Diane Abbott calls for fairer immigration system for families

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, is to announce a Labour policy pledge on Wednesday to end “family break-up through the immigration system”.

Abbott is due to use her speech to outline the “fair and reasonable values” upon which Labour will base its immigration policy, a day before the quarterly publication of the net migration figures.

The migration data are expected to show growing evidence of a “Brexodus” with fewer European Union nationals coming to live in Britain and more leaving the country.

Abbott will renew Labour’s commitment at the last general election to scrap the government’s “false and unworkable net migration target” of bringing levels down to below 100,000 a year.

She is to highlight the fact that Theresa May’s target, and the hostile environment measures put in place that have so far failed to achieve it, are “leading to the scandalous situation where we are turning away doctors, even though there is a severe shortage of trained personnel in the NHS”.

The new commitment to ending family break-up in the immigration system will be explained, Abbott saying: “We will allow the carers or parents of admitted child refugees to come here. We will also end the practice of deporting the children, currently without entitlement to be here, once they turn 18, even when their parents are entitled to be here.”

It is “neither fair nor reasonable to break up families” in this way, according to Abbott. She is also to promise to use the speech to identify a large number of other current policies that do not comply with Labour’s “fair and reasonable values” and which will be altered or discontinued.

In recent weeks Abbott has been arguing that the immigration system is broken, not because it is not “tough” enough but because it lacks humanity and is based on meaningless targets rather than the priorities of jobs, growth and prosperity.

She has also sharply criticised the use of immigration detention without a time limit, promising that Labour will deal with all cases promptly and efficiently, and allow those who are entitled to stay to do so, and to deport those who are not.

Abbott’s intervention comes after the home secretary, Amber Rudd, confirmed that the long delayed government white paper on post-Brexit immigration had been postponed again and would be unlikely to appear before the autumn.

Gaetano Donizetti opera lost for 200 years set for London premiere

Eight years of detective work will culminate in July’s first performance of ‘amazing’ tragedy by great Italian composer

Lucia Di Lammermoor






Diana Damrau and Charles Castronovo in Royal Opera’s 2016 production of Lucia Di Lammermoor, Donizetti’s best-known work.
Photograph: Tristram Kenton

A lost opera by one of the great Italian composers is to have its world premiere in London almost 180 years after it was written.

Gaetano Donizetti was a leading figure in 19th-century Italian music, along with Giuseppe Verdi and Vincenzo Bellini. His most famous work, Lucia di Lammermoor, written in 1835, is seen as one of the great European operas. But L’Ange de Nisida (The Angel of Nisida) – composed in the late 1830s after he moved to work in Paris – never saw the light of day. It was written for the city’s Théâtre de la Renaissance, but the company went bankrupt before it was premiered.

The opera was thought to have been lost until musicologist Candida Mantica, a PhD student at Southampton University, painstakingly located and deciphered the score’s fragments over eight years.

Mantica said she found some pages in Paris’s Bibliothèque Nationale, but they were scattered among 18 folders and in no specific order. The reconstruction involved archive research across Europe and the US. “I was able to identify about 470 pages of autograph music [in the composer’s hand] thanks to a draft copy of the libretto, which allowed me to establish their original order,” she added.

The work will be premiered on 18 July at Covent Garden by London-based Opera Rara, which performs and records rare and forgotten 19th-century operas, in partnership with the Royal Opera House.

L’Ange de Nisida is a romance, telling the story of a soldier, Leone, who is in love with his king’s mistress.

Gaetano Donizetti



Gaetano Donizetti in a portrait by Gennaro Ruo. Photograph: Getty

Sir Mark Elder, artistic director of Opera Rara and music director of the Hallé Orchestra, will conduct the performance. He told the Observer: “It’s a work of top quality. Very beautiful.” Donizetti used some of this music in later works, including 1840’s La Favorite, but Elder said: “Over half of [L’Ange] has never ever been heard, which is terribly exciting.”

He said it had some “very powerful scenes” and noted that, because it was designed for a smaller theatre, “there is a delicacy and intimacy about the writing that is gorgeous”.

Donizetti died in 1848, aged just 50, and his masterpieces also include the 1832 comedy L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of Love).

