From Daily Mirror: Scottish Tories have launched a secret campaign codenamed “Operation Arse” to stop Boris Johnson becoming the party leader, it has been revealed.
From The Independent: DUP leader Arlene Foster has said the Good Friday Agreement is not “sacrosanct”, insisting the landmark peace treaty could be altered to accommodate a Brexit deal.
From Daily Mirror: Jacob Rees-Mogg referred to an African country as “the people’s republic of jam jar or something”, in a speech to Conservative Party Conference.
NHS to suffer £2.7bn cuts ‘after government miscalculation of public sector pension costs’, research suggests
From The Independent: The NHS will suffer cuts worth £2.7bn after the Tory government miscalculated the pension costs of public sector workers, new analysis by the House of Commons library has shown.
From Daily Mirror: Tory welfare chief Esther McVey suggested her own party’s benefit cuts are “fake news” in a shameless party conference speech.
From Daily Mirror: Top Tory cabinet ministers’ personal details, including what appear to be their mobile phone numbers, were exposed to the world today thanks to a major security flaw in the party’s own app.
Theresa May fails to acknowledge responsibility for devastation caused to Windrush Generation citizens
Via the Labour Party: Theresa May waffles on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, instead of accepting responsibility for lives being turned upside down by the Windrush scandal she personally caused with her policies while Home Secretary.
Shameful that the Prime Minister either doesn’t know or doesn’t care how many people from the Windrush generation lost their homes, their jobs, and were denied NHS treatment.Theresa May's hostile environment policy is a disgrace and Labour will scrap it.
Posted by Jeremy Corbyn on Sunday, September 30, 2018
From The Guardian: The Tory government has spent two years and £40,000 of taxpayers’ money trying to hide how little the northern powerhouse minister visited the north of England in his role, in what one prominent northern figure called “a blatant disregard for the principles of democratic accountability”.
In February 2016 the Guardian submitted a freedom of information (FoI) request to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) asking how regularly James Wharton, who had then been northern powerhouse minister for just over six months, travelled outside London.
The department flouted a requirement to respond to the request within 20 working days and did not provide a response for more than four months – at which point it denied the application.
The Information Commissioner’s Office then undertook an investigation, during the course of which it found that the department adopted “what appears to have been a strategy of wilful procrastination in order to obstruct a request for information”.
From Daily Mirror: Calamity-prone Tory Chris Grayling has refused to resign despite a damning report into this summer’s rail chaos finding “nobody took charge”.
Tory Attorney General faces questions after he objected to plans to make tax havens more transparent
From Daily Mirror: The Tory Government’s law chief faces questions from Labour after he hit out at plans to make tax havens more transparent.
Tory Council approves £38k for iPhones for councillors minutes after saving £43k by doubling disabled bus fares
From Evolve Politics: The Tory majority on Lancashire County Council voted through measures to double bus fares for disabled people from 50p to £1, estimated to save the council £44,000… just minutes after approving the spending of up to £38,000 on state-of-the-9art smartphones for individual use by councillors.
With both measures approved, councillors will now be given the opportunity of handpicking a device for their own individual use, with a top-of-the-range iPhone 7, costing £455 each, being among the choices.
From Daily Mirror: The Tory Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has been branded “out of his mind” after allegedly calling for guns on tractors, missile systems disguised as Coca Cola trucks and his own medal.
From The Guardian: Conservative MPs are warning of a risk of entryism in the party as the pro-Brexit group Leave.EU encourages its supporters to become members in order to back Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg in a future leadership contest.
Conservative party rules mean anyone who has been a member for more than three months can vote in a leadership contest. Grassroots members have the final say between a pair of candidates, selected by Conservative MPs in a series of ballots.
Leave.EU was set up by the rightwing businessman and Ukip-backer Arron Banks to fight the 2016 referendum, but lost out to the more mainstream Vote Leave in its bid to be the official Brexit campaign group.
It claims to have 88,000 supporters, and is urging them to “flood” the Tory party to elect a “true Brexiteer” such as Johnson or Rees-Mogg.
