Local government: THREE more Liberal Democrat councillors defect to Labour
Also on PlayPolitical: Scottish government finds money to abolish prescription charges
Tories 2% and 6% ahead in two new opinion polls – Yesterday evening's ToryDiary
A "quad" of Cameron, Clegg, Osborne and Alexander made big decisions on spending review
"Over the fraught weeks leading up to Wednesday's spending review, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander have met regularly at No 10. Advisers have taken to describing the sessions as "quad meetings". They last hours as the four men and a scattering of officials hunch over highly sensitive documents." – Observer
> Paul Goodman on ToryDiary yesterday: The defence budget deal shows up the pointlessness of the Star Chamber
Prisons and legal aid face cuts of 33%
"Massive cuts of around 30% to the justice system, which will dramatically reduce the number of people in prison, slash legal aid in divorce and family law cases, and see the closure of more than 150 courts across England, will be unveiled this week… The justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, was one of the last cabinet ministers to settle his budget today, and is believed to have had to take an extra hit after the defence secretary, Liam Fox, and Michael Gove at education won more generous agreements than previously expected. It is thought his £9bn budget has been reduced to £6bn." – Observer
Police will catch more criminals with smaller budgets and fewer officers – Nick Herbert in The Sunday Telegraph
Huhne drops £10bn Severn estuary tidal barrage to invest in wind power – Independent on Sunday
"We were disappointed that David Cameron made no reference to green issues in his speech to the Conservative conference. Indeed, he seems to have dropped environmentalism as if it were part of a pre-election rebranding exercise for which he has no use now that he has to attend to more important matters, such as imposing the biggest public-spending cuts since 1921." – Independent on Sunday leader
The Independent on Sunday presents their department-by-department guide to the cuts.
Alex Salmond will say Scotland needs independence to escape the "Westminster straitjacket" of cuts – BBC
No jets for aircraft carriers but more for hi-tech SAS – Mail on Sunday
As predicted on Tory Diary yesterday… (here)
…the personal attacks on Liam Fox have already started…
"Defence Secretary Liam Fox last night faced astonishing claims by senior Tory sources concerning his drinking habits – and a suggestion that he could be sacked for alleged disloyalty to David Cameron. The Mail on Sunday has been told that Dr Fox’s conduct has been discussed at a senior level of the Government – and in some quarters of the Ministry of Defence – where there is said to be a concern about his ‘partying’ lifestyle." (Halfway down this Mail on Sunday page).
The Sunday Express becomes latest centre right newspaper to warn Cameron against further squeezing of the middle classes
"The “squeezed middle” have suffered three hammer blows in the past two weeks. Child Benefit cuts, scrapping college tuition fees caps and now a further tax raid on pensions. As if Brown had not done enough to wreck private-sector pensions, George Osborne wants to slash drastically the tax relief people can claim on their pension fund contributions. Millionaire trust-fund beneficiary Osborne claims his measures will hit only “the richest Britons” but workers earning between £40,000 and £50,000 a year are not rich and could face tax demands for thousands of pounds as a result of being pushed above the lower tax-free limits by complex Treasury rules. This is the latest salvo fired in the Tories’ bizarre war against those aspiring to climb the economic ladder." – Neil Hamilton in the Sunday Express
"The truth is the Coalition is using the muddy language of ‘fairness’ to justify a range of Lib Dem measures which strike at the heart of Middle England. Whatever Mr Cameron says, there is little chance that what you receive will depend on how you behave. ‘Fairness’ will see to that. Why should a family where the mother stays at home be punished? If this is seen as aberrant behaviour, what hope is there for a fairer, better society?" – Jill Kirby in the Mail on Sunday (scroll to bottom of page)
In her Sunday Telegraph column Janet Daley accuses the Coalition of alienating hard-working people.
Channel 4's Dispatches programme focuses on tax-avoiding George Osborne, Philip Hammond and Andrew Mitchell
"Channel 4 was last night embroiled in an explosive row with the Government over an investigation into the financial affairs of Cabinet Ministers. Last night, all three men strongly denied any implication that they had acted improperly by deploying tax-avoiding measures, with Mr Hammond warning that his ‘lawyers will be watching’ the programme tomorrow." – Mail on Sunday
Alan Johnson will press for £7bn growth package, focused on capital spending – Observer
Two dozen more Tory peers to be created before Christmas
"Possible new Conservative peers could include Andrew Feldman, the party’s co-chairman, as well as its treasurer Stanley Fink and Michael Spencer, a former treasurer who stood down last week. Other favourites include Sir Anthony Bamford, a Tory donor and member of the JCB digger dynasty, and Sir Philip Green, the retail billionaire who published a report on Whitehall waste this week." – The Sunday Telegraph
Three Labour peers accused of abusing expenses – The Sunday Telegraph
Teacher who attacked school chaos in Tory party conference speech is forced out – Mail on Sunday
Six Ed Miliband aides helped the new Labour leader prepare for PMQs by shouting at him as he spoke – James Forsyth in Mail on Sunday
Did Ed Balls channel funds to a charity project based at his favourite football club? – Mail on Sunday
MUST-READ ARTICLE OF THE DAY
Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer reflects on the Liberal Democrats' u-turn on tuition fees: "Won't coalition always be used as an all-purpose excuse by politicians who want to betray their promises to the voters? I have to agree that this makes it even harder to keep politicians honest, is bad for accountability to the electorate and terrible for the relationship between voters and government. One answer would be for manifesto writers to cease stuffing those documents with promises that politicians half-expect or fully realise they won't be able to keep in power. In future, perhaps, there will have to be a hierarchy of manifesto pledges with those they are really serious about marked in bold and an * against those pledges which may be rendered inoperable in the event of a coalition. This much is certain. However the Lib Dems present themselves to voters in the future, it can't be as the guys who will always keep their promises."
> Tuesday's LeftWatch: The Liberal Democrats' remarkable u-turn on tuition fees
Angela Merkel: Attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany have "utterly failed" – BBC
And finally… Lord Ashcroft tells Olga Craig of the touching stories of valour behind his £30m medal collection, to be unveiled at the Imperial War Museum
"Lord Ashcroft’s fixation with bravery led to his resolve one day to own a Victoria Cross. He bought his first in 1986, when he was 40. As he held it in his hand, reading the citation that told the story of its holder, he felt a surge of pride. “I wanted more. I set my heart upon building a formidable collection,” he says. And an obsession was born. Today, he owns 164 VCs, the largest private collection in the world. “The collection is, simply, my pride and joy,” he says. Its value for Lord Ashcroft can only be measured in terms of respect and sentiment, but it is estimated to be worth more than £30 million." – The Sunday Telegraph
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