6.30pm WATCH: Street protests and riots gather pace in Tunisia as state of emergency declared

6pm Local government:

4pm In Comment –

2.15pm Local Government: Council byelection results from yesterday

1pm Local Government: Eric Pickles's fortnightly column – Councils must stop wasting money on lobbyists

Screen shot 2011-01-14 at 13.10.15 12.30pm WATCH: Michael Gove teases David Dimbleby about his age

11.30am ToryDiary: Andrew Lansley, secret radical – and the risks and opportunities of his healthcare revolution (Part Two)

11.15am WATCH: ‪Nick Clegg hails "strong result" in by-election‬

In ToryDiary –

Roger Helmer in Comment: If the Conservative Party has ceased to be conservative, what exactly is the point of it?

In Local Government –

WATCH: The Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election declaration.

Labour hold Oldham East and Saddleworth with a 3,558 majority over the Liberal Democrats.  Kashif Ali comes third for the Conservatives

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"Debbie Abrahams secured a 3, 558 majority to give Ed Miliband’s leadership a boost.  The Liberal Democrats, who came within 100 votes of taking the seat in May, held on to second place. The Conservatives, who were accused of “soft-pedalling” in the contest in order to try and help their Coalition partners, came a distant third.  The by-election was caused by the court’s decision to rule that Phil Woolas, the sitting Labour MP had made incorrect accusations about his Lib Dem opponent Elwyn Watkins." – Daily Telegraph

"The collapse in the Tory vote is likely to prompt renewed pressure on David Cameron from the right who believe the coalition with the Lib Dems has become too cosy. The prime minister had initially planned to give Clegg a clear run in the seat by running a paper candidate, possibly paving the way for a "coupon" general election in 2015 in which the Tories and Lib Dems would agree not to stand against each other in certain seats." – The Guardian

"Ed Miliband is expected to resist the temptation to gloat over the Lib Dem defeat, using the moment instead to present Labour as the natural home for disaffected supporters of Nick Clegg’s party.Ed will say that he shares their pain and understands that the Lib Dems have found themselves in the uncomfortable embrace of this Tory-led government,” said one ally of Mr Miliband." – Financial Times (£)

"Mr Clegg has ordered an immediate post-mortem examination of the result, asking his ministers to gather at a meeting in London this morning. MPs tried to be upbeat last night.  Tim Farron, the Lib Dem president, said the party’s candidate Elwyn Watkins had come a “decent second” to Labour in the contest.  “We are the challengers in this. A governing party hasn’t gained a seat in a by-election since 1982,” added Farron. “Sometimes you are walking into a gale that is just too strong.” " – The Times (£)

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Fraser Nelson and Iain Martin on Twitter this morning respond to Warsi's post-poll criticism of the Party's right –

Yesterday in Seats and Candidates –

Coalition tensions are felt over Lords reform…

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"Nick Clegg faces a fresh crisis after his plans for sweeping reform of the House of Lords were savaged in a heated private meeting yesterday with peers.  In acrimonious clashes, they warned the Deputy Prime Minister that they would fight his proposals every step of the way.  His critics were so strident in their opposition that Mr Clegg protested that he would not allow the Government to be held to ransom by opponents of Lords reform." – The Independent

…And banker bonuses

"The Liberal Democrats are making a final attempt to persuade David Cameron to rein in bankers' bonuses amid growing public anger over the imminent payout estimated at £7bn.  Liberal Democrat MPs believe that Mr Cameron, rather than the Chancellor, George Osborne, has emerged as the main obstacle to tough action against the bankers… "You don't wave the white flag in the middle of tough negotiations," Baron Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay…told The Independent yesterday." – The Independent

Gove on Question Time is "outraged" by bank behaviour – BBC

Desk-bound Cameron makes New Year resolution to "get out more, and visits the north-east today

"After eight months in office dominated by sessions hammering out the spending review with ministers and civil servants, he has expressed frustration that his diary is clogged with meetings. Aware of the dangers of becoming confined to the Number 10 bunker, he has made a new year’s resolution to spend less time with officials and more with “real people”.  The drive begins today with a visit to the North East where he will hold a question-and-answer session with voters." – The Times (£)

The Mail hints at fuel duty budget postponement…

"David Cameron suggested yesterday that relief from spiralling fuel prices was on the way in March’s Budget.  The Prime Minister said the Treasury was examining the ‘very attractive idea’ of reforming the tax system to stabilise prices.  Alternatively, Chancellor George Osborne could postpone a fuel duty increase announced by Labour, which is due to come into effect on April 1.  Mr Cameron said yesterday that the Government was continuing to look at the option of a ‘fuel-stabiliser’." – Daily Mail

…While the Telegraph complains that the fair fuel stabiliser's been junked

Screen shot 2011-01-14 at 06.33.41 "The cost of oil will hand the Treasury a windfall in extra tax this year while motorists endure record petrol prices.  The Government will collect about £12 billion in tax on North Sea oil revenues – 20 per cent more than ministers had forecast, according to latest figures.  The prospect of the significant tax gain will intensify pressure on David Cameron to deliver on his promise to protect drivers from rising prices at the pumps." – Daily Telegraph

