6.30pm WATCH: Tommy Sheridan's solicitor reads his statement, and Gail Sheridan speaks, in the aftermath of his conviction for perjury

3.30pm ToryDiary: Cable won't sue, but will Parliament act?

2.30pm WATCH: William Hague's Christmas message

Noon LeftWatch: Bad news for Miliband, worse news for Johnson and good news for Balls in Labour List's monthly poll

10.15am WATCH: The 'Yes to AV' campaign's upbeat end-of-year video

LETWIN OLIVER 2 ToryDiary: The Conservative-Liberal Democrat relationship? We're united by "deep bonds of trust", Oliver Letwin tells the Guardian

Comment: Robert Leitch: There is no shame in loyally supporting the Government through thick and thin

Local Government: Ken's running mate and the tube strikes

ThinkTankCentral: Policy Exchange calls for universities to share services, help students and cut costs

WATCH: Northern England becomes a winter wonderland

Chris Chope says the Conservatives shouldn't prop up the Liberal Democrats

Mr Chope told the BBC's The World At One…'When we get into the new year, the Prime Minister will have to assess whether propping up the Liberal Democrats is in the long-term best interests of the Conservative Party and the country.  'Sometimes it can be more damaging to hang on to somebody, because it's a sign of weakness, rather than take the robust line and say the man's got to go.' – Daily Mail

The Liberal Democrats shouldn't prop up the Conservatives, blogs  Adrian Sanders MP

Shrunken Cable is lame duck

"Some business figures are already privately expressing concerns that Mr Cable may now be a “lame duck” business secretary.  Jon Moulton, the venture capitalist who founded Better Capital, said Mr Cable was “in the wrong place”. “Vince is basically very bright and knowledgeable about the facts and structures. The bit about actions is something he finds a bit tricky,” he said. “So far he’s done very little. The actions have been slight.” – Financial Times (£)

"Cowardly Vince Cable sent his wife to face the music yesterday as Tory MPs hit out at the decision to let him keep his job.  Dr Cable – who will appear in Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Day special – was keen to dodge the spotlight….His wife Rachel…spoke to the media as Dr Cable skulked inside their home in Twickenham.   She said: "He's working from home. He's going to do exactly what's in his diary for the rest of the day. He has not anything further to say at the moment." – The Sun

Cabinet Secretary vets Hunt appointment…

HUNT JEREMY OPEN NECKED SHIRT "The Prime Minister approved the decision to transfer responsibility for the BSkyB takeover to Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, only after the Cabinet Office had taken legal advice.  As David Cameron and Nick Clegg decided the fate of Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, after he admitted “declaring war” on Rupert Murdoch, Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, was ensuring that there was no “legal impediment” to handing the role to Mr Hunt." – The Times (£)

Conservative links to Murdoch under scrutiny as private meeting revealed – The Guardian

…As Miliband's new media team goes on the attack

"Mr Miliband said Mr Cable was only kept in his Business Secretary post “as a prop” for the Tory Prime Minister…[He] said that the Lib Dem ministers’ complaints about government policy was proof that the smaller party was powerless." – Daily Telegraph

Baldwin's blizzard – Guido Fawkes

Labour step on to the front foot – Peter Hoskin – Coffee House

The Financial Times attacks the Daily Telegraph

"But Mr Cable’s less than earth-shaking revelations do not justify breaching the assumptions of confidentiality that govern an MP’s conversations with constituents.  The Telegraph can scarcely claim to be inspired by public spirit. It neglected to publish the one revelation of any moment – the comments about Mr Murdoch – perhaps because it feared publication might make the Sky merger more likely." – Financial Times (£)

"Within the coalition, it is the responsibility of Lib Dems to fight for their own values and policies in the cabinet – as Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have consistently done – and in parliamentary questions and debate, but not to wreck it. Why? Because given the scale of the financial crisis, there must be a strong majority government. No other option currently exists." – Shirley Williams, The Guardian

Other Cable comment –

  • Naive, vain and unfit for high office – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Cable's rise was exaggerated.  So too has been his demise – Steve Richards, The Independent
  • Vince Cable and co have to fight their corner – or walk away – John Kampfner, The Guardian
  • What we knew about Cable, uncovered – John Lloyd, Financial Times (£)

Yesterday in ToryDiary

No Conservatives yet, but more Liberal Democrats on the Telegraph's latest tapes

  • Screen shot 2010-12-23 at 09.06.54 David Heath: George Osborne can "get up one's nose"
  • Paul Burstow: "I don't want you to trust David Cameron."
  • Norman Baker: "There are Tories who are beyond the pale." – Daily Telegraph

