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27 Dec 2011 08:58:49

Newslinks for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and today, Tuesday 27th December 2011

1.30pm Roger Helmer MEP on Comment: "When they tell you that half our international trade is with the EU, that’s not a good reason to focus more on the EU. It’s a good reason to redress the balance with the rest of the world."

1pm WATCH: Andrew Mitchell says other nations aren't giving enough to UN disasters and emergencies fund

Paul Ron1pm ConHomeUSA: Top stories today concern accusations that Ron Paul wrote racially derogatory newsletters

ToryDiary: 61% of Tory members think early General Election would produce a majority for Cameron

Columnist Andrew Lilico: Priests should talk about politics. Often.

Caroline Dinenage MP on Comment: We must right the wrong done to the survivors of the Arctic convoys

Local government: Call for more offices to be converted to homes

More opinion poll evidence that Cameron's veto has produced "sustained" effect on Cameron's ratings

Cameron At Lecturn"Detailed polling on the prime minister's own ratings suggests that the gains in terms of his own personal standing are proving more sustained. By a 10-point margin of 50% to 40%, voters judge him to be "good in a crisis", an attribute which pollsters say is especially valued in political leaders. For Miliband the position is dramatically different, with just 21% deeming him to be good in a crisis against 44% who take the opposite view, a deficit of 23 points." - Guardian

  • "David Cameron's veto of Europe's proposed fiscal union does not spell doom for the U.K. Quite the contrary." - Andrew Roberts in the Wall Street Journal (£)
  • "The Tories have also won greater backing since the Prime Minister defied Brussels. Mr Cameron please note." - The Sun Says
  • Tory MPs won't let Cameron retreat on EU - Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun
  • David Cameron must persuade the French and other EU members that London's financial centre is their asset too - Jo Johnson MP in The Guardian

Britain and Switzerland want new limits on type of cases heard by the European Court of Human Rights - Times (£)

"The ECHR has a backlog of 160,000 cases, with some taking years to resolve. The document describes many of those cases as “hopeless” and warns that the court is increasingly being used as a last resort by desperate claimants whose cases have rightly been thrown out in their home country." - The Sunday Times (£)

Andrew Lansley wants NHS hospitals to be freer to treat private patients


"NHS hospitals will be free to earn up to half their income from private work in a move that is reigniting coalition splits over health reforms. Opponents have given warning that the change, in which foundation hospitals will have their private patient income cap raised dramatically, could lead to a two-tier health system." - Times (£)

  • "John Pugh, chairman of the [Lib Dem] health committee, said that the time had come for an up-front debate about the true motivation behind Tory plans for a massive reorganisation of the NHS." - Times (£)
  • The NHS is facing a chronic shortage of family doctors after official figures showed some GPs were responsible for 9,000 patients - Telegraph

Hurd NickBritain is the fifth most charitable nation in the world but we can do even better - Nick Hurd MP in The Telegraph

Minister tells us to give more money to charity... even though UK is world's fifth most generous nation - Daily Mail

  • The Centre for Social Justice suggests tax relief for businesses that encourage their employees to volunteer - Independent

Ministers under pressure to force Lottery to be transparent about who gets its grant money - Sun

Andrew Mitchell warns that the world is "dangerously unprepared" for future disasters because rich nations are not doing enough - BBC

Screen shot 2011-12-27 at 08.04.42Conservative MPs Gary Streeter and Mark Field criticise Rowan Williams for political sermon on Christmas Day - Times (£)

  • In The Express Stephen Pollard accuses the Archbishop of Canterbury of being a wannabe opposition leader

Tory minister James Paice declares hunting ban has failed - The Sun

"Ministers privately accept that there is not a Commons majority in favour of repeal, since almost all Labour MPs, most Liberal Democrats and some Tories want the ban to remain." - Telegraph

  • "Simon Hart, the MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and a former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said the issue had “become a matter of trust between the rural community and the PM” and urged the government to address the issue in a “short, sharp and clinical” manner." - The Sunday Times (£)

