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January 2010 newslinks

29 Jan 2011 09:02:57

Newslinks for Saturday 29th January 2011

9pm WATCH: Tourists witness Egypt protests

5.30pm ToryDiary: In praise of ‪Woodpecker Hall Free School‬

1.30pm WATCH: Charles Clarke: Ed Balls is not the right person to be Shadow Chancellor

11am David T Breaker in Comment: The Left blame class, they should blame themselves

David Cameron perturbed ToryDiary: "A government with 20 priorities has no priorities"

Brook Whelan in Comment: A fully-appointed second chamber is not ideal, but it's the least worst option available in our parliamentary system

Local Government: -

Parliament: Michał Kamiński's resignation letter as ECR group leader in full

LeftWatch: Stammer struggle Balls shifts swiftly in Times interview


Cameron and Hague step up pressure for reform as Mubarak sacks Egyptian Government amidst turmoil

Screen shot 2011-01-29 at 06.14.31 "William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, urged the Egyptian government to heed the "legitimate demands of protesters. Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said she was "deeply concerned about the use of force" to quell the protests.  In an interview for the American news channel CNN, to be broadcast tomorrow, David Cameron said: “I think what we need is reform in Egypt. I mean, we support reform and progress in the greater strengthening of the democracy and civil rights and the rule of law.” - Daily Telegraph 

Can Mubarak survive?  Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt's view on Newsnight -

“I don’t think anyone knows at this stage. What we didn’t hear was anything about enabling people to have freedom of expression, which was being curtailed today through the removal of the internet and social networking sites – we think that’s wrong, we don’t think that will help. It remains to be seen whether what’s being offered is enough…“I think the tide is turning very strongly. It’s not for us to sit here in London and work out where that tide is going to go.” - Politics Home (£)

"The Egyptian, Jordanian and Moroccan governments, for example, are forces of moderation in the region, urging dialogue with Israel and a peaceful two-state solution to the Israeli- Palestinian dispute. But the Arab people are far more radical, and more hostile to Israel. If they obtain political power, they may create governments in those countries with foreign policies closer to those of Iran or Syria." - Sir Malcolm Rifkind in The Times (£)

Hague Egypt travel advice - Sky News

The Independent returns to the Tory election pact story

"A plan for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to encourage anti-Labour tactical voting at the next general election is being discussed privately by Tory Cabinet ministers.  Although David Cameron and Nick Clegg insist the two Coalition parties will fight the election as separate parties, some Tory ministers want their party to soft pedal in the seats held by the Liberal Democrats." - The Independent

Liam Fox defends decision to scrap Nimrod

"The single MRA4 aircraft that had been delivered to the RAF was so riddled with flaws it could not pass its flight tests, it was simply unsafe to fly. I am not prepared to put our service personnel into any plane that isn’t safe. It would have taken more money and more time to rectify all the problems, if it was possible at all, and the onward cost of sustaining even the reduced fleet over the next ten years was a prohibitive £2bn. So we took the decision not to throw good money after bad. In the final analysis, it had to go." - Liam Fox, Daily Telegraph 

Osborne delays public sector pension reform

"Ministers have delayed the announcement of a crackdown on ‘unsustainable’ gold-plated public sector pension funds amid threats of a general strike from union leaders.  Details of changes to state employees’ retirement funds had been due to be unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne in his March Budget.  But, with increasing signs that pension cuts is the issue that could prompt co-ordinated walkouts across the public sector, talks with unions on how the pain should be spread will now go on until June." - Daily Mail

 Maude threatens to fire Suzi Leather...

