10.30pm ToryDiaryThatcher named 'Statesman of the Era' at Spectator annual awards

6.45pm ToryDiaryNick Bourne attacks Welsh Labour for cutting NHS

6.15pm Local government: Council Tax burden three times higher for the poor than the rich

4.45pm LeftWatch: The Left start to create new space for LibLab dialogue

3pm Local government: South Oxfordshire propose 40% cut in number of councillors

Policy Exchange 2.30pm Max Chambers on ThinkTankCentral sets out Policy Exchange's thinking on reducing reoffending

2pm Matt Sinclair on CentreRight: Contagion won't be stopped by an Irish bailout, it will just be expensively delayed

12.45pm ToryDiary: The irrelevance of PMQs, with no questions on possible Irish bailout

Noon ToryDiary: Conservatives slip below 40% in two polls

9.30am Local government: Tower Hamlets councillor arrested

15812367 ToryDiary: Osborne considers billions in Irish loans

Also on Tory Diary, Paul Goodman concludes his two part feature on the future of the Conservative Party membership

Nicholas Boys Smith on Platform: The Coalition must hold its nerve as it reforms an unfair Housing Benefit system which disincentivises work, traps millions in the welfare system and malignly distorts the housing market

Seats and candidates: Alistair Cooke, Stanley Fink, Andrew Feldman and Angela Knight all expected to become Tory peers

Local government: Councils to gain more freedom to set planning fees

CLARKE-KENNETH Ken Clarke will give £10m to Guantánamo detainees to avoid £50m legal bill if cases went to courtTimes (£)

  • The awards are "obscene" according to The Times' leader-writers (£) but, concludes, "With Guantánamo Bay, America and her allies turned their enemies into their victims." 
  • The intelligence services have grown too powerful – Independent leader
  • Ken Clarke wants intelligence material from MI5 and MI6 suppressed by courts to avoid repeat of million-pound payouts: "A government green paper, which the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, yesterday told MPs would be published next summer, will contain specific proposals designed to prevent the courts from releasing the kind of information that has emerged from recent Guantánamo cases in the English courts. "It will absolutely eliminate [the possibility of] the process happening again," a well-placed Whitehall official claimed last night." – Guardian

Express In The Express, Patrick O'Flynn takes a different view: "British taxpayers are paying out compensation jackpots to a motley crew. The payments are being made over alleged mistreatment by other countries in other countries. They also dwarf payments given to British soldiers for  terrible injuries sustained in the service of this country. Settling out of court is never a heroic act. When people use their own money to settle it is their own business. But when taxpayers’ money is given to dubious recipients politicians should face detailed scrutiny.  By backing down in the face of the threat of a protracted court case the Government has merely emboldened those who would harm this country. Were some of the compensation to end up in the hands of a new wave of Islamic extremists it would hardly be the greatest surprise."

Screen shot 2010-11-17 at 07.20.34Support for O'Flynn comes from the Weekly Standard. Thomas Joscelyn argues that the allegations should have been contested: "Binyam Mohamed is another one of the seven detainees who will reportedly be getting paid. Mohamed claims that his private parts were repeatedly sliced with a razor over an 18-month period while he was detained in Morocco. If this is true, then it certainly amounts to torture and it should be condemned in no uncertain terms. The problem is, there is no evidence that it is true, and the U.S. government’s medical records do not substantiate Mohamed’s story."

Also from Ken Clarke's brief: The Justice Dept has ruled out any plans to scrap the power to hold trials without a jury, despite concerns over civil liberties – Telegraph

EU President angry ast UK for breakdown in budget negotiations

BARROSO "Brussels reacted with fury yesterday after Britain led a successful bid to throw out plans for European taxes and block a rise in the EU budget. In an extraordinary outburst, the European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso accused Britain and others of abandoning the ‘European spirit’ in blocking a deal on the budget… European leaders had been willing to sanction a 2.9 per cent increase, which would raise Britain’s contribution by £450million a year.But Britain and other countries, including the Netherlands and Germany, refused to support fresh demands for Brussels to be given its own tax-raising powers. A Brussels source said ministers had effectively told the Parliament to ‘drop dead’. Justine Greening, economic secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘No deal is better than a bad deal for the UK.’" – Daily MailFT (£)