Ken Clarke vows to end compensation for criminals injured in prison - Daily Mail

  • A record 87,393 people spent Christmas behind bars this year - Express

Conservative and Liberal Democrat ministers have been accused of “total hypocrisy” for campaigning against the effects of Government spending cuts in their own constituencies

"Jeremy Browne, a foreign office minister, Steve Webb, the pensions minister, James Brokenshire, a crime minister, and Sarah Teather, the children’s minister, are among those campaigning against the consequences of spending cuts on public services such as libraries and recycling." - Telegraph

JOHNSON BORIS 2006The London Games of 1948 demonstrate how austerity can be turned into a sporting triumph - Boris Johnson in The Telegraph

  • A comparison of the policy pledges of Boris and Ken... in The Guardian doesn't find room to calculate how Mr Livingstone will pay for his promises.

Tax cuts for low and middle-income families in April will be dwarfed by hidden reductions in tax credits - Independent

End-of-year political sitreps

  • "The words Mr Clegg, credibility and consistency can never again be used in the same sentence." - Mehdi Hasan in The Times (£)
  • "Most voters are buying the dishonest line that the Lib Dems have humanised the Tories." - Tim Montgomerie in The Times, scroll down (£)
  • "much of Liberal Democrat success has been to block more extreme Tory proposals, such as tax cuts for the richest. These successes are necessarily intangible and harder to sell." - Mark Pack in The Times, scroll down (£)

David Cameron is Steve Richards' Politician of the Year - The Independent

"In recent weeks, the Prime Minister has shown impressive leadership. For the sake of himself and Britain, he will need to display the same backbone in 2012." - Mail leader

Alex Salmond is The Times' 'Briton of the Year'

Salmond Alex Oct 2011"One incumbent politician managed to defy the odds, to win re-election despite everything, to win a majority when the election system was designed to prevent anyone winning a majority, to come from behind to destroy his opponents. That politician was Alex Salmond." - Times leader (£)

  • The Scotsman notes Ruth Davidson's "disappointing" start to her leadership of Scotland's Tories.

Ed Miliband insists he has had "good year" - Times (£)

BBC bosses have started filming ex-PM Tony Blair's OBITUARY — even though he is just 58 - The Sun

Price of items like food, heating, water and transport has risen by 43% over last decade while average inflation has been 35% - Sun

Britain falls behind Brazilian economy, to seventh place in international league table - Daily Mail

Meryl Streep develops admiration for Margaret Thatcher after starring role

Screen shot 2011-12-27 at 07.31.28

"Playing the former prime minister had made her respect what Thatcher achieved against the odds, she said. "The more I learned, the more my view of her changed. Wherever you stand on her policies, and many people didn't like her, the scale of her influence and the fact that she got things done was extraordinary," she said. "And the mental, physical, spiritual energy that it took to live every one of those days as head of the government was phenomenal. It's really humbling to consider that she was at 10 Downing Street for ten-and-a-half years. I admire that achievement. I stand in awe of it, even though I didn't agree with a lot of her policies."" - The Guardian | Express

And finally... Larry the Downing Street cat is banned from the flat lavishly refurbished by David Cameron

"Labour MP Kerry McCarthy said: “Poor Larry is being treated like some servant from Downton Abbey. It is shocking that after all the publicity he is not even allowed to set paw inside the Prime Minister's flat." - Mirror


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24 Dec 2011 08:53:47

Newslinks for Christmas Eve 2011

NativityNoon ToryDiary: Happy Christmas to all readers. We return on 27th December.

ToryDiary: 2011 was the Year of The Right

Rehman Chishti MP on Comment: What more can countries of origin, communities and Governments do to combat the evil of Honour Violence?

