6pm Parliament: Is a Commons defeat on Europe really on the cards for David Cameron?

MoS3.30pm Melanchthon on Comment questions the Mail on Sunday's judgement in assessing MPs going on holiday during holiday season as front page news: “Scandal: Rich people spending money!”

2.15pm ToryDiary: The ConHome team make their nominations for the political Gaffe of 2010

12.45pm WATCH: After surveying the damage for himself, Crispin Blunt announces two inquiries into the riot at HMP Ford

Lords chamberToryDiary: Turning the House of Lords into an elected Senate would be a lasting and highly damaging piece of constitutional vandalism

Martin Howe QC on Comment: The Government's European Union Bill is to be welcomed for stopping us on the escalator of integration

Local Government:

WATCH: Reacting to the riot at HMP Ford, prisons minister Crispin Blunt says that this Government has not changed staffing levels at open prisons

1922 Committee Secretary Mark Pritchard issues warning to Cameron over long-term Tory-Lib Dem alliance

Mark Pritchard "David Cameron faced a revolt from rebel Tory MPs last night over claims that he is secretly backing so-called ‘purple plotters’ who want a merger with the Liberal Democrats. Leading Conservative MP Mark Pritchard challenged the Prime Minister to make it clear that he will not allow Tory ‘zealots’ to form a new ‘Frankenstein’ party with Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems at any time, locally or nationally. Unless the plan is stopped in its tracks, the Tory faithful could refuse to campaign for the party in future elections, warned Mr Pritchard, secretary of the influential backbench Conservative 1922 Committee." – Mail on Sunday

> Last night's ToryDiary: Mark Pritchard MP warns "purple plotters" against a "Frankenstein" merger of the Conservatives and Lib Dems

Grant Shapps pledges an end to the housing price rollercoaster

"The era of booming house prices, in which people saw property as an investment for retirement, is over, the housing minister declares today. In an interview with the Observer, Grant Shapps argues that dramatic increases in the price of property cause "enormous pain" for tens of thousands of young people not yet on the housing ladder. He wants to use government levers to help usher in a new era of "house-price stability" in which prices rise very slowly and below the rate of earnings, making property more affordable long term." – The Observer

Francis Maude vetoes anti-strike law

"Francis Maude, the paymaster general and an architect of the coalition’s public sector reforms, has ruled out emergency anti-strike laws to curb the power of trade unions that are threatening national industrial action at Easter. Despite pressure from employers’ organisations such as the Confederation of British Industry, he said the coalition was “not anywhere near” tougher laws to restrict strikes." – Sunday Times (£)

James Forsyth foresees two impending major Tory rebellions…

James Forsyth "Soundings are being taken about who is the MP best placed to table and garner support for an amendment to the Government’s European legislation demanding an in-or-out referendum on EU membership. If this amendment were put down, it would cause a major headache for Cameron… The other issue animating the Tory backbenchers is the idea of giving prisoners the vote. The Government is proposing that all those serving fewer than four years in jail be allowed to cast a vote from prison… One MP involved in organising opposition to the measure is confident that if the Coalition goes ahead with this plan, it will face its biggest rebellion so far." – James Forsyth in the Mail on Sunday

…as the Sunday Telegraph speculates that Tory rebels and Labour MPs could unite to defeat the Government on its European Union Bill 

"Conservative backbenchers are preparing to ambush the controversial European Union Bill which goes before the Commons when MPs return from their Christmas break. Eurosceptic Tories will table radical changes to the legislation, which they claim does not deliver on its promise of a referendum on future transfers of powers to the European Union. If the changes strengthening the legislation are not accepted by the Government, some Conservatives said they might even vote down the entire Bill." – Sunday Telegraph

> Martin Howe QC writes in Comment today that the Government's European Union Bill is to be welcomed for stopping us on the escalator of integration

