Morgan’s plans to speed up the conversion of struggling schools to academies

MORGAN Nicky headshot‘The education secretary, Nicky Morgan, has vowed to “sweep away bureaucratic and legal loopholes” obstructing the takeover of as many as 1,000 struggling local authority schools in England and their rapid conversion into academies. The education bill published on Wednesday details how council-maintained schools rated as inadequate by Ofsted will have their legal options curtailed or removed, enabling the Department for Education (DfE) to more quickly replace their management and impose sponsors.’ – The Guardian

  • The decidedly mixed performance of those overseeing Welsh education – WalesOnline
  • Scottish teachers to vote on an exam boycott – The Scotsman

Ministers explore new regulations on relentless charity direct mail

‘Charities Minister Rob Wilson demanded change as he sat down with industry officials over the tragic suicide of 92-year-old Olive Cooke last month. The caring poppy seller’s death was blamed on the constant begging letters she received for cash from charities. The Fundraising Standards Board yesterday agreed to present their plans “over the coming weeks”. The body has already contacted “representatives” of Mrs Cooke’s family to try and clarify details over the direct mail she was receiving. One source told The Sun: “We will be looking closely at the regulator’s proposals.”’ – The Sun (£)

Economy 1) Sentance: The Chancellor must beware myths about productivity

growth flag‘The second myth that the chancellor needs to be wary of is the notion that poor productivity performance is a widespread business problem. It is declining productivity in a small number of UK sectors that has been dragging down our performance in recent years. The guilty parties are the public sector, agriculture, energy and water and financial services, which together account for about a third of UK output and employment…By contrast, the rest of the UK economy has seen quite satisfactory productivity growth.’ – Andrew Sentance, The Times (£)

>Today: The Deep End: At last – some answers to Britain’s productivity puzzle

Economy 2) Consumers remain frugal despite growth

‘The economy may be on the mend but penny-pinching consumers are sticking to the frugal habits they adopted during the downturn and refuse to splash out on luxuries, according to a report. A third of consumers spent less last year eating or drinking out, or going to the cinema, theatre and sporting events, preferring to stay at home.’ – The Times (£)

The reinvention of Andrew Mitchell

MITCHELL Andrew ‘The message he will be hammering home is that getting family planning right for women mired in poverty isn’t just important – it is crucial to the successful implementation of other overseas development goals such as poverty relief and maternal health. “Of course it’s counterintuitive to have a middle aged man talking about access to contraception and how women and girls must be put at the centre of everything you do when it comes to development,” Mitchell tells me. “But sometimes us grey-haired men in our grey suits can make these points with added effectiveness, precisely because it’s counterintuitive for us to be making them in the first place.”’ – Daily Telegraph

Friends and foes alike remember Charles Kennedy

‘It took courage to make the decision not to support the Blair government and courage aplenty was required to sustain that position in the Commons when Kennedy was regularly insulted and accused of being a quisling and appeaser. But he never flinched, despite knowing all the while that all it needed was for a company of American marines to find containers of anthrax in Iraq for the position of the Liberal Democrats to be destroyed. Opposition to the Iraq war illustrated eloquently the nature of Kennedy’s politics. When there was a principle at stake he would brook no backing down.’ – Sir Menzies Campbell, Daily Mail


BBC Head of News: We aren’t left-wing, but we were too obsessed with polls

BBC logo‘The Corporation’s director of news said he was ‘astonished by the ferocity and frequency of complaints’ he received from all parties during the election campaign. And he admitted that like all media organisations the BBC’s coverage became ‘infected’ by opinion polls which suggested the election would result in another coalition. In a speech today, Mr Harding said criticism of the BBC was ‘unfair and unfounded’, including over the ‘fabled left-wing bias’ of the broadcaster.’ – Daily Mail

  • Decriminalising the licence fee will mean shows are scrapped? Ok, here are our suggestions – The Sun (£)

