Thursday News Review

“If this is robust action on bank bonuses, my name’s Bob Diamond”

George Osborne’s efforts to end the war on bankers are crumbling asVince Cable, the business secretary, said he was still determined to end “unjustified and outrageous” salaries in the sector and his Liberal Democrat ally Lord Oakeshott left his party’s frontbench after damning the government’s attempts to curb bonuses. Oakeshott, who was not in the government but spoke for the junior coalition partner on Treasury matters in the Lords, stood down shortly after he criticised officials working on the government’s deal with the bankers and said: “If this is robust action on bank bonuses, my name’s Bob Diamond.” Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, said Oakeshott had stood down by mutual consent. Osborne hailed his deal as the moment to move beyond retribution to economic recovery. – the Guardian

Lib Dem Councillors questions cuts

More than 90 prominent Liberal Democrat councillors, including the leaders of 18 local authorities, have criticised the scale and pace of government cuts. In a letter to the Times, they say cuts will have “an undoubted impact on all front-line council services, including care services to the vulnerable”. They also accuse ministers of “denigrating” councils in the media. Lib Dem Communities Minister Andrew Stunell urged his party members not to “fall out” over “pointless debate”. The signatories, who include the leaders of Newcastle, Milton Keynes and Hull city councils, say they are facing the bulk of the cuts to their budgets in the coming financial year – giving them little time “to spread the cost of reorganisation and downsizing”. – BBC

The LibDem council leaders say that the decision to both apply the deepest cuts to local government settlements and front-loading these makes it impossible for councils to cut costs in a way which protects services for the most vulnerable, and will inevitably increase costs through making more redundancies necessary. While the letter endorses the need to reduce the deficit and the broad principle of the Big Society, it makes the cogent critique that the damage to local services will be unnecessarily deep as a result of the political choices to cut deepest and fastest of all in local government, which rules out opportunities to make administrative savings in a cost-effective way. – Next Left

Hacking investigation reopens

The reopened police investigation into phone hacking by News of the World journalists has identified a number of new potential victims, including Lord Prescott, the former deputy prime minister, the Guardian has learned. Just a fortnight after reopening their inquiry, in the wake of an 18-month campaign by the Guardian, police said a re-examination of the evidence they had held for years, but failed to fully investigate, combined with new evidence from the Sunday tabloid, had thrown up an “important and immediate new line of inquiry”. The new investigation, they said, had already established “reasonable evidence” that up to 20 people, mainly prominent public figures, were targeted by the paper. The development represents Scotland Yard finally beginning to take the lid off the phone-hacking scandal. – the Guardian

Scotland Yard last night admitted the discovery of new potential victims of the phone-hacking scandal, opening the way to a wave of further damaging privacy claims by politicians and celebrities against Rupert Murdoch’s News International. In the first sign that the new Metropolitan Police investigation into voicemail hacking at the News of the World is trying to right the failures of its much-criticised predecessor, the officer in charge of the inquiry revealed that new “links” had been found between existing evidence and internal emails handed to police last month by Mr Murdoch’s newspaper group. “Urgent steps” are being taken to inform the new group, all of whom were previously told by the Met that there was “little or no information” held about them on files seized in 2006 from the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. – the Independent

Unlikely allies team up over prisoner votes

MPs are expected to back a cross-party motion tabled by David Davis and Jack Straw stating that the matter of prisoner voting should be left to the “democratically elected lawmakers”. The European Court of Human Rights demands that the UK end its ban on prisoners voting, but David Davis has said he believes the court will not expel Britain from the Council of Europe over the issue. Writing in the Times, Jack Straw backed the Human Rights Act but said it was not intended to “dictate to individual states”. Mr Straw said there was no contradiction in his support for the HRA – which he helped to bring into law in Britain – and he praised David Davis’ “impeccable” record on human rights. – PoliticsHome

The House is expected to overwhelmingly support a cross-party motion stating that the matter should be left to “democratically-elected lawmakers” and supporting the status quo. It has been tabled by senior Tory MP David Davis and backed by Labour former home secretary Jack Straw as ministers wrestle with how best to deal with the ECHR ruling. Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday he saw “no reason” why prisoners should be given the vote. He has said in the past that the idea makes him feel “physically ill”. However, hundreds of prisoners have instigated claims for being denied the right to vote and the Government is facing potential compensation bills of more than £100 million. It has proposed to allow the vote to inmates serving less than four years, although there have been signs that that might be reduced still further. – Press Association

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