BREAKING NEWS: Iain Duncan Smith has appeared on the Today programme to defend his plan to ensure that working pays more than a life on state benefits. IDS told the show:
"We have accepted for far too long in this country that people do not have to go to work. It's not a surprise that we are in massive debt and have a deficit if we simply write these people off.
"This is all about saying we will give you massive support to find work, and we'll help you get that right. But you can't just sit there and gather more and more on benefits. Unless you are chronically sick, benefits should be a temporary thing and then you move on."
REJOICE, IT'S GDP DAY
It's good news day! Or rather, time to cheer "dip slip hooray", as the Sundoes. The UK's GDP figure for the third quarter is announced at 9:30 this morning, and the Prime Minister dropped a heavy hint at yesterday's PMQs that the country would see a strong return to growth. Such a heavy hint, in fact, that he is set to be investigated, the Telegraph reports. TheMail's Quentin Letts got the message loud and clear, "'good news will keep coming'. Cue strings. Sunlit skies. Fade."
Coming at the end of a series of positive announcements on employment, inflation and borrowing, the return of the economy to growth will be aboost for David Cameron's government, particularly given the pernicious impact the recession has been having in the real economy, with today's Times (£) claiming that the average Briton is £1,800 worse off each year since the start of the financial crisis. It will also help spare the Chancellor the indignity of hearing Ed Balls attack his record on debt and borrowing. The Coalition claim on financial competence has legs.
The only problem now is expectation. The Telegraph reports that growth is expected to come in at 0.7 per cent of GDP, the joint highest quarterly rate since Q2 2007. Despite efforts by leading Coalition figures to sound a note of caution, such a blistering pace may be hard to sustain.
IDS: TAKING A JOB IS A MUG'S GAME AT PRESENTIain Duncan Smith's benefits crusade continues today with a speech at Cambridge Public Policy, a think tank associated with the university. TheTelegraph reports that IDS will attack the "dysfunctional behaviour" encouraged by the present welfare system and urge a return to the principles outlined by William Beveridge, particularly the idea that welfare recipients cannot expect to draw on a bottomless pit. Mr Duncan Smith will say:
"Our failure to make each pound count has cost us again and again over the years, Not only in terms of a financial cost – higher taxes, inflated welfare bills and lower productivity, as people sit on benefits long term. But also the social cost of a fundamentally divided Britain."
NO VOTES FOR PRISONERS
On the day that campaigners in period dress staged a suffragette style protest outside Parliament, the European Court of Human Rights's own crusade to enfranchise prisoners appeared to die a death at PMQs. Mr Cameron ruled out prisoners getting the vote "under this Government", in a passage the Sun describes as a "humiliating slap down" for Dominic Grieve.
That attitude is popular both on the backbenches and in the press. Today's Telegraph leader urges the Prime Minister to resist votes for lags "at any cost", while the Daily Mail insists that Britain should not pay any ECHR fine and calls Mr Grieve "pedantic and pusillanimous" for good measure.
Still, U-turns are not unheard of, and with Britain on the front foot with its efforts elsewhere to renegotiate its European commitments, it would not be a surprise if a deal deferring the move was eventually tabled. If the worst does come to the worst the Conservatives can expect the now traditional bun fight with the backbenches. Given that, they could do a lot worse that take Sue Cameron's advice in today's Telegraph. Mr Cameron, she argues "doesn't have a Willie - and it shows". A Willie Whitelaw, that is:
"The PM cannot be expected to referee every policy dispute – he does not have the time and it would sometimes put him in an impossible position... Perhaps [the Quad's] role could be expanded to call in relevant ministers and sort out the spats. Unless a way is found to give greater coherence to the Government's policies, then, as Willie once said, it will succeed only in 'stirring up apathy among the voters'."
