Welfare reform 1) ‘Absurd’ child poverty definition to be scrapped

David Cameron 02-05-15‘David Cameron is to repeal legislation that sets binding targets to reduce child poverty after being warned that the law could be used to mount a legal challenge to the next round of welfare cuts. The prime minister has described as “absurd” the measure which is used to assess how many children are deemed to be poor…The prime minister said that the definition of relative poverty enshrined in law meant that even a small rise in the state pension led to an increase in average income and, consequently, the number of children living in relative poverty.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: Joe Armitage on Comment: The Government needs to find a sense of purpose, fast

>Yesterday: WATCH: Will £12bn in welfare cuts boost social mobility?

Welfare reform 2) Hilton: Endless handouts are cruel, not compassionate

‘The ‘anti-austerity’ lobby has it completely wrong: it is their misguided, intransigent defence of lavish welfare spending that is cruel, heartless and immoral. How dare they call Conservatives cruel while defending a system that causes unemployment, family breakdown and low pay? Successive governments tested to destruction the idea that poverty could be ended by pouring money into social security. Under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the real costs of welfare rose by almost 40 per cent.’ – Steve Hilton, Daily Mail

>Today: The Deep End: You can’t pay for a Scandinavian style welfare state just by soaking the rich

Welfare reform 3) Tax credit errors and fraud cost £17 billion over a decade

money‘Some £17billion was wrongly paid out in tax credits in the decade following the scheme’s launch, it emerged yesterday. Either fraud or mistakes by officials were responsible for the huge sum, according to an analysis of official figures by the Mail. And despite efforts by the taxman to reduce the amount handed out in error, the annual total was still £1.2billion over the last 12 months.’ – Daily Mail

Broken courts 1) Do more pro bono work, Gove tells lawyers

‘Successful lawyers could face legislation compelling them to do more free work to help to tackle the “indefensible inequalities in the justice system”. Michael Gove, the justice secretary, warned that “justice is not just a marketplace — it is a community” as he laid out plans to end the “grotesque inefficiencies” of the courts. He said that wealthy lawyers should “look into their consciences” to do more to help to protect access for all.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Vladimir Ilyich Gove, the Conservative revolutionary, rides on 

Broken courts 2) Activist judges and EU law are undermining parliament, Lord Neuberger warns

Supreme Court‘Judges have taken advantage of European and human rights laws to take power over democratically-elected politicians, one of the heads of the judiciary has said. A rebellious generation of lawyers who grew up in the ‘disrespectful’ 1960s and 70s has exploited the weakness of politicians to build up its own influence, Lord Neuberger argued. In a speech made public yesterday, Lord Neuberger, president of the Supreme Court, highlighted the role of unelected judges in taking political decisions when elected politicians are too scared to act.’ – Daily Mail

  • Gove should restore the supremacy of Westminster – Daily Mail Leader
  • The EU parliament seeks to restrict people’s freedom to take photographs – Daily Mail
  • The Pirate Party is right on this one – The Times Leader (£)

EU woes 1) Cameron goes to Berlin in pursuit of Merkel

‘David Cameron arrives in Berlin on Wednesday in the slipstream of Elizabeth II, as he uses a state visit by the monarch to engage in some last- minute EU diplomacy with Angela Merkel, German chancellor. British officials hope the emollient presence of the Queen in Berlin on the eve of a European summit will reinforce Ms Merkel’s willingness to help Mr Cameron keep the UK inside the EU.’ – FT

>Yesterday: Andrew Lilico on Comment: The Prime Minister could end up leading the ‘Out’ campaign – not the ‘In’ campaign

EU woes 2) Eurostar under siege from French strikers and would-be migrants

Border‘Eurostar and ferry services between the UK and France have resumed this morning, following chaotic scenes on both sides of the Channel Tunnel as French ferry staff blocked access in a wildcat strike action. Hundreds of passengers were left stranded at St Pancras International yesterday when services were cancelled and the Channel Tunnel had to be completely shut after migrants attempted to climb aboard UK-bound lorries in Calais. Eric Vercoutre, head of the Maritime Nord union, led to up to 600 French ferry workers onto the tracks to block trains between England and France as part of an increasingly bitter industrial relations dispute.’ – Daily Mail

  • The sheer cheek of trying to blame Britain – The Sun Says (£)

