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9pm WATCH: Tourists witness Egypt protests

5.30pm ToryDiary: In praise of ‪Woodpecker Hall Free School‬

1.30pm WATCH: Charles Clarke: Ed Balls is not the right person to be Shadow Chancellor

11am David T Breaker in Comment: The Left blame class, they should blame themselves

David Cameron perturbed ToryDiary: "A government with 20 priorities has no priorities"

Brook Whelan in Comment: A fully-appointed second chamber is not ideal, but it's the least worst option available in our parliamentary system

Local Government: –

Parliament: Michał Kamiński's resignation letter as ECR group leader in full

LeftWatch: Stammer struggle Balls shifts swiftly in Times interview

WATCH:  ‪

Cameron and Hague step up pressure for reform as Mubarak sacks Egyptian Government amidst turmoil

Screen shot 2011-01-29 at 06.14.31 "William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, urged the Egyptian government to heed the "legitimate demands of protesters. Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said she was "deeply concerned about the use of force" to quell the protests.  In an interview for the American news channel CNN, to be broadcast tomorrow, David Cameron said: “I think what we need is reform in Egypt. I mean, we support reform and progress in the greater strengthening of the democracy and civil rights and the rule of law.” – Daily Telegraph 

Can Mubarak survive?  Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt's view on Newsnight –

“I don’t think anyone knows at this stage. What we didn’t hear was anything about enabling people to have freedom of expression, which was being curtailed today through the removal of the internet and social networking sites – we think that’s wrong, we don’t think that will help. It remains to be seen whether what’s being offered is enough…“I think the tide is turning very strongly. It’s not for us to sit here in London and work out where that tide is going to go.” – Politics Home (£)

"The Egyptian, Jordanian and Moroccan governments, for example, are forces of moderation in the region, urging dialogue with Israel and a peaceful two-state solution to the Israeli- Palestinian dispute. But the Arab people are far more radical, and more hostile to Israel. If they obtain political power, they may create governments in those countries with foreign policies closer to those of Iran or Syria." – Sir Malcolm Rifkind in The Times (£)

Hague Egypt travel advice – Sky News

The Independent returns to the Tory election pact story

"A plan for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to encourage anti-Labour tactical voting at the next general election is being discussed privately by Tory Cabinet ministers.  Although David Cameron and Nick Clegg insist the two Coalition parties will fight the election as separate parties, some Tory ministers want their party to soft pedal in the seats held by the Liberal Democrats." – The Independent

Liam Fox defends decision to scrap Nimrod

"The single MRA4 aircraft that had been delivered to the RAF was so riddled with flaws it could not pass its flight tests, it was simply unsafe to fly. I am not prepared to put our service personnel into any plane that isn’t safe. It would have taken more money and more time to rectify all the problems, if it was possible at all, and the onward cost of sustaining even the reduced fleet over the next ten years was a prohibitive £2bn. So we took the decision not to throw good money after bad. In the final analysis, it had to go." – Liam Fox, Daily Telegraph 

Osborne delays public sector pension reform

"Ministers have delayed the announcement of a crackdown on ‘unsustainable’ gold-plated public sector pension funds amid threats of a general strike from union leaders.  Details of changes to state employees’ retirement funds had been due to be unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne in his March Budget.  But, with increasing signs that pension cuts is the issue that could prompt co-ordinated walkouts across the public sector, talks with unions on how the pain should be spread will now go on until June." – Daily Mail

 Maude threatens to fire Suzi Leather…

Screen shot 2011-01-29 at 08.01.43 " 'Quango queen' Dame Suzi Leather has been warned her reign at the Charity Commission will be cut short unless she ends ‘politically motivated’ attacks on Coalition policy.  The controversial Labour sympathiser has until the end of the year to drop her vendetta against independent schools and end her public opposition to spending cuts.  But senior sources say Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude is set to fire her with a notice period if she does not change her attitude by the end of the year." – Daily Mail

"Opinionated and self-important, drifting from one cushy public job to the next, Suzi Leather represents Labour’s bloated quangocracy at its worst. Now ministers say that unless she keeps her opinions to herself, they’ll ‘terminate’ her reign as the Quango Queen.  What are they waiting for? As a symbol of all that’s rotten about the system, shouldn’t she be the first into the flames of the ‘bonfire of the quangos’?" – Daily Mail Editorial

…And fails to back Boris on tougher union laws

"Boris Johnson, privately backed by several Cabinet ministers, is leading the charge for tougher union laws. But Maude, a key player in the Coalition’s dealings with the public sector, is reluctant. Tightening Thatcher’s labour laws is a “last resort” he says. In the meantime, the Government should have faith in rank-and-file trade union members to embrace the Coalition agenda even as their leaders are roaring their opposition." – Daily Telegraph

Gove in charter schools move

"The Education Secretary has invited prominent figures involved with setting up or authorising the charter schools to address a conference today for groups seeking to start new schools in England.  He drew parallels between the challenges for school reform in England and the US, and said that he “drew inspiration” from its charter schools, which are independent, public-funded schools…He is likely to heighten tensions with teaching unions by modelling academies on charter schools in the US." – The Times (£)

Eight free schools close to final approval – BBC

Nigel Lawson interview: "I do not think all this Hiltonism is as successful at winning hearts and minds as they thought it might be."

