Published:

1.30pm Roger Helmer MEP on Comment: "When they tell you that half our international trade is with the EU, that’s not a good reason to focus more on the EU. It’s a good reason to redress the balance with the rest of the world."

1pm WATCH: Andrew Mitchell says other nations aren't giving enough to UN disasters and emergencies fund

Paul Ron1pm ConHomeUSA: Top stories today concern accusations that Ron Paul wrote racially derogatory newsletters

ToryDiary: 61% of Tory members think early General Election would produce a majority for Cameron

Columnist Andrew Lilico: Priests should talk about politics. Often.

Caroline Dinenage MP on Comment: We must right the wrong done to the survivors of the Arctic convoys

Local government: Call for more offices to be converted to homes

More opinion poll evidence that Cameron's veto has produced "sustained" effect on Cameron's ratings

Cameron At Lecturn"Detailed polling on the prime minister's own ratings suggests that the gains in terms of his own personal standing are proving more sustained. By a 10-point margin of 50% to 40%, voters judge him to be "good in a crisis", an attribute which pollsters say is especially valued in political leaders. For Miliband the position is dramatically different, with just 21% deeming him to be good in a crisis against 44% who take the opposite view, a deficit of 23 points." – Guardian

  • "David Cameron's veto of Europe's proposed fiscal union does not spell doom for the U.K. Quite the contrary." – Andrew Roberts in the Wall Street Journal (£)
  • "The Tories have also won greater backing since the Prime Minister defied Brussels. Mr Cameron please note." – The Sun Says
  • Tory MPs won't let Cameron retreat on EU – Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun
  • David Cameron must persuade the French and other EU members that London's financial centre is their asset too – Jo Johnson MP in The Guardian

Britain and Switzerland want new limits on type of cases heard by the European Court of Human RightsTimes (£)

"The ECHR has a backlog of 160,000 cases, with some taking years to resolve. The document describes many of those cases as “hopeless” and warns that the court is increasingly being used as a last resort by desperate claimants whose cases have rightly been thrown out in their home country." – The Sunday Times (£)

Andrew Lansley wants NHS hospitals to be freer to treat private patients

Lansley-Andrew16

"NHS hospitals will be free to earn up to half their income from private work in a move that is reigniting coalition splits over health reforms. Opponents have given warning that the change, in which foundation hospitals will have their private patient income cap raised dramatically, could lead to a two-tier health system." – Times (£)

  • "John Pugh, chairman of the [Lib Dem] health committee, said that the time had come for an up-front debate about the true motivation behind Tory plans for a massive reorganisation of the NHS." – Times (£)
  • The NHS is facing a chronic shortage of family doctors after official figures showed some GPs were responsible for 9,000 patients – Telegraph

Hurd NickBritain is the fifth most charitable nation in the world but we can do even better – Nick Hurd MP in The Telegraph

Minister tells us to give more money to charity… even though UK is world's fifth most generous nation – Daily Mail

  • The Centre for Social Justice suggests tax relief for businesses that encourage their employees to volunteer – Independent

Ministers under pressure to force Lottery to be transparent about who gets its grant moneySun

Andrew Mitchell warns that the world is "dangerously unprepared" for future disasters because rich nations are not doing enoughBBC

Screen shot 2011-12-27 at 08.04.42Conservative MPs Gary Streeter and Mark Field criticise Rowan Williams for political sermon on Christmas DayTimes (£)

  • In The Express Stephen Pollard accuses the Archbishop of Canterbury of being a wannabe opposition leader

Tory minister James Paice declares hunting ban has failedThe Sun

"Ministers privately accept that there is not a Commons majority in favour of repeal, since almost all Labour MPs, most Liberal Democrats and some Tories want the ban to remain." – Telegraph

  • "Simon Hart, the MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and a former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said the issue had “become a matter of trust between the rural community and the PM” and urged the government to address the issue in a “short, sharp and clinical” manner." – The Sunday Times (£)

Ken Clarke vows to end compensation for criminals injured in prisonDaily Mail

  • A record 87,393 people spent Christmas behind bars this year – Express

Conservative and Liberal Democrat ministers have been accused of “total hypocrisy” for campaigning against the effects of Government spending cuts in their own constituencies

"Jeremy Browne, a foreign office minister, Steve Webb, the pensions minister, James Brokenshire, a crime minister, and Sarah Teather, the children’s minister, are among those campaigning against the consequences of spending cuts on public services such as libraries and recycling." – Telegraph

JOHNSON BORIS 2006The London Games of 1948 demonstrate how austerity can be turned into a sporting triumph – Boris Johnson in The Telegraph

  • A comparison of the policy pledges of Boris and Ken… in The Guardian doesn't find room to calculate how Mr Livingstone will pay for his promises.

Tax cuts for low and middle-income families in April will be dwarfed by hidden reductions in tax creditsIndependent

End-of-year political sitreps

  • "The words Mr Clegg, credibility and consistency can never again be used in the same sentence." – Mehdi Hasan in The Times (£)
  • "Most voters are buying the dishonest line that the Lib Dems have humanised the Tories." – Tim Montgomerie in The Times, scroll down (£)
  • "much of Liberal Democrat success has been to block more extreme Tory proposals, such as tax cuts for the richest. These successes are necessarily intangible and harder to sell." – Mark Pack in The Times, scroll down (£)

David Cameron is Steve Richards' Politician of the YearThe Independent

"In recent weeks, the Prime Minister has shown impressive leadership. For the sake of himself and Britain, he will need to display the same backbone in 2012." – Mail leader

Alex Salmond is The Times' 'Briton of the Year'

Salmond Alex Oct 2011"One incumbent politician managed to defy the odds, to win re-election despite everything, to win a majority when the election system was designed to prevent anyone winning a majority, to come from behind to destroy his opponents. That politician was Alex Salmond." – Times leader (£)

  • The Scotsman notes Ruth Davidson's "disappointing" start to her leadership of Scotland's Tories.

Ed Miliband insists he has had "good year"Times (£)

BBC bosses have started filming ex-PM Tony Blair's OBITUARY — even though he is just 58The Sun

Price of items like food, heating, water and transport has risen by 43% over last decade while average inflation has been 35%Sun

Britain falls behind Brazilian economy, to seventh place in international league tableDaily Mail

Meryl Streep develops admiration for Margaret Thatcher after starring role

Screen shot 2011-12-27 at 07.31.28

"Playing the former prime minister had made her respect what Thatcher achieved against the odds, she said. "The more I learned, the more my view of her changed. Wherever you stand on her policies, and many people didn't like her, the scale of her influence and the fact that she got things done was extraordinary," she said. "And the mental, physical, spiritual energy that it took to live every one of those days as head of the government was phenomenal. It's really humbling to consider that she was at 10 Downing Street for ten-and-a-half years. I admire that achievement. I stand in awe of it, even though I didn't agree with a lot of her policies."" – The Guardian | Express

And finally… Larry the Downing Street cat is banned from the flat lavishly refurbished by David Cameron

"Labour MP Kerry McCarthy said: “Poor Larry is being treated like some servant from Downton Abbey. It is shocking that after all the publicity he is not even allowed to set paw inside the Prime Minister's flat." – Mirror

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