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31 Aug 2009 09:02:17

Monday 31st August 2009

8.15pm Ridley Grove on CentreRight has a new hero: The tax cutting and politically incorrect Mayor of Doncaster

12.45pm ToryDiary: Margaret Thatcher's "the lady's not for turning" could be your ringtone

Noon Shadow Foreign Minister David Lidington MP on CentreRight argues that Britain's international reputation has been damaged by the Government's secretive accounting for its role in the release of the Lockerbie bomber

ToryDiary:

FrankField470 Frank Field MP on Platform: All young people deserve a collective memory of the highs and lows, dangers, failures as well as the triumphs of Britain

A list of ConservativeHome.com events at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester

Local government: EasyCouncil model could mean paying extra for quick planning decision

Seats and candidates: 'One in three Tory candidates are political insiders'

Ridley Grove on CentreRight: Chris Grayling must move on from "shallow" soundbites

LISTEN: Iain Dale and LabourList's Alex Smith discuss whether the internet will play a big role at the next General Election

In a Q&A with The Independent Andrew Lansley defends Tory policy on the NHS

LANSLEY ANDREW NW "Voters can trust the Conservatives with the NHS because of David Cameron's and my personal commitments to it, and because those are shared throughout the Conservative Party. We have shown not only how we will protect the NHS but also how we will reform and improve it. That is why a recent opinion poll showed that more NHS staff will be voting Conservative at the next election than for any other party." - One of Mr Lansley's answers to Independent readers

Kenneth Baker assists Ed Balls with 'technical schools' project

"The government is working with the former Tory schools secretary Lord Baker to set up a new generation of technical schools to train teenagers to become builders, technicians and engineers. Universities are being encouraged to sponsor the development, which, Baker said, would revive dedicated training schools not seen since the 1950s. The first "university technical college", for 14- to 19-year-olds, is to be in Birmingham and will be sponsored by Aston University. Eight other universities are in talks with the government about sponsoring more." - Guardian

Axe the ministerial car - Boris Johnson in The Daily Telegraph

John Whittingdale says that there is insufficient appetite for top slicing of BBC licence fee - FT

Alex Salmond's legislative programme for Scotland

SALMOND ALEX "The Scottish Executive will this week announce a legislative programme that comprises 13 bills, including one introducing minimum pricing for alcohol. The referendum bill proposes asking voters to give Mr Salmond, the First Minister, permission to begin negotiations over Scotland leaving the Union. However, the minority SNP administration has little chance of winning enough support in the Holyrood chamber for the legislation to be passed. Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats have vowed to oppose the proposals at least for the duration of the current parliament, arguing Mr Salmond should be focusing on tackling the economic crisis." - Telegraph

> Lord Forsyth recently called for the Tories to pre-empt Alex Salmond and hold a vote on independence to settle the issue at a time of Unionists' choosing.

Bruce Anderson condemns Brown's "skulking silence" on the release of the Lockerbie bomber - The Independent

Expenses reform has turned us into petty clerks, say MPs - Daily Mail

Policy Exchange says Britain needs to spend £500bn on renewing Britain's infrastructure by 2020 - FT

Magistrates' Association rubbishes Labour's 'alcohol ASBOs' - Guardian

Japan's new government may undo supply-side reforms - Telegraph leader

Angela Merkel defeated in two of three German state elections - Independent | Yesterday's International post

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30 Aug 2009 09:01:06

Sunday 30th August 2009

10pm International: Merkel will use setbacks in regional votes to warn Germans against extreme Left-wing coalition

6.45pm ToryDiary: David Davis is just one of the big beasts needed on the Tory frontbench

6pm International update: Japan moves to the Left in historic election

4pm WATCH: Chris Grayling meets a north London youth worker who deals with the consequences of urban drug addiction

Sun1.15pm Tim Montgomerie on CentreRight: Sun journalist says John Prescott is right about BBC

12.45pm WATCH: Jack Straw accused of facilitating Lockerbie bomber's release as part of an oil exploration deal with Libya

9.45am ToryDiary: Support for Alan Duncan sinks still further

Shane Frith on Platform: Can we get over this myth that the NHS is the envy of the world?

