9.30pm Parliament: The music stops for Nadhim Zahawi

8.30pm LeftWatch: The best blog reactions to Ed Balls becoming Shadow Chancellor

Hancock7.30pm Matthew Hancock MP on Comment: Ed Balls was the architect of Britain's economic problems

Screen shot 2011-01-20 at 18.05.136pm Leftwatch: I wrote that Ed Miliband's first appointments showed fear. As Red Ed Two takes charge, this one shows desperation.

5pm Leftwatch BREAKING NEWS: Alan Johnson resigns as Shadow Chancellor

3.45pm David Green in Comment on Sayeeda Warsi's controversial speech: Encouraging sectarianism

1.15pm ToryDiary: Freeze pay, scrap IPSA

12.30pm Martin Sewell in Comment: A way in which we can help Michael Gove with the history syllabus

12.15pm Local Government: The case of Holly Vincent

Screen shot 2011-01-20 at 11.38.39 11.30am WATCH: Nadhim Zahawi's tie is too loud for the House of Commons

10.30am In Comment –

In ToryDiary –

Screen shot 2011-01-20 at 08.58.58
In Comment –

In Local Government –

Parliament: Five ways of defending the Government during an Opposition Day debate

Kristian Niemietz on Think Tank Central: When it comes to poverty, adequate policy responses require adequate measurement

Gazette: William Hague meets John Howard during Australian visit

WATCH:  ‪Koran-protest pastor banned from UK‬ 

Today, Michael Gove launches a national curriculum review…

GOVE MICHAEL NW "Children will be taught to concentrate on facts and figures plus key dates and personalities from British history as a result of a review of the national curriculum to be announced today.  Education Secretary Michael Gove will launch his review…this morning with a clarion call for the restoration of "academic rigour" in state schools. "The new national curriculum will therefore have a greater focus on subject content outlining the essential knowledge and understanding that pupils should be expected to have," says a background document." – The Independent 

…And yesterday suggested voting tactically for the Liberal Democrats in Hull

" 'But if they're wise enough to vote Liberal Democrat at the next local elections in Hull …' Amid gasps and laughter, Gove paused before adding, '… or for the Conservatives in any seat where we are well placed to defeat Labour, then they will have a council which is fulfilling its statutory duty. It is no surprise that there are Liberal Democrat and Conservative councils which are ensuring that all students receive the support they deserve." – The Guardian

"Former Conservative MP Paul Goodman said:  'Local elections are one thing, and the next general election another.  But even so, I can't recall a senior Conservative urging voters to back another party in similar circumstances.  'It's not as though blue candidates don't run in Hull. What will local Tories have to say?'  Right-wing Tories who believe David Cameron hopes to engineer a permanent power-sharing deal with the Lib Dems have noted his refusal to categorically rule out such an arrangement." – Daily Mail

Yesterday –

Theresa May seeks to drop 28 days detention quietly…

"The home secretary, Theresa May, faces fresh embarrassment over the much-delayed review of counter-terrorism powers after the Home Office confirmed that the police power to detain terror suspects for up to 28 days without charge will lapse on midnight on Monday.  Labour MPs claimed today that Home Office ministers were quietly hoping the controversial 28 day pre-charge detention limit would be allowed to slip away without any parliamentary debate before the full announcement of the review of counter-terrorism powers – including the future of the controversial control orders – pencilled in for later next week." – The Guardian 

…And bans Koran protest pastor Terry Jones, not so quietly

"The U.S. preacher who sparked outrage by saying he was going to burn copies of the Koran has been banned from entering the UK.  Pastor Terry Jones had threatened to burn copies of the Islamic book at his Florida-based church to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America last year.  He had been invited to England by a group called England Is Ours, next month.  But the Home Office has decided that his presence here 'is not conduciveto the public good'." – Daily Mail

MoD faces fresh crisis over funding

"Senior figures in the Ministry of Defence are warning of a possible reopening of last October's Strategic Defence and Security Review because the MoD lacks the funds needed to provide the military capability demanded by the government for 2020.  Amid signs that the MoD is in the throes of a new crisis over defence spending, senior figures at the department have discovered that they need to find at least £1bn a year of additional cuts if they are to meet the Treasury’s target for future expenditure reductions." – Financial Times (£)