LAWSON NIGEL TODAY Lawson on –

  • The Coalition: "I think it would be far better not to have one."
  • The Conservative election campaign (1): "Inept".
  • The Conservative election campaign (2): "Silly."
  • The Conservative election campaign (3): "They should have got an overall majority and they didn't because they made a number of mistakes. One was agreeing to the three-way television debates."
  • The Conservative election campaign (4): "They stopped talking about the economy and talked instead about the Big Society, which nobody understood anyway."
  • AV: "Crazy."
  • On Osborne: "He must stick to his guns…I think we'll be all right in the end." – Daily Telegraph

 Cameron and Osborne Davos visit follow-up

"David Cameron last night launched an extraordinary attack on the ‘authoritarian capitalism’ of China and Russia as he warned businesses to invest there at their peril.  Mr Cameron poured scorn on those who see ‘political leaders with the powers of juggernauts’ forcing through decisions elsewhere in the world and believe that the democratic values of the West are ‘outdated, ineffective – even an obstacle to success." – Daily Mail

OSBORNE GEORGE PORTRAIT "In a separate session of the WEF, Mr Osborne said it was time to "move on" from the hostility directed at the banking sector – but only if a deal could be reached with the City on pay and bonus restraint, and on greater support for the economy in the form of more lending.  The Chancellor also promised that…his Budget, due in less than eight weeks' time, would lay some of the foundations required. "The ambition … will be to turn the tide on the forces of stagnation." – The Independent

"The Prime Minister insisted that it was the responsibility of the Eurozone “club” to aid failing members, adding that the Irish Republic had received support only because it was an “old friend” of the United Kingdom.  Interviewed at the World Economic Forum in Davos… he told CNN’S Fareed Zakaria that there would be no further bailouts beyond liabilities guaranteed as part of the European financial mechanism agreed by the last government." – Daily Telegraph

'Fatwa' on Theresa May in Tooting is investigated

"Wanted-style posters which declared a "fatwa" on the home secretary are being investigated by police in south London.  Several posters have been displayed around Tooting, criticising Theresa May "for the abduction, kidnapping and false imprisonment" of radical clerics.  These include Abu Hamza, the preacher imprisoned in 2006 for inciting murder and racial hatred.  The Metropolitan Police said it was "working to find out who put them up" and hoped the posters would be removed." – BBC

Other Coalition and Political News

  • National Trust ready to 'step in' and save English woodlands – The Guardian
  • Surgeons question NHS reforms – Daily Telegraph
  • Banned hate preacher Zakir Naik to address Oxford Union by satellite – The Guardian

Pickles and Cable clash over localism

Eric Pickles cheerful "Eric Pickles, the larger-than-life communities secretary, has fallen out with other ministers across Whitehall since the summer over issues including rubbish collection, home insulation and regional development agencies.  But a row to eclipse all of these is looming at the top of the government over Mr Pickles’ “localism” agenda…Mr Pickles and Mr Cable have clashed over the creation of local enterprise partnerships…with their departments issuing conflicting advice to councils and companies vying to set up the new bodies." – Financial Times (£)

Express raises Clarke's prisons policy after Judge's verdict

"In attacking sentencing guidelines that effectively prevented him from sending a burglar to prison, Judge Julian Lambert has spoken up for the law-abiding majority.  His verdict on the 80 hours of community work he was advised to hand down to housebreaker Daniel Rogers was brutally frank: “I have never seen anything so wet in all my life. We live in soft times now.” Only political pressure for a tougher approach can reverse this dismal trend and while Kenneth Clarke is ensconced as Justice Secretary there is precious little chance of that." – Daily Express editorial

Other Comment

  • Watch out – Gordon’s gang are back in town – Matthew Parris, The Times (£)
  • Never have our politicians been posher, or more prolier-than-thou – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Is Gordon Brown fuelling Labour's phone hacking claims?

Gordon Brown morose 2010 "The former prime minister, who is rarely seen in Westminster, is understood to have been in contact with sympathetic journalists to discuss the phone-hacking allegations.   He was furious when Mr Murdoch’s newspaper The Sun switched allegiance from Labour to the Tories, wrecking his last party conference before the election. Yesterday, in the latest stage of an apparently carefully co-ordinated series of claims, former Cabinet minister Nick Brown claimed his phone had been bugged." – Daily Mail

Cabinet Secretary: Blair kept Cabinet in the dark over Iraq

"Tony Blair was ‘reluctant’ to discuss Iraq with his Cabinet because he did not trust his ministers to keep the details secret, Britain’s top civil servant said yesterday.  The then prime minister was paranoid that private conversations about going to war would be leaked by unhappy colleagues, said Sir Gus O’Donnell.  His remarks contradicted Mr Blair’s claim that he held frequent and robust Cabinet discussion about toppling Saddam Hussein." – Daily Mail

Sir Gus O'Donnell urges GCHQ spies urged to open Facebook – The Times (£)

And finally (1)…Jacqui Smith – "Porn Again"…

"Jacqui Smith is to cash in on her dodgy expenses claims by presenting a documentary about pornography.  The former Home Secretary was caught up in the expenses scandal after she charged taxpayers for the cost of hiring two blue movies watched by her husband.  She is to present a documentary for BBC Radio 5 Live, entitled Porn Again to be to be aired on March 3.  The BBC says the programme will see Miss Smith question her own opinions and experience along the way." – Daily Mail

And finally (2)…Cameron children to choose Downing Street anti-rat cat

Screen shot 2011-01-29 at 06.24.53
"So it is likely to fall to Mr Cameron’s two elder children, Nancy, aged 7, and Elwen, 4, to choose a cat to chase the rats that avoided the traps and excited the hacks outside.  The Times was given a preview yesterday of the likely candidates for the position of No 10 ratter by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, the Camerons’ cat supplier of choice. Ros Davies, a cat “rehomer” at Battersea, identified five cats that have the combination of hunting instinct and statesmanlike charm to succeed as the nation’s rodent car." – The Times (£)

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