6.15pm David T Breaker on Comment: Britain's cult-like worship of the NHS must end
5.30pm ToryDiary: Owen Paterson is ConHome readers' One To Watch in 2013
2pm Majority Conservatism: Paul Goodman suggests four (perhaps five) reasons why Cameron cannot win a majority in 2015
Noon Paul Goodman has been playing a new version of Monopoly over Christmas: "The top hat, dog, thimble and iron have disappeared from the set of tokens. All that is available are flash motorcycles, fast cars, speed boats and a (clearly private) jet…"
10.30am VIDEO: Nigel Farage's New Year message
Guy Opperman MP on Comment: Teach Prisoners to read and write in custody – that is a sentence that will achieve something
Labour 39%, Conservatives 29%, UKIP 15%, LibDems 8% – Opinium survey for The Observer
But Labour's underlying economic weakness should worry Ed Miliband, argues Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer: "The headline poll numbers are often a less reliable indicator of the true position of the parties than how voters respond to the question: who do you most trust with the economy? As the budget fell apart and the economy dipped back into recession, Labour narrowed the Tory lead on this crucial measure. But the credibility gap has opened up again since the autumn financial statement. Labour is now behind by 11 points according to the latest ICM poll for the Guardian."
But, warns Matthew d'Ancona in The Sunday Telegraph, the cuts are going to start hurting: "it is political naivety of the highest order to expect anything other than a furious backlash from and on behalf of those who lose out – not least the millions whose benefits will be cut in real terms. Vested interests will fight dirty. Heart-rending case studies will flicker on our screens. Let me repeat: this is necessary work. But it will be warm work indeed."
Lib Dem HQ tells party spokespeople to attack Tories as the party of the super rich "at every opportunity"
Liberal Democrats are to attack their Conservative coalition partners
in the new year by telling voters they can't be trusted to look after
the interests of normal people and are focused only protecting the very
rich. A leaked script of party lines to take in the media urges MPs,
candidates and councillors to say that only the Lib Dems are committed
to building a fair society. It was distributed by the Lib Dem director
of communications, Tim Snowball, who appealed for recipients to
"communicate from this script at every opportunity"." – PA/Guardian
> Yesterday evening's ToryDiary: It's time to threaten the Lib Dems with Mutually Assured Destruction
(1) The Tory plight amongst ethnic voters… (2) The rise of UKIP… (3) The unity of the Left… (4) Electoral geography…
In The Sunday Telegraph Paul Goodman lists the four reasons why the Tories are very unlikely to win the next election: "Losing older voters on the one side, failing to win ethnic minority ones on the other, and all at sea in Scotland and in parts of the North, Conservatism has been living through a crisis for the past 20 years – one which opposition after 2015 may not relieve."
Peter Hitchens suggests Mr Cameron is on a suicide mission: "why is Mr Cameron deliberately riling his own supporters by rushing through same-sex marriage, while forgetting his support for hunting and old-style marriage? My guess is that he knows he cannot possibly win the next Election (he’s right about that). So he is deliberately creating rows with traditional Tories, so that he can blame them for his defeat and general utter failure. You read it here first." – Mail on Sunday
In The Sunday Times (£) Melissa Kite writes "Cameron does not seem to understand what drives his members into the arms of UKIP."
- "A snowflake in Hell at noon on Midsummer’s Day has a better prospect of survival than the Conservative Party at the next election" – Gerald Warner for Scotland on Sunday
- Tories "are fast running out of time to prevent Ed Miliband strolling into No10 by default" – The Sun Says
- The nation needs "iron will" from Cameron in 2013 – Sunday Express leader
- 43% say they expect their personal finances to get worse over the next
12 months, while only 20% predict they would get better – Observer
Whatever happened to Tory modernisation?
