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The Guardian (U.K.) 

Tories raise funds for further poll soon after general election in May

Party to make contingencies in case hung parliament - and aversion to another coalition - prompts second electionThe Conservatives are making contingency plans for a second general election next year as Whitehall’s election spending watchdog officially begins the countdown for the 7 May poll.Sources close to the Tories say that party officials, wary that opinion polls show it is likely that

London police: we believe claims of ‘VIP’ child sex abuse and murder

Scotland Yard says victim’s allegations against prominent political and establishment figures are credible and trueScotland Yard officers have said they believe allegations that a ring of prominent politicians and members of the establishment abused and terrorised children as young as seven more than 30 years ago and went on to kill three young boys.Detectives appealed for victims and witnes

Bill proposes letting women bishops jump queue to join House of Lords

Currently seats are allocated to bishops according to length of service, but bill proposes next seat be taken by a womanLegislation has been tabled allowing women bishops to jump the queue and take the next available seat in the House of Lords.Constitution minister Sam Gyimah said it was right for women to join the bishops in the Lords as soon as possible but the normal rules, based on lengt

How Farage and Salmond – but not Miliband – ran Cameron ragged

John Crace’s review of the year: from sorry apology to solemn vow, 2014 was not a vintage year of political accomplishmentPoliticians rarely find it easy to say sorry but, in April, culture secretary Maria Miller did manage to find a 32-second window in her diary to come to the House of Commons to mutter: “Yeah whatevs I dun nuthin wrong and though I’m sayin soz I don’t mean it cos what’s wrong

Customer debts to energy suppliers rise to more than £900m

Each indebted customer owes an average of more than £300, and 550 households had electricity cut off and 84 lost gasA simmering row about high domestic energy prices was reignited on Thursday after figures from the industry regulator, Ofgem, showed total customer debt to suppliers had risen to more than £900m.The Labour party said this and a 23% increase in electricity disconnections “lay ba

George Osborne’s top adviser receives 18% pay rise

Records show salary of Rupert Harrison, a chief architect of public sector pay freezes, rose to £95,000 over the last yearGeorge Osborne’s most senior adviser has received an 18% pay rise in the last year even though he has been one of the chief architects of a multi-year public sector pay freeze.The salary of Rupert Harrison, Osborne’s long-term special adviser, rose from £80,000 to £95,000

Politics Weekly podcast: review of 2014

Rafael Behr, Polly Toynbee, Hugh Muir and Severin Carrell join Tom Clark to discuss the year in politics Continue reading...

Council cuts: local Tories lead criticism as ‘savings’ hit vital services

Perhaps for the first time in this parliament, Conservative-run councils are at the forefront of opposition to Coalition cuts to municipal budgetsPerhaps for the first time in this parliament it is Conservative-run councils who have led the barrage of criticism over the local authority spending cuts announced today, warning of “tipping point” decisions ahead as they are forced to seek billions

Local council cuts: spending power by authority

Cuts to English council’s overall spending power for councils have been announced by the government, with a promise that no council will see more than a 6.4% cut. But how do the numbers differ by local authority?Councils in England will face an average cut of 1.8% in their overall spending power in 2015-16 according to an announcement by the government on Wednesday.Speaking in the House of

NUJ's tale of Richard Desmond and David Cameron wide of the mark

Express Newspapers’ boss attended a Conservative Friends of Israel meeting insteadA meeting between the National Union of Journalists’ chapel and a senior executive of Express Newspapers broke up on Tuesday in rather amusing circumstances.The editorial director, Paul Ashford, was called away suddenly to accompany his boss, Richard Desmond, to meet David Cameron. Supposedly.“Unfortunatel

Cuts to local welfare schemes ‘a Christmas present to loan sharks’

Government refusal to guarantee funding for schemes will force families to turn to food banks and loan sharks, say criticsPoverty charities and councils have warned that the government’s refusal to guarantee funding for local welfare schemes will force low income families in crisis to turn to food banks and loan sharks.The government announced in January that it would no longer provide £180m

Government announces council funding cuts: Politics Live blog

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments, including Nick Clegg’s Call Clegg phone-in*Lunchtime summary*Afternoon summary 4.50pm GMT Ministers have been criticised by the National Audit Office, among others, for having little understanding of the impact on frontline services of their decisions and they are failing to devolve power so that public money is most effectively sp

Almost like a PLC: Northamptonshire sees the future of local government now

Funding cuts forcing shift towards ‘next generation’ council that is financially self-sufficient and is dramatically smaller• Financial settlement will put councils at breaking pointAfter five successive years of funding cuts, Northamptonshire county council believes it has seen the future of local government: it is dramatically smaller, its services are privatised, and its finances practical

Local government financial settlement ‘will push councils to breaking point’

Townhall chiefs accuse the government of playing down the size and the seriousness of real-term cuts to council spending• Next generation council: Northants sees the futureCouncils will be pushed to breaking point by the latest round of multibillion pound cuts to local authority funding levels, town hall leaders have warned.The communities and local government minister Kris Hopkins announc

Councils to be allowed to hold prayers at meetings under new bill

National Secular Society accuses bill’s backers of ‘seeking to impose religion by tyranny of the majority’Local councils will once again be allowed to hold prayers during meetings under a government-backed bill that has angered secularists.The backbench bill, proposed by Tory MP Jake Berry, is being supported by both the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Labour party, a

Nick Clegg promotes Liberal Democrats school meals policies - video

Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrats leader, talks up his party's school meals policies on Thursday. Clegg has said that more than 1.6 million infants are getting lunchtime school dinners which is helping them learn. He discusses how the policies are being implemented, but says there is still more to be done Continue reading...

