Labour

The socialist Telegraph leader writer, Dan Hodges, reckons that “When Labour loses in 2015, it won’t be Ed Miliband’s fault. It will be Labour’s” as part of the paper’s campaign to divert attention from the European elections to next May:

Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: I feel sorry for Ed Miliband. Actually, sympathy isn’t the right word. Empathy is probably closer to the mark.

Politics is a lonely business. The position of Leader of the Opposition is perhaps the loneliest of all. But political success cannot be delivered in isolation. However gifted, a leader is ultimately a figurehead.

In the same paper, Tim Stanley has a light-hearted column with a spoof e-mail to home: “Exclusive: leaked email shows David Axelrod accidentally working for ‘the wrong Miliband’

Child Protection Services

The Guardian reports “Privatise child protection services, Department for Education proposes

The power to take children away from their families could be privatised along with other child protection services under controversial plans the government has quietly announced.

The proposal from Michael Gove’s Department for Education (DfE) to permit the outsourcing of children’s social services in England to companies such as G4S and Serco has alarmed experts. They say profit-making companies should not be in charge of such sensitive family matters, and warn that the introduction of the profit motive into child protection may distort the decision-making process.

Tax Collection

The Telegraph has a troubling article on “HMRC investigations into savers’ tax affairs double

The number of people being investigated by the taxman has doubled in one year, raising concerns that people who have made innocent mistakes are being targeted by the Government. HM Revenue & Customs made inquiries about the tax affairs of 237,215 people last year, compared with about 119,000 in 2011-12, figures obtained by The Daily Telegraph show. The number of self-employed people investigated has quadrupled in that time while annual prosecutions have risen sevenfold in three years…

Mark Giddens, a partner at the accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young, said HMRC was focused on collecting tax from “soft targets” such as “teachers, doctors and lawyers”. These taxpayers were more likely to settle without dispute, he said. “Rather than questioning the bill, these individuals will pay up,” he said. “As we all know, the revenue makes mistakes.”

UKIP

The Telegraph reports on remarks made by Eric Pickles about UKIP: “UKIP is xenophobic but not racist”.

THE UK Independence Party is “über-nationalist” and “xenophobic” rather than being racist, a senior Conservative minister said last night. Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, said that Nigel Farage, Ukip’s leader, has preyed on people’s fear of immigration in a “shameful” way and his party contains people who have made “racist calculations”. But Mr Pickles does not believe “in my heart” that the party is racist, he told The Telegraph.

His comments came before Mr Farage took part in a heated radio interview in which he was accused of running a “divisive” and “racist” organisation.  In the live interview with LBC radio, Mr Farage suggested that people “know” which foreigners make good neighbours as he struggled to justify his opposition to European immigration, despite being married to a German.

The Guardian reports on this unfair and loaded interview too, as does The Independent.

On the other hand, Norman Tebbit in his Telegraph column, comes out in defence of the party and Nigel Farage:

As we approach polling day in the European election the efforts to discredit and smear Nigel Farage and Ukip approach a hysterical crescendo. There is, however, regrettably little attempt to deal with the issues which are raised by Mr Farage.

The Conservatives still cannot bring themselves to understand that when the establishment ignores the arguments put by Mr Farage and simply abuse him and some of his less attractive supporters, they strengthen the determination of Ukip-inclined electors to go to the polls.

USA Extradition

The Guardian also reports on another controversial extradition attempt to the USA as does The Mirror.

A retired British couple facing extradition to the United States over fraud charges have been remanded in custody after a district judge ruled they took drug overdoses to delay or halt plans to send them abroad.

Paul and Sandra Dunham were taken to hospital from their Northampton home on Thursday, the day they were due to report to a London police station ahead of being handed to US marshals at Heathrow.

The court was told they made suicide attempts after Home Secretary Theresa May cancelled a planned meeting with their MP, Conservative Andrea Leadsom, to discuss their case and were left “at the end of their tether”.

Pfizer-AstraZeneca Takeover

The Guardian reports that “Pfizer executives cashed in shares weeks before bid for AstraZeneca

Pfizer executives made millions by cashing in their shares in the US pharmaceutical firm, just weeks before renewing a £63bn bid for AstraZeneca.

Ian Read, Pfizer’s chief executive and public face of the takeover bid, sold $10.6m in shares on 26 February, according to regulatory filings. Frank D’Amelio , chief financial officer, sold $8.9m of stock on the same day. Other Pfizer executives offloading shares included Loretta Cangialosi, the firm’s principal accounting officer and controller, who sold $3.1m in shares on 3 March. Mikael Dolsten, the president of research and development, got rid of $2.1m worth on the same day.

This whole affair stinks more with each passing day – while the British government pretends to rule on the deal, when the EU will make the final decision. The Daily Mail also reports on the takeover.