Nick Clegg wins battle to scrap control orders

"Control orders, which impose virtual house arrest on some terrorist suspects, are set to be scrapped in a victory for Nick Clegg over Tory cabinet rivals and Whitehall’s security hawks. Suspects will be allowed to stop wearing electronic tags and released from home curfews under an alternative package of “mitigating measures” awaiting formal government approval… The cabinet is poised to approve a compromise deal in its first meeting of the year next week." – Sunday Times (£)

Andrew Gilligan: The Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election could help define 2011 for the Coalition

Ballot box_01 "The Tories ought to have a real chance in Oldham East. In May, their able candidate, Kashif Ali, increased the Conservative vote by half, coming fewer than 2,500 votes behind Woolas. But the fact is that, until the last few days, the national Tory party has quite clearly been, in effect, backing the Lib Dems." – Andrew Gilligan in the Sunday Telegraph

> Andrew Bridgen MP: All Conservatives should come and help Kashif Ali in Oldham East and Saddleworth – not least to help crush talk of Coaliton candidates in future elections

People have submitted 14,000 proposals for the Government's red tape-slashing Freedom Bill

"The British people have a New Year's message for their government: set us free. Invited by the coalition to suggest improvements to the way we are governed, thousands drew on their experiences and expertise to tell ministers that what they most want is for a match to be put to a bonfire of all the laws, rules and regulations that restrict the freedom of individuals." – Independent on Sunday

A straight-talking Annabel Goldie looks ahead to May's Scottish Parliament election

Annabel_goldie "According to Annabel Goldie, her "frankness" appeals to voters and makes her one of her party's strongest assets, and the Scottish Conservative Party leader is characteristically robust as she takes on her rivals ahead of this year's Holyrood election… "There is going to be no bullshitting… (and) you can use that," Goldie told Scotland on Sunday." – Scotland on Sunday

Other political news in brief:

Janet Daley's prediction for 2011: The Coalition won’t collapse – just be hated

Daley-Janet-black-backgroun "The Coalition will not collapse. If one (or even two) major front-bench Liberal Democrats depart in a noisy kerfuffle – which also seems to me unlikely, given the shameless tenacity with which they are hanging on to government office – the basic construct will survive. However, its very survival, and all the further contortions and concessions which that will require, will lead to irreparable dissatisfaction among both parties’ supporters, and disillusion in the country at large." – Janet Daley in the Sunday Telegraph

Observer: 100 days in, Mr Miliband, you need a plan

"After 100 days, Ed Miliband has not yet properly explained to the country as a whole who he is and what he believes. He shouldn't waste any more time." – Observer editorial

What can David Cameron learn from Margaret Thatcher?

Picture 11 "What shines through from 30 years ago is that history can be written by the force of personality and sheer willpower. So if David Cameron is to take any message from those years, it’s that even when events force him off his chosen path, he should stick like a limpet to what he believes in. Prudence, yes, but passion and patience, too." – Lord Dobbs in the Mail on Sunday

Tim Montgomerie also addresses the question in his Sunday Telegraph column

Other comment:

  • The coalition counts on blaming Labour for everything – Bad move – Rafael Behr in The Observer
  • Let schools profit and the pupils will too – Ruth Porter in the Sunday Times (£)
  • Many older people will gain under the coalition, and be unaffected by its most draconian measures – John Rentoul in the Independent on Sunday
  • Predictions for 2011 from Fraser Nelson in the News of the World (£)
  • The PM will expect to take a big hit in 2011, but will be laying down the foundations for recovery in anticipation of political rewards to come – Sunday Times (£) editorial
  • What we need in 2011 is an opposition – Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph

And finally… Minister in bid to save Ringo Starr's childhood home

Ringo Starr "Ringo Starr’s childhood home could be saved from the bulldozers, thanks to an obscure planning law. Planners at Liverpool City Council want to replace the buildings along Madryn Street with new housing, arguing that it would cost £150,000 to renovate each of the 300 two-up, two-down terraced homes… Housing Minister Grant Shapps is trying to save the drummer’s old home at number 9 from demolition because of its cultural importance. He is using an obscure law to argue for a reprieve for the building, giving heritage campaigners a chance to put forward a plan for its preservation." – Sunday Express


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