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Saturday 6th May 2006

5.30pm ToryDiary update: The winner of the ConservativeHome local elections competition is...

2pm news update: In speech to Power Commission conference, David Cameron emphasises end to Punch and Judy politics, less power for whips, more powerful Commons committees and a right-of-veto on military action for MPs - Guardian/PA

1pm ToryDiary update: The Tories must learn the right lessons from Thursday


ToryDiary: Labour used to be good at news management

YourPlatform: Don't fully trust anyone until he has stuck with a good cause which he saw was losing, says Donal Blaney

Iain Dale: What the LibDem blogs aren't saying


"The Tories’ revival was green for go last night after their best election night for 14 years.  The Conservatives gained 316 council seats with 40 per cent of the vote — up seven points from the General Election." - The Sun

"Significantly, the Conservatives won 40 per cent of the BBC's projected national share of the vote - the proportion of people who, it is estimated, would have voted Conservative if the local elections had been held across the whole of the country.  A figure of 40 per cent is the highest the Conservatives have scored since 1992, the year in which they last won a general election.  It is still far from clear whether Mr Cameron has made his new-model Conservative Party electable but he has succeeded in making it less frightening to voters." - Anthony King, The Telegraph

""Forty per cent means we are back in business. Forty per cent is magic," said Eric Pickles, the Conservatives' deputy chairman. The Tories needed to exploit a chaotic fortnight for Labour and they did so, in an way which will mute - at least for a while - rightwing doubts about Mr Cameron's pitch for the centre ground." - Guardian

"The Conservatives have finally touched 40 per cent in an election. There is nothing magical about this number: indeed, the Tories probably need to win about 45 per cent in a local election before they can claim seriously to be poised for power. These are results that do, nevertheless, make it much easier for David Cameron to continue to impose his version of “modernisation” of his party." - Times leader


LibDems: "Sir Menzies said it had been an "election of consolidation". He said: "There is no doubt our results have been mixed but I am not in any way downhearted by these results. This wasn't a test for me, it was a test for the party after the difficulties of the earlier part of this year. I think we have come through this test."" - Independent

Greens: "The Green Party boosted its number of councillors by 29 in Thursday's election, giving it 89 nationwide.  Its most eye-catching success came in the London borough of Southwark where its representation grew from one councillor to six. The party also won its first seats on Camden council - where two Greens were elected in the Highgate ward - Islington, Hackney and Southwark. It now has 10 councillors in the capital." - Independent

BNP: "The far-right party picked up most of its support from white working-class voters hostile to the growth of ethnic minorities in nearby areas. The mainstream parties acknowledge that the BNP's progress is evidence of growing disillusionment with conventional politics." - Independent

"A gay Conservative councillor hotly tipped for the Hackney mayoral post has lost his council seat and looks likely to be runner up for mayor, in a disappointing defeat for the Tories in the area." - PinkNews

Tories go backwards in Bradford - EU Referendum blogspot


"Andrew Smith, the soft-spoken and uncharismatic former work and pensions secretary, is not normally the type to be cast as the assassin, even if he represents the rougher eastern end of Oxford.  But yesterday he became the most serious figure inside the parliamentary party to call on Tony Blair to stand aside. Mr Smith, who was in the cabinet for five years until 2004, is extremely close to Gordon Brown and has so far remained publicly loyal to Mr Blair." - Guardian

"A letter urging Mr Blair to set a date for his expected handover to Mr Brown is said to be circulating among backbench MPs.  Some backbenchers have privately suggested the letter has been signed by 50 MPs." - BBCi


Prescottm_3 JOHN PRESCOTT: "Shamed John Prescott is to keep his £600,000 salary and perks as Deputy PM — despite ending up with NO job yesterday.  Tony Blair humiliated randy Two Shags by stripping him of responsibility for his sprawling Whitehall department in a ruthless Cabinet reshuffle.  But the PM let him retain his TITLE, his chauffeured JAGS, his free MANSION . . . and the luxury APARTMENT where he romped with mistress Tracey Temple, 43.  A disgusted Tory MP said: “We’ve all been screwed by Prescott.” - The Sun

Beckett_margaret MARGARET BECKETT: "The appointment of Mrs Beckett displays another variety of his contempt for the significance of high office. With a Minister for Europe now attending Cabinet - and Europe has for long been the main focus of our international diplomacy - Mrs Beckett may be the first woman Foreign Secretary, but she is also a politically emasculated one. However, following her record of success in government - the most recent evidence of which has been her attempt to destroy agriculture by fouling up the system of payments to farmers - she is lucky to be left in charge of so much as a sweet shop." Simon Heffer in The Telegraph

Straw_jackJACK STRAW: "Jack Straw made two crucial mistakes in his dealings with Tony Blair: one involved the prime minister's relationship with Gordon Brown and the other Iran. Mr Straw has said repeatedly that it is "inconceivable" that there will be a military strike on Iran and last month dismissed as "nuts" a report that George Bush was keeping on the table the option of using tactical nuclear weapons against Tehran's nuclear plants.  But Mr Blair, who sees Iran as the world's biggest threat, does not agree with his former foreign secretary. The prime minister argues that, at the very least, nothing should be ruled out in order to keep Iran guessing." - Guardian

Reid_john_smilingJOHN REID: "John Reid is not without qualifications to serve as Home Secretary, even if his elevation breaks the convention that an MP from a Scottish seat would not hold this office. But the speed at which he has held seven Cabinet slots in the same tally of years is ludicrous. If Sir Thomas More was a man for all seasons, the robust Mr Reid is a man for all reshuffles. He must be permitted a decent stay this time." - Times leader

Miliband_david_red_tieDAVID MILIBAND: "David Miliband has been handed the high-profile environment brief as a political move to counter the Conservatives' recent hijacking of the mainstream green agenda. He may not have the charisma or the means of David Cameron and his adviser Zac Goldsmith, but at 40, he is from a generation that learned about environmental change at school rather than a civil servant brief digested on the way to a meeting.
This marks a massive change for the party which, at its highest levels, has never grasped the personal appeal or political potential of a green agenda. Labour's old guard has always linked the environment to old-style containment politics, such as agriculture or planning, rather than the new international agenda or youth and human rights." - Guardian

And the last word(s) on the reshuffle to Matthew Parris in The Times:

"That the Secretary of State for Defence should become the Home Secretary because the former Foreign Secretary has been Home Secretary already and can’t really be Home Secretary again, while he (the Defence Secretary) has already been Health Secretary and can’t be Health Secretary again, and the Leader of the House (who can’t be Defence Secretary because he already has been, but needs to vacate his post so the former Foreign Secretary can have it) has a new “ Europe” portfolio invented for him — and everyone immediately begins arguing about whether he is a Secretary of State for Europe or not — suggests a Cabinet-maker running out of timber. This isn’t a Cabinet, it’s a food fight."


"Tony Blair has said Labour must rethink its website as it seeks to bounce back from its local election disappointment.  In a letter to new Labour chairman Hazel Blears, the prime minister said "innovative ways of communicating" and "radical thinking" were needed.  He said: "We must move from a mainly passive one where supporters interact with us, with local party members and with each other." - BBCi


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