Roger Parker, repertoire consultant to Opera Rara and music professor at King’s College, London, said: “For L’Ange to get as popular as Lucia di Lammermoor or L’Elisir d’Amore, that would be ambitious. Who knows what’s going to happen? But the musical quality is as good as anything he did. That’s the surprising thing about it. When operas are discovered, quite often you find they were undiscovered for good reason. But this one really is amazing music. It’s some of the best music that you’ll hear from Donizetti.”

He added: “All his other operas have been premiered now. This is the last one, and it’s one of the best.”

Donizetti’s letters of the period reflect his annoyance over his cancelled opera, and despair over the commissioning theatre company. In one he complains that: “The management were real donkeys.”

Parker believes that L’Ange de Nisida will “rewrite how we think about [Donizetti] as a composer, in particular about the breadth of his musical inspiration. It’s a curious mixture of the comic and the serious.”

Donizetti scholars knew of this opera, he said. “But they had no idea what it was like … So there was no discussion of it in any of the literature.”

He praised Mantica’s “astonishing” detective work: “Candida just went to Paris and kept finding another few bars. I think we’ve got more or less everything he wrote now.”

The opera is likely to last about two-and-a-half hours, excluding the interval. The soloists will include soprano Joyce El-Khoury as Sylvia. A live recording will be made for release next year. The premiere will be a concert performance rather than a full staging. Covent Garden is “a wonderful platform for bringing this unknown piece to people’s attention”, according to Elder. “I can imagine it being staged, absolutely.”

The Guardian view on Theresa May’s Munich speech: partnership should be indivisible | Editorial

Britain is offering commitment and cooperation to Europe on security and intelligence. It should do the same in its Brexit strategy

Theresa May and Angela Merkel speak in Berlin on 16 February 2018






Theresa May and Angela Merkel speak in Berlin on 16 February 2018. ‘Theresa May is in every context except Brexit a traditional multilateralist.’ Photograph: Markus Schreiber/AP

A year ago, the annual Munich security conference – the most important gathering of international defence chiefs and ministers in the calendar – met to debate the proposition: “Post-truth, post-West, post-Order?” A year on, this weekend’s Munich conference has a new theme: “To the Brink – and Back?” The sense of relief implicit in the difference between the 2017 and the 2018 themes is unmistakeable and, to an extent, justifiable. The Trump administration has not, after all, trashed everything in the policymakers’ world, as it threatened to do 12 months ago. Explosions in relations with Iran, North Korea and even China have been averted, for now. Washington has not so far rolled over in the face of Russian aggression in eastern Europe. The so-called Islamic State has been pushed back, for the moment. The insurgent political tide that swept the US and the UK in 2016 has mostly been kept at bay elsewhere.

Yet while the worst may have been avoided, genuine positives are thin on the ground. Global confrontations continue and in some cases – the Middle East, for example – to deteriorate dangerously. The alliances that exist to control and resist them are still in shock at the Trump effect. Theresa May is in every context except Brexit a traditional multilateralist. She will certainly give a less thoroughly provocative speech at the Munich conference on Saturday than the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, did at the same venue 12 months ago, when he ludicrously described Brexit as a national “liberation”. Yet, viewed from elsewhere in Europe, Mrs May still leads a country that, by voting for Brexit, has made a serious contribution to the problem of instability, not one that is playing a reliable role in solving it.

Mrs May’s rhetorical answer is the mantra that Britain is leaving the European Union but not leaving Europe. Her visit to Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday and her appearance at the Munich conference are designed to underpin that message and to make it a springboard for her Brexit strategy. Britain, Mrs May says, is fully committed to European cooperation, through Nato and in other ways, to deal with common threats to security. She will cite the fact that British troops are on the frontline against Russia in Estonia, that she has just pledged a new support role with France in the Sahel, that planned troop withdrawals from Germany are now being reexamined, and that the UK is a heavy-hitting and reliable partner in intelligence sharing and police coordination.

