Timthumb-1.php 11.15pm ToryDiary: Cameron attacks "shocking" attack on Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall

9pm Parliament update: A full breakdown of who voted which way and who rebelled in tonight's votes

7pm ToryDiary: "Liar Clegg"

6.45pm: The Conservative MPs who voted against the Government or abstained


3.30pm Tory Diary: Irwin Armstrong resigns as the Chairman of the Northern Ireland Conservatives

2.30pm George Freeman MP on Comment: Without the Government's reforms, we run the risk of a University system which is increasingly dependent on churning ever greater numbers of students through ever more mediocre degrees

1.30pm Graeme Archer on Comment disagrees with Tim Montgomerie's Liberal v Mainstream Conservatism distinction


Noon LeftWatch: The Standards and Privileges Committee recommends that Geoff Hoon is barred from holding a Parliamentary pass for five years

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Tory Diary: 79% of Tory members do not want Coalition to continue beyond the next election

Also in ToryDiary

As the Commons tuition fee vote looms today, Comment focuses on University and student finance –

Local Government: Nigel Keohane and Liam Scott-Smith – What the Localism Bill will mean

Parliament: Pauline Latham on how aid and reform can help Zimbabwe

Seats and Candidates: Nick Webb selected to fight Newport East at next year's Welsh Assembly election

ThinkTankCentral: Almost a quarter of financial institutions have considered quitting Britain

WATCH: Nick Clegg: Tuition Fee rises are "the best possible decision" 

Cameron takes charge and Government unveils concessions on eve of tuition fees vote…

CAMERON-PENSIVE "The salary threshold at which graduates will start paying back the cost of their degrees is to rise every year, the government said today, as it unveiled new concessions aimed at winning over wavering Liberal Democrat MPs ahead of tomorrow's vote on raising university tuition fees.  At the moment, graduates begin to pay back the money loaned to them for their degrees when they start earning £15,000." – The Guardian

"Emergency concessions to buy off rebels before today’s vote on student tuition fees will cost hundreds of millions and push a wave of newer universities towards bankruptcy, experts said yesterday.  David Cameron took charge of the government case for the rise in tuition fees yesterday, justifying the switch in the Commons from taxpayer to graduate funding as a necessary consequence of the national debt." – The Times (£) 

…The Prime Minister attacks a graduate tax…

Mr Cameron said a graduate tax would also cost many students more in the long run than the Government's proposals, as they would start paying as soon as they were earning £6,475 and would carry on paying for the whole of their working lives.  "With our new system, the poorest quarter of graduates will pay back less overall than they do currently," said Mr Cameron.  "And everyone will pay less per month than they do now." – The Independent 

…As the Whips turn the screws…

David Davis…has said he will vote against the plan and party officials admitted that the number of Tory rebels could reach double figures. “The whips are really turning the screws,” said one Tory backbencher. “I know a couple of MPs who have been told their careers are over if they don’t vote with the government on this.” – Financial Times (£)

Peter Bone considering voting against the Government – Wintour and Watt, The Guardian 

…With the Liberal Democrats riven…

"Latest estimates suggest that just 27 of his MPs, including 17 Government ministers, will back the motion – less than half in total, and an embarrassment for Mr Clegg. The deputy leader of his party, Simon Hughes, added to the embarrassment last night by saying he would not support the Government in today's vote and would either abstain or vote against it." – The Independent 

…While the Daily Telegraph blows the whistle on the National Union of Students

"Mr Porter and his team…urged ministers to cut grants and loans as an alternative to raising tuition fees.  In private talks in October, the NUS tried to persuade ministers at the Department for Business to enact their planned 15 per cent cut in higher education funding without lifting the cap on fees.  In one email to the department’s officials, dated Oct 1, Mr Porter suggested that £800 million should be “deducted from the grants pot” over four years. That would cut total spending on grants by 61 per cent. Mr Porter also proposed the “introduction of a real rate of interest” for student loans." – Daily Telegraph

Nick Clegg must reform his party for the sake of democracy and survival – James Forsyth, The Spectator (£)

Yesterday in ToryDiary: David Cameron fights to regain the media offensive over tomorrow's tuition fees vote. And gets a little help from the IFS

Cameron slaps down Ken Clarke after the Sun's assault on the Government yesterday

David Cameron and The Sun "Justice Secretary Ken Clarke was forced into a humiliating U-turn yesterday – after David Cameron overruled his potty plan to scrap minimum sentences for murderers. Mr Clarke provoked uproar on Tuesday when he revealed his "criminals' charter" to water down sentencing rules.  It meant doing away with Ben's Law – the mandatory 25-year jail terms for knife murders. It only came in last year." – The Sun

"Now the PM needs Ken's elitist arrogance like a hole in the head.  There are some sensible things in the new blueprint for the prison system, such as paying companies to rehabilitate lags. But nobody is talking about any of that now – only whether it's time for Ken to go." – Tom Newton-Dunn, The Sun

"Aides said Mr Cameron will not sanction any reductions in minimum sentences and pledged that the 25-year minimum for knife killers would stay.  "The Prime Minister feels very strongly about this,' his press secretary said.  The U-turn throws into chaos Mr Clarke’s shake-up of the criminal justice system…policy experts in Downing Street and the Ministry of Justice spent months working on plans to rewrite the section of the law that spells out minimum sentences." – Daily Mail

Lessons from Clarke to Clegg in taking on pieties – Bruce Anderson, Financial Times (£)

