80000 10.30pm ToryDiary: Tory membership down by 80,000 (one-third) since Cameron became Tory leader

9.30pm WATCH:

9pm ToryDiary: Mixed reaction from the blogosphere to Cameron's big speech

6pm ToryDiary: Forgettable speech from Cameron ends a party conference season that was good for the Conservatives

4.15pm WATCH: In a post-conference Conservative Party Political Broadcast, David Cameron explains how the Coalition is tackling Labour's economic legacy

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3.30pm ToryDiary: Highlights of David Cameron's speech to the Conservative Party conference

2.30pm WATCH:

1.45pm ToryDiary: A reinvigorated Conservative Policy Forum is set to give party members new opportunities to contribute to policy development

11.30am Harry Phibbs on Centre Right: Gamu Nhengu should not be deported

11am ToryDiary: Liam Fox lambasts Labour for the inheritance it has bequeathed him at the MoD

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ToryDiary: David Cameron must point the way to the sunlit uplands today

Simon Reevell MP on Platform: We must ensure that we explain to the public the reasons for our continued presence in Afghanistan

Local Government: Philip Hammond's plan for localism in transport policy

"My political heroes: Churchill for determination in adversity; Iain Macleod for thinking outside the box; Gandhi for proving the power of words over violence; Martin Luther King for vision and oratory." Bob Blackman MP answers ConservativeHome's 20 Questions for the class of 2010

WATCH: Iain Duncan Smith unveils Universal Credit

David Cameron moves to seize the banner of Fairness in his Conference speech today…

David Cameron will call for a "new conversation about what fairness really means" when he speaks at his party conference for the first time as Prime Minister later today.  Mr Cameron is expected to say taxpayers should not have to work long hours to support families who shirk taking jobs. "Fairness isn't just about who gets help from the state. The other part of the equation is who gives that help, through their taxes," he will say. "Taking more money from the man who goes out to work long hours each day so the family next door can go on living a life on benefits without working – is that fair?  "Fairness means giving people what they deserve – and what people deserve depends on how they behave. If you really cannot work, we'll look after you. But if you can work, but refuse to work, we will not let you live off the hard work of others." – Sky News

"And today he will use his Tory conference speech to insist that those on higher incomes must 'shoulder more of the burden' as the Coalition struggles to balance the books. "I'm not saying this is going to be easy, as we've seen with child benefit this week," he will tell party faithful. "But it's fair that those with broadest shoulders should bear a greater load." – Daily Mail

But the Child Benefit row rages on, dominating the newspaper front pages…

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"Last night, in an interview with ITV News, Mr Cameron said: "In the election campaign, both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats said there are going to be cuts, there are going to be difficult cuts and we outlined some of those cuts. "We did not outline all of those cuts, we did not know exactly the situation we were going to inherit. But yes I acknowledge this was not in our manifesto. Of course I'm sorry about that, but I think we need to be clear about why we're doing what we're doing." – Daily Telegraph

"Tory aides suggested that the policy could be extended to higher-rate taxpayers, a step farther than the party’s election manifesto, in part to assuage anger at the lost child benefit. The idea has not been discussed with the Liberal Demcorats, who oppose any recognition of marriage in the tax system. Such a move would cost at least £500 million, wiping out more than half of the £1 billion raised from child benefit changes. Senior Tories were alarmed at the anxiety caused by the child benefit cut, a fraction of the £83 billion that Mr Osborne will announce on October 20." – The Times (£)

"The concern about the controversy extends to the Cabinet. The Independent understands that Iain Duncan Smith, who as Work and Pensions Secretary is responsible for benefits, was not consulted in advance of Monday's announcement. It is believed to have been finalised by Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne on the eve of the conference…one senior Tory said: "It's a complete mess. If people had been consulted, they could have sounded a warning. You can impose policy from the top like this in opposition but it shouldn't happen in government." – The Independent

"But attention focused on the child benefit cuts amid fears that it would hit key Tory supporters. Osborne moved to reassure anxious Tory MPs today by emailing a letter explaining the move. The chancellor acknowledged the MPs' concerns but defended his decision on the grounds that it will raise £1bn and show that higher earners will contribute to cutting the deficit." – The Guardian

…With some Conservative MPs unhappy…

DAVIS Step forward DD to take up the rallying cry: it’s not fair! David Davis, interviewed by Chris Ship of ITV, says: “The aim is right, I am entirely in favour of restricting child benefits for the well off. But the actual practice that is being proposed is unwise. If you’re carrying out a programme of cuts you’ve got to do things that are seen to be fair, and where you have perhaps one family with £80,000 a year getting child benefit and another family on £44,000 a year not getting child benefit that would be seen to be unfair… The aim is fine, the detail needs to be reworked.” – Benedict Brogan, Daily Telegraph

