Jo Johnson 10.30pm Seats and Candidates: Boris's younger brother Jo Johnson selected for Orpington after six ballots (including a tie)

8.15pm WATCH: Dan Hannan gives a 10-minute tour de force at the Adam Smith Institute Christmas Party

6pm Local Government: Lynne Hillan poised to replace Mike Freer as leader of Barnet Council

5pm WATCH: David Cameron compares Brown and Darling to reckless joyriders as he speaks to party staff and activists about the Pre-Budget Report

4pm LeftWatch update: George Osborne responds to the suggestion that Brown ignored Treasury advice on the reducing the deficit: "If Gordon Brown put his political interests ahead of the economic interests of the nation, he has betrayed the responsibilities of the office he holds."

3.30pm ToryDiary: "Incontinent" Brown pledged another £700m today to tackle climate change

3pm WATCH: At the European Council, Gordon Brown pledges £1.5 billion to help developing countries combat global warming

1.30pm Local Government: Social work whistle blower sues Haringey Council

Ashamed1.15pm Alex Deane on CentreRight: Britain wants to brand Jewish goods

1pm Seats and Candidates: Candidates selected for Warley and the two West Bromwich seats

12.45pm ToryDiary: Fear of double dip recession is driving Labour towards March General Election

Currentcoveruk_largeNoon LeftWatch: The Economist turns on Brown

9.45am Local Government: A disappointing set of by-election results from yesterday

ToryDiary: Tories to give "struggling locals the chance to build own rural homes"

LeftWatch: Brown recklessly overruled Treasury proposals to tackle the deficit in this week's PBR

Dr Rashmi Misra on Platform: Labour's failure to explain the science of climate change is to blame for public scepticism on the issue

Local Government

ThinkTankCentral: Profile of the Henry Jackson Society

WATCH: Mark Coote marks the launch of his new website with a video explaining why he wants to represent his home town of Cheltenham in Parliament 

The true cost of the PBR continues to unravel

"The true extent of the financial pain that will be felt by households and public services over the next few years was laid bare yesterday by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Even those on half typical earnings will see their living standards suffer as a result of the Chancellor's policies, the widely respected think-tank warns… The IFS analysis of the Chancellor's pre-Budget report also shows a £76bn "black hole" in the public finances; and that fixing it will cost every family £2,400 a year." – The Independent

George Osborne blue background "The National Insurance hike will blow a £500 million hole in the NHS budget – putting in doubt the Chancellor’s claims that he would protect hospitals. George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, claims Alistair Darling will have to make real cuts to the frontline health service as a result." – Daily Telegraph

"The Tory leader compared Mr Darling and Gordon Brown to “a couple of joy riders not caring about anyone who might have to take over the mess they have created.” – The Express

"Mr Darling's message appears to be: "Vote Labour for higher taxes." These will suffocate the enterprise needed to produce the growth that will return the public finances to a semblance of sanity. That is why the Conservatives are right to say that the budgetary balance is wrong. However, it is not sufficient for them merely to consider reversing the National Insurance increase – they must give a straightforward pledge that they will do so." – Daily Telegraph editorial

"With an election so near, the pre-budget report was bound to be a holding operation. The real plan will come after the election, and it will involve real pain. That is the price of messing up the public finances as thoroughly as Labour has done." – The Economist

Cuts in public services raise threat of pre-election strikeThe Times

Alistair Darling’s measures did not go far enough, voters believeThe Times

> Yesterday's ToryDiary posts:

> Greg Hands MP on CentreRight yesterday: The word from Germany – thanks to Brown – is that Britain is now an economic "mini-power"

MPs exposed for "continuing to milk expenses"

DAVIES-QUENTIN "A defence minister submitted a claim for £20,700 to repair a bell tower and the roof of his country home, it emerged yesterday, as a new slew of receipts heaped more humiliation on MPs. Parliament’s website published hundreds of thousands of pages of new claims from 2008-09 totalling more than £10 million. They showed that numerous retiring MPs continued to milk the system despite the public outcry at the widespread abuse of the second-home allowance. Quentin Davies, the Labour MP for Grantham & Stamford, submitted an invoice in February for repairs to a bell tower and roof at Frampton Hall, in Lincolnshire." – The Times

Most of the papers have digests containing a variety of the claims made by MPs:

Legislation will let watchdog dock errant MPs' expenses claims

"The government has announced legislation to sharpen the teeth of the Commons parliamentary standards watchdog, enabling it to dock the allowances of errant MPs and bring members of the public on to parliamentary committees." – The Guardian

"These new arrangements will create more problems than they will solve. Voters will eventually end up with an even more unrepresentative Parliament than at present with only the wealthy able to afford to be MPs." – Michael Brown in The Independent

Lord Sugar calls on Jeremy Hunt to be fired

"The Shadow Culture Secretary faced calls to resign last night after being asked to refund £9,500 in parliamentary expenses paid for a home where his agent stayed rent-free…The Standards and Privileges Committee said that while public money had not been diverted, the MP should repay half the cost claimed during the period… Lord Sugar, star of The Apprentice, called for Mr Hunt to be sacked, saying that David Cameron had to “distance himself from people like Mr Hunt”. Earlier this year Mr Hunt said that the peer’s roles in the hit BBC show and as the Government’s enterprise adviser as “totally incompatible”. – The Times

> Yesterday's open thread on MPs' expenses

Baroness Ashton in rush to form EU foreign office ‘before Tory Government’

"With a Conservative Government the favourite to take power in Britain next year, Baroness Ashton of Upholland is racing against time to establish a pan-European diplomatic service before David Cameron can clip its wings." – The Times

All bets are off on date of the general election

"The assumption that the general election will be on May 6 was jolted yesterday after a surge of bets on a March poll. The speculation, inspired by Conservative politicians and commentators, caused Ladbrokes to stop taking money on a March 25 election date after dozens of three-figure bets." – The Times

The Government slips out that just 15 families have been helped by its Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme

SHAPPS GRANT “Ministers can try to slip these failures out quietly during the pre-budget report and even try to give them a positive spin, but the reality for thousands of families who face repossession this Christmas is that Brown has talked up schemes which have let down homeowners. " – Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps quoted in the Daily Telegraph

Boris to launch £1-a-day bicycles hire scheme in London

"Following in the slipstream of hugely popular cycle hire schemes in Paris and Montreal and smaller schemes in Cardiff, Blackpool and Bristol, the Mayor of London plans to park 6,000 bicyles at 400 pick-up points in Central London." – The Times

The error of Brown's war against the posh and the rich

"Gordon Brown has launched not one grudge-based political campaign, but two. One is against the toffs, epitomised in a recent swipe about Eton, Mr Cameron’s old school. The other is against the rich, beginning in last year’s pre-budget report (PBR), when the government invented a new top rate of income tax. That has continued in Mr Brown’s incessant criticism of Conservative plans to raise the threshold for inheritance tax, and, stealthily, in this year’s PBR on December 9th. Neither will help him much." – Bagehot in The Economist

Tories could put off high-speed rail link for Wales for decadesWestern Mail

Lord Ashdown criticises Gen Sir Richard Dannatt's decision to advise the ToriesBBC

Anti-paedophile vetting regime 'is ruining school life', head teachers warnDaily Mail


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