9.30pm ToryDiary: The blogs react to Andy Coulson's departure

4pm WATCH:

3.45pm On Comment:

2.30pm ToryDiary: The Conservative Party owes Andy Coulson a huge debt but he was right to resign

2.30pm Local government: Ken Livingstone in the pay of Tehran

12.30pm Local Government: Yesterday's council by-election results



ToryDiary: In pole position for promotion to Cabinet: Greg Clark, Nick Herbert and Grant Shapps

HURD NICK Nick Hurd MP on Comment: We don't want charities to become dependent upon the state

Parliament: Damian Green announces reduction in pre-charge detention limit for terror suspect from 28 to 14 days

Seats and candidates: Gerry Adams' resignation as MP for Belfast West to prompt a by-election and Simon Baynes to contest Dwyfor Meirionnydd at the Welsh Assembly election

On Local government:


Johnson forced to quit as Shadow Chancellor after wife's affair with his police bodyguardDaily Mail

Ed Balls becomes Shadow Chancellor

Balls ED QT "Balls is in the position in relation to Miliband that Brown was for so long in with Tony Blair. Not just shadow chancellor to a new leader, but a richly ambitious would-be successor who may find himself torn between the wish for Miliband to succeed and the longing for him to fail." – Martin Kettle in The Guardian

Steve Richards in The Independent insists Balls is NOT Red Ed Two: "Some commentators will argue that Balls's appointment marks a triumph for leftish Old Labour. This is a misreading. Balls has taken a robust approach to opposing spending cuts while the recovery is fragile, but he will not easily fit the caricature of Red Ed Two. Balls was the architect of Brown's early policies too, including Brown's highly successful phase as shadow chancellor. Tax cuts played as big a part as tax rises. Spending rises were limited at times. As a City minister Balls was highly respected by business leaders. But he – and Miliband – were also key figures in the successful and popular implementation of a tax rise to pay for investment in the NHS and recognises the importance of public spending in developing an economy and improving the quality of services."

A leader in the FT (£) is also positive: "A combative operator, he will certainly raise Labour’s profile. This is good for the political debate in the UK. A robust opposition can explain to voters that there are alternatives to the Con-Lib policy, and force the coalition to work harder. Indeed, Mr Balls has already done a good job of this during his own stab at the leadership. In a series of speeches, he espoused an unabashedly Keynesian vision of the economy that offers a coherent critique of the coalition."

Ed Balls is a flawed economist, redistributionist and micromanaging, warns Allister Heath in City AM

> Matthew Hancock MP: Ed Balls was the architect of Britain's economic problems
> Paul Goodman sees desperation in Ed Balls' appointment
> The best blog reactions to Ed Balls becoming Shadow Chancellor

Theresa May sparked anger yesterday by slashing the time terror suspects can be held without charge from 28 to 14 daysThe Sun

Prime Minister defends Coalition's provision for the disabled

CAMERON IN CLASSROOM "David Cameron launched an emotional defence of the Government’s provision for the disabled yesterday – after an anguished mother accused him of betrayal. The Prime Minister insisted he had ‘every sympathy’ with the family of six-year-old Celyn Vincent, who has severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy and epilepsy." – Daily Mail

"Critics claim it is “disingenuous” for the Government to suggest that funding for parents has risen. They point out that the extra money for respite care is not ring-fenced and has been placed in an Early Intervention Grant which will be used to pay for other children’s services. The services covered by the grant will suffer a 10.9 per cent cut in funding in the new financial year." – Times (£)

"The coalition is worried about criticism from the disability lobby. So it should be. It deserves to be roundly condemned for the proposed removal of mobility allowance for people in residential care, a highly insensitive and regressive move that I suspect will be rescinded. And the foolish immigration cap will limit the number of carers in this country." – Ian Birrell in The Times (£)

> Yesterday's Local government blog: "The link between respite care spending and residential care spending needs to be acknowledged – rather than treated as different pots."

Downing Street distances itself from Sayeeda Warsi

WARSI SAYEEDA NEW "In a controversial speech last night, Tory chairman Baroness Sayeeda Warsi claimed that “Islamophobia” had “now crossed the threshold of middle-class respectability”. She also urged against talking about “moderate” and “extremist” Muslims, arguing that making the distinction fostered intolerance. “For far too many people, Islamophobia is seen as a legitimate, even commendable, thing. You could even say that Islamophobia has now passed the dinner-table test,” she said in a speech at Leicester University." – Express

"Downing Street is understood to have insisted on significant changes to the final version of Lady Warsi’s speech. One source said: ‘Her remarks do not represent Government policy.’" – Daily Mail

Nile Gardiner attacks Sayeeda Warsi's "condescending assault on Middle England" – Telegraph

But Peter Oborne, also in The Telegraph, defends the Tory Chairman: "It’s important to stress that she wasn’t demanding special treatment for Britain’s two million-odd Muslims. She wasn’t pretending they are all perfect, and she wasn’t denying there is a big problem with terrorism which Muslims themselves must confront. All she was doing was making the very respectable and reasonable and urgent case that Muslims should be treated with the same courtesy as other Britons."

> Paul Goodman, David Green and Alex Deane all took exception to Warsi's speech on ConHome yesterday.

National curriculum review puts emphasis on facts

"History and geography lessons should emphasise the learning of facts and equip children with essential knowledge, education secretary Michael Gove said as he launched a review of the national curriculum. Every child must be given a "profound level" of mathematic and scientific knowledge as well as immersion in the reasoning skills generated by subjects like history and foreign languages, the minister said." – Guardian

Cameron puts faith in Nordic and Baltic states

Screen shot 2011-01-21 at 07.47.57

"David Cameron said his “northern alliance” with Nordic and Baltic states will become a driving force in Europe for creating more open markets, greener technology and more family- friendly policies. Speaking after a nine-country summit at the Whitechapel Gallery in east London, Mr Cameron suggested that the countries in the north of Europe had developed an economic recipe that should be copied across the European Union." – FT (£) | Downing Street report

PM's impartiality in doubt after Christmas social call on Rebekah BrooksIndependent

Scottish Conservatives lose control to London

"Effective control of the Scottish Conservatives has been passed to London party chiefs while an overhaul aimed at improving their “diabolical” election results north of the Border is implemented." – Telegraph

Tory ministers are plotting to oust Commons Speaker John Bercow amid growing anger at his ‘partisan’ conductDaily Mail

Ken Livingstone under fire for taking money from Iranian TV

LIVINGSTONE KEN@DEMO "Mr Livingstone, Labour’s candidate for the London mayoralty next year, is being paid about £500 a show by Press TV, a 24-hour, English-language news station that is controlled by the regime and broadcasts from Hanger Lane in northwest London. Critics say that he is giving it legitimacy and ignoring repression of the Iranian people." – Times (£)

Tony Blair is to be questioned for a second time by the Iraq inquiryBBC

Tories in court

  • Lord Taylor of Warwick tells court expenses were 'in lieu of salary' and that 'money doesn't bring you anything' – Guardian
  • A City high flier claims she was forced out of her job after becoming the target of sexist comments from a government minister and a Conservative Party official – Telegraph

And finally… Downing Street denies that David Cameron has dyed his greying hairDaily Mail

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