EU woes 3) Yet more Eurozone talks with Athens

‘The Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, is to hold fresh talks with his country’s creditors as he tries to secure an urgent deal on Athens’ debt. Greece must repay €1.6bn (£1.1bn) to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by the end of the month, or face default and possible exit from the EU.’ – BBC News

Goldsmith gets his constituents’ approval for a Mayoral run

Zac Goldsmith‘Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith has officially announced that he will run to become his party’s candidate for Mayor of London. Mr Goldsmith, the MP for Richmond Park, held a consultation with his constituents on whether he should enter the race. Around 20,000 voters in his constituency responded to a local ballot organised by the MP, with around 79 per cent saying he should stand for the position and 3,569 saying he should not.’ – The Independent


Spend more on defence or abandon ambitious programmes, Civitas warns

‘Britain must either put more money into defence or stop funding large-scale, expensive programmes such as new aircraft carriers, a new book says. Politicians behave as though Britain is as powerful as it was a decade ago, a delusion that is “positively dangerous”, according to the authors of the book, published today by Civitas, the cross-party think tank.’ – The Times (£)

  • The Armed Forces practice defending the Falklands – Daily Mail
  • NATO is right to focus on deterring Russia – FT Leader

Finkelstein: We’ll never know why the polls were wrong

Opinion Poll graphic‘A couple of weeks ago I chaired a meeting organised by the Royal Statistical Society with the title: “Pollgate: where did the opinion polls go wrong?” On the panel and in the audience were many of the leading authorities in polling and statistics and we had an excellent discussion. And at the end of it? I realised that we didn’t know why the polls were wrong. And worse than that, we will never know. However painful this is, given our great desire to find out what others think, in future we are going to have to live with not being sure.’ – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

>Today: ToryDiary: The untold story behind Cameron’s general election victory

Crabb: The original devolution settlement created ‘corrosive’ ill-feeling

‘Britain’s original devolution settlement has had a “long term corrosive effect” on the whole country by creating a culture of blame and grievance directed at the UK government, a cabinet minister has said. The failure to ensure that the devolved bodies took some responsibility for raising taxes created a “long running perpetual complaint” that Westminster was to blame for difficult spending decisions, Wales secretary Stephen Crabb warned.’ – The Guardian

The NAO raises doubts over housebuilding on public land

HOMES Manifesto‘The Government’s boast to have sold enough public land for 100,000 homes over the past five years was wrong, the public spending watchdog has said. The National Audit Office raised doubts about the claims because while civil servants had no idea if any of the homes were built nor how much money was raised from land sales. The report will raise serious questions over whether the Government can deliver on its pledge to sell enough land for 150,000 homes.’ – Daily Telegraph

The saltire strikes back: Holyrood pulls out of funding deal on the monarchy

‘Scotland is to snub the Queen by pulling out of a deal to fund the monarchy, Buckingham Palace believes. The move by Nicola Sturgeon’s Nationalist government comes despite an agreement by Alex Salmond when he was first minister, royal sources have claimed.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: Henry Hill’s Red, White and Blue column: Sinn Fein backs fantasy budget to ease Ulster crisis

Farewell, Sir Chris Woodhead

School‘During his six-year stint as head of Ofsted, Woodhead became the champion of the silent majority, speaking out against the culture of low expectations, falling standards and persistent underachievement that had become endemic in too many British schools during the Seventies and Eighties. Later, Michael Gove and his aides coined the term ‘the Blob’ to describe the Left-wing educational elite, dominated by the teaching unions, who loathed Woodhead’s belief in high educational standards and old-fashioned academic excellence. Yet not even Mr Gove, whose tenure as a radically reforming Education Secretary built on Woodhead’s foundations, was so hated by the unions.’ – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail

>Today: John Bald: Sir Chris Woodhead RIP

Janner abused children in the Palace of Westminster, Danczuk alleges

‘A Labour MP has accused the peer Lord Janner of being a serial child abuser who attacked boys inside the Palace of Westminster. Simon Danczuk said police had told him they wanted to bring 22 historical charges against the former MP dating back to the period between 1969 and 1988. He said officers were furious after being blocked from prosecuting the 86-year-old peer by a controversial ruling that he was too ill to stand trial.’ – Daily Mail

News in Brief