Campaigners’ fury as Osborne prepares to relax rules on rural building

HOMES Manifesto“Campaigners have reacted with fury after George Osborne pledged to relax laws about building on green belt land. The Chancellor yesterday claimed the lack of housing in the countryside was a ‘scandal’, and that more development was needed to help first-time buyers hoping to make the ‘flight from city to country’. But last night critics rounded on the ‘gimmick’, attacking the Conservatives’ ‘dire’ record on protecting the countryside and warning the plans would give the green light to luxury developments for ‘urban migrants’ – pricing out local workers.” – Daily Mail

Ross Clark: The Chancellor’s new housing policy is discriminatory

“Why should we have a housing policy that discriminates in favour of bumpkins wanting to stay in their native villages yet does nothing for urban people similarly priced out of their neighbourhoods? There has never been a hint of sympathy from the chancellor for people priced out of London’s gentrified districts. On the contrary, his housing benefit reforms shamelessly promote socio-economic cleansing… Osborne has come up with a policy that treats town and country differently because the Conservatives are a schizoid party. In urban areas they preach meritocracy and red-blooded capitalism, yet get out into the country and it is all about preserving the social fabric, with subsidies heaped on farms and family estates.” – The Times (£)

>Today: ToryDiary: Rural homes – can Osborne really succeed where others have failed?


May admits Calais crackdown could shift trouble to nearby ports

Theresa May 14-04-15“A security clampdown at Calais could just move the migrant threat to ports across northern Europe, Theresa May admitted today as she visited a new ring of steel at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel. The Home Secretary went to France to look at a‎ fence that has been built as part of a £7million effort to stop illegal migrants getting to Britain. But she was forced to admit the measures could move the problem to ports in Belgium and Holland.” – Daily Mail

>Today: The Deep End: Heresy of the Week – A richer Africa will mean more immigration not less

Morgan issues warning about complacency in maths

“On the day that pupils across the country are nervously finding out their GCSE results, they have been given a stark warning by the Government. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has decided this is the best time to tell kids that poor maths skills is nothing to “brag about” and said it was unacceptable for children to simply excuse poor performance with “being bad with numbers”… And every pupil will have to achieve a C at maths GCSE or have to continue learning the subject as a “Core Maths” qualification up to the age of 18.” – The Independent

  • What’s happening in our state schools is little short of a miracle – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

>Today: John Bald in Local Government: Farewell to grade inflation


Boles unveils details of new apprenticeship levy

Work & Prosperity (Deep End)“Businesses are doing ‘too little’ to train their staff, ministers will warn today, as they unveil details of a new tax to fund apprenticeships. The ‘apprenticeships levy’, which will be imposed on all large companies from 2017, is designed to encourage them to train up youngsters, rather than relying on skilled migrants from abroad. Firms bidding for Whitehall contracts worth more than £10million will also have to ‘demonstrate a clear commitment to apprenticeships’. In a pointed intervention last night, Nick Boles, the skills minister, criticised firms over the issue, saying their failure to provide training had forced ministers to act.” – Daily Mail

Hammond to become first Foreign Secretary to visit Iran since 2003

“Philip Hammond will become the first Foreign Secretary to visit Iran for more than a decade when he reopens Britain’s embassy in Tehran four years after it was ransacked by a mob. The visit, reflecting the rapidly improving relations between Iran and the West, will take place this weekend. It comes a month after the world’s leading powers struck a deal with Iran under which it agreed to limit its nuclear activity in return for the lifting of international economic sanctions. Mr Hammond, who will visit the country with a delegation of business leaders, will be the first Foreign Secretary to set foot in Iran since 2003.” – The Independent

  • Prime Minister’s former advisor secures top diplomatic post as ambassador in Washington – The Times (£)


  • A reminder of a difficult shared history – Lindsey Hilsum, The Guardian

Corbyn promises to apologise for Iraq…

Labour holes“Jeremy Corbyn last night announced that he would issue a public apology for the Iraq War if victorious in Labour’s leadership election. The surprise frontrunner said if he wins the contest he will apologise on behalf of Labour which led Britain into the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent conflict under Tony Blair. Mr Corbyn, who fiercely opposed the war at the time, also yesterday defended comments comparing Islamic State to the US military.” – Daily Mail

