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24 Feb 2009 09:00:01

Tuesday 24th February 2009

8.15pm Local Government: Boris Johnson cleared of wrongdoing over "Greengate"

6.15pm ToryDiary update: Ken Clarke pledges to support part-privatisation of the Royal Mail

Annabel_goldie_25.15pm ToryDiary: Annabel Goldie empashises the need for a close working relationship between Holyrood and Westminster

4pm Parliament: Are the spiritual needs of the Armed Forces adequately met?

3.45pm Parliament: David Ruffley discovers that the Government doesn't know what the shortfall in police numbers is

3pm Parliament: Liam Fox says NATO allies are "shamefully failing" to do fair share in Afghanistan

2pm Matthew Elliott on CentreRight previews his forthcoming book, The Great European Rip-Off

1.45pm ToryDiary: Tory members see Alan Sugar as most dangerous opponent for Boris in 2012

1.15pm ToryDiary update: Standards Committee failed to reach conclusion on Spelman case this morning

1pm Seats and Candidates: Fancy running the Conservative campaign in Northern Ireland?

12.30pm Tim Montgomerie on CentreRight: "If Obama is mostly successful, then the epistemological skepticism natural to conservatives will have been discredited."

10.45am Tim Montgomerie on CentreRight: Geert Wilders on Fox News

Karen_allen 10.30am Seats and Candidates: Karen Allen selected for South Shields

ToryDiary:

Zehra Zaidi on Platform: An apple a day? Nay, the Working Time Directive may keep the doctor away

Local Government: Why are Conservative Councils leaving parents to play the schools lottery?

WATCH:

Cameron_looking_left How the papers are covering the new Tory plans to deal with anti-social behaviour

"David Cameron yesterday downgraded the Tories' commitment to civil liberties when he declared that the sole focus of the Home Office under a Conservative government would be to tackle crime. In a sign that the party is distancing itself from the era of David Davis, the former shadow home secretary who resigned over the government's 42-day detention plan, the Tories pledged to introduce a 21st-century alternative to "a clip-round-the-ear" policing." - Guardian

"David Cameron yesterday declared an “unashamedly tough” new Tory war on teenage yobs and drunken hooligans. In his most strongly-worded remarks on law and order yet, he pledged that the next Conservative Government will transform the police from being effectively a “soft” branch of the social services into “a formidable force to be respected and reckoned with”. - Daily Express

"David Cameron launched a war on yobs yesterday as he warned they will meet their match in a Conservative government. The Tory leader effectively ripped up his “hug a hoodie” stance and declared: “Troublemakers will hear loud and clear, ‘It’s the Conservatives you are dealing with now. You are not going to get away with that any more’.” - The Sun

> Yesterday's ToryDiary on Chris Grayling's first speech as shadow home secretary

Threat of thousands of police redundancies

"Large numbers of police forces are planning to cut thousands of officers despite the threat of a recession-driven surge in crime and disorder. Representatives from dozens of police forces contacted by The Times last night gave a grim picture of falling numbers and “significant and painful” cuts... Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: “This has to be the final nail in the coffin of Tony Blair’s promise that Labour would be tough on crime. We already have many violent crimes rocketing and crimes like burglaries on the rise again.” - The Times

David Cameron calls for a public inquiry into the banking collapse...

"David Cameron, the Conservative leader, has called for a public inquiry into how financial regulators failed to spot the collapse of banks including Northern Rock and the risky lending practices that led to the current credit squeeze. The Tory leader said that the scale of public support for the banking system demands some form of investigation into the regulatory regime that allowed the current crisis." - Daily Telegraph

...as George Osborne moots restructuring of banks

"Britain’s biggest banks could be forced to restructure their operations or even be broken up under Conservative plans to revive the financial sector. George Osborne, shadow chancellor, opened up divisions with Gordon Brown, prime minister, by outlining his vision of a remodelled sector with smaller banks... Tory officials admit that Mr Osborne does not yet have a fully formed plan on how to reduce the dominance of the remaining four large UK banks. One option would be for the government to use its holdings in Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group to force them to restructure or for the regulator to insist on some reduction in their size to promote competition." - FT

