Skidmore: Corbyn’s opposition to equal constituencies is gerrymandering

‘It is an affront to democracy that 27 million people are currently under- represented. The reforms to our constituency boundaries will ensure that, for the first time in our democracy, Parliamentary constituencies are of a similar size. It was the Chartists in the 1830s who first proposed that this simple principle…Labour are already attempting to halt the progress of the independent Boundary Commission review, yet history demonstrates that they are simply up to old tricks. It was the Labour Government of 1969 which gerrymandered the 1970 general election by intentionally blocking the Boundary Commission’s changes; this resulted in the election being fought on 1953 boundary data. Jeremy Corbyn’s political opportunism in opposing the most recent Boundary Review is gerrymandering by any other name, and threatens to taint any election result without such democratic reforms.’ – Chris Skidmore, Daily Telegraph

  • If the boundaries had been reformed, the current Conservative majority would be 14 – Daily Telegraph
  • Self-interested Labour simply wants victory, by hook or by crook – Daily Telegraph Leader

Corbyn rules out a second EU referendum

‘The prospect of Labour supporting a second referendum on European Union membership has been categorically dismissed by Jeremy Corbyn. Some of his MPs have backed holding a vote on the eventual Brexit deal, and his deputy, Tom Watson, has said nothing should be ruled out. “He did indeed say that, but our position is that we are not advocating a second referendum,” Mr Corbyn declared…Mr Corbyn told i that the party needed to accept the result of last year’s vote and press for a Brexit deal which prioritised protecting jobs. “We have had a referendum which came to a decision. The negotiations are still ongoing, albeit well behind schedule, and we’ve set out the kind of relationship we want to have with Europe in the future.” The party has been consistently accused of conveying an ambiguous message.’ – The i paper

  • His comments have sparked chaos in his Party – The Sun
  • Britain has been forced to accept 17 new EU laws since the referendum – The Sun
  • France considers trying to charge the UK for customs posts – The Times
  • The sooner we escape this superstate, the better – The Sun Says
  • The SNP invites other opposition parties to anti-Brexit summit – The Guardian
  • Boris stands by Leave donors hit with tax demands – Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit is obscuring the need for social reform – The Guardian Leader

Thatcher warned Major of his ERM mistake 20 months before Black Wednesday

‘The warning from Thatcher came in a private meeting in Major’s room at the House of Commons on 1 January 1990 – just five weeks into his premiership. The meeting was to explain to her why he believed her flagship policy of the poll tax was politically unsustainable. But the confidential note for the record taken by Andrew Turnbull, who served as principal private secretary to both the prime ministers, shows that Thatcher immediately launched into an attack on Major’s handling of the economy. “Mrs Thatcher said conditions in the economy were very tough indeed, and she urged early and large cuts in interest rates. A reduction of one per cent would not be enough. She believed there was a danger of creating a mirror image of ‘Lawson’ inflation – a recession created by excessively high interest rates created by a policy of targeting exchange rates (though in fact she did not mention the ERM explicitly,” recorded Turnbull in reference to the monetary system set up in preparation for the euro. “She believed there was a danger of repeating Winston Churchill’s historic error of fixing the parity for the £ at too high a level.”’ – The Guardian

  • She refused to fly to Washington with a panda – The Times
  • Hundreds of Cabinet documents are restricted – FT

Johnson: Let’s make 2018 the year we crush the ivory trade and save the elephants

‘My aim is to make 2018 the year of British leadership in defeating the ivory trade. Whenever I meet the representatives of a relevant country as foreign secretary, as I did with Taro Kono, the Japanese foreign minister, earlier this month, I will repeat our message. I’ve instructed our diplomats across the world to do the same. Poaching is but one tentacle of the octopus of corruption, trafficking and gun-running that suffocates states across Africa and Asia. If China now deprives the ivory poachers of their biggest global market then the whole edifice of transnational organised crime will be weakened. With determination and goodwill, I have no doubt we can curtail the ivory trade and ensure our great-grandchildren share our planet with elephants.’ – Boris Johnson, The Times

>Today: Luke Springthorpe on Comment: This was not as bad a year for the Conservatives as some claim. But 2018 must be much better.

Boles condemns ‘dangerous nonsense’ of Universal Basic Income and a robot tax

‘“The main objection to the idea of a universal basic income is not practical but moral,” he writes. “Its enthusiasts suggest that when intelligent machines make most of us redundant, we will all dispense with the idea of earning a living and find true fulfilment in writing poetry, playing music and nurturing plants. That is dangerous nonsense. Mankind is hard-wired to work. We gain satisfaction from it. It gives us a sense of identity, purpose and belonging … we should not be trying to create a world in which most people do not feel the need to work”…Boles warned that taxing firms that benefit from automation would simply discourage them from investing. “The only sure result of a robot tax would be lower investment, lower productivity and lower wages.” – The Guardian

  • Ministers publish plan to abolish so-called ‘staircase tax’ – The Sun
  • Global wealth will quintuple in the next century – Tim Harford, FT
  • The main parties are going to be besieged by centrists (or maybe not) – Philip Collins, The Times

