Picture 5 7.15pm WATCH: Hillary Clinton announces that Middle East peace talks will resume next month

6pm LeftWatch: The Green Party now wants to restrict my freedom of choice and stop me eating meat

4.15pm WATCH: ABC News interviews Liberal Leader Tony Abbott and Labour Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the eve of tomorrow's Australian General Election

2.45pm ToryDiary: Jeremy Middleton's proposals on how to regenerate the voluntary party

11.30m Local Government: Council byelection results from yesterday

Screen shot 2010-08-20 at 11.26.10 11.15am WATCH:

10.30am Local government:


Stephen Booth on Platform: Vigilance is required if we are to stop the trickle of policing and criminal justice powers to the EU

Local Government:

McCartney Jason “I’m a Conservative because… I'm a patriot who loves our country's freedoms, sense of fair play, decency and opportunity for all." – Jason McCartney MP answers ConHome's Twenty Questions for the Class of 2010

James Groves on CentreRight: The hard truth about soft A-Level subjects

WATCH: Andrew Mitchell announces a doubling of British aid for victims of Pakistan's floods

David Rowland resigns as Tory treasurer before taking up the post

"Millionaire David Rowland quit as Tory treasurer yesterday after a rebellion by Conservative donors at damaging revelations about his business affairs. In a grave embarrassment for David Cameron, the property tycoon once branded 'a shady financier' in Parliament, jumped ship after disclosures about his high living and aggressive business tactics." – Daily Mail

"In a brief statement issued by Tory headquarters he confirmed that he had decided not to take up the post, which was due to begin in October. "Unfortunately my developing business interests mean I will not have the time to give that role the focus and attention it deserves," he said." – The Independent

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: The Daily Mail sinks the Tory Treasurer

Leon Brittan returns to British politics as trade adviser

Lord Leon Brittan "The former home secretary Leon Brittan – Nick Clegg's first political boss – made a surprise return to the frontline of British politics today, 24 years after he left Margaret Thatcher's government. Brittan is the man thought to have first spotted Clegg's political potential when the then EU commissioner gave him a job in Brussels, and the coalition has returned the favour, appointing the 70-year-old to a full-time, paid role as a trade adviser." – The Guardian

"The high-profile new adviser will help draw the sting of City criticism that the Coalition is having difficulty appointing a trade minister to promote UK interests overseas. But the appointment is likely to cause Tory right-wingers to hold their noses. Lord Brittan was one of the most prominent Tory wets, who clashed with Mrs Thatcher in the 1980s, and is a fanatical pro-European." – Daily Mail

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Lord Brittan appointed David Cameron's trade adviser

Sir Philip Green's appointment continues to make waves

"Senior Labour figures raised the pressure on Nick Clegg on Thursday for promising a new anti-tax-avoidance drive, just as his own backbenchers criticised him for hiring Sir Philip Green, a tycoon whose own tax affairs have come under increasing scrutiny." – FT

Clegg shuffles his advisers as rumpus over billionaire’s appointment growsThe Times (£)

The Green family's tax planning makes Sir Philip the right man for the job – David Prosser in The Independent

Why the Green row won't go away – David Hellier in City AM

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Clegg gives his backwoodsmen an opening to attack a Cameron appointment

The Economist on the "rift" in Tory ranks over delivering a fairer society

Economist logo "On August 17th George Osborne, the budget-cutting Tory chancellor of the exchequer, insisted fiscal responsibility was “both fair and progressive”. The next day Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem deputy prime minister, said that the government was as determined to improve social mobility as it was to fix the deficit. Already that trade-off has revealed a deep division within the Conservative Party which threatens to sandbag a big part of the fairness agenda. Mr Osborne, a budget-cutter to his boots, has come up against Iain Duncan Smith, the secretary for work and pensions, who is responsible for most welfare spending." – The Economist

Government may withdraw benefits from drug addictsBBC

Britain’s debt hits new high of £816bn

"Britain fell further into the red last month as the Government was forced to borrow £3.8 billion to balance its books, pushing the country’s net debt to a new high… The country’s debt, excluding the cost of bailing out the banks during the credit crisis, rose by a further £2 billion to £816 billion, up from £665 billion in July last year, and underlines the scale of the task facing the Government as it embarks on severe spending cuts." – The Times (£)

Signs of life spark hope for economy as High Street spending and factory orders are rising sharply Daily Mail

Tax officials to soften stance on avoidanceFT

Tories accused of raiding aid budget

"Labour has accused the coalition of plotting to redirect funds from Britain’s overseas aid budget to pay for international climate change projects run by the energy department. David Cameron has promised to increase real terms spending on overseas development aid, devoting 0.7 per cent of national income to development, in spite of a squeeze on public spending. But Whitehall insiders said plans were being drawn up to reclassify energy department programmes as “overseas development assistance”. – FT

