The Telegraph headlines with Three-year battle ‘to degrade and destroy Isil’

Britain could become involved in three years of military conflict with Islamist terrorists, it was warned. The timescale was suggested by John Kerry, the US secretary of state, on the final day of the Nato summit in Wales as the UK pledged to stand alongside the United States in its battle to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

While David Cameron insisted that Britain was “not yet” at the point of launching air strikes, the Prime Minister added that “clearly a military commitment is required” as he signed up to a “core coalition” led by the US.

He pledged to stand beside Barack Obama, who has said he will hunt down the jihadists in the “same way we went after al-Qaeda”. But it emerged that other European nations, including Germany, are reluctant to join the fight, believing other conflicts including Afghanistan and Russian aggression towards Ukraine to be greater concerns.

The Independent and The Guardian run the same story.


The Telegraph also reports that ‘Welfare claimants to get attitude tests, employment minister reveals

Benefits claimants will undergo interviews to assess whether they have a psychological resistance to work, the employment minister reveals today. Unemployed people will be subject to attitude profiling to judge whether they are “determined”, “bewildered” or “despondent” about taking a job, under plans prepared by Esther McVey.

Those that are less mentally prepared for life at work will be subject to more intensive coaching at the job centre, while those who are optimistic – such as graduates or those who have recently been made redundant – while be placed on less rigorous regimes.

Conservatives…and UKIP

Dan Hodges of the Telegraph observes that David Cameron has had a bad week, but the Tory train is still rumbling along.  This starts with a fair appreciation of Cameron’s ups and downs, but at the end launches into one of Hodges’ anti-UKIP barbs:

Third, when Douglas Carswell retains his seat in October, it will not – despite all the thunder and lightening that will accompany it – alter the outcome of the next general election. People have talked about a change in Westminster “psychology” once Ukip secures it first elected MP. But psychology doesn’t win elections or seats. Votes do, and Ukip don’t have enough.

Ukip isn’t on the verge of electing its first MP – it is on the verge of appropriating its first. The party would not have had a cat in hell’s chance of winning that seat if Douglas Carswell hadn’t decided to park his Trojan horse on Clacton beach. And the fact that he has done so does not change the fundamentals.

Ukip cannot form the next government. It cannot influence the next government. The voters – for all their frustrations at the political status quo – know that. And when the choice in front of them is Prime Minister Miliband or Prime Minister Cameron, they will cast their ballots accordingly.

The commenters are not impressed and the top commenters replies to the assertion that ‘It cannot influence the next government’ with:

“It already has.”

‘Bedroom Tax’

The Independent has this piece: ‘Bedroom tax’ to be abolished as the Coalition is rocked by Lib Dem-Labour alliance

One of the Coalition’s most unpopular and punitive policies is finally on track for abolition, after Labour and the Liberal Democrats united to vote against the bedroom tax. MPs voted by 304 to 267 for a Bill, brought in by a backbench Lib Dem MP Andrew George, to limit the scope of the policy which penalises council tenants who are deemed to have more rooms than they need.

Mr George later admitted that he had not expected the Tories to be so heavily defeated in what he imagined would be a close vote. “It was such a stonking victory that if that coalition can hold together in the coming months we should get this Bill through,” he said.

Shadow works and pensions minister, Chris Bryant added jubilantly: “This is the beginning of the end of the bedroom tax. Whether we will manage to get it all the way through by the general election, I don’t know – but we’ll try our damnedest, and we’ll certainly abolish it afterwards.”

The Mirror predictably runs the story too.


Former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen, interviewed by The Independent, argues that ‘Exam culture in schools doesn’t teach children about the world

Too many parents have been driven into a state of anxiety in the past decade by the high-stakes testing regime in schools, former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen says today. In an interview with The Independent, the poet and children’s author said: “You can see the anxiety that’s been caused in the past 10 years or so about their children and success and failure.