John Bald on Local government: Restoring rigour to the exam system

ThinkTankCentral: The Centre for Social Justice publishes 12 cost-free ideas to tackle poverty

WATCH: Andrew Lansley explains why he doesn't think faulty breast implants need to be removed

Screen shot 2011-12-24 at 07.36.13Police have recommended that both Chris Huhne and his estranged wife be charged over claims that he dodged a speeding penalty - Times (£)

"Detectives believe they have presented the Crown Prosecution Service with enough evidence to charge Mr Huhne with speeding and, more seriously, attempting to pervert the course of justice, according to The Times. A file sent to the CPS is understood to say that Vicky Pryce should also be charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice after claims that she accepted penalty points on her licence after her husband was caught by a speed camera on the M11, the newspaper said." - Daily Mail

Nick Clegg is pressing for the Liberal Democrats to be represented at European Union summits

Clegg Nick July 2011"Nick Clegg has sparked fury among Tory MPs by declaring he wants to attend the next EU summit with David Cameron... Lib Dem sources say their leader wants to "set the agenda" when European chiefs meet again in Brussels on January 27... Tory Philip Davies said: "There's only one Prime Minister and he did a perfectly good job on his own at the last summit. The last thing we need is Nick Clegg sticking his nose in."" - The Sun

"One Tory backbencher said yesterday: “If he wants to go to Brussels then he should go there for good. It’s where he belongs.”" - Express

  • "EU rules say that summits are attended only by heads of government, not their deputies. There are several coalition governments in the EU, and ministers from smaller parties do not routinely attend summits." - Telegraph

Liberal Democrats want new powers for HMRC to pursue tax dodging big firms

"The reforms have worried the City amid warnings that any tightening of tax laws would give too much power to HMRC and make Britain a less attractive place to do business. They come as Vodafone made a fierce counter-attack against accusations that it had been “let off” a £6 billion tax bill by HMRC." - Times (£)

"The only real option open to the Lib Dems is to move into a confidence-and-supply arrangement" - Deborah Orr in The Guardian

Clegg & Cameron in Heart

Channel 4 graphic.

"Behind Whitehall's doors, Mr Clegg's party has learnt how to fight its corner and get under the Tories' skin. What hurts Mr Cameron and his team most are Lib Dem attacks that portray them as "the same old Tories" or "out of touch" – the Achilles heel which could again stop them winning an overall majority at the next election." - Andrew Grice in The Independent

Cameron plans crackdown on sexualised advertising - Scotsman

  • "David Cameron is planning tougher action against 'unscrupulous' companies that use sexualised advertising and 'pester power' to sell goods to children." - Daily Mail

Cameron's Christmas pledge to Falkland Islanders: 'We will NEVER negotiate your sovereignty away' - Telegraph

Cameron joined world leaders at the funeral of former Czech President Vaclav Havel in Prague yesterday - Sun | Video

The private sector could run MoD's procurement of weapons and equipment

"Defence officials stressed that no decision had yet been made, but the procurement minister, Peter Luff, said it was "unlikely" that he would stick with the status quo, under which multimillion-pound purchasing decisions are made by ministers and civil servants." - Guardian

More than £300million worth of historic child maintenance debts is to be written off - Telegraph

Theresa May and Charlotte Vere praised as champions of women

MAY THERESA SMILING"Britain’s equality chief has praised Theresa May, the Tory Home Secretary, arguing that she fights just as hard for women’s rights as Labour’s fiercest advocate on the issue. “Theresa May, in my opinion, is just as aggressive as Harriet Harman was on women’s equality,” he said... Charlotte Vere, founder of the group Women On and a former Tory candidate, said she agreed with Mr Phillips that both women were just as passionate about women’s rights — but in different ways. She said that Mrs May was fighting for a “level playing field” while Ms Harman’s view was that “the level playing field should be tilted”." - Times (£)

Charlotte Vere herself of WomenOn gets a garland from Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail:

"My women of the year are Charlotte Vere and Janice Atkinson-Small, who have started a think tank called Women On... They think women should succeed on merit, rather than via tokenism, all-female shortlists etc. In short, they are everything Harriet Harman is not."

