Tory victory would see school spending squeezed

MANIFESTO money“Schools would suffer a funding cut in real terms of 7 per cent if the Conservatives were re-elected, analysts predicted yesterday after David Cameron unveiled a big shift on education. In an admission of the constraints of plans to clear the deficit by 2018, the prime minister conceded that the amount of cash per pupil would be squeezed.” – The Times (£)

Crabb attacks Labour’s Welsh education record

“Labour’s record on education in Wales is a ‘scandal’ and even worse than its performance on the NHS, the Tories will claim today. In the opening salvo in a new Conservative attack on the Labour-run Welsh government, Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb will say the decline of schools has been ‘woeful’ and Labour has ‘screwed up’ education. He will unveil a series of expert findings suggesting Wales is lagging behind England.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The many plates that Nicky Morgan must spin

Cameron set to vote for three-parent babies

140115 Cameron on Marr“The Prime Minister will today back laws which will allow babies to be born using the DNA of three parents from as early as next year. MPs have been granted a free vote for the controversial technology, which would prevent serious diseases being passed down from mother to child. If it is legalised, Britain will become the first country in the world to permit the creation of IVF babies with genetic material from three different people.” – Daily Mail

  • …and defends official respect for King Abdullah due to shared anti-terror information – The Sun (£)

Tory members seek EU exit

““These findings are certainly significant in one respect,” wrote Paul Goodman, editor of ConservativeHome. “It’s reasonable to assume the fall for the ‘leavers’ can’t fall much lower than 40 per cent. This would mean that in any in/out referendum the prime minister would go one way and many members of his party the other — perhaps a majority.” – Financial Times

>Today: Matthew Elliot in Think Tanks: The ten changes we need in our relationship with the EU

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Over half of party members want Britain to leave the EU

Hague spells out English-only votes

Britain shield“English  MPs could get a ‘veto’ over England-only laws, including rates of income tax, in a major watering down of the influence of Scottish MPs, it emerged last night. Leader of the Commons William Hague will unveil provocative plans aimed at delivering effective ‘home rule’ for England following further devolution to the Scottish Parliament.” – Daily Mail

  • England will set its own income tax rates – Daily Telegraph
  • Scottish MPs to be banned from voting on English tax if Tories win – Daily Express
  • Tory plan leaves Scots power to block English laws – The Sun (£)

Philip Johnston: How Scotland is tearing the Tories apart

“Perhaps Mr Hague will judge there is a chance of getting support from some Labour MPs who would otherwise not back a complete ban on Scottish votes. But some backbenchers are unhappy with having the policy decreed by the Tory hierarchy and want a secret ballot to establish which of the two options really does have the backing of most Conservative MPs. The last thing the Tories need is a Commons vote in which they are themselves divided.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP in Comment: MPs from outside England should not be prevented from voting on matters before Parliament

>Yesterday: John Redwood MP in Comment: England wants to get EVEN. Now Hague must ensure that it does.

Plan to cut NHS waiting times stalls

NHS_Logo“In December, private hospital groups agreed to provide up to 50,000 operations in the three months to the end of March. But, almost two months after that pledge, a large proportion — 80 per cent, by one estimate — of overall capacity remains unused by the NHS and Mr Cameron and senior officials are understood to be deeply frustrated.” – Financial Times

  • Tories consider asking pensioners to opt-in to Winter Fuel Allowance – The Independent

Committees 1) Jackson savages CQC as it admits to more than 200 errors in private hospital report

“Yesterday, CQC chief David Behan admitted to the Public Accounts Committee that the report contained about 200 inaccuracies, from false allegations against staff, and mistakes in data about care, to basic but sloppy typing errors. Committee member Stewart Jackson, Tory MP for Peterborough, described the CQC as a ‘lynch mob’. He asked Mr Behan: ‘What is it, a used car salesmanship? It is supposed to be a proper regulatory body. This is why one of your own staff admitted it was a lynch mob … you should be ashamed of yourself.’” – Daily Mail

Committees 2) Parish declares broadband a fundamental right

Culture shield“Neil Parish, a Conservative member of the committee, said: “Access to broadband should be considered a fundamental right. So much of life is conducted online now. “You do business online, you get access to your banks online. Also of course in the long run it has the potential to reduce the amount of journeying people do, the amount travelling.”” – Daily Telegraph

Committees 3) Yeo leads crackdown on price comparison sites

“Consumers have a right to know that price comparison sites plug some power firms while ignoring others, an energy lawmaker declared yesterday. Senior Tory MP Tim Yeo will today lead the Energy Select Committee in grilling the big five switching websites in a huge victory for The Sun. The committee is also expected to demand a crackdown from toothless watchdog Ofgem.” – The Sun (£)

Former M&S boss and Brown advisor brands Miliband a “Seventies throwback”…

MILIBAND Red Ed“The man who restored Marks & Spencer’s fortunes today accuses Ed Miliband of being a ‘1970s throwback’ who has wrecked Britain’s pro-business consensus. Stuart Rose claims Labour’s ‘business-bashing’ could curb investment and lead to ‘shuttered shop fronts, empty high streets and lengthening dole queues’. His intervention, in an article for the Daily Mail, is especially significant because he was handpicked by Gordon Brown to advise him directly as prime minister.” – Daily Mail

