5.15pm WATCH: Katherine Jenkins sings "Silent Night" for troops on plane

2.30pm Local Government: Happy Christmas from Eric Pickles

2.15pm LISTEN: Tim Farron – "Cable row is a storm in a teacup"

11.00am ThinkTankCentral: David Blunkett and Frank Field join advisory council of the Centre for Social Justice

Screen shot 2010-12-22 at 08.46.55 In ToryDiary

In Comment

Chris Grayling MP: How the Government's Work Programme will tackle long-term worklessness

Robin Simcox: Control order detainee – and darling of the Left – proves he was a terrorist all along

Local Government: Councils ordered less salt than last year

Parliament: Yesterday, yet another dog doesn't bark in the Commons

LeftWatch: At work, Miliband responds to Cable's humiliation…But meanwhile, at home…


The Daily Telegraph entraps three more Liberal Democrat Ministers, setting up a second troubled day for Cameron and Clegg

  • Michael Moore, Scottish Secretary: I couldn't work for Tory politicians like Liam Fox "for very long".  The tuition fees u-turn is the "worst crime a politician can commit, the reason most folk distrust us as a breed".
  • Ed Davey – changes to housing benefit will "put people below the breadline".
  • Steve Webb -  the Liberal Democrats needed to "assert our identity".

Cable is humilated…but not fired…

Screen shot 2010-12-22 at 08.57.27 "Last night the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary had managed to cling on to his Cabinet job but was stripped of a large chunk of his department, losing responsibility for media, TV and telecoms.  The Business Secretary is understood to have offered to resign during crisis talks with a furious Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg." – Daily Mail

"A Downing Street statement made clear Cameron's anger over the secretly recorded comments by the Daily Telegraph. "The prime minister is clear that Mr Cable's comments were totally unacceptable and inappropriate."  In a statement later Cable said: "I fully accept the decision of the prime minister and deputy prime minister. I deeply regret the comments I made and apologise for the embarrassment that I have caused the government." – The Guardian

"A plan to switch Cable with Andrew Mitchell, the Tory international development secretary, was also aborted before it got off the ground; the Liberal Democrats want at least one of their men in a key economic job." – City A.M

…As Conservatives say the Business Secretary should have walked…

Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative chairman of the Public Administration Committee, suggested that Dr Cable may not be suitable for the role: “The comments underline what many of us feel is a similar campaign against the City and the banks which is equally prejudicial and not in the public interest…John Whittingdale, the Tory chairman of the Culture Select Committee, said: “If Vince Cable was a typical member of the coalition, he would not still be in office." – The Times (£)

Cameron punishes Tories, but lets Cable go free. Why is that?  – Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph  

…And Jeremy Hunt steps in to take the BSkyB decision…

HUNT JEREMY OPEN NECKED SHIRT "Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation will have been reassured by the rapid decision to switch responsibility for their proposed takeover of BSkyB from Vince Cable to Jeremy Hunt.  The Culture Secretary has displayed flashes of hostility towards the BBC that chime with the tycoon's belief that the national broadcaster is cosseted at public expense." – The Independent

"The EU yesterday cleared News Corp's £8bn bid to buy the 61% of pay-TV company BSkyB it does not already own, thus making a good day for the company even better.  The media conglomerate, run by Rupert Murdoch, seized on the ruling, claiming it would increase the pressure on the British government to do the same." – The Guardian

'Transferring the power to decide whether News Corp can take full control of British Sky Broadcasting from Vince Cable to Jeremy Hunt will make little difference to the outcome, say analysts and lawyers.  But the hurried manner in which the culture secretary took responsibility from the business secretary for this hot political potato raised questions about what changes to the law might be required as a consequence." – Financial Times (£)

Cameron and Clegg trash Cable…and move closer…

"Outwardly, David Cameron was suitably grim about Cable's remarks during his joint press conference with Nick Clegg. Inwardly, however, the prime minister will have been deeply satisfied. As Mervyn Peake once wrote: "His face remained like a mask. But deep down in his stomach, he grinned."  Cameron would have grasped that the indiscretions had weakened the business secretary's position, at least for the time being. And a damaged Cable is far more useful to Cameron than a dismissed one." – Paul Goodman, The Guardian

"The Deputy Prime Minister went on to say of Mr Cable: “He’s embarrassed and he’s right to be embarrassed.” This did not sound like a ringing endorsement of Mr Cable, and Mr Cameron took the same line about the errant Business Minister: “As Nick said he’s got every reason to be apologetic.”  When Mr Clegg proceeded to assure us that differences within the Coalition are “thrashed out in private”, we could not help suspecting it was Mr Cable who was going to get thrashed." – Andrew Gimson, Daily Telegraph

"At their final news conference of the year yesterday, the Prime Minister and his Lib Dem deputy sparked memories of their gushing first double act.  Snow, ice and austerity may have replaced the sunny optimism of that far-off day.  But their relationship appeared as warm as ever.  They had even shared a cosy meal together in the Prime Minister’s flat the evening before, they confided, dining on a kebab from a local takeaway." – Daily Express

"Pressed on party members talking up the possibility that the two parties would not campaign against each other at the next general election, which the coalition plans will take place in May 2015, Cameron said only that there was a "likelihood" that the Conservatives and the Lib Dems would fight the election as separate entities." – The Guardian

…While The Guardian probes why the Telegraph didn't run its most explosive story

"However, Cable's fighting talk did not make the Daily Telegraph front page report this morning, which appeared under the headline "I could bring the coalition down". Nor was any reference included in a "transcript" of Cable's remarks that appeared on page four.  So incensed was a whistleblower at the Telegraph, that he or she contacted Robert Peston, business editor for BBC News. It was Peston – a former business editor at the Sunday Telegraph – who broke the story at 2.30pm." – The Guardian