MPs’ pay rise becomes more likely

‘David Cameron has backed down from a confrontation with Westminster’s expenses watchdog over plans to award a 10 per cent pay rise to MPs. Downing Street said that the prime minister “does not agree” with the proposed increase, but refused to repeat previous warnings that he was prepared to overrule the decision. A hike in MPs’ pay from £67,000 to £74,000 now looks increasingly likely in September after a final consultation.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: MPs ETC: If the number of MPs is reduced, the number of Ministers should be, too

Thousands head to A&E when they can’t see the GP the same day

NHS_Logo‘Thousands of people are flooding A&E because they have been refused a same-day appointment with their GP, a report has found. Patients are placing huge pressure on casualty wards as they arrive in ever larger numbers. Many have non-urgent health problems that could easily be dealt with at a local surgery but they are unable to be seen promptly by family doctors.’ – Daily Mail

  • NHS chief executive issues veiled threat to sugary food manufacturers – The Times (£)
  • AstraZeneca warns UK cancer care is falling behind – FT
  • The NHS cannot ignore value for money – FT Leader

Labour MPs want Miliband to ‘disappear’

‘The ex-leader put on a false smile as he sat on the back benches this week. Sources close to Mr Miliband have suggested he could be in the new Shadow Cabinet. One said: “Ed will stick around, he’s looking to have a long-term future.” But senior sources want him to “disappear for a while”.’ – The Sun (£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: We announce Party members’ choice for next leader. It is…Liz Kendall

Lenders to demand drastic reforms in return for Greek bailout

Euro meltdown‘Greece’s bailout lenders have joined forces to push Athens to agree on a rescue plan by the end of this week that will demand difficult economic reforms in return for access to €7.2bn in desperately needed aid. The proposals, hammered out by the country’s three bailout monitors after weeks of internal disputes over how tough to get with Athens, will be presented to Greece on Wednesday.’ – FT

>Yesterday: WATCH: We should be prepared to walk away from the EU, says Boris

Merkel: Give women new opportunities

‘In talking about work, we also need to talk about the possibilities open to women around the world to establish their independence and ensure their advancement through safe and skilled labour. All the statistics show a reduction in poverty and inequality when more women play an active part in economic life. However, only about 50 per cent of all women are currently in gainful employment. Worse still, in many developing countries the vast majority of those women who do work are employed under precarious or informal arrangements.’ – Angela Merkel, The Times (£)

Caffe Nero’s badger cull milk boycott hits farmers

Badger‘Just when a badger cull was showing signs of success in my part of the world — the animal rights activists are back, trying to stop us making a living. How sad it is that the management of Caffe Nero has bowed under pressure from a tiny group of these activists. The High Street coffee chain has decided not to use milk from farms in those cull zones in Somerset and Gloucestershire, after threats to target their premises during ‘anti-austerity’ demonstrations. These activists are just a tiny minority of heavies, using bully-boy tactics.’ – Oliver Edwards, Daily Mail

Blatter resigns, as the FBI announce they are investigating him

‘Sepp Blatter is now at the centre of the FBI’s corruption probe after the FIFA president sensationally announced he will be resigning after 17 years in world football’s top job. Federal agents, who last week charged 14 FIFA officials with corruption, have told the American media that they are hoping those men will help them build a case against their former boss.’ – Daily Mail

News in brief

  • Police searching for missing 13-year-old find a body – Daily Mail
  • Violent crime surges in the US – The Times (£)
  • The man who was kidnapped and exhibited in a New York zoo – The Guardian
  • Four people seriously hurt in Alton Towers rollercoaster crash – Daily Mail
  • Kim Jong-un’s obesity problem – Daily Telegraph
  • Fully clothed preserved 17th century woman excavated in France – The Guardian
  • America over-reacted to 9/11, says Oxford’s new Vice-Chancellor – The Times (£)
  • Poland re-arms – The Independent