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4.45pm WATCH:

2.15pm Local government: Council by-elections from yesterday

1pm Local government: Conservatives gain Council seat from Lib Dems in North East Derbyshire

Alex Deane on CentreRight: Council snoopers are axed

Screen shot 2010-09-24 at 12.55.17 11.30am Local Government: Ken Livingstone to be Labour candidate for London Mayor

ToryDiary: Conservatives fight back on Council Tax, quangos, and spending control (and fire more early shots at Labour's leader-to-be)

George Eustice MP on Platform: Lessons for Labour from the Tories' 2005 cathartic leadership contest

Local Government:

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LeftWatch:
Tories launch operation to paint the Milibands as a dangerous risk to the nation's finances

WATCH: President Obama pushes Middle East plan as he addresses the UN

Pickles and Spelman are "King and Queen of the quango cuts" – and are promoted to the Star Chamber

"More than 30 ‘green’ quangos are facing the axe and the budget for communities will be slashed by a third after George Osborne signed off massive cuts to two departments. Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles yesterday agreed with the Treasury on how to slash spending in their departments. The two ministers, dubbed the ‘King and Queen of quango cuts’ in Whitehall, impressed the Chancellor with their willingness to axe expensive bodies." – Daily Mail

"Mr Pickles may emerge as a key figure on the cabinet committee, chaired by the Chancellor, George Osborne, in pressing other ministers to fall into line. 'He's a bruiser and the Treasury is delighted to get him on board'. The ministers already serving on the Star Chamber, who have relatively small budgets, have also reached a provisional settlement on their departmental spending for four years." one insider said last night." – The Independent

David Cameron to hold budget talks during "distracting" Labour conference

CAMERON-SIGNING "David Cameron and George Osborne are to use the cover of the Labour Conference next week to hold a series of meetings with ministers to try to hammer out agreement on the spending review, amid wrangling on sensitive areas such as Trident and higher education. Ministers have decided that the Labour conference in Manchester provides the perfect opportunity for the meetings while the political world is distracted by the election of a new leader of the opposition." – The Guardian

As Nick Clegg visits the White House, spending cuts may need to pass a Lib Dem "middle-class audit"

"Coalition policies could undergo a ‘middle class’ audit to ensure they are not hurting hard-working families. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s attempt to become a champion of ordinary households comes despite fears the government will axe universal entitlements such as child benefit and winter fuel allowance for the better-off…Last night Mr Clegg was due to swap ideas at the White House with U.S. vice president Joe Biden, who has an army of experts deciding whether policies ‘would harm or hurt the middle classes’." – Daily Mail

Nick Clegg meets Joe Biden… – Daily Telegraph

…and launches LibDems Abroad – Liberal Democrats

Obama's grin for Clegg – The Sun

Britain promises U.S it will keep nuclear option

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"Britain gave a direct promise to the United States that it would keep its nuclear deterrent and maintain special forces after the Pentagon expressed alarm at the scale of the spending cuts. Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, made the pledges in Washington after talks with his US counterpart, Robert Gates. After returning to Britain yesterday Dr Fox was summoned to No 10 to discuss military spending cuts with David Cameron amid concern in the Ministry of Defence that the strategic defence review was way behind schedule." – The Times

British Cuts to Military Concern U.S. Officials

"A wrenching government spending review has pitted Britain’s army against its navy, spawned a series of leaks to the British media and raised the question of whether the military that emerges from the budget cuts — expected to be 10 percent to 20 percent of current outlays — will be a strategically agile force that can join the United States on major combat operations." – New York Times

Britain's defence: Up in the air

"The questions over what to opt for have been troubling politicians of all hues, as well as ministry officials and defence chiefs, for nearly a year now. What is striking is how high, at this late stage of the debate, tensions are running. Mr Cameron will convene a meeting of his leading national security colleagues within the next 10 days to make the final decisions on the review. But dissent within the top ranks of government is still raging." – Financial Times

