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10.00pm A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OUR READERS

2.15pm Paul Goodman on Comment: Update – Dominic Grieve's "concerns" about Yeates murder inquiry media coverage

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2.45pm WATCH: Boris Johnson's New Year message for 2011 – "We've got the royal wedding – unfortunately, not taking place here in City Hall: a cutprice location, I thought, but never mind, they're going somewhere else."

12.45pm Paul Goodman on Comment: According to the media, the posh, solitary, oddball loner only child who's never married, pronounces words idiosyncratically, loves poetry, shows no interest in cars or sports, and has campaigned for a gun range and the prayer book "obviously did it"

10.00am WATCH: ‪David Cameron: 2011 will be a difficult year‬

ToryDiary: Newcomer of 2010

George Turner on Comment: Teenagers must be better educated about alcohol and the problems it can cause

Local Government:

Gazette: Peter Bottomley knighted in New Year Honours

WATCH: Lansley defends flu advert timing

Health Secretary accused of U-turn as he orders £1m flu adverts

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"The Health Secretary was accused of making a dramatic U-turn on flu yesterday as he ordered a national advertising campaign after 12 more people died from swine flu over Christmas.  As the severity of this year’s outbreak continues to worsen, the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, asked experts to assess the current vaccination programme…There are now 738 people in critical care beds with flu, almost double last week’s figure of 460, itself more than double that of the previous week." – The Times (£)

…And a Conservative MP warns that he should change course on NHS reform

"It is one thing to attempt such a root-and-branch reform in a time of plenty, it is another when you are also trying to save over £15bn just to keep pace with demographic changes, new treatments and rising expectations on a near flatline budget.  Andrew Lansley…should not be afraid to listen to patients and professionals and review further aspects of his proposals. Changing the plan from central to local commissioning of maternity services was welcomed rather than derided as a handbrake turn." – Sarah Wollaston MP, The Guardian

Speed of NHS reform means Andrew Lansley has faced a bumpy ride – The Guardian

Paterson makes systems and tanker offer over Ulster water crisis

"Owen Paterson has pledged the coalition's support but the issue of domestic water charging, opposed by most of the local parties, could be revisited.  Mr Paterson told Sky News he had "made it quite clear" to Northern Ireland ministers that "the British Government is ready to help in any way it can". As well as supplying extra tankers, he said the British Government could also help with information systems… and Defra has experience in crisis management." – Belfast Telegraph

"Owen Paterson said Northern Ireland's infrastructure had suffered over the years and that changes were now needed.  "What will be looked at here is the difference in the way that water is paid for in the rest of the UK and the way it is paid for in Northern Ireland, where it is just an element of the rates," he said.  "I think what is clear is that the events of the last week or so will bring this to a head. It is a major issue that has to be resolved." – BBC

The BBC should be more critical of Northern Ireland's nationalised water provision – John Redwood's Blog

Hague condemns Khodorkovsky sentence

William Hague serious square Mr Hague, the foreign secretary, said: “I am deeply concerned by the implications of this case concerning Mikhail Khodorkovsky for confidence in how the law is applied in Russia.  The UK calls on Russia to respect the principles of justice and apply the rule of law in a non-discriminatory and proportional way. In the absence of this the UK and much of the international community will regard such a trial as a retrograde step”." – Daily Telegraph

Quotas not the way to get more women in the boardroom, says Mervyn Davies

"The question of quotas is one that I will be considering carefully before making my recommendations this February. Quotas have proved successful in some countries, but many of the women I have spoken with are against these. I have not ruled them out as a recommendation, but at the moment I am not convinced that they are the right method to encourage progress.  Female executives need to be recognised for the talent and skills that they possess." – Lord Davies, The Guardian

Shapps warns on mortgage regulation

"New rules to clamp down on irresponsible mortgage lending must not be drawn so tight as to shut thousands of buyers out of the market and deepen the house price recession, the housing minister is to tell the City watchdog.  Grant Shapps will use a meeting next week with Hector Sants, head of the Financial Services Authority, to urge that its review of lending practices not be so severe as to exacerbate an already difficult situation for would-be homebuyers." – Financial Times

UK's foreign aid strategy puts focus on safe abortion and contraception

"The coalition government will put contraception and safe abortion at the heart of its efforts to help save women's lives in poor countries, it says today.  Two documents set out plans for international development, which has a ringfenced budget. One focuses on the fight against malaria to which the chancellor, George Osborne, is personally committed. The other envisages increasing efforts to save the lives of women in childbirth and their babies." – The Guardian

