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December 2009 newslinks

31 Dec 2009 09:05:16

New Year's Eve 2009

ConHome will resume sometime on the morning of New Year's Day but tune in to ToryDiary after midnight for a preview of the Tories' advertising blitz. In the meantime, Happy New Year!

5pm CentreRight: Five things that Melanchthon is optimistic about

BERCOW-JOHN1pm ToryDiary: Buckingham Tories ordered by CCHQ to campaign for John Bercow or stay silent

Noon Seats and candidates: Any Conservative MP retiring after midnight will leave their local party members having to choose from a CCHQ shortlist of three candidates

11.30am ToryDiary: The political gaffe of the year

ToryDiary: In asking 'Will Cameron choose to win a mandate as well as a majority?', Tim Montgomerie's New Year editorial argues that Honesty is our only protection from the hatred that is coming

Lorraine Mullally on Platform: The Conservatives must do better than Labour at representing Britain's interests in Europe

ThinkTankCentral: Policy Exchange calls for binge drinkers to pay NHS costs of their treatment

LeftWatch: Brown spends MORE on spin than Blair and Sunny Hundal celebrates Rush Limbaugh's hospitalisation

On Local government, Cllr Mike Rook defends his council's reindeer ban

Alex Deane on CentreRight: I want to question the idea that we ought to interfere in the legal affairs of other nations because a British national is involved

Screen shot 2009-12-31 at 06.31.23 WATCH: Papers released from the National Archives reveal the way Margaret Thatcher dominated Whitehall when she first became Prime Minister

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Thatcher's lessons for Cameron

WATCH FOR FUN: JibJab's cartoon review of 2009

Michael White of The Guardian names David Cameron as one of six politicians of the decade

Screen shot 2009-12-31 at 07.44.22 "Once in charge Cameron and his so-called "Notting Hill" allies – notably George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, and image guru Steve Hilton – set about "detoxifying" the Tory brand, distancing themselves from Margaret Thatcher and proclaiming themselves caring, even green Tories who took their paternity leave. There was even talk of his being "heir to Blair", whose smooth style resembled his own. On a trip to the Arctic Circle Cameron was famously photographed with a team of huskies. Less successfully he was caught cycling to the Commons with his official car in discreet attendance." - Full report here.

Michael White's previous five picks.

The Times: David Cameron has made peace with John Bercow but Tory backbenchers are still plotting to remove him

"Mr Bercow — who, despite being a Conservative, owed his victory to a well-organised campaign by Labour MPs — has repaired relations with Mr Cameron. The Tory leader has made clear to party members in Mr Bercow’s Buckingham constituency that he will eject anyone found helping Nigel Farage, standing for UKIP against the Speaker at the election." - The Times

Comment from Tim Montgomerie: That threat to eject party members supporting Nigel Farage is contrary to what I was told and I'll contact CCHQ for clarification. 1pm: The Times is right. CCHQ's position has hardened.

Jonathan Isaby made his views known at the time: "Those Tories backing Nigel Farage in Buckingham are being drawn into a stunt orchestrated by our political opponents."

Tory plan to tap ‘wisdom of crowds’ derided by political opponents - FT | Telegraph

Damian Green: Police policy on deletion of DNA records is shambles

"Police policy on deleting the DNA records of innocent people has become a "shambles", with huge variations in the way forces treat requests to remove profiles from their databases, according to figures obtained by the Conservatives." - Guardian

Michael Savage interprets John Gummer's departure as 'loss of Cameron's green standard-bearer' - Independent | Yesterday's Seats and candidates

The Commons and Home Office top a “league of shame” for the parts of government that have most consistently refused to comply with the Freedom of Information Act - FT

City and Westminster miss out as stars and sportsmen top honours list - Daily Mail

Alistair Darling: Tory plans to cut 'further and faster' would wreck recovery and roll back Labour's many successes

DARLING ALISTAIR 2 "The choice we make at the general election in 2010 will define the future of our country for the next 10 to 20 years. It is a choice between two competing visions: David Cameron's vision of a decade of austerity in which the UK would fail to make the most of its potential and inevitably fall behind the performance of other countries; or our vision of building a fair and just society with growth guaranteeing jobs and opportunity for every business and family. It is a contrast between a pessimistic outlook, lacking ambition, and one of confidence and optimism." - The Chancellor in The Guardian

UK standard of living drops below 2005 level - Guardian

Tony Benn wanted BBC to take over The Times in 1979 - Times

Iceland's parliament has approved plans to repay £3.4bn to savers in the UK and the Netherlands - BBC

And finally... John Rentoul makes an important conclusion:

Screen shot 2009-12-31 at 07.51.47 He makes the conclusion after thinking about the different parties' attitudes to voting reform - Independent

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30 Dec 2009 08:59:44

Wednesday 30th December 2009

Picks of 2009 7.30pm ToryDiary: Tim Montgomerie and Jonathan Isaby name their Blogger of 2009

6.45pm LeftWatch: Charles Clarke makes another plea to Labour to ditch Gordon Brown

5.15pm ToryDiary: Could Lord Ashdown and other non-Conservatives be offered roles in a Cameron administration?