Personal care budgets to be introduced

"Up to a million elderly and disabled people will be provided with personal budgets within the next two years to enable them to choose their own care, the Government announced yesterday. Councils will be expected to expand the take-up of social care budgets tailored to people’s specific needs, as a key part of reforms in England. They will most likely be provided as direct payments, and could range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of pounds." – Times (£)

Coalition in brief:

  • Failing schools: Gove to double the number of superheads, that will be sent into underperforming schools – Independent
  • Skills: Vince Cable considering levies on business to underwrite the cost of training – FT (£)
  • Political correctness: "Theresa May will today scrap a ‘ridiculous’ Harriet Harman equality law dubbed ‘socialism in one clause’. The controversial rule would have forced town halls to take into account inequalities when making policy decisions." – Daily Mail
  • NHS costs: Doctors want action from Cameron against EU rules that are increasing cost of drugs – Express

McLOUGHLIN PATRICK 2 Tory in brief:

  • Rebellions: "To the public, Mr Cameron’s coalition has enjoyed a largely trouble-free first six months. But Patrick McLoughlin, the formidable chief whip and former coalminer, is struggling to impose order. Academic research has shown that out of the first 110 votes in the Commons since the election, there were rebellions by coalition MPs in 59, mainly by Tory members." – FT (£) | Jonathan Isaby's latest statistics on Tory rebellions
  • Cameron's photographer: "David Cameron performed a U-turn yesterday by accepting that two civil servants, including his official photographer, should be paid from Conservative Party rather than public funds." – Independent | Yesterday's ToryDiary

Other politics:

  • Phil Woolas: Former Labour MP's QC tells high court that election court's ruling was flawed and should be overturned – Guardian
  • Population control: Two MSPs give backing to group that wants family size limited to two – Scotsman
  • Devolution: Cardiff complains that it is getting extra responsibilities from London but no extra money – Western Mail

Superb Guardian map of UK, showing concentrations of public sector workers

Screen shot 2010-11-17 at 07.13.11 Click here to view.

Simon Jenkins takes on the LibDem critics of Nick Clegg

"for Clegg's party to accuse him of not delivering in coalition is ridiculous. It knew, like him, the compromises he would have to take to give the party even a smidgen of power. He has brought home the pupil premium and a referendum on constitutional reform. He appears to have been influential on control orders, Trident and student fees. Cameron has had to break pledges on Europe and appears to be doing so on prisons, immigration, health spending and the police. That is the reality of coalition: compromise. You either play or you don't. There is no seat at this table for the chicken-hearted." – Simon Jenkins in The Guardian

Jonathan Freedland: The cuts to legal aid are closing the law to all but those with money

Screen shot 2010-11-17 at 08.46.44 "It doesn't get much more desperate than those who believe they are the victims of a medical mistake. It's not just the grievous suffering; their working lives may be over, through no fault of their own. Yet legal aid is to be denied to them too. They will now have to find a lawyer who will take their case on a "no win, no fee" basis. Naturally, lawyers will cherry-pick only the most certain of dead-cert cases." – Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian

Bankers' bonuses

  • Anti-banker populism is backfiring – Allister Heath in City AM
  • And a different view from Herald Scotland: "This story is not just about bonuses. It is also about sky-high salaries and pension pots and old boy networks otherwise known as remuneration committees. Richard Lambert, the outgoing head of the CBI, recently warned of bankers who seem “arrogant and out of touch” when they should be rebuilding trust. Lessons of the banking crisis remain unlearned."

And finally… Cameron camped on Mall night before Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana

"David Cameron yesterday revealed he slept out on The Mall the night before Charles and Diana's wedding. The PM was 14 when he travelled to London for the big occasion in 1981 with brother Alex, sister Tania and pals. The group arrived at 10am to secure a close-up view – and later camped out on the spot with sleeping bags and flasks of strong tea." – The Sun

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