Picks of 2009 7.30pm ToryDiary: Tim Montgomerie and Jonathan Isaby name their Blogger of 2009

6.45pm LeftWatch: Charles Clarke makes another plea to Labour to ditch Gordon Brown

5.15pm ToryDiary: Could Lord Ashdown and other non-Conservatives be offered roles in a Cameron administration?

1.30pm WATCH: Boris Johnson's upbeat new year video (just sixty seconds long)

HUNT JEREMY OPEN NECKED SHIRT12.15pm ToryDiary: Jeremy Hunt to offer £1 million to the creator of a website to "harness the wisdom" of the British people on policy

Noon Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight: The celebrity endorsements Labour was seeking in 1979 are revealed


LeftWatch: RMT boss Bob Crow promises to make 2010 "a year of concerted trade union action"

Azeem Ibrahim on Platform: The NHS must change and we must not be afraid to say so

Seats and Candidates: John Gummer becomes the latest Suffolk MP to announce his retirement

Kevin Foster in Local Government: The Conservative revival in Coventry

WATCH: ITN reports that Gordon Brown's New Year message will be "raw meat" to the Labour Party faithful

Don't forget to take part in the December ConHome readers' survey

Click here to be directed straight to the survey

Tories highlight fears that mobiles smuggled into jails fuel terrorism

"The Tories raised concerns yesterday that convicted Muslim terrorists are co-ordinating mass murder plots from jail as figures suggested record ­numbers of mobile phones are being smuggled into prisons. Data released to MPs showed more than 8,000 mobile phones and SIM cards are confiscated in jails every year… Last night the Tories warned that such widespread smuggling of illicit mobile phones was a gift to Islamic ­terrorists. Shadow Security Minister Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones said: “These are really shocking figures. How can the Government have done so little as the number of phones found in prisons has more than tripled?" – Daily Express

Andrew Lansley accuses Andy Burnham of U-Turn over hospital parking charges…

LANSLEY ANDREW NEW "Hospital car parking charges are to be abolished for seriously ill patients and their friends and families, under plans outlined by the Government… The Conservatives accused the Government of rolling back on their pledge to give free car parking to all inpatients. Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, said: “This is a U-turn on the car parking pledge which Andy Burnham proudly announced last September." He added: “It is clear that today’s statement is all about politics rather than solid policies.”  – Daily Telegraph

…as he attacks "hugely inflated" NHS fees for agency workers

"NHS spending on agency workers has risen sharply in the past financial year in spite of attempts to control such expenditure, according to figures issued by the Conservatives. Andrew Lansley, shadow health secretary, will cite examples of NHS Trusts paying “hugely inflated” salaries to temporary workers for covering shifts… Mr Lansley will say that such payments divert funds from the front line and prove that Labour’s attempts to control health agency expenditure are failing." – FT

William Hague says the world must unite to stop Iran becoming a nuclear-capable country…

"The bloody events of recent days in Iran have demonstrated the repressive nature of the regime and the deep discontent surfacing in a country denied democratic freedoms. A government that can only stay in power by shooting its own people in the streets and blocking their communication with the outside world is in serious trouble… If the EU does not go far enough, the UK should use domestic powers under the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 to take unilateral action, especially if this can be done in a way which sharpens the bite of EU and UN sanctions." – William Hague writing in the Daily Telegraph

…as he and Paddy Ashdown call on the international community to pay some attention to Bosnia

"Bosnia may seem less significant than it used to be to the US and her allies. Pressing challenges in Afghanistan and beyond need great attention. But the risk of a failed state taking root in Europe cannot be ignored by Europe or in Washington." – William Hague and Lord Ashdown writing in the FT

Chris Grayling steps up pressure over use of student visas by potential terrorists