1.30pm WATCH: Boris Johnson's upbeat new year video (just sixty seconds long)

HUNT JEREMY OPEN NECKED SHIRT12.15pm ToryDiary: Jeremy Hunt to offer £1 million to the creator of a website to "harness the wisdom" of the British people on policy

Noon Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight: The celebrity endorsements Labour was seeking in 1979 are revealed

ToryDiary:

LeftWatch: RMT boss Bob Crow promises to make 2010 "a year of concerted trade union action"

Azeem Ibrahim on Platform: The NHS must change and we must not be afraid to say so

Seats and Candidates: John Gummer becomes the latest Suffolk MP to announce his retirement

Kevin Foster in Local Government: The Conservative revival in Coventry

WATCH: ITN reports that Gordon Brown's New Year message will be "raw meat" to the Labour Party faithful

Don't forget to take part in the December ConHome readers' survey

Click here to be directed straight to the survey

Tories highlight fears that mobiles smuggled into jails fuel terrorism

"The Tories raised concerns yesterday that convicted Muslim terrorists are co-ordinating mass murder plots from jail as figures suggested record ­numbers of mobile phones are being smuggled into prisons. Data released to MPs showed more than 8,000 mobile phones and SIM cards are confiscated in jails every year... Last night the Tories warned that such widespread smuggling of illicit mobile phones was a gift to Islamic ­terrorists. Shadow Security Minister Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones said: “These are really shocking figures. How can the Government have done so little as the number of phones found in prisons has more than tripled?" - Daily Express

Andrew Lansley accuses Andy Burnham of U-Turn over hospital parking charges...

LANSLEY ANDREW NEW "Hospital car parking charges are to be abolished for seriously ill patients and their friends and families, under plans outlined by the Government... The Conservatives accused the Government of rolling back on their pledge to give free car parking to all inpatients. Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, said: “This is a U-turn on the car parking pledge which Andy Burnham proudly announced last September." He added: “It is clear that today’s statement is all about politics rather than solid policies.”  - Daily Telegraph

...as he attacks "hugely inflated" NHS fees for agency workers

"NHS spending on agency workers has risen sharply in the past financial year in spite of attempts to control such expenditure, according to figures issued by the Conservatives. Andrew Lansley, shadow health secretary, will cite examples of NHS Trusts paying “hugely inflated” salaries to temporary workers for covering shifts... Mr Lansley will say that such payments divert funds from the front line and prove that Labour’s attempts to control health agency expenditure are failing." - FT

William Hague says the world must unite to stop Iran becoming a nuclear-capable country...

"The bloody events of recent days in Iran have demonstrated the repressive nature of the regime and the deep discontent surfacing in a country denied democratic freedoms. A government that can only stay in power by shooting its own people in the streets and blocking their communication with the outside world is in serious trouble... If the EU does not go far enough, the UK should use domestic powers under the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 to take unilateral action, especially if this can be done in a way which sharpens the bite of EU and UN sanctions." - William Hague writing in the Daily Telegraph

...as he and Paddy Ashdown call on the international community to pay some attention to Bosnia

"Bosnia may seem less significant than it used to be to the US and her allies. Pressing challenges in Afghanistan and beyond need great attention. But the risk of a failed state taking root in Europe cannot be ignored by Europe or in Washington." - William Hague and Lord Ashdown writing in the FT

Chris Grayling steps up pressure over use of student visas by potential terrorists

Chris Grayling head shoulders tie "Concerns over who is using the student route have grown after it emerged bomb suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a plane carrying 280 passengers over Detroit in Christmas Day, had tried to return to the UK in May this year via a bogus college... Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, accused the Government of not fully understanding the level of abuse of the system and the potential terrorist threat. He has written to Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, and demanded action to stem the risk." - Daily Telegraph

> LeftWatch on Christmas Eve: The surge in foreign nationals granted student visas - and associated rise in fake colleges - under Labour