Screen shot 2011-01-29 at 08.01.43 " 'Quango queen' Dame Suzi Leather has been warned her reign at the Charity Commission will be cut short unless she ends ‘politically motivated’ attacks on Coalition policy.  The controversial Labour sympathiser has until the end of the year to drop her vendetta against independent schools and end her public opposition to spending cuts.  But senior sources say Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude is set to fire her with a notice period if she does not change her attitude by the end of the year." - Daily Mail

"Opinionated and self-important, drifting from one cushy public job to the next, Suzi Leather represents Labour’s bloated quangocracy at its worst. Now ministers say that unless she keeps her opinions to herself, they’ll ‘terminate’ her reign as the Quango Queen.  What are they waiting for? As a symbol of all that’s rotten about the system, shouldn’t she be the first into the flames of the ‘bonfire of the quangos’?" - Daily Mail Editorial

...And fails to back Boris on tougher union laws

"Boris Johnson, privately backed by several Cabinet ministers, is leading the charge for tougher union laws. But Maude, a key player in the Coalition’s dealings with the public sector, is reluctant. Tightening Thatcher’s labour laws is a “last resort” he says. In the meantime, the Government should have faith in rank-and-file trade union members to embrace the Coalition agenda even as their leaders are roaring their opposition." - Daily Telegraph

Gove in charter schools move

"The Education Secretary has invited prominent figures involved with setting up or authorising the charter schools to address a conference today for groups seeking to start new schools in England.  He drew parallels between the challenges for school reform in England and the US, and said that he “drew inspiration” from its charter schools, which are independent, public-funded schools…He is likely to heighten tensions with teaching unions by modelling academies on charter schools in the US." - The Times (£)

Eight free schools close to final approval - BBC

Nigel Lawson interview: "I do not think all this Hiltonism is as successful at winning hearts and minds as they thought it might be."


  • The Coalition: "I think it would be far better not to have one."
  • The Conservative election campaign (1): "Inept".
  • The Conservative election campaign (2): "Silly."
  • The Conservative election campaign (3): "They should have got an overall majority and they didn't because they made a number of mistakes. One was agreeing to the three-way television debates."
  • The Conservative election campaign (4): "They stopped talking about the economy and talked instead about the Big Society, which nobody understood anyway."
  • AV: "Crazy."
  • On Osborne: "He must stick to his guns...I think we'll be all right in the end." - Daily Telegraph

 Cameron and Osborne Davos visit follow-up

"David Cameron last night launched an extraordinary attack on the ‘authoritarian capitalism’ of China and Russia as he warned businesses to invest there at their peril.  Mr Cameron poured scorn on those who see ‘political leaders with the powers of juggernauts’ forcing through decisions elsewhere in the world and believe that the democratic values of the West are ‘outdated, ineffective – even an obstacle to success." - Daily Mail

OSBORNE GEORGE PORTRAIT "In a separate session of the WEF, Mr Osborne said it was time to "move on" from the hostility directed at the banking sector – but only if a deal could be reached with the City on pay and bonus restraint, and on greater support for the economy in the form of more lending.  The Chancellor also promised that…his Budget, due in less than eight weeks' time, would lay some of the foundations required. "The ambition ... will be to turn the tide on the forces of stagnation." - The Independent

"The Prime Minister insisted that it was the responsibility of the Eurozone “club” to aid failing members, adding that the Irish Republic had received support only because it was an “old friend” of the United Kingdom.  Interviewed at the World Economic Forum in Davos… he told CNN’S Fareed Zakaria that there would be no further bailouts beyond liabilities guaranteed as part of the European financial mechanism agreed by the last government." - Daily Telegraph

'Fatwa' on Theresa May in Tooting is investigated

"Wanted-style posters which declared a "fatwa" on the home secretary are being investigated by police in south London.  Several posters have been displayed around Tooting, criticising Theresa May "for the abduction, kidnapping and false imprisonment" of radical clerics.  These include Abu Hamza, the preacher imprisoned in 2006 for inciting murder and racial hatred.  The Metropolitan Police said it was "working to find out who put them up" and hoped the posters would be removed." - BBC

Other Coalition and Political News

  • National Trust ready to 'step in' and save English woodlands - The Guardian
  • Surgeons question NHS reforms - Daily Telegraph
  • Banned hate preacher Zakir Naik to address Oxford Union by satellite - The Guardian