William Hague still seeking answers on UK complicity in torture of ex-Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed

"William Hague, the shadow Foreign Secretary, and the Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokesman, Ed Davey, joined with human rights groups in calling for the Government to come clean about British complicity in Mr Mohamed’s alleged torture... Mr Hague said it was “high time the UK Government asked the new US administration for permission” to release information relating to Mr Mohamed’s case which was withheld by the High Court earlier this month." - Independent

> Last week's ToryDiary on the issue

Gove_michael_nw Gove welcome Ofsted report commending back-to-basics discipline

"Traditional rules such as banning children with shaven heads and those wearing designer trainers or gang colours have proved effective in maintaining order at the best comprehensives, according to a report by Ofsted. Formal assemblies, regular patrols of corridors, frequent school trips, strong values and appointing good teachers are also successful methods of raising standards, the study says... Michael Gove, the Tory shadow children's secretary, said: "These schools demonstrate that disadvantage should not mean low standards. Schools that have excellent head teachers with strong discipline policies and high expectations can help children thrive regardless of their economic background. We should celebrate this achievement and give parents the power to ensure that these approaches are adopted more widely across the state sector." - Daily Telegraph

New poll suggests Brown is an increasing liablility for Labour

"Gordon Brown's leadership is dragging Labour's vote down, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today. By a majority of more than two to one, voters say that the party would do better at the next election if it was led by someone else. The poll — which also shows the Conservatives maintaining a steady double-digit lead — is likely to increase pressure on the prime minister following a week of speculation over leadership manoeuvring by cabinet ministers and a succession of bleak headlines about the rapidly worsening state of the economy." - Guardian

> Last night's ToryDiary on the poll

Shami Chakrabarti on the 75th anniversary of the founding of Liberty

"The resonance between the year of Liberty's birth and 2009 is all too worrying. Perhaps many have worn liberty like a fashion accessory, or something only free-born Englishmen should be able to afford. How much easier it seems to demand free speech, a fair hearing and privacy for people "like us" than to extend asylum or protection from cruelty to a stranger. Liberty is not a cocktail party for the converted. Its strength comes from values applied day to day with a long memory and an even hand." - Guardian

Rachel Sylvester: How the credit crunch threatens to undermine the ambitious reform plans of all parties

"It is ironic that just as the Government is nationalising the banks, so politicians of all parties are looking to the private sector to run the public services. But the private sector doesn't have the money. In the short term, the State may have to do more to help the flow of credit to achieve their long-term aim to create more choice. Already some on the Left are using the recession as an excuse to call for an end to market reforms. A country with debts heading for £2 trillion cannot avoid doing something pretty drastic to improve efficiencies in the public services. This is as much about politics as policy. The next election will be won by the party that shows it has a plan for the social reconstruction of the country as well as a strategy for fighting the economic war." - Rachel Sylvester writing in The Times

Northern Rock to reward 500 executives with bonuses - Daily Mail

Alex Salmond meets Hillary Clinton in Washington - BBC

Louis Susman tipped to be US ambassador in London - Times

Electoral Commission voices concerns over Glenrothes count - BBC

Pro-nuclear Green candidate faces possible deselection - Independent
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23 Feb 2009 09:03:41

Monday 23rd February 2009

7.45pm ToryDiary: Tories 12% ahead in ICM poll

5.45pm ToryDiary: Margaret Thatcher's journey from Finchley to Downing Street (in video)

3.30pm ToryDiary: William Hague's prediction comes true

2.30pm ToryDiary: Grayling gives first big speech on law and order as nation braces itself for a 'summer of rage'

Thinktanks_2 ToryDiary:

David Shiels on Platform: David Cameron's "new political force" in Northern Ireland will be the only party capable of uniting people from all backgrounds

Local government: Should councillors be CRB checked?