“Parents are very nervy about the kinds of hands on activities that can give children confidence and understanding. You can sit in a bookshop and see people buying books full of mock tests and blank pages to fill in and ignoring the real books.  Enjoying them and developing feelings and ideas at a level that is age appropriate to the children will lead them on to a very powerful way of looking at the world, yet they seem to think the best way of getting to a good result is by filling in the blanks in these questions.”

Meanwhile, The Guardian says that the teacher who spoke to the Tory conference 4 years ago, Katharine Birbalsingh, now regrets telling Tories education system was broken

The woman who became Britain’s most famous teacher when she told a Conservative party conference the education system was broken has said the speech had left her jobless and ruined her life. After four years in the cold, Katharine Birbalsingh returns to the classroom in just over a week, when her long-held ambition to open a free school is realised and 120 children arrive for their first day at the Michaela community school in Brent, north London.

It has been a long battle. She had hoped to open the school in 2012 but was forced to delay after negotiations for other sites in London collapsed. Birbalsingh, speaking to the Guardian as builders worked against the clock to complete a partial refurbishment of the old North West College building in Wembley Park, which will house the school, said she stood by what she had said but had been naive to speak at the 2010 party conference in Birmingham.


The independent reports on the Ukraine crisis: Fighting fizzles out as ceasefire agreed – but for how long?

The Ukrainian government and separatist rebels agreed to a ceasefire amid flickering hopes of peace, but also widespread fear that the blood-letting cannot be stopped for long. The guns on the most violent frontline, Mariupol, fell silent 28 minutes before the truce was due to begin at 6pm local time, after a final sustained barrage.

Fierce attacks and the destruction of several government checkpoints led to expectations the separatists intended a last-minute dash to seize the port, giving their Russian sponsors control of the Azov Sea coastline. That did not take place and, although confrontations continued, there were no reports of breaches, apart from some shelling on the outskirts of Donetsk which soon subsided.

But the feeling that the agreement will fall apart appeared to be prevalent in much of the international community.

The Guardian also reports on this.


The Guardian reports that Calais residents fear migrant crisis will end in violence

Outside Calais town hall, Pascale Malfoy and her daughter Coralie Condette were having a coffee near the flower-filled park. At the table next to them, three migrants were hunched over a sheet of paper, talking quietly. “There seems to be more of them than ever,” said Condette. “Before they were kind of concentrated in one place, but now they are just everywhere.”

Many in this port town of France feel embattled. And following incidents this week in which nearly 100 migrants attempted to storm a tourist ferry to Dover, they warn that if the situation does not improve, tensions could overflow and the far-right Front National (FN) could gain a stronger foothold in the town.

Ahead of a protest planned by far-right group Sauvons Calais (Save Calais) on Sunday, hundreds of migrants and left-wing activists on Friday marched through the town. In a calm, if rather desperate demonstration, they held banners calling for their human rights to be recognised, and chanted for “an end to police violence”. By far the loudest shout came as a man with a microphone chanted: “We want to get to UK.”

Scottish Independence

The Guardian has leader writers from the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps.

Jonathan Freedland says If Britain loses Scotland it will feel like an amputation:

A sure sign of a campaign that believes it’s facing defeat is when the recriminations begin, the post-mortem conducted before the patient is pronounced dead. That is not happening – yet – on the unionist side, but I felt the first breath of it in a conversation this week with one of the noes’ biggest hitters. “The Conservatives have fucked this up from beginning to end,” he told me

Deborah Orr says Debate has intoxicated Scotland. People have seen the chance to seize power

‘Well, hello, United Kingdom. How nice it is finally to have your attention.” If the Scottish referendum could talk, that’s what it would be saying right now. It can’t talk, but it will say one word – on 19 September, after the votes are counted. Suddenly Westminster has realised that until that day, there’s no way of knowing what word the people of Scotland are going to say. Suddenly Westminster has cottoned on to the fact that it ought to have been listening all along, just a bit.


The Daily Mail carries a story on shaming of our bully banks: We DID intimidate customers with fake debt collection letters, admit bosses

The big banks sent hundreds of thousands of letters from fake debt collection firms to ‘intimidate’ customers. HSBC, Barclays, Santander and RBS/Natwest admit using the trick on families deep in the red. The letters misleadingly suggest that law firms and outside debt collectors are being called in.

