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8pm WATCH: Emergency flights bring Britons home from Tunisia

7.30pm Seats and candidates: "The coalition would have won in Oldham East had it fielded just one candidate"

Screen shot 2011-01-15 at 07.35.426.15pm Parliament: The second T-shirt of the week featuring John Bercow

2pm WATCH: Miliband: The Coalition is a "tragic mistake"

1pm LeftWatch: Ed Miliband says Labour failed because it was managerialist. But he seems to think that the real reason is that it wasn't left-wing enough

ToryDiary: As William Hague prepares to visit Australia, street protests overthrow an Arab regime. Could 2011 be the middle east's 1989?

Dr Rachel Joyce on Comment: We must ensure that the NHS does not lose its experts in value for money and evidence based commissioning

Local Government –

LeftWatch: Labour needs all-Tim shortlists

WATCH: ‪Tunisia's President flees as protests and riots overthrow his regime‬

Oldham fallout hits Party

David Cameron perturbed Bernard Jenkin: "The Conservative candidate did well, considering that there was such ambivalence from the leadership about whether they wanted the Conservative Party to so well."

Douglas Carswell:  The Prime Minister “let down” his candidate. “It is usually a good idea if you want to do well as a party to make it clear that you are serious about trying to win,” Mr Carswell said.

Philip Davies: "It was certainly not our finest hour in terms of campaigning, which is very disappointing,’ he added.  The candidate’s there, working his guts out, and the least he should be able to expect is a bit of support."

Norman Tebbit: "It was a dreadful night for the Conservatives." – Daily Telegraph

Carswell attacks Boles's call for an election pact…

"Carswell was also critical of Nick Boles, a new Conservative MP who is close to the Cameron circle, who has called for an alliance between the Tories and Lib Dems at the next general election in 2015.   Carswell said. 'These clever-clever word games might sound important in the Westminster bubble but they prove very counter-productive to the Conservative interest in the country and they need to stop.' " – The Guardian 

…But Mark Pritchard makes the case for by-election deals

"For future parliamentary byelections we should have an open debate about closer co-operation where the Conservative have no prospect of winning and the Liberal Democrats are second to Labour. There would be a process of reciprocation.  What closer co-operation means is for people to have a debate. I am not calling for formal agreements or alliances. But we are partners in coalition. This would be for Westminster parliamentary byelections only." – The Guardian

Sayeeda Warsi attacks the Party's right…

Lady Warsi, who co-ordinated the campaign, said: "We never attacked the Liberal Democrat Party but we never campaigned for them either.  As far as the right wing of our party are concerned, I would say this to them: We had many, many MPs turning up.   We had some who made much comment about the fact that we weren’t fighting a strong enough campaign but, interestingly, didn’t turn up to campaign.  I would say to those who are critical, unless you were here, unless you were out delivering and unless you were out knocking on doors, you really don’t have a right to complain about us not being vigorous enough." – Daily Mail

…But Peter Bone says that she's talking nonsense

Peter Bone "Peter Bone, Conservative MP for Wellingborough and a prominent rightwinger, dismissed Warsi's remarks. 'I was up there. The MPs I saw up there tended to be rightwing MPs.  The idea that we did not go up there and campaign is complete nonsense.' " – The Guardian

"Commentator Tim Montgomerie, editor of the ConservativeHome website, noted Tory ministers had openly discussed how best to help the Lib Dems win Oldham. He said: “We have gone from a very competitive position to one where it will be very hard for us to win the seat in future.”  Mr Cameron defended the coalition and said: “It’s not great when you have by-elections and all the rest of it, but if we do the right thing, the public will give us space to get on with it, and then who knows?”" – Daily Express