Economic figures for the decade worst since World War II

"The so-called "noughties" have seen Britain's worst economic performance of any decade since the Second World War while investors also have suffered their poorest stock market returns since the Great Depression, analysis yesterday revealed... Philip Hammond, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: "After over a decade in power, Labour's economic legacy is record low growth and a poorly-performing stock market." - The Scotsman

> Last night in LeftWatch: Labour's decade was worst for economic growth in whole post-war period

Alistair Darling's Jobs Fund in chaos, say Tories

"Ministers reacted sharply to a claim by Theresa May, the shadow work and pensions secretary, who complained that they had funded fewer than 31,000 of the 150,000 jobs promised at the time of Alistair Darling's April budget and had no immediate plans to finance any more." - The Guardian

Inheritance tax penalises aspiration

"IHT is a tax on aspiration, thrift and independence that tends to be paid by people of relatively modest means because the rich usually lay plans to avoid it... The Conservatives are right to take a robust line on this policy; they should now do the same with the planned 50p top rate of income tax and the proposed rise in National Insurance contributions." - Daily Telegraph editorial

> Monday night's ToryDiary: George Osborne is not for turning on inheritance tax

Grant Shapps accuses Labour of "state-sponsored deception" over government cash given to lobbyist 

"A PR company with close links to Labour was paid more than £38,000 of taxpayers’ cash to promote the Government’s plans to concrete over Southern England. The lobbying firm set up by Gordon Brown’s chief fundraiser is accused of setting up a ‘front’ organisation to smear opponents of Labour’s housing policies – in what has been branded an ‘outrageous abuse’ of public funds... Tory housing spokesman Grant Shapps is making a formal complaint to the Whitehall Accounting Officer. He said last night: ‘This is an outrageous abuse of public funds and nothing less than state-sponsored deception." - Daily Mail

Straw accuses Tories of trying to buy power

"David Cameron is today accused by a senior Cabinet minister of attempting to "buy" victory at the general election with a US-style campaign dominated by advertising. Writing in The Independent, Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, predicts the Tory campaign will be the most lavish in political history and denounces Mr Cameron for relying heavily on cash supplied by the party's deputy chairman, Lord Ashcroft" - The Independent

Peter Kellner: Labour are looking at recent polls with rose-tinted spectacles

Picture 15 "There has been a sense in recent weeks among Labour optimists that the coming election need not be a lost cause after all... I have no special wish to spoil anyone's New Year but, if Labour is to make a fist of the coming election, it must start with a hard-headed view of what is really going on - and the true picture is not as rosy as that assessment suggests." - YouGov President Peter Kellner in the New Statesman

James Landale previews David Cameron's 2010

"His biggest failure of last year remains his biggest challenge for the next - and that is to answer the nagging question posed by voters and Tory members alike - namely what would a Conservative government led by David Cameron stand for? What would it do?" - James Landale on the BBC website

Andrew Alexander: Chancellors should not seek to be loved

"Chancellors who care little about their image are rare birds. Indeed, one has to go back, coincidentally, to the early Thirties era to find such an unusual creature: Philip Snowden, who became Chancellor in Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour Government of 1929... Snowden became a hated figure in the Labour Party and left it. In the end, he became an admired and influential figure in the country, though certainly not loved. A useful thought for Osborne, perhaps?" - Andrew Alexander in the Daily Mail

David Davis: It's time to let the public hold banks to account - The Independent

Charity Commission investigates Taxpayers' Alliance charitable arm - Guardian

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29 Dec 2009 08:49:38

Tuesday 29th December 2009

11pm AmericaInTheWorld: Obama says world is watching Iranian protestors "with deep admiration"

7.45pm LeftWatch: Labour's decade was worst for economic growth in whole post-war period

5.45pm ToryDiary: The best anti-Labour poster yet?

3pm CentreRight:

HAVEYOURSAY1.45pm ToryDiary: ConservativeHome's end-of-2009 survey is live

1pm WATCH: Labour announces review into hospital parking fees with a view to making them 'fairer'

12.45pm Local government: Council taxpayers will pay £78m for Christmas rubbish

ToryDiary:

LeftWatch: The Director of Public Prosecution's socialist past

6a00d83451b31c69e20120a77ad215970b-150wi Adeela Shafi on Platform: Supporting the family is essential if we are to rid this country of the burgeoning knife and gun culture

Local government:

WATCH: Mohammad Asghar AM explains why he defected to the Welsh Conservatives

WATCH: 'Barack Obama has a been a left-wing interventionist'

Tories re-commit to inheritance tax policy

Last night's ToryDiary: George Osborne is not for turning on inheritance tax

"The Tories will today seek to win over the middle classes by arguing that more than 4m people are liable to pay inheritance tax, contradicting Labour claims that the levy falls largely on the rich." - FT | Sun