Chris Grayling head shoulders tie "Concerns over who is using the student route have grown after it emerged bomb suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a plane carrying 280 passengers over Detroit in Christmas Day, had tried to return to the UK in May this year via a bogus college… Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, accused the Government of not fully understanding the level of abuse of the system and the potential terrorist threat. He has written to Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, and demanded action to stem the risk." – Daily Telegraph

> LeftWatch on Christmas Eve: The surge in foreign nationals granted student visas – and associated rise in fake colleges – under Labour

Economic figures for the decade worst since World War II

so-called "noughties" have seen Britain's worst economic performance of
any decade since the Second World War while investors also have
suffered their poorest stock market returns since the Great Depression,
analysis yesterday revealed… Philip Hammond, shadow chief secretary
to the Treasury, said: "After over a decade in power, Labour's economic
legacy is record low growth and a poorly-performing stock market." –
The Scotsman

> Last night in LeftWatch: Labour's decade was worst for economic growth in whole post-war period

Alistair Darling's Jobs Fund in chaos, say Tories

reacted sharply to a claim by Theresa May, the shadow work and pensions
secretary, who complained that they had funded fewer than 31,000 of the
150,000 jobs promised at the time of Alistair Darling's April budget
and had no immediate plans to finance any more." – The Guardian

Inheritance tax penalises aspiration

"IHT is a tax on aspiration, thrift and independence that tends to be paid by people of relatively modest means because the rich usually lay plans to avoid it… The Conservatives are right to take a robust line on this policy; they should now do the same with the planned 50p top rate of income tax and the proposed rise in National Insurance contributions." – Daily Telegraph editorial

> Monday night's ToryDiary: George Osborne is not for turning on inheritance tax

Grant Shapps accuses Labour of "state-sponsored deception" over government cash given to lobbyist 

"A PR company with close links to Labour was paid more than £38,000 of taxpayers’ cash to promote the Government’s plans to concrete over Southern England. The lobbying firm set up by Gordon Brown’s chief fundraiser is accused of setting up a ‘front’ organisation to smear opponents of Labour’s housing policies – in what has been branded an ‘outrageous abuse’ of public funds… Tory housing spokesman Grant Shapps is making a formal complaint to the Whitehall Accounting Officer. He said last night: ‘This is an outrageous abuse of public funds and nothing less than state-sponsored deception." – Daily Mail

Straw accuses Tories of trying to buy power

"David Cameron is today accused by a senior Cabinet minister of attempting to "buy" victory at the general election with a US-style campaign dominated by advertising. Writing in The Independent, Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, predicts the Tory campaign will be the most lavish in political history and denounces Mr Cameron for relying heavily on cash supplied by the party's deputy chairman, Lord Ashcroft" – The Independent

Peter Kellner: Labour are looking at recent polls with rose-tinted spectacles

Picture 15 "There has been a sense in recent weeks among Labour optimists that the coming election need not be a lost cause after all… I have no special wish to spoil anyone's New Year but, if Labour is to make a fist of the coming election, it must start with a hard-headed view of what is really going on – and the true picture is not as rosy as that assessment suggests." – YouGov President Peter Kellner in the New Statesman

James Landale previews David Cameron's 2010

"His biggest failure of last year remains his biggest challenge
for the next – and that is to answer the nagging question posed by
voters and Tory members alike – namely what would a Conservative
government led by David Cameron stand for? What would it do?" – James Landale on the BBC website

Andrew Alexander: Chancellors should not seek to be loved

"Chancellors who care little about their image are rare birds. Indeed, one has to go back, coincidentally, to the early Thirties era to find such an unusual creature: Philip Snowden, who became Chancellor in Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour Government of 1929… Snowden became a hated figure in the Labour Party and left it. In the end, he became an admired and influential figure in the country, though certainly not loved. A useful thought for Osborne, perhaps?" – Andrew Alexander in the Daily Mail

David Davis: It's time to let the public hold banks to accountThe Independent

Charity Commission investigates Taxpayers' Alliance charitable armGuardian


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