to defend its decision to pursue the case – the first in the UK. It is facing accusations that the case was nothing more than a ‘show trial’ which risked diverting attention from genuine victims of the crime.” – Daily Mail

  • “Keep politics out of the justice system.” – Daily Mail editorial

The flu jab might protect just 3 per cent of patients this winter

NHS“The flu jab will protect just three per cent of patients this winter, health experts warned last night. … They say the virus that causes the illness has mutated so much that it no longer ‘matches’ the current vaccine, which was only developed a year ago. The 3 per cent figure predicted by experts at Public Health England would be the worst in at least a decade. … The NHS spends around £100million each year on the flu vaccination programme, with each jab costing £7.60. Although it is never totally effective, it usually protects around 60 per cent of patients.” – Daily Mail

  • “The NHS endured ‘three wasted years’ because of coalition health service reforms, with at least £1.5bn spent that would have been better devoted to patient care, a think-tank says.” – Financial Times
  • “Private pharmacists are working for the first time in the NHS to ease pressure in a major A&E unit.” – Daily Mail
  • “Doctors surgeries are losing the equivalent of one GP per week because patients do not show up for appointments, an MP has warned.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “A breakthrough cancer treatment is being denied to NHS patients while those paying privately can receive the procedure, it has been claimed.” – Daily Telegraph

> Today: Paddy Briggs on Comment – I’m a Fabian. And I believe it’s wrong to claim that the Conservatives are privatising the NHS

> Yesterday: Interview with Jeremy Hunt – “I’m the first Health Secretary to speak out about poor care in the NHS”

Philip Stephens: Putin has become more dangerous

Vladimir Putin“Europe thinks it has a Ukraine problem. In truth, it has a Russia, or more precisely, a Vladimir Putin problem. Moscow’s war against Kiev is a fragment of a bigger picture. … A collapsing oil price and the impact of sanctions have made him more dangerous: without oil and gas revenues, his domestic support now rests on his capacity to mobilise nationalist anger against the alleged attempt by Nato and the EU to subjugate ‘mother Russia’.” – Philip Stephens, Financial Times

  • “President Putin threatened to split the west last night with a surprise peace plan for Ukraine that drew in France and Germany but left Britain and the United States out of the loop.” – The Times (£)
  • “German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande will hold face-to-face talks with Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Moscow in a bold attempt to break the diplomatic deadlock over Ukraine.” – Financial Times
  • “Vladimir Putin has dangerous ambitions beyond Ukraine and aims to test Western resolve in the Baltic states, the former head of Nato has warned.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “If donating large sums to a political party influences its policies when in government, the £500,000-plus that the Ukrainian businessman Alexander Temerko estimates he has given to the Conservatives has yet to deliver.” – Financial Times

And further comment:

  • “Merkel’s mission to Moscow could hardly be for higher stakes.” – Daily Telegraph editorial

News in brief

  • Shares in Greek banks plummet by more than a quarter – Daily Mail
  • Greek and German finance ministers clash at debt relief talks – The Guardian
  • Australia’s Tony Abbott faces a revolt in his own party – The Guardian
  • Pegida brings anti-Islam message to UK – Financial Times
  • I would abolish open borders, Le Pen tells Oxford Union – The Times (£)
  • Keeping watch on Assange has cost the taxpayer £10 million – The Times (£)
  • Twitter boss: we’re bad at dealing with online trolls – The Sun (£)