Taboids probe new figures for migrant facts

Screen shot 2011-01-20 at 08.42.27 "But now a breakdown of workers by place of birth and nationality suggests even where new jobs are created, only a third go to people born in Britain. For example, there were 300,000 more jobs from July to September last year.  Two-thirds went to overseas workers – roughly half to migrants from across the world and the rest to those born in eastern European countries like Poland that joined the EU in 2004." – Daily Express

"Britain accepts more non-European immigrants than any other EU country except Spain, it emerged yesterday.  The latest annual figures showed immigration from Asia, Africa and the Americas running at 307,000, against 284,000 received by Italy and the 238,000 who went to Germany." – Daily Mail

Prime Minister feels the wrath of Mumsnet

"Riven Williams said that she was getting so little help with her quadriplegic daughter, Celyn, 6, that she had no choice other than to put her into full-time care. Within hours, her brief message on the social networking site had attracted more than 1,000 replies from users, condemning the Prime Minister and offering help and advice.  During the election campaign last spring, Mr Cameron accepted an invitation to tea at Mrs Williams’s home in Bristol after she led a campaign against him on Mumsnet over the provision of nappies for disabled children." – The Times (£)

Cameron calls for north European alliance as Nordic and Baltic leaders arrive for summit…

"David Cameron has urged countries across northern Europe to form an "alliance of common interests".  As the UK prime minister prepared to host leaders of Nordic and Baltic countries, he said they could become an "avant garde" for economic growth.  The leaders of Iceland, Norway, Latvia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Lithuania and Estonia are at the London summit.  Mr Cameron said it would boost trade with the countries, currently worth almost £54bn a year." – BBC

…As he studies their quota ideas for women in boardrooms

"Compulsory quotas boosting the number of women in top company jobs are being studied by the Government.  Downing Street revealed last night that David Cameron wants to borrow ideas on employment reforms from Scandinavia.  At a summit in London today, the Prime Minister will vow to learn lessons from Nordic nations who have done more to impose sexual equality in boardrooms.   In a move that will anger business leaders, No 10 officials admitted that plans to impose a quota could be adopted." – Daily Mail

UK banks battle to fight bonus disclosures

"Britain’s banks are fighting a rearguard action to block the disclosure of their top traders' bonuses, as George Osborne, chancellor, tries to make City pay more transparent than in New York.  Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays, which have big investment banking divisions, fear that disclosure of star traders’ pay could lead to a “witch-hunt” and that the vilification of individuals in the media could drive some out of Britain." – Financial Times (£)

The papers give Lansley's NHS Bill a cool reception

"Patients may suffer in the biggest NHS reform in 60 years, the Government admitted yesterday.  A document assessing the impact of huge changes warned that cancer patients and the elderly will be particularly at risk and that staff may be "less focused".  Health Secretary Andrew Lansley insisted moves to modernise the service, meet rising demands and "improve outcomes" were vital." – The Sun

"Ministers admitted yesterday that despite changes costing £1.4billion, the new health service would in many ways be the same as the old one.  Although Health Secretary Andrew Lansley had promised a ‘bonfire of the bureaucrats’ by abolishing dozens of NHS organisations, he revealed that up to 70 per cent of their staff would in fact be kept on." – Daily Mail

Family doctors pave way for new vision in Cumbria – Nick Timmins, Financial Times (£)

Yesterday –

Treasury chief says ministries lost control of spending under Labour

Screen shot 2011-01-20 at 08.45.31 "The row over Labour's spending record reignited today after the top official at the Treasury said three of the biggest Whitehall departments "lost control" of spending at various points under the last government.  Sir Nicholas Macpherson, the permanent secretary to the Treasury, said the Ministry of Defence was put into "special measures", after it lost control of spending, while both education and the health departments experienced serious problems." – The Guardian