"David Cameron’s Tories should hold their nerve and stick to their pledge to raise the threshold to £1million if they win power. Britain is crying out for a tax-cutting government. if Cameron retreats at the first whiff of political grapeshot it will know that he is not the man to deliver it." - Express leader

David Cameron condemns China's execution of Akmal Shaikh

Cameron@Davos2 Statement issued from CCHQ: "I deplore and deeply regret the fact that the Chinese authorities have executed Akmal Shaikh, and did not heed the pleas for clemency made in his case by the British Government, by the opposition parties, by his family and by others. There were serious concerns about Mr Shaikh's mental health. It is appalling that these concerns were not independently assessed during the more than two years Mr Shaikh was in custody, and taken properly into account in the judicial process. We supported the Government in the efforts they have made, and I join with them in sending my sympathy to Mr Shaikh's family and friends."

Leo McKinstry in the Daily Mail says China did the right thing: "In contrast to New Labour's policy of appeasement and surrender, the Chinese Government acts vigorously to defend its people from the misery caused by the drugs trade. My regret is not over tough action by Beijing, but the fact that we in this country do not possess the moral clarity or strength of purpose to deal ruthlessly with drug peddlers and other enemies of our society."

Former Tory MP Michael Brown attacks Cameron's lovebombing of the Liberal Democrats

LoveBombing "All the Tory talk is of a "new politics" and recognising "the good intentions of our opponents". But I'm not sure that too many voters will understand the clarity of the Tory message when told that "between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats there is a lot less disagreement than there used to be". Try telling that to the Conservative candidate in Cheltenham, for whom I spoke a few weeks ago, trying to unseat the Liberal Democrat incumbent in what should be an easy Tory gain. Mark Coote has been working furiously, locally, to point out how hopeless his Liberal Democrat opponents are and how much difference there is between his policies and theirs." - Michael Brown in The Independent

BTW: Michael Brown also notes that Mr Cameron's email message to Tory supporters included the disclaimer, "Any opinion expressed in this email is not necessarily that of the Party"!

> Watch / read David Cameron's new year message

Tory hopeful Norsheen Bhatti revealed as £260-an-hour belly dancer - Mirror | Seats and candidates | Iain Dale's Diary

Labour MEPs accused of secret tax agenda

HAGUE WILLIAM NW "A document drawn up by a European Parliament group that includes Britain’s 13 Labour MEPs calls for a bigger EU budget, common EU taxes and VAT harmonisation... Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “These plans show how Labour are lurching to the Left and want to give the EU even more control over our lives." - Express

Labour's core vote strategy sees them recover some support in the north - FT

The death of David Taylor, the Labour back bencher who suffered a heart attack on Boxing Day, could leave constituents without an MP for six months if the party ducks a tricky by-election - Telegraph

Harman retreats on scrapping MPs' £10,040-a-year communications allowance - Times

David Cameron is committed to abolish the allowance.

The wife of Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, Iris Robinson MP, is quitting politics after admitting she is battling severe depression - BBC

"A Northern Ireland MP, who made headlines last year for her anti-gay remarks, yesterday said she was suffering from serious depression and cited ill health as a reason for leaving public life." - Guardian

Alex Salmond hopes for 20 SNP MPs and for them to hold the balance of power - Herald

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28 Dec 2009 08:59:48

Monday 28th December 2009

10.30pm ToryDiary: George Osborne is not for turning on inheritance tax

7.30pm WATCH: David Cameron's new year message emphasises clean, positive politics

3pm Seats and candidates: It's probably best to use real local people in campaign literature!

2pm ToryDiary: Any questions for the ConHome December survey?

Noon WATCH: The BBC interviews The Telegraph journalists behind expenses-gate, the story of the year

ToryDiary: Michael Howard's call to tackle the BNP needs to be answered with a strong message on immigration

PicksOf2009 Also on ToryDiary we begin our Picks of 2009: Jonathan Isaby chooses Douglas Carswell MP as his Backbencher of the Year, Tim Montgomerie chooses Lord Lawson

Carl Thomson on Platform: Ukraine’s upcoming presidential election shows that democracy isn’t always pretty

Spelman Caroline Green Local government: Caroline Spelman MP repeats Tory promise to abolish council tax inspectors’ right to enter private homes

Seats and candidates: Andrew Bridgen, Tory candidate for Leicestershire NW, leads tributes to David Taylor MP

LeftWatch: Patient French made 50% more than Gordon Brown on gold sales (and only sold half as much)

Liberal Democrats have rejected David Cameron's claim that there are now fewer policy differences between the two parties - BBC

David Cameron 'love-bombed' Nick Clegg's voters in his new year message: "Let's be honest that whether you're Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat, you're motivated by pretty much the same progressive aims: a country that is safer, fairer, greener and where opportunity is more equal.  It's how to achieve these aims that we disagree about - and indeed between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats there is a lot less disagreement than there used to be."

