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9pm ToryDiary: Mark Pritchard MP warns "purple plotters" against a "Frankenstein" merger of the Conservatives and Lib Dems

7pm ToryDiary: The massive Northern Ireland state needs an effective and resourced Opposition

5.15pm WATCH: Estonia joins the €uro

12W 12.45pm ToryDiary: One to watch in 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL READERS!

ToryDiary: Does David Cameron want big state charities or big society charities?

Carl Thomson on Comment: Getting the Anglo-Russian relationship back on track

Local government: Conservative councillors in New Year Honour's list

WATCH: Edwina Currie talks to the BBC about the sexual revolution of the 1960s

Hague agrees UN-sanctioned armed force may be necessary in Ivory Coast

"Britain would back the United Nations using force to remove Laurent Gbagbo from power in the Ivory Coast and had sent a military liaison officer to play a part in coordinating any future operations in the country, William Hague said yesterday. The Foreign Secretary added: "We are a long way here from discussing British forces being deployed." But he said a UN sanctioned armed intervention might be the only realistic option to ensure that Mr Gbagbo steps aside for Alassane Ouattara, who is regarded by the international community as having won recent national elections in the West African state." – Independent

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2011 begins with tax rises

  • "Petrol prices are set to reach £1.40 a litre, industry experts warned last night.
    Increases in fuel duty and VAT will push up prices by 3.5p a litre in the next few days – raking in a £2million-a-day bonus for the Treasury. But worse is to come, with soaring crude oil prices threatening to raise costs by 15.5p a litre for both petrol and diesel, analysts said." – Express
  • "Cash-strapped couples will be bombarded with a barrage of financial blows, from the VAT increase to rising mortgage rates, higher National Insurance to frozen child benefit. It is expected to add up to the biggest squeeze on families since 1982, the year of the Falklands War, because of the toxic combination of the rises and inflation, according to research by the accountants Deloitte." – Daily Mail

Boris attacks PM over migration cap and 50p tax

JohnsonBorisCheltenham "Boris Johnson today fired a broadside at David Cameron – with a warning that Government policy on tax and immigration risks harming the economic recovery. In a New Year warning to the Prime Minister, Mr Johnson said retaining the 50p top rate of tax would make the British economy ‘uncompetitive’. The London Mayor also stepped up his criticism of the Government’s immigration cap with a warning that key firms were becoming increasingly ‘hacked off’ with the restrictions on overseas workers." – Daily Mail

In The Telegraph Simon Heffer urges David Cameron to learn from Margaret Thatcher on 50p: "Against her own decision to raise VAT she had serious cuts in both the top and basic rates of income tax. Without this incentive to enterprise – a word we seldom hear these days, but which is the engine of growth – it is hard to imagine where recovery in the mid-1980s would have come from. Our present Prime Minister can't, or won't, accept this… But unless he engages in his own Thatcher-style stand and cuts taxes, so too will be many years after that."

Benard Ingham: Does Cameron want to be loved or respected?

"Will Cameron, now standing unmatched as a political leader in Britain, come through it all with his metal burnished? Or, unlike Thatcher, does he fatally wish to be more loved than respected? Let us not underestimate the test confronting him, encumbered as he is by Liberal Democrats, if not Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander. But just as 1981 was really the making of Thatcher, so 2011 will be the making – or breaking – of Cameron. Come on, lad. England expects. Otherwise we are all bust." – Bernard Ingham in The Express

"This Government is blessed, not cursed, by the low public expectations with which it started. Better to exceed them than to try to raise them; better to shrug off the hostility of those this coalition can never please, keep faith with those it can, and plough on: consistent with its own compass, and calm about support that falls away. Mr Cameron knows what’s coming; and knows too that it need not prevent the coa-bloody-lition winning the next election. It never stopped Margaret-bloody-Thatcher." – Matthew Parris in The Times (£)

Eric Pickles criticises "slowcoach councils" who have yet to publish how they spend their moneyBBC

Pickles"Mr Pickles criticised the "slowcoach" councils which had not yet published the information. "In 2011 I would like to see every council make their New Year's resolution to cut more waste and fully open their books up to public scrutiny," he said. He added that local authorities had until the end of January before people would wonder "what they've got to hide"." – Express

The Sun salutes Mr Pickles: "He is proving highly effective in curbing town hall waste. Mr Pickles has ordered all councils to publish details of spending, big salaries, expenses and job vacancies. His point is simple: It is our money, so we are entitled to see where it is going. So far only half of councils have complied. But the rest will defy Eric at their peril. Unions should back him, too. The more that can be saved from waste, the more cash is left to protect jobs."

Coalition in brief:

  • Ofcom gives BSkyB takeover report to Jeremy Hunt – Telegraph
  • Michael Fallon: We will all work 24 days this year just to pay the interest on Labour's debts – Express
  • Sarah Wollaston MP's criticism of Lansley's health reforms shows risks of open primaries – James Forsyth in The Spectator

Redwood-on-NewsnightS John Redwood's three pieces of new year advice to the Coalition…

Amanda Platell: Cameron's no Churchill

"In a seasonal message to the Armed Forces, David Cameron confessed he loses sleep over the death of British troops in Afghanistan. ‘Every time there is a casualty, I am informed about that, and ­obviously every time I write to the loved ones, and it also makes me think every time: “Is this worth it? Is this right?” Can you imagine Winston Churchill addressing the troops before D-Day saying: ‘We will fight them on the beaches, but I hope it’s all worth it, I hope I’m doing the right thing.' Our troops give of themselves unconditionally. Surely they have a right to expect unconditional ­support from their Prime Minister — not ­populist, hand-wringing sentimentality." – Amanda Platell in the Daily Mail

Cameron inherits £300,000 tax free from his fatherDaily Mail

Miliband Ed QT The highs and lows of Ed Miliband's first 100 daysIndependent

Ed Miliband could end 2011 as prime minister in waiting, if he has the right message – John McTernan in The Telegraph

Miliband, the most unpopular new leader since IDS – Daily Mail

SNP pushes for British troops to be out of Afghanistan by year's endScotsman

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