The welfare cap encourages thousands into work

DUNCAN SMITH white background‘More than 14,400 households which had their handouts limited to the maximum £500 a week now boast at least one member in employment. Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith hailed the latest figures, saying they showed the cap was gradually putting an end to ‘runaway’ welfare claims and provided a ‘clear incentive for people to get into work’.’ – Daily Mail

Cities welcome Osborne’s devolution revolution

‘Handing cities more powers to run their own finances will boost the economy and the case for it is ‘unarguable’, civic leaders told George Osborne yesterday. The Chancellor has promised a ‘revolution’ in the way England is governed, and has set the blueprint for a so-called ‘Northern Powerhouse’ by granting sweeping powers to Manchester.’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: WATCH: Osborne announces “a radical new model of city government”

Hammond seeks speedy EU renegotiation (without treaty change)

EU Exit‘Britain’s eurosceptic foreign secretary has given his most enthusiastic backing yet for the UK’s place in a reformed EU saying the continent’s powers favour a “fast” settlement of the British question…In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Hammond said he aimed to support the “yes” campaign. He made clear that EU treaty change, a major point of contention in many European capitals, was not, in itself, a political goal for the Conservative government.’ – FT

Davis threatens ECHR rebellion

‘The Conservative MP David Davis, a prominent Eurosceptic, has threatened to oppose government proposals that could lead to the UK withdrawing from the European court of human rights. Davis’s reported comments are a sign of growing rebellion on the Tory backbenches as the complexity and political difficulties involved in seceding from the judicial authority of the Strasbourg court become increasingly apparent to the government.’ – The Guardian

Cameron announces new peers

David Cameron 31-03-15‘Downing Street announced a raft of peerages yesterday, allowing David Cameron to propel business figures and political advisers into government jobs. The prime minister’s adviser on Scotland, Andrew Dunlop, becomes a minister in the Scotland Office, while the former Conservative campaign director, George Bridges, joins the cabinet office and David Prior, a former MP, becomes a health minister.’ – The Times (£)

  • Poll tax allegations about new Scotland Minister – The Guardian

>Today: Iain Dale’s Friday Diary: Sending Shapps to DfID is like sending Arsene Wenger to Colchester United

Rudd plans new ‘solar revolution’

‘Ms Rudd indicated she would back the continued expansion of household solar panels, which are heavily subsidised by consumers through levies on energy bills. “I want to unleash a new solar revolution – we have a million people living under roofs with solar panels and that number needs to increase,” she told her local newspaper, the Hastings & St Leonards Observer. The Coalition government introduced a generous subsidy scheme to encourage households to install solar panels, triggering a boom that far exceeded ministers’ expectations and saw them embroiled in a High Court battle over attempts to rein in the payments.’ – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: The Deep End: Five things that matter more than the election result – Day 4: The solar revolution

Two aides resign as Farage clings to the UKIP leadership

Nigel Farage‘Mr Farage has dismissed criticism from Ukip members and claimed he has ‘an astonishing level of support in the party’. He insisted that he would remain as leader as ‘the level of support for me in the party is phenomenal’. He told BBC’s Question Time: ‘What people are looking for in politics are leaders that are assertive and leaders that are not afraid to tell the truth, even if they know it may Whatever my faults are, and perhaps they are many, ‎I’m in politics because I believe in what I say and I want this country to change.” – Daily Mail


The SNP plot their own referendum

‘The SNP is prepared to push ahead with an unofficial second independence referendum if David Cameron refuses to grant one. A senior party source in Westminster said Scots, who rejected independence last September, would choose to leave the UK if a vote was held tomorrow, adding: ‘You only have to win once.’ If Westminster refused to allow another referendum, Holyrood could simply hold one unilaterally and declare secession if it returns a ‘yes’ vote, the source suggested.’ – Daily Mail

