Vince makes the front page of the Daily Express, Nick scores two page leads in the Mail, Huhne forces a Tory U-turn, Paddy bazookas a Brigadier, Bob Russell biffs a Bishop and The Telegraph’s Deputy Editor says George Osbourne is a childish prat … A few press clippings you may have missed, in our Newspaper Review of the Week.
“Tories lack clarity” – Simon Heffer, columnist: Daily Telegraph, 16.12.09
“Do the Tories enunciate a clear alternative that will benefit not merely their supporters, but also the country? Not yet. It’s not just that George Osborne seems to have no clear plans to share with the electorate about how he will mastermind our recovery. He also talks about economics in a way that shows he simply doesn’t understand it. I dread the prospect of someone so economically and financially illiterate as Mr. Osborne assuming responsibility for the nation’s money.
“Given what a disaster Labour has created, that the Conservative Party should have any hope of putting up a decent economic argument during an election campaign is stunningly appalling: and the worst indictment of the Tory party. The Tories should be 20 points ahead in the polls, rather than having a single-digit lead that causes, understandingly, talk of a hung parliament. It is because they lack clarity, and lack appeal to those who are fundamentally conservative, that they struggle. Rather than worrying about Labour voters, and giving them Labour policies to vote for, the Tories should be getting their own supporters motivated.
“Osborne reminds one of the small child who sits in the front seat of a bus and moves his arms in the motion of a steering wheel, because he thinks he’s driving the vehicle.”
Huhne forces Tory U-turn on non-dom tax cheats: The Times, 15.12.09
“Lord Ashcroft may be forced to declare or confirm his tax status before the election after the Conservatives indicated that they were ready to push through changes to prevent non-tax residents sitting in Parliament. Lord Ashcroft’s business empire is based in Belize, where he has said his home is “where my heart is” – and has declined to elaborate on his tax matters.
“The Tories have shifted position after criticism from Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, of the failure of the Conservatives to support an amendment three times in the past which would have changed legislation.
“Mr. Huhne said: “We and the Conservatives have a majority in the Lords so we could have actually got that through…on three occasions the Tories filibustered that Bill.” He told the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Philip Hammond: “I am delighted that you have now seen the error of your ways.”
Cameron taxes our trust in him: Rachel Syvester column, The Times, 15.12.09
“It’s all about trust. Many people quite like Mr. Cameron, but they are not sure whether he is genuine – focus groups always mention the car that followed him with his shoes as he cycled to work. The only reason why he has not sealed the deal, is that he has not persuaded the electorate that he is the real deal.
“In a recent poll, only 26 per cent of voters said they thought George Osbourne was honest. Party strategists know that nothing matters more than credibility. That is why the Tory leader’s behaviour over Lord Ashcroft is so bizarre. “If home is where the heart is, then Belize is my home” says Lord Ashcroft, who has given over £10 millions to the Conservative campaign and is masterminding the crucial operation in marginal seats, but still refuses to say whether he currently lives in this country.
“This is not about one man and his tax status. It’s about leadership. Mr. Cameron clearly thinks the tax status of parliamentarians matters, or he wouldn’t want to change the law. And yet he will not say whether a peer who is one of his party’s biggest donors has a financial stake in the country he wants to run.
“The questions about his tax status play into the wider issue of trust. Voters are still unsure whether Mr. Cameron really calls the shots with his rightwingers. If he can’t even force his own vice-chairman to say where he lives for tax purposes, then it is fair to wonder whether he could assert himself on things that really matter.”
Brown urged to free locked up asylum children: Daily Mail, 15.12.09
“Gordon Brown was last night accused of ‘moral cowardice’ fore failing to scrap a controversial asylum policy that will see hundreds of innocent children spent Christmas behind bars.
“In an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg urged him to bring an immediate end to the policy of locking up the children of families who are facing possible deportation.
“Nick Clegg said the policy ‘shamed Britain’ and did nothing to tackle the problem of illegal asylum seekers. He added: ‘It is morally repugnant that as a country we are locking up hundreds, possibly thousands of children, most of them below the age of five, and causing them absolute fear and confusion. This is a dark secret that needs to be brought into the light.”
Lib Dem hits out at Bishop: Daily Telegraph, 15.12.09
“The new Bishop to the Armed Forces apologised last night for claiming that the Taliban could be admired for “conviction to their faith and their sense of loyalty”, after the Liberal Democrat MP for the garrison town of Colchester, Bob Russell, said: ‘What you never do is give comfort to the enemy. It is one thing to have respect for the enemy, but there is a world of difference here. The Bishop should concentrate on boosting the moral of our Armed Forces rather than boosting the morale of our enemy.”
Outrage at 2,000% Loans: Daily Express, front page, 14.12.09
“Greedy lenders are exploiting families by offering Christmas loans with crippling annual interest rates of 2,350 per cent. Families hit by the credit crunch are turning to so-called payday loans because they cannot access extra money from high street banks.