Seats and candidates: UKIP candidate in Stockton South defects to the Conservatives

Andrew Lilico on CentreRight...

WATCH:

Picture_16 The Daily Mail decides that Gordon Brown needs kissing lessons - Click here

Chris Grayling vows to get tough with 'teenage thugs'

"Courts would get the power to 'ground' teenage thugs under Tory proposals being unveiled today. Youngsters who police believed were causing trouble could be banned from leaving their homes, except to attend school... Mr Grayling, in his first major announcements since becoming Shadow Home Secretary, yesterday said all those involved in violent attacks or found with knives in city centres would end up behind bars rather than be issued with a caution." - Daily Mail

David Willetts: Government is missing its targets on apprenticeships - BBC

Lord Ashcroft's donations to Tories under scrutiny

Tories received £4.7m of gifts from Lord Ashcroft’s company, Bearwood Corporate Services - Independent

"His formal title – deputy party chairman and member of the party board – does not begin to suggest the power he wields over the Conservative machine. His team of nearly 20 – working from an office bigger than that of the Tory chairman Eric Pickles – is charged with directing operations in marginal seats." - Independent

"Senior Tories are frustrated with Ashcroft; one senior figure reportedly left the party over the apparent influence of the peer. Ashcroft pledged to pay British taxes in 1999 a year before he was appointed a peer on the recommendation of Hague. Cameron has spoken of "assurances" that his undertakings have been met. Senior Tories believe that Ashcroft is inflicting unnecessary pain on the party because they believe he may well be on the electoral roll and that he does pay taxes in the UK." - Guardian

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: In praise of Michael Ashcroft

Mandelson and Harman set for big clash on family-friendly burdens on business

Harmanvmandy "Plans to axe new laws that would increase costs for businesses, including enhanced maternity leave and tougher equality legislation, are threatening to blow open a Cabinet rift over how Labour should respond to the economic downturn, The Times has learnt. The proposals, outlined in the Queen’s Speech just two months ago, and championed by Harriet Harman, the deputy Labour leader, are at risk after Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, and the Chancellor called for a moratorium on any measures that would add to the current financial pressure on businesses." - Times

'The next election might not be worth winning'

"Since economic damage from the recession is set to prove lasting, “much of the increase in borrowing is expected to be persistent rather than to disappear”. As a result, the national debt is set to swell to at least 57 per cent of GDP, the highest since the early Seventies, by 2013-14. This marks a rise of more than 21 percentage points, equivalent to £10,000 for every family in the UK, since 2007." - Gary Duncan in The Times

The European gravy train

"Euro MPs' expenses and pensions are so lavish that they can earn as much as £1m (1.13m euros) on top of their salaries over their five-year term in parliament, a British campaign group says." - BBC | TaxPayers' Alliance report

EU quangos costing us all £1.8bn called 'not fit for purpose' - Daily Mail

Melanie Phillips suggests political sleaze is one explanation for the BNP's rise

Phillips_melanie_large "Labour is irredeemably incompetent and sleaze ridden. The LibDems (with the exception of their impressive economics spokesman Vince Cable) are irredeemably irrelevant. As for the Tories, although they are benefiting from the collapse of Labour's support, there is precious little enthusiasm for them either. They are seen as no more than 'blue Labour' on many social issues, devoid of any big idea to address the economic crisis and - as their relatively muted response to the Home Secretary's extraordinary expenses scam suggests - up to their own necks in the same kind of fiddle." - Daily Mail

> CentreRight's Graeme Archer offered his own explanations on Saturday

"Lord Astor, the stepfather of David Cameron's wife, is seeking to block legislation which would force peers to pay tax in the UK or resign from the House of Lords." - Telegraph

An editorial in the Liverpool Daily Post trashes Tory mayoral plans - Liverpool Daily Post

Blair gets rich as his economic legacy collapses

Blair_tony_serious "Since leaving office in June 2007, Mr Blair is said to have raked in up to £15 million from a variety of business deals, including a £4.5 million advance for his Downing Street memoirs." - Telegraph

Trevor Kavanagh's judgment: "Gordon Brown comes under fire for landing us in this economic mess – not least from me. But what about Tony Blair, who gave the Chancellor his head and is now gliding around the world as if he had nothing to do with it? Amazingly, TB is adding to his fortune with a “commercial partnership”, offering clients tips on economics and politics."