Pickles and Cable clash over localism

Eric Pickles cheerful "Eric Pickles, the larger-than-life communities secretary, has fallen out with other ministers across Whitehall since the summer over issues including rubbish collection, home insulation and regional development agencies.  But a row to eclipse all of these is looming at the top of the government over Mr Pickles’ “localism” agenda…Mr Pickles and Mr Cable have clashed over the creation of local enterprise partnerships…with their departments issuing conflicting advice to councils and companies vying to set up the new bodies." - Financial Times (£)

Express raises Clarke's prisons policy after Judge's verdict

"In attacking sentencing guidelines that effectively prevented him from sending a burglar to prison, Judge Julian Lambert has spoken up for the law-abiding majority.  His verdict on the 80 hours of community work he was advised to hand down to housebreaker Daniel Rogers was brutally frank: “I have never seen anything so wet in all my life. We live in soft times now.” Only political pressure for a tougher approach can reverse this dismal trend and while Kenneth Clarke is ensconced as Justice Secretary there is precious little chance of that." - Daily Express editorial

Other Comment

  • Watch out – Gordon’s gang are back in town - Matthew Parris, The Times (£)
  • Never have our politicians been posher, or more prolier-than-thou - Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Is Gordon Brown fuelling Labour's phone hacking claims?

Gordon Brown morose 2010 "The former prime minister, who is rarely seen in Westminster, is understood to have been in contact with sympathetic journalists to discuss the phone-hacking allegations.   He was furious when Mr Murdoch’s newspaper The Sun switched allegiance from Labour to the Tories, wrecking his last party conference before the election. Yesterday, in the latest stage of an apparently carefully co-ordinated series of claims, former Cabinet minister Nick Brown claimed his phone had been bugged." - Daily Mail

Cabinet Secretary: Blair kept Cabinet in the dark over Iraq

"Tony Blair was ‘reluctant’ to discuss Iraq with his Cabinet because he did not trust his ministers to keep the details secret, Britain’s top civil servant said yesterday.  The then prime minister was paranoid that private conversations about going to war would be leaked by unhappy colleagues, said Sir Gus O’Donnell.  His remarks contradicted Mr Blair’s claim that he held frequent and robust Cabinet discussion about toppling Saddam Hussein." - Daily Mail

Sir Gus O'Donnell urges GCHQ spies urged to open Facebook - The Times (£)

And finally (1)…Jacqui Smith - "Porn Again"…

"Jacqui Smith is to cash in on her dodgy expenses claims by presenting a documentary about pornography.  The former Home Secretary was caught up in the expenses scandal after she charged taxpayers for the cost of hiring two blue movies watched by her husband.  She is to present a documentary for BBC Radio 5 Live, entitled Porn Again to be to be aired on March 3.  The BBC says the programme will see Miss Smith question her own opinions and experience along the way." - Daily Mail

And finally (2)...Cameron children to choose Downing Street anti-rat cat

Screen shot 2011-01-29 at 06.24.53
"So it is likely to fall to Mr Cameron’s two elder children, Nancy, aged 7, and Elwen, 4, to choose a cat to chase the rats that avoided the traps and excited the hacks outside.  The Times was given a preview yesterday of the likely candidates for the position of No 10 ratter by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, the Camerons’ cat supplier of choice. Ros Davies, a cat “rehomer” at Battersea, identified five cats that have the combination of hunting instinct and statesmanlike charm to succeed as the nation’s rodent car." - The Times (£)

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14 Jan 2011 09:02:00

Newslinks for Friday 14th January 2011

6.30pm WATCH: Street protests and riots gather pace in Tunisia as state of emergency declared

6pm Local government:

4pm In Comment -

2.15pm Local Government: Council byelection results from yesterday

1pm Local Government: Eric Pickles's fortnightly column - Councils must stop wasting money on lobbyists

Screen shot 2011-01-14 at 13.10.15 12.30pm WATCH: Michael Gove teases David Dimbleby about his age

11.30am ToryDiary: Andrew Lansley, secret radical - and the risks and opportunities of his healthcare revolution (Part Two)

11.15am WATCH: ‪Nick Clegg hails "strong result" in by-election‬

In ToryDiary -

Roger Helmer in Comment: If the Conservative Party has ceased to be conservative, what exactly is the point of it?

