Grayling announces new prisoner rehabilitation drive

GRAYLING collarlessMr Grayling said: “For too long we have released prisoners back onto the streets with £46 in their pockets and little else than the hope that they would sort themselves out. It’s little wonder things haven’t improved – but now all this will change. For the first-time we will be giving all offenders a proper chance at rehabilitation, instead of just leaving them to wander the streets and get on with it. And I’m proud that on the same day this starts we can also announce an innovative agreement that will see our prison workforce helping our Armed Forces. By providing this new service, prisoners will be giving something back to their country, while learning important new skills and the value of a hard day’s work.” – Sunday Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Prison rehabilitation: the moral, conservative mission

Maude to step down in May

‘Francis Maude, the cabinet minister who led calls for the Conservative party to change long before David Cameron became leader, is to stand down as an MP at the general election, warning fellow Tories they cannot afford to abandon modernisation. Maude, who has represented Horsham since 1997, is best known as an arch-moderniser who ran Michael Portillo’s doomed leadership campaign in 2001, four years before Cameron took over using many of the same arguments.’ – Sunday Times (£)

>Today: MPsETC: Maude’s full letter announcing his decision to leave the Commons

Labour’s decline 1) Miliband under yet more fire from his own side

LABOUR holes‘Ed Miliband’s hopes of winning the General Election were fading last night after his leadership came under heavy fire from his own party. The embattled Labour leader faced a new crisis as the party’s biggest private donor joined the withering attacks on his NHS policies. And Mr Miliband was described as looking ‘haunted’ because he knew that his party was on course to lose the Election, according to the editor of Britain’s leading Labour-supporting magazine.’ – Mail on Sunday

Labour’s decline 2) NHS attack backfires

‘Labour was accused of an own goal last night after it sent out leaflets accusing the Tories of selling off the NHS – with adverts for private healthcare inside. Voters in key marginal seats received the mailshot condemning the Conservatives’ ‘NHS privatisation agenda’ and boasting how Labour would ‘save’ the NHS. But embarrassingly for Ed Miliband, his party’s ‘plan for the NHS’ arrived with leaflets advertising private healthcare.’ – Mail on Sunday

Labour’s decline 3) Boots boss: Opposition victory would be a ‘catastrophe’

BALLS Ed Spend can‘A Labour government under Ed Miliband would be a “catastrophe” for Britain, the head of one of the UK’s biggest businesses warns. In a significant blow to Labour’s general election campaign, Stefano Pessina, the boss of Boots, says Mr Miliband’s plan for power is “not helpful for business, not helpful for the country and in the end it probably won’t be helpful for them”.’ – Sunday Telegraph


Merkel pours cold water on Syriza’s plans

‘Angela Merkel flatly rejected calls yesterday to write off any more Greek debts amid mounting tensions within Europe over the country’s multi-billion euro bailout programme. The German Chancellor’s comments dealt a blow to the new Greek government, which is pushing for a compromise on the tough austerity conditions with which it must comply. She told the Hamburger Abendblatt: ‘I do not envisage fresh debt cancellation.’ – Mail on Sunday

Morgan: We’re declaring war on illiteracy and innumeracy

School‘Today we make a new commitment: to be one of the top five performing countries worldwide — and the best in Europe — for English and maths by the end of our next term in office. This aim is unapologetically ambitious. The speed with which we slid down international league tables under the previous government is one of the starkest examples of their failure. Returning us to our rightful place will be the symbol of our success.’ – Nicky Morgan MP, Sunday Times (£)

ISIS murder Japanese hostage

‘A Japanese journalist held by Isis has been beheaded, if a video posted on the internet last night is confirmed as genuine. Kenji Goto, 47, was captured by the group after travelling to Syria in an attempt to secure the release of a fellow Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, 42. Yukawa was killed by the terrorist group last weekend.’ – Sunday Times (£)

  • Terrorists admit airstrikes helped to drive the from Kobane – Mail on Sunday
  • Hebdo cartoonist attacks Saudi hypocrisy on free speech – Mail on Sunday

Truss: The EU imposes serious costs on farmers

Liz Truss‘There is a profound handicap that threatens the UK’s farming and food producing industry which the Eurosceptic Miss Truss is in no mood to hide. She sees “all the time” the damaging impact that the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy can have on British farmers. In particular, the new “three crop rule”, which comes into effect this year, means all but the smallest farms must grow at least three different crops, in order to encourage “diversity” and protect the environment. Miss Truss says: “There are benefits to being in a single market, but there are serious costs.’ – Sunday Telegraph

Cable attacks Osborne’s record

‘The Liberal Democrat Business Secretary stunned last week’s Cabinet by highlighting Mr Osborne’s repeated boast that the British Government could borrow money more cheaply than other European countries – because he claims that the markets back his austerity regime. Cuttingly, Mr Cable said he ‘couldn’t help noticing’ that figures suggested the UK was actually ‘on a par’ with the much-maligned socialist-style French and Italian economies, which Mr Osborne has derided for being debt-laden and uncompetitive.’ – Mail on Sunday

  • Clegg wants to slap David Cameron – Sunday Times (£)
  • UKIP knew about Bashir’s links to a criminal before they selected him as an MEP – Mail on Sunday
  • Donor targets Liam Fox – Mail on Sunday

£435 million annual welfare bill for alcoholics and drug addicts

money‘Alcoholics and junkies are getting almost half a billion pounds a year in sickness benefits, shock figures reveal. An investigation by The Mail on Sunday has uncovered the true scale of welfare payouts to addicts, despite repeated attempts by Ministers to crack down on Britain’s benefits culture. It can be revealed today that more than 75,000 people are signed off work and being paid up to £108 a week in sickness pay – more than jobseekers get – because of conditions related to drink or drug abuse.’ – Mail on Sunday

Half of candidates in the safest seats went to private school

‘Half of the prospective Tory candidates seeking re-election in safe seats this year or hoping to succeed MPs who enjoyed large majorities in 2010 went to private schools. For Labour the figure is 18%. Across all parties just over a quarter (27%) went to state grammar schools and fewer than a third (31%) attended comprehensives.’ – Sunday Times (£)

Charles plans to be an outspoken monarch

Prince Charles‘Prince Charles has decided he will be an “activist” king who will remain outspoken on issues he cares about, according to a new biography, provoking “tensions” with Buckingham Palace about the royal succession. The book, by Catherine Mayer, Time magazine’s former London bureau chief, claims that Charles is resisting pressure to “taper off” his interventions on green issues and architecture.’ – Sunday Times (£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Prince of Wales should carry on “meddling”

News in brief