Four environmentalists speak out in favour of nuclear power

"The four leading environmentalists who are now lobbying in favour of nuclear power are Stephen Tindale, former director of Greenpeace; Lord Chris Smith of Finsbury, the chairman of the Environment Agency; Mark Lynas, author of the Royal Society’s science book of the year, and Chris Goodall, a Green Party activist and prospective parliamentary candidate." - Independent

Former Director of Public Prosecutions expresses anger at unfair treatments of crime

"If you mug someone in the street and you are caught, the chances are that you will go to prison. In recent years mugging someone out of their savings or their pension would probably earn you a yacht." - Sir Ken Macdonald QC in The Times

Plus there's this: "Britain's most senior police officer with responsibility for public order raised the spectre of a return of the riots of the 1980s, with people who have lost their jobs, homes or savings becoming "footsoldiers" in a wave of potentially violent mass protests." - Guardian

And finally... Michael Gove praises Starbucks

Starbucks "We wouldn't have such a choice of hot drinks that do taste of something if it wasn't for Starbucks. They drove the coffee house revolution that ensured you didn't have to live in Milan to get something worth drinking. Mind you, it's hardly surprising that Peter Mandelson is so dismissive of Starbucks. His favourite beverage is warm water with lemon peel in it. You'd get more of a kick from an exhausted dragonfly than from that concoction." - Michael Gove in The Times 

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22 Feb 2009 09:04:05

Sunday 22nd February 2009

7.30pm AmericaInTheWorld: Clinton urges China not to repeat America's environmental "mistakes"

7pm Peter Cuthbertson on CentreRight prefers interviews where the interviewee's answers speak for themselves

4pm WATCH: Kevin Rudd speaks at Australia's National Day of Mourning for wildfires' dead

10.30am ToryDiary: Ed Vaizey questions future of ministerial car

WATCH: Clarissa Dickson Wright of Two Fat Ladies TV fame backs the Tories' Honest Food campaign

Headlines_2 ToryDiary:

Ewan Watt on Platform: How a broken British military could replace domestic objections as the main obstacle for Anglo-American co-operation

Local government: Mark Wallace of the Taxpayers Alliance says Councils should avoid spending money on surveillance

Greg Hands MP on CentreRight: German Finance Minister considers a possible collapse of the Euro

Big boost for Conservatives as Lord Turnbull agrees to help with preparations for government

"David Cameron has enlisted Lord Turnbull, the former cabinet secretary under Tony Blair, as an adviser on making preparations for government, in a further sign of how power is shifting in Whitehall, The Observer can reveal."

But John Rentoul in The Independent on Sunday says Cameron's plans for government remain far too vague: "We know almost nothing about what a Cameron government would do, except that it would not be radically different from what a Labour government would do, especially one that had to work with the Liberal Democrats in a hung parliament."

Chris Grayling in the news...

Graylingopenshirt ...for promising to end police reliance on cautioning for violent offences - The Sunday Telegraph
and... for claiming £100,000 on Westminster flat - The Sunday Mirror

> Yesterday evening's ToryDiary looked at both stories

Ken Clarke on why he returned to the frontbench

"Like Peter Mandelson and myself, if you have been bitten by the political bug, it doesn't leave you. Remaining semi-detached in the end is not what you want to do. Both of us were lured back by the extraordinary nature of the political and economic crisis." - During the course of an extended interview with The Sunday Telegraph

Andrew Rawnsley analyses the completely different Tory approaches to education and health