In Local Government -

WATCH: The Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election declaration.

Labour hold Oldham East and Saddleworth with a 3,558 majority over the Liberal Democrats.  Kashif Ali comes third for the Conservatives

Screen shot 2011-01-14 at 07.42.46
"Debbie Abrahams secured a 3, 558 majority to give Ed Miliband’s leadership a boost.  The Liberal Democrats, who came within 100 votes of taking the seat in May, held on to second place. The Conservatives, who were accused of “soft-pedalling” in the contest in order to try and help their Coalition partners, came a distant third.  The by-election was caused by the court’s decision to rule that Phil Woolas, the sitting Labour MP had made incorrect accusations about his Lib Dem opponent Elwyn Watkins." - Daily Telegraph

"The collapse in the Tory vote is likely to prompt renewed pressure on David Cameron from the right who believe the coalition with the Lib Dems has become too cosy. The prime minister had initially planned to give Clegg a clear run in the seat by running a paper candidate, possibly paving the way for a "coupon" general election in 2015 in which the Tories and Lib Dems would agree not to stand against each other in certain seats." - The Guardian

"Ed Miliband is expected to resist the temptation to gloat over the Lib Dem defeat, using the moment instead to present Labour as the natural home for disaffected supporters of Nick Clegg’s party.Ed will say that he shares their pain and understands that the Lib Dems have found themselves in the uncomfortable embrace of this Tory-led government,” said one ally of Mr Miliband." - Financial Times (£)

"Mr Clegg has ordered an immediate post-mortem examination of the result, asking his ministers to gather at a meeting in London this morning. MPs tried to be upbeat last night.  Tim Farron, the Lib Dem president, said the party’s candidate Elwyn Watkins had come a “decent second” to Labour in the contest.  “We are the challengers in this. A governing party hasn’t gained a seat in a by-election since 1982,” added Farron. “Sometimes you are walking into a gale that is just too strong.” " - The Times (£)

Screen shot 2011-01-14 at 07.12.03
Fraser Nelson and Iain Martin on Twitter this morning respond to Warsi's post-poll criticism of the Party's right -

Yesterday in Seats and Candidates -

Coalition tensions are felt over Lords reform...

Screen shot 2011-01-14 at 08.52.26
"Nick Clegg faces a fresh crisis after his plans for sweeping reform of the House of Lords were savaged in a heated private meeting yesterday with peers.  In acrimonious clashes, they warned the Deputy Prime Minister that they would fight his proposals every step of the way.  His critics were so strident in their opposition that Mr Clegg protested that he would not allow the Government to be held to ransom by opponents of Lords reform." - The Independent

...And banker bonuses

"The Liberal Democrats are making a final attempt to persuade David Cameron to rein in bankers' bonuses amid growing public anger over the imminent payout estimated at £7bn.  Liberal Democrat MPs believe that Mr Cameron, rather than the Chancellor, George Osborne, has emerged as the main obstacle to tough action against the bankers… "You don't wave the white flag in the middle of tough negotiations," Baron Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay...told The Independent yesterday." - The Independent

Gove on Question Time is "outraged" by bank behaviour - BBC

Desk-bound Cameron makes New Year resolution to "get out more, and visits the north-east today

"After eight months in office dominated by sessions hammering out the spending review with ministers and civil servants, he has expressed frustration that his diary is clogged with meetings. Aware of the dangers of becoming confined to the Number 10 bunker, he has made a new year’s resolution to spend less time with officials and more with “real people”.  The drive begins today with a visit to the North East where he will hold a question-and-answer session with voters." - The Times (£)

The Mail hints at fuel duty budget postponement...

