Thursday, 22 August 2013

Today's ConservativeHome top features
Two posts on the Middle East lead ConservativeHome:
Today's ConservativeHome newslinks
Terror 1) Hague condemns chemical weapons attack in Syria
“Hundreds of Syrians have been killed or injured in what appears to be the worst chemical weapons attack on civilians since Saddam Hussein gassed Kurds in Iraq 25 years ago...William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said that if confirmed, the attacks would prove to be a ‘shocking escalation in the use of chemical weapons in Syria’. He added: ‘I hope this will wake up some who have supported the Assad regime to realise its murderous and barbaric nature’” – The Times (£)
  • The evidence seems compelling, but remember there’s a propaganda war on – Patrick Cockburn, Independent
  • The innocents caught in the crossfire of Syria's dirty war - Michael Burleigh, Daily Mail
  • Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to be released from jail -Guardian
  • "Footage shows victims of chemical attacks in Syria. It is plausible that the regime has descended further into barbarity" - The Times (£)
Terror 2) Coalition battle looms over anti-terror laws
Clegg Unhappy“Nick Clegg and Theresa May are heading for a confrontation over the future of Britain's anti-terror laws in the aftermath of the controversy over the detention of the partner of the Guardianjournalist Glenn Greenwald. As Europe's human rights watchdog warned that the treatment of David Miranda could have a ‘chilling effect’ on press freedom, senior Liberal Democrat sources indicated they were prepared to press for major revisions to the Terrorism Act 2000. The Lib Dem move was flatly rejected by the Home Secretary” - Guardian
  • Miranda’s detention was unlawful – Charles Faulkner, Guardian
  • What about some respect for the UK’s security? – Leo McKinstry,Daily Express
  • Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years in jail - Guardian
Matt Ridley: Why I'm torn between liberty and security
"The case of Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda versus the British and US governments has me swinging like a weathervane in a squall between liberty and security. I can persuade myself one minute that a despicable tyranny is being gradually visited upon us by a self-serving nomenclatura and the next that proportionate measures were taken by the authorities to protect British citizens from irresponsible crimes perpetrated by self-appointed publicity seekers." -The Times (£)
A blast of the trumpet from Iain Martin: David Cameron should stop planning for coalition
MARTIN IAIN“Mr Cameron’s team...have already started to plan for a second coalition with the Liberal Democrats after the next election…This plotting by the Tory leadership is a terrible mistake, and another classic example of the worst aspects of Cameroonism, which sometimes involves seeing problems through the wrong end of the telescope. Rather than drawing up plans now for what happens when they fail to win an overall majority, the emphasis should be relentlessly on developing bold policies” – Iain Martin, Daily Telegraph
Amidst rumours of Treasury unhappiness with HS2's costs, the Times is briefed that Osborne is ready to campaign for it
"The Chancellor’s aides insist he is unmoved by internal worries or the increasing number of business and political figures coming out in opposition following an admission that costs had soared to £8 billion. However, they said that a concerted effort to sell the benefits of the project was being planned to coincide with the publication of an updated analysis of its costs and benefits due before the end of the year." - The Times (£)
Ben Wallace MP: Local residents should be better rewarded for fracking
Screen shot 2013-08-22 at 08.34.42“Ben Wallace, the Conservative MP for Lancaster and Wyre, has written to the Prime Minister asking that the Treasury decrease its tax rate on shale income and increase the percentage that is siphoned off for local communities. That way the energy companies would still pay out the same proportion of money, but with a better balance between local communities and the Treasury. Wallace says that ‘if there is to be any hope of persuading my constituents to back shale gas, we in Lancashire need to feel some direct ownership of it. On e per cent is risible’ – Isabel Hardman, Daily Telegraph
  • Anti-fracking protesters give up and leave Balcombe – Daily Mail
Blairite ex-Minister calls on Ed Miliband to quit to save Labour…
“Ed Miliband should consider resigning for the sake of the Labour Party, a senior Blairite warned yesterday. Brian Wilson, who served as energy minister under Tony Blair, said the Labour leader had a duty to 'look in the mirror and honestly answer the question: 'Will the electorate ever assent to me being Prime Minister?' Mr Wilson, who held a number of other senior roles, said opinion poll findings on Mr Miliband's personal popularity were 'somewhere between dire and disappointing'” – Daily Mail
