ConHome will resume sometime on the morning of New Year's Day but tune in to ToryDiary after midnight for a preview of the Tories' advertising blitz. In the meantime, Happy New Year!

5pm CentreRight: Five things that Melanchthon is optimistic about

BERCOW-JOHN1pm ToryDiary: Buckingham Tories ordered by CCHQ to campaign for John Bercow or stay silent

Noon Seats and candidates: Any Conservative MP retiring after midnight will leave their local party members having to choose from a CCHQ shortlist of three candidates

11.30am ToryDiary: The political gaffe of the year

ToryDiary: In asking 'Will Cameron choose to win a mandate as well as a majority?', Tim Montgomerie's New Year editorial argues that Honesty is our only protection from the hatred that is coming

Lorraine Mullally on Platform: The Conservatives must do better than Labour at representing Britain's interests in Europe

ThinkTankCentral: Policy Exchange calls for binge drinkers to pay NHS costs of their treatment

LeftWatch: Brown spends MORE on spin than Blair and Sunny Hundal celebrates Rush Limbaugh's hospitalisation

On Local government, Cllr Mike Rook defends his council's reindeer ban

Alex Deane on CentreRight: I want to question the idea that we ought to
interfere in the legal affairs of other nations because a British
national is involved

Screen shot 2009-12-31 at 06.31.23 WATCH: Papers released from the National Archives reveal the way Margaret Thatcher dominated Whitehall when she first became Prime Minister

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Thatcher's lessons for Cameron

WATCH FOR FUN: JibJab's cartoon review of 2009

Michael White of The Guardian names David Cameron as one of six politicians of the decade

Screen shot 2009-12-31 at 07.44.22 "Once in charge Cameron and his so-called "Notting Hill" allies – notably George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, and image guru Steve Hilton – set about "detoxifying" the Tory brand, distancing themselves from Margaret Thatcher and proclaiming themselves caring, even green Tories who took their paternity leave. There was even talk of his being "heir to Blair", whose smooth style resembled his own. On a trip to the Arctic Circle Cameron was famously photographed with a team of huskies. Less successfully he was caught cycling to the Commons with his official car in discreet attendance." – Full report here.

Michael White's previous five picks.

The Times: David Cameron has made peace with John Bercow but Tory backbenchers are still plotting to remove him

"Mr Bercow — who, despite being a Conservative, owed his victory to a well-organised campaign by Labour MPs — has repaired relations with Mr Cameron. The Tory leader has made clear to party members in Mr Bercow’s Buckingham constituency that he will eject anyone found helping Nigel Farage, standing for UKIP against the Speaker at the election." – The Times

Comment from Tim Montgomerie: That threat to eject party members supporting Nigel Farage is contrary to what I was told and I'll contact CCHQ for clarification. 1pm: The Times is right. CCHQ's position has hardened.

Jonathan Isaby made his views known at the time: "Those Tories backing Nigel Farage in Buckingham are being drawn into a stunt orchestrated by our political opponents."

Tory plan to tap ‘wisdom of crowds’ derided by political opponentsFT | Telegraph

Damian Green: Police policy on deletion of DNA records is shambles

"Police policy on deleting the DNA records of innocent people has become a "shambles", with huge variations in the way forces treat requests to remove profiles from their databases, according to figures obtained by the Conservatives." – Guardian

Michael Savage interprets John Gummer's departure as 'loss of Cameron's green standard-bearer'Independent | Yesterday's Seats and candidates

The Commons and Home Office top a “league of shame” for the parts of government that have most consistently refused to comply with the Freedom of Information ActFT

City and Westminster miss out as stars and sportsmen top honours list Daily Mail

Alistair Darling: Tory plans to cut 'further and faster' would wreck recovery and roll back Labour's many successes

DARLING ALISTAIR 2 "The choice we make at the general election in 2010 will define the future of our country for the next 10 to 20 years. It is a choice between two competing visions: David Cameron's vision of a decade of austerity in which the UK would fail to make the most of its potential and inevitably fall behind the performance of other countries; or our vision of building a fair and just society with growth guaranteeing jobs and opportunity for every business and family. It is a contrast between a pessimistic outlook, lacking ambition, and one of confidence and optimism." – The Chancellor in The Guardian

UK standard of living drops below 2005 level – Guardian

Tony Benn wanted BBC to take over The Times in 1979Times

Iceland's parliament has approved plans to repay £3.4bn to savers in the UK and the NetherlandsBBC

And finally… John Rentoul makes an important conclusion:

Screen shot 2009-12-31 at 07.51.47 He makes the conclusion after thinking about the different parties' attitudes to voting reform – Independent


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