"Given the potential for serious political damage, Mr Cameron should either not have raised hopes of a tax break in the first place or, having done so, delivered it. Instead, he has appeared indecisive and succeeded only in focusing motorists' attention not only on soaring forecourt prices but also on the enormous slice (62 per cent) that goes straight into the Government's coffers." – Daily Telegraph editorial

Fuel the fightback – The Sun

Petrol prices may kill the economy and the Coalition – Ross Clark, Daily Express

David Cameron: UK will not be lured into "new mechanisms" to make euro safer

"David Cameron today promised that Britain would not respond to the crisis in the euro by being lured into "new mechanisms or new procedures" to make the currency safer.  But the prime minister said he would not stand in the way of efforts by eurozone countries to harmonise and tighten their procedures.  He was speaking at a joint press conference with the French prime minister, François Fillon, who…had claimed "a global economic "war is under way" that required greater co-operation inside the eurozone." – The Guardian

John Redwood – An EU foreign policy

Hunt can avoid full BSkyB probe, say lawyers

"Jeremy Hunt, culture secretary, has the power to accept undertakings from NewsCorp that would allow it to take full control of British Sky Broadcasting under a law last used too allow Lloyds Bank to buy HBOS, lawyers and officials said on Thursday. Analysts…believe Rupert Murdoch’s media group is considering offering Mr Hunt undertakings, which could include selling press or media assets or guaranteeing editorial independence, as an alternative to referring the matter for a full Competition Commission inquiry."- Financial Times (£)

Political and Coalition News in Brief

Mark Pritchard in four-letter word clash with Speaker

Mark Pritchard "Commons Speaker John Bercow suffered a fresh blow to his authority last night in an astonishing clash with a senior Tory backbencher.  Mr Bercow was told he was “not f****** royalty” by Mark Pritchard, MP for the Wrekin, in a furious row in a Westminster corridor. The outburst followed Mr Bercow’s order to the MP to stand aside.  Mr Pritchard was last night praised by the Speaker’s growing band of Tory critics." – Daily Express

Parliamentary oaths of non-allegiance – Simon Hoggart, The Guardian

Andrew Lansley accused of secrecy over NHS plan…

"Labour has accused Andrew Lansley of "disgraceful secrecy" for refusing to reveal what risks his officials believe the shakeup poses to the health system.  The Department of Health has admitted it has identified things that could go wrong as a direct result of its radical restructuring of the NHS in England. But it has rejected Labour's – The Guardian

…While the Daily Mail lays into him over swine flu jabs for children

"Writing in today’s Daily Mail {Lana Ameen's father] appeals to Ministers to look at the heartbreaking photograph of his beloved daughter just hours from death and ask whether it is right to deny other children a vaccine. He writes: ‘If I could show the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley the photograph of Lana shortly before she died, I would say to him: “Put yourself in our position, think how we feel”. It’s not too late for them to think again.’ " – Daily Mail

Flu deaths doubled over Christmas break – The Times (£)

Yesterday in Tory Diary –

Andrew Lansley, secret radical – and the risks and opportunities of his healthcare revolution (Part One)

Ministers were warned over prison riot

"Justice ministers were warned of serious security shortcomings at Ford open prison just two weeks before balaclava-clad inmates reduced parts of the jail to ashes in a drunken New Year rampage.  A report delivered to the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, on 16 December warned a "minimal number" of junior staff were left to patrol the jail at night, even though they had only limited training." – The Guardian

Press watchdog to investigate how Cable was caught by "fishing party"

"The Press Complaints Commission is to investigate The Daily Telegraph’s clandestine recording of Liberal Democrat MPs, which captured Vince Cable’s claim that he had “declared war” on Rupert Murdoch.  The Business Secretary was stripped of his brief covering media regulation after telling two undercover reporters, posing as constituents, that he intended to block the £8 billion bid by Mr Murdoch’s News Corporation to take full control of BSkyB." – The Times (£)

Boris: I'll use driverless trains to break RMT

Boris Johnson smiling "The sub-text, Tories believe, is that the unions are engaged  in a political campaign to destabilise the mayor and the Coalition. Boris says that unless they back down, he will start recruiting attendants for driverless trains. “We need to explore other options,” one aide says. “It’s the moment when the guy in the film pulls his jacket aside to show he’s got a gun too.” – Benedict Brogan's blog, The Daily Telegraph

One Party, two tribes

"Though they crave lower taxes, the modern Tory right—embodied by Liam Fox, the defence secretary, Tim Montgomerie, an influential blogger whose distinction between “mainstream” and “liberal” Conservatives is catching on, and backbenchers such as Mark Pritchard and Bernard Jenkin—are not as preoccupied with economics as the “dry” Thatcherites of yesteryear.  If they were, the government’s ferocious spending cuts would keep them happy." – The Economist (£)

Other comment

  • More maternity rights are bad for mothers – Jill Kirby, The Times (£)
  • Mervyn King must hold his nerve – Larry Elliott, The Guardian
  • We've never been better able to feed the world – Matt Ridley, The Times (£)

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