TV Debates

The Telegraph leads with “TV election debates: Tories go to war over BBC’s institutional arrogance

The BBC is facing accusations of “institutional arrogance” after threatening to press ahead with televised election debates without the Prime Minister. David Cameron has rejected the idea of a head-to-head debate with Ed Miliband and said he will only take part in a single seven-way debate with the other party leaders.

However the corporation and other broadcasters insisted that the debates “will go ahead” and host two election debates with seven party leaders and one head to head. The broadcaster’s decision raises the prospect that the Prime Minister could be “empty chaired” in the head-to-head debate with Ed Miliband.

The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky have also rejected calls by Mr Cameron for the debates to be held before the final run in to the General Election.

The Independent runs the same story.

(Ed: May we suggest that this is a very rare occasion when the majority of the public are with the BBC on this!)

General Election

The Telegraph’s tame socialist leader writer, Dan Hodges, son of Glenda Jackson claims that Politicians like John Major need to start treating voters with a little bit of respect

He makes a good start with:

This is our democracy, not theirs

And then:

Today, Sir John Major has told Britain who our next government will be. Or rather, he has told us who it can’t be. It cannot, under any circumstances, be a Labour and SNP coalition. That would represent a “lethal cocktail for the United Kingdom”, he said. The two parties would conspire to “prise the UK apart”. It was “shameful that Labour have not already ruled out even the suggestion of such a partnership”.

And on one level Sir John is right. The prospect of the SNP having a role in the governance of the United Kingdom is deeply troubling. Not least, because the SNP overtly advocate the break-up of the very nation state they are seeking to govern.

But on another level Sir John is wrong. Profoundly wrong.

The highest voted comment is:

Treating UKIP voters with respect, now that would be a novelty for politicians and the media alike.

Meanwhile, in The Independent, another unelected Conservative politician makes an alternate suggestion “Former Tory Chairman calls for coalition with Labour ‘to keep the UK together‘”

A Tory-Labour coalition government should be formed in the event of a hung parliament to stop Scottish Nationalist MPs provoking a constitutional crisis, a former Conservative chairman argues today.

The proposal by Lord Baker of Dorking – formerly Kenneth Baker, Margaret Thatcher’s Education Secretary – to create the first national government since the Second World War, reflects growing alarm in Tory and Labour ranks over the prospect of dozens of seats falling to the SNP, leading to paralysis at Westminster.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, is facing internal pressure to rule out a deal with Nicola Sturgeon’s party if it holds the balance of power after 7 May.

(Ed: Do you get the feeling that John Major and Lord Baker might have spoken to each other before releasing these statements, leading us towards a Devil’s Coalition? Here’s the admission that you can’t get a fag paper between their positions)

Islamic Fundamentalism

The Telegraph reveals that Islamic fundamentalist Jihadi John, otherwise known as Mohammed Emwazi was expelled from Tanzania for being ‘drunk and disorderly’

Mohammed Emwazi, the British extremist accused of beheading foreign hostages in Syria, was expelled from Tanzania for being drunk and abusive, it has emerged. The supposed strict Muslim had reportedly engaged in a 10-hour drinking session onboard a flight from Amsterdam to the east African city of Dar es Salaam, where he was denied entry, according to a report in The Times.

Emwazi was detained upon arrival in May 2009 for “drunkenness”, alongside companions Ali Adorus, 27, from east London, who has since been jailed in Ethiopia for terrorism offences, and a German national named as 23-year-old Marcel Schrodl.

The Mirror has the same story.

Meanwhile, The Independent warns us about the “Globalisation of Boko Haram: Nigerian minister warns the West faces a new terror threat

Boko Haram is likely to plot attacks on the West, including Britain, according to a Nigerian government minister who warned that the Islamist group terrorising his country may compete with its global jihadi counterparts to commit atrocities abroad.

Osita Chidoka, a close associate of President Goodluck Jonathan, accused the international community of failing to give Nigeria the support it needed to combat the extremists, who are increasingly emulating Isis and al-Shabaab in their terror tactics.

And, The Guardian reports that Charities sever ties with pressure group Cage over Mohammed Emwazi links.

Two charities have agreed to no longer fund the controversial advocacy group Cage, which has faced questions over its links to Mohammed Emwazi, the Briton identified as Islamic State executioner ‘Jihadi John’.

The move made on Friday comes after pressure from the Charity Commission and follows the news that Amnesty International was also considering severing its ties with the group.

The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust joined the Roddick Foundation in agreeing not to give any more money to Cage, despite its initial reluctance to go that far. “In the light of regulatory pressure, and to protect the interests of all our grantees and the other work of the trust, we have decided to publicly confirm that we will not fund Cage either now or in the future,” said a Joseph Rowntree statement.

The Express explores the CAGE Director’s beliefs in “Muslim rights activist who defended Jihadi John refuses to condemn female stoning

Asim Qureshi, director of Muslim rights group CAGE, was asked about views advocated by an Islamic scholar he had described as a mentor. These included positions of female genital mutilation, domestic violence and stoning women as punishment for adultery.

When questioned repeatedly about these views on BBC’s This Week programme by presenter Andrew Neil Mr Qureshi refused to condemn the opinions. Others extreme positions he refused to condemn included horrifying claims that Jews are descended from pigs and that homosexuality is evil.