Conservatives

The Independent oddly has a headline that appears to support the Conservatives: “Right click: From Thailand to Mexico, the Tories’ Facebook page is weirdly popular

The party’s use of paid digital advertising services has bought them support in some exotic quarters. One is a middle-aged Russian woman who lives in the town of Samara 650 miles east of Moscow and “likes” Tony Blair and Pravda. But according to Facebook she’s backing “real change in Europe” on 22 May and voting for David Cameron.

Then there is the man from Mexico City called Yeyo Garuno who is all in favour of Mr Cameron’s welfare cap on benefits payments. Or indeed PiYapong Pakalertid who has signed up to be part of Mr Cameron’s Team 2015 on Facebook. He lives in Praken, Thailand.

Not that these people will help the party with votes! Meanwhile, UKIP’s Facebook page reaches 136,000 likes, heading towards overtaking the Tories’ 175,000.

Boko Haram UK Links

The Independent also reports on “The British face of Boko Haram: Man suspected of masterminding bomb attacks in Nigeria was radicalised in Glamorgan

A British-born man suspected of masterminding Boko Haram bomb attacks in Nigeria that left around 100 people dead became radicalised during his years at a Welsh university, it has been claimed.

Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche is believed to have led a double life in the UK as an aspiring businessman while preparing to die in the name of Allah. Ogwuche, who allegedly called himself the “Lion of God” and wrote increasingly extreme posts on social media during his later years in Britain, was arrested in Sudan this week on suspicion of organising the double blast.

Energy

At last, the social democrat media are admitting there will be an energy supply and security problem in the UK: “UK to ‘run out of fossil fuels’ in five years

The UK is set to run out of its oil, coal, and gas supplies in a little over five years, a new report had claimed. The research from the Global Sustainability Institute has said that other European countries are facing similar shortages and that many nations will become entirely dependent on energy imports in the next few years.

The UK has 5.2 years of oil remaining, 4.5 years of coal and three years of gas before completely running out of fossil fuels, says the institute, which is based at Anglia Ruskin University.

Immigration

The Daily Mail’s “shock-horror” story of the day is “Cheat your way to a passport: For £500, migrants who speak no English can buy certificate that opens door to UK citizenship

A corruption scandal that strikes at the heart of Britain’s immigration controls is exposed today by a Mail investigation. Migrants who can speak no English were able to buy, for just £500, a certificate which says they have passed a language test. The documents open the door to British citizenship, allowing them access to a full range of benefits.

The scam focuses on exam centres – licensed by the Home Office – which are supposed to test if a person can speak English to at least a basic level. The test, accredited by exams watchdog Ofqual, must be passed by anybody who wants to remain permanently in the UK or become a British citizen. But secret filming at one centre – responsible for passing 50,000 candidates – exposes how staff sell pass certificates to migrants who did not even attend.

The same paper reports on another aspect of immigration here and the Express has the same story as their lead.

Education

Ofsted are in trouble with the Daily Mail and their readers: “School inspection abandoned after angry parents confront Ofsted staff for asking children as young as NINE about their attitude towards homosexuality.” However, reading on…

A school inspection was forced to be abandoned yesterday after angry parents confronted Ofsted staff over claims children as young as nine were asked about their attitude to homosexuality.  A review of the Olive Tree Primary School in Luton, a Muslim faith school, had to be halted after parents said they would withdraw their pupils from the school if the inspectors remained.  Parents were said to be concerned that the Ofsted staff were discussing sex with the children, without their consent.

Europe

The Daily Mail attempts to bolster up David Cameron’s credibility on his charade of leading the way out of the EU with “Cameron will call for Britain to LEAVE the European Union if he fails in bid to claw powers back from Brussels

David Cameron today signalled he would call for Britain to leave the European Union if Brussels refuses his demands for change. The Prime Minister said he would not ‘sit on the fence’ in the in-out referendum he has vowed to hold by the end of 2017, after trying to renegotiate the UK’s membership.  But he repeatedly insisted he remains confident his plan to overhaul the EU’s powers will be successful.

His interview with Spanish paper El Pais in April 2013 still rings in our ears.

Meanwhile the Express reports that: “Pro-European Union cash prize quiz attracts just 69 entrants

It was hoped the European Union-funded competition would prompt an outpouring of support for the beleaguered organisation, but instead of a bulging postbag containing a potential 735 million replies only a handful of people took up the challenge. Almost £10,000 was put up for grabs for the best video answers to questions like “what does being European mean to you?” and “what are the values behind the European flag you appreciate the most?”

Entrants were also expected to tackle teasers like “how do you live your life being a European citizen?” and “which advantages (of being European) do you enjoy the most?” But just five days before the most pivotal Euro elections in history, it appears apathy rules.

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