Oldham Comment: Matthew Parris argues for a pact…

"The Liberal Democrat leadership is much touchier about open discussion of [an electoral pact] than is Mr Cameron’s side. The Tory leadership does not endorse the plan but seems relaxed about people airing the subject.  The Oldham result gives no comfort to critics from the Tory Right who argue that an electoral pact would rob their party of seats that it could otherwise have won, and the small but growing number of Conservative MPs who have flown kites with the idea of a pact is now likely to grow." – Matthew Parris, The Times (£)

…Charles Moore suggests that the Coalition's a one-term deal…

"In its initial Programme for Government, Messrs Clegg and Cameron wrote: "Three weeks ago we could never have predicted the publication of this document." But then they went on to promise "five years of partnership". What will bind the partners if the task is completed? We, the voters, gave them a doctor's mandate. If they fulfil it, why will we want – even if they are a lovely, modern GP partnership – to stay in their surgery any longer?" – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

…And Nick Cohen says that power could destroy the Liberal Democrats

"If it stays strong, if the Coalition teaches Right-leaning liberals that their fears about a nasty Tory government were misplaced and brings them into the Conservative camp, then David Cameron will be the true beneficiary.  I said that the strange death of Liberal England inaugurated an era when the British were either Labour or Conservative.   That was true as far it went, but missed the big point — that the Tories took the greater part of the spoils…" – Daily Mail

Clegg to launch book criticising tax breaks for marriage

CleggNickDeclaring "Nick Clegg risks a row with the Tory Right on Monday when he launches a report that criticises the idea of giving married couples tax breaks and warns governments against moralising about family formation.  The study, by the think-tank Demos, describes the married tax allowance, a totemic policy for many Conservatives, as a “weak tool” that does nothing to improve the lives of children. It finds that stable single-parented families provide a better environment for children than rowing married couples." – The Times (£)

"Lord Owen was one of the first people to predict a hung Parliament. Months before the general election in May he set up a website to educate people about coalitions.  Although he wishes the Lib-Con Government well, for the nation’s sake, he worries about the future of the junior partner. 'I am convinced Nick Clegg’s decision to go into coalition was in the country’s interests but whether it was in the Lib Dems’ interests is a very open question.' " – The Times (£)

The Sun tears into Ed Miliband's speech today

"Ed Miliband will today use Labour's by-election victory to launch a fresh assault on the well-off.  The Labour leader – dubbed Red Ed for his left-wing views – will call for a "fairer sharing of the nation's wealth".  He will insist in a keynote speech that most Brits agree with his desire to hammer the rich with higher taxes…The Labour chief will again call on disgruntled Lib Dems to switch to Labour." – The Sun

…And into Clegg over control orders

"Nick Clegg's bid to give more freedom to terror suspects will cost taxpayers £20million in extra MI5 funding, The Sun can reveal.  Spook bosses have demanded the extra cash to make Lib Dem tinkering with control orders work.  Under a delicately-brokered deal between PM David Cameron and his deputy Mr Clegg, it emerged this week that most of the tough rules will stay.  But suspects will get more freedoms – in a face-saving exercise to appease a Lib Dem election demand to scrap them." – The Sun

PM faces fuel stabiliser fight with Osborne

George Osborne headshot "David Cameron faces a showdown with George Osborne over how to ease pain at the pumps.  The PM revealed yesterday that the Treasury was fighting a rearguard action over calls for petrol prices to come down.  He said he favoured a fuel stabiliser, where duty is cut when oil prices soar and goes up again when prices fall.  But he admitted the Treasury was battling to hold on to as much cash as it could." – The Sun

David Cameron: It's wrong to take revenge on £250,000 bank bonuses

"David Cameron declared it would be wrong to take ‘revenge’ on the bankers yesterday – as it emerged that thousands are in line for pay and bonuses averaging nearly £250,000.  Wall Street giant JP Morgan revealed it will give its 10,000 British-based staff an average of £233,071.  A string of other banks are expected to announce similar payouts in the coming weeks…But although the Prime Minister admitted bankers had made people ‘as mad as hell’, he said he would not impose new punitive taxes on banks." – Daily Mail