“These people are absolutely dedicated to their cause. And you don’t need an awful lot of people to make a huge amount of difference – so it’s really worrying,” said the Tory MP Anna Soubry.
[Read full article on The Times website…] (paywalled, but free registration allows access to two article per week)
From the Guardian: Ministers have been accused of a “total and abject failure” to widen access to top universities for disadvantaged students, after analysis by the Labour party found the proportions attending Russell Group universities had increased by only one percentage point since 2010.
Separately, research by a group of Labour MPs suggests pupils from towns are less likely to attend university than those from London, with a nine percentage point gap between pupils from London and the rest of the country, and a 20-point gap between those from low-income families in the capital and in towns.
Labour said the Russell Group, which includes Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, University College London and Imperial College, had failed to recruit students from neighbourhoods where few traditionally enter higher education.
The party’s analysis of the Higher Education Statistics Agency data found the proportion of students from those areas had increased by one percentage point across all Russell Group universities to 6%, less than half that at non-Russell Group institutions.
Labour said it was clear the Department for Education would not reach the target set in 2013 by the then prime minister, David Cameron, to double the proportion of university entrants from disadvantaged backgrounds by 2020.
From The Guardian: The Tory government has stopped asking the British public whether they are for or against fracking for shale gas, just weeks before the first fracking operation in seven years is due to start.
The number of people against extracting shale gas has outweighed those in favour since 2015, and the latest polling by officials found 32% opposed with just 18% in support.
Now the Tory government, which backs fracking and recently relaxed planning rules to help the shale industry, has temporarily suspended that line of questioning.
“This is scandalous as the government knows full well that there is overwhelming public opposition to fracking,” said Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s shadow business secretary.
Tony Bosworth, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “Perhaps having recently tried to change planning rules so that fracking companies could drill more easily, they were just scared of a record bad survey result for them this time, so have stopped even asking anymore.”
The question was dropped from the latest update of the four-year-old public attitudes tracker run by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Transport Secretary accused of ‘rank hypocrisy’ after former Carillion boss given top-paying HS2 job
From Daily Mirror: Tory Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has been accused of “rank hypocrisy” by the RMT union for rewarding a former boss of collapsed outsourcing company Carillion with a top-paying job on the HS2 project.
From The Independent: The Tell Mama project, which monitors anti-Muslim violence, has reported an increase in incidents of abuse aimed at women wearing the niqab or hijab over the past week [since Boris Johnson‘s derogatory comments].
From The Guardian: Boris Johnson’s support among grassroots Conservatives, already resurgent in the wake of his resignation over Brexit, appears to have been bolstered further by his claim that Muslim women in burqas resemble letterboxes and bank robbers.
Tory activists have claimed that party members admire the former foreign secretary’s “straight talking” on the controversial issue and suggested his words implied he had listened to some of their concerns about community integration.
One senior grassroots activist said the membership was unlikely to be offended by his choice of language. “I doubt it. They’ll know what Boris is doing. They know how he operates – and they like it. The grassroots talk straight and polishing everything with Westminster-speak is not the way they do it. It won’t do him any harm.”
[Read full article on Guardian website…] Below: Guardian cartoon by Martin Rowson
From The Guardian: The most high-profile symbol of the cuts in Northamptonshire to date has arguably the county’s 36 libraries, 21 of which the council wants to close or sell. There is popular outrage at this, not least in Northamptonshire’s more well-heeled rural areas, making its Tory MPs nervous. The proposal is being challenged in the courts.
Less well known is that 19 of the 21 libraries under threat host early-years children’s services such as mother-and-baby groups and health visitor sessions. These services were moved into libraries two years ago when an earlier round of cuts closed several SureStart centres. Where these services will go now is unclear.
Northamptonshire’s cuts will be felt in even its leafiest and most prosperous areas. Dig into the council’s cuts plans and you find an axe taken to highways budgets – less pothole filling, winter gritting and traffic light maintenance. The council expects legal challenges to these, too.