Screen shot 2009-12-22 at 12.41.20 12.45pm WATCH: Alex Salmond says exclusion of SNP from election debates would be "outrageous"

12.45pm Mark Wallace on CentreRight: What to buy for the right winger who loves to gripe?

ToryDiary: The unholy alliance of The Independent and the right-wing anti-modernisers

John Redwood MP on Platform: We need some common sense – not targets – on global warming

Local government: Essex outsource services to IBM to follow Canadian model

LeftWatch: The return of Alastair Campbell shows Brown embracing the man who has overeen numerous political smears

John Glen on CentreRight says Christian values have been completely distorted by the vicar who excused shoplifting

Tim Montgomerie on CentreRight: I can't quite believe that a 'Conservative' created Francis Urquhart

WATCH: Five memorable moments from US Presidential debates

Tories ahead by 9% in ComRes poll Independent | Yesterday evening's ToryDiary

Screen shot 2009-12-22 at 07.31.52 "For all the husky and hoody hugging of the past four years, the perception is still of a bunch of out-of-touch rich toffs who would put their city friends before the protection of frontline public services. While this is unfair it is ironic that the issue of "image", which Mr Cameron has spent most of his four-year leadership trying to change, remains his biggest problem." – Michael Brown in The Independent

The Daily Mail: Tell us the truth, Cameron, and stop the spinning

"The Tory leader has undergone a transformation. Suddenly, he's Mr Sunshine again… As with the flip-flop over his promise of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, he risks insulting voters' intelligence again. Does he seriously expect us to believe the next few years will offer anything but a painful struggle to pay off our monstrous debts? The electors aren't stupid. They know that the only way out of this mess is to cut public spending – and cut it as quickly as possible so that the British economy can be restored to health. Mr Cameron should spend less time with his spin-doctors, worrying about his image and trying to be all things to all men. Instead, he should concentrate on the bitter truth about the task facing next year's election victor – a task this paper believes he is more than capable of meeting. In the meantime, he would help himself if he resolved to avoid the PR men, spivs and trashy celebrities with whom he has taken to mixing." – Daily Mail leader

BUT: In The Times Rachel Sylvester warns that voters will always prefer Santa over Scrooge

Stephen Glover urges David Cameron to stop partying with celebrities – Daily Mail

Party leaders agree to election debates

"Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg are to go head-to-head in Britain's first live prime ministerial TV debates as part of next year's general election campaign, following an agreement announced between broadcasters and the three main political parties." – Guardian

ConHome's Editors disagree as to whether Conservatives should welcome debates:

  • Tim Montgomerie: "When you heading for a majority of 80 you can only really lose from these debates. My main worry is the boost it will give to the Liberal Democrats. They'll get more attention than they've ever had in an election before. Even if Cameron wins every debate I can't see our position being much stronger than it is today."
  • Jonathan Isaby: "The Conservatives currently being favourites to win the election would not have been a legitimate reason for David Cameron to duck out of the debates. That would have been portrayed by the media and opponents as a (completely unnecessary) sign of weakness. David Cameron's ability to put the party's case convincingly is unrelated to the party's standing in the polls at any given moment."

Tories deny pushing for 'licence to kill burglars'Times

"Pandering to public opinion after the sentencing of Hussain might appeal to the electorate’s baser instincts. But it will not improve the criminal justice system. Sympathy for those who take justice into their own hands is one thing; the law is quite another. Politicians should understand the difference." – Times leader

Tory pledge to double hospice fundingGuardian

"Simon Cowell, the music impresario and patron of Children’s Hospices UK, said: “This is such valuable news for all those families who rely on the huge support from children’s hospices. I am very grateful for the support from David Cameron and this will hopefully give some peace of mind to the hospices themselves, and the many families who really need them.” – Times | Yesterday's ToryDiary

MAUDE-FRANCIS-ON-QT Francis Maude calls for official investigation into the 'Building Britain's Future' slogan being used across WhitehallFT

Senior Tories are to lobby US Republicans to persuade them to back a Climate Emissions BillTimes

Gordon Brown: The Tories are a risk, they are a danger and they’re the wrong kind of change for BritainMirror

"In a new interview with Q magazine to accompany this dark and edgy shoot, Cheryl [Cole] says her political allegiances lie firmly with Labour. "David Cameron. Brrrrr. Slippery isn't he?" she says. "We’ve always been Labour in our family, it just feels wrong not to be. Better the devil you know." – Mirror

MORE evidence of the public/private divide

Public sector gain: 57% of public sector workers expect a pay rise in 2010 that is equal to or greater than that in 2009 – FT

Private sector pain: "Architects, surveyors, vets and solicitors are among those to have seen the biggest percentage increases in unemployment rates since the economic downturn began. Many of those made redundant are thought to be in their late forties and fifties and may struggle to find new employment." – Telegraph


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