Jail Vote 9.30pm Melanchthon on Comment: The coming constitutional crisis on votes for prisoners

7pm Parliament: Tory PPSs will get a free vote on votes for prisoners next week

6pm Parliament: New Forest MPs differ over Spelman woodland sale proposals

5.15pm Local Government: Liverpool "daft" to pull out of Big Society Vanguard says Redmond

3pm ToryDiary: AV can be defeated if voters go into the polling booth thinking of Nick Clegg, broken promises and tuition fees

Noon WATCH: The Eaton family in Berkshire describe how to set up in free school

11.30am ToryDiary: A very good week for George Osborne's economic strategy

10.45am Steve Baker MP in Comment: The EU is not yet beyond ridicule

ToryDiary: What the pathway to lower taxes looks like

Screen shot 2011-02-03 at 09.01.22 Comment:

Local Government: 

ThinkTankCentral: Bow Group research suggests that a new model for health education will both improve the nation's health and save the country money

Gazette: Big Brother Watch attracts a bumper crowd for its book launch

WATCH:  Tax cut call from Taxpayers' Alliance

The Sun says "Ken must go"

Screen shot 2011-02-03 at 07.55.42 "Justice Secretary Ken Clarke plunged the Government into disarray yesterday by urging MPs to back moves to give prisoners the vote.  Plans to give lags the vote following a European court ruling have sparked fury.  But Mr Clarke – just 24 hours after PM David Cameron gave Tory MPs a free vote on the issue – told the BBC failure to back the move could cost taxpayers millions." – The Sun

"As for Ken Clarke, he is a bumbling liability who seems keener to rock the boat than safeguard the streets…Ken Clarke is out of tune with the public and out of step with his own party." – Sun Editorial

Prison vote vultures – Daily Mail

Other Ken Clarke comment –

  • What happens if we defy Europe? Nothing – Dominic Raab, Daily Telegraph
  • Rejoice! Is Britain taking the first step in regaining control of its own laws and destiny? – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • MPs must assert British democracy on prisoner votes – Leo McKinstry, Daily Express

Spelman under fire over forest sale

"The Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman came under fire from MPs in all parties yesterday as she defended her controversial plans to sell off England's public forests. Ministers admitted privately that they had not explained it properly and were being inundated with protest letters and emails. More than 360,000 people have signed a "save our forests" petition.  David Cameron promised during Prime Minister's Questions yesterday, to listen to critics of the proposal." – The Independent

Yesterday in Comment: JP Floru – Scary Tories in the forests! (Why let the truth stand in the way of a Scary Tory Story?) 

Dire warning over plan to sell forests

"Millions of trees will be threatened by disease under the Government’s plan to cut Forestry Commission funding and privatise public woodland, according to an internal document leaked to The Times. Deer and other wildlife will be neglected and charging could be introduced for many recreational facilities to which the public now have free access, the report says.  The commission announced yesterday that it would cut more than 400 jobs." – The Times (£)

Can't see the wood – Times Editorial (£)

Yesterday in Parliament: Three Tory MPs vote with Labour to condemn forest sell-off plans as "fundamentally unsound"

BBC journalist appointed as Cameron’s new communications chief after Andy Coulson’s departure

Screen shot 2011-02-03 at 08.10.53 "Craig Oliver, 41, the controller of BBC global news, was hailed by the Prime Minister as a ‘formidable journalist’.   He made his name overhauling the BBC News at Ten and is one of very few television executives to have worked at the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.   Mr Oliver’s appointment – understood to have been engineered chiefly by Mr Coulson – was a surprise, since his name had not featured in the frenzied speculation that has been going on in Westminster since Mr Coulson resigned last month." – Daily Mail

Craig Oliver comment –

Yesterday in ToryDiary: Andy Coulson's replacement has been appointed 

While Cameron condemns Egyptian rioters…

"Speaking outside Downing Street, alongside the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, the prime minister said the transition of power in Egypt must be "accelerated and happen quickly".  Cameron said: "If it turns out that the regime in any way has been sponsoring or tolerating this violence, that would be completely and utterly unacceptable. These are despicable scenes we are seeing and they should not be repeated." – The Guardian 

…Hilton is championing Big Society for Egypt

"Insiders say that Hilton, whose parents fled Hungary in 1956 after the Soviets crushed the revolution there, feels strongly that Britain should keep well back. If the west tries to determine the course of events in Egypt – encouraging Hosni Mubarak to go more quickly or less – it will go wrong. He is even said to have an open mind on the idea of the Muslim Brotherhood being part of a post-Mubarak government." – The Guardian

Clegg on Egypt: "Incredibly crass" – Daily Mail Comment

More power to this parade of human dignity – David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)

Yesterday in ToryDiary: In a subdued PMQs Miliband and Cameron have a "serious conversation" about Egypt and Afghanistan 

