Striking unions “are running out of money”

“Striking unions are running out of money and will have to back down over higher pay, ministers have said. Action is thought to be costing the unions millions of pounds for each strike day, with some now increasing levies and turning to public donations to try to top up their reserves. A senior government source said the costs, including strike pay and hardship funding for those taking action, were unsustainable. They claimed that some unions would run out of cash to support their members by the spring.” – The Times

  • Nurses on strike over pay should compromise over demand for 19 per cent rise, TUC says – Daily Mail
  • Government will not be ‘held to ransom’ by militant union bosses with ludicrous demands, warns Wallace – The Sun
  • Union attacked for ‘pure propaganda’ after saying borders are less secure during strikes – Daily Telegraph
  • The unions have shown themselves to be anachronistic dinosaurs – Leo McKinstry, Daily Express
  • The surge of industrial action is politically motivated – Leader, The Sun
  • Strikes could backfire on the trade unions – Leader, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Tory Diary: Our survey. Seven in ten Party members support the Government’s pay policy. One in five believe in exceptions for some cases – “such as the nurses”

Sunak “considers new Covid travel curbs” as Chinese cases soar, claims Daily Telegraph…

“Rishi Sunak is considering the return of Covid travel restrictions for the first time since pandemic rules were scrapped in February, amid concern over soaring cases in China. On Thursday, ministers said adopting tighter rules for people arriving from China was “under review” after a surge in cases following Beijing’s decision to end its zero Covid policy. America, Japan, India and Italy are among the nations to have already announced tests for travellers from China after a dramatic rise in infections in the country in recent days.” – Daily Telegraph

  •  Kearns attacks Northampton and Kettering Hospitals as “wrong and cruel” for stopping friends and family from seeing their sick loved ones – The Sun
  • World must be vigilant amid China’s Covid reopening – Leader, Financial Times

…but The Times reports Ministers are “resisting” such measures

“Ministers are resisting calls from senior Tories to introduce restrictions on travellers from China after a surge in Covid infections as Beijing abandons its attempt to contain the virus. Scientific advisers are understood to have told ministers there is little value in preventing the arrival of Covid cases from China when more than a million people in Britain are already infected and there is no sign of a dangerous new variant.” – The Times

Blair backed a seat for Putin at the “top table”

“Tony Blair argued Vladimir Putin should be given a seat at the world’s “top table” despite misgivings from officials, newly released files reveal. Papers released by the National Archives show in early 2001, the then-prime minister believed it was important to encourage the new Russian president to adopt Western values. But officials questioned if the ex-KGB spy could be trusted. Files also show Mr Putin offered to build a gas pipeline to the  UK. In early 2001, Mr Blair explained his approach to the Russian President telling new American Vice-President Dick Cheney that it would encourage him to “reach for” Western attitudes and the West’s economic model.” – BBC

  • Britain backed plan to kill Osama Bin Laden nine months before 9/11 – The Times
  • Blair gave Putin silver cufflinks for his birthday, archives reveal – The Guardian
  • Officials wanted to move Millennium Dome to Swindon and turn it into garden centre – The Sun

Cost of living 1) Tax increases “will mean biggest income squeeze in a century”

“Jeremy Hunt’s tax raid will help to trigger the biggest income squeeze in a century as the cost of living crisis becomes “far worse” next year, forecasters have warned. Households will suffer a 3.8pc slump in real disposable incomes in 2023 because of rising taxes, interest rates and energy bills, according to predictions by the Resolution Foundation think tank. This equates to an £880 drop in earning power and is the biggest fall for a century.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Parents on minimum wage “spending 27 per cent of their income on childcare” – The Sun
  • Homeowners face £3,000 rise in mortgage payments – The Times
  • We can cut tax, if we tackle our ballooning public spending like Mrs Thatcher did – Daniel Johnson, Daily Mail

Cost of living 2) Hunt “to halve” support that helps businesses pay fuel bills

“Rishi Sunak is poised to halve financial support on energy bills for businesses, amid concerns about the cost. When she was prime minister Liz Truss announced a six-month package of support for businesses in October that capped wholesale energy prices on electricity and gas. That is expected to cost £18 billion by the time it ends on March 20. Next month Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, will announce a 12-month extension to the scheme but with the level of support more than halved, amid concerns about taxpayers’ exposure to fluctuating energy prices.” – The Times

  • No 10 is right to wean Britain’s industry off the relief given for high power costs – Leader, The Times

Report into Prevent “will call for complete overhaul”

“A landmark review will call for a complete overhaul of the Government’s flagship counter-terrorism programme after a series of institutional failures. The Prevent scheme is intended to combat Islamism as well as other threats, including far-Right extremists and those with ‘mixed, unstable or unclear’ ideologies. But a report by William Shawcross, the former head of the Charity Commission, is understood to have found huge gaps in the programme. The Home Office-commissioned review, yet to be published, even found Prevent had channelled taxpayers’ money to groups promoting Islamist extremism.” – Daily Mail

