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7.45pm Seats and Candidates: "No local candidates" on Esher and Walton shortlist

7.15pm WATCH: The CWU confirms that the postal strike is on for tomorrow and Friday

5.15pm Seats and Candidates: Has David Cameron's plan for all-women
shortlists actually harmed the chances of women being selected in the
imminent selections?

3pm Seats and Candidates: Mark Versallion steps down as PPC for Stretford and Urmston

2.15pm WATCH: David Cameron and Gordon Brown clash over the postal dispute and the delayed part-privatisation of the Royal Mail at PMQs

1pm Robert Halfon on CentreRight: It's time to support our atomic test veterans

12.30pm ToryDiary: David Cameron suggests that the CWU is capitalising on a weak Prime Minister and a weak Government at PMQs

Picture 1611am ToryDiary: Lord Trimble signals he is keen to serve in a Cameron Government

9.30am Daniel Hamilton on CentreRight responds to the continuing attacks from the Left on Conservative partners in the European Parliament by exposing more of Labour's unsavoury European allies

ToryDiary: A pay rise for MPs right now would be totally unacceptable

Nadine Dorries MP in Seats and Candidates: "The knowledge that I was selected on merit and not because of my gender is what enables me to hold my head up high in the House of Commons" – Nadine Dorries MP explains her fear that all-women shortlists will create two classes of Conservative MP

Richard Price on Platform: Two quick and cheap ways to reduce the number of children taking up smoking

Cllr Venk Shenoi in Local Government: Perverse incentives for Councils on waste collection must end

WATCH: Jonathan Isaby and Ann Widdecombe are among the opponents of all women-shortlists featured in last night's BBC Ten O'Clock News report on the issue

David Cameron's announcement of all-women shortlists provokes fury

"David Cameron provoked a furious row with Tory backbenchers and grassroots members yesterday after reversing his party's opposition to all-women shortlists in a bid to boost the number of female Conservative MPs… John Strafford, chairman of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy, said that party members were "spitting blood" about the decision. "Many constituencies are just beginning to understand what controls central office is imposing on them," he said. Tim Montgomerie and Jonathan Isaby, editors of the influential Tory members' website ConservativeHome, also issued a statement opposing the move. "We feared this would happen," they stated. "All women shortlists are fundamentally unConservative and they have no place in a party pledged to meritocracy and localism." – The Independent

Ann Widdecombe serious "It will do women no good at all. Every woman in parliament should be able to look every man in the eye and know she got there on exactly the same basis. It is ill-advised and inequitable  -  it is not right that men should be barred from standing if they are the best candidate. It is also ill-timed  -  why on earth does the leadership want to pick a fight with the party when we are so close to an election and doing so well?" – Ann Widdecombe MP quoted in the Daily Mail

"Mr Cameron said he "desperately" wanted to address the failure of Parliament, and particularly the Conservative Party, to reflect society… It is because the Commons does not talk enough about their lives that most people are put off the place. If it did, there would be no need to resort to positive discrimination to make the place more diverse, which in any case would not necessarily enhance its effectiveness. Furthermore, if the Commons really wished accurately to reflect the nation, the one quota the parties could usefully impose would be age related, since 40 per cent of the population is over 50. That might have the added advantage of bringing into Parliament people who had achieved something. – Daily Telegraph editorial

> Yesterday's posts on the issue:

William Hague "under pressure from US" over Conservative allies in Europe

HagueSquare "The shadow foreign secretary, William Hague, is to meet the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, in Washington amid concern in the Obama administration about the Conservatives' European policy and Jewish outrage at their alliance with far-right parties with alleged antisemitic and neo-Nazi links. There is growing unease in the White House that David Cameron's Euroscepticism could undermine the ability of a Conservative government to influence events in the EU, threatening to weaken Britain in the eyes of the US. Clinton, while anxious not be seen to be interfering in a domestic election, has discussed the issue informally in Europe." – The Guardian

"The Obama Administration has voiced concern that Conservative plans to unpick the Lisbon treaty would cause a rupture between Europe and a British government led by David Cameron. Diplomatic sources on both sides of the Atlantic have told The Times that the issue was discussed when Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, held talks with Gordon Brown and David Miliband on her visit to Europe last week." – The Times

Tories retain 17-point poll lead as huge majority say MPs have been fairly penalised over expense claims

"The divide between politicians and the public has widened after a stalemate conference season and the return of the expenses scandal, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today. It shows that the conferences of all three main parties put off more potential voters than they attracted – and a massive majority of people think MPs are being penalised fairly for past expenses claims… Few voters show sympathy for MPs complaining about having to repay past expenses. Only 13% think MPs have been unfairly treated by Sir Thomas Legg, whose inquiry has warned many MPs about excessive bills for things such as cleaning and gardening. A massive 81% think Legg has acted fairly." – The Guardian

> Last night's ToryDiary on the opinion poll

Eric Pickles slams Gordon Brown In new Spotify campaign

Eric Pickles "The Tories have upped their campaign to attract young voters by launching a political ad campaign on digital music service Spotify. A 45-second message from party chairman Eric Pickles interrupts listeners' choice of tracks to criticise Gordon Brown's "reckless spending". Mimicking a style used often on the ad-funded music hub, 57-year-old Mr Pickles talks directly to the listener, apologising for the interruption." – Sky News