Security and intelligence have now been placed squarely in the vanguard of Mrs May’s political effort to persuade the rest of Europe that Britain remains a reliable and committed post-Brexit partner. The head of MI6, Alex Younger, appeared in Munich on Friday with his French and German counterparts to commit themselves to cross-border information sharing. His predecessor Sir John Sawers and the former GCHQ chief Robert Hannigan took to the media with a similar message. And the prime minister will cap this all off on Saturday in a speech that repeatedly urges closer cooperation with Europe and proposes a new UK-EU security treaty.

There are things to welcome here. After a grim two years of government negativity about the EU, it is a relief to hear the prime minister praising the union and being practical about it. Yet it is hard to see what EU partners are supposed to make of a prime minister who embraces the union at one moment then turns her back on it the rest of the time. The one thing that she could do to make her protestations more credible is to bolster it with a soft Brexit strategy. But this, disastrously, is the one thing she is terrified of doing.

Police failing to record thousands of crimes, including rape

Thames Valley and North Yorkshire police forces singled out for ‘inadequate’ recording of reported crimes by watchdog

Police tape






Thames Valley’s inspector of constabulary, Zoe Billingham, said she is ‘disappointed’ with the findings.
Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Thousands of reported crimes including rape and domestic abuse are going unrecorded by police, a watchdog has warned.

The shortcomings mean victims are being failed, inspectors said. Two forces – Thames Valley and North Yorkshire – were singled out for their “inadequate” crime recording by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The assessment of Thames Valley found that nearly one in five offences (19.6%) were not being properly recorded, which equates to approximately 35,200 crimes a year.

Crimes that are going unrecorded by the force include sexual offences, domestic abuse and rape.

Zoe Billingham, the inspector of the constabulary, said she was “disappointed” with the quality of crime recording in Thames Valley, but that she was satisfied the force works hard to ensure victims of crime are safeguarded.

She said: “It now needs to ensure that it records crimes at the earliest opportunity, and that there is proper supervision of crime-recording decisions.”

The report on North Yorkshire estimated that the force fails to record 9,200 reported crimes a year, also including sexual offences, domestic abuse and rape.

North Yorkshire’s inspector of constabulary, Matt Parr, said the police had implemented most of the recommendations from their 2014 report, adding they still found plenty of room for improvement.

He said: “As it stands today, we estimate almost one in five crimes in North Yorkshire are not properly recorded. This is simply inexcusable.

“The force has robust processes in place to ensure the safeguarding of victims of these crimes, but too many offences continue to go unrecorded and therefore not investigated properly.”

He added that North Yorkshire police were “potentially depriving victims of the services and justice to which they are entitled”.

Thames Valley police said they accepted the findings and will be addressing the concerns raised.

John Campbell, the force’s deputy chief constable, said: “This reports makes for unwelcome reading especially for a force that performs so well when measured in terms of our effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy.”

He added he was pleased the watchdog confirmed they found no issues of unethical behaviour.

“I can assure the communities of Thames Valley that every day, every officer is working hard to keep you safe from harm and to protect victims of crime,” he said.

Lisa Winward, the deputy chief constable of North Yorkshire police, acknowledged the force needs to do “much better”.

She said: “Based on its inspection last year, HMICFRS found that although our officers and staff are focused on the needs of victims, our administration is letting us down, and we are not recording all crimes as we should. That must change, and we have already started to make improvements.”

The findings are the latest from a series of rolling inspections looking at the crime data “integrity” of every police force in England and Wales.

Inspectors launched the programme in November 2015 after finding the national average of under-recording of crimes stood at an “inexcusably poor” 19%.

Police failing to record thousands of crimes, including rape

Thames Valley and North Yorkshire police forces singled out for ‘inadequate’ recording of reported crimes by watchdog

Police tape






Thames Valley’s inspector of constabulary, Zoe Billingham, said she is ‘disappointed’ with the findings.
Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Thousands of reported crimes including rape and domestic abuse are going unrecorded by police, a watchdog has warned.

The shortcomings mean victims are being failed, inspectors said. Two forces – Thames Valley and North Yorkshire – were singled out for their “inadequate” crime recording by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The assessment of Thames Valley found that nearly one in five offences (19.6%) were not being properly recorded, which equates to approximately 35,200 crimes a year.