…while Miliband plans to link benefits to good behaviour
Miliband Red“Plans to reward good citizenship with better access to housing, and to tie benefits to prior tax contributions, will form a significant part of Ed Miliband’s autumn campaign. The Labour leader has been widely criticised in recent weeks for failing to spell out his prospectus for government and allowing the Conservatives to shape the political weather. After a series of attacks from Blairite figures, Mr Miliband was attacked from the left yesterday when Diane Abbott accused him of failing to counter what she described as the Government’s anti-immigratio n message” – The Times (£)
Nigel Farage vows to get a grip on UKIP
“Following criticism from Will Gilpin, UKIP’s former chief executive, Mr Farage said that he will now do ‘less politics’ in a bid to ‘professionalise’ the organisation…’I will have to do less politics, fewer interviews, fewer public meetings, fewer appearances and I will have to spend more time directly overseeing the jobs being done, because the problem we have had is one of non-delivery’” – Daily Telegraph
  • Godfrey Bloom, UKIP MEP, says firms should be allowed to sack pregnant women – Daily Mail
  • UKIP official says that Churchill admired Hitler - The Times (£)
GCSE results: top grades expected to fall
Gove Michael June 2011“The number of test papers awarded A* to C grades is expected to drop for the second year in a row following an overhaul of exams for 16-year-olds. As around 600,000 children prepare to receive their results, it was anticipated that around 22 per cent of test papers will be marked A*/A and just over two-thirds will be awarded at least a C grade. The fall comes despite more than two decades of rising grades in the run up to 2012” – Daily Telegraph
TV licence offences account for over one in ten court cases
“More than 180,000 people – almost 3,500 a week – appeared before the Magistrates Courts, accused of watching television without a valid £145.50 licence. The figure has been steadily rising as TV Licensing, which is responsible for catching and prosecuting non payers, improves its ability to identify those responsible and becomes more determined in its approach. But with Magistrates handling a total of 1.48 million cases last year, it means that around 12 per cent of their workload is now being made up of TV licensing offences” – Daily Telegraph
Treasury suffers its first July deficit since 2010
Osborne Penknife“The recent run of good news on the UK economy came to an unexpected end on Wednesday after data on the public finances showed Treasury coffers were drained last month for the first July in three years. July is usually the month when the government collects the second-highest tax receipts, owing to the timing of corporation tax and self-assessment payments. However, despite the early signs of economic recovery seen since the spring, official data showed the government had to borrow for the first July since 2010” –Financial Times
Hedge fund manager told to dig deep for luxury basement
“Kensington council has demanded a fee of more than £800,000 from a hedge fund manager seeking to build a vast subterranean extension underneath two adjacent west London properties…The new basement, at about 900 square metres, is equivalent to eight average-sized new-build family houses, and is a symbol of the trend for London’s most wealthy homeowners to extend downwards” – Financial Times
News in brief
  • Grayling defends prisoner sales scheme - Daily Mail
  • Race bias of stop and search charges - The Guardian
  • Trial of Bo Xilai opens in China – Daily Telegraph
  • Soldiers who join up aged 16 'twice as likely to die in Afghanistan' -Daily Express
  • British “drug mules” refused bail in Peru – Daily Mail
  • Boris Johnson’s transport chief paid me for sex - Sun
  • Comedian Jim Davidson will not face sex assault charges – Daily Mail
  • Skegness named most deprived seaside town - The Independent
  • Australians have a good day at the Oval – Daily Telegraph
And finally...Churchill failed to inspire Britain? Never, never, never
Screen shot 2013-08-22 at 08.38.23
“In The Roar of the Lion, Richard Toye claims that Winston Churchill’s famous wartime speeches did little to inspire the British people. His source is Mass Observation…Throughout the war, Gallup’s polls supplied the reliable numbers that Mass Observation couldn’t…His figures remained stratospheric throughout the war, despite the devastation of the Blitz, the loss of Greece and Crete, Japan’s capture of Malaya and Singapore, Rommel’s sweep through North Africa. Only once did Churchill’s rating slip below 80 per cent” – Peter Kellner, The Times (£)