Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Today's ConservativeHome newslinks
Tory membership 1): ConHome research shows that it's likely to have fallen below 100,000
Screen shot 2013-08-14 at 08.14.46“The Conservative membership is now likely to have dropped below 100,000, according to research from the ConservativeHome website which reveals that 139 local parties have recorded with the Electoral Commission a total of only 58,884 members. A further 535 local parties have not submitted accounts or disclosed a number, but ConservativeHome says that the total is unlikely to reach six figures” – The Times (£)
Tory membership 2) Paul Goodman: It's unsustainable for CCHQ not to give a figure
“Imagine the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England refusing to disclose the number of people who have signed up as supporters, claiming that because it has local branches, it can’t possibly know the figure. Or Tesco saying it has no idea how many shoppers hold its clubcards. Or Manchester United declaring that it hasn’t a clue how many fans have priority home match tickets. All would look ridiculous and their positions would be unsustainable — which is exactly where the Conservative Party now stands over its refusal to answer a similar question: how many members do you have?” – The Times (£)
  • Shortage of activists “threatens Tory election chances” – Daily Telegraph
Alan Duncan warns David Cameron against promoting “token” women
DUNCAN ALAN“David Cameron should avoid promoting women in the forthcoming reshuffle at the expense of more talented or experienced men, one of his senior ministers has warned. Alan Duncan said the prime minister should avoid ‘tokenistic’ gestures in an effort to boost the number of women in his top team” – Financial Times
  • Puppy love for Cameron as he visits Battersea Dogs and Cats home - Daily Express
Labour funding: Three-quarters of it now comes from the unions
"More than £2.4million of the £3.1million that flowed into the party's coffers in the three months to the end of June came from the unions. A total £772,195 came from the public-sector union Unite while the GMB gave £485,830 and Unison gave £458,080. The figures for donations over £7,500 from the Electoral Commission sparked fresh concern that the unions have increased their grip on Labour under Ed Miliband.” - Daily Express
Miliband urged to bring back Alistair Darling and Alan Johnson…
Miliband Red Ed“Ed Miliband needs to bring back ‘grown-ups’ such as Alistair Darling and Alan Johnson to improve his party’s performance, a former Labour minister has said. Chris Mullin, a former Foreign Office minister, said it was without doubt that members of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet were not making their voices heard and did not yet have a ‘coherent line’ on Britain’s economy” – The Times (£)
Mary Riddell: Friends and foes are wonder if the Labour leader has lost the plot
“'Our messaging strategy is useless,' says one such henchman. “The danger is that the whole thing could rupture.” On the leader’s first day back, a fortnight of silence and drift culminated in an immigration speech that exemplified the party’s shortcomings. The most worrying aspect of Chris Bryant’s intervention was not the amateurish errors, but the convoluted message." - Daily Telegraph
– Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph
  • Labour should say the pain of recession has not been worth it – Robert Skidelsky, Guardian
  • Miliband to attack coalition on cost of living – Guardian
  • George Galloway urged to resign as MP if he wants to be London Mayor - Guardian
  • Hollande blames island for decline in his popularity ratings - Daily Express
Politicians "pocket spinster’s legacy"
Screen shot 2013-08-14 at 08.22.49“The Tories and Lib Dems stood accused of ‘robbery’ yesterday after pocketing a £520,000 bequest to the nation left in an elderly spinster’s will. When she died aged 90, former nurse Joan Edwards left her fortune to the Government to spend ‘as they may think fit’. But instead of using the money on the Health Service, schools or to ease the national debt, the Coalition shared it between them as a party donation” – Daily Mail
Commuters in the South “cheated” by fares increase
“Ministers are facing a battle with Tory MPs over ‘warped’ rail franchises that mean commuters in the South subsidise passengers in the North. Rail users were hit again yesterday when they learnt that fares are to increase by an average of 4.1 per cent next year…Travellers on South West Trains, which takes commuters from Hampshire and Surrey into London Waterloo, paid an extra £228 million last year to subsidise six other rail companies” – The Times (£)
  • Rail fare rises must be worth the pain – Daily Telegraph Editorial
  • "Rail passengers face more above-inflation fare increases but it would be unfair for taxpayers to pay even more money for essential investment" - Times Editorial (£)
  • These fare rises are outrageous and damaging – The Sun Says
  • Hike in rail fares is a kick in the teeth for workers – Daily Express
Ministers deny loan guarantee schemes will cause housing bubble