The Sunday Telegraph publishes extracts from an essay by Matthew d'Ancona in which he claims Cameron has stopped modernising the party: "The shelving of the modernisation campaign was the worst strategic error made by the Conservative Party since the poll tax. It undid the work of many years and has left the party seriously vulnerable at the next election. The rise of Ukip adds to the gravitational pull in precisely the wrong direction: towards cacophonous irrelevance."
> On ConHome yesterday Gavin Barwell MP outlined a Tory strategy to increase Tory support among minority voters.
Top Tory donors tell Cameron to ditch his Eton chums and build stronger Number 10 operation – Anne McElvoy in the Mail on Sunday
Cameron is likely to miss his pledge of reducing net immigration to fewer than 100,000 a year, according to IPPR study – Sunday Telegraph
- 3 in 4 of doctors who have been struck off in the past five years were trained abroad – Sunday Telegraph
John Rentoul names six Tories to watch in 2013: Sam Gyimah, 36; Matthew Hancock, 34; Jo Johnson, 40; Kwasi Kwarteng, 37; Dan Poulter, 34; and Anna Soubry, 56 – Independent on Sunday
“This is a defining moment for policing in the UK” – The Chairman of the Commons Homer Affairs Select Committee calls for the PM to talk to the police to reflect on a year in which Hillsborough, Leveson and the Andrew Mitchell controversies rocked public confidence in the police – Sunday Express | BBC
- "Police spend just EIGHT MINUTES in every hour on frontline duties — despite a Government pledge to cut paperwork. New research shows they are out on patrol for only 11.8 per cent of their working day." – The Sun
- "The government has reignited its war of words with the Police Federation by releasing new figures showing crime has fallen steeply in the past two years despite sharp reductions in police budgets. Recorded crime fell by at least 10% in 19 out of 43 force areas in England and Wales while budgets were cut by an average of just under 10%." – The Sunday Times (£)
- More than 23,000 police officers and staff are moonlighting in their spare time – Mail on Sunday
"Alarming predictions of social unrest and the break-up of civil society have been delivered by the leaders of three of England's biggest cities, amid new evidence that government policies are widening – rather than narrowing – the economic divide between north and south." – Observer
- We ignore the growing north-south divide at our peril – Observer editorial
> Yesterday's Local government blog: David Blunkett wonders why the Coalition's local government cuts aren't being met by "revolutionary fervour". Perhaps because he is misrepresenting them…?
…But The Sunday Telegraph reports that rural Tory councils are complaining that the latest cuts are most unfair to sparsely populated areas…
"A coalition of more than 120 rural councils, the vast majority of them Conservative-controlled, is calling on David Cameron and Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, to perform a u-turn. The grouping is considering bringing a judicial review against Mr Pickles’s spending settlement, which they say hits rural areas far harder than urban ones, and is therefore “grossly unfair”." – The Sunday Telegraph
Michael Gove restores traditional history to curriculum
"Some of the greatest figures in Britain’s past are to be restored to their rightful place in history, thanks to an overhaul of the school curriculum. The likes of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Nelson and Winston Churchill had been dropped from history lessons under the last Labour Government in a move critics said was driven by ‘political correctness’. But under a new ‘back-to-basics’ shake-up, pupils will again have to study these traditional historic figures – and not social reformers such as Jamaican-born nurse Mary Seacole and former black slave Olaudah Equiano, who were introduced into the 2007 curriculum." – Mail on Sunday
Daft public inquiries cost millions and solve nothing – Toby Young in The Sun
Ken Livingstone turned down CBE for Olympics role – The Sunday Telegraph
The SNP could disband if Scotland leaves the Union – Scotland on Sunday
Margaret Thatcher leaves hospital after operation to remove growth from her bladder – Sunday Express
- Surgery was 'minimally invasive' and former PM said to be in good spirits – Mail on Sunday
Revolt by Commons staff scuppers John Bercow's plan to crackdown on MPs' 'booze culture' – Mail on Sunday
And finally… the New Jeers Honours List of 2012 – David Wooding of The Sun nominates a not-so-serious list of end-of-year political awards.
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