8.15pm WATCH: John Prescott explains why he wants to save NHS Direct

4pm ToryDiary: Ten observations about Boris' re-election hopes

ToryDiary: NHS Direct… The Gurkhas… Crossrail… The cuts get real

Two big stories on the Local government blog this morning:

Screen shot 2010-08-29 at 07.37.42 (1) Boris Johnson is reportedly threatening to quit if Treasury doesn't fund Crossrail

(2) Grant Shapps is ready to give local people priority when it comes to the allocation of local housing

David Leighton and John Stevenson on Platform: We must challenge Labour's spurious narrative that public spending cuts always lead to worse public services – because that has been central to the rise in government waste

LeftWatch: Introducing Red Ed Miliband

In answering ConHome's Twenty Questions, Steve Baker MP names Richard Cobden as his political hero: "Cobden gave up his business prospects to further the
philosophy of freedom in the general interest. He was principled,
pragmatic and yet thoughtful."

No tax relief for five years says Danny Alexander

"With plans already in place to reduce tax on lower earners, his comments appear to dash hopes of tax cuts for the better-off and middle classes until 2015 at the earliest." – Observer

Plans to 'protect the poor' are in fact jeopardising their ability to escape the trap – Janet Daley in The Sunday Telegraph

Margaret Thatcher made the poor poorer – Philip Blond in The Observer

Patrick Mercer MP warns that Gurkhas could be scrapped in spending review

Screen shot 2010-08-29 at 08.29.46 "The first people to go will be the Brigade of Gurkhas, probably in their entirety. In the past, the Gurkhas' existence was guaranteed by the fact they are cheaper to run than British troops, and that there was a shortage of British troops. Recent changes mean they are now just as expensive, and recruitment is extremely healthy at the moment. I am afraid the writing is on the wall." – Tory MP Patrick Mercer quoted in Observer

Government to give cash to councils that build traveller sitesIndependent on Sunday

Britain set to lose skilled migrants because of immigration cap

"It is bizarre for a government that boasts it will make Britain “open for business” to tell its leading companies — presumably at some stage later this year — sorry, you’ve exceeded your collective allocation of highly skilled foreign employees. In many cases, this will just mean that the same people will be paid the same salary but based offshore, paying their taxes to some other more grateful government." – Dominic Lawson in The Sunday Times (£)

Britain left to count cost of 'gold-plating' European Arrest Warrant

"Anger at Britain’s “gold-plating” of the controversial European Arrest Warrant is growing after it emerged that other EU countries have secured significant safeguards for their citizens that are not available to British nationals." – Andrew Gilligan in The Sunday Telegraph

'Operation Florence'

"The first pictures of David Cameron holding his new baby daughter were released yesterday, the final instalment in a very public week for the holidaying Prime Minister and his family. While Parliament remains in recess, the leader of the country was rarely off the front pages or the rolling news agenda given the early birth of his daughter Florence Rose Endellion on Tuesday. Last night, Cameron’s press team dispatched four portraits of the Prime Minister and his baby to newsrooms, the tender moment between father and daughter caught in an “Athena man” style pose. Gentle but strong and protective was the message as he held the delicate delivery in his hands." – Sunday Herald

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: First photographs of Florence Cameron revealed

Crispin Blunt accused of past hypocrisy on homosexuality

Blunt Crispin "Prisons Minister Crispin Blunt once claimed homosexuality is "not equivalent to heterosexuality" in a Parliamentary debate. He continued: "It is also clear that there is a much greater strand of homosexuality than of heterosexuality which depends for its gratification on the exploitation of youth."" – News of the World

Some Reigate Tories unhappy with Crispin Blunt after he 'comes out' and leaves wife – Sunday Telegraph

"Reigate MP Mr Blunt, uncle of actress Emily Blunt, is understood to have told his family two weeks ago that, after wrestling with his sexuality for 30 years, he had decided to announce he was gay and move out of the family home. He and his wife were due to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary on September 15.  Mrs Blunt is the daughter of an American heiress and her money was crucial in providing former Army officer Mr Blunt, 50, with the resources to pursue a political career. ‘She gave up everything for him,’ said a friend. ‘She is the perfect MP’s wife and would attend every fete and garden party when Crispin was at the Commons." – Mail on Sunday

Tax exile Lord Laidlaw gave £85,000 of donations-in-kind to Tories despite party's denialsObserver

Chris Kelly under fire for inviting fellow MPs to give secretarial job to his sisterMail on Sunday

Ed Miliband vows defence of universal benefits

"It seems even David Cameron's TV debate promises to families and the elderly are to be sacrificed. It is essential that we defend these payments. The alternative is a dangerous erosion of the social solidarity that comes from a universal system. To do so, I would raise taxes on the banks over and above the timid levy proposed by the government and I would raise revenue from those at the top, continuing the 50p rate permanently at £150,000, and tackling tax avoidance." – Ed Miliband in Observer

David Miliband may quit politics if younger brother wins

"If Ed Miliband wins the Labour leadership, his older brother is likely to quit politics altogether and the party would lose one of its brightest stars." – The Sunday Times (£)

"The United States did "bad things" to terror suspects in the wake of 9/11 which Britain was too slow to realise, David Miliband acknowledges today as he brandishes his record as Foreign Secretary to bolster his Labour leadership ambitions." – Independent on Sunday

Who will lead UKIP?

Traditional fruit cake 3 The Independent on Sunday assesses the runners and riders on the "fruit cake" scale.

Tens of thousands – perhaps more – attend 'conservative' rally in Washington DC

The exact numbers are unknown
but tens of thousands certainly – and perhaps 250,000 according to some
estimates – turned up yesterday in Washington DC for Glenn Beck's
'Restoring Honor' rally.The Tea Party Movement was the leading organiser of attendees. The rally was advertised as non-political. Speeches, including from
Sarah Palin, emphasised faith and tributes to the US military. In
three-and-a-half hours of speeches Barack Obama's name was not
mentioned once. Political signs were also discouraged.

"Many at the rally said in interviews that they were drawn by a sense of disenchantment over the country's direction, alarm over government spending and a sense that the country's political system was broken. The event featured three hours of religious and patriotic speeches but offered few details on how to fix the country's problems." – Wall Street Journal

And finally… Tony Blair owned union jack boxer shorts

BOXERS(1) "Tony Blair flew the flag for Britain as prime minister in silk Union Jack boxer shorts, indiscreet aides have revealed. They let slip the interesting details about his underwear choice at a smart dinner party attended by actor Michael Sheen who has played the ex-premier in three films." – Sunday Express


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