Aberconwy MP Guto Bebb is "unhappy" one parent earning £44,000 would lose child benefit while two working parents earning up to £86,000 would keep it. He said: "To me that is fundamentally unfair. It is a flaw in the proposals laid out by George Osborne on Monday and I suspect we will need to look at this again because we will not be able to persuade people that this is just, reasonable or fair."- BBC

…and the papers still divided: the Mail and Telegraph against, the Times (and the Murdoch stable) for

"From the Right comes some gratuitous special pleading: ending Labour profligacy is imperative, so long as it does not harm me. In the past, this sort of confected outrage has been potent. When John Major tried to cut child benefit the attempt was stymied by the women of the Conservative Party. The current leadership should show sterner resolution.The arguments from the Left are no more convincing." – Editorial, The Times (£)

"The measure, which will save about £1 billion a year, is self-evidently not an urgent element in the Government's deficit reduction strategy, because it will not be introduced until 2013. So why has it been rushed out now? This appears to be about political positioning, pure and simple. With harsh measures against lower-paid workers imminent – we should learn the future shape of public sector pensions before the end of the week – it was deemed clever politics to take a pre-emptive tilt at higher-rate taxpayers." – Editorial, Daily Telegraph

And in these desperate times, we concede that higher-rate taxpayers may have to sacrifice their child benefits (although, heaven knows, £44,000 is no princely sum on which to bring up a family in the South East). What we are emphatically not prepared to accept without protest, however, is that the political class should yet again discriminate against one-earner families, through a tax and benefits system that has dealt them a lousy hand under successive governments over the decades – Daily Mail

But one opinion poll shows overwhelming support for the move in principle…though it's worth delving beneath the headlines…

"[David Cameron] arrived at the Tory conference with wife Sam and new baby Florence, who won't get the cash.  Mr Cameron said "sorry" for not warning voters that the well-off will see their child benefit axed. His apology for not including it in the Tory manifesto came as more than eight out of ten voters backed the move in an exclusive Sun YouGov poll" – The Sun

…As the next big public spending rumpus looms

"Millions of public sector workers face a cut in their take-home pay and a delay in retirement to the age of 65, under pension reforms to be unveiled tomorrow. The government is poised to adopt wide-ranging changes to the "gold-plated" public sector pensions o be recommended by Labour's former work and pensions secretary, Lord Hutton. His report is to lay bare the gulf between private and public sector pensions and offer ways to cut the bill." – The Guardian

> Yesterday's ConservativeHome coverage –

ToryDiary: Cameron and Osborne seek to close down the row over child benefit cuts

Dr Rachel Joyce on CentreRight: Remember that families where both parents work have much higher costs

The Lurcher on CentreRight: Axing child benefit will hurt strivers and stay at home mothers

Iain Duncan Smith's speech gets star billing…

"Oliver Letwin, the Government’s fixer (and an absolutely central figure in the coalition), began work in a series of meetings in the Cabinet Office with Mr Osborne’s trusted special adviser, Rupert Harrison, and Mr Duncan Smith’s adviser, Philippa Stroud. The team cut both the costs and the losers at a stroke by agreeing to phase in the scheme and to apply the changes only to new applicants." – Danny Finkelstein, The Times (£)

"Iain Duncan Smith got the longest standing ovation of the Tory conference so far. They adore him. Remember that he was chosen by the party members in 2001 but sacked by the MPs two years later. And he has clearly been attending the Michael Heseltine Clinic for Sexual Fulfilment, where politicians are taught to stroke and fondle their party so as to inflame uncontrollable passions…Ken Clarke was applauded too. But if Duncan Smith offers to romance them with champagne, chocolates and sweet music, Clarke seems to be saying: "Here, you look up for it. How about a pie and a pint?" – Simon Hoggart, The Guardian

"Devising a system that can also embrace the needs of the long-term sick, the disabled and their carers will be even tougher. The technical difficulties are daunting, but with determination they can be resolved, at least as long as Mr Duncan Smith is allowed to continue to focus on the job.The political difficulties are another thing altogether." – Editorial, The Guardian

Yesterday in Tory Diary: IDS sets out welfare contract with the unemployed, the very vulnerable and the taxpayer

…And Ken Clarke's mixed reviews…

CLARKE-Ken-look "From party stalwarts to officials and prison reform lobby groups, Mr Clarke's plans were warmly received – and rightly so. Prisons have long been a lamentably neglected area of policy – neglected, that is, except in the one requirement that they accommodate ever more people. With upwards of 85,000 currently incarcerated, Britain has proportionately the highest prison population in the EU." – Editorial, The Independent

"The Justice Secretary said tougher community sentences and slashing re-offending were the best way to reform Britain’s prison system rather than locking more people up. It means that yobs, thieves and petty criminals will escape any form of tough sentencing. His comments are set to re-open deep divisions in the Tory prisons policy, as critics claim he is “out of sync” with public ­opinion." – Daily Express