"David Cameron suggested yesterday that relief from spiralling fuel prices was on the way in March’s Budget.  The Prime Minister said the Treasury was examining the ‘very attractive idea’ of reforming the tax system to stabilise prices.  Alternatively, Chancellor George Osborne could postpone a fuel duty increase announced by Labour, which is due to come into effect on April 1.  Mr Cameron said yesterday that the Government was continuing to look at the option of a ‘fuel-stabiliser’." - Daily Mail

...While the Telegraph complains that the fair fuel stabiliser's been junked

Screen shot 2011-01-14 at 06.33.41 "The cost of oil will hand the Treasury a windfall in extra tax this year while motorists endure record petrol prices.  The Government will collect about £12 billion in tax on North Sea oil revenues – 20 per cent more than ministers had forecast, according to latest figures.  The prospect of the significant tax gain will intensify pressure on David Cameron to deliver on his promise to protect drivers from rising prices at the pumps." - Daily Telegraph

"Given the potential for serious political damage, Mr Cameron should either not have raised hopes of a tax break in the first place or, having done so, delivered it. Instead, he has appeared indecisive and succeeded only in focusing motorists' attention not only on soaring forecourt prices but also on the enormous slice (62 per cent) that goes straight into the Government's coffers." - Daily Telegraph editorial

Fuel the fightback - The Sun

Petrol prices may kill the economy and the Coalition - Ross Clark, Daily Express

David Cameron: UK will not be lured into "new mechanisms" to make euro safer

"David Cameron today promised that Britain would not respond to the crisis in the euro by being lured into "new mechanisms or new procedures" to make the currency safer.  But the prime minister said he would not stand in the way of efforts by eurozone countries to harmonise and tighten their procedures.  He was speaking at a joint press conference with the French prime minister, François Fillon, who…had claimed "a global economic "war is under way" that required greater co-operation inside the eurozone." - The Guardian

John Redwood - An EU foreign policy

Hunt can avoid full BSkyB probe, say lawyers

"Jeremy Hunt, culture secretary, has the power to accept undertakings from NewsCorp that would allow it to take full control of British Sky Broadcasting under a law last used too allow Lloyds Bank to buy HBOS, lawyers and officials said on Thursday. Analysts…believe Rupert Murdoch’s media group is considering offering Mr Hunt undertakings, which could include selling press or media assets or guaranteeing editorial independence, as an alternative to referring the matter for a full Competition Commission inquiry."- Financial Times (£)

Political and Coalition News in Brief

Mark Pritchard in four-letter word clash with Speaker

Mark Pritchard "Commons Speaker John Bercow suffered a fresh blow to his authority last night in an astonishing clash with a senior Tory backbencher.  Mr Bercow was told he was “not f****** royalty” by Mark Pritchard, MP for the Wrekin, in a furious row in a Westminster corridor. The outburst followed Mr Bercow’s order to the MP to stand aside.  Mr Pritchard was last night praised by the Speaker’s growing band of Tory critics." - Daily Express

Parliamentary oaths of non-allegiance - Simon Hoggart, The Guardian

Andrew Lansley accused of secrecy over NHS plan...

"Labour has accused Andrew Lansley of "disgraceful secrecy" for refusing to reveal what risks his officials believe the shakeup poses to the health system.  The Department of Health has admitted it has identified things that could go wrong as a direct result of its radical restructuring of the NHS in England. But it has rejected Labour's - The Guardian

…While the Daily Mail lays into him over swine flu jabs for children

"Writing in today’s Daily Mail {Lana Ameen's father] appeals to Ministers to look at the heartbreaking photograph of his beloved daughter just hours from death and ask whether it is right to deny other children a vaccine. He writes: ‘If I could show the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley the photograph of Lana shortly before she died, I would say to him: “Put yourself in our position, think how we feel”. It’s not too late for them to think again.’ " - Daily Mail

Flu deaths doubled over Christmas break - The Times (£)

Yesterday in Tory Diary -

Andrew Lansley, secret radical - and the risks and opportunities of his healthcare revolution (Part One)

Ministers were warned over prison riot

"Justice ministers were warned of serious security shortcomings at Ford open prison just two weeks before balaclava-clad inmates reduced parts of the jail to ashes in a drunken New Year rampage.  A report delivered to the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, on 16 December warned a "minimal number" of junior staff were left to patrol the jail at night, even though they had only limited training." - The Guardian

