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Saturday 31st December 2005

6.30pm update: Iain Dale's predictions for the year ahead

BLOGS

ToryDiary: Mail fires warning shots at David Cameron

Iraqivoter123_1TOWNHALL.COM'S CITIZENS OF THE YEAR:
THE IRAQI PEOPLE

John Hanley for TownHall.com: "On three separate days this year, Iraqis had the opportunity to leave their homes, walk to their polling stations, and cast their votes. This simplest of civic duties, something that people everywhere should enjoy as a basic human dignity, was made infinitely more complex by widely circulated flyers reading, “This street will run red with the blood of voters."

TONY BLAIR'S NEW YEAR MESSAGE

Times: "In what may be the most crucial year of his premiership, Mr Blair insists that he will not back down on his reform agenda for schools, local health services and welfare, while taking important decisions on pensions, nuclear energy and the Respect agenda."

LIBDEMS IN TURMOIL

Times: "A senior Liberal Democrat MP has expressed fresh worries about Charles Kennedy, questioning whether he is fit to lead the party into the next election.  Alan Beith, the party’s former deputy leader, said that the political mood in the country was changing and the Liberal Democrats should not fall out of step with the country. His move comes after a petition calling for Mr Kennedy to step down immediately, which has collected more than 3,000 signatures, including those of two MPs and more than 100 councillors."

CONSERVATIVE NEWS & COMMENTARY

Simon Heffer in The Telegraph: "who has the final say on the Tories' economic policy - Ollie, who is not shadow chancellor, or poor old George Osborne, who allegedly is? On the Bob Geldof principle, shouldn't a suitably inclusive policy committee be set up to advise George and/or Ollie on what to do next?  I'm sure that well-known sympathisers such as Arthur Scargill, Michael Foot and the great Tony Benn would be only too glad to lend their services."

Smokingsmall1David Cameron talks to The Times about giving up smoking.

GOOD NEWS FROM THE USA

The UK economy may benefit from the strength of the US economy: "The 3.5% to 4% rate of growth in 2005 has been especially remarkable given eight Federal Reserve Board interest rate hikes, oil prices as high as $70 a barrel, and one of the most devastating natural disasters in American history. Yes, fourth quarter GDP may come in softer thanks to limping auto sales, but the entrepreneurial U.S. economy will still have grown at about twice the pace of Old Europe in 2005. As economist Michael Darda of MKM Partners, puts it: "This is the most derided and ridiculed growth cycle in post-World War II history, even though by many measures, including productivity and corporate profits, it's one of the most impressive."" (Wall Street Journal).

New York's zero tolerance revolution continues: "Crime has fallen across New York City for the 17th consecutive year, with subway crime down by more than 5 percent from last year and the number of recorded murders virtually certain to be the fewest in any single year since 1963, new Police Department statistics show." (New York Times).

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