7.30pm Martin Parsons on CentreRight: Three reasons why Hamas cannot be treated as an equal of Israel

4.30pm ToryDiary: "Oh boy, you know what conservatism is. Do I have to describe it? A belief in the old ways of doing things and all that sort of jazz."

Obamastimulus_2 4.15pm WATCH: Obama promises bold fiscal stimulus for America

10.45am ToryDiary: Tory members say Defence should be top public spending priority

9.45am Local government: Tory Mayor of Croydon dies at just 40

ToryDiary: Is Brown scheming for a coalition with the Liberal Democrats?

Lucy Shersby on Local government: Cut the council jargon in 2009 or we’ll all be living in LAA-LAA land

Seats and candidates: Search for 100 Peers: Charles Moore

Tim Montgomerie on CentreRight: George W Bush, friend of Israel

Cameron: The VAT cut has failed

"David Cameron on Friday denounced the government’s 2.5 per cent cut in value added tax as “an unbelievable and expensive failure”, citing figures suggesting a grim festive season on the high street." – FT | BBC

Andrew Lansley reveals rip-off wages for agency nurses

Lansley_andrew_nw "Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show agency staff at some NHS organisations get rates equivalent to salaries of up to £366,000 a year. The data also reveal the high fees charged by agencies to source workers for the NHS. Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley slammed the rates, saying: "Labour’s dithering and chaotic, short-term planning has let down NHS staff. "It’s incredible that agency staff can be paid such high hourly rates when jobs are being cut at the same time."" – Sky News

Stephen O’Brien MP reveals that ministers have no idea if soldiers are receiving priority healthcare – Telegraph

Tax exile Lord Laidlaw gave £100,000 to Tories in 2008Telegraph

Simon Heffer: We mustn’t join the euro

"The riots in Greece last month show what happens in countries where you can’t vote to change the economic policy. Taking to the streets is the only recourse open to nations that can’t devalue, and where the burden of debt is suffocating the economy. It isn’t just happening in poor countries like Greece, either. Italy, which statistics tell us is to have a higher GDP than ours this year, remains in the euro only by having every available rule bent to keep it there. In France, hyper-active President Sarkozy is watching much of his domestic industries forced to the verge of bankruptcy." – Simon Heffer in The Telegraph

Labour’s record on immigration

"Many people no longer believe a word the Government says, after being fed a diet of misleading or plain wrong information about migrant workers, and their contribution to the UK economy. Even today, it emerges the number of foreign workers in the UK has been consistently underestimated by 170,000, because officials did not bother to include those on temporary contracts." – Daily Mail leader

The Milibands

"They enjoyed a Christmas Day lunch together at Chevening, the Foreign Secretary’s country residence in Kent. They send each other advance copies of their speeches for comments and text each other frantically when their government work overlaps. The Miliband brothers are close. But after David Miliband’s autumnus horribilis, some Labour MPs are asking whether his younger brother, Ed, will overtake him in the future Labour leadership stakes, and even whether the Cabinet’s band of brothers might become rivals for their party’s crown." – Andrew Grice in The Independent

The legacy of Samuel Huntingdon

Samuel_huntington "In The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996), Huntington noted that no sentence in his 1993 essay had aroused more controversy than: “Islam has bloody borders.” To him, this was an empirical statement, not a judgment on Islam’s merits as a civilisation and still less an argument for western meddling. Anyway, the west’s increasing entanglement with Islam has not been the result of an increasing enmity. On the contrary. Viewed from Orthodox Christian civilisation, in Chechnya, Bosnia and Kosovo the west took the Muslims’ side. It is curious that the west has shown so little inclination to ask whether it did not perhaps back the wrong horse." – Christopher Caldwell in the FT

"We’ve got our own troubles, Mr Bear" – Jeremy Clarkson uses his Sun column to say that recession has killed hyped concern about global warming

Jeremy Hunt is engaged

Huntjeremyhands Previously identified by Sky News as one of Westminster’s most fanciable MPs: "After 42 years I think my family were beginning to give up, but for some time now I have had other plans. I took Lucia for a walk after lunch with my parents and finally popped the question. I am now in China meeting her parents and endlessly celebrating with lethal rice wine." – From Jeremy’s blog

Warm congratulations from ConservativeHome.

Cameron needs to beware of Thatcher nostalgia – Tom Richmond in the Yorkshire Post

And finally…

Paterson_owen_2 David Cameron, George Osborne and Owen Paterson feature alongside Barack Obama in the world’s top ten of sexiest politicians – Daily Record

Owen Paterson was also ConHome’s Frontbencher of the Year


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