Education

The Guardian says that David Cameron will pledge to open 153 new free schools.

David Cameron is planning to announce a dramatic expansion of the controversial free schools programme on Monday by proposing a further 153 free schools be opened in the next parliament, according to a draft of his speech passed to the Guardian.

The prime minister will also announce the names of 48 free schools to open in the summer of 2016 if the Conservatives are re-elected, as he demonstrates a determination not to slow down on probably the most disputed part of his party’s school reform programme.

According to the draft speech, Cameron will say: “Academies and free schools are most likely to be good or outstanding,” adding “free schools do not just help the performance of their pupils, but pupils in surrounding schools”

The Mail reports on this too.

Meanwhile Cameron picks out a prime state school for his daughter as reported by the Mirror.

Mr Cameron and wife Samatha have accepted a place at Grey Coat Hospital, a CofE school in Westminster, for 11-year-old Nancy. David Cameron is to become the first Conservative prime minister to send a child to a state secondary school. The PM and wife Samantha have accepted a place at a Church of England academy a short walk from Downing Street for daughter Nancy, 11.

Cameron has been privately worshipping at a London church once a week, often on a weekday morning, for several years. Now he and wife Samantha have decided on Grey Coat Hospital, a CofE school in Westminster, from September.

Ed Miliband

The Guardian shores up Red Ed’s reputation with an interview entitled “Don’t mistake my decency for weakness

Ed Miliband has insisted that he has the strength of character to be prime minister, arguing that decency should not be mistaken for weakness, as the Labour party prepares to launch a rearguard action against attacks on his character.

In a Guardian interview, one of his most personal to date, he opens up about his fears for his role as a father if he does become PM and admits his decision to stand against his brother for the Labour leadership led to a worse deterioration in their relationship than he had expected.

He gives new insight into his childhood, saying his comparative lack of rebelliousness as a teenager was down to his father’s age, describing his “pet theory that if you have an older parent you do not rebel”.

Religious Slaughter

The Mail reports that Ministers reject call to ban religious slaughter of animals that have not been stunned first despite 100,000-strong petition

A petition demanding an outright ban on slaughtering animals without stunning them first has attracted more than 100,000 backers – but the Government insisted it still had ‘no intention’ of outlawing religious slaughter.

Vets chief John Blackwell vowed to continue the fight, warning ministers they ‘simply cannot ignore the strength of public feeling’ over animal welfare and a failure to let consumers know how their meat was killed.

Campaigners will now press for a fresh Commons debate on the issue after quickly exceeding the six-figure threshold required on the parliamentary petition site to trigger a possible time slot.

Tony Blair

The Daily Mail reads a book about the Insatiable greed of Blair Inc: In the week he pledged £106,000 to Labour, a devastating book pierces the wall of secrecy around Blair’s murky – and morally dubious – money-making empire

After Tony Blair left Downing Street for the last time on June 27, 2007, he headed by train to his constituency in Co. Durham with Cherie and the children.  At Darlington station car park, the family walked towards a smart BMW — until someone whispered in the ear of the now former prime minister that it was not his car.  Would he kindly head towards the Vauxhall in the far corner?

Here was a sudden and sharp reminder of his changed status.  Perhaps it was at that moment Blair decided he needed to re-create the life he had lived as prime minister; that, despite his loss of office, he would never be humiliated like that again; and that in future, the car waiting for him would always be the best one in the car park.

More likely, however, is that he had made that decision many years earlier. What is certain is that in the years since leaving office, Britain’s longest-serving Labour prime minister has made more money than any previous former PM in history.

And they have this story too: ‘He’s got blood on his hands’: Army families’ fury at Blair invitation to honour soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Banksters

The Mail reports of Fury as 110 RBS staff get bonuses of over £720,000… and even boss who left in 2013 gets £800k

Royal Bank of Scotland provoked fury last night after handing out lavish bonuses – including an £859,000 windfall to its former boss. The State-backed lender’s annual pay report showed 110 staff received more than 1million euros (£720,000) last year, despite it racking up a £3.5billion loss.

This marked its seventh consecutive annual loss since the financial crisis, when it was rescued with a £46billion bailout from taxpayers. One of the biggest winners was former chief executive Stephen Hester, who pocketed £859,000 from a long-term bonus awarded in 2012. He handed in his resignation in June 2013, after being pushed out by Chancellor George Osborne.

Nigel Farage

The Express reports on Nigel’s interview with LBC: “‘I’m not the Messiah, I’m a naughty boy’: Farage laughs off ‘sent by God’ suggestions

UKIP leader Nigel Farage today insisted that he is “not the Messiah, I’m a very naughty boy” as he laughed off suggestions that he had been “sent by God” to protect Britain from the European Union. The Ukip MEP’s remarks, which echoed the famous line from the classic Monty Python film The Life of Brian, came after he was played a clip of a documentary aired earlier this week.

It featured one of his more dedicated fans who suggested that Brussels wants to install microchips in everyone – and that they have “death vans” with guillotines in the back ready for those who refuse. Jill, a former nurse from Poole in Dorset, compared Mr Farage to Jesus Christ and said he is Britain’s only hope “to protect us against the EU”. Speaking on the Channel 5 documentary ‘Farage Fans and Ukip Lovers’, the 59-year-old said: “Nigel Farage has been sent by God. He probably doesn’t realise it.

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