Friday, 13 July 2012

Morning briefing..


Nick Herbert is getting tough on crime, tough on the handling of crime. In a speech at 9am today on Buckingham Palace Road (no, not at Telegraph Towers), he’ll launch a White Paper on criminal justice. The proposals, drawn up in the wake of the riots, aim to make sentencing swifter and more robust. He’s after a system that could see shoplifting cases resolved in under two weeks, introducing Neighbourhood Justice Panels, where offenders can make amends to their victims.

He was just on the Today programme, stressing that while these measures focus on low-level crimes, serious crimes will still go to court. He explained: “We’re not going to go back to bobbies giving someone a clip round the ear, but if things can be resolved on a local level, there is no reason why we need to tolerate unnecessarily delays... We must start thinking about victims of crime.”

We carry an op-ed by Mr Herbert  today where he says “Justice delayed is indeed justice denied, especially to the victims of crime.” It’s a bold statement - but he makes a good case. Also, he has picked a good day to launch this. A survey of youth service providers, released today, shows that volunteers have managed to keep youth centres open despite the cuts. Could the Big Society be working?


Theresa May is sending in the troops - literally. There will 3,500 of them to fill in for the private contractor, G4S, which hasn’t trained enough staff to handle the Olympic security. Mrs May announced this in the Commons yesterday, where she was quick to point out that the shoddy contract is held between the Olympic Organising Committee and G4S, not the Home Office. Her face-off with Yvette Cooper was cold. So cold, in fact, that  Michael Deacon said “the temperature drops 40 degrees” and that the speakers interventions were drowned out by “the chatter of MPs’ teeth”.

On the Today programme, Nick Herbert was challenged on why the Government has allowed the security shambles to happen. He didn’t answer directly, but said they “took action as soon as they realised there was a problem”.

The Mail’s leader  is disgusted that troops returning from Afghanistan will not be “ enjoying treasured time with their families” this summer, but will instead “spend most of August searching the bags of spectators to make sure they are not sneaking ‘excessive food’ or soft drinks into the Olympic venues”. Don’t worry, though. Mrs May’s making amends - she’s promised them tickets. Will they be joining the DCMS Select Committee at the mens’ 100m final, though?

With two weeks to go, the pressure is mounting on the Government. The Guardian’s leader  is shocked that this has happened at such a late stage: “home secretaries can sometimes be cut a bit of slack about something unforeseen like a prison escape for which they are nominally responsible. But the Olympics has been front and centre in Whitehall planning for years. To let this happen at such a late stage in the process is simply negligent.” Quite.

But, characteristically, Boris Johnson isn’t fazed. He defended the quick fix as the inevitable consequence of "slamming down the remaining loose nails". Let’s hope that this, the M4 saga, and the O2 network failure are the last of those nails, then.


And another win for Michael Gove - the BBC reports  that 102 more free schools will be opened in England next year. If he keeps this up, the “Gove for leader” talk might start again.


Following our investigation into potentially illegal abortion practices earlier this year, 14 NHS hospitals are being formally censured by regulators (you can read the story here ). But the Tory backbencher Amber Rudd is not happy. The Guardian reports that she’s worried that the inquiry will be “hijacked” by anti-abortion advocates in her party. Will we see a Nadine Dorries/Amber Rudd showdown?


And finally,  Ephraim Hardcastle reports that Ed Miliband found something in common with Aung San Suu Kyi when she visited last month. Mr Miliband said:

“We talked about years under a brutal dictatorship, oppressed day and night, and then she said to me, ‘That’s enough about your time under Gordon’.”


Labour’s Jim Murphy proves you need to be an irrational optimist to cope with life as an MP:

“@JayMack18: @jimmurphymp You're a pathetic sponge!” << I get a sense I've not convinced you of my argument...yet.”


Latest YouGov/The Sun results: Conservatives 34%, Labour 42%, Lib Dems 9%, UKIP 7%

Overall government approval rating: -38


In The Telegraph

Fraser Nelson:  The Connors family case shows why Britain must fight the slave trade

Matthew Norman:  The London Olympics: hold your breath and start praying

Nick Herbert:  The victims of crime deserve swift justice

Leader:  A dispiriting response to the abortion inquiry

Best of the rest

Anushka Asthana in the Times: Tory malcontents need careers, not canapés

Mary Dejevsky in the Independent: What is the role of our armed forces if it's not to defend us?

Polly Toynbee in the Guardian: Cool, assured Ed Miliband must now boldly define himself

Philip Stephens in the Financial Times: London serves up the good, the bad and the ugly


9am: Nick Herbert launches the "swift and sure justice" White Paper. PA Consulting, 123 Buckingham Palace Road London

10am: Boris Johnson opens the Hippodrome Casino. Hippodrome Casino, Leicester Square, London

11am: The Bank of England and Treasury announce details of the Funding for Lending scheme.