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9.15pm ToryDiary: Matthew D'Ancona clocks the decline of Hague and the rise of Osborne – "the real Deputy Prime Minister"

7.30pm ToryDiary: The RAF flies over 150 civilians out of Libya

Screen shot 2011-02-26 at 19.19.13 7.15pm ToryDiary: David Cameron's Radio 4 joke (and what can we expect from Chris Patten?)

4.30pm WATCH: Saif Gaddafi: Libyan massacre reports are "a joke"

1.15pm LISTEN Right wing politicians are better looking than their left wing counterparts according to a new Swedish study.  So who are the most attractive MPs?  Bill Cash and Stephen Pound debate the issue.

10.45am Paul Goodman on Comment: George Bush and the neo-cons haven't been proved right about the Middle East

ToryDiary: Cameron won't strive to keep Bercow alive

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Comment –

Jim McConalogue: The EU's hypocrisy over the Egyptian regime (and Britain's role in it)

Mike Weatherley MP: How a new competition seeks to promote live music and the preservation of intellectual property rights

Local Government:

WATCH: Gadaffi defiant in Libya speech

Cameron moves to grip Libya crisis as the papers probe his Middle East tour

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"David Cameron moved to regain lost ground over his handling of the Libyan crisis by leading calls for sanctions, asset freezes and war crimes tribunals against Colonel Gaddafi.  The prime minister has faced criticism over the ponderous pace of the Foreign Office rescue of stranded Britons in Libya since he left on a four-day tour of the Gulf to strike energy and defence deals. The trip had been planned well before the unrest across the Middle East." – The Guardian

"European governments had last night reached a consensus on the need for sanctions on the Gaddafi clan and instructed officials to announce detailed measures early next week. Amid divisions and foot-dragging by Italy…the EU and its foreign minister, Baroness Ashton, have been criticised for failing to act quickly. Endorsing the move to "restrictive measures" against Col Gaddafi, Lady Ashton insisted: "We are putting as much pressure as possible to try to stop the violence in Libya"." – Daily Telegraph

"For the first time the prime minister’s near obsession with promoting trade was confronted with one of the awkward dilemmas of statesmanship – the short-term rewards and long-term perils of doing business with authoritarian regimes.  As he moved between meetings with military juntas, wealthy sultans and the leaders of an uprising, Mr Cameron insisted there was “no contradiction” between fostering commerce and security, and promoting freedom. But it was clear the trip gave him pause for thought." – Financial Times

Middle East Comment –

Screen shot 2011-02-26 at 09.00.48 "No sooner had the John Simpsons and George Alagiahs left the excited nights in Tahrir Square in Cairo, than a vast crowd, almost unreported in the West, turned out there to hear Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, who had just flown in from Qatar after years of exile…Next stop for our cameras was Bahrain, and now to Libya – or rather, to the Libyan border…They will stay there as long as there is bloodshed and/or the fall of the dictator, and then slip away without bothering about what happens after." – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

"Having accepted £300,000 of the promised £1.5 million, it has now renounced the gift and promises to surrender £150,000. But a further £150,000 has already been spent. What should be done?…LSE students, discovering a little of yesteryear’s radicalism, have come up with a good solution: use the entire Gaddafi fund to pay for scholarships for deserving Libyans. Justice and honour might thus be salvaged for the battered university." – Times Editorial (£)

Yesterday –

Danny Alexander defends the City

Screen shot 2011-02-26 at 08.38.17 "Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, has been pressing for tougher control on bankers whom he describes as “spivs and gamblers”. Mr Alexander strikes a different tone. “I’ll choose my own language,” he says. “Through the discussions we’ve had with the banks we’re getting more lending into the economy, more tax, and lower bonuses. But I think it’s also important to stress the importance of the financial services industry to Britain. We need to rebalance the economy but that needs to be about building up other parts of the economy, not tearing down one part of it.” – The Times (£) 

Last year's slowdown was bigger than expected

"The economic slowdown at the end of last year was worse than previously thought – ramping up pressure on the Chancellor to kickstart the recovery in next month’s Budget.  The size of the economy shrunk by 0.6 per cent between October and December, the Office for National Statistics said.  The original estimate of a 0.5 per cent contraction was blamed on one of the worst winters in recent memory, which led to a squeeze on retail sales." – Daily Mail

Yesterday in Comment –

Andrew Lilico: What is inflation?

