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7.45pm Daniel Kawczynski MP on Comment: We must stand 100% behind the Libyan people in their desire to freely express their views

5.45pm Local government: Screen shot 2011-02-24 at 17.08.23 John Biggs insults Mayor of London

5.15pm WATCH: David Cameron apologises for slow evacuation of British nationals from Libya

3.15pm ToryDiary: Pro AV campaign hit by cash-for-voting-machines allegations

3pm Matt Sinclair on Comment: Phillip Hammond is undermining the Government's credibility on transparency

2pm ToryDiary: Paul Goodman presents the third and final part of his series on localism: What should happen next – including real local policing

12.15pm Eric Pickles on Local government: Labour hate transparency because it exposes the waste and inefficiency of the state

10.45am ToryDiary: William Hague apologises for "infuriating" Libyan evacuation effort

New10

ToryDiary: The new 10 Downing Street

Andrew Bridgen MP on Comment: At every opportunity we need to push the fact that these are Labour's cuts

Three important posts on Local government:

ThinkTankCentral: Gove's free schools revolution must embrace profit-making businesses to succeed

LeftWatch: Is the job-creating private sector giving up on Labour?

WATCH: Alistair Burt defends FCO efforts to rescue Britons stranded in Libya

Goldie Annabel Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie launches campaign with pledge to cut £200 from every OAP's council tax bill

"She made it clear that will be the price of support from her party to whoever forms the next Government after the election on May 5." – The Sun

"As interesting as her words on council tax were yesterday, Miss Goldie's address to prospective Tory candidates was significant also, at least to this observer, in what it said about her party's ambitions. She acknowledged that the Conservatives cannot win in May – they cannot. But having tasted what a minority administration can be forced to do by a sizeable block of opposition MSPs, Miss Goldie said the more Tories that get elected, the better the deal they may wring from whichever party wins most seats." – Alan Cochrane in The Telegraph

69 businesses back Philip Hammond's hi-speed rail plansFT (£) | Yesterday evening's ToryDiary

Screen shot 2011-02-24 at 05.39.05 William Hague announces review of FCO's Libya evacuation operation amid media criticismsBBC

  • "Mr Hague needs to ensure that the practical arrangements end with the swift and safe passage of British citizens back home because his performance, under the pressure of rapid revolutionary change, has been less than sure-footed. His inexplicable and irresponsible suggestion that Colonel Gaddafi was on his way to Venezuela gave credence to a rumour that could have tempted more Libyans on to the streets to be met with terrible reprisals. Mr Hague also has links with the Crown Prince of Bahrain, which could yet prove to be a major political embarrassment to him." – Times leader (£)
  • The Sun Says: "It has not been the Government's best week. First, William Hague promoted groundless speculation that Gaddafi had fled to Venezuela. Then we were last, even behind Bulgaria, to set up an airlift – and the plane broke down at Gatwick before finally leaving at 10pm yesterday. SOS calls from terrified oil workers have apparently been ignored. Meanwhile David Cameron is off in the Middle East and Nick Clegg's been on holiday. Time to raise your game."
  • Daily Mail leader attacks FCO response.

Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi personally ordered the Lockerbie bombing, his former justice minister has claimed – and he insisted he could prove itMetro

Cameron rejects sanctions until Britons are safeTimes (£)

  • Tony Blair 'too close' to Gaddafi regime, David Cameron claims – Telegraph
  • "Mr Cameron’s public statements on the colonel are somewhat restrained. Yes, the violence is appalling, but there’s no direct criticism of the man himself… Among Government people, there are significant private fears about what might become of them if the colonel targets them in retaliation for British excoriation of his character and his family. Mr Cameron’s Government is already taking flak for what critics say has been a sluggish evacuation of those Britons. Those political woes will grow a thousandfold if any Brits in Libya come to serious harm in the coming days." – James Kirkup for The Telegraph
  • In The Guardian, Ian Birrell on military intervention: "The international community may be forced to make a choice: does it sit back and prevaricate while people are massacred, as it has so often in the past. Or does it refuse to be scarred by the foolishness of the Iraq invasion and show that it can act when there is unacceptable barbarism. For it is possible the only solution is a rapid intervention led by perhaps Egypt or Tunisia, whose armies have won respect in recent weeks, to winkle Gaddafi out of his air base and end his appalling regime. It would have to be endorsed by the Arab League, and such events are highly dangerous and unpredictable. The alternative, however, may be worse."

Cameron accuses EU of wasting money in Middle East

"In a blistering attack on Brussels waste, the Prime Minister hit out at the vast sums of taxpayers’ cash that has been paid to dictatorships like Libya and Syria for over a decade. And he is ordering Eurocrats to “be brave and turn off the tap” of cash if Arab regimes continue to fail to make progress towards democracy and freedom." – Express

Anthony Browne, Chief Policy Advisor to Boris Johnson, warns of "severe fiscal consequences" if banker bashing continuesCity AM

Coalition in Brief:

  • "The Government has confirmed plans not to fund hospitals who harm or kill patients as a result of blunders." – Independent
  • "Within the next two weeks George Osborne, the Chancellor, will launch plans to scrap existing rules that require companies and charities to protect public sector pension rights if they win service contracts." – Times (£)
  • Government quota threat to firms that fail to appoint 25% female boards – Daily Mail
  • The statutory social security advisory committee criticises planned overhaul of the disability living allowance – Guardian

The state of the AV campaign

Screen shot 2011-02-24 at 05.56.33 "The campaign for May’s alternative vote referendum kicked off in earnest last week, and is turning out to be closer than expected. Early polls showed the Yes camp ahead but the No campaign’s claims that AV will cost about £250m ($406m) seem to have clawed back ground. The figure is spurious: it includes the bill for the referendum, which will be the same whoever wins. Nonetheless pollster Peter Kellner credits it with shifting support among Tory voters, which explains the poll shift. “If AV is to have any hope, it needs a big majority of Labour voters,” he says. At present Labour supporters are split – making all the more pronounced the grumblings in the Yes camp about Ed Miliband’s as yet muted support for their campaign." – James Crabtree in the FT (£)

Mercer Patrick Irish republican terrorists are back in business – Patrick Mercer MP for The Times (£)

The Ultra-Blairites, Cameroons and Cleggite Liberals dance to the same SDP tune – Steve Richards in The Independent on the continuing power of the Owenite SDP

TaxPayers' Alliance finds little correlation between spending and pupil attainmentBBC

Was Ed Balls THIRD choice as Shadow Chancellor?

The Sun reports that Ed Miliband approach brother David to succeed Alan Johnson.

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79 comments for: Newslinks for Thursday 24th February 2011

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