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Newslinks for Thursday 20th December 2012

6pm ToryDiary: Nominations for Conservative achievement of the year

5pm ToryDiary: Nominations for U-turn of the year

AM kiss4.15pm WATCH: Andrew Mitchell's kiss for a police officer

4pm ToryDiary: Nominations for Scrap of the year

3pm ToryDiary: Nominations for One to Watch of the year

2pm ToryDiary: Nominations for Gaffe of the year

1.30pm ToryDiary: Nominations for Policy of the year

1.15pm Local government: Good news as gold plated councillor pensions to end

CP12.45pm MPsETC: Claire Perry MP to advise the Prime Minister on “preventing the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood”

12.15pm ToryDiary: Nominations for Yellow B**tard of the Year

Noon ToryDiary: Nominations for Event of the year

11am ToryDiary: Nominations for Conservative Parliamentarian of the year

10am ToryDiary: Nominations for Conservative minister of the year

ToryDiary: Apparently Tory backbenchers rather than the Tory leadership are responsible for the party's difficulties

Graph 1Also on ToryDiary: Polls show support for George Osborne’s 1 per cent cap on benefits

Columnist Andrew Lilico: The State of the Union

Julia Manning on Comment: More can — and should — be done about unplanned pregnancy

Cllr David Burbage on Local Government: Windsor and Maidenhead Council scraps post of Chief Executive

The Deep End: The land tax is a bad solution to a genuine problem

WATCH: Obama on gun control: "This time the words must lead to action"

David Cameron takes action to protect children from "the darkest corners of the internet"...

DC"...with our new system, every parent will be prompted to protect their child online. If they don’t make choices, protection will be automatically on. No other Government has taken such radical steps before. And once all this is in place, Britain will have the most robust internet child protection measures of any country in the world – bar none. ... To get all this underway, I have appointed Claire Perry MP to be my adviser on preventing the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood." - David Cameron, Daily Mail

  • "This was a hugely cheering day for the Mail, bringing victory for two of our long-fought campaigns. It was a fine day, too, for David Cameron, who showed doubting supporters that deep within him beats the heart of a true Tory." - Daily Mail leader

...and to reward veterans with medals

"A dwindling band of survivors of the Arctic Convoy — dubbed 'the worst journey in the world' by Winston Churchill — have battled since the 1990s for proper decoration. ... And Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday announced the creation of an Arctic Convoy Medal." - The Sun

  • "David Cameron’s decision to award special medals to survivors is to be warmly welcomed." - Sun leader

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Christmas cheer and humbug at PMQs

The PM's announcement about withdrawing British troops from Afghanistan is a "significant moment", reports the FT

DCa"It is also the first stage in a reorientation of the UK’s military posture overseas, which will see Britain moving out of south Asia and increasingly focusing on new security threats that are emerging in north Africa and the Middle East." - Financial Times (£)

  • "Mr Cameron is making the best of a bad hand." - Daily Telegraph leader

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: David Cameron decides on a withdrawal plan for Afghanistan

Mr Cameron's possible concession on press regulation

"David Cameron has conceded that Parliament may have to pass a Bill to help to set up a new press regulator, despite his misgivings about embedding any new system in statute. ... An emerging idea that could win all-party support would establish a new overseer of press standards set up by Royal Charter, backed by a Bill that would enshrine its independence." - The Times (£)

Peter Oborne: "David Cameron deserves better than this ghastly backbench B-team"

Peter Oborne"To sum up, the Conservative Party has forgotten the qualities of loyalty, pragmatism, duty, patriotism, humility and service that served it so well over the past two centuries. It has lost its sense of history, and lives in a perpetual present characterised by frantic manoeuvring for immediate political gain. Many of its MPs, though of high intellect, unfortunately are of low character. This is a state of affairs which does not merely threaten its chances of winning the next election, but throws its long-term survival into serious doubt."- Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

> Today on ToryDiary: Apparently Tory backbenchers rather than the Tory leadership are responsible for the party's difficulties

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: David Cameron charms the 1922 Committee with his plans for the next election

Andrew Mitchell 1): The "eyewitness" email emerges

CCTV"The barely literate message helped cost the then Chief Whip his job, despite the fact key sections of it were directly contradicted by CCTV footage viewed by the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood days later." - Daily Mail

  • Read the full email here

Andrew Mitchell 2): Tories call for Mr Mitchell's return to Government

"Tory MPs, who had largely deserted Mr Mitchell in his hour of need, rallied strongly yesterday, calling for him to return to government. ... Downing Street held open the door for a possible return to the Cabinet for an exonerated Mr Mitchell, although that would have to wait until the next reshuffle. 'We don’t just chop and change the Cabinet,' an aide said." - The Times (£)

Andrew Mitchell 3): 30 police officers are now on the case

Met"Thirty police officers are investigating claims a cop pretended to witness MP Andrew Mitchell’s 'pleb' rant. ... Scotland Yard — which has launched the probe — said: 'If evidence emerges of conspiracy this will form part of the investigation.'" - The Sun

  • "Plebgate was just the B-side to Plodgate" - Camilla Cavendish, The Times (£)
  • "If the public cannot trust the police to police the police, why should they trust the police to police anybody else?" - Times leader (£)

Andrew Mitchell 4): David Davis criticises Sir Jeremy Heywood's original investigation

"Former shadow home secretary David Davis said the investigation was ‘not exactly Sherlock Holmes’. He added: ‘All the investigations did not go to the heart of the matter. Look at the CCTV, see whether it is consistent with the allegations made, consistent with what’s been said. It plainly wasn’t.’" - Daily Mail

> Yesterday: 

Theresa May announces a new investigation into the Hillsborough disaster

TM"The new police probe was announced yesterday by Home Secretary Theresa May as the High Court quashed the original inquest verdicts of accidental death and ordered new inquests. ... Former Durham Chief Constable Jon Stoddart will lead the investigation, which will look at the  possibility of charging agencies other than the police over the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans during the 1989 FA Cup semi-final." - Daily Mail

Public support for George Osborne's 1 per cent cap on benefits

"A big majority of Brits back George Osborne’s decision to cap the rise in benefit payments, a poll has revealed. ... Around two-thirds say limiting the annual increase at one per cent for the next three years is “fair” as the Government tries to cut the deficit." - The Sun

"But according to ComRes, the public is split down the middle. While 49 per cent agree that the Government is right, a surprisingly high 43 per cent disagree and eight per cent say they don't know." - Independent

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Osborne throws the kitchen sink at Balls... and Balls throws it back at Osborne

Ministers urged to lock up dodgy bankers...

