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7pm ToryDiary: David Cameron pleases Tory backbenchers as he says IPSA must change or it will be changed

6pm Local Government: Labour-run Newham Council spends £111 million on one office block

5.30pm Parliament: The Lords rebellion on tuition fees that never was

3.30pm ToryDiary: Liberal Conservatism's central error

3.15pm WATCH: Andrew Lansley explains the thinking behind his healthcare reforms

2pm Local Government: Boris freezes his share of council tax bills for the third year running

Flag of St George1pm Nadhim Zahawi MP on Platform: It is time to make St George's Day a bank holiday in England

12.45pm ToryDiary: Ed "Basil Brush" Miliband puts in a painfully weak performance at the last PMQs of the year

10.15am LISTEN: Iain Dale and Tom Watson MP discuss the pitfalls of political blogging on the Today Programme

Screen shot 2010-12-03 at 15.42.21ToryDiary: Because of the way the Commons works, the Liberal Democrats may not face a vote as testing as last Thursday's again

In Comment

Local Government: Local Government pension deficit hits £100 billion

Parliament: Philip Hollobone continues to top the backbench league of rebels

Think Tank Central: Policy Exchange urges reform of the energy market

WATCH: ‪Ministers outline plans for shake-up of NHS‬ 

Is it full steam ahead for Andrew Lansley's NHS reforms, announced today…

LANSLEY ANDREW NEW "Senior figures from across the health service have warned ministers that the NHS faces a "train crash" and could "implode" over the pace of the Government's reform plans…doctors, health economists, managers and a former Conservative health secretary have warned that the proposals are going too far, too fast." – The Independent

Or – as a former Conservative Health Secretary speaks out – have they been slowed down?

"Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, will [today] publish his response to the coalition’s consultation on his radical reforms that will produce the biggest shift in power and accountability in the institution’s 62-year history. With a few minor amendments, it looks to be full steam ahead. Yet over the past 10 days, patients, the public and NHS staff have heard deeply conflicting accounts of what the plans involve." – Nick Timmins, Financial Times (£)

"Today the mild-mannered Dorrell unhelpfully mauled Lansley's core reforms – in print and on TV. His cross-party health committee's report was frankly sceptical about the £15bn-£20bn efficiency savings (ie higher productivity) being expected of the NHS – and the outright cuts imposed this week on its sister service, local authority social care." – Michael White, The Guardian

"The NHS should charge patients for minor cosmetic operations such as removing warts and other skin growths in a bid to help it meet its required £20bn savings target, doctors will urge tomorrow.  The suggestion is one of dozens by senior doctors to save money while still giving patients the same standards of care. They are contained in a report by the NHS Confederation, which represents most hospitals and other NHS services in England." – The Guardian

Fines for hospitals that don't abolish mixed sex wards – Daily Mail

Yesterday in Comment: Dr Rachel Joyce: Andrew Lansley's NHS reforms should give even more power to patients

David Cameron rejects Gus O'Donnell's "Plan B" for the economy

Sir Gus O'Donnell "David Cameron last night rejected embarrassing secret advice from Britain’s most senior civil servant for the Government to prepare a ‘Plan B’ for the economy.  In an unusual confidential paper for the Prime Minister, Sir Gus O’Donnell warned the coalition should draw up fall-back proposals in case the economy tips into recession next year…Government sources did little to disguise their irritation that details of his advice had been leaked, describing it as ‘totally unsolicited’." – Daily Mail

"Osborne's silence over inflation is worrying"

"Fearful of stifling the recovery, it has maintained interest rates at 0.5 per cent for 21 consecutive months. Its gamble – for that is what it is – is that the Chancellor’s spending cuts will help haul inflation down to more acceptable levels. But its forecast that the CPI will peak at 3.5 per cent next year, falling back to the target figure in 2012, is beginning to look optimistic." – Daily Telegraph editorial

"With November’s headline inflation hitting 3.3%, up from 3.2% in October, Britains’s inflation rate continues to go up and up.  In his fourth letter to George Osborne —written after the October report— Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, blamed oil prices, sterling depreciation, and VAT increases (past and future).  But these explanations seem fairly threadbare now that inflation has hit record lows in the US and remains fairly sedate in the euro zone." – The Economist

Why is anyone surprised we have inflation? – John Redwood's blog

Why rising rates are good news – Martin Wolf, Financial Times (£)

Theresa May drawn in to Ken Clarke prisons furore as she appears before Home Affairs Select Committee

"Theresa May sparked a damaging Cabinet split with Justice Secretary Ken Clarke last night by declaring: "Prison works."   Her defiant message follows fury at his plan to reduce inmates and use more community sentences.  Home Secretary Mrs May used Michael Howard's famous phrase just hours after the ex-Tory leader himself blasted Mr Clarke." – The Sun

"The Home Secretary said that she had not given the police permission to use the cannons against demonstrators. May was asked by the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee if she stood by her recent comment that "I don't think anybody wants to see water cannon used on the streets," the Home Secretary responded, "I do." – Daily Telegraph

Yesterday in Parliament –

Theresa May and Boris Johnson refuse to close door to riot police using water cannon

