Thursday, 23 May 2013

Woolwich attack.. Ben Brogan's morning briefing

Good morning. The Prime Minister, like everyone else, must be in shock from yesterday's senseless terrorist attack in Woolwich - the first successful one on British soil since the 7/7 bombings. You can follow the latest on our live blog.
The Government's reaction so far has hit exactly the right tone Theresa May summoned the government's emergency response committe Cobra while David Cameron was returning from his curtailed visit to Brussels and Paris. The Prime Minister will be chairing another Cobra meeting this morning. 
Mr Cameron's initial response - "The terrorists will never win, because they can never beat the values that we hold dear" - hit exactly the right tone, and was a reminder of his calm and decisiveness in a crisis. Ed Miliband, who cut short his own trip to Germany, said that the British people would "be united in believing that this terror on our streets cannot be allowed to stand". Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that "People across our country, whatever background they are from, will be united in condemning this attack and we will stand together, as we always do, in our response."
It all serves as a tragic reminder of both the heroism of ordinary Britons, and our continued vulnerability to terrorism. The official threat level in mainland Britain from international terrorism remains substantial.
Our leader emphasises that Britons must remain resolute:
"Britain’s enemies, both within and without, want to destroy not just our lives but our values – including our pride in and support for the Armed Forces. And that is something they will never do."  
In typical jargon-speak - "address supply-side constraints and also provide near-term support for the economy" - the IMF's annual UK report contained plenty for George Osborne to mull over. As the FT (£) reports, the key recommendation was to bring forward infrastructure spending planned for future years to offset the 'drag' brought from £10 billion in spending cuts and tax rises this year. The IMF also criticised the recent Help to Buy mortgage scheme, notes the FT (£), who says that it risks inflating house prices by inflating demand without addressing the issue of supply. The Independent have usefully translated the IMF's recommendations, including for a land tax.  
In his speech yesterday, Nick Clegg provided the greatest clarification yet on an EU referendum. As The Times (£) reports, Mr Clegg said "There should be a referendum when there’s a question to answer". Playing down differences with Mr Cameron on Europe, he said, "If there’s any difference about this it’s about when you should hold it."
As we exclusively report, Michael Gove has approved one military-style school in Oldham, and there are plans to develop a wider chain of these. The Phoenix Free School, which last year had its free school application rejected, will open next year, staffed by former members of the Armed Forces and led by a serving Army captain. Like the other schools that will follow, it will have a zero tolerance approach to bad behaviour, with a particular emphasis on increasing sporting competitiveness among pupils.  
A register of interests is necessary to stop police and crime commissioners (PCCs) abusing their powers, the Home Affairs Select Committee will today recommend. Some PCCs have appointed ten or more people they have personal or political contact with to office, over a third of PCCs are on track to spend more than the police authorities they replaced and some have still not published required financial information, reports The Times (£). It just goes to show: when you delegate power, you can also delegate the abuse of that power.
It hasn't quite reached Michael Gove levels, but Jeremy Hunt is increasingly showing signs of confronting the professionals of his department. He will today give a speech calling for GPs to take more responsibility for evening and weekend primary care. In his speech to the King's Fund, Mr Hunt will say "As a member of the public, I want my GP to be someone that knows me and my family." In response, the chairman of the British Medical Association's GP committee called for a return to local GPs working as a co-operative to provide care at evenings and weekends.
Boris has told the London Assembly that he has failed to convince the Coalition to toughen anti-strike legislation. As we report, he says he has been unable to convince Mr Cameron to mandate that a strike could only go ahead if 50 percent of workers cast a vote, and, with more London Underground strikes threatened, says that "you're doing potentially huge damage to London’s economy on the say so of a relatively tiny proportion of the workforce."
For the third consecutive year Angela Merkel tops the Forbes list of the world's most powerful women - and the Queen and J.K. Rowling are the only British women in the top 100. Dave wouldn't disagree.

Mike Gapes reacts to the Woolwich murder:
@MikeGapes: Appalling terrorist murder must not be allowed to divide us. Londoners and UK residents of all faiths must stand together against extremism.

In the Telegraph
Telegraph View - Governing alone 
Best of the rest
David Aaronovitch in The Times (£) - We're in the age of coalitions. Get used to it
Danny Dorling in The Guardian - The unsustainable wealth of the £1m household
Chris Giles in the FT (£) - No magic pill for Britain's economy
Today: William Hague is in Israel for peace talks.
09:30 am: Revised UK growth statistics for Q1 2013 are published.
12:00 pm London: David Cameron talks with the President of Croatia, Ivo Josipovic.

08:30 pm: European Central Bank President Mario Draghi discusses the relationship between the EU and the UK.