“National TV adverts for one loan firm hit screens last week just as the Office of Fair Trading research revealed a worrying increase in expensive short-term borrowing. And last night there were calls for the Government to clamp down on the loan firms amid fears that thousands of families could be plunged into spiralling debt.
“Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable said: “At a time when official interest rates are close to zero and inflation is very low or negative, it is unbelievable that people are being charged thousands or hundreds of per cent in interest.
“Much of this can be attributed to the withdrawal of credit from struggling households who can no longer use banks and are being driven into these extreme and extortionate forms of credit,” Vince Cable said. “These findings underline the need for the Government to match its rhetoric with firm action to regulate these extortionate credit markets,” added the Liberal Democrat spokesman.
Rural petrol stations beg for help: Daily Telegraph, 14.12.09
“The body that represents the UK’s 6,000 rural and independent filling stations has written to the EU Competition Commissioner urging her to investigate a potentially devastating hike in business rates that could lead to hundreds of local garages closing down.
“Sue Robinson, a director of the RMI Independent Petrol Retailers Association, wrote to Neelie Kroes this month urging her to investigate next April’s planned increase, and ‘raise it with HM Treasury as a matter of urgency.’ Hundreds of rural petrol stations face closure if the increase is pushed through on April l, owners have warned.”
Blair accused by Nick Clegg of “twisting facts”: Mail on Sunday, 13.09.12
“Tony Blair was last night accused of “breathtaking cynicism’ after he claimed that he would have invaded Iraq even if he had known it had no weapons of mass destruction.
“Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg launched a scathing assault on Mr. Blair for saying that he would simple have used different arguments to justify the 2003 invasion.
“Nick Clegg said: ‘For Tony Blair to declare that he would have come up with any old reason to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq shows quite how far he was prepared to twist the facts to suit his determination to invade Iraq alongside George Bush.
“It is both troubling and offensive that Blair felt able simply to pull the wool over people’s eyes to suit his own ends. This revelation underlines that the Liberal Democrats were right to stand along against the drive by both Labour and Conservative parties to go to war in Iraq,’ said Clegg.”
Tory women revolt on marital tax break: Sunday Times, 13.12.09
“David Cameron is facing a rebellion from women within his own party against his decision to reward marriage through tax breaks. Senior Tory figures fear their leader’s move could alienate single mothers, as well as millions of cohabiting couples.
“MPs and parliamentary candidates say Cameron risks moralising about people’s personal relationship.”
Iran demands freedom of suspected arms dealer: Mail on Sunday, 13.12.09
“The Government is considering the release of a senior former Iranian diplomat held in the UK accused of supplying weapons for terrorists.
“Tehran is demanding the tit-for-tat release in response to its decision to free a group of British yachtsmen who strayed into Iranian waters last month.
“But the extraordinary move has been greeted with anger in America, where the diplomat, Nostratollah Tajik, Iran’s former Ambassador to Jordan, is wanted on an extradition charge to the US for trying to sell military equipment.”
Boris’s brother is Orpington Toryman: Mail on Sunday, 13.09.12
“Boris Johnson’s family has extended its grip on British political life after his blond look-alike brother successfully fought off 180 applicants to be the Conservative candidate for Orpington, where he will defend a majority over the Liberals of nearly 5,000.
“The appointment of Jo Johnson has angered many local people who are upset that no local person made it to the final shortlist of six.”
Peter Hitchins column: Sunday Express, 13.12.09
“Patrolling Kabul in his suit, and picking his way round Helmand in body armour, David Cameron mouths the standard-issue pieties of all three front benches, namely that military “success” is possible in Afghanistan.
“A proper patriot would tell the Americans that they can keep their idiotic war, and that we will be leaving as soon as practicable. But the Tories aren’t really patriots. Hence their need to pretend to be, by posing in flak-jackets and going Army barmy with lots of macho solider-talk. If this cost no lives and no money, it would merely be pathetic. As it actually costs heavily in both, it is wicked and cowardly.”
Paddy’ Whack: Daily Express, Patrick O’Flynn column, 12.12.09
“The BBC’s Question Time from Wootton Bassett was a triumph. After a couple of sub-standard episodes recently, the latest programme offered a superb level of debate. The exchanges between Paddy Ashdown and former army chief Sir Richard Dannett over his premature defection to the Tories was electrifying. Proper public service broadcasting. More like this please.”
Secret 4% rise in council tax: Daily Express, 12.12.09
“Hard-pressed families face a four per cent rise in council tax next year, it emerged yesterday. The crippling increase of £1 billion was revealed in the small print of Alistair Darling’s pre-Budget report. Householders were also warned to brace themselves for further cuts in services, including the end of weekly bin collections.”
Compiled by Philip Young, a former Fleet Street News Editor and past Editor of Liberal News and Parliamentary Press-Officer, ex PPC and councillor, and – not many people know this – also co-editor of the first edition of Liberator. His indoctrination was the Orpington by-election, (when still in short trousers), graduating at the Trevor Jones School of Election Marketing.