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9pm WATCH: Hague on Egypt: "Repression is not the answer"

5.45pm ToryDiary: Second Buckinghamshire Conservative Association quits the Party's Premier League of donors over High Speed 2

3pm Andrew Lilico on Comment: What to do next on the economy

2.45pm Local Government:

12.30pm Local Government: Council byelection result from yesterday

Noon WATCH: David Cameron speaks at Davos

11am Matthew Sinclair on Comment: Fairness in fiscal policy

In ToryDiary –

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In Comment –

David Morris MP: The sexualisation of our children in the name of marketing need to be tackled

Lord Flight: Without Britain’s financial services industry we would all be a great deal poorer

In Local Government –

In Parliament –

LeftWatch: BBC reported to Ofcom over "TV experiment" that sees all local services withdrawn in one street

WATCH:  ‪Tessa Jowell claims that her phone was hacked‬

Boris urges Osborne to tread path to lower tax…

Boris Johnson smiling "In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the Conservative Mayor of London urges the Chancellor to state “a clear direction of travel” that will include how taxes will be reduced over the course of this parliament.  Mr Johnson admits that he is shocked by the high levels of income tax that workers currently have to pay and says that he never thought he would see the day when other large European countries had lower personal tax rates than Britain. He fears it is harming Britain’s competitiveness." – Daily Telegraph

…and tells him to remove crash helmet before skiing

“I don’t have any problem with him popping off to Klosters to ski in his free time, but lose the crash helmet,” he jokes.  The London Mayor has no truck with the new breed of wimpish skiers who don a hard hat rather than a woolly one when on the piste.  “It is astonishing now many people are wearing those things now. Get a grip.”  Mr Osborne…gave a speech last night in Davos at the annual pow-wow for bankers, politicians and worthy do-gooders. So did Mr Johnson who beat the Chancellor into town by a day."  – Daily Telegraph

Cameron, Osborne and Clegg stick to their guns in Davos

"Confronted by a survey showing the biggest monthly slump in consumer confidence since 1992, David Cameron and George Osborne will prepare the country for a slow, painstaking rebuilding of the economy, insisting there is no alternative but to stay the course.  Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Cameron will respond to the sudden slump in growth by insisting there is no easy way out: "We can't just flick on the switch of government spending, or pump the bubble back up." – The Guardian

"The Chancellor will also ask for time, saying that Britain had become the most acute example of a big economy unbalanced by a housing boom, leveraged banks and a budget deficit. “Recoveries from this kind of debt-fuelled boom and bust tend to be slower and more protracted than those from other kinds of recession,” he will say.  Their caution shows how Tuesday’s figures showing that the economy had shrunk by 0.5 per cent in the past three months of 2010 have shaken the Government." – The Times (£)

"Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, yesterday refused to accept that this week's disappointing economic growth figures were an indication that austerity cuts were damaging Britain's recovery from recession, launching an unapologetic defence of the Coalition Government's policies.  Speaking to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Clegg dismissed suggestions that the Government had taken a gamble on the recovery by introducing much larger cuts than previously expected." – The Independent

As the Education Bill's published, Gove announces plan to publish list of banned teachers…

"A list of those barred from teaching will be available to the public for the first time under new legislation which also scraps the profession’s watchdog.  The Bill, published yesterday, puts the Secretary of State for Education in charge of judging teachers’ conduct instead of the General Teaching Council (GTC), which will be abolished.  It also gives greater power to heads to dismiss teachers for serious misconduct." – The Times (£)

… threatens to close failing academies…

"Sponsors of government academies will be stripped of their powers to run schools if they fail to raise standards, Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said yesterday.  Mr Gove made it clear he would not hesitate to replace them with alternative sponsors if necessary. He said the Government had already intervened at one academy – St Michael's and All Angels Church of England in Lambeth, south London – "where the rate of progress at that school was inadequate"." – The Independent

…and moves to root out extremists from schools

"Education Secretary Michael Gove unveiled the move amid fears of Muslim jihadists hijacking learning and Christian extremists teaching creationism.  He said the special team would monitor groups setting up new free schools, as well as checking on how existing schools are being run.  The unit will check for hardline political as well as religious views.  Mr Gove said yesterday: "A due diligence unit will monitor applications for new schools and arrangements in existing schools so there's no risk of extremism taking hold." – The Sun

Class Action – Times Editorial (£)

Osborne hints at fuel duty freeze

"George Osborne gave millions of drivers hope yesterday by revealing he may throw out a hated tax hike on petrol.  The Chancellor gave his strongest hint yet he was ready to freeze duty on crippling fuel prices.  It came after he received a 100,000-name Sun petition calling for a fair deal at the pumps – and as diesel hit an average of 133.21p a litre, 0.04p below an all-time high." – The Sun

"Not only does the rapidly rising price of petrol leave a huge hole in straitened family budgets, but it also does real damage to our already fragile economy.  Which is why we welcome…indications from the Coalition that they are taking the issue seriously.   The Chancellor is apparently considering scrapping the 1p increase in fuel duty which is due to come into force in April.  That would be a gesture in the right direction, but with the price of filling a typical family car heading towards £70, not nearly enough." – Daily Mail Editorial

"Yet postponing this planned tax rise will achieve at least four positive things: it will provide a modicum of relief for motorists and hauliers, it will let them know that finally they have a Government that does not wish to punish them for going about their lawful business, it will remove a potential barrier to getting the becalmed economy moving again and it will avoid another self-inflicted rise in the rate of inflation." – Daily Express Editorial

