3,30pm WATCH: Highlights of the exchanges at today’s PMQs

2.15pm Latest on CentreRight:

2pm Seats and Candidates: Craig Piper selected for Caerphilly

1.30pm Parliament: Conservative MPs put spotlight on Belarus

1.15pm Local Government: Tory whip restored to ex-IRA member on Croydon Council

12.45pm Tim Montgomerie on CentreRight: Bush’s fightback against judicial activism

12.30pm: The economy dominates the first PMQs of 2009

10.30am Latest in Parliament:

10.15am ToryDiary: Who should be the next Party Chairman?

10.15am Local Government: Middle East conflict features in Haringey Council byelection

Hagueandcameron_2ToryDiary: David Cameron enhances the role of his "deputy", William Hague

Jonathan Isaby in Parliament: Returning after its 24-day recess, the Commons rises early two days running – without a word of debate about the economy

Stewart Jackson MP on Platform: Exposing Labour’s insidious transfer of powers to new quangos and bureaucrats

Seats and Candidates Search for 100 Peers: Andrew Roberts

Cllr Neil Reddin in Local Government: How do you keep cutting costs after the first term? The example from Bromley

WATCH: George Bush awards Tony Blair the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Osborne_cameron Government to announce "pale imitation" of Tory loan guarantee scheme

"David Cameron is preparing to denounce Labour’s latest move, the credit guarantee scheme due to be announced by Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, this morning, as a pale and over-complex imitation of the £50bn scheme he has championed since November. The Cameron scheme has been the riposte to Labour claims that the opposition offers a do-nothing response to the recession." – Guardian

"Shadow chancellor George Osborne said the government appeared to be offering a belated version of the £50bn scheme floated by the Tories several weeks ago. "Let us hope that they will properly implement this Conservative policy rather than a pale imitation, or else they run the risk of repeating the mistakes of their expensive temporary VAT cut and achieving nothing," he said." – BBC

Yet more speculation about a shadow cabinet job for Ken Clarke

"David Cameron is preparing to face down the Conservative Right and hand Ken Clarke the business brief to raise the party’s profile during the recession, The Times has learnt. The Tory leader believes that the former Chancellor is the only senior Conservative, other than himself and George Osborne, who can command the media spotlight." – The Times

"He would never confront Mr Mandelson in person as they sit in different Houses. I do not see what benefit Mr Cameron would gain from having him back in the Shadow Cabinet, as opposed to his current role heading the democracy task force defending Parliament, and perhaps the occasional frontbench apparance in big debates. Mr Clarke can gain public attention. But there are risks in his outspokenness." – Peter Riddell in The Times

> Last night’s ToryDiary: Reshuffle speculation is getting out of control

Cameron recommits to vote on Lisbon Treaty

"Britain will have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in October if the Tories win a 2009 snap election, David Cameron declared last night. The Tory leader and his shadow foreign secretary William Hague vowed to put the hated constitution to a national vote in the autumn." – The Sun

May_theresa_blk_jacket Theresa May casts doubt on proposed social mobility law

"The Government thinks social inequality can be solved by passing a law. You don’t make people’s lives better by telling them they have a legal right to a better life. You do it by tackling the root causes like family breakdown and poor education." – Theresa May quoted in the Independent

Backing for David Cameron’s plan to reduce the number of MPs

"When belts are being tightened across the country, there is no reason why Parliament should not do the same. At best, a leaner, fitter House of Commons should be the result, along with a fairer system of representation. Perhaps he could think about introducing fixed parliamentary terms as well." – Independent editorial

"Reduced by at least 10 per cent, Mr Cameron argues that Parliament can do just as good a job (which may not be saying much) "without any trouble at all". We agree and suggest Mr Cameron applies this rule of thumb to the whole of the public sector. And why stop at 10 per cent?" – Daily Telegraph editorial

MPs’ pensions set to increase

"MPs are set to help themselves to even more lavish pensions using taxpayers’ cash. New figures have revealed that an extra £2.2million was poured into their scheme last year compared with 2003 – a rise of almost 25 per cent… Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Philip Hammond said last night: “We need to end the pensions apartheid that exists between the public and private sectors. Moving new MPs on to a defined-contribution scheme is a crucial first step in any wider reform of public sector pensions.” – Daily Express

Welsh Tory leader Nick Bourne sets out his agenda for 2009…

"Mr Bourne announced he would be making a series of speeches on key policy areas, such as the economy and public services, in the coming weeks… Mr Bourne also said he would be talking to Plaid and the Liberal Democrats this year to sound out "potential dancing partners" for coalitions after the next election in 2011. He said: "That is important in looking forward as to how we can ensure there is an alternative to Labour domination in Wales." – South Wales Evening Post

…as there is further controversy over his expense claims

"Nick Bourne claimed yesterday he was the victim of a “witch-hunt” and condemned the controversy which has surrounded his recent expense claims. Mr Bourne accused his fellow AMs of making “massive” expense claims for things like meals, but said these had gone unquestioned… The pressure intensified yesterday when it emerged he appeared to claim more than £1,800 from public funds to run a website that did not exist." – Western Mail

Finkelstein_daniel Daniel Finkelstein: The kinder Conservatism of David Cameron is not just a slogan. It’s central to Tory strategy and applies in bad times too

"One of David Cameron’s constant refrains is that he believes in a stronger society, but not a stronger State… In place of much state coercion and regulation, there will be a stronger society based on voluntary initiative. This is an ambitious idea at the best of times, but will be severely tested in a harsh economic climate. But it cannot work at all without the right prime ministerial leadership. It needs Mr Cameron to be gentle, socially concerned, caring. Kind and efficient become essential partners, rather than political choices." – Daniel Finkelstein in The Times

Police seek new rights for searching rail passengersGuardian

Mervyn Davies of Standard Chartered Bank to be ennobled and made trade ministerDaily Telegraph

Straw revives controversial plans to hold inquests in secretDaily Mail

Ministers seek to revitalise affordable homes marketGuardian

BNP links to immigration service staffIndependent

Brown faces backbench revolt over Royal MailDaily Telegraph

And finally… Labour councillor used pseudonym to praise own work

"A councillor came under fire today for using a pseudonym to praise his own work. Ben Grower posted comments under several aliases on the Daily Echo’s website. But the newspaper in Bournemouth, Dorset, decided to name and shame the councillor after he posted praise for himself under the name Omegaman. In one post about plans to build Europe’s first artificial surf reef in Boscombe, the Labour councillor wrote: "At least two councillors seem to be concerned about this mess. Well done Cllrs Ratcliffe and Grower." – Independent


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