Why a charcoal of police in Ferguson is the most important artwork of 2014

Robert Longo’s powerful drawing of police holding back protesters in Ferguson is a vital record of the resurgence of racism and a history painting for our time2014 has produced horrific politics. Racism has returned, that hydra-headed idiot, everywhere from Missouri to Rochester, where a Ukip candidate won a byelection after openly speculating about repatriating Europeans. It is not much by w

Theresa May announces new domestic abuse offence

Home secretary says coercive behaviour can be tantamount to torture and will carry a penalty of up to five years in jailA new domestic abuse offence of “coercive and controlling behaviour” is to be introduced carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison, the home secretary has announced.Theresa May said such behaviour in relationships could be “tantamount to torture”. The decision is a v

Gogglebox star to leave show to stand for Ukip in general election

Andrew Michael and his family unable to continue appearing on Channel 4 series after he announced move into politicsChannel 4 hit Gogglebox is to lose one of its families after the father revealed his intention to stand for Ukip in the general election.Andrew Michael, 55, his wife Carolyne, 53, and children Louis, 17, and Alex, 24, will no longer appear on the series in which cameras film vi

Danny Alexander: fall in fuel price should benefit consumers – video

The chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, says he will put pressure on oil companies to pass on more of the oil price drop to consumers at the pumps. The Liberal Democrat minister says he will write to the industry's major players highlighting the Treasury's action to freeze fuel duty Continue reading...

Theresa May plans to put 28-day time limit on police bail

Home secretary says it is not right people can be under suspicion for a long term but change of law will now be delayed by two monthsPlans by the home secretary, Theresa May, to introduce a 28-day time limit on the use of police bail before a suspect is charged have been delayed by two months while a coalition dispute over its implementation is resolved.The change in the law cannot go ahead

85% of primary school students take up offer of free school meals

Liberal Democrats welcome figures after initiative to provide free dinners to all children regardless of wealth of their parentsThe Liberal Democrats have welcomed figures showing that 1.3 million more children are now eating school dinners since the party introduced its flagship free school meals policy in September.Around 85% of children now eat a school dinner at lunchtime – a total of 1,

Nick Clegg: PMQs is increasingly tedious exchange of point-scoring

Deputy PM says David Cameron is now using weekly session to advertise Conservative party policy in runup to 2015 electionThe deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, has said prime minister’s questions is becoming an increasingly tedious exchange of party political point-scoring and that his presence at the event would not be “constant” in the New Year.Speaking on his phone-in radio show on LBC, C

Jeremy Hunt denies festive NHS ‘news blackout’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt tells Labour in the Commons that A&E data is never published over ChristmasNHS staff should not be forced to work over Christmas to publish A&E waiting time figures, Jeremy Hunt has said, amid claims of a festive “news blackout”.Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham insisted it was “simply unacceptable” for the publication of A&E data, including waiting times, to

Ukip MP Mark Reckless being sued by Tories over wasted campaign expenses

Rochester Tories seek to recoup almost £3,000 spent on material with Reckless’s name on before his defection to UkipUkip MP Mark Reckless is being sued by his former Conservative colleagues over almost £3,000 spent on wasted campaign material ordered with his name on just before he defected.The local Tory party has filed papers at Medway county court just weeks after Reckless successfully re

French National Front launches nationalist environmental movement

Extreme right accused of inconsistent stance on environmental issues with the launch of eco-nationalist New Ecology movementThe launch of a ‘New Ecology’ movement by France’s National Front (FN) this week has been condemned by environmentalists as opportunistic and inconsistent.The far right eco-nationalist grouping was launched by Marine Le Pen, with a ‘patriotic’ platform of opposition t

Royal Mail sell-off undervalued firm by £180m, report finds

Review concludes that company could have been sold for up to 30p more a share, but it involved considerable riskThe government could have made £180m more from the £2bn sale of Royal Mail last year but this would have involved “considerable risk”, a report commissioned by business secretary Vince Cable concluded.The report by former city minister Lord Myners said the sell-off, which attracted

I salute Theresa May for limiting the use of police bail

Swift victory for the Justice Delayed Justice Denied campaignThe home secretary, Theresa May, is to limit the use of police bail to 28 days. Her decision marks a swift victory for the Justice Delayed Justice Denied campaign, which was backed by several newspapers, including the Guardian.May will announce today an end to the system under which police are able to keep people on pre-charge ba

Labour attacks NHS England’s Christmas ‘news blackout’

Decision not to publish key performance data over festive period will leave people in the dark, says Andy BurnhamLabour has criticised NHS bosses’ decision not to publish key performance data over the festive period, describing the move as a news blackout.NHS England has decided to not publish its usual weekly datasets covering issues such as patient waiting times in A&E after this Friday, 1

Royal Mail sale underpriced by £180m, Myners report says

Former city minister backs sell-off as professionally executed and says taxpayer achieved ‘significant value’A government-commissioned report on the sale of Royal Mail has concluded that £180m more might have been realised from the sale, but broadly backs ministers’ cautious approach to pricing.The report by former city minister Lord Myners says the the sell-off was executed with “consider


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