Pickles Eric Close Up“Developers and politicians have hit back at claims that the government’s housing stimulus measures are promoting a wave of speculative buying that risks inflating another housing bubble. Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, moved to quash the concern, arguing the coalition’s package of measures to boost housing was working, with ‘house building and housing supply on the up’” –Financial Times
Victims of crime to get right to challenge police cautions
“Ministers want to give magistrates a range of new powers to oversee how police cautions are used amid widespread concern that too many criminals - including violent offenders - are being spared serious punishment. If the plan goes ahead it would see the police come under unprecedented scrutiny over their decisions to use cautions, which were handed to more than 200,000 criminals in England and Wales last year including violent offenders and sex attackers” – Daily Telegraph
Gibraltar: Foreign Office protests to Spain, Government to mount legal challenge
Screen shot 2013-08-14 at 08.24.51"Officials are still considering whether to mount a legal challenge to Spain over its imposition of additional border controls in the latest diplomatic spat between the two countries over the Rock. Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, on Friday defended the border controls. "The government of Spain has not taken any illegal steps," he said." - Daily T elegraph
  • Gibraltar Chief Minister compares Spain's Prime Minister to Argentinian dictator - The Sun
Mark Carney has not yet bent the markets to his will
“It was not quite the debut that Mark Carney must have hoped for when, last Wednesday, the Bank of England’s new governor presented his policy of forward guidance to the markets. His aim was to shift investor expectations of how soon the central bank is going to tighten the monetary purse strings – but he failed, which speaks volumes about the constraints on the governor” – Martin Sandbu,Financial Times
  • Eurozone set to exit 18-month double-dip recession - Guardian
Peter Hoskin: How Texan Republicans turn their back on locking up criminals
"Money was funnelled into treatment programmes for those convicted of non-violent crimes. More people were employed to help inmates once they left prison, so that they left it for good. And it worked. By most measures, including falling crime rates, the Lone Star State is becoming a lodestar state. The funny thing is, this policy wasn’t introduced by soppy hippies but by the sorts of conservatives who starch their cowboy hats. Jeb Bush, brother of George W, has signed up to the “Right on Crime” campaign for criminal justice reform, as has Newt Gingrich." - The Times (£)
Neil Clark: Expect a deluge of rising bills from water companies
Screen shot 2013-08-14 at 08.27.29"The idea that Thames Water needs to raise bills by as much as 12 per cent to stay afloat is absurd: this is a company that earned profits of £549million last year on sales of £1.8billion, and which awarded chief executive Martin Baggs a 5.9 per cent pay rise bringing his salary up to £450,000, plus a £274,000 bonus." - Daily Express
Alexander Perkins: Churchill would have stood by our Afghan interpreters
“When he was 27, my great-grandfather, Winston Churchill, made his maiden speech in the House of Commons. Unlike him, I am not a parliamentarian, still less a public figure. But today, on my 27th birthday, I will be among a group of former soldiers petitioning Downing Street for a cause to which I am convinced my great-grandpapa would have lent his most eloquent support. We are asking the Government to offer all Afghan interpreters who have served alongside British troops right of entry to this country” – Alexander Perkins, Daily Telegraph
News in brief
  • British teenagers seen laughing and eating cake in Peruvian jail after drug arrests – Daily Mail
  • Church of England's Blackburn diocese says fracking “threatens God’s glorious creation” – Daily Telegraph
  • Star pupil stabbed to death in east London -Guardian
  • Deporting Thai killer from Britain would be too “stressful” – Sun
  • Average house to cost 266,000 by the end of 2014 - Daily Express
  • Hemel Hempstead named as Britain’s ugliest town - Independent
  • Families thrown out of Legoland after brawling while waiting for pirate ship ride – Daily Mail
And finally, Sarah Vine, aka Mrs Michael Gove, writes her last column for the Times, on Jeremy Paxman’s beard
“Prince Michael, Evgeny Lebedev and Tom Ford, the owners of successful beards, have much to teach the Newsnight presenter. The camera panned in very, very slowly, perhaps out of deference for those of us holding hot drinks. The lips were moving, the man behind the desk was saying something serious about something or other of vital national importance, but no one was listening. A nation was slack-jawed in wonder: Jeremy Paxman with a beard” – The Times (£)
Yesterday on ConservativeHome
Screen shot 2013-08-13 at 22.31.37
LeftWatch: "An arrow hits me in the eye - I deal with it professionally and with panache, as usual." - The Battle of Hastings, as told by Chris Bryant
Alan Overton on Comment: Planning Appeals - small site developments and the case for change