The Labour leadership betting moves to Ed Miliband, and the commentators draft speeches for the winner

Screen shot 2010-09-24 at 08.51.00 "Senior advisers to the two Miliband camps held a secret planning meeting at which they discussed what role each might play in the other's shadow cabinet when one of them loses the knife-edge battle to become Labour leader. It is understood that Jim Murphy, one of David Miliband's two campaign managers, attended the meeting with members of the Ed Milband camp to map out how they would handle Saturday's dramatic leadership result. David Miliband's campaign said they regarded the discussions as just exploring sensible precautions." – The Guardian

"Instead, the new leader needs to be artful in conceding just enough. He needs to show that he understands why Labour lost and make his declarations about change specific and not vapid. He needs to begin the long process of defining what the Labour Party is for. The indispensable condition of that is candour over the responsibility the previous Government bears for the mess that the public finances are in." – Philip Collins, The Times

"I want the Cameron-Clegg coalition out. Yet when that moment comes we must be better prepared to be a party of coalition than we were this time. I want us to be a party that others can do business with. I want us to win next year's Scotland and Wales elections outright, but I hope my colleagues there will be open to coalition talks, ruling nothing out, if we fall short. The same applies even more to the next general election." – Martin Kettle, The Guardian

This means that the real dividing line that will determine the failure or success of the Coalition is not the argument between David Cameron and whichever Miliband emerges victorious tomorrow. Nor is it the cacophony of discordant voices that make the Coalition such an interesting, amusing and unusual administration. Behind it all, the only thing that matters is the economic contest between Ed Balls and George Osborne. Only one of them can be proved right – and it will be winner take all – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

Whoever wins, Labour must retake the south

"True, the candidates have acknowledged the importance of the south – while also noting Labour’s poor showing in areas such as Lancashire and Yorkshire. But no one has yet grasped how disastrously Labour polled, with swings against of up to 10 per cent, and only 49 out of 302 southern and midlands seats remaining. Yes, Labour does dominate northern and Celtic Britain, but even this will not be enough to secure a convincing majority." – Financial Times (£)

Why I'm now calling it for Ed Miliband – Mike Smithson, Political Betting

London's first Mayoral Academies opened

Boris Johnson rosette "Mr Johnson said the rebranded secondary schools would help boost education standards in deprived parts of London. But fellow Tory London Assembly member Andrew Boff said the money spent on rebranding the schools should have been used to help the unemployed. The Aylward Academy in Enfield and Nightingale Academy in Edmonton are the first two of 10 planned academies. The schools will get extra support from the mayor's London Development Agency." – BBC

Welfare reform: It will take a stick, as well as a carrot, to get people off benefits

"One of Wisconsin's biggest successes was diverting people from claiming benefits in the first place. If you try to claim benefits, the first thing they do is offer you a job – rather than start filling in forms to process your application. In fact, you have to demonstrate that you are searching hard for a job for several weeks before you can even start to make a benefits claim. In contrast, our depressing "Job Centres" are really more like benefits offices." – Neil O'Brien, Daily Telegraph

Stephen Glover continues the Daily Mail's war on capitalism

"Yet the more one read of Mr Cable's supposed assault on capitalism  -  and then when one heard the actual speech he delivered yesterday to the Lib Dem Conference in Liverpool  -  the more it seemed that most of what he said made sense.  There is absolutely no reason why God-fearing Tories should take umbrage. Hasn't our version of modern capitalism failed pretty spectacularly? Three years ago I would not have dreamt I would ever suggest such a thing. Of course I didn't believe that capitalism was perfect, but nor did I think it would fail on the epic scale it has." – Daily Mail

Law chief orders probe into secret files on death of Dr David KellyDaily Mail

Chris Huhne opens world's biggest offshore wind farm in ThanetThe Independent

Ahmadinejad accuses US of "orchestrating" 9/11 attacks to aid IsraelThe Guardian

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