The admissions, which follow a campaign by the Daily Mail to highlight the scandal, came in a series of letters released last night by MPs. In one of them, the chief executive of Barclays confessed the bank had used a number of ‘debt collection brands’.

Appearing to acknowledge intimidation, Antony Jenkins said the letters were meant to indicate to customers ‘an escalation in the seriousness of the situation’. RBS chief Ross McEwan said the bogus letters ‘reflected what had become a common industry practice in a sector that had come to put its own interests above those of its customers’.


The Mail also reports that Royal Navy will get second aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales after Nato leaders agree to boost military spending

The Royal Navy’s second new aircraft carrier is to be brought into service instead of being sold off. The unexpected announcement about the 65,000-ton HMS Prince Of Wales was made at the Nato summit in Wales. The Queen launched the first of the two new vessels, HMS Queen Elizabeth, in July, amid concerns over whether Britain could afford the £6.2billion cost for both carriers.

Mind you, what about the planes for it, and will it help in the middle of the North Iraqi desert?


The Express claims OUTRAGE as police let off rapists with slap on the wrist punishments

RAPISTS are escaping ­punishment if they ­simply apologise to their victims. Police are letting them off with community- based orders designed for minor offences. As a result, five rapists and 53 serious sex offenders, including paedophiles, have avoided jail in the past year.

Last night victims’ groups condemned the practice and demanded tougher action against sex offenders after a scathing report by a police watchdog. Community resolution orders, also known as restorative justice, mean the offence is dealt with outside court, with no formal charges and usually involves the offender giving a verbal or written apology to their victim.

Nigel Farage

Here’s the Express’ Farage on Friday column: The EU have embarrassed Cameron over Ashya King and IS militants, says Nigel Farage

THE problem with using conveniently-timed foreign crises to distract from domestic difficulties is that they depend on favourable subsequent developments in order to endorse the claim of being the saviour of the hour, rather than the failure.

David Cameron boldly told assembled MPs during the first PMQs of the new term that he would strive to remove the passports of militants from Britons fighting in Syria and Iraq, but could not explain how he would traverse the legal implications that come with being a member of the EU and being under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.

Not only would the European Convention not permit rendering somebody stateless in the case of a British born national fighting in the Middle East, but in cases of dual nationality, where David Cameron is confident he would have the legal power to revoke citizenship, he could still face appeals at the European level where losing a British passport also means losing right of residence in the EU as a whole.

And, in addition to his column in The Independent that paper has this story: Nigel Farage earns the Rupert Murdoch seal of approval in impromptu Manhattan meeting

Rupert Murdoch’s long history of calculated meddling in British politics has taken a new turn with the media baron calling a snap meeting with Nigel Farage in Manhattan. In a gesture that will give David Cameron something extra to think about as he attended the NATO summit in Wales, the News Corp boss summoned the Ukip leader to his office for a private discussion.

The talks, which have been confirmed by Ukip, took place after Mr Farage had finished recording interviews at Mr Murdoch’s Fox News television network. According to website Breitbart London, the Ukip leader’s invitation to meet Mr Murdoch was passed on during an advertisement break by presenter Neil Cavuto with the words: “Sir, the boss wants to see you. The big boss.”

Child Sex Enquiry

The Mirror reports that Lord Mayor of London to head child abuse inquiry after Baroness Butler-Sloss quits

The Lord Mayor of London will now head the sweeping inquiry into child sex abuse, Home Secretary Theresa May revealed yesterday. Fiona Woolf, 66, replaces Baroness Butler-Sloss, 81, who quit over a potential conflict of interest as her brother Lord Havers was a former Attorney General.

The inquiry followed claims that figures in Westminster covered up abuse and police failed to investigate paedophiles Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith. Mrs May said such cases had “exposed serious failings by public bodies and important institutions”. She said: “These failings have sent shockwaves through the country.”

Mrs Woolf, 66, a City solicitor, said: “I was honoured to be approached to lead such an important inquiry.”

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