UK baffled by Big Society

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"DAVID Cameron still has a mountain to climb to sell the "Big Society" to baffled Brits, an exclusive poll for The Sun reveals. Well over a year after the PM started to promote the cornerstone of his election campaign, 63 per cent of people say they still don't know what it means.  While 46 per cent think it is a good idea in principle, 68 per cent think it will not work." – The Sun

Hammond to move £23bn of rail debt on the public books

"Ministers are prepared to put £23 billion worth of Network Rail debt back on to public books to secure greater leverage over the private company…Such a move could also be seen as an attempt to increase transparency in an organisation that critics say remains shrouded in secrecy.  Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, is preparing to sit down with leading figures from the rail industry to forge a future framework for Network Rail. Aides say that nationalisation is unlikely, but that all options remain on the table." – The Times (£)

Hague joins German Foreign Minister in urging Belarus sanctions

"There is a serious crisis in the European neighborhood. We must act.At the upcoming European Union Foreign Affairs Council we will call for the EU to reinstate a harsh package of sanctions against Belarus and to consider further measures against Alexander Lukashenko's regime. We cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening today in a fellow European country. President Lukashenko has made his choice and we have no choice but to respond accordingly." – William Hague and Guido Westerwelle, Wall Street Journal

Theresa May seeks to put down Dominic Raab

"Mr Raab asked, mildly enough, if making parental leave transferable would help eliminate anti-male discrimination in the workplace. The home secretary was enthusiastic.  "We should try to get away from gender warfare and the politics of difference," she said, "but I suggest to my hon friend that labelling feminists as 'obnoxious bigots' is not the way forward."  At this the Labour frontbench, all but one of them women, gave a mighty cheer." – Simon Hoggart, The Guardian

The advance of women is still work in progress – Philip Collins, The Times (£)

The return of Dominic Cummings

Screen shot 2011-01-28 at 05.30.56 "David Cameron offered Gove the position of education secretary on the condition that he sacked Cummings. Gove did not take it well.  The reason for the veto? Coulson suspected him of leaks….Little wonder then that as Coulson leaves No 10, Cummings is finally taking up a berth at the education department. After months of staying in the shadows, today he could be seen at Gove’s right hand as he briefed journalists on the education bill. He’ll soon take a salary as a special adviser." – Financial Times (£)

A significant victory for Michael Gove – Iain Martin, Wall Street Journal

Coalition and Political News in Brief

If you're Vince Cable, speaking to journalists, and in doubt…

CABLE Vincent "The business secretary, addressing a press gallery lunch for the first time since ill-advised comments to undercover journalists saw him stripped of his role in media regulation, was undiminished despite his public dressing-down from David Cameron, the prime minister. “The lesson is you stick to things. You don’t give up,” he said on Thursday, promising to push through a five-year programme for growth." – Financial Times (£)

…Stick to bashing bankers

"At a Westminster lunch, the Business Secretary admitted he had ‘dark thoughts’ about bankers and said during one meeting a story popped into his head.  ‘There are two dead bodies on a motorway. One cat and one banker,’ he said.  There was very little difference between the corpses, he added, except for ‘skid marks around the cat’ – a suggestion that a driver would have tried to avoid the cat but not the banker." – Daily Mail

Oborne blames Maude for Forestry Commission sell-off…

"Even Maude’s allies acknowledge that his Public Bodies Bill is a shambles. The Conservative-dominated Commons public administration committee has been scathing, warning that the process has been rushed, poorly handled and badly planned. One only needs to consider that Maude has left untouched the nightmarish Suzi Leather, head of the Charity Commission, while including plans to sell off Britain’s forests in his Public Bodies Bill, to get the full, troubling sense of his priorities and, indeed, basic competence." – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

…Which John Redwood defends

"I look out at home at trees in my neighbours’ gardens. I suspect my neighbours like trees as well. I have never had any trouble with a neighbour wanting to cut them down. I now discover that these trees, shock horror, are private sector trees. Private sector trees, according to all so many active campaigners, are not the same as public sector trees. They are either not so attractive, or they will be cut down as soon as possible to be replaced by an office block." – John Redwood's blog

Yesterday in ToryDiary: Caroline Spelman promises to protect public access rights when the state relinquishes control of England's forests

Other Comment

  • How Rupert Murdoch lost control of his own story – Stephen Glover, The Independent
  • This will be Ireland's chance to move on from 1921 – Martin Kettle, The Guardian

Lord Levy tells Labour to cut funding "umbilical cord" to the unions

"The controversial peer said union members should be able to tell their bosses to give money to the Tories and Lib Dems as well as Labour.  He also backed a cap on large donations from individuals, and said there should be more public funding for political parties…today he said Labour, which has been heavily dependent on Unite and other unions under Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, must prevent union leaders handing over unlimited donations." – Daily Mail

Harman wants to target the south

"It is the first test of this government. There are large areas where people have voted Lib Dem as the progressive choice but perhaps now they are unlikely to want to vote with a party that has broken so many of their promises," she said.  "One of our key aims is to ensure we are fielding candidates across the country – even in those areas where we may not have previously done very well – to ensure people have the option of voting Labour." – The Guardian

Screen shot 2011-01-28 at 05.53.14 And finally…The Daily Mail gives the Home Secretary the benefit of its fashion advice

"When Home Secretary Theresa May addressed the Commons in a multi-coloured blazer on Wednesday, it wasn’t the first time her clothes had attracted more attention than her politics.  The jacket, with its red, brown and green jigsaw-effect pattern, was too busy for the 54-year-old.  So what should Theresa wear and what can her ­fashion mistakes teach other women of a certain age?  With just a few tweaks, her almost-on trend ensembles could be flattering and attention-grabbing for all the right reasons. Here’s how…" Daily Mail

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