Coalition and Political News in Brief

  • Diesel to hit £1.32 a litre, say the AA – The Sun
  • Newly-knighted CBI head warns of new year political crisis – The Times (£)
  • London commuters to face "staggering" new year fare rises – BBC
  • Eurozone "has 80% chance of losing the single currency in next decade," claims CEBR – Daily Mail
  • Faith groups will not fill gaps left by spending cuts, warns Anglican bishop – The Guardian

The Prime Minister's new year message: 2011 will be a year of "heavy lifting"

CAMERON-PENSIVE"The government's spending cuts are necessary and not driven by ideological zeal, Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted in his new year message.  He said the economy was now out of the danger zone but warned of much "heavy lifting ahead" in 2011.  Ministers accepted the planned spending cuts were tough, but indecision and delay would be unacceptable, he added.  Mr Cameron said: "We have a credible plan for restoring confidence in our economy, but we have to see it through."  – BBC

"[The Prime Minister] also suggests that Britain faces fundamental questions about why young Muslims continue to be drawn into violent extremism. The Islamic community must help address how their minds are "poisoned", he says. Mr Cameron's stark message comes amid a prolonged row between Coalition ministers over anti-terrorism laws, with the Liberal Democrats pressing for some of Labour's contentious security measures to be watered down." – Daily Telegraph

Scots face a generation of London's cuts, claims Salmond – The Times (£)

Cameron faced with the most rebellious Commons since 1945

"Government MPs are rebelling against their parties' policies on a scale not seen since 1945, new research for The Independent has revealed. During the Coalition's first seven months, dozens of Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs – including many elected for the first time in May – have repeatedly defied House of Commons whips to vote against the Government.  The research, conducted by Professor Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart of Nottingham University, found Government MPs rebelled in 84 of the 160 Commons votes between May and 20 December when Parliament rose for the three-week Christmas break. They say the 53 per cent rebellion rate is "without parallel in the post-war era". – The Independent

"Big Society" theme to New Year Honours

"The Cabinet Office yesterday tried to portray the list as a boost for the Big Society, with numerous awards going to philanthropists and volunteers…A Cabinet Office spokesman said that 74 per cent of the awards had been given to “local heroes” involved in charity, volunteering or philanthropy…The spokesman disclosed that the Prime Minister had made a strategic decision to honour philanthropists and told Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, to make that clear." – The Times (£)

"Roger Carr, who as chairman of Cadbury failed to prevent its takeover by US food group Kraft a year ago, will on Friday be knighted in the New Year’s honours list.  Sir Roger’s knighthood is likely to court controversy given that he is also the generously paid chairman of Centrica, parent company of British Gas, which is under perennial public pressure over high utility prices. He was widely criticised for the sale of Cadbury…despite having led a vigorous fight to keep the business listed on the London Stock Exchange." – Financial Times (£)

Online viewers prosecuted for not paying TV licence

"According to TV Licensing, a licence is required to watch television “as it’s being broadcast” – even if the viewer is using a computer, laptop or mobile phone.  However no licence is required for viewers who are only using “catch-up” services online to watch programmes that have already been broadcast…[But] in response to questions from the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee, BBC management has now said that prosecutions for online viewing have already started." – Daily Telegraph

Why the Middle East is about to split the Coalition wide open

Screen shot 2010-12-31 at 09.06.42 "A much tougher and more practical set of measures was set out three weeks ago in an open letter to the European Commission from a group of former EU bigwigs, including Chris Patten…Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems would be very happy indeed to back strong measures like these, and it will not be long before they start to call for them openly. It may not be on many people’s radar, but Middle East policy has the potential to split the Coalition wide open." – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

Lieberman's war with Netanyahu – Donald Macintyre, The Independent

Other Comment

  • Coalition's in for a rough ride over higher fuel prices – Ross Clark, Daily Express
  • What Harold Macmillan could teach David Cameron – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • Here we go again, another day of shame – Richard Littlejohn, Daily Mail
  • Sweep away the bonuses? It's not that simple – Philip Collins, The Times

Chris Mullin's advice to Miliband: stop navel-gazing

"Which brings me to my next point. I am getting a little concerned with all this talk of blank sheets and fresh ideas. We can’t afford to spend too much time apologising and navel-gazing…and talking of fatuous slogans, can you please stop going about the squeezed middle? I wince every time I hear the words fall from your lips." – The Times (£)

And finally…Peter Mandelson is banned from lobbying for two years

"Peter Mandelson has been barred from lobbying ministers and civil servants for two years – amid fears he could exploit his former government contacts for private gain.  The former Labour business secretary has been told he must not attempt to influence decision-makers in Whitehall on behalf of the foreign billionaires and wealthy corporations expected to employ the services of his new ‘global consultancy’." – Daily Mail

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