Good morning. On Friday, Nigel Farage put his tanks on Ed Miliband’s lawn. On Saturday, the defection of Mark Reckless set off a thermonuclear device over David Cameron’s porch.
“Tory Crisis” is our splash. The question being asked in Westminster – and here in Birmingham, where the Conservatives are gathering for their annual conference – is this: are there more on the way? That it was Mark Reckless who was the subject of a well-publicised lunch with Michael Gove has highlighted the powerlessness of the Conservative leadership to stop the bleeding.
Meanwhile, to make matters worse for the PM, Brooks Newmark, the minister for civil society, has resigned following a sting by the Sunday Mirror. “Sex scandal and defector stun Tories” is the Sunday Times’ headline. “Ukip defection and ‘sexting’ scandal cause Tory chaos” is the Observer’s take. “Minister forced To Quit Over Internet Sex Shame” is the Mail’s line.
What does it mean? Among other things, it means the party that William Hague in an interview with Tim Ross calls “the weakest opposition front bench in my 26 years in Parliament” is on course to form the next government. The PM’s task this week was to find a way to broaden his appeal to secure a majority without losing more votes to Ukip. But it looks a far trickier assignment this morning than it did when Ed Miliband finished speaking on Tuesday.
BOOTS ON THE GROUND?
“We’re in. How do we get out?” is the Sindy’s splash this morning. British participation in the US-led coalition against Isil has barely begun and already minds are turning to a second vote in Westminster. Few expect that operations within Iraq alone will be sufficient to destroy or even significantly cripple Isil, as Lord Dannatt, former Chief of the General Staff, outlines in today’s Sunday Telegraph. Westminster’s doves are determined not to be outnumbered next time, and they’re already on the march. Lord Prescott uses his column in the Sunday Mirror to warn against repeating the mistakes of history.
LET SUNSHINE WIN THE DAY?
The benefits cap will be slashed by £3,000 to £23,000 if the Conservatives win the next election, David Cameron says in an interview with Tim Shipman in the Times. 16-21 year olds will be forced to do community work after six months of work. “Our ambition is to abolish youth employment and make it the case that it’s simply not possibly any-more to finish school, leave home, sign on and get a flat through housing benefit,” the PM says.
TROJAN HORSE 2: TOWER HAMLETS DRIFT
Up to 12 schools in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets face investigation after claims they have fallen under the influence of Islamic fundamentalists, Sian Griffiths and Richard Kerbaj report in the Sunday Times. Whitehall is even more concerned about that London borough than matters in Birmingham, as they fear that Muslim extremists are more deeply embedded within local institutions than they are in Birmingham. Ofsted’s reports from the lightning inspections that followed the Trojan Horse are expected to be published shortly. Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, warns in an interview with the Times that problems in Birmingham are “far from resolved”.
FOSTER CARERS KEPT IN THE DARK
Local authorities are withholding information about foster children in order to make them easier to place, Jonathan Owen reveals in the Sindy. In one instance, a family with six cats were not informed that a child who was placed with them had killed cats previously, while a household with a railway at the back of the garden were not informed that a child had talked of committing suicide by jumping in front of a train. The Fostering Network, a charity, wants a greater commitment to transparency from local government.
A MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSORS
Gatwick’s vision is of two world-class airports in London helping to connect the country to the rest of the world. We want to see Gatwick grow, and Heathrow improve. As connections to emerging markets become more important, and the UK’s core European markets continue to grow, we need a network of airports, enabling London to function as a true global city and our economy and tourism to thrive as a result.
“YOU DON’T TACKLE INEQUALITY UNLESS YOU TACKLE EDUCATION”
Nadhim Zahawi talks with Jane Merrick in the Sindy about how his father’s bankruptcy, which forced the family into penury and forced Mr Zahawi to work as a cab driver instead of going to university has fired his support for the education reforms of Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan. Mr Zahawi, who eventually went to University College London to study electrical engineering, says that it was only his mother’s education that brought them back for the brink: “My mother was a dentist. We had a half-decent education. We are able to sit down and work our way through this disaster…many of my left-leaning friends will say you can’t tackle education until you tackle the challenge of poverty.”
“WE USED TO RUN ALL THESE CITIES”
Lord Heseltine is interviewed by Andrew Rawnsley and Toby Helm for the Observer. He warns the Conservative Party that, far from reversing the modernisation project, they must go further if they are to recover their fortunes in Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool and Sheffield, cities that were once Tory-run and have now been “rinsed of blues”. And he strikes a note of qualified praise for Boris Johnson, say he has “charisma” and an “ability to communicate”, but: “he has the luxury of not being in power in the sense that there’s a national government to carry the flag. That’s quite an advantage.” Could the Mayor of London step up to being PM? “He’s going to have to go through the return to parliament, the possible immersion in a Conservative government, so there’s an unwritten couple of chapters before one answers that question.”
GEORGE OSBORNE, SOUS-CHEF
George Osborne talks life in Number 11 Downing Street with Geordie Greig and Simon Walters in the Mail on Sunday. The Chancellor reveals his fondness for Leon cookery books, as well as the work of Jamie Oliver, particularly the “beer-butt chicken”. It’s “a bit rude when you see the picture of it, but it’s delicious,” he says, “You roast – and put a can of beer up the backside of – the chicken.” Mr Osborne also watches the Great British Bake-Off with his 11-year-old daughter Liberty and helps her out as she bakes in the kitchen.