EU 1) Cameron backs down on purdah

CAMERON EU fence“David Cameron is to make a series of concessions to Tory Eurosceptics in a bid to head off a rebellion on his plans for an EU referendum, MailOnline has learned. The Prime Minister is to back down on plans to hold the vote on the same day as other elections, including those to the Scottish Parliament due on May 5, 2016. Downing Street will also agree to look again at plans to lift the ban on the government campaigning in the days before the in-out referendum. Ministers will assure MPs that millions of pounds of public money will not be spent trying to keep Britain in the EU.” – Daily Mail

EU 2) Paul Goodman: The Prime Minister should give ministers their freedom on Europe

“The later the referendum is held, the easier it may be for him to sack dissenters before they resign – assuming, that is, that he intends not to give them a licence to disagree with the Government view and argue for Out during the campaign itself. What he should do, in the interests of party unity, is give Ministers their freedom during the campaign, and seek to bring his party back together afterwards (though he may attempt a fudge whereby any resignations last for the campaign period only). This is a challenge that Harold Wilson rose to in 1975 during the last euro-referendum. He won a Yes vote – and then pushed off.” – Daily Telegraph

Cameron criticised for attacking Human Rights Act at Magna Carta celebration

Supreme Court“David Cameron has marked the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta — the document that “changed the world” — with a provocative defence of his plan to replace Britain’s Human Rights Act with a bill of rights. Speaking at Runnymede on the banks of the river Thames, Mr Cameron told an audience that included the Queen that Magna Carta had altered forever “the balance of power between the governed and the government”… But the prime minister was criticised for taking the opportunity to claim that in seeking to limit the role of the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights in Britain he was carrying on the work of the 13th century barons.” – Financial Times

  • Scrapping the HRA will ‘defend Magna Carta’s legacy’, claims the Prime Minister – The Independent
  • Cameron speaks out for a British Bill of Rights – The Guardian
  • Magna Carta celebration sparks calls for a constitutional convention – The Independent

Comment and Editorial:

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Magna Carta is no case for a codified constitution

Duncan Smith asked to find more welfare cuts

“Iain Duncan Smith has been asked to see if he can find £15 billion of welfare cuts, a third more than promised during the election campaign, it was claimed last night. Treasury officials have asked the Department for Work and Pensions to examine child tax credits and working tax credits as possible sources for the savings, Newsnight on BBC Two reported. Another option might be to lower the welfare cap below the £23,000 given in the Tory manifesto to £20,000. By raising the target for savings from welfare from £12 billion to £15 billion, other budgets would be spared.” – The Times (£)

May’s extremism orders could outlaw traditional Christian teaching

MAY Warhol“Traditional Christian teaching could effectively be “criminalised” in some settings under David Cameron’s plans for new anti-extremist banning orders, a top Anglican theologian and former Parliamentary draftsman has warned. The Rev Dr Mike Ovey, a former lawyer and now principal of Oak Hill Theological College in London, a training school for Church of England clergy, said proposals for new “Extremism Disruption Orders” could be a “disaster area” for people from all the mainstream religions and none.” – Daily Telegraph

Morgan appoints ex-bouncer as ‘behaviour czar’

“Education Secretary Nicky Morgan will today appoint a ‘behaviour tsar’ to stamp out classroom disruption caused by children playing on mobile phones and swinging on chairs. Former Soho nightclub bouncer Tom Bennett will advise schools on dealing with ‘low-level’ poor behaviour. In her first major speech since the election, Mrs Morgan will also announce a drive to improve the employability of school leavers by limiting the number of ‘soft’ subjects they can study. Children starting secondary school in September will be required to study English, maths, science, a foreign language and one of either history or geography at GCSE.” – Daily Mail


  • So much fizz left Education with Gove – Quentin Letts’ sketch, Daily Mail

>Yesterday: The Deep End: The dark side of aspiration – a response to George Monbiot

Labour MP claims Boris Johnson may have broken the law in column

BORIS blue and red“Boris Johnson has been criticised by a Labour MP for defending claims that women in the workplace cry more readily than men. Chi Onwurah, who worked for 20 years in a male-dominated sector as a chartered electrical engineer, said the mayor of London may be in breach of discrimination laws by defending comments made by Professor Tim Hunt. In a newspaper column, Johnson said it is a scientific fact that women cry more readily than men, and maintained that it should not be an offence to point out a “gender difference”. Hunt, a Nobel laureate and senior scientific adviser, was forced to stand down last week after claiming that women colleagues cry when criticised.” – The Guardian

