Syria 1) MoD officials warned Cameron against using the 70,000 rebels figure

cameron-face‘Military officials warned the government against declaring that 70,000 Syrian rebels were ready to help eradicate Islamic State amid fears that the claim could become David Cameron’s “dodgy dossier”, The Times has learnt. Offering such a precise figure could make the government a hostage to fortune, it was feared. MPs might wrongly assume that a ready-made army was able to retake the Isis hub of Raqqa as soon as British warplanes started bombing, the Whitehall and defence sources said.’ – The Times (£)


  • Britain’s return to the world stage - FT
  • Fallon: It could take two years to beat ISIS – The Guardian
  • May defeated in court over citizenship for extremist’s family – The Times (£)
  • Voters feel less safe, but still support air strikes – The Sun (£)


  • ‘Repulsive’ backlash against Labour MPs who voted for action – Daily Mail
  • Shadow minister fears Corbyn has made them a target for activists and jihadis – Daily Telegraph
  • The depth of the rift becomes clear – FT
  • MP receives police protection after death threat – The Times (£)
  • Benn forces Corbyn not to criticise strikes in Iraq – The Times (£)
  • Could he become the new leader? – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail
  • A Benn but not a Bennite – The Guardian


  • Police investigate possible UK links of Paris attackers – Daily Mail
  • Paris atrocities cost just £21,000 – Daily Mail
  • Analyst warns ISIS are targeting Britain – The Sun (£)
  • MoD pilot training contract comes under fire – FT

>Today: Iain Dale’s Friday Diary: How Hilary Benn’s speech moved me to tears

>Yesterday: Garvan Walshe’s column: Now protect Syrians from Assad

Syria 2) Coughlin: Destroy the enemy’s oil fields and they will crumble

‘The general reluctance of Western coalition partners to target Isil’s oil lifeline has been a source of great frustration among some of our Arab allies, who simply cannot understand why the oil routes, which are well-known and easy targets, have not been attacked earlier. As one senior Arab diplomat recently told me: “We have been giving the Americans the precise coordinates of the oil routes for months, but they have done nothing about it.” I suspect the reason that the coalition has so far steered clear of attacking Isil’s oil supply lines is that Western commanders did not want to upset Turkey, which is regarded as a vital ally in the campaign against Isil, but which has also been double-dealing in terms of its relations with Isil.’ – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph

  • Second night of airstrikes hits at ISIS revenue streams – Daily Mail
  • Russia-Turkey slanging match continues – Daily Mail



>Today: Daniel Hamilton on Comment: After the Syria vote, liberal intervention is back – or should be. We need global engagement.

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Why have Christian leaders backed action against ISIS?

Labour hold Oldham West with 10,835 majority

Woolfie Corbyn‘Labour retained one of its safest seats early this morning in a ‘lucky escape’ at the Oldham West and Royton by-election – winning with almost two-thirds of votes cast. The Tory vote collapsed as Jeremy Corbyn’s beleaguered party took 62 per cent of the vote, an increased share compared with at the May General Election when it took 54.8 per cent. Labour had feared losing thousands of voters in the by-election, caused by the death of former MP Michael Meacher, but retained the seat with a majority of almost 11,000 – a result hailed as a ‘vote of confidence in our party’ by Mr Corbyn.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: The Conservatives shouldn’t settle for coming third in Oldham

EU renegotiation: It won’t all be over by Christmas, the Prime Minister concedes

‘David Cameron has admitted that he will not be able to seal a renegotiated deal with Europe at a summit later this month. The concession comes a day after a senior European official briefed that the prime minister would prefer to have the issue concluded in the EU Council meeting on December 17 and 18. The prime minister said the scale of his demands for fundamental reform of Britain’s relationship with Brussels meant it would not be possible to get an agreement “in one go”.’ – The Times (£)


>Yesterday: WATCH: Ici Londres – The EU renegotiation is a farce, says Dan Hannan

Gove scraps criminal court charge

GOVE finger pointing‘A £1,200 ‘justice tax’ will be scrapped after just nine months, Michael Gove revealed today. The fee, which costs criminals a minimum of £150, will no longer apply from December 24, the Justice Secretary said. More than 50 magistrates are understood to have resigned in protest over the charge.’ – Daily Mail

Ministers realise that devolving cuts makes them more likely to happen

‘One official in Whitehall describes this as one of the “great bargains of this government: the exchange of power for less money”. The changes are also attracting the attention of other cash-strapped nations. Some police forces have cut even harder and faster than they needed to, keen to exercise new freedoms which allow them to redeploy savings in other ways. “One of the big lessons out of 2010 was that where you devolved a spending cut, it tended to get done and when you kept it in Whitehall, it didn’t,” says a former Downing Street official who observed the process first-hand.’ – FT

Another CCHQ memo warning against Clarke is leaked

conservativetree‘A member of the Conservative staff sent senior party officials a memo in August warning that Mark Clarke, the aide at the centre of a bullying scandal, was “sociopathic” and “dangerous”, according to reports last night. The leaked memo prompted Lord Feldman of Elstree, the Conservative party chairman, to start an internal investigation into Mr Clarke, who had run the RoadTrip2015 campaign group…Lord Feldman has insisted that he was “wholly unaware of allegations of bullying and inappropriate sexual conduct by Mr Clarke prior to August 2015”. The memo does not explicitly contradict this but suggests that complaints were made before that month.’ – The Times (£)

  • Ray Johnson urges Cameron to distance Party from ‘cult’ – The Guardian
  • Female activists felt like ‘bait’ on RoadTrips – The Sun (£)

Utley: Why must politicians apologise for everything except their own sins?

‘Tony Blair set the ball rolling. No sooner had he come to power 1997 than he expressed profound remorse for Britain’s failure to do more during the Irish potato famine in the 1840s (he didn’t mention that by standards of the time, the Tory and Liberal governments tried a great deal harder to relieve the suffering than they’re given credit for). He was still at it nine years later, this time beating his breast and voicing ‘deep sorrow’ over Britain’s role in the slave trade — never mind that our country’s most remarkable role in that evil trade was to lead the world in abolishing it.’ – Tom Utley, Daily Mail

Yentob resigns…sort of

BBC Money Funnel‘The collapse of the charity Kids Company has claimed its biggest scalp after Alan Yentob, its former chairman, resigned from his position as creative director of the BBC. Mr Yentob’s decision represents an attempt to distance the BBC, which is still in the middle of funding negotiations with the government, from the political tumult that has followed Kids Company’s closure in August…The move in effect ends his 47-year career as a BBC employee, although he will continue to make arts documentaries and to chair the broadcaster’s film division.’ – FT

News in Brief

  • FBI launch terrorism investigation in San Bernardino shooting – The Times (£)
  • Firebomb kills 12 in Egypt – Daily Telegraph
  • Madonna accused of using fake police car to beat London traffic – The Sun (£)
  • Sheep ID parade in rustling trial – The Independent
  • Queen Nefertiti’s feminist message for ISIS – Ben Macintyre, The Times (£)
  • Thatcher’s possessions go up for auction – Daily Mail
  • Zero hours workers are as happy as full-time employees – FT
  • Spanish election campaign begins – The Guardian

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