Canary"Ministers were last night urged to throw crooked bankers in jail after Swiss giant UBS was fined $1.5billion for rigging rates." - The Sun

..as our new central banker enjoys a monetary stimulus

"The new governor of the Bank of England will be given a housing allowance of £250,000 a year, pushing his total annual earnings towards £1million. ... Canadian Mark Carney, who takes over from Sir Mervyn King on July 1, will get the extra cash on top of pay and perks worth £624,000." - Daily Mail

The City has not yet seen off the EU threat, says John Redwood

"While the double lock is a neat idea, I doubt that it will always deliver the UK’s policy. It is not nearly as effective as wielding a UK veto. There is a danger that the Banking Authority, or the single market, becomes a Trojan horse that will damage the City of London, one of the UK’s great commercial success stories." - John Redwood, The Times (£)

  • "A referendum on Europe? Bring it on, for all our sakes" - Timothy Garton Ash, Guardian

Francis Maude publishes annual performance targets for leading civil servants 

"The new objectives for Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, Bob Kerslake, the Head of the Home Civil Service, and the 22 permanent secretaries will form the benchmark for annual appraisals and the award of bonuses or performance-related pay." - The Times (£)

"Moves to give ministers more say over the appointment of senior civil servants would not 'imperil' Whitehall’s independence, the Cabinet Office minister says." - Financial Times (£)

  • Civil servants paid tens of millions of bonuses during recession - Daily Telegraph

Eric Pickles reveals next year's council funding cut ...

EP"Councils face a funding cut that in effect averages below 2 per cent next year, the communities secretary told the Commons on Wednesday. ... Eric Pickles said that 'spending power' – which takes into account council tax and business rates – would decline by 1.7 per cent despite deep cuts from government." - Financial Times (£)

  • City leaders warn of crisis over cuts to funding - Independent

> Yesterday:

...and suggests where the axe could fall

"Town halls should stop spending a fortune on expensive leadership training courses run by groups such as Common Purpose, Eric Pickles has said. ... The Local Government Secretary called on councils to spend less on the organisation, described as the Left’s answer to the old boys’ network, which provides leadership advice. ... The advice was contained in a booklet, 50 Ways to Save, which includes ideas from Mr Pickles on how to make deeper cuts without affecting public services." - Daily Mail

  • "It is a sign of how bloated local government had become that councils have shed 230,000 jobs without hitting front-line services." - Daily Telegraph leader

Richard Ottaway asks William Hague whether the Government has sought legal advice over Syria

"Calling on Mr Hague to explain the 'international legal basis' for sending UK forces to Syria, Mr Ottaway said in a letter to the Foreign Office that MPs had expressed 'grave concerns’ over the ‘value, legitimacy and legality' of intervening in the country’s civil war." - Independent

MPs attack the Government's home extension proposals

"But the Commons communities and local government select committee said there was no evidence that the new rules would boost construction. ... The MPs also said ministers had ignored the ‘social and environmental’ impact of the changes, such as the increased likelihood of neighbour disputes and thechance that streets could be rendered ugly by a rash of new extensions." - Daily Mail

MPs back Peter Bone's attempt to protect the charitable status of churches - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday:

Nick Clegg's AV referendum cost us £75 million

"Last night a spokesman for Mr Clegg defended the poll. He said: 'If you are considering a big change, you have to put it to the people.'" - The Sun

Labour calls on the Government to do more for the Afghan interpreters who helped our troops

"Labour will call on the Government today to give Afghan interpreters who risked their lives working for the British military in Afghanistan the same right to settle in Britain as the local staff employed by UK forces in Iraq, The Times has learnt." - The Times (£)

Report slams the "chaos and confusion" in the BBC

"A scathing report into the BBC's handling of a shelved Newsnight exposé of Jimmy Savile revealed a culture of 'suspicion and mistrust' at the corporation, riven by factions and in-fighting with "rigid management chains" that rendered it 'completely incapable' of dealing with the scandal when it was exposed." - Guardian

  • "Lord Patten’s one and ONLY role as its chairman was to deploy his supposedly vast political nous to steer the corporation through storms and tempests. ... As yesterday’s report reveals, he failed abysmally." - Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun

A construction firm has unveiled its proposal for a four-runway airport in the Channel - Daily Mail

Study finds that millions of old people fear a cold, lonely Christmas - Daily Mail

And finally... Barack Obama is Time magazine's Person of the Year

Time cover"'You do understand that as President of the United States, the amount of power you have is overstated in some ways,' Obama says. 'But what you do have the capacity to do is to set a direction.' He has earned the right to set that direction and has learned from experience how to move the country. After four of the most challenging years in the nation’s history, his chance to leave office as a great President who was able to face crises and build a new majority coalition remains within reach." - Time

  • After all, he's good with kids - Daily Mail
  • And finds time to advise David Cameron about Europe - Daily Mail

> Today's video to WATCH: Obama on gun control: "This time the words must lead to action"

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