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5.45pm ToryDiary: Ministers mustn't share a platform this autumn with supporters of attacks on our troops

1.45pm WATCH:

11.30am LeftWatch: Darling squeezes Balls in a vice


Screen shot 2010-07-25 at 11.28.31 ToryDiary: The Observer eggs on the hunt for Crispin Blunt

Dr Madsen Pirie on Platform: Tax Simplification should follow simple rules

Local Government: Mark Wallace argues that some grants to local charities should be cut

With LibDems at bay, Nick Clegg prepares fightback

"Nick Clegg is to hold public meetings across the country this summer to boost support for the Liberal Democrats after the party plummeted to 13% in the polls. The
move by the deputy prime minister comes after dire warnings that the
party could have only 16 MPs after the next election. The party's
grassroots membership has pleaded with leaders to ensure it does not get
squeezed out in the coalition government." – Observer

"With MPs spending five weeks away from Westminster…the potential for splits is clear. Barely
half of Lib Dem voters say they "approve" of what the coalition
has done to date, compared to more than 85 per cent of Tories. The proportion of voters who
think Mr Clegg is doing badly has doubled since mid-May. The third party was once mocked for going home to prepare for power. Now they
have got it, some Lib Dems could not be more miserable. Now is their summer
of discontent." – Independent on Sunday

Cameron and Clegg - studious "Cameron finds himself in the odd position of being a Tory leader worried that his party’s poll rating is too high. All
three presentations to the away-day Cabinet were joint affairs. Cameron
and Nick Clegg talked about the Coalition’s strengths, George Osborne
and Danny Alexander explained how they were going to try to sell the
Comprehensive Spending Review (which will set out where the cuts will
fall) to the public, while Michael Gove and Chris Huhne presented their analysis of the broader political landscape." – James Forsyth, Mail on Sunday

"The ultimate strategic objectives of the two parties are not the
same. The Lib Dem leader hopes to prove that his
party is capable of doing government and to acclimatise Britain to
coalition politics. The Conservatives are not in this because they want
to see Britain perpetually governed by coalition; that prospect would
horrify the vast majority of Tories.  That
is the big question which hangs over the coalition in the longer term." – Andrew Rawnsley, Observer

"Mr Davis claimed he had been misheard by the Financial Times. Mr Clegg
said Mr Davis’ characterisation was “colourful” but “didn’t capture
the spirit of this coalition”. He added: "When you do something new in
politics as much as in any other
walk of life, some people react against it and say oh no, I prefer the
old
way of doing things. "People will try to condemn and mock and question
and be sceptical about
it." – Sunday Telegraph

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Could the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats merge to fight the next election as a single force?

Ken Clarke betrayed me – James Bulger's mother

CLARKE LARGE "James Bulger’s mother Denise Fergus told yesterday of her anger that
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has failed to honour assurances she
insists were made to her by his predecessor, Jack Straw. Denise – whose son [Jon Venables] tortured and killed in 1993 –
revealed that promises made by Mr Straw during a lengthy meeting in
March were dismissed by Mr Clarke in a phone call. In her frustration she branded Mr Clarke ‘a stuttering buffoon’." – Mail on Sunday

Lord Young compensation culture report urges banning advertising by personal injury lawyers, a crackdown on health and safety consultants, and cutting red tape

"David Cameron is being urged to slash the fees handed to “ambulance-chasing”
lawyers as part of a crackdown on the compensation culture. They are targeted in a report for the prime minister by Lord Young, the former
Tory employment secretary. It will be published in September, but it is
understood that Cameron has been shown the main findings and is enthusiastic
about them." – Sunday Times (£)

Survey claims "Axe falls on NHS services"

"NHS bosses have drawn up secret plans for sweeping cuts to services, with restrictions on the most basic treatments for the sick and injured.  Some of the most common operations — including hip replacements and cataract
surgery — will be rationed as part of attempts to save billions of pounds,
despite government promises that front-line services would be protected." – Sunday Telegraph

Labour wasted £300 million on using private providers to cut NHS waiting times

"The former government refused to disclose the amounts paid for the
controversial "independent sector treatment centre programme" (ISTC)…But Lansley has
calculated that it would have been £300m cheaper if the NHS had carried
out the work private contractors provided, such as cataract operations.
Lansley said he was not against using independent sector providers but
insisted they must compete on a level playing field and provide value
for money." – Observer