Other Cable comment –

  • Tarnished by real politics, Saint Vince is over – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)
  • Cable: vain and flakey – Julian Glover, The Guardian
  • Humiliation for Saint Vince as he loses his halo – The Independent
  • Cable: Strictly Come Duncing – Tom Newton-Dunn, The Sun

Yesterday inToryDiary

Coalition and Political News in Brief

  • UK flood defence cuts leave 5m vulnerable homes 'at risk', says Select Committee – The Guardian
  • Russian diplomat expelled from the UK – Daily Mail
  • Obama speaks with Cameron about Afghanistan, Pakistan – USA Today
  • Salmond defends "compassionate" release of bomber – The Times (£)

Flu: 300 in intensive care after cases double

Lansley2 "More than 300 people are in intensive care with flu in England, Government figures have shown.  It is unclear how many of the 302 patients have swine flu but they are thought to be in the majority.  Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the NHS can cope with an upsurge after the number of critical cases almost doubled in a week.  Professor Dame Sally Davies,  the interim chief medical officer for England, said swine flu was the dominant strain in this year's flu cases." – Sky News

This year's deficit could be worse than expected

"…In November, the government shortfall hit £23.3 billion ($36 billion), an astonishing £6 billion higher than the deficit a year earlier.  So far this year, the government's cumulative deficit is more or less keeping pace with last year's record shortfall. Were the recent trend to continue, this year's deficit will come in at some £155 billion, some £7 billion worse than official projections, according to Jonathan Loynes at Capital Economics, a consultancy." – Wall Street Journal

Osborne hints at rise in bank levy

"George Osborne has hinted at raising the £2.5bn annual levy on banks unless they show restraint on bonuses and increase lending to small and medium-sized companies.  The chancellor told MPs on Tuesday he had tweaked the rate of the levy to ensure it raised the “maximum sustainable amount” from the sector, increasing its yield over the parliament by £400m.  Treasury officials have previously argued that Mr Osborne believed the levy should raise no more than about £2.5bn a year." – Financial Times (£)

Meanwhile, about that deficit… Iain Martin, Wall Street Journal

He's behind you! Osborne and Bryant in pantomine bust-up

"In Treasury questions, former minister Chris Bryant had accused the Chancellor of taking delight in playing the role of “Baron Hard-Up”, the father of Cinderella in the popular pantomime.  Mr Osborne shot back Mr Bryant: “At least I’m not the pantomime dame.”  Labour MPs called on Mr Osborne to withdraw the comment and Mr Bryant shouted that the remark was “homophobic”." – Daily Telegraph

"Arbitrary" spouses ban overruled

"The government's immigration policy suffered a blow when two couples made successful appeals against the ban on young spouses entering the UK . Both couples had married abroad, with one half of each pair returning to the UK alone. They were unable to be reunited in the UK because of the home secretary's ban on non-European under-21s wanting to live with their British partners in this country." – The Guardian

Cut in public-sector pensions 'non-negotiable', David Cameron says

"The Prime Minister used the expression when asked about the switch at a meeting with trade unionists in Downing Street yesterday, according to a union leader who was present…The Government announced in June's emergency Budget that it intended to scrap the link between public sector pensions and the retail price index (RPI) in favour of the consumer prices index (CPI)." – Daily Telegraph

Cameron will float above Clegg's woes

"The latest British Social Attitudes survey, showed a growing distrust of the institutions of market and state, a rediscovered respect for humility and restraint, and a yearning for the small and local.  Witness Downton Abbey, the hit TV drama, with its evocation of Edwardian decency and dignity; or The Do-Gooders, Ian Hislop’s celebration of moral rectitude among Victorian reformers. A tide of cultural conservatism, if not a resurgence of Christian faith, is sweeping up Dover Beach, and the government is riding it." – Danny Kruger, Financial Times (£)

Other Comment

  • This megolomaniac sleazeball embodies the nightmares we face in the anarchic age of the internet – Max Hastings, Daily Mail
  • Union extremists will bring back the bad old days – Stephen Pollard, Daily Express
  • Well played, Mr Gove – Daily Mail Editorial
  • Cold winters amidst global warming – John Redwood's blog

Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson have performed the official switch on of the 2012 Olympic Stadium lights – BBC

Screen shot 2010-12-22 at 05.56.08

Boris Johnson hires team to stop second nights on the streets for rough sleepers

"Rough sleepers will be rescued from spending more than one night on London's streets under a scheme set up by Boris Johnson today.  A 24-hour team will target people sleeping in doorways, on park benches and under arches in a bid to prevent long-term homelessness.  They will help rough sleepers to consider their options — including returning to their home towns if there is no risk." – Evening Standard

Boris Johnson under fire over advertising deal with 'legal loan sharks' – The Guardian

Congestion Charge: A failure of arithmetic – Andrew Gilligan, Daily Telegraph

And finally…Gene Hunt: Cameron nicked my policing ideas to help win election

"DCI Hunt – actor Philip Glenister, 47 – met the Tory leader at an awards bash in July last year.  Philip said: "He asked, 'When you speak to the police do you get much feedback?' I said, 'Basically, they get too much paperwork. They want to be out catching the crims. That's why Gene Hunt's so popular with them.'  "He went, 'Absolutely, of course'. Six months later he's on radio saying exactly what I said. B*****d nicked my line!" – The Sun


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