Nick Targets The Blue Rinse Brigade

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph).

It’s the final day of the Lib Dem conference, and after Vince’s leadership pitch and Danny A’s stand-up routine, it is Nick Clegg’s turn to rally the troops.

The message is likely to be a sober one. Although the Independent reports that Mr Clegg will assure the faithful that the Lib Dems are here to stay as a party of government, the Times’ (£) headline sums up the general message – doing their duty in the face of abuse:

“Go back to your constituencies and prepare for vitriol and abuse”

Our splash this morning is Nick’s new big idea – targeting wealthy pensioners. As well as losing benefits such as the winter fuel allowance and free bus pass, and the elderly could face higher taxation rates to pay for care home fees. The feeling in Brighton seems to be that it is time a natural Tory constituency took a hit. Vince Cable’s chum Lord Oakeshott said yesterday:

“I’ve been raising these questions about winter fuel payments going to people who don’t need them, whether they are sipping sangria in the sun in Seville or people like me in their sixties with good jobs: why at least should these not be taxed?

“Nick has bravely taken hits for the Coalition team on tuition fees and the NHS, for example. Why on earth can’t David Cameron at least accept that if we’re all in it together, rich pensioners in good jobs should take the hit too? Why aren’t we fighting for fairness on well-off pensioners’ perks now rather than waiting for 2015?”

As I write in my blog post, Mr Clegg has picked up on an issue which all parties will need to address by 2015, although he has picked the wrong way of presenting it:

“Of course, the way Mr Clegg is putting the argument is wrong. He is wrapping it into his case for raising taxes on the wealthy to compensate for additional cuts that are likely in the next spending review… The point surely is that the very wealthy are taxpayers too, and contribute a vast chunk of the income tax take, and so might argue that they paid – many times over – for the benefits they receive. But if he is serious about finding substantial savings, then restricting a raid on pensioners to those who are fabulously wealthy will bring political pain but very little cash. If he wants to be courageous, he will have to be tougher than that.”


Boris’ knack of saying the least helpful thing at any given time for David Cameron was to the fore again yesterday. This time the Mayor of London said he would have had supported the officer if he had chosen to arrest Thrasher. Today’s Telegraph reports that the Mayor told reporters:

“Under the Public Order Act [the police] have the powers to arrest you if you are using foul language if you are being abusive, quite right too.

“They’ve obviously decided not to go ahead with it but it shows the gravity of this offence.”

As we report , a furious Dave was persuaded to keep Mr Mitchell on as Chief Whip after the latter “looked him in the eye” and promised he never said “pleb”. The corollary of accepting Mr Mitchell’s word is that Mr Cameron must then answer questions on whether he thinks the police are lying. Perhaps that is one for Mr Letterman to ask.

Mr Mitchell’s judgement has been in question throughout this affair, and this morning’s Daily Mail story, that he had a similar disagreement with police only 12 hours later, does not help. According to the paper:

“A Whitehall source said: ‘He had another go the morning after and tried to go through the main gate but was told to use the pedestrian gate to the side.

“This time there was no altercation or unpleasantness. But it’s still unbelievable.”

Given his problems on a bike, it is a good job that Thrasher, or ‘BSD’ as he terms himself (short for Big Swinging Dick, m’lud), took the precaution of ordering a new Jaguar a fortnight ago. The Sun reports that Mr Mitchell will use the car for the 200 yard commute between 9 Downing Street and the Commons. Fortunately, the paper says that a “flunky” will be on hand to wheel his bike around should Mr Mitchell wish to do his bit for the environment by cycling back.


The rhetoric from the Lib Dems has been hostile towards their friends and partners in the Conservative Party all week, so it came as no surprise that yesterday saw three further additions to the list of disagreements.

Yesterday, the conference overwhelmingly endorsed a motion seeking to prevent the party leadership backing legislation which would allow courts to hear evidence relating to national security in secret. As the Mail reports, Conservative ministers are keen to press ahead, worrying that the United States will be less cooperative if it feels its sources are likely to be compromised in open court.

Next up was Nick Clegg’s backing for the BAE/EADS merger, a sore point for Tory backbenchers. The FT (£) reports that he told Bloomberg interviewers:

“The two companies are making a case, a strong case, in favour of this merger… Personally, I have always been in favour, over time, of greater consolidation in the European defence industry. I think that’s the trend and has been for a long period of time.”

The other potential row brewing is over Leveson. Lobbying group Hacked Off told the Independent that Clegg had promised to back any “proportionate” measures suggested by the inquiry, meaning partnering with Labour in the lobby.

All in all, another day in paradise for the Coalition.


