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10.30pm ToryDiary: Latest YouGov/Telegraph poll has Tory lead rising to 7%

4.30pm ToryDiary: Gordon Brown will grant David Cameron access to the civil service in the New Year

4pm ToryDiary: Raising the prospect of a hung Parliament

2.45pm WATCH: Gordon Brown outline his Government’s aims, aspirations and plans for 2009 at this morning’s press conference

12.45pm Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight: Expect to see less of Gordon Brown in 2009

Baroness_rawlings_212.30pm Parliament: Peer of the day – Baroness Rawlings for a well-balanced speech on India

11.15am Parliament: James Gray asks about HIV/AIDS prevention in Africa and Asia

11am Local Government: Boris unveils designs for a new Routemaster bus

10.30am Parliament: Tory MPs pose good questions to the Treasury

10am Local Government: Labour county councillor in Lancashire joins Tories

ToryDiary: Lessons from the Damian Green affair for Tory strategy

Parliament: Bernard Jenkin’s unanswerable question about British troops leaving Iraq

Eveleigh Eveleigh Moore-Dutton in Local Government: Why don’t more women councillors become MPs?

Local Government: Yesterday’s by-election results – including a Tory hold on the toss of a coin

Alex Deane on CentreRight: Democrats manipulating election results

WATCH: Gordon Brown announce the timetable for withdrawal of our troops from Iraq next summer

Cameronosborneandhague_3 Watch your words, Cameron tells Shadow Cabinet

"Careless talk costs votes, David Cameron told his Shadow Cabinet as he tried to head off Labour claims that his party is uncaring by telling frontbenchers to stop making insensitive remarks about the recession. Such comments by senior Tories had allowed Labour to distort the Tories’ economic policies, he said." – Independent

Brown rules out early inquiry into Iraq war

"Gordon Brown was last night facing a row after he ruled out an early inquiry into the Iraq war and indicated he may resist holding one when the bulk of British troops return home in the summer." – Guardian

> Yesterday’s ToryDiary: David Cameron reiterates call for inquiry into the Iraq War as Brown announces British troop withdrawals

Osborneheadshot Osborne: Savers and pensioners are the forgotten victims of Labour’s recession

"While the Prime Minister may have forgotten about savers, the Conservatives have not. We would suspend the annuity rule. We would accept the Ombudsman’s report on Equitable Life. We would increase the threshold for inheritance tax, so that the vast majority of responsible families who save for their children will be exempt from estate duty. And we would avoid adding recklessly to the national debt and constrain the growth of government spending." – George Osborne writing in the Daily Telegraph

Taxpayers’ money will be lent directly by the Government to struggling businesses

"The Conservatives have been advocating their own loan guarantee scheme. They   will seize on the Government’s adoption of a version of their plan to claim   that they are offering solutions which ministers then take on board." – Daily Telegraph

Government document says married parents are best for children

"Labour has finally admitted that married parents are better for children than parents in live-in partnerships, and that they stick together more than twice as long. Broken families and missing parents are bad for children and for the country, ministers said, in a Government paper on the state of family life that marks a U-turn on previous party thinking." – Daily Mail

Gordon Brown and Archbishop of Canterbury in moral clash on credit crunch

"The Government cannot walk by on the other side when people are suffering, Gordon Brown told the Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday in an extraordinary tussle for the moral high ground. The Prime Minister delved into the New Testament to deliver a surprising riposte to Dr Rowan Williams, who had likened the Government’s plans to boost spending to an “addict returning to the drug”. – The Times

iPod claim row Assembly Members pay back money

"Two assembly members who were criticised for claiming their iPods on expenses have have paid the money back to the Welsh assembly. Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Nick Bourne and his Tory colleague Alun Cairns claimed a total of £398 in office costs. They have now reimbursed the assembly and have also donated money to charity." – BBC

> Last night’s ToryDiary: Welsh Tories reimburse Assembly for their iPods

Johnson_boris_pointing_2 Boris to unveil new Routemaster design this morningAutocar

Tory peer accused of road rage attack
The Times 

Mandelson and Treasury at odds over bailout for JaguarIndependent

Fears increase over the economy as borrowing reaches new highThe Times

Cash-strapped parents desert private schools for the state systemDaily Mail

Ministers forced to apologise for dire handling of Equitable Life collapseDaily Mail

Brown battling to keep lid on Cabinet split over Royal Mail sell-offMirror

Taxpayers foot the bill for costly Stormont makeoverBelfast Telegraph

Picture_6 And finally… Government spent £500k in five years on official wine cellar

"Almost £500,000 of taxpayers’ money has been spent on wine for the official Government cellar over the past five years, ministers have revealed… The wine is used for official receptions and ministerial dinners but the largesse of the cellar has been criticised by opposition politicians. Details of spending on the cellar were slipped out by the Government as MPs left for their three-week Christmas break. Gillian Merron, the Foreign Office minister said that the Government wine cellar was made up of around 35,000 "fine" wines and 2,000 "reception" or "beverage" wines." – Daily Telegraph

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