Sunday News Review

Norman Tebbit mark two

Iain Duncan Smith will tomorrow unveil ‘compulsory community placements’ in an attempt to stop people living on benefits for years without bothering to look for work. The ‘Workfare UK’ project will be targeted at tens of thousands of people suspected of sabotaging attempts to make them work. But Labour MPs condemned the scheme. One said: ‘This sounds like slave labour.’ The scheme is also likely to run into fierce opposition from some Liberal Democrat MPs.

Under Mr Duncan Smith’s anti-scroungers blueprint, employment office chiefs will be given the power to order the long-term jobless to take part in four-week mandatory work schemes. The Government has not decided how much people on ‘community placements’ will be paid but it is understood the figure will be between £30 and £40 a week – the equivalent to £1 an hour, one sixth of the minimum wage. – Mail on Sunday

Last night the shadow work and pensions secretary, Douglas Alexander, suggested government policy on job creation was reducing people’s chances of finding work: “The Tories have just abolished the future jobs fund, which offered real work and real hope to young people. If you examine the spending review then changes such as cuts to working tax credit are actually removing incentives to get people into work. What they don’t seem to get about their welfare agenda is that without work it won’t work.” – Observer

Coulson on the brink

David Cameron faced renewed pressure over his decision to retain Andy Coulson as his communications chief last night after the former tabloid editor was questioned by police over allegations of phone-hacking at the News of the World. Labour raised the stakes when the party’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, said it was now time for the prime minister to take a detailed interest in the controversy, rather than brushing aside claims about one of his closest aides. Downing Street confirmed that Coulson attended a meeting with Metropolitan police officers voluntarily on Thursday and was interviewed as a witness. He was not cautioned or arrested. – Observer

The Met’s attempt to help David Cameron’s chief spinner, Andy Coulson, in his brave battle to overcome amnesia (mercifully limited to the phone hacking that went on when he was editor of the News of the World) has not impressed Tom Watson. The stalwart Brownite MP smells a rat. “People will think it curious that the story [of his interview by the police at his solicitor’s office] was put out by Downing Street late on a Friday night when the BBC was on strike,” he observes. – Independent

Farrelly to face charges

A man involved in a brawl with Labour MP Paul Farrelly is to make an official complaint to police. Newspaper seller Bjorn Hurrell was left ‘bloodied and bruised’ after the incident in which he was allegedly hit by Mr Farrelly in a late-night tussle near a packed Commons bar.

Last night it was claimed the MP told Mr Hurrell ‘if we weren’t on the parliamentary estate, I’d punch you in the face’ moments before the fight. Speaking publicly for the first time about the incident, Mr Hurrell last night told The Mail on Sunday: ‘I am intending to make a complaint to the police and to instruct lawyers to pursue civil damages. I wish to make no further statement until I have obtained legal advice.’ – Mail on Sunday

The incident took place on Thursday evening as Mr Farrelly was entertaining guests from the Parliamentary Rugby Club at the Sports and Social bar, in the Palace of Westminster. The MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme claimed he was confronted by a man in a corridor near the club at around 10pm on Thursday, after reprimanding him about his behaviour. Mr Hurrell, who delivers newspapers in the Palace of Westminster and has had a full parliamentary pass for more than 20 years, told friends he had been enjoying a karaoke night he helped his mother organise in the Sports and Social bar when Mr Farrelly assaulted him.  – Telegraph

Miliband to the rescue

Ed Miliband has leaped to the defence of a DJ sacked from a Scottish radio station for taking part in a naked prank Robin Galloway and his producer Barrie Hodge parted company with Real Radio after the presenter filmed Hodge streaking naked behind Miliband while the politician was being interviewed in the Glasgow studios.

Miliband, who had his back to the incident, was not aware of what was going on at the time, and said the pair should not have lost their jobs. A spokesman for Scottish Labour said: “Senior staff from Ed’s office yesterday spoke to the station manager to say he thought they should not lose their jobs. – The Scotsman

Brown to battle on

Gordon Brown has quashed speculation that he will quit as an MP. The former PM has told allies he will stay in Parliament at least until the next election in 2015. He has already turned down new Labour leader Ed Miliband’s offer of a peerage and several lucrative jobs to concentrate on constituency and charity work. He told the Sunday Mirror: “Since the election I have been spending a lot of time with my constituents so it felt quite natural that I’d be talking about a Fife issue. But it was a surprise to me so many MPs were there.” – Mirror

Another selection goes wrong

A police probe has been launched into a complaint about fraud in the run-up to the selection in a Middlesbrough ward of Labour candidates for local government elections next year. The Labour Party has also launched an investigation into allegations of irregularities. The party has suspended the selection process for candidates in the ward as a result of the investigations. The police and Labour Party investigations are both focused on the town’s University Ward. – Middlesbrough Gazette

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