International: Japan set to vote for more interventionist government in watershed election

Mark Wallace on Local government: One cheer for John Denham's investigation into Council CEO pay-offs

Also on Local government: Councils act to save the apostrophe

AmericaInTheWorld: Anti-Americanism has declined across the world since Barack Obama's election

Conservatives 17% ahead - Observer | Yesterday evening's ToryDiary

Lockerbie bomber set free for oil - The Sunday Times has the latest damning insights

Today's must-read: The Tories aren't being honest writes Andrew Rawnsley

RAWNSLEY "No British government of any complexion has ever managed to make a real term cut to public spending of 10% and at the same time miraculously generated more police officers, extra high-speed rail links, a larger and better equipped army, improved healthcare and better schools. The Tories are either conning themselves or they are trying to dupe the voters – it is probably a blend of both – when they suggest that you can have both deep cuts and better public services." - Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer

Michael Portillo is pessimistic about the possibilities of meaningful welfare reform - The Sunday Times

Matthew d'Ancona says the Tories can't reform education and health at the same time and the leadership has shown schools reform - The Sunday Telegraph

Peter Hitchens is furious with Michael Gove for praising Tony Blair - Mail on Sunday

Chris Grayling's use of The Wire trivialised an important message about violent Britain - Janet Daley in The Sunday Telegraph

Chris Grayling has no plan to fix his broken society - John Rentoul in the Independent on Sunday

SPELMAN CAROLINE NW Caroline Spelman has written to Conservative MPs and councils advising them to delay housing developments until after the General Election - Observer

Caroline Spelman blasts £25,000 cost of changing the Department of Communities and Local Government to just Communities and Local Government

"Caroline Spelman, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: ‘This is a Whitehall farce at taxpayers’ expense. Taxes have gone through the roof under Labour and examples like these show how the public’s money is squandered on Ministerial vanity projects and a corrosive culture of spin.’" - Mail on Sunday

Patrick Mercer backs more troops for Afghanistan - BBC

"The Government plans to talk to Taliban supporters as part of a radical new strategy to end the war in Afghanistan." - News of the World

Andrew Tyrie wants independent judicial investigation into rendition - Independent on Sunday

Zac Goldsmith's marriage is over - Mail on Sunday

"An independence referendum and minimum pricing for alcohol are among the bills to be introduced at the Scottish Parliament in the coming year." - BBC

And finally... The story of the Andrew Marr show that was in the schedule but...

"The programme was listed in the Radio Times as starting at 9am last Sunday, only it didn't. That came as a surprise not only to the viewers but to the executives within BBC Television Centre, who, with minutes to go before the scheduled transmission time, were horrified to find no one in the production team's office. A programme controller went down to the studio to check that everything was OK, only to discover to his horror that no one was there at all," says my man at the Beeb. A series of panicked phone calls ensued and the controller was informed that Marr and all his colleagues were on holiday. At the last minute it was decided that the only thing that could be done was to go over to the News Channel." - The Sunday Telegraph

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29 Aug 2009 08:57:11

Saturday 29th August 2009

8.30pm ToryDiary: Tory lead increases to 17% in Ipsos-Mori poll - as Labour fails to gain from a boost in economic confidence

Picture 54.15pm WATCH: In a surprise visit to the country, Gordon Brown promises to speed up training of soldiers in Afghanistan

Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox has responded to the Prime Minister's visit by posing a number of questions: "What will happen to the extra 900 troops temporarily deployed to provide increased security for the elections - will they are or are they coming home? It has been almost two years since the order for the 158 ridgebacks was first announced so why are only so few making it to the frontline? Finally, what about the 2000 troops which were requested by the military to train the afghan national army last spring? The sooner the afghan army is trained the sooner our troops can start coming home."

Picture 44pm WATCH: John McCain pays tribute to Edward Kennedy and reflects on how they worked together when occasionally found common cause

Noon Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight: The Beatles, Oasis and the demise of Labour Governments

11am Platform update: Tim Finch has responded to readers' comments on his piece on migration published last Saturday

ToryDiary: Should David Cameron announce tax rises before the general election?