How does the Government deal with the ban bonus issue? – David Herdson, Political Betting

Coalition and Political News in Brief

Most pregnant women have not had flu jab, Andrew Lansley admits

Lansley2 "In the letter to [John] Healey,Lansley responded tersely to Labour ministers who criticised the lack of a national advertising campaign. "We decided not to institute an autumn mass advertising campaign to encourage flu vaccination, because this would have wastefully focused on the entire population when only at-risk groups are being invited for vaccination," Lansley said." – The Guardian

Rural GPs' practices could be lost – Daily Telegraph

Improve or go, Gove warns heads…

"More than 1,000 heads face the sack or having their schools taken over by academies' chains if they fail to improve exam performances.  Education Secretary Michael Gove is to write to local authorities and the schools' academy sponsors, giving them a tight deadline by which they must have produced an action plan for improvements.  This follows the revelation this week that 216 secondary schools have failed to reach the Government's "floor" target of every school getting 35 per cent of pupils to gain at least five A* to C grade passes at GCSE including maths and English." – The Independent

…As £24 million Balls flagship school is set to close

"A flagship secondary school championed by Labour is to close just two years after it opened – but the taxpayer will be paying for it for another 23 years.  Christ the King in Huyton, Merseyside, was held up by former education secretary Ed Balls as a shining example of what the defeated government had done for pupils…  But it has become the first school opened under Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme to close because not enough parents will send their children there." – Daily Mail

Mayor in historic talks with unions as tube drivers call off royal wedding strike

"Boris Johnson tonight attempted to rebuild his relationship with Tube drivers after welcoming their decision to abandon plans for a royal wedding day strike.  The Mayor wrote to Aslef general secretary Keith Norman inviting him to face-to-face talks in a bid to solve their dispute over bank holiday working.  This is a radical move for Mr Johnson who normally refuses to get involved in direct talks with union barons and leaves negotiatons to Transport for London officials." – Evening Standard

After that Bercow/Pritchard row, a T-shirt carrying the Wrekin MP's words is "already available on the internet for £10.90 in a range of colours and sizes"…

Screen shot 2011-01-15 at 07.35.42 "Jonathan Sheppard, a political podcaster who is selling the tops, said: 'I will get a report on sales after a week, though given the interest expressed on Twitter for the shirts I am shocked at the strength of feeling on the issue and interest.  Indeed one message I got suggested they wanted to buy one and walk round Buckingham [the Speaker's constituency] in it." – Daily Mail

…As Pritchard apologises

"The two men traded verbal blows on Thursday, after falling out over a procedural point in the chamber.  Mr Pritchard told the BBC he did not regret making a stand, but wished he had not used "colourful language" [and that] he was not the first MP to be the target of Mr Bercow's "impoliteness".  The Speaker had prevented Mr Pritchard from asking a question in the Commons on Thursday, saying he had missed the start of a debate." – BBC

Alistair Campbell's latest release of his diaries

"TB was clearly having a bit of a wobble,Tony Blair had a "wobble" on the eve of his first bombing mission against Saddam Hussein after a late-night reading of the Bible…He [Blair] said he had been reading the Bible last night, as he often did when the really big decisions were on, and he had read something about John the Baptist and Herod which had caused him to rethink, albeit not change his mind." – The Guardian

And finally…Boris puts up giant cock in Trafalgar Square

Screen shot 2011-01-15 at 07.24.36 "A giant blue cockerel, by the German artist Katharina Fritsch, and a bronze sculpture of a boy on a rocking horse, by Elmgreen and Dragset, are to appear on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.  Mayor of London Boris Johnson revealed the winning designs yesterday.  The cockerel, designed by German artist Katharina Fritsch, symbolises regeneration, awakening and strength, and will take its place on the plinth in 2013." – The Independent

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45 comments for: Newslinks for Saturday 15th January 2011

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