Press watchdog to investigate how Cable was caught by "fishing party"

"The Press Complaints Commission is to investigate The Daily Telegraph’s clandestine recording of Liberal Democrat MPs, which captured Vince Cable’s claim that he had “declared war” on Rupert Murdoch.  The Business Secretary was stripped of his brief covering media regulation after telling two undercover reporters, posing as constituents, that he intended to block the £8 billion bid by Mr Murdoch’s News Corporation to take full control of BSkyB." - The Times (£)

Boris: I'll use driverless trains to break RMT

Boris Johnson smiling "The sub-text, Tories believe, is that the unions are engaged  in a political campaign to destabilise the mayor and the Coalition. Boris says that unless they back down, he will start recruiting attendants for driverless trains. “We need to explore other options,” one aide says. “It’s the moment when the guy in the film pulls his jacket aside to show he’s got a gun too.” - Benedict Brogan's blog, The Daily Telegraph

One Party, two tribes

"Though they crave lower taxes, the modern Tory right—embodied by Liam Fox, the defence secretary, Tim Montgomerie, an influential blogger whose distinction between “mainstream” and “liberal” Conservatives is catching on, and backbenchers such as Mark Pritchard and Bernard Jenkin—are not as preoccupied with economics as the “dry” Thatcherites of yesteryear.  If they were, the government’s ferocious spending cuts would keep them happy." - The Economist (£)

Other comment

  • More maternity rights are bad for mothers - Jill Kirby, The Times (£)
  • Mervyn King must hold his nerve - Larry Elliott, The Guardian
  • We've never been better able to feed the world - Matt Ridley, The Times (£)

Email_subscribe Please use this thread to highlight other interesting news and commentary and visit for breaking political news and views throughout the day.

31 Jan 2010 09:01:34

Sunday 31st January 2010

7.30pm WATCH: David Cameron says a Tory government will start to cut within its first year but declines to quantify the cuts

5.15pm Seats and candidates: John Glen wins Salisbury

1.45pm ToryDiary: New ConservativeHome survey is live

11.15am Seats and candidates: Local candidate Ian Axton's last minute withdrawal from Salisbury selection

10.15am ToryDiary: Cameron's dynamite quote on householders' rights

10pm ToryDiary: Captions please...

Cameron@Davos2ToryDiary: Cameron ready to fight second election in 2010 after implementing popular policies from Downing Street

David Burrowes MP on Platform: Labour has failed to deliver justice for victims of crime

Seats and candidates: Are shortlists too long?

Local government: Havering to cut council tax by 0.5%

LeftWatch: Outstripping inflation, the cost of politics rises to £650m under Labour

International: Disagreements on tax, Afghanistan and with her conservative base upset Merkel's second term


MailoS Brown used violence against staff - Last night's LeftWatch

Brown is ready to "go on and on" after defeat if Tories win indecisive victory - The Sunday Times

Brown aims to outspend the Tories on defence in 2010/11

"The amount spent by Britain on the war in Afghanistan is to be boosted by £1.5 billion to £5 billion over the next 12 months... In a further move to shore up military spending, ministers will shortly announce that the overall annual budget for the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which is £35 billion for the current year (2009-10) will be "ring-fenced" for 2010-11.... Gordon Brown will challenge the Tories to match the government's commitment." - The Sunday Telegraph

...but Tories will give extra money to local government to freeze council tax - The Observer

David Cameron plans to put Iain Duncan Smith in charge of a Department for Social Justice - The Sunday Telegraph

George Osborne issues new warning on bank bonuses

"It is totally unacceptable to pay large bonuses, large cash bonuses in particular, at a time when the taxpayer is still reeling from the cost of bailing out the banking system, and when businesses across the country cannot get access to credit on reasonable terms." - The Sunday Telegraph

Senior Tories dismiss stories of tensions between Osborne and Cameron over extent of early cuts - Mail on Sunday

Vince Cable warns that early cuts could send Britain into double dip recession - Mail on Sunday

