9pm WATCH: An Iraqi journalist throw shoes at President Bush during a press conference in Baghdad

8.15pm ToryDiary: Details of proposed Conservative reforms to Network Rail

7.45pm ToryDiary: Government to rule out Royal Mail privatisation

11.30am ToryDiary: Welsh Tory leader Nick Bourne under pressure

John_major_on_sofa_310.15am ToryDiary: Sir John Major attacks the Government’s handling of the economy

ToryDiary: Damian Green’s case set to be dropped

Shadow International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell on Platform: A silver lining in the climate talks cloud?

Ridley Grove on CentreRight: David Cameron gets it right after getting it wrong

International: US Republicans see veto of auto bailout as first step toward restoring economic reputation

WATCH: Gordon Brown in surprise visit to our troops in Afghanistan yesterday

Damian Green’s "bungled" leaks case faces axe…

"Scotland Yard is preparing for the criminal case against the Tory MP Damian Green to be dropped because senior officers believe it may never reach court. Sir Paul Stephenson, the acting Metropolitan police commissioner, last week discussed with senior advisers the option of abandoning the case. Two Met insiders said the Yard expected the case to be dropped because of the bungled and possibly unlawful way in which his House of Commons office was searched. Either the police would drop the case or the Crown Prosecution Service would withdraw it when Green answered bail in February." – Sunday Times

"The prospect of charges being brought against Mr Green appeared to
recede last week when a report suggested that Met officers had breached
guidelines and good practice, and may have been heavy handed in their
approach." – Sunday Telegraph

…as Douglas Hogg demands a new inquiry into the matter

"Michael Martin, the Speaker of the House of Commons, faces a parliamentary sleaze inquiry into whether he abused the privilege of his office by letting police search an MP’s office. The Conservative MP Douglas Hogg has asked for a debate on a motion to refer the police raid on the shadow immigration minister Damian Green’s office to the Commons select committee on Standards and Privileges." – Sunday Telegraph

Tory lead increases to 6% in YouGov poll…

The Conservatives are on 41%, Labour 35% and the Lib Dems 15% in a new YouGov survey – Sunday Times

…while it remains static at 1% in a ComRes survey

"The ComRes survey shows that 37 per cent of those polled said they planned to vote Tory at the next election. The level of Tory support is six points down on the figure recorded in a similar survey a month ago. At the same time, Labour support has risen four points to 36 per cent, closing the Tory lead from 11 points to one. Labour support has increased particularly sharply among the bottom social group DE, where a Tory lead has been transformed into a 20-point Labour advantage in four weeks." – Independent on Sunday

> Last night’s ToryDiary posts on the YouGov poll and ComRes poll

Tories pledge to remove bonuses for poor performance by Network Rail executives

"A major shake-up of the rail system planned by the Tories will put passenger representatives on the board of Network Rail and give the rail regulator the power to impose swingeing financial penalties on senior staff for underperformance. Outlining the Tory proposals, Theresa Villiers, the shadow transport secretary, said: "When Gordon Brown set up Network Rail, he created a company that is accountable to no one. When things have gone wrong, they have got off scot free. And even when they have been fined, it is the taxpayer who has been left to pick up the tab. This is just not good enough." – Sunday Telegraph

Nicholas Soames: Brown is not fit to lick my grandfather’s boots

"Gordon Brown invoked the wartime spirit of Winston Churchill yesterday when he made a surprise pre-Christmas trip to the Afghanistan front line just hours after bombs killed four British troops in the area… But the comparison to Winston Churchill prompted a ferocious response from Tory MP Nicholas Soames, Churchill’s grandson. "He is not fit to lick my grandfather’s boots," said Mr Soames. "One is a party hack and the other is our greatest-ever national leader. My grandfather led a charge at the Battle of Omdurman; Brown didn’t even have the courage to call a General Election." – Mail on Sunday

Nick Herbert lambasts Jack Straw over £130milllion office refurbishment

"A Government that prioritised public safety might have used this money to prevent the early release of prisoners. Instead they’ve spent a staggering sum on a new palace for the Lord Chancellor. When ministers are demanding cuts in prison and courts budgets, such lavish spending on their own offices will intensify questions about the value of a new department which is clearly failing to live up to its own name." – Nick Herbert quoted in the Sunday Telegraph

Chris Grayling expresses doubts over Government’s planned training budget hike

Millions of pounds is to be spent helping workers made redundant find new jobs—or get fresh skills…. “It would need £23billion to keep just 100,000 people inmeaningful work.” Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Chris Grayling also dismissed the new aid package, saying: “All of this looks like too little too late." – News of the World

Government under fire for failing to abide by its own rules on HIPs

"The former grace and favour home of David Blunkett has been advertised for sale without a Home Information Pack, in direct contravention of the Government’s own proposed rules… Grant Shapps MP, the shadow housing minister, said: "This is a devastating vote of no confidence in the Government’s own regulations. Actions speak louder than words, and even Gordon Brown and the Government department in charge of HIPs think they are a waste of time when selling David Blunkett’s former grace and favour house. It is the height of Whitehall hypocrisy for Gordon Brown to be exploiting the HIP loopholes that Labour Ministers have pledged to abolish for everyone else." – Sunday Telegraph

