Daily Archives: September 16, 2013

Elizabeth Rigby

Just to pour a bit more controversy over the Conservative Renewal conference (where Tim Loughton made his comments about Sarah Teather) Robert McLean, the chair of the Windsor Conservative Association, was also forced to put out a curious statement. In this he disavowed comments from George Bathhurst, Windsor councillor and a organiser of the conference.

Robert McLean, Chairman of the Windsor Conservative Association, said:

Windsor Conservative Association (‘WCA’) wishes to make clear that it wholly dissociates itself from recent comments made by George Bathurst in relation to the Conservative Renewal conference that do not reflect the views of WCA nor our member of parliament.

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Elizabeth Rigby

Tim Loughton on Saturday made an astonishing attack on Sarah Teather, accusing the former families minister of not “really believing in family” as he remarked that she “certainly didn’t produce one of her own”.

Mr Loughton, who worked with Ms Teather in the education department before they both lost their jobs in last year’s reshuffle, made the remarks in a debate on promoting the family at the Conservative Renewal Conference in Windsor.

He told the audience that Ms Teather, who has announced she is stepping down as a MP in the next election, was a “huge disappointment” in office.

“The person who was actually in charge of family policy amongst the ministerial team at the DfE was Sarah Teather. Which was a bit difficult because she doesn’t really believe in family. She certainly didn’t produce one of her own. So it became a bit of a family-free zone. I think that is a huge disappointment,” he said.

One Lib Dem minister on Monday described his remarks as “shocking”.

Mr Loughton made the remark as he was discussing the problems he had promoting marriage and family within coalition government, clearly annoyed at the Lib Dems opposition to marriage tax breaks — a policy that his party has finally got the government to back in return for getting the gay marriage bill through parliament.

His remarks in a session on “marriage and the family –how do we hold onto the family, in Read more

Jim Pickard

Britain has spent more than £33bn on military campaigns overseas over the last 20 years according to the government’s own data – with the vast majority of that money spent on the Afghan intervention.

The debate over what to do in Syria in recent weeks has focused mainly on the human and political costs: both of intervening and not intervening. More than 600 British troops have died during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Advocates of action have argued that it would have saved countless Syrian lives.

But with Britain in the grip of fiscal “austerity” – and more spending cuts seen as inevitable in the coming years – the cost of further military actions would be relevant.

The public have been consistently opposed to Syrian intervention, with fewer than one in five voters believing Britain should join the US in strikes according to ICM.

David Cameron, in the August 29 Syria debate, said he was aware of the “deep public scepticism” about war, saying it was “linked to the difficult economic times people have had to deal with.”

Ministers have never put any figure on how much an intervention in Syria might have cost. Past guidance by governments on military action have often been an under-estimate.

Francis Tusa, editor of Defence Analysis, says there is usually a “conspiracy of optimism” Read more

Kiran Stacey

“Given his tendency to treat rebellion like a reluctant bather inching his way into the sea at Skegness, it made sense to push him right in at the outset, on the grounds that he’d run straight back to his towel, and not try again for at least six months.”

These words were written by Damien McBride, the Gordon Brown spinner, about David Miliband. (I would link to his blog but he’s taken it down – almost as if he has a book coming out.)

But they could easily have been written by anyone from team Clegg about Vince Cable, who this morning backed down from his overnight threat to rebel against the leadership on the economic motion that has just been debated at Lib Dem conference. Read more