How are you feeling today? Let the Government know in £2m "well-being" survey

"Households up and down the country will soon be invited to judge whether they have 'worthwhile' lives in the nation's first 'wellbeing index'.  The survey, which is thought to be the brainchild of government 'blue-sky thinker' Steve Hilton, will ask 200,000 people to rate their happiness on a scale of zero to ten.  Whether the initiative's £2million budget will have any impact upon the happiness of taxpayers is yet to be seen.  But supporters believe the index will help improve national contentment." – Daily Mail

I'm never unhappy with a questionnaire – Bryony Gordon, Daily Telegraph

Passenger forecasts for high-speed rail are deeply flawed, say project critics

Screen shot 2011-02-26 at 08.40.57 "Ministers will claim next week that up to 15 million British road users and airline passengers will switch to high-speed routes featuring 225mph trains when they become available in the mid-2030s. But critics of the £34 billion project, many of whom live along the proposed initial route between London and Birmingham, claim that these figures are optimistic and say that ministers have not given adequate consideration to cheaper alternatives." – The Times (£)

Willetts threatens "overcharging" universities with further funding cuts

"Very few universities would be justified in charging tuition fees of £9,000 a year – the new maximum from next year – the higher education minister, David Willetts, has said in a speech to vice-chancellors. The government wants a stratified system under which universities charge different amounts. Ministers expect the average to be £7,500. However, several universities have said they intend to charge the maximum." – The Guardian

Extra university places for students paying upfront – The Times (£)

Council Chief Executives ignore Pickles' pay cut advice

"Eric Pickles is not short of advice for councils.  But one of his pearls of wisdom appears to have fallen on deaf ears.  At last year's Conservative conference the Communities and Local Government Secretary had a suggestion for council Chief Executives.  He said any paid more than £150,000 should take a 5% pay cut; any paid £200,000 could make it 10%.  But the Politics Show has discovered that only one Chief Executive across the region has actually listened to that advice and cut his salary." – BBC

Coalition and Political News in Brief

  • British forces would struggle to mount small military intervention, claim officers – Daily Telegraph
  • Mother's anger as Clegg 'washes his hands' of Gary McKinnon – Daily Mail
  • John Swinney 'should hang his head in shame' for tax gaffe – Scotsman
  • Lansley reveals Norfolk secret during Any Questions at Aylsham – Norwich Evening News

First exit poll predicts Irish election result

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"The results of an RTÉ Exit Poll indicate that Fine Gael is on course to lead the next government – but that it will not win an overall majority.  The Millward Brown Lansdowne Poll also indicates that Labour should have its best ever General Election result, and Fianna Fáil its worst. 3,500 voters were interviewed after they had cast their ballots by Millward Brown Lansdowne for the RTÉ Exit Poll." – RTE News

Mandelson's warning to Miliband

"Ed Miliband risks making his party as unelectable as it was in the days of Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock, Lord Mandelson warned last night.  The former business secretary said there was a danger that Labour would become as mistrusted on the economy as it was in the 1980s.  In a new chapter of his memoirs, he taunted Mr Miliband over a ‘wafer-thin’ leadership majority that was achieved only through the support of union barons." – Daily Mail

Daily Mail urges Cameron to take on BBC over cuts bias

"Frankly, the BBC’s bias is a disgrace. With complete justification, the Prime Minister has referred to this ‘impartial’ behemoth as the ‘British Broadcasting Cuts Corporation’.  This paper now hopes David Cameron’s entirely understandable anger will be communicated to his ministers, who over recent months have shown a worrying reluctance to answer their critics – allowing the whining anti-cuts brigade to win their arguments by default." – Daily Mail Editorial

Other Comment

  • The foolish cuts that leave us defenceless – Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph
  • Intelligent, traditional media are crucial to the defence of our liberty – Harold Evans, The Independent
  • If there’s no will, there’s no way to express it – Matthew Parris, The Times (£)
  • Treachery and a weak man called Calamity Clegg – Amanda Platell, Daily Mail
  • James Frayne's appointment as media chief at Department for Education may be a masterstroke – Wintour and Watt, The Guardian
  • Company tax – do they pay enough? – John Redwood's Blog

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68 comments for: Newslinks for Saturday 26th February 2011

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