Harman lobbied Home Office for Labour donor wife visa

Screen shot 2010-07-25 at 08.32.00 "Harriet Harman was last night facing damaging claims that she lobbied the Home Office on behalf of a Labour Party donor’s immigrant wife who is living in Britain unlawfully. The
Leader of the Opposition was forced to deny furiously any impropriety
over the wife of Monday Osaseri, a Nigerian-born businessman who donated
money at a pre-Election fundraiser in Ms Harman’s Peckham constituency." – Mail on Sunday

Coalition U-turn claim over plan to ban identification of rape defendants

"Instead of a legal ban, Ministry of Justice (MoJ) sources suggested that one
way forward would be a voluntary agreement among newspaper publishers and
website chiefs that those charged with rape should not have their identities
revealed until they were charged – backed by a beefed-up role for the Press
Complaints Commission. Such a move is likely to draw criticism." – Sunday Telegraph

Civil servants lobby Ministers to back down on anti-extremism policy

"One paper, classified “Restricted” and entitled “Government strategy towards
extremism”, says: “It is sometimes argued that violent extremists have
progressed to terrorism by way of a passing commitment to non-violent
Islamist extremism, for example of a kind associated with al-Muhajiroun or
Hizb ut Tahrir … We do not believe that it is accurate to regard
radicalisation in this country as a linear 'conveyor belt’ moving from
grievance, through radicalisation, to violence … This thesis seems to both
misread the radicalisation process and to give undue weight to ideological
factors." – Andrew Gilligan, Sunday Telegraph

More wind from Chris Huhne

"Mr Huhne, whose department is having to plan for cuts of between 25 and 40 per
cent to its annual budget, said onshore wind turbines were "incredibly
competitive" in producing electricity but admitted they were "not
always as popular in the area where [they are] proposed as you might hope." He identified big further potential off shore – in particular in Dogger Bank
in the North Sea. He said: "Offshore wind, I think partly as a result
of fewer planning issues, is likely to be an important part of our energy
independence going forward." – Sunday Telegraph

Eric Pickles to name and shame councils

Eric Pickles 2 2010 "Mr Pickles will launch his attack tomorrow on “outrageous” town hall waste by
strengthening guidelines to stop the “pointless practice” of government
lobbying. He will publish a
list of councils as well as fire brigades, police forces and public
transport bodies known to have hired top-flight PR firms. The list reveals 59 town halls and publicly funded bodies have racked up a bill in excess of £420,000. Across the country the total is estimated to run into tens of millions." – Sunday Express

Jeremy Hunt – faster, higher, stronger and cheaper

"Amid the talk of "inspiration" and "harnessing
stardust", Mr Hunt admits "severe cuts" lie ahead. The
Olympic budget must "bear its share of the burden" to prevent a
public backlash against the £9bn bill at a time when the impact of
public
spending cuts will be felt hundreds of miles from the Olympic
village…Much will be made of the venue building programme being on
time and budget." – Independent on Sunday

Our leaders shouldn't threaten the BBC.  Let it sort itself out – Observer

Liberty tries to silence Phillip Hollobone

"In its letter to Mr Hollobone, Liberty said it "will be happy to
represent any of your constituents that you refuse to meet because they
are veiled". James Welch, legal director for Liberty, added: 'We have
written to Mr Hollobone to advise him of the law as enacted by
Parliament and feel confident that no well-advised Honourable Member
would seek to breach it by meeting with constituents on a discriminatory
basis'."- BBC

Dominic Raab unearths discrimination at Foreign Office against middle aged white men

Screen shot 2010-07-25 at 10.57.29 "William Hague was last night plunged into a row over new ­Foreign
Office rules which ban white males from gaining work experience at his
department. The Foreign Secretary was challenged to explain why
his ­official work placement schemes specifically ban white,
middle-class males from applying for the £367-a-week positions." – Mail on Sunday