Middle-classes face £4bn tax bombshell thanks to Clegg's plans to slash taxes for the low paid

Screen shot 2011-02-03 at 08.57.45 "Middle-class families could face another tax bombshell to pay for Nick Clegg’s plans to slash taxes for the low paid, a report warned yesterday.  The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the pledge to increase to £10,000 the amount workers can earn before paying tax will cost £4.3billion.  Around 850,000 will be dragged into the higher rate of tax for the first time to pay for the move, according to the highly respected think-tank. But there will still be a black hole of £4.3billion in the budget which will have to be plugged by tax rises or spending cuts elsewhere, it concludes.  And that could clobber those on middle incomes already struggling to make ends meet." – Daily Mail

The squeeze – Some simple arithmetic – John Redwood's Blog

Yesterday in ToryDiary: Media speculation about a double dip recession must not become a self-fulfilling prophecy

Tories to open new Northern Ireland office ahead of council elections

"The British Conservative Party is to open a full-time headquarters in Northern Ireland.  The party has also confirmed that it will contest the local government elections in May, although they have held back from standing for Stormont seats at this stage.  The move, following a meeting of the Conservative Party’s ruling Board, has been personally welcomed by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, joint chair of the Tories." – Belfast Telegraph 

Migrants "must teach their children English", demands David Cameron

"Migrant families have an obligation to teach their children English before they start school, David Cameron has said.  And the Prime Minister pledged that he would bring forward tougher rules to ensure those arriving in the UK had a reasonable standard of English.  One in six children do not speak English as their first language.   Ministers believe that children brought up here stand a better chance of succeeding if their parents have a good grasp of the language." – Daily Mail

Pirates to the left of me…terrorists to the right

MITCHELL ANDREW PORTRAIT-1 "Aid we give to Somalia isn't just from Britain – it's for Britain too.  That's what I saw this week when I became the first British Cabinet minister ever to visit there.  Our aid will save thousands of lives, like that of little Eidu, a girl of three I met at Hargeisa hospital.  A few weeks ago she was on the brink of starvation. Now her mum and doctors say she will pull through. Saving kids such as Eidu is the right thing to do. But giving aid is also in our own interests." Andrew Mitchell, The Sun

Coalition and other Political News in Brief

Cable to reinstate regional offices scrapped by Pickles

"Vince Cable is reversing elements of Eric Pickles’ “Maoist” revolution in local government by rebuilding parts of the regional infrastructure his colleague scrapped last summer.  The business secretary is to reinstate six regional government offices – to be called local BIS – just six months after Mr Pickles, the local government minister, axed the eight offices last July in a wider cull of regional bodies." – Financial Times (£)

Clegg pledges to repeal law disqualifying mentally ill MPs

CleggNickDeclaring "The Deputy Prime Minister said the law that bars mentally ill MPs from the Commons was “outdated”, as he launched a £400million strategy to improve care for those with depression or stress through better counselling and therapy services.  Only one politician has ever been banned from Westminster after being declared of unsound mind, almost a century ago, but in 2007 MPs voted to keep the current provision that disqualifies any MP detained under Mental Health Act for six months or more." – Daily Telegraph

Deputy Prime Minister hints at fuel duty help – Scotsman

The Prime Minister and his band of unhappy Tories

"Until now, Cameron has given the impression that his cure for internal party unhappiness is to invite Tory MPs for a glass of wine and a handful of Twiglets at a Downing Street reception. If he is to survive midterm unpopularity, he needs to do much more to raise his party's morale.  A chairman in tune with the party's grass roots would help – unlike the incumbent, Sayeeda Warsi." – Tim Montgomerie, The New Statesman

Baldwin orders Shadow Ministers to back off on phone hacking row

"Labour  MPs have been ordered to stop stoking the phone hacking row – amid fears the party’s interventions could be seen by the public as ‘spiteful’.  In a forthright email to the frontbench team, Ed Miliband’s director of strategy Tom Baldwin said the party should stop trying to make political capital out of the row which has engulfed Rupert Murdoch’s News International.  The intervention of Mr Baldwin…marks a major shift of tactics for Labour, which has previously appeared keen to fuel the phone hacking row for political gain." – Daily Mail

Ex-MP "used blank pub receipts to claim expenses"

Screen shot 2011-02-03 at 08.45.59 "A heavily overdrawn former Labour MP for Livingston used forged copies of an invoice provided by the landlord of his local pub to claim more than £3,000 in parliamentary expenses, a court heard yesterday.  Jim Devine claimed that he was the victim of a “malevolent conspiracy” and that the bogus invoices were signed by a former secretary, who was trying to frame him.  Mr Devine denies using the five forged receipts dishonestly to claim £3,240 for cleaning, security and maintenance of his London flat." – The Times (£)

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