Nicholas J Rogers on Platform: Funding special interest groups is not a legitimate activity for a responsible government

Seats and Candidates: Welsh Assembly member calls for positive discrimination to favour women candidates

Local Government: Doncaster Mayor says his CEO's salary of £175,000 is "a joke"

International: Centre right leaders on top of the polls in Europe's four biggest powers

WATCH: A clip from June this year, in which a combative Fraser Nelson, the newly-appointed Spectator editor, challenged Gordon Brown on spending cuts

CAMERON SPEAKING David Cameron condemns Gordon Brown's silence over Lockerbie bomber release

"David Cameron on Friday renewed calls for Gordon Brown reveal the full details of Scotland's decision to release the Lockerbie bomber. The Tory leader said it was not enough for the Prime Minister to have said he was "repulsed" by the hero's welcome received by Abdelbaset Ali al Megrahi in Tripoli. Mr Cameron pressed Mr Brown to disclose full details of the British government's trade talks and meetings with Libya." - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: David Cameron accuses Gordon Brown of "hiding behind the cloak of constitutional convention" over his refusal to voice an opinion on the release of the Lockerbie bomber

More coverage of Barnet Council's easyJet model for no frills government

"A Tory council is to emulate budget airlines such as easyJet by charging ratepayers extra for 'premium' services currently provided for free. David Cameron is expected to look closely at Barnet Council's 'no frills' plan to reduce council tax bills by restricting what services people get automatically." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday in Local Government: Barnet adopts EasyCouncil model

Cameron and Fox praise Sun campaign demanding British troops be properly equipped

"Tory leader David Cameron also supported our campaign... Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox accused the Prime Minister of leaving British forces to face an uphill struggle while he plays "the invisible man of politics". He told The Sun: "It appears that our Armed Forces are at war but Whitehall is not." - The Sun

VAIZEY-ED Ed Vaizey clashes with BBC executive over publication of stars' pay

"At the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, shadow culture secretary [sic] Ed Vaizey and BBC director of vision Jana Bennett disagreed over the publication of talent salaries. Vaizey outlined plans to force the BBC to publish details of salaries. He said: "We want to make it happen. Legislation seems a pretty big hammer to crack this nut with. So there are a range of different options that are worth looking at... If you think Jonathan Ross is worth the money, go out and argue the case. Imagine if I was arguing that MPs' salaries should be kept secret. We are moving into an age of transparency and the BBC, which is entirely funded by the taxpayer, has to take account of that change." - The Guardian

Polly Toynbee: I predict with confidence that the Tories can't fix broken Britain

"They who now attack would do well to watch their language. Broken Britain week laid out profound social problems still unsolved; but without policies to improve deep poverty and dysfunction, the Tories raise expectations that will return to haunt them. These speeches will be quoted back time and again as unemployment, child poverty, crime and educational failure are likely to rise on their watch, not fall. I predict this with confidence because everything worsens when unemployment stays high, as it now will whoever is in power." - Polly Toynbee in The Guardian

Labour and Lib Dem MPs renew calls for Lord Ashcroft to clarify his tax status...

"The tax status of the Tory donor Lord Ashcroft came under renewed scrutiny last night as MPs demanded the publication of secret details of his promise to live permanently in the UK. Britain's information watchdog was criticised for delays in deciding whether to force through the release of details about the assurances, given by Lord Ashcroft to the Government after his elevation to the peerage in 2000." - The Independent

...as it emerges that Lady Ashcroft gave £20,000, not £10,000, to David Cameron's leadership campaign

"Lord Ashcroft’s wife was the biggest donor to David Cameron’s campaign to be Conservative Party leader, giving £20,000 — twice as much as previously recorded, The Times can disclose... However, the Electoral Commission records that Lady Ashcroft gave only £10,000, the most given by any of his benefactors during the leadership battle." - The Times

Fraser Nelson Fraser Nelson replaces Matthew d"Ancona at The Spectator

"The editor of The Spectator, Matthew d'Ancona, considered one of Fleet Street's bright hopes, suddenly exited the magazine yesterday, shocking staff... A protégé of the publisher Andrew Neil will be installed as the new editor: Fraser Nelson, 36, has been promoted from political editor of the conservative weekly. He will formally seize the helm on 7 September." - The Independent

> Yesterday afternoon's ToryDiary: Fraser Nelson is the new Editor of The Spectator

Peerage confirmed for ex-Speaker Michael Martin

"The former Commons Speaker, Michael Martin, has had his controversial peerage quietly confirmed - in the middle of the Parliamentary recess. He will take up the title of 'Baron Martin of Springburn, of Port Dundas in the City of Glasgow' after the honour was conferred by the Queen last week. Mr Martin was the first Speaker of the House of Commons to be forced to resign in more than 300 years. It is established practice for former speakers to be elevated to the Lords, but there had been calls for Mr Martin to be denied a peerage after his flawed response to the MPs' expenses scandal."- Daily Mail

> Jonathan Isaby broke the news on CentreRight yesterday: Michael Martin's peerage was quietly announced today

