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Merry 12.30pm MERRY CHRISTMAS!

12.15pm Andrew Lilico on Comment seeks to define Conservatism: "There is a fairly well-defined set of traditional mainstream Conservative doctrines.  And with Whiggish ideas having come to dominate Conservative thinking in the 1990s and 2000s, it is unsurprising that most Party members, most right-leaning think-tankers, and most new MPs are Whiggish in outlook.  That doesn’t mean that the liberal Conservatives are wrong.  But it does mean that the mainstream Conservative alternative clearly represents a set of well-formulated traditional ideas of the Party."

11.30am WATCH: Political Scrapbook marks the demise of a number of political blogs over the last year

10.15am Martin Sewell in Comment: Congratulations to the BBC for finally recognising that most Britons hold an attachment to Christianity

BALLOT BOX 1ToryDiary: The Cabinet discussed last week how to help the Lib Dems win in Oldham East and Saddleworth

Seats and Candidates: Ten candidates will contest the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election (but no Nick Griffin)

Peter Bone MP on Comment: What we can learn from the Philippines about how to tackle human trafficking

Local Government:

WATCH: Anti-cuts protester throws himself from a balcony onto the floor of the Romanian Parliament

The Telegraph concludes its sting operation against Lib Dem MPs by entrapping Jeremy Browne…

Jeremy Browne "Tory immigration policy is "driven by uncharitable instincts" and the party's political allies in Europe are "an embarrassment", the Liberal Democrat Foreign Office minister has said. Jeremy Browne described some of the Conservatives' partners in the European Parliament as "nutty". He said foreign diplomats were delighted that the Lib Dems had ensured the Government was "far more amenable and civilised" towards the European Union than a Tory administration." – Daily Telegraph

…as Vince Cable attacks the paper for its subterfuge

Vince Cable 2010 "Twickenham MP Vince Cable has hit back over the newspaper sting which left him clinging to his Cabinet job, saying that it undermined the work of MPs.In his first public comments since the story broke, he used an interview with his local paper, the Richmond and Twickenham Times, to express his anger at the way The Daily Telegraph obtained the story using undercover reporters posing as constituents. He said: "Thousands and thousands of constituents have been to see me, often on very difficult and highly confidential issues which have been respected by me and by them. Then somebody who isn't a constituent falsifies their name and address and comes in with a hidden microphone – it completely undermines the whole basis on which you operate as a local MP." – Press Association

  • Nick Clegg aides admit he's irritated by moaning ministers – The Guardian
  • How long before the Business Secretary is stuffed? – Jeff Randall in the Daily Telegraph
  • Vince’s private words are not his public deeds – Philip Collins in The Times (£)
  • The perfect job for Mr Cable – Bruce Anderson in the FT (£)

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Cable won't sue, but will Parliament act?

> Wednesday's ToryDiary: The Telegraph has serious questions to answer about its sting operation against government ministers

Peter Lilley adds his voice to calls for extending the Coalition

Peter Lilley Commons "Yesterday Peter Lilley, the former Cabinet minister and a right-wing Eurosceptic, became the latest Tory to suggest the Coalition could be extended beyond 2015. He told BBC Radio 4: “I can conceive that we might fight [the next election] as a coalition. I think the process of being in government had produced a degree of realism, on the part of a lot of the Liberals that will make them better partners in future than they were a prospective partners when this Coalition started?.We might find even people on my wing of the party will say perhaps better have them in bed with us than fighting us in the election.” – The Independent

Downing Street policy team reorganised along similar lines to Blair

"David Cameron is reorganising the Downing Street policy unit along similar lines to Tony Blair's operation, as coalition ministers and officials seek to sharpen the government's performance. A series of advisers on key policy areas are being appointed, after the prime minister expressed frustration that the post-election structure meant No 10 was failing to keep abreast of thinking in individual government departments." – The Guardian

Cameron speaks of his anguish over the rights and wrongs of the conflict in Afghanistan