Consultants face £10,000 pay cut from bonuses of up to £76,000 a year

Andrew Lansley 2010 "Top-performing hospital doctors could take a pay cut of up to £10,000 as the Government attempts to find further savings by reviewing a controversial NHS bonus scheme. Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, will today announce a review of the performance-related bonuses that are awarded to senior clinicians on top of their salaries." – The Times (£)

Budget cuts could sink new aircraft carriers

"Britain’s ageing squadrons of 106 Tornado fighter planes are also reportedly being lined up for retirement by 2020 – five years earlier than originally planned. The claims, from Ministry of Defence sources, came as coalition colleagues argue over plans for the £20billion Trident nuclear submarine project. Defence secretary Liam Fox wants the Treasury to pay for Trident and has promised a defence spending review this October." – Metro

Sir Menzies Campbell demands Trident reviewPress Association

A-Levels to be made harder after more record results

"A-levels are to be made harder, it has emerged, after the credibility of the “gold standard” exam was apparently undermined by another round of record results. The Coalition will launch a major review of qualifications in the autumn in a move designed to make them comparable with the toughest in the world. It could lead to the axing of AS levels taken in the first 12 months combined with a shift towards more rigorous exams sat at the end of the two-year course." – Daily Telegraph

Universities swamped in mad dash for places The Times (£)

David Willetts recommends volunteering for students unable to get on a course

WILLETTS DAVID NW "Students who fail to get on to a degree course this year should take up volunteering to enhance their CVs and apply to less competitive universities next year, the universities minister said… David Willetts said: "It is intensely competitive for young people. Look at the extras you can put on your CV – taking the example of medicine, that could be getting involved in caring for people who are sick, in some way." – The Guardian

How the great university boom has defrauded our students – Jeff Randall in the Daily Telegraph

> WATCH: Schools minister Nick Gibb congratulates students on their A-Level results and asserts his desire to work with universities to ensure the exams remain world-class 

> Charlie Edwards on Platform yesterday: Universities need to get their acts together so next year’s students don’t face the “great squeeze”

Libya warned against celebrating anniversary of al-Megrahi release

"The UK government has warned Libya not to celebrate the return of the Lockerbie bomber, the first anniversary of his release from a Scottish jail. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was freed from Greenock prison on compassionate grounds on August 20 last year following his diagnosis with terminal prostate cancer. The bomber returned to jubilant scenes in Libya where he remains alive, despite being given three months to live." – Press Association

Israeli Foreign minister wants Hague to visit Gaza

William Hague square serious "William Hague will visit Israel within the next month on his first official visit to the region as Foreign Secretary – and has been invited by Israel's own Foreign Minister to visit Gaza. The exact date of Mr Hague's trip is dependent on the completion of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which are currently being planned. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has suggested that Mr Hague also travels to Gaza as part of a group of European foreign ministers." – Jewish Chronicle

James Brokenshire to ban "legal highs"

"New 'legal high' party drugs will be banned immediately for 12 months under new Home Office powers to halt their escalating use among young people… James Brokenshire, the Crime Prevention minister, said: “The drugs market is changing and we need to adapt current laws to allow us to act more quickly. The temporary ban allows us to act straight away to stop new substances gaining a foothold in the market and help us tackle unscrupulous drug dealers trying to get round the law by peddling dangerous chemicals to young people." – Daily Telegraph

Prescott reveals Labour is "on the verge of bankruptcy"

John Prescott 2010 "John Prescott today warns the Labour party that it is £20m in debt, "on the verge of bankruptcy" and must learn to campaign in smarter and more cost-effective ways if it is ever to restore its battered finances and take on the cash-rich Conservatives again. Crucial to this reform is the need to boost the role of the party treasurer, "not only to hold the leadership to account in unnecessarily spending money we don't have, but to make sure we have the campaign capacity to deliver", says the newly ennobled Lord Prescott, who is the underdog candidate for the post at the age of 72." – The Guardian

> Last night's LeftWatch: Prescott admits that Labour is "on the verge of bankruptcy" and dependent upon "the goodwill of the Co-op bank"

US troops say goodbye to Iraq

"There was no grand farewell. Seven years and five months after the start of one of the most bitterly divisive wars of modern times, the remaining American combat forces left Iraq under the cover of darkness to head home." – The Independent

> WATCH: Last US combat troops leave Iraq

Rivals neck and neck on eve of Australian election

Picture 2 "The election campaign in Australia has reached its final day with the two main parties neck and neck. An opinion poll suggested the governing Labor Party had lost its narrow lead to be tied with the opposition coalition. Julia Gillard, Australia's first female prime minister, is facing a fight to the finish with centre-right coalition leader Tony Abbott." – BBC

"As polling began last night, the parties were neck and neck, with Greens holding a potentially decisive 14 per cent and a key say in economic policy. That's why this election is significant here in Britain. Australia uses the complicated and controversial Alternative Vote system we may be asked to choose next year. Voters must put every candidate in order of preference… A confusing outcome in Australia could nail Nick Clegg's dream of ending our first-past-the-vote system and giving the Lib-Dems the whip hand in perpetual coalition government." – Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun


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