Many Tories voice concerns about Iron Lady movie - FT (£)

Lord Heseltine is hopeful of €uro resolution

HESELTINE MICHAEL“The situation is very serious and it could go horribly wrong and, if it does, it will have devastating consequences here,” says Lord Heseltine. “I think that on balance, the French and Germans will lead a way through.” - FT (£)

Agency workers in the UK are set to receive a pay and conditions boost today as EU Directive comes into effect but employers fear impact on recruitment of casual staff - BBC

Alex Salmond angry at Westminster's draft plans to control timetable of independence referendum

"The SNP has criticised Westminster plans to force the timing of an independence referendum, after the Scotland Office confirmed it was considering handing new powers to Holyrood to hold the vote within a strict timeframe." - Scotsman

The money has run out and that raises huge questions for the Left - Matthew Parris in The Times (£)

  • Fabian/ YouGov poll finds opposition to inequality and profit - Independent

Centre for Social Justice: A quarter of a million over-75s will spend Christmas Day on their own

"A poll for the Centre for Social Justice found that an estimated 370,000 over-75s – a quarter of those living alone – spend no time at all with other people, even though the majority of them have children living in the UK. Some 246,000 will spend Christmas Day alone. The think-tank said the fact that two in five marriages fail has serious repercussions for  the elderly. Family breakdown has led to more and more young people becoming estranged from their ageing relatives, as many have to divide their time between parents and step-parents." - Daily Mail

More at the Centre for Social Justice.

And finally... a thought for Christmas from Graeme Archer... in The Telegraph: "Take care of your neighbours and the world will look after itself".


> Please use the thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been given their own blog. This thread is moderated but during working hours (that's 6am to 10pm for ConHome) comments will usually be delayed no longer than sixty minutes. Read our comments policy here.

23 Dec 2011 08:37:05

Newslinks for Friday 23rd December 2011

5pm Teatime newslinks including David Cameron's "no surrender" message to the Falklands, Nick Clegg's plan to take the lead at the next European summit, and the latest on the Eurozone crisis

2.30pm Local Government: Council by-election results from this week

2.15pm ToryDiary: The Coalition's twenty biggest achievements in 2011

Havel funeral12.30pm WATCH: World leaders including David Cameron and Sir John Major attend Václav Havel's funeral

Noon ConHomeUSA: Today's top Republican and American political news

ToryDiary: The business fightback in favour of Cameron's veto begins

Columnist Andrew Lilico: What Christmas has to say about the nature of order

Michael Burnett on Comment: I have seen the Big Society at work...but it just happens to be in Germany and the Netherlands

ThinkTankCentral: In new year policy blitz, Centre for Policy Studies suggests cutting public sector pay and cutting taxes for the low-paid

Local Government: Bin collection is a class issue

WATCH: Mark Hoban: "I think [credit card charges] have got to be a reasonable charge, it's got to be a fair charge to the consumer"

Michael Gove calls for tougher exams after exam board coaching scandal

"Exams will be toughened in the wake of the scandal over teachers being ‘coached’ by examiners in how to improve marks, Michael Gove has warned. The Education Secretary said he was concerned that teachers and pupils had ‘too much certainty over which elements of the curriculum will be tested’. Exam watchdog Ofqual yesterday ordered the rewriting of a GCSE exam paper and threatened further action as part of an investigation into allegations that exam boards are giving unfair advice to teachers." - Daily Mail

Business backs PM over euro veto row and 77% call for looser relationship with EU

"Britain's business leaders have overwhelmingly backed David Cameron’s decision to veto a new EU treaty. A poll of members of the Institute of Directors found that 77 per cent support the defiant stand he took at Brussels summit earlier this month. In a further boost for the Prime Minister, business bosses said they want the UK to loosen ties with Brussels." - Daily Mail

  • "Irrespective of the fate of the euro or the ability of weakened southern European economies to prosper under severe austerity programmes, it is most welcome that the prime minister has shown himself willing to stand up for an outward-looking and competitive Britain." - A letter to the FT (£) signed by business leaders including Simon Wolfson of Next, Anthony Bamford of JCB, and John Hoerner of Tesco.
  • Britain may be outvoted on red tape - The Times (£)

Cameron to attend Vaclav Havel's funeral in Prague today - PA

> Yesterday on Local Government: Sandwell Labour councillors back free school

Mark Hoban cracks down on credit card fees

Screen shot 2011-12-23 at 08.26.55"Air fares, train tickets, concerts and car insurance will soon be cheaper as the Government cracks down on excessive credit card surcharges. ... Mark Hoban, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: "We want consumers to be able to shop around. They have a right to understand the charges they may incur up front and not be hit through a hidden last-minute payment surcharge."" - Independent