"In an interview with the British Forces Broadcasting Service, Mr Cameron said: "It is the biggest concern and worry I have. It's the most important part of my job. Every time you think of what they're doing in Afghanistan, every time you sit down and write a letter to a grieving wife or father or mother or partner, you think really hard – is what we're doing right? Can we succeed? Is it worth the sacrifice that we're making? My answer is 'Yes, it is,' because Afghanistan was the cradle of terrorism. I think very carefully about it but I do think what we're doing is right." – The Sun

  • British Forces in Helmand face new threat from Iran – The Times (£)

Coalition ministers consider gay marriage plans

GAYimage "New laws giving full marriage rights to gay couples could be introduced under reforms being considered by the Coalition, The Daily Telegraph has learned. Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister, is expected to announce that same-sex civil partnership ceremonies will be allowed in churches and other religious settings for the first time." – Daily Telegraph

Record public borrowing is costing Britain £150m a day

"The coalition’s austerity plans suffered a pre-Christmas setback as government borrowing soared to a record high last month. Public sector borrowing surged to an unprecedented £23 billion as modest rises in tax revenues failed to offset a leap in spending, and interest payments on the national debt rose by 50 per cent to hit a record £4.5 billion — or £150 million a day." – The Times (£)

500 abusive pupils were excluded a day under Labour

Traditional Teacher "Statistics released by the Conservative Party show that during the 2008/9 school year, an average of four pupils were expelled in each day for physically assaulting a teacher or other adult in the classroom… Lord Hill, the Schools Minister, said: "These figures shine a light on Labour’s education legacy. Labour left our teachers without the support they needed to tackle bad behaviour in our schools for over a decade. These figures reinforce a deeply worrying picture of a teaching profession under fire and powerless to impose the discipline our classrooms need. That’s why our White Paper set out a range of measures to empower teachers to deal with bad behaviour and establish strong discipline in the classroom.” – Daily Telegraph

Poll blow to Cameron’s vision of "Big Society"

"Britons are far more reluctant to give up their time to help deliver public services than their US and European counterparts, an FT/Harris poll shows, dealing a fresh blow to David Cameron’s vision of a “Big Society”. – FT (£)

Other political news in brief:

  • The Coalition's year in review – The Independent
  • Bankers could be let off £7 billion bonus crackdown – Daily Mail
  • Ministers accused of trying to silence children’s charities – The Times (£)
  • Scathing report exposes DfiD's failure to record how it spends it money – Daily Mail
  • Labour MP Andy Slaughter forced to pay back cost of parliamentary stationery he used for political campaigning – Daily Telegraph
  • Plaid Cymru accuses Government of failing to apply Barnett formula to Wales properly – Western Mail
  • Voters say MEPS are overpaid – Daily Express

Other comment:

  • Cameron’s masterly inaction is putting us back on course – Peter Oborne in the Daily Telegraph
  • Vince Cable's debacle is a clause IV opportunity for David Cameron – Martin Kettle in The Guardian
  • Blair’s brave new world is falling to pieces – Ian Birrell in The Times (£)

Ex-Scottish Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan convicted of perjury

"A disgraced but defiant Tommy Sheridan is facing years in jail and possible financial ruin after being convicted in a dramatic end to his perjury trial." – The Scotsman

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

Queen to urge nation to be more sporty in Christmas message

"The Queen will pay tribute to the sporting life tomorrow in an upbeat Christmas Day message aimed at recharging the nation’s batteries. Barely a year away from the London 2012 Olympics, Her Majesty will focus on the positive aspects of playing games and taking exercise." – Daily Express

And finally… Vince Cable dons Santa outfit for Strictly Come Dancing appearance

Picture 1 “Going on Strictly was really quite scary,” he confesses. “You know if you break down you risk making a fool of yourself. I was extremely nervous beforehand. The atmosphere, band and flashing lights are quite extraordinary. Even if you have been in the House of Commons at Prime Minister’s Questions, it is still quite a challenge remembering the basic technique and keeping it all together. Strictly really is hard. The day before we recorded the show was particularly awful and it was at that point I started to ask the question 'why am I doing this?’ Erin, who is a great teacher, and I were having our final practice run-through and I completely blanked. I lost it and I didn’t really sleep that night. It was abject terror of it happening again on the day itself.” – Cable speaking (on the record) to the Daily Telegraph

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24 comments for: Weblinks for Christmas Eve 2010

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