Knighthood for Simon Burns in the Queen’s Birthday Honours

BURNS Simon“Trade union leader Paul Kenny has been knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Sir Paul, the general secretary of the GMB union, said the award was for “every trade unionist trying to make the world a better place”. Conservative MP Simon Burns and former Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes also receive knighthoods. Former Conservative MP Anthony Steen has been appointed CBE for his campaigning work on human trafficking.” – BBC

  • Conservative Party donors Henry Angest and Michael Davis also given knighthoods – The Independent
  • Does Paul Kenny, GMB Union firebrand, deserve the title he’s been given on the Queen’s birthday? – Leader Daily Mail
  • Van Morrison knighted – Daily Telegraph
  • The Queen’s Birthday Honours list in full – The Guardian

Cameron accused of dragging The Queen into EU renegotiation

“The Prime Minister is set to join the Queen at a state banquet in Berlin later this month – a day before he travels to Brussels to table his demands at a vital EU summit. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose influence could prove decisive if Cameron is to renegotiate Britain’s role in the EU, will be at the banquet on 24 June…Labour MP John Mann described the move as “tacky” and warned it that “people will see straight through it”.” – Daily Express

Osborne attends Bilderberg conference in Austria….

Osborne“Chancellor George Osborne and former opposite number Ed Balls are on the list to attend the famously secretive Bilderberg conference in Austria. Guests at the traditional gathering of influential figures include Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, and Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg. The contents of their discussions are never released.” – BBC

…as Piketty attacks budget surplus plan

“George Osborne’s plan to enshrine permanent budget surpluses in law is a political gimmick that ignores “basic economics”, a group of academic economists has warned….In a letter to the Guardian, coordinated by the Centre for Labour and Social Studies, 77 of the best-known academic economists, including French economist Thomas Piketty and Cambridge professor Ha-Joon Chang, said the chancellor was turning a blind eye to the complexities of a 21st-century economy that demanded governments remain flexible and responsive to changing global events.” – The Guardian

IDS promises to act on firms trying to block pensions freedom

IDS on Marr“Ministers have ordered an internal inquiry into the rip-offs and obstacles that have “handcuffed” savers who are trying to use the new pension freedoms, as millions of people in company schemes are dragged into the scandal. Writing in The Telegraph, Iain Duncan Smith says he is ready to “name and shame” the firms giving customers poor deals. The Work and Pensions Secretary writes: “I have a message for those firms: it is your responsibility to sort this out and look after your customers. After all, it is their money that you hold, not yours.”- Daily Telegraph

Plan to raise the age to 70 for eligibility for a state pension

“Millions starting on the career ladder today will have to work until they are 70 before they can claim the state pension, official papers show. A document published by the Department for Work and Pensions has revealed plans to speed up increases in the age at which workers can claim the state pension. It could see a planned rise to 68 brought forward by a decade because of new estimates about life expectancy….Under current laws it will rise further to 68 between 2044 and 2046 – affecting those currently in their 30s. But the report shows plans to move this rise forward a decade.” – Daily Mail

Penning calls for tougher police fitness tests

PENNING Mike ruins“Cops could be forced to take military-style fitness tests amid mounting concerns that Britain’s bobbies are too fat, The Sun can reveal. Police minister Mike Penning has called an urgent meeting of senior Police chiefs to thrash out a new test which officers must pass or risk losing their jobs. The new regime could be similar to the rigorous tests that soldiers have to take when enlisting in the Army. ” – The Sun(£)

Study shows Conservatives could boost vote share among ethnic minorities

“The Conservatives have a golden opportunity capture the ethnic minority vote if they soften their stance on immigration, according to a study by party modernisers. The Bright Blue group has advised David Cameron he could attract millions of ethnic minority voters by introducing a “more balanced” approach to immigration not based on “caps and clampdowns”….At last month’s election, an estimated 33 per cent of such voters supported the Tories – a dramatic rise on the 16 per cent who backed the party in 2010.matic rise on the 16 per cent who backed the party in 2010.” – The Independent

Jenkyns on PMQs “nerves”

Andrea Jenkyns“Andrea Jenkyns, the Tory MP who ousted Ed Balls, has rebuffed reports that she struggled to get her words out during Prime Minister’s Questions by revealing an “excruciating” and “sporadic” neuropathic disorder. The MP for Morley and Outwood, who scalped the former shadow chancellor in the election, said that she suffered from trigeminal neuralgia (TN).” – The Times(£)

Ignore advice to increase housing supply for gypsies says Wharton

“Councils should ignore government advice telling them to build more houses to accommodate gypsies, a minister has indicated amid fears over the pressure on rural communities. James Wharton, the communities minister, hinted the government would soon act to increase the protection of green belt land from being built on by travellers. He also said gypsies should have to prove they are actually travellers in a move that could see hundreds of thousands stripped of special status when it comes to planning laws.” – Daily Telegraph

Mary Creagh: I’m quitting the Labour leadership race

MaryCreaghMP-withbrooch“I am withdrawing from the race to be the leader of the Labour party. I will not be nominating any other candidate, but I am announcing my withdrawal now so that the MPs who have supported me have the opportunity to nominate another candidate, should they wish to do so. I’m grateful to the people who told me I inspired them to begin their own leadership journeys. My “bootstrap Britain” story resonated with many who have overcome disadvantage to achieve their goals.” – Mary Creagh The Guardian