  • Why Labour’s class war would cripple Britain – Stuart Rose, Daily Mail
  • Miliband escalates row with boots boss – Financial Times
  • ‘Business bashing’ leader poses threat to high street, warn bosses – The Times (£)
  • Miliband vows to stand up to ‘powerful forces’ – The Independent
  • Pizza Express founder brands Opposition “ignorant” of capitalism – The Sun (£)
  • Leader’s personal attacks are closing down debate, warn business leaders – Daily Telegraph
  • Miliband’s anti-business prejudice laid bare – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • Labour leaders real-world experience: I advised the Treasury – The Independent
  • Tories on hunt for ‘anti-Labour mouthpieces’ warns Balls – The Guardian

…as Labour launch fresh offensive against landlords

“Landlords will be hundreds of pounds a year worse off under new plans to be announced by Ed Miliband. The Labour leader will set out proposals for three year tenancies, with only limited rent rises permitted in that period. Rip-off letting agent fees for tenants would be banned. The new proposals, aimed at “Generation Rent”, are meant to give tenants greater protection against rogue landlords and make renting more affordable.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: The Deep End: Can London ever be big enough?

‘Red Len’ blasts Miliband’s would-be assassins

Len McCluskey“Union baron Len McCluskey came to Ed Miliband’s aid last night telling Blairites to ‘stop stabbing Labour in the back’. The Unite boss rounded on Peter Mandelson, Alan Milburn and John Hutton over their warnings that the party leader is heading for defeat. Mr McCluskey, whose union is Labour’s biggest donor, also urged Mr Miliband to ‘bottle the spirit’ of Greece’s far-left radicals, who have taken power in Athens.” – Daily Mail

>Today: Garvan Walshe’s column: Europe’s far left: Good for Putin, dangerous for democracy

Labour leader claims UKIP migration concerns “based on reality”

“Ed Miliband has said that the concerns of Ukip supporters and other right-wing groups are mostly “based on reality” rather than prejudice. The Labour leader had been asked whether he was “concerned” about Nigel Farage’s party and the rise of Eurosceptic and anti-immigration groups in the UK. He was speaking to young voters during a question and answer session on Monday at Facebook’s London offices called Stand Up Be Counted: Ask The Leaders.” – The Independent


Balls presses ahead with tuition fee cut proposals

BALLS Ed Spend can“Labour criticised the university funding system as “unsustainable” yesterday and signalled that it would press ahead with plans to cut tuition fees to £6,000 a year. Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, rejected a plea from university leaders in a letter to The Times to abandon the plan, saying student loans for fees at £9,000 a year would become too expensive for the taxpayer.” – The Times (£)

Tristram Hunt tells parent to ‘stop moaning’ and ‘do some work’

“Thomas Mann, from south London, asked Hunt how to direct him towards details of Labours education policies, to which the shadow education secretary replied with a link to Labour’s website. Mann responded that the site “only contains soundbites” and asked for details covering “the full complexity of education policy”. Hunt then told Mr Mann to “stop moaning. Read the speeches. Do some work. Your industry will be rewarded”.” – The Independent

Labour set to lose 30 Scottish seats…

Scottish flag“Scottish nationalists are on course to take as many as 30 seats from Labour at the general election, according to a new poll that shows the scale of the challenge Ed Miliband faces to win the keys to No 10. The appointment of Jim Murphy as Scottish Labour leader has failed to arrest declining support for the party north of the border, with the SNP opening up a 21-point lead, The Times/YouGov poll shows.” – The Times (£)

…as Brown steps in to ‘save Labour’ again

“Gordon Brown has shattered any Unionist consensus around more powers for Holyrood, saying yesterday that draft legislation did not go far enough and outlining plans for greater control over welfare. The former prime minister opened Labour up to accusations that it was making up policy on the hoof after he announced plans for benefits devolution beyond that recommended by the cross-party Smith Commission.” – The Times (£)

Rachel Sylvester: Ed and Dave are playing a dangerous generation game

Boy Damaged“The truth, however, is that there is a growing political gap between the generations, with the parties increasingly diverging along age lines in the voters they target. This will be a campaign that pits young against old and the differential turnout between each set of voters could determine the result on May 7, with resonances for years to come.” – The Times (£)

Alexander welcomes income tax cut

“Ministers hiked the personal allowance to £9,440 in April 2013 — but now is the first time the self-employed have had to make a tax payment since. The allowance is set to rise again to £10,600 this April. Lib Dem Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander said: “This is a boost to the entrepreneurs and small traders — to the men and women who are doing so much to rebuild our stronger economy and power our growth.” – The Sun (£)

Greens ditch lenient terror policy

Green Party poster“The Green party abandoned two of its most controversial policies yesterday in an attempt to deal with the greater scrutiny that has accompanied its recent surge in support. Natalie Bennett, the party’s leader, backtracked on its policy to decriminalise membership of a terrorist organisation, describing Islamic State and al-Qaeda as “hideous organisations”.” – The Times (£)

News in Brief:

  • Police set up mugshot database without telling the Home Office – Daily Mail
  • Ukraine rebel army recruiting 100,000 – The Times (£)
  • Scientists warn three-parent babies would be an “historic mistake” – Daily Telegraph
  • Bookies and pundits set scene for a hung parliament – Financial Times
  • London Underground ticket office closures start today – The Independent
  • NHS paying locum doctors £1760 per shift – The Guardian
  • Tower Hamlets mayor “stole votes to win power” – Daily Mail