> Read the full text of the message

David Willetts responds to reports that Labour has u-turned in its attitude to marriage and the two parent family

WILLETTS DAVID NW Quoted in the Daily Mail: "'This is a big change in Labour's rhetoric but it needs to be backed up with proper policy. It seems Ed Balls has at last woken up to the fact that evidence shows most people, from all backgrounds, aspire to get married, and it helps create a stable environment for children. The challenge for Ed Balls is to reverse the damage Labour has done. For example, they have removed the recognition of marriage in the tax system as part of their failure to value the relationship between partheyents. Most developed countries recognise marriage in the tax system and it is time for us to rejoin them."

A report from the Centre for Social Justice examines how Britain penalises marriage, almost uniquely in the world - Daily Mail 

Bruce Anderson reviews 'Wasted' - Harriet Sergeant's damning indictment of a lost welfarised generation - Independent

Tory plan to freeze council tax and provide a health visitor service for new parents may cost £1.4bn more than budgeted - FT

David Cameron questioned over use of flights funded by Scottish Conservative Treasurer, Malcolm Scott - Herald

Boris the optimist predicts big human progress by 2020

SunnyBoris "By 2020 I predict that we will have made good progress in solving the problems that afflict humanity. By spreading literacy and female emancipation we will begin to bring our population under control. We will devise such innovative technical solutions to global warming that we will start to cast around for something else to worry about. We will promote reconciliation and understanding between mutually antagonistic monotheisms. We will reverse the tide of expensive politically correct risk-averse regulatory nonsense. We will bring back hunting. So forward with homo sapiens, chief glory of the universe, and up with British companies whose cunning allows us to gratify our innermost desires and spend the Christmas break blamelessly shooting our closest relatives. Happy New Year!" - Boris Johnson in The Telegraph

Gordon Brown’s fatal flaw is his underlying gloom - William Rees-Mogg in The Times

The Sun: Winston Churchill makes Cameron look like one of EastEnder's Mitchell brothers

Screen shot 2009-12-28 at 09.22.31 The Sun Says: "Gordon Brown's class war against the Tories is foolish and desperate. It may play to die-hard left-wingers who'll vote Labour come what may. Swing voters don't give a damn about David Cameron's background, as two senior ministers point out. Winston Churchill was born in Blenheim Palace. His "toff" credentials make Cameron look like a Mitchell brother. But few would dispute he was our finest Prime Minister in a crisis."

Ed Balls has dismissed reports that Labour is conducting a class war against the Tories as "nonsense” - Telegraph

David Davies MP reveals government departments have spenmt £4m revamping websites - Telegraph

Michael Gove reveals that poorest pupils are five times as likely to truant as richest pupils - Guardian

Jack Straw orders a comprehensive review of Britain's much-criticised libel laws - Guardian

Michael White continues his politician of the decade series, naming Alex Salmond today - Guardian

His six part series has so far included Robin Cook and Vince Cable.

The Times names Joanna Lumley as its Briton of the Year

"Joanna Lumley’s triumph is not just a victory for Nepal, but for Britain, too. In a year when the reputation of the House of Commons has suffered, we all benefit from the reminder that Parliament remains the place where one should go, if one wishes a wrong to be made right." - Times leader

Melanie Phillips: Britain is still a hub for Islamic terror

PHILLIPS-MELANIE "Despite 9/11, the 2005 London Tube and bus attacks and the dozens of other Islamist plots uncovered in Britain, the astounding fact is that Islamic extremist networks are still allowed to flourish in Britain, largely through the obsession of its governing class with multiculturalism and 'human rights'. As a result, Britain remains - to its eternal shame - the biggest hub of Islamic radicalisation outside the Arab and Muslim world." - Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail

> Paul Goodman MP on CentreRight: The middle class converts who want to bomb us

Dan Lewis: Energy security is more important than reducing carbon - Wall Street Journal

And finally...

"Tory leader David Cameron took a break from running for office to run a mud-filled mile for charity. The politician, 43, held up his Chadlington Great Brook Run medal in Oxfordshire, while enjoying a pint and a kiss from wife Samantha, 38." - Report and photo in the Daily Star

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