WATSON CLAIMS "PAEDOPHILE RING" OPERATED IN NUMBER 10
Tom Watson's question at the end of PMQs suggested that the can of worms opened by the Jimmy Savile inquiry may include allegations of wrongdoing by former MPs. Mr Watson asked the Prime Minister to investigate "clear evidence" that a Number 10 aide under a previous administration was linked to Peter Righton, convicted for importing child pornography in 1992. He added he believed that there was "clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10", the Guardian reports.
Mr Watson later clarified some of his remarks on his blog, confirming that the Number 10 source was not the man Edwina Currie alleged had sexual relations with teenage boys:"Within the material seized at Righton's home were letters from known and convicted paedophiles. The contact, who has seen the letters, claimed that one paedophile in particular was of great concern. He said that the paedophile, who worked with children, boasted of a key aide to a former PM who could help get hold of indecent images of children. I am not naming the person for obvious reasons but for clarity it is not former MP, Peter Morrison."
INDYSHAMBLES CONTINUES APACE
North of the border, Alex Salmond's SNP have been enjoying an omnishambles of their own. Today's Guardian warns that hopes of EU accession for an independent Scotland have been further dashed by a hardline attitude from the Spanish government. The Spanish are unwilling to set a precedent which would encourage the breakaway movement in Catalonia.
Although an independent Scotland would clearly need to reassess its diplomatic strategy, the same could be true for what is left of the UK and its defence strategy, MPs will warn today. The eTimes (£) reports that, according to the Scottish Affairs Committee, the rump of the UK could be forced to deactivate its nuclear deterrent "within days". With both halves set to lose out in a separation and the polls firmly in favour of the Union, it has been an ill starred start to Mr Salmond's Braveheart movement.
YOUNG ALREADY MOTORINGSentences you never thought you'd write: encouraging news for the Conservatives from the office of the Chief Whip. Sir George Young has demonstrated what would, under other circumstances, best be described as the "common touch". In one of his first acts in his new role, Sir George cancelled the order for a new Jaguar XF costing £100,000, the Sunreports approvingly. Sir George feels able to transport himself the 300 yards between his office and Parliament without the services of a "swanky limo", the paper notes.
VOTE, OR ELSE!
Well, they've tried the carrot approach without much joy. Time for the stick. The public should take an interest in the police commissioner elections because if they don't then they will "kick themselves" when they find Prezza in charge of local policing, Lord Wasserman tells the Times(£):
"[A low turnout] won't happen the next time because when they realise how much power these people are going to have [the public will] be kicking themselves that they allowed John Prescott to win in Humberside as opposed to someone else. They'll just kick themselves."
TWEETS AND TWITS
Michael Fabricant takes the wrong George Young to task:
@Mike_Fabricant: "Very disappointed that despite my tweets of good wishes to the new Chief Whip
Today's Morning Briefing was edited by Thomas Pascoe.
In The Telegraph
Peter Oborne - Patten personifies everything that is wrong with the BBC elite
Sue Cameron - Cameron doesn't have a Willie - and it shows
Tim Luckhurst - Our press must remain free
Pavel Khodorkovsky - Free my father, Mr Putin, and respect the lawBest of the rest
Melanie Reid in the Times (£) - Yes or no: are you in the anti-English tribe?
Steve Richards in The Independent - So you're in favour of giving councils more power? Neither am I
John Gapper in the FT (£) - The Savile affair exposes a hole at the BBC's heart
Martin Kettle in the Guardian - If we are "better together", what kind of UK will we be?
TODAY: David Cameron in talks with European Council president Herman van Rompuy at Downing Street.
09:15 am: Photocall for David Cameron receiving Royal British Legion poppy. The Prime Minister will pose for a photo on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street.
09:30 am: First estimate of Q3 GDP is published by the Office for National Statistics.
10:15 am: Martin Wheatley, of the Financial Services Authority, gives evidence to the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards. Grimond Room, Portcullis House
02:40 pm: Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt speech to National Children and Adult Services Conference. Mr Hunt is expected to make an announcement on dementia friendly environments. Devonshire Park Centre, Eastbourne.