Labour blogger and parliamentary candidate created fake website to smear Tories

"An up-and-coming Labour star and prominent blogger has catapulted himself into controversy after creating a fake website which hoaxed the media – including The Independent. Alex Hilton, a prospective parliamentary candidate for Chelsea and Fulham, created a fake site and statement from the Mayor of Baltimore, Sheila Dixon, in which the "Mayor" attacked the shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling." - The Independent

Chris Grayling on the offensive over government's failure to deport rapist - BBC

Boris to switch off swathes of traffic lights to improve traffic flow - Daily Telegraph

Tony Blair: Cherie inspired me to become a Catholic - Daily Telegraph

Labour to slash spending on its academy programme - The Guardian

James Murdoch hits out at BBC and regulators at Edinburgh TV festival - The Guardian

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28 Aug 2009 09:01:34

Friday 28th August 2009

6.15pm Daniel Kawczynski MP on CentreRight: David Miliband must meet the mother of PC Yvonne Fletcher

4.45pm Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight: Michael Martin's peerage was quietly announced today

Spectator4.15pm ToryDiary: Fraser Nelson is new Editor of The Spectator

1.30pm Local Government: The Council Tax burden on the elderly has nearly doubled under Labour

12.30pm ToryDiary: David Cameron accuses Gordon Brown of "hiding behind the cloak of constitutional convention" over his refusal to voice an opinion on the release of the Lockerbie bomber

11am ToryDiary update: Dr Charles Tannock MEP backs £10 charge for GP visits Updated with further explanation from Dr Tannock of the background to his proposal

10.45am Seats and Candidates: Non-postal open primaries announced for Skipton & Ripon - and Bracknell

£10charge  ToryDiary: Dr Charles Tannock MEP backs £10 charge for GP visits

Also in ToryDiary: Which frontbencher made the biggest media impact in August?

Dylan Thomas on Platform: Why I believe Iran is behind the upsurge in British casualties in Afghanistan

Seats and Candidates: Richard Harrison selected for Easington

Local Government:

International: Increased support for Canada's Conservatives cools election speculation

Tim Montgomerie on CentreRight: Keep Laura Kuenssberg blogging!

WATCH: How a new baby boom has pushed the UK population over 61 million

HANNAN DAN The Times backs politicians like Daniel Hannan questioning establishment views...

"Conventionally, politicians try to avoid saying controversial things. They adhere to “the line”, try to avoid embarrassment. The result is a bland discourse, and a politics delivered in code. No one says what he or she means, everyone hints at it, and tries to avoid breaking any taboos. This code is one of the things that people most dislike about politics. It excludes anyone but the insider. It leads to assumptions that ought to be questioned remaining unquestioned. It can render political debate meaningless. Take Mr Hannan’s remarks about the NHS. If these are to be regarded as too outrageous to leave the lips of anyone in public life, then an entire strand of opinion goes unrepresented and the debate on healthcare is stunted." - Times editorial

...as the man himself says there is no harm in agreeing to disagree

"If current media norms had applied throughout the 20th century, it would have been a terrible "gaffe" to suggest that Britain ought to rearm in the Thirties or that the state shouldn't set prices and incomes in the Sixties. Worst of all, insistence on conformity prevents Parliament from doing its most important job, namely to constrain the Government. When MPs contract out their opinions to their Whips, they cease to represent their constituents." - Daniel Hannan writing in the Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Dan Hannan in the news

The Daily Mail calls on David Cameron to give the NHS some "tough love"

"Mr Cameron, in particular, is frightened to voice all bar the gentlest of comments, for fear of being accused of 'nastiness'. This stance is increasingly untenable. The NHS is staffed by many tremendous doctors and nurses. And, yes, the founding principle of free healthcare for all must be preserved. But it must also be acknowledged that the 60 year-old NHS is not sacrosanct. Every week it swallows £2billion from the public purse, yet - as recent days have shown - it is inefficient, bureaucratic and provides woeful value for that money. It is time for Mr Cameron to end his timidity and give the NHS what it so desperately needs - some tough love." - Daily Mail editorial

MAY Theresa (blk jacket) Tax credits could face axe in Tory welfare shake-up

"Tax credits could be scrapped as part of a long-term reform of benefits, the Conservatives have suggested. Theresa May, the Tory work and pensions spokeswoman, used a speech on welfare to attack tax credits in principle, rather than the way that they are implemented. Previously under David Cameron, the Conservatives have said that they opposed the way tax credits have been managed and did not think that they should be given to the middle classes." - The Times