"One of the most interesting figures on the Tory frontbench is Michael Gove, the shadow education secretary, who has come closest to developing an ambitious, detailed and potentially transformative policy. He wants to introduce the Swedish model of education, in which local authority schools face competition from state-funded, non-profit-making but independent schools. This is what Tony Blair wanted to do, but couldn't because his party wouldn't let him. The Tory focus in education is on empowering parents. Their health policy, by contrast, seems to be governed by an entirely different philosophy which is orientated towards the producers. Whenever the government tries to get better service from doctors, Andrew Lansley, the Tories' health spokesman, is to be found manning the barricades of opposition to reform, waving an angry stethoscope with the British Medical Association." - The Observer

Is Cameron serious on human rights?

"David Cameron says he “resents every penny” of the £2,500 compensation paid to Abu Qatada under ‘human rights’ laws. But his proposed Bill of Rights is a decoy. He’d keep us in hock to the same Strasbourg court. I’d advise Cam to keep quiet about Human Rights lunacies. Until he gathers the resolve to actually do something about it." - Fraser Nelson in the News of the World

Get busy, Mr Cameron, victory isn’t certain - Michael Portillo in The Sunday Times

Frank Field MP on Margaret Thatcher...

Thatcher "I couldn’t help wondering whether I would ever see a Prime Minister who was more able in pushing through radical reforms. Two decades on, I am still waiting and wondering." - The Labour MP writing in the Mail on Sunday

...Bernard Ingham on Margaret Thatcher

"Her most significant act was to stand against the prevailing pale-pink consensus which had stood for 35 years. She didn’t do a lot wrong. She might have been less abrasive but then she would not have achieved as much." - Bernard Ingham as part of a series of quotes on Lady Thatcher compiled by The Independent on Sunday

Brown wants end to 100% mortgages - The Observer

"We do not envisage, as some have advocated, a rigid divide in future between "narrow banking" - retail and corporate deposit taking - and investment banking and trading conducted at an international level. But while no one is advocating a retreat to single-purpose, nationally focused banks, we do want to see the reinvention of the traditional savings and mortgage bank in Britain, for loans to be made on prudent and careful terms, not just to people with large deposits, but to first-time buyers and those on middle and modest incomes who wish to buy their home but who have not been able to save a huge deposit." - Gordon Brown in The Observer

Avoid morality in talking to kids about sex says new Government leaflet - The Sunday Times

The data used by the Climate Change industry is increasingly unreliable - Christopher Booker in The Sunday Telegraph

One-third of deaths in Britain’s military caused by accidents - Independent on Sunday

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21 Feb 2009 08:43:49

Saturday 21st February 2009

10.15pm ToryDiary: Grayling promises to end police's reliance on cautions for violent offences

8.15pm Tim Montgomerie on CentreRight: Brown gets his Obama meeting... but it won't help him

2.15pm Local government: Michael Fallon MP provides some background to the BNP win in Sevenoaks

12.30pm Graeme Archer on CentreRight: "I could never vote BNP, but I get very frustrated at the kneejerk condemnation of the left for those who do, because it's missing the point and it's aiming at the wrong target. It is not fascist to be angry if your family can’t access housing, while, around you, estates are filled with people whose relationship with Britain is, to be kind, tangential. It is not fascist to point out that the unintended consequence of expanded EU immigration is the suppression of wages for the skilled working class. It is not fascist to spend your waking life fearful about what your children are exposed to when you’re not there to protect them."