Yesterday in ToryDiary –

George Osborne has billions stashed in Treasury war chest – and other news from the Chancellor's appearance yesterday before the Treasury Select Committee

George Osborne headshot "Proceeds from asset sales and privatisations have not been included in the Coalition's austerity measures, but may amount to several billion pounds. High Speed 1, the rail link between London and the Channel Tunnel, has already been sold for £2.1bn, while the Government's interests in NATS, the air traffic control service, and The Tote may raise as much as £700m." – Daily Telegraph

George Osborne admitted the handout [to Ireland] may exceed initial Treasury estimates – and refused to rule out further help for other failing EU states….Mr Osborne told the Treasury Select Committee that the legislation he has drawn up to approve the bailout makes provision for the bilateral loan to be increased – but only with the approval of the House of Commons." – Daily Mail

" 'I don't believe [that Mervyn King] has been drawn into matters political,' said Osborne. 'I've never asked him to say something or asked him not to. We want Bank of England governors who are independent and independent-minded.'… 'It's not as if he's a Conservative or Liberal Democrat appointment to the Bank, so the idea that he's somehow partisan is wrong,' said Osborne." – Daily Mail

Other News in Brief

  • Huhne attacks Miliband at Calcun – Daily Telegraph
  • Snow: Cameron says Army is on standby – Daily Telegraph
  • No bomber secret release deal – The Times (£)
  • Tony Blair recalled to ‘fill in gaps’ at Iraq inquiry – The Times (£)
  • Coulson faces uncomfortable day in court – The Independent
  • A warm welcome for William Hague at the opening of the European Commission's London headquarters, formerly Conservative Central Office – European Voice

Pension joy for millions

Screen shot 2010-12-09 at 07.13.14 "A double helping of good news brought some early Christmas cheer to Britain’s pensioners yesterday.  An unexpected rise in state pensions will be paid from next April and a Government U-turn will protect private schemes.  The state pension will rise for single people by £4.50 to £102.15 a week, with those on pensions credit receiving an above-earnings increase to their minimum guarantee of £4.75 to take their weekly income to £137.35." – Daily Express

Another coalition split postponed as control orders review delayed

"Officials are desperate to find a solution that can be endorsed both by Nick Clegg and Theresa May, the Home Secretary, who wants to keep the control orders. The Deputy Prime Minister is likely to prove even more resistant after his bruising battle with his own party over tuition fees. One source said: “Control orders are just as totemic to the Lib Dems and without even the economic justification that tuition fees have.” – The Times (£)

Jeremy Hunt launches £80m arts match-funding scheme

"The culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, today announced an £80m match-funding scheme to encourage private giving to arts organisations, and launched a review "to encourage philanthopy across the whole of government" to be completed next spring.  In a speech at the headquarters of the bank JP Morgan, Hunt said 2011 would be the "year of corporate philanthropy" and the match-funding scheme, in which private donations would be matched by public money, "will unlock at least £160m for cultural organisations over the next four years". – The Guardian

Middle classes should donate more to charity, says Hunt the millionaire minister – Daily Mail

Coalition shelves plans for 'abstinence-based' drug strategy

"Plans for an "abstinence-based" drug strategy and to cut benefits for problem drug users who refused treatment, which were championed by Iain Duncan Smith and the Tory right, have been shelved.  The coalition's first official drug strategy, published today, includes plans to pay drug treatment providers "by results", but it acknowledges the difficulties of treating chronic users by talking of "recovery" rather than abstinence." – The Guardian

Ofsted head Christine Gilbert in talks to leave early and join academy sponsor

"Christine Gilbert, the chief inspector of schools, is in talks to leave the job early after coming under pressure from ministers to resign, the Guardian has learned…Gove has publicly supported Gilbert's work as schools inspector, but privately it is known that the coalition government is keen to find a new face for Ofsted, which is being slimmed down and reformed." – The Guardian

"Will Speaker Bercow soon be spending more time with that dreadful wife of his?"

Screen shot 2010-12-09 at 09.07.42 "So what will happen? It is hard to imagine the Commons dumping another Speaker but it is not entirely impossible. Newly arrived Labour MPs are fairly unimpressed by Bercow. Loathing for him on the Tory and, increasingly, the Lib Dem benches is widespread.  Some MPs are suddenly ­saying how impressed they are by Bercow’s two deputies, the Conservative Nigel Evans and Labour’s Lindsay Hoyle.  If he commits another major goof, it is likely the Commons may need to reapply itself to that most difficult of tasks; finding a Speaker worthy of the name, an occupant deserving of this most elevated and important of Chairs." – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

Other Comment

  • Will the Conservatives stand for a 10-year coalition? – Benedict Brogan, Daily Telegraph
  • David Cameron seems to like being in a coalition – but rightwingers are restless – Michael White, The Guardian
  • Handing money to the zealots in charge of our education has failed – Harry Phibbs, Daily Mail
  • Modern options allow for standing at football grounds to be safe again" – Don Foster, The Independent

Miliband seeks Blairite help in building his team of aides

"Ed Miliband is appealing to senior Labour figures to help him to fill vacancies in his office, amid criticism from colleagues that he has not yet taken key decisions about his team.  The Labour leader is still largely relying on his leadership campaign staff, and has been asking veteran Blairites in the past few days for help.  Stewart Wood, the Oxford academic overseeing media strategy and messaging, has been ennobled and will be Mr Miliband’s troubleshooter in the House of Lords." – The Times (£)



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