The Tory Right and the Lib Dem Left do agree in one area, though. As the Mail reports, Paddy Ashdown surprised a fringe event by announcing that Britain was “irretrievably” on course for a referendum on EU membership as a result of Dave’s veto earlier this year.

Then again, Lord Ashdown also used the event to predict that Britain would join the euro, one day. Perhaps his skills as a clairvoyant ought not to be taken as read.


The same might be said of the many on the Right who hailed shale gas as the saviour of the nation, if the report quoted by the FT (£) is accurate. Although reserves are plentiful, they will not be cheap, and even at peak production in 2029-30, it will only provide one quarter of the UK’s gas requirement last year.

The news is a blow for Owen Paterson, who is rumoured to favour the rapid expansion of the shale industry in the UK, hoping for a similar boom to that seen in the United States. Time to dust down those North Sea oil tax breaks…


Stand-up comedy and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury don’t mix. That is the unanimous view of the sketch writers this morning. In the Times (£), Ann Treneman welcomed “the speech that launched Danny A as a comedy politician”. Not without reason, either:

“He told us that Julia, his special adviser, got married just after the Budget. “In Cornwall!” he said, waiting for the laugh that did not come. I tried to remember what was funny about Cornwall. But Danny A was there before me: “I checked to make sure that her future husband was not a caravan-dwelling, church-going, charity worker with a taste for pasties… But I will still always think of that period as four U-turns and a wedding,” Danny chortled. The audience groaned, a few clapped. “Thank you!” he cried.

“Harriet Harman has called me a ginger rodent!” he noted, adding: “But, strangest of all, some people think it is impossible to be Chief Secretary to the Treasury and a Liberal Democrat at the same time!” He glared at the autocues. Some Lib Dems, confused perhaps, began to clap. There were a few barks of laughter. Please God, I thought, make this end.”


The Lib Dem conference is clearly getting to the gentlemen of the press. As the Times ’ (£) diary reports:

“A conference steward came into the press room to deliver the text of an address by the Secretary of State for Scotland. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we have a copy of Michael Moore’s speech,’ he declared at great volume. The room broke into whoops. No one collected a copy.”


David Cameron is in New York preparing for his late night television debut. The Prime Minister reaffirmed his commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on aid when he spoke to the press yesterday, as we report . With the Conservative conference coming up, Dave will hope that he has put the issue to bed. However, with all the talk elsewhere being of cuts and austerity at home, expect spending abroad to come up repeatedly by Tory malcontents.


Nick Clegg may feel like his is a tough lot. Still, as the Mail reports, Jo Swinson helpfully pointed out yesterday:

“It could be worse. We used to have a leader charged with conspiracy to murder.”


And finally… Michael Gove has made an exciting addition to his team, according to today’s Independent . Dr Tim Leunig has previously suggested abandoning Liverpool, Bradford, Sunderland and Hull to permanent decline, remarks which enraged many in the North.

They also enraged the Leader of the Opposition at the time, who fumed: “I gather he’s off to Australia. The sooner he gets on the ship, the better.” It can only be assumed that Dr Leunig’s bosses boss, David Cameron, has now changed his mind.


Julian Huppert feels a little let down after broadcasting’s finest refuse to join in with the Lib Dems’ glee club rendition of Nick Clegg’s #143 smash hit “Sorry”:

@julianhuppert: “Nick Robinson and Michael Crick just refused to perform at #glee club. Despite being here … #ldconf


In The Telegraph

Mary Riddell – Nick Clegg must make a Left turn to save the Lib Dems from disaster

Bernard Jenkin – Let’s break up BAE – or sell it to the US

Hugo Vickers – The Queen’s wisdom is best kept private

Clive Anderson – Will David Cameron or David Letterman have the last word?

Best of the rest

Daniel Finkelstein in The Times (£) – Let’s stop this annual patter of tiny cliques

Seumas Milne in The Guardian – The coalition’s phoney war is an exercise in political fraud

Mary Ann Sieghart in The Independent – What Britain’s cyclists could teach Nick Clegg

Phillip Blond in the FT (£) – Modern conservatives will make plebs of us all


Today: Lib Dem conference continues. David Cameron continues visit to U.N. General Assembly in New York.

12:20 pm: Paul Burstow speech.

2:45 pm: Nick Clegg speech.

If the Liberal Democrats sit up in their coffin, Ed Miliband is in serious trouble

In the heady days following Labour’s 1997 landslide, Tony Blair had a favourite phrase that he used to trot out whenever he wanted to warn his party against complacency. “Remember”, he used to say, pausing for melodramatic effect, “the Tories aren’t dead. They’re only sleeping.”

Witnessing the current cascade of obituaries for the Lib Dems and Nick Clegg, I was again reminded of that expression. Are they dead, or merely slumbering?