11am John Glen on CentreRight finds an example he wishes Jacqui Smith would follow

11am International: Sarkozy continues to dizzy French politics

SavethegreatbritishpubToryDiary: Tories launch campaign to save British pubs from their biggest ever crisis

Wandsworth's Eddie Lister on Local government: We've set the lowest council tax in Britain again - and could do even better without Gordon Brown's deadweight

David Amess MP on Platform: Time for a new EU policy on Iran

Seats and candidates: Search for 100 Peers: Dominic Lawson

Martin Parson on CentreRight looks at who is responsible for 'Imagine you were one of the 7/7 London bombers' teaching materials

Michael Gove comments on news that many school places are being allocated by lotteries - Telegraph

Lord Mandelson attacks Unite for claiming a major car plant is on brink of collapse - Telegraph

Lord Mandelson yesterday blasted “doomsters” who talk down the British economy - The Sun

The BNP threat

"The UK is divided into 12 regions for the European ballot, with voters asked to back parties rather than candidates. In practice, a party must win between 8 and 13 per cent of the total votes cast to have at least one representative picked from a list of nominees, depending on the size of the region. In the North-west, where the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, is its main candidate, the party has to add only two or three percentage points to the 6.4 per cent of the vote it secured in 2004. In Yorkshire and Humber, where the BNP polled 8 per cent last time, it probably has to increase its support by three or four points." - Independent

"The BNP’s strength comes from a sense of disenchantment felt by many poor, white communities in Britain whose concerns – not least regarding job stability, inflexible council housing lists, and crime – seem to be ignored by a distant Westminster elite that seems to speak a different language." - Independent leader

Brown has one last hope

Brown_obama "The PM believes that President Obama's visit to Britain this April for the G20 economic summit holds the key to his recovery. He wants to use the occasion to strike what he calls a 'grand bargain' between the world's most powerful countries to come up with a new global plan to move out of recession. Such a bargain would mean a massive, coordinated financial stimulus from each country involved, isolating Cameron who believes that spending restraint is the only answer, and potentially providing Labour with a boost and a positive message for an early summer election. Mr Brown desperately needs to pull this off. If he fails, then all he has to look forward to is 15 dreadful months of sheer humiliation as his broken, divided, rudderless and sleaze-ridden Government crawls to inevitable defeat." - Peter Oborne in the Daily Mail

Labour leadership speculation accelerates

Harmanjohnsonmiliband "Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, has been accused by ministers who regard themselves as fans of Tony Blair of positioning herself as the cabinet's warrior against City bonuses. Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, indicated cabinet unease with Harman when, on Thursday night, she told ministers to "get a grip". But the week's speculation turned into full silly season mode when Yvette Cooper, the chief secretary to the Treasury, was touted as a "Stop Harriet" candidate." - Guardian

"Barely a day goes by without fresh evidence of ambitious Cabinet members positioning themselves with all the subtlety of a sackful of ferrets. It has prompted one minister, Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, to urge her Cabinet colleagues to "get a grip", warning that disunity destroys parties and that voters will not forgive them if they believe "we are more interested in our own jobs than theirs"." - Telegraph leader

It's time to stop worrying about Labour and ask some tough questions of the incoming Tories - Matthew Parris in The Times

A prominent group of Labour supporters seeks extra £20bn spending splurge - BBC

Women still face enormous prejudice in Parliament - Sarah Vine in The Times

Amanda Platell defends the dressed down Camerons

"There are many things David Cameron can be attacked for. But criticising him for dressing down to attend a film premiere with his wife and children last weekend isn't one of them. Cameron was accused by some of looking like an ill-kempt oaf, when in truth he looked like any ordinary dad. And unlike Gordon Brown, who these days looks as though he's dressed for his own funeral, Cameron always appears far more at ease in his own skin  -  let alone his own clothes  -  than the PM ever does. As for his wife Samantha, she is simply the most stylish woman ever to grace the British political stage." - Daily Mail (click on the link to view the 'offending' clothes).

And finally... Guess who wrote this?

"Out there, Labour is profoundly detested by large numbers of people, sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not. Failure feeds on itself, so Labour gets scant credit for what it has done best and blame for some things not its fault. Sleaze allegations encrust all parties long in power - whether it's Labour Lords for hire, MPs' expenses or the oddity of financiers' titles for enriching themselves and impoverishing the nation.  Worse still, Labour has lost its political talent. So long in power, ministers are now managers toiling in their silos, talking like policemen, devoid of political imagination." - Click here to find out.

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