"Ken Clarke will have to overcome “extremely difficult” challenges if he is to succeed in forcing prison inmates to work 40-hour weeks while they serve out their terms, according to private companies working in the jail system. Executives welcomed the justice secretary’s attempts to encourage industry to provide proper jobs and training for inmates. But they questioned what incentive companies would have to recruit prisoners and to pay them the minimum wage when there are millions of unemployed people available outside jail." – Financial Times (£)

Yesterday in Tory Diary: Ken Clarke to announce 40-hour working week for prisoners – with some of their earnings compensating victims

…While those inspirational teachers and educationalists dominate the education debate coverage (and help to squeeze out space for Theresa May and Andrew Lansley)

"Geoffrey Canada, the man credited with turning around black under-achievement in Harlem and the star guest at conference, has told Michael Gove that the teaching unions are the biggest threat to the education secretary's reforms. Canada has been hailed as a pioneer in education by Barack Obama. In…the Guardian, Canada said he had told Gove that in the UK the unions constituted an inflexible brake which was "killing" the innovation necessary to transform children's lives, and that they "cover up" for failing teachers." – The Guardian

Ex-Marxist head wants to axe bad teachers and drive out the unions – Daily Mail

"Mr Gove disclosed he was beaten twice while at pupil Robert Gordons College, an all-boys secondary school, in Aberdeen. Speaking at a meeting organised by The Daily Telegraph on the fringe of the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, Mr Gove was asked by Telegraph columnist Peter Oborne if he was “thrashed” there. Mr Gove replied: “Yes I was. In Scotland they tended not to use the cane, they had something called the ‘tawse’, a leather belt." – Daily Telegraph

Yesterday in Tory Diary: Michael Gove – pupils will learn our island story

On the eve of today's Defence debate, Gordon Brown says that the Navy's two aircraft carriers must be built

BROWN-GORDON-headshot "Gordon Brown, largely silent on domestic political issues since leaving No 10 in May, has spoken. And he’s told the Coalition Government to spend £5.2 billion on two new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy. These are ships whose fate hangs very much in the balance right now, as Liam Fox deals with what he says is a £38 billion “black hole” in the defence budget." – James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph

"However, it is to the debate over the Navy, and its aircraft carriers, that the principle of graduated readiness must be applied in particular. Although possession of one or two modern aircraft carriers is highly desirable, it is just that – desirable, not essential. The logical decision would be to complete the first aircraft carrier (which is half-built and paid for already) and place it in "extended readiness"…until there is an evident need for the capability it could provide and the new aircraft to fly off the carrier are available." – Sir Richard Dannatt, Daily Telegraph

Building an economy aircraft carrier could save £1bn, Cameron to be told – The Guardian

"The hunt for the mole who leaked a private letter from Defence Secretary Liam Fox to David Cameron has been narrowed down to about five people, the Standard has been told. Only about a dozen people at the Ministry of Defence are believed to have seen the letter, which warned of the grave consequences that “draconian” cuts to the military's £37 billion budget would have on the armed forces. Military police are understood to have narrowed down the number of suspects because the leaked letter was not a final version and was later slightly changed before been signed by Mr Fox." – This is London

Councils could gain control of investment and skills funding

Councils and local businesses could be handed control of inward investment and skills funding after a U-turn by Eric Pickles, communities secretary, in the face of industry lobbying. Mr Pickles told a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference that local enterprise partnerships, which will replace the regional development agencies charged with closing the north-south economic divide, could gain powers over areas such as investment, innovation and business support. The government had previously told councils those areas, now in the hands of the doomed RDAs, would be “led nationally”. – Eric Pickles, Financial Times (£)

Tim Montgomerie speaks to conference in the International Development debate…

MONTGOMERIE TIM 2 "Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home spoke in support of Mitchell and the 'generosity of the British people' and he, in turn, was supported by Jehangir Malik, the director of Islamic Relief.  Carolyn Makinson, executive director of International Rescue Committee then spoke of 'challenging times' in Afghanistan and Africa." – Calling England

…And ConservativeHome holds a packed fringe meeting on why the election wasn't won

"The one thing the party leadership do not want to talk about this week is why they did not win an outright majority…They were, after all, facing a massive open goal – as Tim Montgomerie pointed out at this lunchtime post mortem of the 2010 campaign…The dissection of what went wrong, from the panel of political hacks and an audience of defeated candidates, was clinical – and would not have made comfortable listening for Mr Cameron and his team. It was nothing to do with policy being too left or right wing, and everything to do with presentation or…a lack of "basic professionalism" at the top of the party." – BBC

"Membership of the Conservative party has fallen by almost a third since David Cameron became leader, it was claimed at the Tory conference in Birmingham today.  Tim Montgomerie, the editor of the influential grassroots Tory website ConservativeHome, told a fringe event that two separate sources had told him party membership was now 177,000 – down 80,000 on the 2005 figure of 257,000. Members of the audience concurred with the figure, which Montgomerie called "extraordinary"." – The Guardian


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