"Few Government measures will bring more joy than the axing of rip-off charges for debit and credit card payments. Fees imposed by the likes of the budget airlines cause anger because they are seen as a sneaky way to bump up fares rather than quote transparent prices." - The Sun editorial

> Yesterday on WATCH: Eurozone banks rush to take three-year ECB loans

Grant Shapps increases right to buy discount to £50,000

"Discounts for council tenants who buy their homes will be increased to a maximum of £50,000 in England under a government plan to revitalise the "right to buy" scheme. The housing minister, Grant Shapps, said restrictions on discounts over the past few years made right to buy meaningless in many places, with fewer than 3,700 sales last year compared with a peak of 84,000 less than 10 years ago. He said the increased discounts would help to stimulate house building" - Guardian

MoD reforms aim to cut waste in procurement

"The Ministry of Defence is considering hiring hundreds of experts from the private sector to help cut waste in defence procurement. ... Last year the MoD's top 15 projects came in £6bn over budget." - BBC

  • MoD to lose arms buying role - The Times (£)
  • "Procurement decisions are made by those without the expertise to negotiate the best deal; meanwhile, the Services clamour for the latest and shiniest pieces of kit, whether or not they are suited to the nation’s needs." - Daily Telegraph editorial
French police investigate Tory MP's Nazi stag party - The Times (£)

Daniel Hannan is the most-watched British politician on YouTube - BBC

Fraser Nelson: How can we remain silent while Christians are being persecuted?

Nelson Fraser Feb 2010"When challenged, ministers deplore persecution in general – but, seemingly, not so much that they’d do something like pick up the phone to Ankara. Yet there is plenty Britain can do. Countries could be denied aid until Christians (or Jews, or Sunnis) are allowed to worship freely. British diplomats could be empowered, even instructed, to advocate freedom of religion. When a peer of the realm alerts the Foreign Office to some persecuted Anglicans, a red alert ought to sound." - Fraser Nelson in the Daily Telegraph

Chris Huhne says the Tory right wants Britain to be a semi-detached member of the EU

"Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat cabinet minister, has urged David Cameron to stand up to Conservative Eurosceptics ... The former MEP said: "I am worried there is a tendency on the Conservative right wing, a significant part of its parliamentary party, that does not appreciate the importance of being at the table in Brussels when it comes to negotiating the rules for the single market – and does not understand the strength the EU gives us globally in tackling problems like climate change."" - Independent

Ed Balls says voters will turn to Labour

Balls Ed Feb 2010 2"Ed Balls has claimed that the autumn statement, in which the government was forced to admit that its deficit reduction plans were badly off course, will prove to be a game-changer that will see voters increasingly turn to Labour. The shadow chancellor says he believes his party is ahead of the electorate on the issue, and will reap the benefits in 2012." - Guardian

Civitas: New equality laws have no economic benefit and only a questionable effect on discrimination

"The study published by the think-tank Civitas (pdf) says that the supposed economic benefits of recent human rights legislation are “imaginary” and that even their symbolic value is “debatable”. It claims that rather than saving the country £65million a year, as Government estimates suggest, the Equality Act 2010 will actually cost at least £10m annually while tying small businesses in red tape." - Daily Telegraph

Whitehall considering giving Holyrood the power to call an independence referendum

"The SNP government has pledged to hold a referendum in the second half of its parliamentary term. But a debate has focused on who should be allowed to call it. Whitehall sources have now confirmed that they are discussing the possibility of using a special clause in the Scotland Act which would allow Holyrood to run the poll." - BBC

  • Our marriage to the Scots could be heading for the rocks - Nick Wood for the Daily Mail

Argentina draws up secret plans to grab the Falklands - Daily Express

Screen shot 2011-12-23 at 08.30.27
RAF could give support in Somalia intervention
- Independent

How BBC wrongly predicted bad news for British economy (and then relegated the story when the figures were actually good) - Daily Mail

Only 6% of new mothers believe Government is family-friendly - Daily Telegraph

Patients to get online access to their medical records - The Times (£)