>Yesterday: MPsETC: How to train tomorrow’s workers – Chapter Four of Boles’s “Square Deal”

Police review NYE security preparations in London

‘Security for New Year celebrations in London has been reviewed after this year’s terror attacks. Armed police patrols, dog units and vehicle barriers are expected…Police urged revellers to be vigilant and report anything suspicious. Superintendent Nick Aldworth said: “The policing plan has been developed and reviewed following the tragic incidents that have occurred through the year. “We will have the right response of officers at the right locations; this will be a mix of overt and covert officers deployed, as well as dogs, and the use of CCTV and automatic number plate recognition.”‘ – The Sun

  • Two men charged over alleged ‘Christmas bomb plot’ – The Sun
  • We are extending powers to give anyone involved in terrorism a longer sentence – Dominic Raab, Daily Telegraph
  • Delivery drivers reveal the areas of London which are now ‘no-go’ due to acid attacks – The Sun
  • The law for motorists is unclear – because the Government is, at times, an ass – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • Mordaunt pledges support for sniffer dogs to root out landmines – The Sun

Collins threatens social media giants with ‘sanctions’ over fake news probe

‘Damian Collins, chair of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport select committee, which is looking into so-called “fake news”, has given the companies until 18 January to correct their failure to hand over information he requested about Russian misinformation campaigns on their platforms. “There has to be a way of scrutinising the procedures that companies like Facebook put in place to help them identify known sources of disinformation, particularly when it’s politically motivated and coming from another country,” Collins said…Collins would not have direct powers to punish Twitter and Facebook if they fail to cooperate more fully, but could ensure bad publicity.’ – The Guardian

  • Their irresponsible behaviour threatens our democracy – The Sun Says
  • LSE academic says Facebook and Twitter must tackle fake news or break up – The Sun
  • YouTube blocks Russian opposition leader’s video – Daily Telegraph
  • Russian hackers are using Ukraine as a training ground to prepare for cyber-war against the West – Daily Telegraph
  • China is experimenting in its Muslim North West with new forms of technological control – The Guardian
  • Computer security pioneer is hacked – The Times

The NHS considers introducing more ‘drunk tanks’

‘Simon Stevens said the rollout of drunk tanks, sometimes in supervised buses or repurposed cafes, could be scaled up next year depending on their success this New Year’s Eve and the results of a national study on their impact due to be completed in the coming months. Councils, ambulance services and police in Newcastle, Bristol, Manchester and Cardiff already provide areas where drunk people can be checked by health professionals and be supervised as they sleep off alcohol without having to go to hospital. There are believed to be about 16 drunk tanks operating in the UK, including two in Belfast. Some operate by trying to keep drunk people awake, while others let them sleep. The Bristol drunk tank is essentially a converted lorry kitted out with rows of wipe-clean beds staffed by paramedics. “When the health service is pulling out all the stops to care for sick and vulnerable patients who rightly and genuinely need our support, it’s frankly selfish when ambulance paramedics and A&E nurses have to be diverted to looking after revellers who have overindulged and who just need somewhere to safely sleep it off,” said Stevens.’ – The Guardian

  • Policing levy on bars and pubs fails to rake in revenue – The Times
  • Britain’s highest-earning GP brings in £700,000 a year – The Sun
  • Excessive pay is not good for patients – The Times Leader
  • Rates of anti-depressant prescriptions treble in 15 years – Daily Mail
  • Britons are climbing the global pill-popping rankings – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Watch Hunt – now up to second in our final Cabinet League Table of 2017. Gove keeps the top spot.

Labour’s ‘war’ on landlords will involve banning owners from choosing who lives in their properties

‘Jeremy Corbyn has declared war on landlords by vowing to ban homeowners from asking tenants to leave their properties when their leases expire. The leftie Labour boss wants to win the support of young people who can’t afford to buy a house but want to avoid the risk of being kicked out of their rented home. But his plan is likely to enrage landlords because it would mean they had no control over who lives in the properties they own…In the past, much tougher laws allowed tenants to stay in their homes permanently as long as they did not break the terms of their contracts. Experts believe the policy restricted the supply of rental housing, driving up prices and making properties shabbier because landlords had no motive to do them up.’ – The Sun

Trump berates China for selling oil to North Korea

‘Donald Trump has renewed threats of trade action against China, which he rebuked for being “caught red handed” allowing oil supplies to reach North Korea. The US president’s comments followed reports this week of sanctions-busting ship-to-ship transfers of oil products at sea that had been documented by US reconnaissance satellites. “Caught RED HANDED,” he tweeted. “Very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!” Mr Trump later said he had been “soft” on China’s trade practices in return for Beijing’s co-operation in dealing with Pyongyang, but suggested his patience was wearing thin.’ – FT

  • If he succeeds on the economy, the President could yet prove his critics wrong – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph
  • His protectionism is far from certain to prevail – FT Leader
  • The streets of New York are at their safest for 70 years – The Times