Alistair Campbell praises Cameron news management

"David Cameron’s detached approach to the daily news cycle wins the endorsement today of the man who wrote Tony Blair’s headlines.   Mr Cameron said before taking office that he would pay less attention to the demands of 24-hour news. Mr Campbell said: “My sense is that they take a more detached view of it — and I think if they’ve learnt that from the way we did, then I think they’ve learnt the right lesson.” – The Times (£)

ITV could pull out of regional news if local TV plans work

"The culture secretary today gave ITV the green light to pull out of regional news if his plans for a new network of local TV services comes to fruition.  Hunt…said that he was "relaxed" about what happens to existing regional TV services.  "When we have this structure in place I will be very relaxed as to what happens in regional news," added Hunt. "[Public service broadcasters] will have a much freer hand over what they thought was appropriate for the future for their regional services. I would leave it to the PSBs what to do." – The Guardian

And don't forget…the struggle in the Lords goes on…and on…and on…

"After the previous day’s 21-hour marathon session, many seemed relieved to hear that last night’s debate was only likely to stretch until 2, 3 or 4am. There was even talk of the two sides meeting up today to sort out their differences.  Labour peers are deliberately slowing down the procedure by which members are discussing a bill that will see the number of MPs cut by 50 and pave the way for a referendum on the voting system." – The Times (£)

Coalition and Political News in Brief

  • Prime Minister ducks DUP probe on fuel rebates – Belfast Telegraph
  • Private sector-led reform "key to Commonwealth Development Corporations's future" says Andrew Mitchell – The Guardian
  • The Guardian unearths that Cameron was News International Chief Executive's Christmas Guest in shock horror exclusive – The Guardian

Huhne to treble price of eco-bulbs, just as old ones are phased out

HuhneSnarl "Energy-saving lightbulbs are set to more than treble in price as the final supplies of traditional bulbs dwindle, industry experts warn.  The cost of the newer bulbs has been kept artificially low by subsidies from energy companies for the past three years.  However, energy secretary Chris Huhne has pulled the plug on the practice and ordered energy companies to stop the subsidies by March.  The move is expected to send costs soaring and bulbs that now cost 33p are expected to go up to more than £1." – Daily Express

The Guardian probes Labour-Liberal Democrat dialogue

"Hughes's job is difficult, and away from extinguishing the fires he starts, some senior Lib Dems admit he is not 100% unhelpful. Hughes talks to everyone (he has high-level access to government officials), but may calculate that public chats with Miliband that could end up helping Clegg will maximise Lib Dem leverage.  Tory ministerial teams increasingly grumble that the deputy prime minister makes an agreement when in the room, but rings up later to say X Lib Dem won't wear it." – The Guardian

Benedict Brogan: Has William Hague lost his mojo?

"Of course, it may be that the Foreign Secretary’s personal difficulties have snuffed out the last spark of ambition to lead his party, and that this big beast is now toothless enough to be vulnerable to the cruelties of those who used to fear him. But Britain’s foreign policy cannot be a retirement home for politicians who no longer figure in the fight. For the country’s sake, Mr Hague has to get his mojo back." – Daily Telegraph

Other Comment

  • As William Hague jets off round the globe, has he left his mojo behind? – Benedict Brogan's blog, Daily Telegraph
  • The heirs to Blair are nothing like him – Steve Richards, The Independent
  • Bercow's boundaries – Guardian Editorial
  • John Bercow is a breath of fresh air.  No, really – Matthew Parris, The Times (£)

And finally…is that Lady Thatcher in the public gallery?  No, it's Meryl Streep.

Screen shot 2011-01-20 at 06.23.22 "Miss Streep is to play Lady Thatcher in a forthcoming film, The Iron Lady, and could be seen sitting beneath the public gallery at the far end of the Chamber, watching how Prime Minister’s Questions works.  We would like to congratulate Miss Streep on an outstanding performance as a nondescript spectator. In her most recent hit, Mamma Mia, she could not resist any excuse to burst into song, and some of us fear her new movie will not be over until the Iron Lady sings." – Andrew Gimson, The Daily Telegraph

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