And finally... 'I'd never ever use my children in a photoshoot': Ed Balls in thinly-veiled attack on Labour leader Miliband for fluffy newspaper interview

"Shadow chancellor Ed Balls today launched a thinly-veiled public attack on Labour leader Ed Miliband after he posed for pictures at home with his family for a newspaper. Mr Balls said he would 'never ever' allow photos of his family to be used, no matter how 'short term, tactical and tempting' it might be. The Labour leader was seen on the front page of the Daily Mirror yesterday cuddling his young son Samuel, while wife Justine held two-year-old Daniel." - Daily Mail


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22 Dec 2011 08:26:52

Newslinks for Thursday 22nd December 2011

5pm Teatime newslinks with the latest on economic growth, David Cameron's message to Tory MPs, and unrest in the Middle East

Loughton Tim Dec 20114.45pm WATCH: Tim Loughton: "We are trying to overhaul the whole way adoption happens in this country"

3pm MPsETC: Chris Heaton-Harris MP uses 60 adjectives to condemn building of wind farm

1.30pm Columnist Andrew Lilico: The term "coloured" is old-fashioned, not offensive

CALLANAN MARTIN12.15pm MPsETC: Martin Callanan MEP's report from the European Parliament

Noon ConHomeUSA: Today's top Republican and American political news

11am JP Floru on Comment: Attacking bankers does not help the free market cause

ToryDiary: Tim Loughton announces the speeding up and simplification of the adoption system

ToryDiary: The veto has been of exaggerated importance and it won't be long before we realise Britain's relationship with the EU will continue as before - Do you agree? ConservativeHome's end of year survey

Columnist Bruce Anderson: The God that Christopher Hitchens would need

Matthew Hancock MP on Comment: The Conservatives must not be complacent in 2012, and keep winning the economic argument next year

Local Government: 

WATCH: Eurozone banks rush to take three-year ECB loans

David Cameron may sign a new version of the EU treaty he vetoed two weeks ago

CameronUK"The revamp involves cutting back the emergency plan to solve the eurozone crisis. It is being spearheaded by Germany in a bid to get the UK and other wavering nations back on board. It would contain just a few strict deficit rules for single currency members. And any attempt at further euro regulations would be abandoned. That would in effect give the PM the safeguards he demanded for financiers in the City of London, argue supporters of the plan — championed by Deputy Premier Nick Clegg." - The Sun

  • The Sun Says: "The loser in this latest round of Brussels poker would be French poodle Nicolas Sarkozy."

Public borrowing falls, leaving Government on course to meet £127bn target

"George Osborne was handed some much-needed Christmas cheer yesterday after government borrowing fell by more than expected. Official figures showed a budget shortfall of £18.1billion last month – down from £20.4billion in November 2010 and less than the £19.7billion predicted in the City. It put the Chancellor on track to meet or even beat his target of cutting the annual deficit from £137billion last year to £127billion this time around." - Daily Mail

Children's Minister Tim Loughton to introduce a quicker and more effective approval procedure for adoption

Loughtontim2"The chronic delays and crippling bureaucracy faced by people who want to adopt will be swept away by the Government, in a significant response to a campaign by The Times. Ministers have accepted that far too many suitable adopters are being turned away or are spending months providing irrelevant information that reveals little about their potential as parents. An expert panel will develop the new system and assessment form by next March. It will be based on judging an applicant’s “capacity to care” and will come into force later next year, it was announced." - The Times (£)

Michael Gove threatens to ban teachers’ exam seminars

"Exam boards could be banned from running seminars giving teachers advice on how to improve the GCSE and A-level grades of their pupils following an investigation by The Daily Telegraph, the Education Secretary said yesterday. Michael Gove said chief examiners had “overstepped the mark” and undermined public confidence in the system after they were filmed advising teachers at £230-a-day sessions about the exact wording that pupils should use and which questions they could expect." - Daily Telegraph

Eric Pickles withdraws local government pensions letter

"The row that threatened to scupper a deal on local government pensions looked largely resolved when the communities secretary Eric Pickles gave assurances to unions he was not seeking to set new conditions for a deal." - Guardian