  • Harman and Miliband urged to nominate – BBC
  • Burnham seeks Orgreave inquiry – The Guardian
  • Corbyn “doesn’t want charity nominations” – The Guardian

Watson “front runner to be deputy”

“Tom Watson has become the front runner in the contest to be Labour’s deputy leader as his rivals face being squeezed out. The veteran fixer has 54 nominations, comfortably more than the 35 needed, and says he has raised more than £20,000 from a crowdfunding website for his campaign. JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, has donated £4,000. Caroline Flint, shadow energy secretary and the leading Blairite candidate, is also likely to be on the ballot paper.” – The Times(£)

Labour frontbenchers to launch pro-EU campaign…

EU Flag“A group of senior Labour frontbenchers is planning to set up an “unashamedly pro-European campaign group”. It follows disagreements within the shadow cabinet over how to approach the EU referendum. A handful of senior figures are already discussing hiring office space and seeking funding to launch their campaign as soon as possible.” – BBC

>Today: Marc Glendening on Comment: Tolerance through censorship: Blair’s new European project

…as EU referendum “threatens credit rating”

“Britain may lose its AAA credit rating because of fears over the outcome of the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, a leading credit rating agency announced last night. Standard and Poor’s, the only one of the three major agencies still to give Britain the top rating, said the vote represented a “risk to growth prospects for the UK’s financial services and export sectors, as well as the wider economy”. The agency said that it had given Britain a “negative outlook”, meaning at least a one-in-three chance of a downgrade in the next two years.” – The Times(£)

Ed Miliband not invited to his brother’s 50th birthday party

Miliband coffee“The invitations for David Miliband’s 50th birthday party next month have already been sent out. Tony Blair, Lord Mandelson and Dame Tessa Jowell, the frontrunner to be Labour’s London Mayoral candidate, are on the guest list. Appropriately enough, the gathering is at the chi-chi Rotunda restaurant at King’s Place in North London in the shadow of the bien-pensant Guardian newspaper headquarters….But there is one conspicuous omission. Ed Miliband…” – Daily Mail

Blair has built a business empire in China

“Tony Blair has privately begun acting as broker between Abu Dhabi and China, a Telegraph investigation reveals. A series of documents show how the former prime minister has been courting some of the most influential Chinese political and business leaders – and then introducing them to the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund he works for. He has also facilitated talks between the chief executive of Dow Chemical and a series of Chinese government and business figures.” – Daily Telegraph

Biggs promises Tower Hamlets clean up

John Biggs“John Biggs, the Labour candidate who was runner-up last year, vowed to oust supporters of his disgraced predecessor from the council’s cabinet. …There was a strong police presence at polling stations and the overnight count at the London ExCel conference centre.” – The Times(£)

>Yesterday: WATCH: Labour’s John Biggs delivers his victory speech in Tower Hamlets

Funeral held for Charles Kennedy

“The funeral service for former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy has been held near his home in the Highlands. A Mass was celebrated at St John’s Roman Catholic Church in Caol before a burial service at Clunes, Achnacarry. The funeral started at noon, with the congregation singing the hymn Christ Be Beside Me.” – BBC

  • Senior Lib Dems Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander, Sir Menzies Campbell, Sir Malcolm Bruce and Michael Moore attended – The Independent

Gove: My pride at a film role with Christopher Lee

GOVE, Michael blue sky“Making up the numbers in a variety of bit-parts were a few of us who were friends of Justin’s and suckers for celebrity. I was allowed to join the cast as school chaplain, a marginal role scarcely above being an extra, but one which allowed me to dress up in odd gowns and funny collars in a way which has gone on to prove valuable in my current role as Lord Chancellor. If you blink, you’ll miss my performance, and my only line was the word ‘Amen’. But the real joy of the whole enterprise for me was getting to know Christopher.” – Michael Gove Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Can Gove reform prisons as he reformed schools?

Moore: The No campaign will get organised

“The No lot are attacking one another about who is the truest, bravest patriot among them. So it is a pleasant surprise to discover that the beginnings of a No campaign will be announced soon. Despite all the squabbling, an all-party group is coming together. From it will emerge the official, designated campaign which the law requires. This can then receive donations and secure equal rights of representation on television and radio. It is not impossible, in a few weeks’ time, that someone, somewhere, might start thinking about the concerns of actual voters in all of this.” – Charles Moore Daily Telegraph

Parris: In praise of profit

PARRIS Mathhew“My case can be made in three words. Consider the expression “for private profit”. Can you honestly claim it’s possible in British political discussion to use that expression other than disapprovingly?…It is a huge weakness in the presentation of the centre-right’s case in western European politics that we have been bullied into sheepishness about the mainspring of the economic theory on which our politics rests. Socialist economics has lost every battle, destroyed every economy that embraced it, wasted the talents and careers of some of our best minds, and wrecked hundreds of millions of lives — yet we have allowed it to keep the moral advantage.” – Matthew Parris The Times(£)

News in brief

And finally…Boris has to ask younger brother to be allowed to speak

jojohn“Boris Johnson found himself having to ask his younger brother for permission to speak in the Commons on Thursday. The Mayor of London was bound by parliamentary protocol to get approval from universities minister Jo Johnson before he could contribute to a debate. “Will my honourable friend allow me?” the Tory MP for Uxbridge and Ruislip asked, as his sibling was speaking. Laughing, Jo Johnson, who is MP for Orpington, obliged, and later thanked his brother for his intervention.” – BBC