Sunday News Review

Tory right question Cameron’s risk taking on law and order

Senior Tories have raised concerns that the party is risking its reputation for being strong on law and order as the police unveiled plans for a summer campaign of protest against coalition cuts. Officers from more than 40 forces will put their case against the government’s cost-cutting and wider changes, at a meeting in parliamenton Monday, while the Police Federation, which represents the rank and file, has announced a national “day of action” in July aimed at derailing the current policies. David Davis, the Conservatives‘ former home affairs spokesman, expressed fears that the party was in danger of losing its reputation for being tough on crime and that public confidence was being dented by cuts to the police and justice systems combined with new liberal sentencing policies. After a week in which the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, caused a storm over proposals to offer shorter sentences to rapists who confessed at an early stage, Davis said: “There is a serious risk that the Conservative party will lose its clear 20 to 30 point opinion poll leads [over Labour] on crime and immigration if it does not take a clearer stance on these issues.” – the Observer

How long can Huhne hold on?

Chris Huhne’s estranged wife is expected to tell police a female confidante of her husband also took points for him on her licence. Vicky Pryce, who will be interviewed by detectives this week, claims that Mr Huhne evaded points for speeding on more than one occasion. Miss Pryce, 57, has told friends that Mr Huhne not only persuaded her to take points for him – but that he also got another person to do the same on a separate occasion. A source said: “Vicky has been telling people she is not the only one to take points and that Chris had got someone else to do it before her. She has said she will do whatever is ‘necessary’ and ‘appropriate’ to help the police investigation and that means telling them everything she knows.” Mr Huhne, 56, will also be quizzed by police under caution in coming days as he battles to save his career. Mr Huhne, who strongly denies the allegations, faces jail if convicted of perverting the course of justice by getting his wife to take his penalty points. – the Telegraph

Pressure mounted on Chris Huhne last night with a flurry of fresh allegations over his penalty points saga, including the claim that he accepts that he may have been driving his car on the day it was clocked speeding eight years ago. The embattled Energy Secretary is expected to tell police he “cannot be sure” he was not behind the wheel when it was caught exceeding the speed limit in March 2003, according to a report in The Sunday Times. The paper quoted a member of Mr Huhne’s camp saying that he could not remember his movements on the day in question. The source added: “He hasn’t got a diary about whether he drove or not.” The concession follows weeks of flat denials that Mr Huhne pressurised his wife, Vicky Pryce, into accepting the three-point penalty so he could escape a driving ban. Observers pointed out that, if the minister is interviewed this week by police under caution, the “can’t remember” position would be more easily defensible in law if the case ever went to court. – the Independent

Clegg takes aim at NHS in attempt to bring party in line

The dispute within the coalition government over NHS reformshas intensified after Nick Clegg demanded the removal of another main part of the proposals designed to encourage competition and private sector involvement. The deputy prime minister has put himself on a collision course with the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, by proposing that a clause in the bill encouraging “any qualified provider” to take over services from the NHS should be radically rethought or dropped. Clegg told senior Liberal Democrats that he would scupper Lansley’s bill unless the Tories agreed to the new demand. He has already insisted on scrapping the requirement that Monitor, the NHS regulator, compels hospitals to compete with each other. He wants it to be replaced with a duty to promote collaboration. – the Guardian

Ed’s “national mission”

Ed Miliband has said the Labour party must offer a new national mission to win back voters who deserted them for the Conservatives. In a speech to the Progress thinktank in London, Miliband pledged to tackle the “new inequality” between the rich and the rest of society, but also admitted the gap had grown under the last Labour government. The party would only succeed in regaining power if it could counter the “shrivelled, pessimistic, austere” vision of David Cameron and the Conservatives, he said. In a direct pitch to middle-class voters in the south of England, Miliband said their living standards were being squeezed in the same way as those in poorer parts of the country. Labour needed the humility to acknowledge that the inequality between “those at the top and everyone else” had grown under the last Labour government, although the coalition was exacerbating the problem. – the Guardian

Ed gave the speech with vigour and pace – and no little conviction. This is clearly an agenda that he believes in and feels invested in. Sometimes that seemed like he rushed over some obvious applause lines, which is a shame. Ed Miliband gets numerous rounds of applause from Progress is a headline that could have been helpful. But it will also provide his critics with ammunition, because there’s still an absence of how Labour can achieve the goals that end set out today. Yet the bones of Labour’s policy review are on show. Ed is providing the rough direction of travel (and it still is a bit rough) – the party is gearing up to start putting some meat on those bones. At the moment it feels like Ed is trapped in something of a holding pattern. he knows the direction of travel but without the policies in hand he can’t give us his route to victory. But it’s coming, and that’s a relief. – Labour List

I didn’t expect to be overwhelmed by Ed Miliband’s speech to the Progress Annual Conference today, but neither did I expect to be quite so underwhelmed. This was meant to be his Great Exposition of how, as he put it his introductory remarks, Labour “will win the next election”. But what we got was a straighforward list of some of the major themes of his leadership so far: the “squeezed middle,” the prospects for young people, community breakdown, and so on and so forth. These are all worthwhile areas for debate, but Miliband has dwelt on them before now, and more persuasively — such as in his speech to the Resolution Foundation in February. Repeating them may help make the point, but it doesn’t mean that Labour have any solutions. The absence of policy specifics was especially noticeable today. – the Spectator

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