  • "A TUC spokesman said: "All those involved welcome the speedy clarification from ministers that has enabled this agreement to be taken forward."" - The Sun

> Coverage from yesterday:

Andrew Mitchell sends 9,000 tonnes of food aid for Horn of Africa famine

Mitchell Thoughtful
"Millions remain in danger as a result of drought and famine in the Horn of Africa, UK International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has said. Mr Mitchell said the latest estimate is that up to 100,000 people may have died between April and August. More than 9,000 tonnes of UK-funded aid is due to arrive in the region over Christmas, which is expected to feed some 800,000 people." - BBC

  • Britain's new year resolution: intervene in Somalia - Independent

Greg Clark hints planning reforms are likely to be watered down next year

CLARK GREG"The comments from Planning minister Greg Clark gave a clear hint that the Government is looking at amending its reforms after sustained criticism from countryside campaigners. ... Yesterday Mr Clark stated explicitly that the Government would not allow planning rules to be published that were skewed in favour or more development. He said: “There’s no intention whatever to change the nature of the planning system in striking that balance."" - Daily Telegraph

Welsh and Scottish leaders demand Cameron meeting on EU

"Carwyn Jones and Alex Salmond said the devolved administrations had been excluded from decisions on European matters. In a joint letter, they told David Cameron they were "deeply concerned" about his use of the veto." - BBC

  • "David Cameron claims his decision to veto a deal to save the euro could save up to 100,000 Scottish jobs. The Prime Minister’s claim is in reply to a letter from Alex Salmond" - Daily Express
Ed Miliband appoints archbishop's adviser as chief of staff - Guardian

Steve Richards: Are the Lib Dems and Labour testing out their own Coalition?

Balls Ed Wood"Following the all-out war between Labour and the Lib Dems in the Coalition's early days, dialogue is constant between Ed Miliband's office and a few, despairing Lib Dems. Balls says he is up for a partnership in a hung parliament, including this one. Such nods and winks can only be a beginning, or should be. If Clegg is right about the date of the next election, both parties need to have established a warm enough relationship to make partnership possible afterwards. After all, nearly all the polls point to another hung parliament to follow this one." - Steve Richards for the Independent

  • Lib Dems laugh off Ed Balls' call for a new coalition - Independent

> Yesterday on LeftWatch: Sore Balls in a squeeze

Sir Gus O'Donnell questions the future of the Union, says red tape is preventing a recovery and says one of his proudest moments was keeping us out of the Euro - Daily Telegraph

Peter Oborne: I believe it would be wrong to give Lady Thatcher a state funeral - Peter Oborne for the Daily Telegraph

Boat boycott heats up Falklands cold war - The Times (£)

  • Britain dusts off war plans amid calls to send a nuclear submarine after Argentina joins forces with Brazil and Uruguay to blockade islands - Daily Mail
  • UK fury as South America closes ranks to ban Falklands boats - Independent
  • "Locals wishing to remain ruled from London shouldn’t preclude a joint sovereignty arrangement with Buenos Aires." - Daily Mirror editorial

EU-FLAGEU orders Britain not to send asylum seekers back to Greece because the country is so broke - Daily Mail

MoD demands release of Pakistani man held in US - Independent

New laws to combat metal thefts "conflict with cuts to red tape" - Daily Telegraph

Solar subsidy changes could deal "fatal blow" to industry - BBC

And finally... At home with the Milibands: Everything Ed and his spin doctors would like you know about him (warning: contains geeky scenes)

"The news is bad … very bad indeed. Labour is trailing in the polls and most of the country still regards Ed Miliband as an unelectable geek. Fellow MPs have publicly denounced his performances at Prime Minister’s Questions as disastrous. So what can be done to improve 41-year-old Ed’s public image? Idea! What about setting up an interview with a friendly tabloid, plonk him in front of a Christmas tree with his family, and show the world his ‘human’ side?" - Daily Mail

  • "Ed Miliband's latest attempt to boost his popularity backfired yesterday — after he said his secret talent was doing the Rubik's Cube in 90 seconds." - The Sun


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