Speculation continues about a January reshuffle and a replacement for Ken Clarke

Chris Grayling head shoulders tie "Ousting Mr Clarke could pave the way for a comeback to frontline politics for Lib Dem MP David Laws…Employment Minister Chris Grayling and Transport Secretary Philip Hammond are also considered to be in contention for the post." – Daily Express

Lynne Featherstone lays into the X-Factor

"The row over the X Factor final escalated last night as the Equalities Minister warned that the raunchy performances should never have been shown to children. Lynne Featherstone said that the sexualised routines, which have now sparked 3,000 complaints from viewers, were unsuitable for the show’s legions of young fans. Miss Featherstone, a mother of two, said X Factor bosses should have made pre-watershed performances by American pop stars Christina Aguilera and Rihanna ‘less raunchy’." – Daily Mail

Forensic science service to close…

"The Government said the Birmingham based service, founded 80 years ago, is to close by 2012.  James Brokenshire, a junior Home Office minister, said: “The current challenging forensics market has put the FSS back into serious financial difficulty.  FSS is currently making operating losses of around £2 million per month. Its cash is due to run out as early as January next year. It is vital we take clear and decisive action to sort this out.” – The Times (£)

…As are almost 150 courts

"More than 140 courts in England and Wales will close as part of the spending cuts, ministers have confirmed.  [Jonathan Djanogly], the Justice Minister, said that a court estate of more than 500 buildings was not necessary or sustainable. He added: “Access to justice is not just about access to buildings. It’s about the type of justice delivered, decent facilities for victims and witnesses and efficient use of the system.”" – The Times(£)

BBC 3 and BBC 4 may shut – Daily Mail

Coalition and Political News in Brief

Liberal Democrats dive to 11% with Ipsos Mori as Mr Darcy jumps ship…

Screen shot 2010-12-15 at 07.01.30 "The Liberal Democrats have dropped to just 11% with Ipsos Mori, their lowest rating with the pollster for 19 years, according to the latest poll, given to the Guardian.  Among those certain to vote, Labour is on 39%, unchanged on last month, the Conservatives are up two on 38%, and the Liberal Democrats are down three to 11%, their lowest since January 1991.  In response, Chris Huhne, the energy secretary, accepted his party faced "two years of immense unpopularity"; it was a baptism of fire, he said, and there would be other issues to make the party unpopular as it continued to cut the deficit." – The Guardian

…While Ashcroft polling suggests that "Judas" Clegg could lose his seat

"Nick Clegg revealed he has been described as ‘Judas’ by Lib Dem allies yesterday, as polls showed he has lost half of his party’s voters.  The Deputy Prime Minister is also in danger of losing his Sheffield Hallam seat at the next election, according to a survey commissioned by Tory campaigns expert Lord Ashcroft…In a Populus poll of voters who backed the Lib Dems during May’s election, just 54 per cent said they will support Mr Clegg’s party next time. More than one in five intend to back Labour instead." – Daily Mail

But Liberal Democrats peers stick with Coalition as tuition fees bill passes through the Lords

"Unlike the painful three-way split among LibDem MPs in the Commons last Thursday, only five LibDem peers voted with Labour in the Lords as the Government won one vote by 283-215, a majority of 68, and another by 273-200, a majority of 73.  LibDem big hitters Ashdown Paddy and Shirley Williams also gave the Government powerful support." – Sky News

Bloggers should target the real tyrants

"China and Russia use their home-grown hackers to attack the West. Western hackers should use their skills to try to break into the closed computer networks of China and Russia. In Iran the jailing of bloggers is an almost daily event; hacktivists should identify Iranian government targets for their ire if they really want to promote the cause of freedom in the world." – Guido Fawkes (Paul Staines), The Times (£)

Political blogging after Dale – Sunder Katwala, Next Left

Other Comment

  • Bosnia thanked Holbrooke. Afghanistan will too – Paddy Ashdown, The Times (£)
  • How much are you giving, Jeremy – Mary Dejevsky, The Independent
  • Sellafield checks all the boxes for a terrorist target – Andy Hayman, The Times (£)

John Reid praises Cameron, attacks Miliband

"Labour grandee John Reid has launched an outspoken attack on Ed Miliband, saying he doesn’t "get New Labour".  The former home secretary said the party’s new leader was wrong to ‘abandon’ the centre ground where it had won three elections.  He praised David Cameron as an effective prime minister and warned that Labour has had a "policy vacuum" under Gordon Brown and Mr Miliband.  "We’ve had three years or more without any strategic direction," he said. "There’s a vacuum in policy terms. So the challenge that Ed Miliband faces and the Labour Party faces is huge." – Daily Mail

Screen shot 2010-12-15 at 08.52.34 And finally…Gordon Brown is off to Abu Dhabi

"The former prime minister has been appointed “distinguished global leader in residence” at New York University.  During an event in Manhattan, it was announced that four times a year, he will spend a week teaching and hosting events at one of NYU’s 16 international campuses.  The residencies will take place every spring and autumn. Mr Brown will spend most time at the university’s bases in New York and Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates." – Daily Telegraph

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