The Sunday Times says Cameron is right to retreat from threat of large spending cuts

Osborne to take on Darling and Cable in election debate - The Sunday Times

Tories are considering two year freeze in BBC licence fee

"Conservatives plan to keep the licence at its present level - £142 a year - for at least two years. But a three-year freeze would cost the corporation about £300million in real terms... Lord Fowler, chairman of the Lords’ Select Committee on Communications, revealed the licence fee plans after releasing a report entitled The British Film and Television Industries - Decline or Opportunity? He said: “The licence fee may get frozen for a year or two but the fee as such is a system that will continue. I don’t think David Cameron wants to change that.” - Sunday Express

David Davis breaks ranks on Iraq war, saying it has made world less safe

Davis-David-red-tie "The final price of this war is not yet settled. It has not destroyed the morale of al-Qaida; if anything, it has given it a new moral cause. It distracted us from Afghanistan – the necessary war – and has rendered it a thousand times more difficult to resolve. And it has taken the west from a position of moral superiority to moral failure. Where would we be without your war, Tony Blair? Even by your own criteria, in a rather better position than we are now, I fear." - David Davis in The Observer

Fraser Nelson in the News of the World finds Blair innocent of being America's poodle but guilty of losing the war.

> WATCH: Despite mistakes in Iraq, Cameron tells CNN that he is glad Saddam is gone

"Calls to clarify Lord Ashcroft's position after revelation that he provided flights for William Hague's visit to Havana last year, and then accompanied him to top-level meetings" - Observer

Could David Willetts' future lie in a more literary direction? - The Observer profile

Former Tory MP Piers Merchant left all his £695,000 estate to his wife who stood by him despite his affair with a younger woman - Mail on Sunday

Screen shot 2010-01-31 at 09.05.41 Ed Miliband declares war on climate change sceptics - Observer

Labour plans to force cigarettes to be sold in in plain, unbranded packets in the war on smoking - Sunday Telegraph

Blair's £1.5m Africa Panel fails to scrutinise aid pledges - Sunday Telegraph

And finally...

If Cameron becomes PM he can invite ANYONE to lunch. Nigel Farndale in The Sunday Telegraph recommends Cheryl Cole and Joanna Lumley...


Please use this thread to highlight other interesting news and commentary and visit for breaking political news and views throughout the day.

30 Jan 2010 08:58:26

Saturday 30th January 2010

MailoS 11.30pm LeftWatch: Brown accused of violence against staff in damaging new revelations

11pm Matt Sinclair on CentreRight: It's hard to imagine the BBC publishing an article as utterly patronising and unthinkingly biased as this one about any country but the United States...

8.45pm Martin Parsons on CentreRight: The British and US governments must stop undermining President Karzai

7.15pm ToryDiary: David Cameron confirms that a "Low Carbon Economy" will be an "urgent" priority for a Tory government

5.45pm WATCH: A three minute video from CNN attempts to answer the question, Who is David Cameron?

5pm ToryDiary: Any questions for the end-January ConHome survey?

3.45pm Tim Montgomerie on CentreRight: Twenty years of the Conservative Christian Fellowship

6a00d83451b31c69e20120a5dab31a970c-200wi2.45pm Seats and candidates: Matt Hancock, George Osborne's Chief of Staff, selected for Suffolk West

12.45pm ToryDiary: Tories 9% ahead in second YouGov poll in 24 hours

12.30pm Melanchthon on CentreRight: "Future historians will look back and judge that the Iraq invasion, which was heavily criticised at the time, was in the end vindicated by bringing democracy and stability to Iraq, and that Iraq subsequently provided a model for other Arab states to follow, leading over time to the spread of liberal democracy across much of the Arab world."

