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6.15pm WATCH: Chris Huhne backs Nick Clegg to be Lib Dem leader at next election

4.15pm LeftWatch: Seven steps to a Lib Dem recovery…

10.15am ToryDiary: John Major says Labour attacks on Coalition make his blood boil

Screen shot 2010-12-12 at 09.09.54ToryDiary: Tory members want an elected Party Chairman

Martin Joyce on Platform: How to reform the system of "social housing" which traps people in poverty, reduces mobilit and kills aspiration

Local government: Councils are to be given strong new powers to tackle unauthorised development by travellers

ThinkTankCentral: Significant reductions in prison populations tend to be associated with spikes in crime rates

6a00d83451b31c69e20147e097274e970b-500wiParliament: Tory MPs line up to save the Great British Pub

Lib Dems set to lose half their votersThe Sunday Telegraph | Yesterday's ToryDiary

ASHCROFT Michael "The fact that the coalition decision cost the Lib Dems support does not mean it was wrong, even in partisan terms – though only 49% of their voters thought the decision was right, only 21% thought the party should have formed a coalition with Labour instead, and 30% thought they should have stayed in opposition. Propping up a defeated Labour Party would have provoked fury, and turning down the chance of government would have meant that millions really did waste their votes, cementing the perception that they were not a serious party. Even many Lib Dem voters who do not much like the current government concede that the party was right to join it." – Lord Ashcroft in The Sunday Telegraph

The embattled Liberal Democrats

"There are key battles to be won on restoring civil liberties and modernising Britain's constitution, reforming the voting system and the House of Lords. Meanwhile, a Conservative backlash is brewing against plans drawn up by Ken Clarke for a more enlightened prison policy. The Lib Dems should be reinforcing the Tory justice secretary's position. Next year, the Lib Dems must lobby more effectively for budget changes that clearly benefit the many not the few." – Observer leader

"This looks very much like the end of the Liberal Democrats as a political force. The easiest thing to write after last week's dramas would be: don't write off Clegg. But I don't see it. All I see is a party broken by that vote. Only eight backbenchers voted with the Government. One of them was David Laws. Another was Sir Alan Beith. Proportionately, it was a far bigger rebellion than Labour's over Iraq." – John Rentoul in the Independent on Sunday

Rawnsley Andrew "The growing and very evident disparity in the fortunes of the two parties ought to worry David Cameron almost as much as it must Nick Clegg. The coalition will become an increasingly unstable vehicle so long as the greatest load is bearing down on the more fragile axle. David Cameron cannot expect the junior partner in the arrangement to carry on doing most of the heavy lifting – not if the Tory leader truly wants the coalition to go the distance." – Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer

  • Former head of Lib Dem policy urges his party to embrace Ed Miliband – Observer

Poorest pupils in England will get an extra £430 spent on them under pupil premium scheme

"The pupil premium has long been a flagship Liberal Democrat policy and it was already known that £2.5bn would be given to schools through the scheme by 2014/15. However, the cost to the government in 2011/12 – £625m – has been announced for the first time. Schools will be allowed to choose exactly how the extra money should be used and it is hoped the scheme will also act as a financial incentive to encourage successful schools to take in poorer children." – BBC | Independent on Sunday

Tory MPs angry at having to vote for laws they detest while Lib Dem MPs can abstain

"The ceding of a series of major powers to Europe, the increasing of international aid, the decision to have a referendum on voting reform, the redrawing of constituency boundaries – all had been eating away at Tory backbenchers for months. Worse than that, their concerns had been repeatedly brushed aside by Mr Cameron. Forced into the division lobbies to back a European foreign ministry and increased EU budget, they felt enough was enough." – The Sunday Telegraph

Do we jail too few people?

Prison_bars "No: over 2,500 people with 50 or more cautions or convictions avoided jail last year, and 385 offenders who had been collared at least 100 times were not sent to jail in 2009. The message to the streets? Crime doesn’t have consequences." – Tim Montgomerie in The Sunday Telegraph | Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday

In The Sunday Times (£) Dominic Lawson says Ken Clarke is not being straight about the price of prison: "To this end, he says over and over that it “costs on average £45,000 a year” to keep a person in prison. No matter how many times he repeats this, it doesn’t make it true. The latest reports and accounts of the Prison Service show that the average annual cost of a prison place is £29,561. The average cost of a category C prisoner (presumably those lower-risk offenders whom Clarke wishes to spare incarceration) is £23,471 — barely more than half the figure bandied about by the man responsible for the whole business."

David Cameron may have to sack Ken Clarke – James Forsyth in the Mail on Sunday

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Ken Clarke opines that it is "loopy to think you can solve crime by locking everyone up"

Jeremy Hunt tells The Observer that most people in the BBC are left-wing

HUNT JEREMY OPEN NECKED SHIRT "In an interview with the Observer, Hunt said it was clear to most people that more BBC employees would vote Labour or Lib Dem than Conservative. He also said that the corporation had been out of touch with public opinion in the recent past and shown leftwing bias on issues such as Europe, immigration and Northern Ireland." – Observer

The BBC wants Chris Patten as its next Chairman says Peter Preston in The Observer while the Mail on Sunday reports that Jonathan Powell, Blair's former Chief of Staff, is in the running.

Brian Binley complains about 300% increase in Speaker's travel bill

"Commons Speaker John Bercow was facing a growing revolt from Tory MPs last night over a £500,000 project to take Parliament to the people. In the latest challenge to his authority, the Speaker was called on to explain more than 20 trips around the country as part of a ‘parliamentary outreach’ project to promote Westminster. Tory MP Brian Binley demanded to know why the cost of the scheme had soared from £165,000 in the year before he took the Speaker’s Chair to more than £550,000 now." – Mail on Sunday

Theresa May pressed to halt visit by anti-Muslim US preacherObserver

Fraser Nelson discusses Mainstream and Liberal Conservatism

6a00d83451b31c69e20148c698a10f970c-500wi "So far, everyone has been obsessed with when (it won't be 'if') the Lib Dems split. But no one seems to care about rebel Tories. David Davis is a classic example – a principled fighter who walked away from what was a sure job as Home Secretary. He's dangerous, to Tory whips at least. He doesn't want to be a minister. He's not a loony. It makes him the perfect rebel leader. Last week, he voted against trebling the upper limit in tuition fees. Six Tories followed him, and it could have been more. Davis is a believer in mainstream Conservatism: Tough on crime, low on tax, strong on defence, anxious on immigration. And he's hardly alone. Only a minority of Tory MPs believe in the anti-prison, mine's-a-fruit-smoothie 'liberal Conservatism'." – Fraser Nelson in the News of the World (£)

> Scroll through ConservativeHome's new series on 'Mainstream Conservatism'

Other Comment:

And finally…

"Tory MP and chick-lit novelist Louise Bagshawe almost missed the tuition fees vote after getting ‘kettled’ with the student hordes outside Parliament. She fought her way to the Commons, vaulting over barricades. ‘I didn’t feel it was a good idea to shout, “Get out of the way, I’m a Tory MP on my way to vote for the tuition fee rise,” ’ she said." – Mail on Sunday Black Dog

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38 comments for: Weblinks for Sunday 12th December 2010

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