Chris Grayling rebuked by Baltimore mayor over The Wire parallel

"After drawing parallels this week between what his party calls "broken Britain" and the fictional drama about the crime-ridden US city of Baltimore, Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, was rowing back last night as he came under fire from two figures he would probably rather keep on side: the mayor of Baltimore and the chief constable of Greater Manchester police." - The Guardian

Noon update: Guido has exposed that the statement purporting to come from the Mayor of Baltimore was in fact from a spoof website set up by Labour blogger Alex Hilton of Recess Monkey

> Tuesday's ToryDiary: Chris Grayling lambasts Labour for failing Britain's poorest communities and outlines the Conservative approach to reversing social breakdown

Lord Ashcroft attacked by Prime Minister of Belize

"In an extraordinary attack, the Prime Minister of Belize accused Lord Ashcroft of being "predatory" and implied that he had subjected the former colony to "new age slavery". "There will be no more suffering of this one man's campaign to subjugate an entire nation to his will," said Dean Barrow in a specially convened parliamentary debate called to renationalise the country's main telephone company, which was formerly owned by Mr Ashcroft... Mr Ashcroft's political links in Belize are with the People's United Party (PUP), which lost control in an election last year to Mr Barrow's United Democratic Party (UDP)." - The Independent

HUNT JEREMY NW Jeremy Hunt outlines why he favours local TV over regional TV

"According to Ofcom only 59% of people are interested in watching programmes about their region. This is unsurprising given that places as far apart as Bristol and Falmouth are in the same region. This compares to 70% who would like to watch content about their city or town. It is local not regional TV that consumers want - and we are the only party giving serious consideration to why it is that Britain is one of the only countries in the developed world not to have a local TV sector. The key question is whether such a sector can be commercially viable." - Marketing Week

Boris: Tax on City profits would be "crackers"

"Boris Johnson today hit out at plans to impose fresh taxes on the City of London as "crackers". The Mayor went on the offensive after Financial Services Authority chief Lord Turner called for a new levy on the financial services industry." - Yesterday's Evening Standard

Cook Richard East Renfrewshire PPC Richard Cook on this summer's social action project in Bosnia

"Richard Cook, the Tory candidate for East Renfrewshire, was one of 30 conservatives who travelled to Srebrenica in Eastern Bosnia, backdrop to genocide in 1995, as part of Project Maja... He described the Bosnian project as a huge learning experience. "I think people in the current parliament should go out there to see it, but particularly people for the future parliament, from all parties. If there is going to be more trouble, more ethnic cleansing, then I think it is likely to happen within the term of the next Parliament. The better informed that people are, then the less likely it is that the UK parliament will turn its back on the people the way it did previously, much to the shame of a Conservative government and everybody else who was in that parliament of the time." - The Herald

> Dudley South PPC Chris blogged for CentreRight about Project Maja in Bosnia here and here

Ignore Grazia girl at your peril

"The Grazia interview is a savvy move by the Tory leader. The relationship between the party and the magazine has become quite cosy of late. Samantha Cameron is regularly featured as a style guru on its pages and last year the magazine ran a long feature, declaring the Conservatives are cool... Politicians ignore Grazia girl at their peril. The latest poll (July) from Ipsos-Mori showed that the Tories had a three point lead over Labour among 18-34 year olds – in other words, 32 per cent of young people said they would vote Conservative against 29 per cent Labour." - Emma Jacobs in the FT

> David Cameron's Grazia interview was covered in ToryDiary posts here and here

Neil O'Brien: A Simple solution to GCSE grade inflation

"Rather than tearing up the exam system, we could – as many other countries do – simply publish two different measures. Alongside their grade at GCSE or A-level, pupils would be given a percentile score, telling them what proportion of their fellow students did better or worse." - Neil O'Brein in the Daily Telegraph

And finally... Vote blue, go pink: Tory logo turns rainbow in attempt to win the gay vote

Picture 9 "The Tories have unveiled a 'gay-friendly' logo in bright rainbow colours in a bid to attract new voters. The green and blue tree trademark has been given the vibrant makeover ahead of the party's annual political conference in Manchester. The emblem, launched on the Conservative website, is being used to promote a 'Conference Pride' event at the rally next month... More than 700 people are expected to attend a £15-a-head bash at the trendy Spirit Bar in Canal Street, the heart of the city's famous gay village." - Daily Mail

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