Week of Feb 10 – Feb 16

Read Time:6 Minute, 21 Second

Looking at the news and opinion out of London each day.


If we want to be taken seriously, we have to defend ourselves

Britain must remain a credible military force if the Special Relationship is to survive

Tax avoiders are not the issue, it’s the tax-law fixers

Hypocrite! Weasel! Fink! Such is the substance of the pre-election cross-party ding-dong over tax. One day Ed Miliband huffs that the Tory donor Lord Fink’s “vanilla” tax avoidance is “dodgy”; the next, senior Tories puff about “breathtaking hypocrisy” as it’s revealed that the Labour donor Sir David Garrard has enjoyed a scoop of vanilla himself.

Greece and Germany blink – who is winning?

Greece said she could not proceed with a new version of the loan agreement, but seems now to be negotiating over its terms. She has conceded she accepts 70% of the old conditions. Greece refused to sit down with the troika of the EU, the ECB and the IMF, but Greek officials have held exploratory talks with each of those bodies apparently. It appears that Homer nods.

Which poses the bigger threat? Extreme Islamism or Putin’s Russia?

Should our priority be to build up our conventional forces for action abroad, or to have them poised for rapid response here at home?

The Conservatives need to hit Labour where it hurts: the unions

The public should be reminded that Ed Miliband is on the side of a minority of militant union members, not the public


Infantilised Ministers

Good government comes second to short-term interests. That’s the logic of the new Gold Star system for Ministerial campaigning.

When ‘privatisation’ of the NHS is nothing of the sort

The salutary tale of the year-long closure of a GPs’ centre is a timely illustration of the problems that beset our health service

Will Labour rule out a deal with the SNP?

Who ends up governing Britain after the election may well be determined by what happens in the Scottish seats. If the SNP take a slew of seats from Labour, it becomes far more likely that the Tories will be the largest party nationally. Add to that the fact that Cameron is the incumbent Prime Minister and he would, in these circumstances, probably be able to put together a deal that sees him carry on as Prime Minister.

What would a new UK relationship with the EU look like?

Those who want the UK to stay in the current EU at all costs argue either that there is no alternative, or argue that any kind of trade based relationship outside would be worse. They say we would have no influence over the rest of the EU from outside. They say we would have to accept whatever rules and regulations they set for trade within their area. They conflate this with wider influence in the world.

There’s only one way to escape the endless, pointless battle over political donors

Campaigning costs money. Taxpayer-funding of political parties would be a disaster. So there’s only one solution – and it isn’t quick or easy.


EastEnders wanted to show Thatcher’s Britain. These days it would make Maggie proud

In its efforts to reflect the real world, the BBC’s flagship soap has unconsciously embraced the Tory vision

The Tories are coming to believe in David Cameron’s election hunch

But they won’t know the truth until it’s too late

Iain Dale: I name Labour’s Shadow Cabinet members with business experience. They are…um…er…hang on a minute…

Plus: Rubbish in the Sun. Andy Carroll is out. A mystery Tory is in – with an au pair, at any rate. My controversial book on the NHS. And: Lord Fink is right.


Miliband: I stand by what I said about Lord Fink

Ed Miliband has now repeated what he said about Lord Fink in the Commons.

Everyone avoids tax, says Tory donor Lord Fink after he was named by Ed Miliband in Commons row

The former Conservative Treasurer who threatened to sue Ed Miliband claimed today that tax avoidance is normal in British society.

Ukraine, Putin – and why Cameron should now commit to NATO’s defence spending target

The crisis wasn’t on the agenda at Cabinet this week. Some Conservative Cabinet Ministers now want a pledge to hit the two per cent goal. They are right.

We ought to tame, shame and civilise the super-rich

But our rage blows hot and cold

The Tories would be mad to make another promise on net immigration

Seeing as there is virtually nothing a government can do to stop people leaving, curbing immigration promise that will always be broken

A bold idea that might just help the Tories win a majority

Iain Duncan Smith has come up with a bold idea that might just enable the Tories to break out of the inch by inch, trench warfare of current British politics. The Work and Pensions Secretary wants to see the right to buy extended to those living in Housing Association properties.


Yes, let’s have Right to Buy 2. But like Universal Credit, it needs small steps – not a big bang

New measures to extend home ownership need to march in line with new ways of building more houses.

Honesty is the best policy in management

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