Crimes that are going unrecorded by the force include sexual offences, domestic abuse and rape.

Zoe Billingham, the inspector of the constabulary, said she was “disappointed” with the quality of crime recording in Thames Valley, but that she was satisfied the force works hard to ensure victims of crime are safeguarded.

She said: “It now needs to ensure that it records crimes at the earliest opportunity, and that there is proper supervision of crime-recording decisions.”

The report on North Yorkshire estimated that the force fails to record 9,200 reported crimes a year, also including sexual offences, domestic abuse and rape.

North Yorkshire’s inspector of constabulary, Matt Parr, said the police had implemented most of the recommendations from their 2014 report, adding they still found plenty of room for improvement.

He said: “As it stands today, we estimate almost one in five crimes in North Yorkshire are not properly recorded. This is simply inexcusable.

“The force has robust processes in place to ensure the safeguarding of victims of these crimes, but too many offences continue to go unrecorded and therefore not investigated properly.”

He added that North Yorkshire police were “potentially depriving victims of the services and justice to which they are entitled”.

Thames Valley police said they accepted the findings and will be addressing the concerns raised.

John Campbell, the force’s deputy chief constable, said: “This reports makes for unwelcome reading especially for a force that performs so well when measured in terms of our effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy.”

He added he was pleased the watchdog confirmed they found no issues of unethical behaviour.

“I can assure the communities of Thames Valley that every day, every officer is working hard to keep you safe from harm and to protect victims of crime,” he said.

Lisa Winward, the deputy chief constable of North Yorkshire police, acknowledged the force needs to do “much better”.

She said: “Based on its inspection last year, HMICFRS found that although our officers and staff are focused on the needs of victims, our administration is letting us down, and we are not recording all crimes as we should. That must change, and we have already started to make improvements.”

The findings are the latest from a series of rolling inspections looking at the crime data “integrity” of every police force in England and Wales.

Inspectors launched the programme in November 2015 after finding the national average of under-recording of crimes stood at an “inexcusably poor” 19%.

Police failing to record thousands of crimes, including rape

Thames Valley and North Yorkshire police forces singled out for ‘inadequate’ recording of reported crimes by watchdog

Police tape






Thames Valley’s inspector of constabulary, Zoe Billingham, said she is ‘disappointed’ with the findings.
Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Thousands of reported crimes including rape and domestic abuse are going unrecorded by police, a watchdog has warned.

The shortcomings mean victims are being failed, inspectors said. Two forces – Thames Valley and North Yorkshire – were singled out for their “inadequate” crime recording by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The assessment of Thames Valley found that nearly one in five offences (19.6%) were not being properly recorded, which equates to approximately 35,200 crimes a year.

Crimes that are going unrecorded by the force include sexual offences, domestic abuse and rape.

Zoe Billingham, the inspector of the constabulary, said she was “disappointed” with the quality of crime recording in Thames Valley, but that she was satisfied the force works hard to ensure victims of crime are safeguarded.

She said: “It now needs to ensure that it records crimes at the earliest opportunity, and that there is proper supervision of crime-recording decisions.”

The report on North Yorkshire estimated that the force fails to record 9,200 reported crimes a year, also including sexual offences, domestic abuse and rape.

North Yorkshire’s inspector of constabulary, Matt Parr, said the police had implemented most of the recommendations from their 2014 report, adding they still found plenty of room for improvement.

He said: “As it stands today, we estimate almost one in five crimes in North Yorkshire are not properly recorded. This is simply inexcusable.

“The force has robust processes in place to ensure the safeguarding of victims of these crimes, but too many offences continue to go unrecorded and therefore not investigated properly.”

He added that North Yorkshire police were “potentially depriving victims of the services and justice to which they are entitled”.

Thames Valley police said they accepted the findings and will be addressing the concerns raised.

John Campbell, the force’s deputy chief constable, said: “This reports makes for unwelcome reading especially for a force that performs so well when measured in terms of our effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy.”

He added he was pleased the watchdog confirmed they found no issues of unethical behaviour.

“I can assure the communities of Thames Valley that every day, every officer is working hard to keep you safe from harm and to protect victims of crime,” he said.

