Wednesday News Review

Cameron’s concessions leave no-one happy

David Cameron tried to buy off critics of his hated health reforms by offering a string of concessions yesterday. The Prime Minister promised hospital medics a say on how NHS cash is spent and put a limit on competition with the regulator made to “support integration” as well as encouraging the NHS and private firms to fight for business. He even ditched the 2013 deadline for medics to take control in a move that will enrage Tories who fear reforms will never happen. But Labour leader Ed Miliband still dismissed the U-turn saying: “They should go back to the drawing board on the NHS. These are botched policies.” And Tory MP Karl McCartney raged at the Lib Dems for helping force the concessions, condemning “political posturing by our flip-flopping coalition partners”. – Daily Mirror

The bartering between Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg over health reforms as the Government prepares to unveil a revised package next week risks deepening coalition tensions. There is mounting anger on  the Conservative benches at  the stance of the Lib Dems,  who have demanded a series of changes despite initially backing the legislation. Tory MP Nick de Bois, who sat on the committee examining the Bill, said sticking to the original time-table was crucial. ‘One of the fundamentals – one of the pillars – of the Bill is… that we can remove the vast swathes of democracy from primary care trusts and returning power to GPs by April 2013,’ he said. ‘Let me be clear, these pillars have to remain. I hope they do. I understand there can be changes, but I don’t want to be in a position when I can’t support this Bill because we have lost those essential pillars.’ – Daily Mail

David Cameron is facing a battle to reassure anxious Conservative MPs after he announced a series of changes to the government’s NHSreforms to win over the Liberal Democrats and members of the medical profession. As Nick Clegg told his parliamentary party last night that the time was fast approaching for the Liberal Democrats to swing behind the reforms after securing major concessions, Tories voiced concerns that the prime minister had abandoned key elements of Andrew Lansley‘s original blueprint. Cameron alarmed his backbenchers after he moved to meet the demands laid down by the Lib Dems at their spring conference in March by announcing the shelving of Lansley’s 2013 deadline, changes to the role of the health regulator, Monitor, and the opening up of GP-led consortiums. A senior Tory MP who warned last month that core “red lines” must not be crossed, warned shelving the 2013 deadline could threaten £5bn of spending on frontline health services. – the Guardian

Oxford Dons have no confidence in Willetts

Dons at Oxford University have delivered a decisive “no confidence” vote in the Universities minister, David Willetts. There were cheers last night when the vote was announced in Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre – the first time a “no confidence” motion had ever been issued in a government minister by the university’s Senate. It was carried by the massive margin of 283 votes to five. During the debate, Abdel Takriti, a tutor at St Edmund Hall, called the Government’s plans for further education – under which student fees would rise to up to £9,000 a year – “ill-articulated and incoherent”. Robert Gildea, professor of modern history at the university, proposing the motion, said proposals to introduce “off-quota places” outside the proposed £9,000 fee cap risked introducing a two-tier system. – the Independent

Oxford University has formally declared it has “no confidence” in the policies of the universities minister, David Willetts, in the first sign of a concerted academic backlash against the government’s higher educationreforms. Lecturers passed a motion opposing the coalition’s policies by 283 votes to five at a meeting of the congregation, Oxford’s legislative body. The university is the first to take a public stand against the raising of tuition fees and slashing of the teaching grant, but the rebellion is spreading. Cambridge is expected to announce a date for a “no confidence” vote, while a petition against the government is gathering force at Warwick University. It is the first time a vote of no confidence in a minister has been passed by an English university, and follows a no- confidence vote by the Royal College of Nursing in the health secretary Andrew Lansley’s handling of NHS reforms. The message of “no confidence” will be transmitted to the government by Oxford University’s council, its governing body. – the Guardian

May talks tough about preventing terrorism

Its new counter-radicalisation strategy, Prevent, warned that some people who are supportive of terrorist groups and ideologies have “sought and sometimes gained positions in schools or in groups which work closely with young people.” It said that new standards to be enforced by Ofsted should enable schools to take action against staff who demonstrate unacceptable views. The Education Bill will also include a stronger focus on pupils’ “spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.” A “preventing extremism unit,” which will include experts in counter-terrorism, has been established at the Department of Education to stop unsuitable providers setting up Free Schools – a key part of the government’s new education strategy. Applicants will need to demonstrate that they would support UK democratic values including support for individual liberties within the law, equality, mutual tolerance and respect. – Daily Telegraph

Not a great first day back from his honeymoon

Ed Miliband returned to work today a married man – and, judging by his animated expressions, it looked as if he was reliving every single emotion he has felt over the last few weeks in the space of a few minutes. The Labour leader tackled the sensitive subject of social care at a press conference this afternoon – but all attention was focused on the sheer number of faces he pulled during his speech. Speaking at the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank, Mr Miliband described marriage as ‘an important institution’ but insisted that parents did not need to be married to bring up children well. – Daily Mail

At his first press conference since his wedding on May 27, the Labour leader faced questions over his personal popularity and the party’s failure to gain a big poll lead given the economic gloom. “We have succeeded in winning back a section of voters who left us at the last general election,” he stressed. But he admitted that Labour faced a “long task”. “You have got to recognise that we are coming from a long way back,” he said. “We got 29 per cent at the last election, the second lowest share for Labour since 1918.” The party had to address “anger” over decisions made by the last Labour government and lay out a vision for the country’s future. On his personal ratings, he argued that Opposition leaders “early in their time in office” were still building a relationship with the public. – Evening Standard

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