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Tuesday 5th January 2010

8.45pm Parliament: Chris Grayling lambasts the Government for spinning intelligence

6.15pm Today's General Election Brief: Tory fighting fund may be three times bigger than Labour's

4.45pm WATCH: Greg Clark expresses his concern in a BBC interview about the low levels of gas storage in the UK

4pm Seats and Candidates: Philip Davies MP is not defecting to the English Democrats

CLARK GREG 22.15pm ToryDiary: Greg Clark warns that the UK has only eight days of gas storage remaining

2.00pm Local Government:

12.30pm Leftwatch: The Labour MP campaigning in a life jacket

11am Seats and Candidates Breaking News: Peter Ainsworth to step down as MP for Surrey East - the first MP to disenfranchise his local party under new selection rules

10.45am LISTEN: Tim Montgomerie explains on the Today Programme why the Conservatives will keep their pro-marriage policy

10.30am Seats and Candidates: Two candidates will fight Saturday's Open Primary in Stretford and Urmston


LeftWatch: Nick Clegg is Gordon Brown's only hope

Gurmaj Dhillon on Platform: The Conservatives can pursue a "Cuts and Growth" agenda without undermining recovery

Seats and Candidates Search for 100 Peers: Simon Weston

Local Government: Leicestershire County Council plans £47 million efficiency savings to freeze Council Tax

WATCH: Sky News summarises the accusations and counter-accusations of yesterday's electioneering

The long election campaign is underway

"The Conservatives accused Labour of telling "lies" about David Cameron's policies yesterday during bitter skirmishes at the start of a marathon four-month general election campaign. On a long day of claim and counter-claim, pre-buttals and rebuttals, spin and counter-spin, the two main parties traded insults amid a feverish atmosphere at Westminster. With Britain's public finances in a mess, it was clear that tax and spending would dominate the campaign and clear differences opened up between the parties." - The Independent

Picture 16 "A determined-looking David Cameron is the face of a two-week poster campaign in the Conservatives’ target seats that got under way yesterday... The image of a serious-looking leader was chosen by Mr Cameron and his senior advisers. Friends say his wife, Samantha, would have been consulted. With Gordon Brown widely seen as Labour’s weakest flank, the Tories want to draw attention to their own, more popular, leader." - The Times

"Few could remember a Conservative campaign where the leader’s image had so overwhelmed a political campaign" - Andrew Porter in the Daily Telegraph

Are the Tories trying to sell a party – or just a leader? - Ian Burrell in The Independent

"How many more months of this can the nation stand? If the opening salvos are any guide, the 2010 election campaign will be one of the most petty and uninspiring in our history." - Daily Mail editorial

David Cameron's slogan 'we can’t go on like this' was used by Thatcher on immigration - Daily Telegraph

Clegg is the winner of these early skirmishes - Steve Richards in The Independent

The Conservatives' draft health manifesto is unveiled

David Cameron Year for Change "David Cameron has pledged to protect spending on the NHS as he set out 20 policies to boost Britain’s health services if the Conservatives win the forthcoming general election. Launching the Conservatives’ election campaign, Mr Cameron said that health care was his top priority and that he represented “the party of the NHS”. - Daily Telegraph

"In September Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, promised that the Conservatives would build the additional single rooms within five years, raising the proportion of single rooms from 28 per cent to 55 per cent. Today’s manifesto declined to repeat the specifics, instead guaranteeing to “increase the number of single rooms in hospitals, as resources allow”... A flagship policy of a moritorium on hospital closures — hugely important in Mr Cameron’s earlier years — is also missing. Instead it just says they will stop closure of A&E." - The Times

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Tories will cut the deficit, not the NHS

> WATCH: David Cameron launches the health chapter of the draft Conservative manifesto

The Conservatives will definitely recognise marriage in the tax system

"David Cameron has denied abandoning a headline pledge to recognise marriage through the tax system as Labour claimed the Tories' tax and spending plans were in disarray... In a television interview, Mr Cameron said that he could not make promises "up front" on tax breaks for married couples because of the dire state of the public finances... Shortly afterwards, however, he issued a statement insisting that the commitment remained: "Recognising marriage in the tax system is something I feel very strongly about and something we will definitely do in the next parliament. We will set out exactly how in due course," he said." - Press Association

Tories reject Alistair Darling's 'dodgy' claims about their spending plans

"In one of the morning's press conferences that laid out some of the battlegrounds of the long campaign – to culminate in an expected polling day on 6 May – Darling said the Conservatives were trying to fight the election "on a nod and a wink"... But Tory sources hit back, describing it as "a dodgy dossier full of lies". - The Guardian

Labour's attack on Tory sums exposes Alistair Darling's differences with Brown - Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday on LeftWatch: Exposing the lies in Labour's claims about Conservative spending pledges

Bankruptcy hanging like a cloud over Labour's election campaign - The Times

"I'm being outgunned by slick Tory machine," says Labour MP Andrew Slaughter - The Times

Labour's campaign needs something classier than class war - Michael White in The Guardian

David Cameron’s lone-star strategy gives Gordon Brown a glimmer of hope - Mary Riddell in the Daily Telegraph

Chris Grayling calls on the Government to ban Anjem Choudary's Islam4UK

GRAYLING-OPEN-SHIRT "Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, called on the government to prosecute some members of Choudary's group for their activities and to ban the organisation.The group has stirred controversy over its strident opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and for demanding sharia law in Britain" - The Guardian

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Chris Grayling says that the proposed Islam4UK march in Wootton Bassett should be prevented

Grant Shapps accuses Labour of understating repossession figures - FT

Labour MP attacks 'bully boy' Twitter campaign started by Tories

"Labour MP Kerry McCarthy has described the Tory bloggers behind an internet campaign to oust her from her Bristol East seat as "bully boys"... The Kerry Out campaign was officially launched yesterday by a blogger called Tory Bear." - Bristol Evening Post

> The KerryOut campaign went online yesterday

Nile Gardiner: How David Cameron should behave on the international stage

"Mr. Cameron undoubtedly has the potential to be an international statesman of significant stature. In order to achieve this he must be prepared to advance an agenda that projects strength, not weakness, and allocates the military resources required for Britain to operate successfully as a world power... Mr. Cameron should look not to Mr. Obama as a role model, but instead to Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher—two decisive and iron-willed leaders who took great pride in their country's past, while unashamedly advancing the national interest." - Nile Gardiner writing in the Wall Street Journal

Allister Heath on the tragic decline in manufacturing

"Over the past 37 years, the UK has failed to sustainably grow its output of manufactured goods. Some of the lost ground of the past 18 months will be recovered, of course, but globalisation, poor education and skills and high costs (including tax and red tape) guarantee a bleak outlook... Ultimately, the lesson is clear: we need a sensible, reformed City to return to growth." - Allister Heath in City AM

Dominic Lawson: How new terrorism laws threaten us all

"If we are almost all potential terrorists, then we have entered a world of such morbid suspiciousness that none of us can feel safe" - Dominic Lawson writing in The Independent

Alastair Campbell to appear before Chilcot Inquiry next week - Guardian

And finally... "Thatcher was right" says The Guardian

"Over the years, Margaret Thatcher was wrong about a lot of things. One thing she got right, however, was the length of British general election campaigns. "Three weeks is long enough," she pronounced in 1997." - Guardian editorial


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