The current consensus is that they are as lifeless as John Cleese’s parrot. Scrapping with UKIP for fourth place, they have a leader who has managed the unique feat of becoming the least respected since Michael Foot, whilst simultaneously becoming a comic You Tube sensation. The Lib Dems are seen as the political equivalent of an undertaker’s Christmas bonus.


Nick Clegg: public spending is out of control

Britain must accept “further belt-tightening” beyond the next election as public spending is out of control, Nick Clegg said today.

The Lib Dem leader told party members that the country must deal with its debts or potentially face an economic crisis like Greece.

Throwing his weight behind austerity, Mr Clegg warned voters to confront the “inconvenient truth” that high welfare spending and borrowing is unsustainable.

He said the Government is facing a fundamental challenge to “regain control of public spending, but also to completely redirect it so that it promotes, rather than undermines, prosperity”.

If Britain fails to rescue its economy, it will lose power in the world and risk a falling standard of living, he said.


Deviant Feather

Per Popular Science, University of Technology Sydney has come up with a new material: graphene paper. Thin and flexible (like paper), it’s lighter and stronger than steel. And the cherry on top—it doesn’t break the bank.

Not only are they looking into how this paper can be used in planes and cars for fuel savings, but imagine how many other industries might want to take a look. Prophylactics, protective gear/clothing, space travel…

On the downside, your dog can’t eat your homework anymore.

View original post

The Daily Cheese.

As we see the continual protest over images and video which have been recently published of the prophet Mohammed we see people falling into the two camps. We have those that follow Islam obviously falling into the camp of disgust and anger but we see non-Muslims trying to justify the images and video and making comparisons to their own religions.

This is the wrong action and we cannot reach an understanding with this viewpoint. Religion and culture are one in the same and just as we enjoy a tasty hamburger in the West to a Hindu this would be unimaginable.

The question we should be asking. Why are these images and video so offensive?

The Koran contains a general reference to the worshipping of idols being a “manifest error”, without referring to pictures of Mohammed, but ancient oral traditions, called Hadith, quote Allah as saying it is “unjust” to “try…

View original post 350 more words

Lucas 2012 Infos

Trade unions in Greece have called the first general strike since the conservative-led coalition government came to power in June.

Wednesday’s 24-hour walkout is to protest at new planned spending cuts of more than 11.5bn euros ($15bn; £9bn).

The savings are a pre-condition to Greece receiving its next tranche of bailout funds, without which the country could face bankruptcy in weeks.

Large anti-austerity demonstrations are also planned.

Read the whole story at : link to original article

View original post

Humorous Dispassionate

A real gorgeous young redhead goes into the doctor’s office
and says that her body hurts wherever she touches it.

Impossible! says the doctor; Show me.

The redhead takes her finger, pushes on her left breast and screams.
Then she pushes on her elbow and screams in even more agony.

She then pushes on her knee and screams again; likewise she pushes
on her ankle and screams.

Everywhere she touches makes her scream in agony.

The doctor says; You’re not really a redhead, are you?

Well, no she says; I’m actually  . . . . . ?!?!

I thought so, the doctor says; Your finger is broken.


View original post

China News

Reuters’ Benjamin Kang Lim reports from Beijing: “North Korea plans to allow farmers to keep more of their produce in an attempt to boost agricultural output, a source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing said, in a move that could boost supplies, help cap rising food prices and ease malnutrition.

“The move to liberalise agriculture under new leader Kim Jong-un, who took office in December 2011 after the death of his father, would reverse a crackdown on private production that started in 2005. It comes amid talk that the youngest Kim to rule the impoverished North Korea is considering reforms to boost the economy.

“‘Peasants will have incentive to grow more food. They can keep and sell in the market about 30-50 percent of their harvest depending on the region,’ said the source.

“At present, most farm output is sold to the government at a state auction price…

View original post 410 more words

China News

China sent its first aircraft carrier into formal service on Tuesday amid a tense maritime dispute with Japan in a show of force that could worry its neighbours.

China’s Ministry of Defence said the newly named Liaoning aircraft carrier would “raise the overall operational strength of the Chinese navy” and help Beijing to “effectively protect national sovereignty, security and development interests”.

In fact, the aircraft carrier, refitted from a ship bought from Ukraine, will have a limited role, mostly for training and testing ahead of the possible launch of China’s first domestically built carriers after 2015, analysts say.

China cast the formal handing over of the carrier to its navy — a ttended by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao — as a triumphant show of national strength at a time of tensions with Japan over islands claimed by both sides.

“The smooth commissioning of the first aircraft carrier…

View original post 253 more words