Rees-Mogg urges the Government to keep to schedule in scrapping EU laws

“Rishi Sunak is under pressure from rightwing Tory MPs to stick to a 2023 deadline for reviewing or scrapping EU-era laws on the UK statute book, warning that Labour will exploit any delay at the next election. Jacob Rees-Mogg, former business secretary, said Labour would claim the Conservatives had a secret agenda to abolish sensitive workplace and environmental protections if the exercise were not completed before an election, expected in 2024. Rees-Mogg was the architect of the government’s retained EU law bill, which includes a “sunset clause” where any EU-derived legislation that had not been reviewed or revoked before the end of 2023 would automatically expire. Tory MPs in the pro-Brexit European Research Group said Sunak should quickly complete the audit so it is clear before the next election which EU laws the government intended to keep.” – Financial Times

BBC dramas ‘warping modern Britain’ by ‘allowing Left-wing bias’

“The BBC is “warping modern Britain” by allowing a Left-wing, politically correct bias to infuse the storylines of drama series, a new report has said. Some shows are described as being close to outright propaganda because of their criticisms of Brexit, the police, capitalism, the nuclear deterrent and government agencies. The Campaign for Common Sense reviewed more than a year’s output of BBC drama and found that the corporation was presenting a version of the UK that few viewers would recognise. As well as lecturing viewers on topics including climate change, the BBC indulges in its own form of social engineering by over-representing minorities, the report suggested.” – Daily Telegraph

One in ten Tory peers have given more than £100,000 to party

“One in 10 Conservative peers are big donors to the party, giving almost £50m in total, new analysis shows, amid controversy over more financial backers believed to have been put forward on Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list. After speculation about more donors due to get peerages within the coming weeks, figures compiled by the Guardian show 27 out of the party’s 274 peers have given more than £100,000 to the Conservatives. The rate of donors being given peerages appears to have picked up over the last six years, during the tenures of Theresa May and Boris Johnson.” – The Guardian

Other political news:

  • SNP restores whip to MP Patrick Grady after sexual assault suspension – The Guardian
  • Is Sturgeon losing her grip on the SNP? – Financial Times
  • Bolivia opposition leader ‘kidnapped’ by government – The Times

Goodwin: Sunak needs an upbeat patriotic message to win

“The year 2022 will go down in the history books as the year of three prime ministers, with Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, and Rishi Sunak. Ask voters which of these Prime Ministers was best and they don’t see Rishi Sunak — they say Boris Johnson. There is a reason for this. Johnson might have made mistakes but he brought a big dose of boosterism to the country, an unabashed belief in Britain rarely voiced by our depressing and defeatist political class. It was also a strong push back to the dreary woke narrative that everything here is terrible, backward, and racist. But most voters don’t think like this. Most voters don’t want to be told over and over again what is wrong with their home.” – Matthew Goodwin, The Sun

  • The PM helms a storm-wrecked ship – Alex Massie, The Times
  • Western conservatives are at risk from generations of voters who are no longer moving to the right as they age – John Burn-Murdoch, Financial Times

>Yesterday: Murdo Fraser on Comment: Theresa May doesn’t seem to have factored in how unpopular Sturgeon’s Bill is in Scotland – with its self ID attack on women’s rights

Andrews: When will we admit that the NHS is a failure?

“If the people who needed urgent attention were to start demanding to be seen in a timely manner, “over-run” would just be the start of the NHS’s troubles. But a system has been devised to avoid any appearance of failing to deliver. The public are piled onto a 7.2m waiting list instead, asked to wait, asked to postpone, asked in veiled ways to stay away when there’s any kind of disruption or crunch, as to not jeopardise or sully the reputation of “our NHS”, the “envy of the world”. Of course no one envies it. It’s a failed healthcare model. And it has been for some time; we’re just still not ready to admit it.” – Kate Andrews, Daily Telegraph

Nelson: A good year for democracy

“In the end, authoritarian regimes stumble because they are authoritarian. Without debate and dissent, it’s harder to spot and correct errors. The arguments and protests that make democratic politics so messy are a feedback mechanism. Without this feedback, governments end up embarking on – or wedded to – calamitous mistakes. This has been a pretty miserable year for Britain – but Ukrainian courage has made it a good year, perhaps even a decisive one, for the free world. We now have the widest democratic alliance the world has seen and a few more reminders why democracy, for all of its flaws, remains the world’s least-bad option.” – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

  • The 2024 election will be cataclysmic for the Conservatives – Stephen Daisley, The Spectator
  • The Falklands: When Britain fought alone and proud – Piers Shepherd, Conservative Woman
  • Ten reasons 2022 was a good year after all – Harry Phibbs, CapX
  • Europe’s obsession with organic farming hurts the poor – Ralph, Schoellhammer, Unherd

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