  • Cameron to meet with Sturgeon – FT 

>Yesterday: To The Point: How Scotland beat the other countries at voting

Mary Creagh launches her Labour leadership bid in the Daily Mail

Labour-Party-Red-Rose-logo‘People felt that Labour didn’t understand their aspiration to earn money and provide a better life for their family. People trust Labour to look after their schools, hospitals and council services. But they simply do not trust us to run the economy and make them better off. That must change. I am launching my bid to be the leader of the Labour Party. I want to earn back the trust that Middle England has lost in the Labour Party. We forgot the hard-learned lessons of our last three election victories; that to win elections a party needs to offer hope.’ – Daily Mail


Business leaders demand swift airport action

growth flag‘More than 100 business leaders are urging the government to approve a new runway in southeast England to end 50 years of “procrastination” and to prevent the UK slipping behind rivals. It comes despite mounting Tory opposition to expansion of Heathrow, the favoured option of business. The arrival of Greg Hands as the chief secretary to the Treasury, bolsters the number of cabinet opponents. Others include Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, and Justine Greening, the international development secretary.’ – The Times (£)

BBC Home Affairs Editor compares Islamist extremist to Gandhi

‘Following a lengthy report on last night’s BBC News at Ten about Choudary’s ‘radicalising force’, Mark Easton appeared to question whether there were similarities between Britain’s most famous extremist and two of history’s greatest civil rights campaigners. Referring to Theresa May’s pledge to clamp down on extremism, the journalist said Gandhi and Mandela had been seen as extremists and that those stances ‘are sometimes needed to challenge very establish values’.
But outraged viewers slammed the comparison as ‘disgusting’ while campaigners said the ‘ludicrous’ comments gave credence to Choudary’s ‘complete rejection’ of democracy and tolerance.’ – Daily Mail

  • The Corporation is losing the plot – Daily Mail Leader
  • Teenage gangsters joining ISIS – Daily Mail
  • Serious threat from 350 British jihadis – Daily Mail
  • Terror arrests at highest point since 2001 – FT
  • Fears grow for ancient city of Palmyra – The Times (£)

The Guardian stops reporting polls as news

Opinion Poll graphic‘The Guardian has decided to take a pause on reporting polls as political news, but will not rush to discontinue the monthly series of surveys which it has commissioned over the last 30 years. Instead, this series will be maintained in a low-key way: while lessons are learned, methodologies are refined and – we hope – trust is restored. The review launched by the British Polling Council is crucial in all this. It is imperative that it does not become an inside industry job.’ – The Guardian Leader

>Yesterday: Matthew Sinclair on Comment: The election result shows First Past The Post is working precisely as intended

Lib Dems set to lose a fortune as lobbyists abandon their conference

‘The Liberal Democrats are bracing themselves for a financial hit that could run in to six figures as lobbyists shun their money-spinning autumn conference. Both the party and lobbyists said the event, in Bournemouth in September, would have to be restructured because companies would no longer have the opportunity to bend the ear of government ministers.’ – The Times (£)

  • NDubz star Dappy backs Norman Lamb for the leadership – The Sun (£)

Kate Maltby: I’m a Conservative, but it’s time for the monarchy to go

MALTBY, Kate‘If there is a party that should be leading the charge against monarchy, it is not Hardie’s Labour inheritors but the Conservatives. If that seems odd, consider the party’s internal slogan: “It’s not where you come from, it’s where you’re going.” Conservatives have never seen individuals as defined by their class or parentage – if that means they can sometimes blind themselves to how difficult it is to break out of poverty, or how deep the constraints of gender, class or race go, the best of them have always sought to level the playing field.’ – Kate Maltby, The Guardian

News in Brief

  • Our bees are fine – Matt Ridley, The Times (£)
  • Prince Harry plays prank on Royal photographer – The Sun (£)
  • Judge compares militant atheists to Tudors – Daily Mail
  • English beaches set to fail new cleanliness standards – The Guardian
  • Johnny Depp has abandoned his dogs to a death sentence – The Sun Says (£)
  • World War One shells in hand luggage cause Eurostar chaos – The Times (£)