  • Aide called 7/7 ‘revenge’ (and once led Respect Party) – The Sun (£)
  • Labour frontrunner compares US army too ISIS – Daily Mail

…as he warns MPs not to stand in his way…

“Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn has issued a stark warning to MPs against trying to block his hard-left agenda, amid claims he could be toppled ‘within days of being elected leader’. Mr Corbyn cautioned his colleagues against ‘standing in the way’ of the wishes of Labour party members, who look set to hand him a landslide victory in the race to succeed Ed Miliband. The warning comes as it emerged Labour MPs have been in discussions how to overthrow Mr Corbyn within days of him being crowned leader next month.” – Daily Mail

…and his supporters accuse party of ‘purge’

Miliband Labour Left“Labour is facing questions about its vetting procedures after several supporters said they had been unfairly barred from voting in the leadership election while a well-known Liberal Democrat slipped through the net. Several people who say they are Labour supporters complain that they have been rejected by the party, alleging a “purge” by Labour officials determined to prevent Jeremy Corbyn, the leftwing MP, from winning next month. Grace Coles, a supporter of Mr Corbyn, said she had been rejected for a vote despite being a Labour member who had never joined another party. She told the Financial Times: “Labour told me that I had once retweeted something from [the film director] Ken Loach or the party he is affiliated with.”” – Financial Times


  • Labour should have seen this debacle coming – Helen Lewis, The Guardian
  • The Blairites did nothing as Labour listed left – John McTernan, Daily Telegraph

Dan Hodges: The damage Corbyn inflicts could be irreparable

“The Conservatives already have their strategy prepared. And it’s a strategy that will be remain in place regardless of how long Jeremy Corbyn remains Labour leader. The Conservatives will simply say this: “Look at the Labour Party. This is what they are. It’s what they’ve always been, really. Yes, there are some good people in Labour’s ranks. But they are too weak and ineffective and there are too few of them. Now you can see the real Labour Party. And yes, they will probably push Jeremy Corbyn into the background again before the election. But he will still be there, waiting.”” – Daily Telegraph

  • Political class ‘frozen with fear’ is smearing front runner, claims Abbott – The Independent
  • Murdoch predicts Corbyn win – The Guardiian


  • ‘People’s QE’ would turn Britain into Zimbabwe – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph
  • If you want a vision of the future… don’t ask Yvette Cooper – Michael Deacon’s sketch, Daily Telegraph

Bryant accuses Government of publishing anti-BBC propaganda

Biased BBC“Shadow culture secretary Chris Bryant has accused the Department for Culture, Media and Sport of publishing “anti-BBC propaganda” which makes the consultation on the corporation’s future look like a “con”. The Labour MP said that a post on the department’s blog, which was given a £5,500 redesign and IT upgrade last year, was undermining attempts to run a consultation on proposals in the government’s green paper on the BBC. The blog says the consultation will ask “whether the BBC is muscling out commercial competition” and if its role in developing the UK’s technology industry is “an appropriate use for licence payers’ money.”” – The Guardian

Scottish Labour will use new powers to raise taxes

“Labour would use the swathe of new powers coming to Holyrood to increase taxes on the wealthy, the party’s new Scottish leader has said as she challenged Nicola Sturgeon to prove her socialist credentials by following suit. In her first major speech since winning the post, Kezia Dugdale argued that the devolution of income tax and other levies should be used to create a “more equal society” via the “redistribution” of wealth. She argued the rich had to start paying a “fair share” of tax to fund public services and claimed to be challenging the new nationalist-dominated “Scottish establishment” with “radical” policies that it will dislike.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

And finally… more evidence that the young are to the right on the economy

“They have a reputation for being idealistic lefties, but when it comes to the economy students are more right-wing than the rest of us, according to a poll. It found that more students aged 18 to 24 thought the top rate of income tax was too high and that there was too much redistribution of wealth. Fewer students than the rest of the population think the minimum wage is too low and that utilities should be privatised, according to 14,455 students questioned by YouGov.” – The Times (£)