BNP leader Nick Griffin in tirade at "Tory generals"

"The leader of the British National Party launched into an extraordinary tirade today against four top generals after they published an open letter warning that the good named of the Armed Forces was being "hijacked" by racist extremists. Stung by the attack from the retired generals, including the past two heads of the Army, Nick Griffin used his party's website to accuse them of conducting illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and comparing them with the German commanders tried at Nuremberg after the Second World War." – The Times

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Britain's leading military chiefs sign up to James Bethell's vital campaign against racism and extremism

George Osborne names financial regulation team

George Osborne on Marr 2 "George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, set up a panel of City advisers
on Tuesday to help him overhaul Britain’s system of financial
regulation, in an attempt to dispel fears that his plans could create a
period of severe disruption. Mr Osborne, who plans to axe the Financial
Services Authority, told senior managers at the regulator’s Canary
Wharf headquarters he would minimise any upheaval caused by changes to
the “failed” oversight system." – FT

"George Osborne met about 70 staff from the Financial Services
Authority (FSA) yesterday to discuss Conservative plans for a new
regulatory structure for the City. The Shadow Chancellor went to the
FSA headquarters at Canary Wharf yesterday morning with three
colleagues to address regulators about his party’s proposals to shift
responsibility for the scrutiny of the financial markets back to the
Bank of England." – The Times

William Hague welcomes new Afghan election

"President Karzai and his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, will contest the run-off on 7 November, it was announced on Tuesday… Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said, in the absence of a government of national unity, a second vote was the "best way forward". – BBC

Welsh Tories oppose independent body to set Assembly Members' pay

"The Welsh Conservatives say they will oppose plans to set up an independent body to fix AMs’ salaries and allowances. Legislation
tabled earlier this week would break a link with MPs’ salaries by
setting up an independent board to decide what AMs are paid. The move
follows a recommendation made by a panel chaired by Sir Roger Jones
that reported in July. But Welsh Conservative leader Nick
Bourne said yesterday the move would cost money and could open the door
to regional pay agreements for public sector workers." – Western Mail

Ken Clarke calls for tax reform to bolster industry…

Ken Clarke "Reform of the tax structure to encourage high-value areas of manufacturing – perhaps through a revamped system of venture capital trusts – would be a priority for a Conservative government, Ken Clarke said on Tuesday. The shadow business secretary said problems in channelling development money to new companies in manufacturing and other high-tech areas added up to a “market failure” that a new Tory administration would be keen to address, in an effort to “rebalance” the economy towards production industries. In comments that strayed into environmental policy, Mr Clarke also said mainland Britain was “not suitable” as a site for wind farms – in spite of official Conservative policy that both offshore and onshore turbines were to be encouraged in the cause of boosting the UK’s commitment to green forms of energy." – FT

…and attacks Government weakness over the postal strike

"Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, was accused todayby the postal workers' union leader – and some of his own backbenchers – of throwing petrol on the Royal Mail dispute by describing Thursday's planned strike as "self-defeating" and liable to lead to the terminal decline of the business…. The shadow business secretary, Kenneth Clarke, attacked the government as "weak, impotent and powerless" in the face of the threatened strike. The government, like the public, was now a "horrified spectator of events". He said his goal would be to introduce full privatisation of Royal Mail if the Conservatives were elected next year." – The Guardian

Liam Byrne says David Cameron should apologise for describing Britain as "broken"

"David Cameron should apologise for describing Britain as “broken,”
Liam Byrne, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has said. In a speech
to the Progress think tank, Mr Byrne compared the Conservative leader
to former United States President Ronald Reagan, who he said had
presided over an attack on America’s welfare state. Suggesting that
Labour should put “poor places” at the heart of its programme for a
fourth term in government should it win the forthcoming election, he
accused Mr Cameron of ignoring “the realities of life in the 21st
century” by repeatedly describing Britain as “broken”. – Daily Telegraph

Home Office admits it has lost track of up to 40,000 suspected illegal immigrants

GRAYLING-OPEN-SHIRT "A fresh scandal hit the Home Office as officials admitted up to 40,000 suspected illegal immigrants have gone missing… Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said of the latest scandal: 'This looks suspiciously as if the Home Office is trying to get rid of its problem cases by quietly abandoning them in the hope that no one is looking.' Details of the fiasco were slipped out in a letter sent to MPs  -  ostensibly about the 2006 foreign prisoner scandal  -  by a top Home Office official." – Daily Mail

Mervyn King echoes Churchill in devastating indictment of the banks

"The Governor of the Bank of England launched a stinging attack on the behaviour of the banking industry last night, just hours before a leading economic think-tank prepared to publish figures showing the total bonus payouts to City workers in January will soar to £6bn. Mervyn King described the £1 trillion of support given to banks by the taxpayer as "breathtaking" and "unsustainable". He said: "To paraphrase a great wartime leader, never in the field of financial endeavour has so much money been owed by so few to so many." – The Independent

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