12.30pm International: A warm welcome to

ToryDiary: The Tories dip in polls as Cameron sounds an uncertain trumpet

Cgraffy photo Colleen Graffy on Platform: The war against Iraq was the right decision and it was legal

Local government: London quangos spend £5.6bn

Seats and candidates: Overnight we reported the selection of Gavin Williamson as Tory PPC for South Staffordshire


David Cameron in Davos

"Many Americans have been intrigued to encounter a conservative leader who is willing to countenance the idea that tax rises might be necessary to balance the budget – and who has taken socially liberal positions on gay rights and the environment. He has come across as far removed from the “tea-party conservatism” rampant in the US." - FT

'British leaders aren't what they were'

"It is increasingly hard to imagine David Cameron having the same impact. As the self-styled “heir to Blair’, after all, he seems to have learned all the wrong lessons. From his vague plans for deficit reduction to his born-again social liberalism, public opinion leads and he trails tamely behind. What with him, Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg, the focus group organisers must be making a killing." - Dominic Sandbrook in The Telegraph

Darling v Osborne

"Darling has won a certain grudging respect for the way he has dealt with the disastrous economic legacy left to him by the fellow next door. Osborne, on the other hand, has yet to convince Middle Britain he is the man to bring back the good times." - Patrick O'Flynn in The Express

Ken Livingstone predicts that Boris will run again

JOHNSON-MAKING-NOTES ""Cameron will insist," Livingstone said. "He will never allow Boris Johnson back into parliament while he's leader because he will upstage him every day. Boris can't help himself. Therefore he will have to run again." In a reference to Johnson's reputed ambition to lead the Conservative party one day, Livingstone said: "He has to get re-elected in 2012 to demonstrate it wasn't just one flash in the pan thing or a bad year for Labour. He has to demonstrate he can run something."' - The former Mayor quoted in The Guardian

Bernard Jenkin has repayment halved

"Bernard Jenkin, the MP for North Essex, said he had been “vindicated” after Sir Paul Kennedy cut the amount of expenses he has to repay. The Tory MP had been ordered by House of Commons auditor Sir Thomas Legg to repay £63,250 claimed as rent for a farmhouse in Hatfield Peverel, which is owned by his sister-in-law." - Telegraph

> Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight yesterday: First Tory MP (Roger Gale) to successfully appeal against Sir Thomas Legg's expense demands speaks out

Outgoing Tory MP Anthony Steen claims he has been 'vilified' for having a big house and is the victim of an 'unfair witch-hunt -

Screen shot 2010-01-30 at 08.13.29 Simon Jenkins reviews a new book on The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron - Guardian

Sandra Howard explains why she is finding it hard to be the mother of an empty nest - Daily Mail

John McFall, the Labour chairman of the Commons Treasury Committee, is to stand down as an MP - Telegraph

Andrew Grive looks for hope for the Left in that social attitudes survey

"On the face of it, the attitudes survey suggests that Labour needs a miracle to cling on to power at this year's election. Yet a closer look at the small print gives Labour a few crumbs of comfort: 81 per cent of people want more health spending and 72 per cent favour a bigger education budget. Two-thirds of voters still think the Government has a responsibility to reduce the gap between rich and poor." - Independent

The Daily Mail's verdict on Tony Blair

"Few will be surprised by yesterday's self-righteous and unilluminating display - still less by the complete lack of contrition, from a man whose only regret is that the war was 'divisive'. But two mysteries remain: Why are so many prominent businesses prepared to pay huge sums to employ this utterly discredited fantasist? And how, when he's the most distrusted politician in the region he destabilised, can he remain the UN's 'peace envoy' to the Middle East?" - Daily Mail leader

And finally...

Eggs.10483219 She fought hard to get the nation's finances back in trim. But only now can the secret of Margaret Thatcher's own diet be revealed - 28 eggs a week. The eggs, along with cucumber, spinach, tomatoes, steak and the odd swig of whisky, went towards a strict meal regime that promised to help her shed 20lb in two weeks. On the brink of becoming Britain's first woman Prime Minister in 1979, the then Mrs Thatcher was said to be keen to lose weight in time for her historic photocall outside No 10. Her crash diet plan was found typed on a sheet of yellowing paper folded up and tucked inside her 1979 personal diary." - Daily Mail

Papers reveal Margaret Thatcher's first days as PM - BBC

The Margaret Thatcher Foundation website.


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