5pm Parliament: Defending elected police chiefs, Nick Herbert puts Ed Balls in his place

4.30pm ToryDiary: As Iain Dale stops blogging, how is the Right doing online?

Screen shot 2010-12-14 at 14.00.302pm WATCH:

11.45am Matt Sinclair on Comment: "I can think of lots of issues that the public might expect Conservative backbenchers to be angry with the coalition Government about: tax hikes; more lenient sentencing policy; defence cuts; incredible surrenders of powers to the European Union.  Reading Paul Goodman's article on Monday though, it seems that the issue they are most angry about is IPSA.  In other words, their own expenses.  That is going to strike people as pretty pathetic."

11am Seats and candidates: Kashif Ali selected to fight Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election

ToryDiary: Michael Howard attacks Ken Clarke's "fatally flawed" prisons policy

On Comment:

On Local government:

On Parliament:

Lords likely to defeat tuition fees today, necessitating another Commons voteBBC

Eric Pickles and Caroline Spelman only two ministers to have cut red tape

Red_tape "The Cabinet Office, International Development and the Foreign Office have neither added not cut rules. But the remaining ten in the survey have added more than they have taken away, breaching the coalition’s own policies. They have introduced a total of 155 regulations and abolished just 21. Energy and Climate change has added 14 and repealed none; Transport added 15 and repealed none; Health added 19 and abolished two; Work and Pensions added 31 and cut 11; Business has added 20 and abolished none; and Justice, the worst offender, has added a 22 and eliminated only one." – Allister Heath in City AM

Civil service prepare economic 'Plan B' for George Osborne

"A confidential paper circulating in Downing Street suggests the government should consider in advance if not a fully worked up “Plan B” then at least a series of possible stimulus measures which could be implemented were the economy to stall. Written by Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Whitehall economist-turned cabinet secretary, the paper underlines the uncertainty surrounding official forecasts for growth. The Treasury, it suggests, should examine in detail the policy tools that would be available in the event of a sharp downturn." – Philip Stephens in the FT (£)

Preview of Office of Tax Simplification's interim report

"A tax break for employees who take taxis home after staying late in the office should be axed as unfair and distortionary, according to preliminary conclusions from the Office of Tax Simplification. It also called for the abolition of the daily 15p income tax relief for luncheon vouchers." – FT (£)

PICKLES ERIC NW Differing accounts of local government spending settlement…

  • The Guardian… Deprived inner-city councils will see reductions of up to 8.9% – leaving them 'powerless' to protect frontline services
  • The Telegraph… Cuts in local council services will have to be deeper in wealthy areas after the Coalition diverted millions of pounds to authorities in poorer towns and cities.
  • ConservativeHome's verdict: "More money is being channelled at those areas of the country that have the highest levels of need."
  • Daily Mail: "If councils show determination, and share bureaucrats with neighbouring authorities, frontline services will not have to suffer."

Higher inflation bites schools and hospitals

  • "A 0.1 per cent real terms rise in the schools budget promised by Chancellor George Osborne in his spending review has been revised due to inflation forecasts, ministers said. Revised estimates issued by the Office for Budget Responsibility mean there will now be no increase above inflation until 2015 at the earliest." – Telegraph
  • "The NHS and social services will be tested "to the limit" by the Government's efficiency saving requirements over the next four years, ministers were warned today. The influential Health Select Committee said that the spending review settlement represented a "significant challenge" for the NHS… Its chairman, Conservative MP Stephen Dorrell, said the NHS savings needed over the next four years – estimated to be 4% annually – had never been achieved in the NHS before." – Independent

The dysfunctional Ministry of Defence

"The Ministry of Defence is a dysfunctional organisation that wastes £6 billion a year and whose deficiencies have led to shortages of equipment and the deaths of dozens of servicemen, an investigation by The Times (£) has found."

"Ministry of Defence staff allowed a "dangerous culture of optimism" to grow, helping to create a £36bn gap in spending plans, MPs have said." – BBC

Business Select Committee urges Coalition to reconsider funding for Sheffield ForgemastersBBC

Vested interests are protecting administrators and forcing cuts to vital services – Philip Johnston in The Telegraph

Philip Hammond announces the first nine electric cars for which drivers will be eligible for a 25% Whitehall-paid grantDaily Mail

Durham University: Sure Start 'has failed to boost children's literacy and numeracy'Guardian

Miliband hiring spin chief who faced cocaine claims by Lord Ashcroft

"Ed Miliband is on the verge of hiring a political journalist once at the centre of extraordinary and uncorroborated drugs allegations made by former Tory vice-chairman Lord Ashcroft… The book, which is still available on Lord Ashcroft’s website, alleged that Mr Baldwin had a cocaine habit. It added: ‘Indeed, during the Conservative Party conference in October 2001, he put [then Times editor] Peter Stothard’s suite at the Imperial Hotel to “good” use when his editor was unable to make it to the conference as planned. In the company of two journalist colleagues, Baldwin snorted lines of cocaine from the glass coffee table in Stothard’s suite.  ‘I certainly have no evidence that his colleagues took the drug, but I am told that Baldwin’s appetite for it was voracious and also that at least one colleague reprimanded him for his stupidity.'" – Daily Mail

> Yesterday's LeftWatch: Ed Miliband goes back to the worst of Labour spin and smear

I may still lead Labour, says David Miliband Metro 

Polly Toynbee is optimistic about Labour's electoral prospects

"Public spending will be back in fashion when NHS waiting lists rise again soon. Crime, at its lowest for decades, may or may not rise – but expect any crime that happens from now on to be blamed on the 20% cut in police. Nick Clegg clings to the pupil premium as evidence of his influence: however, it is exposed not only as a cheat, rearranging existing budgets – but worse, it takes from deprived places such as Liverpool to give to leafy Tory and Lib Dem shire seats. Deepening poverty and widening inequality will be undeniable." – Polly Toynbee in The Guardian

  • PoliticalBetting's take: "She ought to look at the leader approval ratings where Ed Miliband has fewer Labour voters saying he’s doing “well” than Conservative supporters saying the same of Nick Clegg. And that polling took place after Thursday’s vote and the riots. There’s also a much bigger threat posed by the coalition – that supporters of the two parties might vote tactically against Labour. If that starts to happen on any scale then much of the in-built advantage that Labour has enjoyed might evaporate."
  • Voters will change their minds if services deteriorate – John Curtice in The Independent

Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, out of office

  • "Mr Brown looked around at the studio, and it seemed to dawn on him that this was going to be alright, that he was speaking to people who had never heard of Gillian Duffy or the ten pence tax rate, or any of a thousand other things that might be held against him. They hadn’t even heard the one about the finance minister who gets out before it was too late." – Times (£)
  • Tony Blair’s company stands to earn £27million for advising the oil-rich Kuwaiti government – Daily Mail

And finally… Will students approve of Vince Cable's Strictly Dancing routine?

Timthumb.php "Despite the economic crisis the country is in the midst of, Mr Cable managed to spare the time to appear on the BBC1 show. Mr Cable, a keen ballroom dancer who has been paired with Erin Boag for the one-off show, became a fan of ballroom dancing more than 20 years ago when his late wife Olympia introduced him to the hobby. The 67-yerar-old carried on dancing after his wife's death in 2001 and he credited it with helping him to endure the pain of losing her. He has said: ‘We [Mr Cable and his wife] had always been close but the dancing brought us closer and the closeness made the last, awful years easier to bear.’" – Daily Mail


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