Lisa Winward, the deputy chief constable of North Yorkshire police, acknowledged the force needs to do “much better”.

She said: “Based on its inspection last year, HMICFRS found that although our officers and staff are focused on the needs of victims, our administration is letting us down, and we are not recording all crimes as we should. That must change, and we have already started to make improvements.”

The findings are the latest from a series of rolling inspections looking at the crime data “integrity” of every police force in England and Wales.

Inspectors launched the programme in November 2015 after finding the national average of under-recording of crimes stood at an “inexcusably poor” 19%.

Private water payouts are a public scandal, says Labour

John McDonnell promises renationalisation of water, energy and rail under Labour

John McDonnell






John McDonnell has called the shareholder payouts of water companies a ‘scandal’.
Photograph: James McCauley/Rex/Shutterstock

Labour launched a full-frontal attack on the privatised water industry last night, accusing companies of paying out the “scandalous” sum of £13.5bn in dividends to shareholders since 2010, while claiming huge tax breaks and forcing up prices for millions of customers.

The assault by shadow chancellor John McDonnell came as he pledged total, “permanent” and cost-free renationalisation of water, energy and rail if Labour won power at the next election. The three privatisations in the 1980s and 1990s became hallmarks of the Tory governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

The dramatic intervention – which stunned the companies involved – was the strongest denunciation yet by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour of the privatisation programme that has become part of the British political landscape of the last 40 years.

The Conservative party and the Confederation of British Industry both condemned McDonnell’s comments. The CBI said Labour’s renationalisation agenda would “wind the clock back on our economy” while chief secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss warned that placing politicians in charge of public utilities “didn’t work last time and won’t work this time”.

McDonnell told the Observer that water companies could not even claim to offer choice to customers but instead operated regional monopolies, and were therefore able to increase prices without the risk of losing out to competitors, as well as “load up debt” while paying out huge dividends to shareholders.

“It is a national scandal that since 2010 these companies have paid billions to their shareholders, almost all their profits, whilst receiving more in tax credits than they paid in tax,” he said. “These companies operate regional monopolies which have profited at the expense of consumers who have no choice in who supplies their water.

“The next Labour government will call an end to the privatisation of our public sector, and call time on the water companies, who have a stranglehold over working households. Instead, Labour will replace this dysfunctional system with a network of regional, publicly owned water companies.”

Citing figures from the National Audit Office, the shadow chancellor said water bills had risen by 40% in real terms since privatisation of the industry in 1989. In 2016-17, the forecast average for water bills was £389 per household. McDonnell claimed that in 2017, privatised water companies paid out a total £1.6bn to their shareholders. Since 2010, the total was £13.5bn.

Michael Roberts, the chief executive of Water UK, which represents private water companies, said McDonnell was completely mistaken: “It’s wrong for Labour to suggest that our water system is broken. Water companies secure capital provided by lenders and shareholders, who need water companies to make a return in order to finance significant improvements to the industry.

“Under public ownership, the water sector in England was starved of cash and standards were poor. Private companies have instead invested heavily to reduce leakage, improve drinking water quality, and protect the environment – and they continue to invest £8 billion each year in even better services. In real terms, bills are roughly where they were 20 years ago and will be falling over the next few years.”

Meanwhile, at a conference on alternative models of ownership in London, Corbyn backed the nationalisation of Britain’s energy system as a way to tackle climate change. He said that “the challenge of climate change and the threat of climate catastrophe requires us to be at least as radical” as the 1945 Labour government that created the National Health Service. Corbyn said that Labour would back a “great wave of change across the world in favour of public, democratic ownership and control of our services and utilities.

“We can put Britain at the forefront of the wave of change across the world in favour of public, democratic ownership and control of our services and utilities,” he said.

“From India to Canada, countries across the world are waking up to the fact that privatisation has failed, and taking back control of their public services,” he added.

The water industry was privatised in 1989, transferring the assets and personnel of the 10 water authorities into limited companies. Capital was raised by floating the companies on the stock exchange, accompanied by a one-off injection of public capital, the write-off of government debt and the provision of capital tax allowances.