5pm WATCH: 'Last Christmas' video mocks 'Pinocchio Clegg'

3.45pm ToryDiary: The biggest fifty cash donors to the Conservative Party over the last ten years

11.15am LISTEN: Jonathan Isaby spars with George Galloway over giving prisoners the vote on his TalkSport show

ToryDiary: Mainstream Conservatism v Liberal Conservatism? Or Coalition Conservatism v Majority Conservatism?

Hague On Sky Seats and candidates: Hague, Pickles, Fox and Mitchell all pledge to visit Oldham East and Saddleworth… but is it already too late?

John Stevenson MP on Comment: Elected executive mayors will bring accountability, a mandate, and an effective figurehead to local authorities – and their time is dawning

Also on Comment: Dan Hamilton: After years of vote rigging and human rights abuses, it’s time to get tough with Lukashenko's Belarus

Local government: Mark Wallace says Court closures? Let the people decide

Parliament: Who are the least rebellious Tory MPs?

Hammond faces questions over snow response


"Millions of motorists face chaos over the Christmas getaway because councils have been forced to ration grit" – Express

"The AA reported a critical shortage of gritters and snowploughs even on arterial routes, despite Government claims after the last debacle that grit supplies had been boosted. Transport minister Philip Hammond is now consulting the chief scientific officer over whether Britain’s weather is ‘undergoing a step-change’. The answer Mr Hammond is, of course, no. It’s winter. In winter it sometimes snows. Heavily. Just deal with it!" – Daily Mail leader

Jim Pickard at the FT on what Hammond can learn from Boris in defending himself.

Philip Hammond to reveal preferred route for the high-speed rail line from London to Birmingham

Hammond Philip on Newsnight "The line, featuring 250mph trains, will pass through Tory heartlands in picturesque parts of the Home Counties and south Midlands. Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said on Sunday that the route had been altered to deal with serious concerns about its impact on local communities and the countryside." – Express

Railways enthusiast Christian Wolmar questions economic and environmental case for HS2 in The Times (£) | Also see his personal website

Cable and Osborne to meet bank chiefs in bid to limit bonus paymentsBBC | Video

The Telegraph has been consisently worried about the Coalition's approach to the City and raises fresh concerns today: "The political rationale for this anti-bank hostility is, it seems, that it allows the Lib-Dem element in the Coalition to burnish their "radical" credentials after the pasting they took for abandoning the pre-election pledge on university tuition fees. If true, this is both immature and counterproductive. Confidence is everything in financial services, and the aggressive tone adopted by Mr Cable and other senior Liberal Democrats threatens to undermine it. Banks will simply base their operations elsewhere. There are already concerns about HSBC's future here, and Standard Chartered has revealed that of the 7,000 new staff it has hired globally this year, not one has been taken on in this country."

Cameron to meet union leaders at 10 Downing Street today

6a00d83451b31c69e2013488758bc6970c-200wi "David Cameron will stage an historic showdown with union chiefs in Downing Street today – the first such meeting between a Tory Prime Minister and the TUC in 25 years. The leaders of the biggest unions in Britain, with TUC general secretary Brendan Barber have been invited to attend. The meeting is set to feature tough talk about the Government’s cuts programme to rein in the deficit, which union bosses say will cost 500,000 public sector jobs." – Daily Mail

…but is it too late? Unite general secretary Len McCluskey vows to work with students to fight government's austerity agenda – Guardian

Even The Guardian despairs at McCluskey: "Like a true Bourbon, he sadly sounds as if he stopped thinking in 1979."

> ConservativeHome has sought an emergency overhaul of union laws

Andrew Pierce: Tories have £15m for new party HQ

"David Cameron is staying true to Margaret Thatcher’s vision of a property-owning democracy. He wants the Tories to buy a new HQ. The party is using a little-known property company, C&UCO Properties, to handle the purchase. Joint Tory Party chairman Andrew Feldman, Cameron’s university chum whom he elevated to the House of Lords last month, is on the board." – Daily Mail

Home Affairs Committee wants simpler gun lawsBBC

"Criminals who receive suspended jail terms should be stripped of any gun licences they hold, MPs have said, as they try to tighten up the “complex and confused” firearms laws." – Times (£)

There are now 22 openly gay MPs

"Deputy Commons Speaker Nigel Evans revealed yesterday that he decided to admit publicly he is homosexual after a Labour MP threatened to ‘out’ him. The Tory MP, who is from Swansea, said it was hard enough growing up in Wales as a Conservative, ‘let alone being gay’… His decision to declare his homosexuality, revealed on Saturday by the Daily Mail, means there are now 22 openly gay MPs." – Daily Mail

If you want to know what the weather is going to be like, ask Piers Corbyn not the Met

JOHNSON BORIS 8 Boris Johnson uses his Telegraph column to wonder if Mr Morgan's study of the sun is the answer to weather and climate: "The question is whether anthropogenic global warming is the exclusive or dominant fact that determines our climate, or whether Corbyn is also right to insist on the role of the Sun. Is it possible that everything we do is dwarfed by the moods of the star that gives life to the world?"

Outgoing Marks & Spencer chief Stuart Rose has been offered a job working on David Cameron’s “happiness index”City AM

Miliband doesn't need a clear vision… yet, says KinnockDaily Mail

Will Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain tolerate a decade of austerity to stay in a union with Germany?

"Lest we forget, Germany put up an estimated €1,600bn in net transfer payments over a period of 20 years after unification, according to one estimate. If there is one country that knows about the difficulties of real adjustment, it must be Germany. German policymakers know better than others that real adjustment in a monetary union requires large-scale fiscal transfers." – Wolfgang Münchau in the FT (£)

Anthony Howard RIP

Anthony_Howard "Anthony Howard, the former editor of the New Statesman, has died at the age of 76… The political journalist was considered one of the best of his generation, having worked in a variety of positions across Fleet Street since 1960. Donald Trelford, the former editor of The Observer, who worked alongside Mr Howard during the 1980s, said: "Tony had a prodigious memory for political anecdotes which stood him in good stead in later years as a book reviewer. He was an excellent editor of the New Statesman and The Listener and, if the timing of his career had been more fortunate, he should have edited a national newspaper." – Telegraph | New Statesman

And finally… Berlusconi bans lesbian ad

"A Renault advert that features a sizzling all-female bedroom encounter has been banned by Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi’s TV channel. The advert is for a Renault Twingo, but you won’t find much out about the car from watching the advert, which has proved to be something of a YouTube hit, with over 200,000 views so far… TV RAI and Berlusconi’s Mediaset empire have deemed it too saucy to broadcast." – Metro | The advert on YouTube


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