Rachel Sylvester: Tories have a chance to shatter the class ceiling

“In 2010, while Labour was looking inwards during its leadership contest, the Conservatives won the economic argument, setting in voters’ minds the idea that Ed Miliband’s party had spent too much. This time, the Tories could win the cultural argument, defining the terms of social mobility while Labour leadership candidates are still arguing about whether they favour equality or aspiration. It’s a huge opportunity. The only question is whether Mr Cameron will be able to overcome his own background to seize the chance.” – The Times (£)

Corbyn’s making the ballot provokes Labour infighting…

Labour holes“Labour’s bitter internal divisions widened yesterday after the far-left MP Jeremy Corbyn entered the race to succeed Ed Miliband. Senior figures on the Right said the addition of Mr Corbyn to the canidates list showed Labour had become the the ‘stupid party’, which had learned nothing from its humiliating election defeat. Mr Corbyn, the veteran hard-line scialist who opposes Trident and austerity, snatched a place on the Labour leadership ballot after a last-minute surge in support. But his success entry into the contest exposed the party’s deep fault lines.” – Daily Mail

  • Burnham destabilised as hard left squeezes onto ballot – The Independent
  • MPs despair as terrorist-loving leftie joins the contest – The Sun (£)
  • Labour contest descends into backbiting over smear claims – Daily Telegraph
  • Corbyn condemns ‘Taliban’ attacks on Kendall – The Independent
  • Labour puts left-winger in the final four for treatment – The Times (£)


  • Corbyn proves the lunatic wing of the Labour Party is still calling the shots – Dan Hodges, Daily Telegraph
  • The timing is bad, the process stinks, but this will be a good contest – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • None of these candidates look like they understand England – John Denham, Daily Telegraph

…as Murphy blames election defeat on lack of ideas

Labour lost the 2015 election not because of a lack of passion but because of an absence of ideas, a former leader of the party’s Scottish wing has said. In an interview with the BBC, Jim Murphy said Labour’s “catastrophic” election defeat was not just in Scotland, arguing that the party “cannot lose sight of the defeat in England”. His comments came as anonymous party sources quoted by the Daily Telegraph likened leadership hopeful Liz Kendall’s campaign to “Taliban New Labour”. A source from either the Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham campaign teams told the newspaper: “We are now seeing the end of Taliban New Labour. All of those Blairites who hoped they might get their candidate elected have failed.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: The final four contenders for the Labour leadership

SNP call for negotiations on even more power

Scottish flag“The Scottish government has called for “substantial and serious discussions” with UK ministers on greater powers for Edinburgh, saying draft legislation being debated in Westminster is inadequate and incoherent. John Swinney, Scotland’s deputy first minister, has written to David Mundell, the UK’s secretary of state for Scotland, to lay out proposals for more ambitious devolution following the Scottish National party’s general election landslide. The SNP has called for “full fiscal autonomy” for Scotland and has proposed amendments to the Scotland Bill being debated in the House of Commons that would allow Edinburgh to take control of almost all taxation and spending.” – Financial Times

  • Scottish Government renews demands for tax and spending controls – The Guardian
  • Parliament blocks radical nationalist proposals – Daily Express


  • The SNP’s demands, championed by a Tory – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph
  • The Scots want fiscal control, just not quite now – Donald Macintyre, The Independent

UKIP peer calls for electoral reform

“Lord Pearson of Rannoch slammed the first-past-the-post system, which gave his party a single parliamentary seat despite winning almost four million votes. He said: “If we want to live in a democracy we have to change the system of election to the Commons to something which more accurately reflects the will of the electorate.” He added that the situation was just as “unsatisfactory” in the Lords, with just three Ukip peers, compared to 100 Liberal Democrats. Laws governing elections are currently spread across 25 Acts of Parliament.” – Daily Express

News in Brief:

  • Ofsted may downgrade schools over poor textbooks – Daily Mail
  • Deal deadlock puts Greece in a ‘state of emergency’ – The Times (£)
  • Woman who pretended to be black sued university for ‘anti-white discrimination’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Bush kicks off presidential run with jobs vow – Financial Times
  • Russia threatens retaliation over US plans to assemble allied army in Poland – The Independent