2.45pm Tom Greeves on CentreRight: Why class WILL matter at the next general election
1.45pm Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight: The Cabinet Secretary's response on "Smear-gate" is inadequate
11.15am ToryDiary: The Cabinet Secretary replies to Francis Maude's letter on "Smear-gate" Updated with full text of Sir Gus O'Donnell's letter
10am Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight: Gordon Brown could have closed down the "Smear-gate" story days ago
- How to strengthen the Conservatives' home ownership agenda
- Tory councillor suspended for describing gays as "sexual deviants"
- Westminster Council scraps parking meters
- President Obama warns of more economic pain during 2009…
- …and introduces the White House's new "First Puppy"
"David Cameron, the Conservative leader, has said that Gordon Brown bears personal responsibility for the No 10 email scandal. The Prime Minister was guilty of allowing a culture to develop inside Downing Street in which those around him felt comfortable plotting to smear opposition politicians. Mr Cameron went on to dismiss Mr Brown's call for a tightening of the code of conduct for advisers to prevent a repeat of the events which led to the resignation of Damian McBride from his post as a senior aide at Number 10 last week." – Daily Telegraph
…as do a string of former Labour ministers
"Four former Labour ministers came forward last night to blame Gordon Brown for creating a culture which allowed his former aide Damian McBride to draw up plans to smear senior Conservatives. The ministers criticised his style of leadership, suggesting that Mr McBride was carrying out his wishes rather than acting as a freelance operator. They joined David Cameron in demanding an urgent shake-up of the Downing Street machine." – The Independent
"Harold Wilson asserted that the Labour party was a moral crusade or it was nothing. The McBride affair has left Labour members looking at nothing. That is the reality check that McBride has wrought on the party." – Frank Field MP in The Independent
"I have read and reread my letter and I am frankly in a state of disbelief. It is totally devoid of emotion or sincerity. It feels like it was written by a robot. It is not an apology. I am disappointed as it does not reflect the seriousness of a situation in which one Mr Brown's hand-picked lieutenants, his right hand man, who worked in the heart of 10 Downing Street, was fabricating deeply hurtful stories about me." – Nadine Dorries MP quoted in the Daily Telegraph
"Red Rag" smear website was registered at the House of Commons – The Times
Derek Draper "considering quitting LabourList" – Daily Telegraph
Tom Watson calls in his libel lawyers
"Cabinet Office Minister Tom Watson — who was mentioned in the email — yesterday launched a desperate bid to save his career by hiring top libel lawyers Carter Ruck… Carter Ruck said in a statement: “Our client has confirmed to us that he was not copied in on any of the emails exchanged between Mr McBride and Mr Draper, nor was he aware of them or their content. Our client had no involvement in or knowledge of the Red Rag website.” – The Sun
Telegraph: Labour loses its last shreds of credibility
"This refusal to shoulder responsibility means that the furore over Mr McBride's obnoxious emails is proving stubbornly resistant to the normal vagaries of the news cycle, and the damage to the reputation of both Mr Brown and the Government will be all the greater. That is the paradox of this affair. An attempt to drag the Tories through the mud has succeeded instead in exposing the moral and political vacuity of Labour." – Telegraph editorial
"Mr McBride bullied and smeared people for years to that very end, and if Mr Brown says he didn't know about it, then I for one do not believe him. Mr McBride is just one of a number of moral defectives who are put to that task, inside and outside Number 10. Mr Brown should say sorry because he not merely invented some of these people – notably Mr McBride – but he also tolerated and, by omission, encouraged their behaviour" – Simon Heffer writing in the Daily Telegraph
Times: Brown's response is "worse than inadequate"
"The Prime Minister’s response to his disgraced adviser’s behaviour is worse than inadequate. There is no suggestion that Mr Brown knew about the malevolent e-mails until the story broke, but there are two reasons why he should apologise directly to those whom Mr McBride maligned. First, the quality of public life has been tarnished by actions taken in Downing Street. Second, Mr Brown is the principal figure in government, and it is in the nature of leadership to be accountable for things that go wrong." – Times editorial
David Cameron reiterates that the NHS remains a top priority…
"David Cameron told Midland hospital campaigners during a visit to the region that improving the National Health Service remained one of his top priorities. Mr Cameron was speaking as he met campaigners at Stafford Hospital which was condemned last month for providing appalling standards of care… Mr Cameron said: “I am standing here in front of a hospital where there was the most appalling set of circumstances and people being treated incredibly badly. That is the priority for me, the NHS. That’s the priority for the British people.” – Birmingham Post
…and floats a plan to have nurses cold call patients with advice
"Women could be cold called by nurses to ask them to attend breast cancer screening under plans unveiled by the Conservatives… Following successes in America, the Conservatives also want trials of outreach centres where nurses in call centres proactive phone patients in target areas to talk about their health and promote services available to them. This could mean informing them about local breast cancer screening." – Daily Telegraph
"The number of persistent troublemakers suspended from school has soared in the past four years, figures released by the Conservatives reveal. Nearly 900 children were suspended from school more than 10 times in the year 2007-08, compared to just 310 four years previously, they show… Nick Gibb, the Conservatives' schools spokesman, said: "Suspending a pupil from school over and over again does a child no good at all. If a child has been seriously disruptive or violent they should be properly removed so they can get the specialist help they need." – The Independent
Theresa May dismisses Labour plan to cut benefits for alcoholics
"The government has had more than a decade to sort this problem out so this is too little too late. Purnell has failed to say when this will happen, how much it will cost and who it will exactly help." – Shadow work and pensions secretary Theresa May quoted in The Guardian
Chris Grayling raises more questions on student visas
"Thousands of bogus students remain free to enter Britain despite new laws aimed at tightening controls on immigration… the vast majority of non-EU students will not be interviewed by the Home Office but admitted on the basis of written applications and evidence of sponsorship, educational qualifications and bank statements. Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: “The more we learn about the way the Government has managed our student visa system, the more question marks there are.” – The Times
Irwin Stelzer: The Tories offer "an increasingly well articulated and distinct alternative to the present government"
"It is reasonable to ask whether the Tories have anything useful to say about the nation's current difficulties. And it seems that they do. Whether Cameron is right to argue that a policy of borrow and spend will prove disastrous for a country such as Britain, which is not blessed with the reserve currency that might permit America to spill so much red ink, we won't know for a while. But we might just be witnessing a please-everyone PR man morphing into a brave politician and potential PM." – Irwin Stelzer writing in the Daily Telegraph
Andrew Alexander: The next Chancellor has the opportunity of an epoch
"To a genuine Conservative (if one can be found), the job of Chancellor this time is the opportunity of an epoch: not just a chance to cut government spending itself, but to cut back the size and role of the state… But this is a special moment. The public is not just braced for major cuts: opinion polls show it is eager for them." – Andrew Alexander in the Daily Mail
Welsh Tories attack £1.2 million bill for "wages of spin" at Assembly – Western Mail
Collapse in the pound promises 20% pay rise for British MEPs – Daily Mail
Second police officer suspended over G20 protests – BBC
Obama sees glimmers of hope in US economy – Daily Mail
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