Vince Cable: my Coalition woes

"The Liberal Democrat business secretary has spoken frankly for the first time
about the “emotional difficulties” he has faced in adapting to working with
the Conservatives after 40 years as their enemy. “It is difficult,” he admitted. “I don’t think any of us pretend it is not.
Orientating myself into co-operation [with them] has required effort and
concentration.” He confesses he is weighed down by his new responsibility as a senior
minister, so sometimes looks as if he is carrying the world on his
shoulders." – Sunday Times (£)

Janet Daley: Michael Gove can earn the gratitude of a generation

"This is, indeed, a very personal issue for me: having spent my parenting
years driving an ancient car and forgoing holidays in order to pay
private school fees, I have prayed fervently that our children would not
have to do the same for their offspring. If this Government manages to
provide the kind of independent-but-free education that it is promising,
with the raising of standards that would inevitably follow, it will
have earned my support for the duration of its existence." – Sunday Telegraph

New Balls attack on Gove – Sunday Times (£)

Joan Bakewell: If not a death tax, then what?

"No plan is without problems, but one thing is sure: the huge sums needed can
only be met by a partnership between government and individuals. Only the
very poorest will be able to depend on the state in full. For me, paying for
my care when I'm already dead seems a painless option, so I favour the levy.
My children will get less, of course, but they didn't earn it in the first
place." – Sunday Telegraph

David Cameron is right to pin his hopes on India

Screen shot 2010-07-25 at 09.42.55 "David Cameron's trip – carefully scheduled to avoid the risk of the PM bumping into
Myanmar's military leader General Than Shwe, who is also on a visit – is
the biggest of its kind since the days of the Heseltine super-missions.
In tow, along with business secretary Vince Cable, will be a bevy of
cabinet ministers and business leaders, including the CBI's Richard
Lambert and senior directors from Rolls-Royce, Standard Chartered, BAE
Systems and Balfour Beatty." – Ruth Sutherland, Observer

Sam Cam cool drool

"So the prezzie list from the British Prime Minister
to the American President was never going to be a slog. It was pure Sam
Cam, Sloane Street with a funky edge. Hunter Wellingtons raise a yelp
of joy in Cornwall or Hunstanton. Scented candles must be the most
popular gift among the Harvey Nichols classes, back and forth, perhaps
never even opened. So far, so conventional. The Ben Eine artwork is
where Samantha Cameron gets her bohemian reputation. The Banksy pupil
makes art out of graffiti." – Sarah Sands, Independent on Sunday

Osborne reveals a taste for chaos

"As George Osborne sits plotting cuts and pay freezes in his Treasury office,
he will be able to gaze up at a transvestite’s idea of social chaos. The Tory chancellor has chosen to hang on his wall a frieze by the
skirt-wearing artist Grayson Perry. The 7ft x 2ft work..is among nearly 200
chosen by coalition ministers from the government art collection. The list of who has chosen which works, released under the Freedom of
Information Act, shows that Osborne is among the modern-thinking Cameroons
and Liberal Democrats, who have inherited new Labour’s affection for
fashionable British artists such as Perry and Tracey Emin." – Sunday Times £

Don't knock our efforts to keep the nation healthy Andrew Lansley letter to Observer

Balls considers junking leadership bidSunday Telegraph

Balls' secret link to Conrad Black Independent on Sunday

> Yesterday in LeftWatch: Is Balls a quitter, not a fighter?

Brown eyes political returnSunday Times (£)

Report to William Hague: our Ambassadors are risk-averse clonesSunday Times (£)

Lord (Sebastian) Coe: My brilliant careerMail on Sunday

Boris Johnson: Prime Minister at 70…?

Boris Johnson messy hair "When I put the question to him, he's fully prepared and says, 'Franky, there's more chance of me cycling stark named across the Thames on mty bicycle.'  But he's not gettting off that lightly…So exactly how boundless is Johnson's ambition? More to the point, when will he admit that one day he aims to lead the country?  'Maybe
when I'm older,' he finally concedes. 'Perhaps when I'm 70, I wouldn't
rule out having a tilt at it. I'd like to think I'll still be full of
beans at that age.' " – Mail on Sunday

…Or sooner (see betting details)?

"Ha ha ha. Ladbrokes have priced me up at 100/1 as next party leader! http://tinyurl.com/y45cvoz ! @TimMontgomerie is 200/1. A snip!" – Louise Bagshawe on Twitter

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