Other Coalition and Political News in Brief

  • Bank dilemma as prices gain pace – Financial Times (£)
  • Police told royal squad not to drive Prince Charles and Camilla on riot route after sergeant warned of 200-strong baying mob – Daily Mail
  • Michael Gove offers to make a joint visit to Andy Burnham's old school with the Shadow Education Secretary – The Independent
  • Prince Charles and David Cameron visit injured troops – Downing Street website
  • Tenth MPs' expenses file passed to CPS – The Times (£)
  • Tommy Sheridan verdict expected today – BBC
  • Boris Johnson gives backing to Battersea Power Station development – Daily Telegraph

NHS Direct "at breaking point"

"The NHS Direct helpline is at ‘breaking point’ as parts of Britain experience the worst flu outbreak in a decade.  Patients calling the service are being forced to wait up to two days before they can speak to a nurse, and managers have launched an emergency recruitment drive.  GPs in the worst-affected areas are being paid up to £188 an hour to work over Christmas and help deal with soaring numbers of cases." – Daily Mail

Osborne misses regulation reform deadline

"George Osborne has missed his self-imposed deadline for shaking up Britain’s economic and financial regulation.  The Treasury promised in June to establish an interim financial policy committee in the Bank of England this autumn and appoint external members to it. But officials will now say only that the body will be established “soon”.  The delay in setting up the interim FPC is doubly embarrassing for the chancellor." – Financial Times (£)

Where did Labour's £1bn foreign aid go? There are no proper records, says scathing report

"Labour spent £1billion of taxpayers’ money on foreign aid to African and Asian schools without even monitoring whether it provided value, a damning report has found.  The Department for International Development failed to measure if the huge cash investment has made any difference to school attendance rates in the poorest nations…MPs on the influential Public Accounts Committee have now given the department a year to reform." – Daily Mail

John Redwood isn't happy with High Speed Two

John Redwood 2 "If we adapted the current rail network to more efficent operation for commuters, we could run more trains on existing track through improved signalling and lighter trains, increasing frequency and reducing overcrowding.  If we spent some money on providing branch and spur lines into the main trading and industrial parks, and the railway spent more on single waggon marshalling, they could offer a serious freight alternative to many more businesses. These might be better priorities than this expensive and contentious new track." – John Redwood's Blog

Other Comment

  • Why, seven months on, don't we know about David Laws? – Matthew Parris, The Times (£)
  • David Cameron didn't want an easy life, and he isn't getting one – Benedict Brogan, Daily Telegraph
  • Chairman Mao and the Coalition's lunatic fixation with change – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • In defence of MPs and, yes, even bankers too – Anne Widdecombe, Daily Express

Clegg despondent in Oldham…

Mr Clegg said the by-election would not be a verdict on the coalition’s record, in remarks that suggest his Liberal Democrats are braced for defeat.  “By-elections tell you a lot of things about how people feel in the local area,” he said. “Sometimes people read too much into by-elections, sometimes they read too little.”

…While Kashif Ali signs clean campaign pledge

Screen shot 2010-12-23 at 09.04.09
"…The Conservative candidate, has signed a “clean campaign” pledge and challenged his rivals to do the same. They include Nick Griffin, leader of the far-right BNP. “Signing this pledge will allow us to focus the debate on what really matters to people – issues of policy – rather than on unhelpful smears and personality politics,” said Mr Ali. – Financial Times

"Who is going break the news to David Cameron? The Conservative party’s chairman Baroness Warsi has been caught campaigning for the Tory candidate in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election. This picture proves it (hat-tip Tim Montgomerie). Warsi’s activities appear to be in direct contravention of the latest orders from Cameroon central." – Iain Martin, Wall Street Journal

And finally…The Daily Mail suggests that David Cameron is going bald…and that Ed Miliband is dyeing his hair (in the wake of Mark Wallace's story yesterday)

Screen shot 2010-12-23 at 06.33.53 "Labour leader Ed Miliband's barber also appears to have been busy as his distinctive tuft of white hair appeared to have miraculously disappeared at a conference yesterday…the 40-year-old's complexion also looked remarkably smooth under the harsh glare of lights at Labour HQ.  A spokesman denied he had used hair dye, but added the hair had been cut. ‘I have spent the last ten minutes checking … the grey is still there.’ " – Daily Mail

Has Ed been hitting the hair dye bottle? – Crash Bang Walllace


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