Tories obtain figures showing poorer pupils dropping out after grants fiasco

"Figures obtained by the Conservatives show that up to 16,000 students feel they have no choice but to quit if their education maintenance allowance (EMA) is further delayed… "Thousands of the most deprived teenagers are missing out and may drop out of college altogether because of the chaos surrounding this year’s payments," said Nick Gibb, the shadow schools minister. "We urgently need to make sure every eligible teenager receives their EMA payment before financial hardship forces them out of education." – Observer

The role of Tory MP Greg Hands in this week’s German attack on Gordon Brown

"Last week, as news broke of a startling interview with Peer Steinbrück, the German finance minister, Hands put his linguistic skills to good use… On reading Steinbrück’s comments, Hands immediately called an old friend, Steffen Kampeter, a German MP and economic adviser to Angela Merkel, the chancellor, to ask what he thought. As it happened, Kampeter had just given an interview to Der Spiegel magazine giving full support to Steinbrück – and was more than happy to issue a statement in English so the British public could also hear his views on what he described as a “complete failure of Labour policy”. – Sunday Times

Michael Portillo: Ken Clarke is the deadly weapon Cameron daren’t use

"There is no doubt that if he became shadow chancellor the Tories’ credibility would soar. His return to the team would wipe the smirks from Labour faces as surely as Mandelson’s reenlistment shook the Conservatives a few weeks ago. Labour could then hardly taunt the Tories as Etonian toffs, for nobody looks less Bullingdon club than Clarke." – Michael Portillo writing in the Sunday Times

Matthew d’Ancona: David Cameron can’t do anything about recession but must say the right things

"One of the greatest problems facing the Tory leader is the enduring expectation that the Conservative Party should always be "doing something". It is a simple constitutional fact – and one that frustrated Mr Blair intensely – that an Opposition can do more or less nothing, beyond delivering speeches, appearing on the Today programme and holding the Government to account (thereby, as Damian Green discovered, risking arrest by Special Branch)." – Matthew d’Ancona writing in the Sunday Telegraph

Daniel Hannan: Why Eurocrats believe that No means Yes

"This is becoming like the closing scenes of Terminator. However many times you kill the European Constitution, it keeps lurching to its feet again. Blam! Fifty-five per cent of French voters say "Non". Zap! Sixty-two per cent of Dutch voters say "Nee". But the automaton keeps advancing, its flesh burned away, its charred metal skeleton stamped with the words "Lisbon Treaty". Then – pow! – 53 per cent of Irish voters vote "No". The machine is briefly swallowed by orange flames. Then, after a short lull, the red lights go on in its skull and, once again, it starts clawing its way forward." – Daniel Hannan writing in the Sunday Telegraph

Nigel Lawson: Climate change summits like Poznan and Brussels will cost us the earth

"It is quite clear that, short of a breakthrough in the technology of non-carbon energy – which may happen, but may not – the only cost-effective response to any feared global warming is to adapt to the consequences. The dirty little secret is that, so far this century, there has been no recorded global warming; as the Met Office the other day pointed out, sotto voce, 2008 has been, globally, the coldest year of all. That has not stopped the flood of claims of increasing evidence of "climate change" all around us." – Lord Lawson writing in the Sunday Telegraph

Croydon councillor Maria Gatland writes about the unveiling of her IRA past

"Look at Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, both of whom helped to run the IRA. If they could make such a profound political transition, surely I could, too? I had never killed anyone and I had never been to prison. McGuinness was helping to govern Northern Ireland and I was just a Croydon councillor." – Maria Gatland writing in the Sunday Times

Russian "honour" awarded to Thatcher was a fakeMail on Sunday

Claims that David Cameron believe the shadow cabinet to be too well fedMail on Sunday

Gordon Brown in India and Pakistan for talksBBC

Pound slips below euro on Britain’s high streetsObserver

Hilary Benn breaks Cabinet ranks over Heathrow expansionSunday Times

Exams chief quits over SATs fiascoIndependent on Sunday

Royal Mail faces £7bn pension gapObserver

Shaun Woodward adds to his property portfolio with a £5 million Mustique villaMail on Sunday

And finally… The Tories uncover the Downing Street menus the Government didn’t want us to know about

"The food on sale to Gordon Brown and his advisers would be familiar to many office workers: chicken and leek pie, ricotta and spinach-stuffed pasta, Thai turkey curry, and white chocolate parfait. Remarkably, however, this menu can only be made public for the first time after government officials lost a bruising battle to try to keep it secret… It was only after using Freedom of Information legislation – normally reserved for far weightier matters – that the Conservatives managed to unlock the culinary secrets of Downing Street." – Sunday Telegraph


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