8.45pm Parliament: Fox describes sacking of long-serving soldiers by email as "completely unacceptable"

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7.30pm WATCH: Meet Larry – Downing Street's feline enforcer

4.45pm Local Government:

4.15pm Mark Littlewood on Comment: The Coalition must create a culture of entrepreneurship, rather than entitlement

3.15pm Matthew Elliott on Comment: AV, expenses and the anti-politician message

Andrew Turner 12.30pm Parliament: Government climbs down over Isle of Wight in victory for Andrew Turner

12.15pm WATCH Inflation hits 4 per cent – double the official target

10.30am Andrew Murrison MP in Comment: Why I'm launching a consultation into limbless veterans' services

ToryDiary: It's decision time for Cameron. First Past The Post or Nick Clegg?

John Broughton in Comment: The Welsh Assembly doesn't deserve extra powers

Local Government: Councillor allowances have risen 25% since 2005

Parliament: Sceptical questions about political strategy for Liam Fox as he makes quarterly Afghanistan statement to the Commons

LeftWatch: Ed Miliband uses his first article for The Sun to attack Coalition on crime

Paul Goodman interviews Michael Forsyth about this quest to climb Antarctica's highest peak: "It's absolutely pristine. It's as God made it." (And he's something to say about the Business Secretary, too.)

Gazette: Candidates confirmed for the National Conservative Convention elections

WATCH: Tony Blair on hopes for Egypt

No campaign slams £250m cost of AV referendum…

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"Nick Clegg's crusade to change the way Brits vote will cost taxpayers £250 million, figures reveal today.  The bill is enough to pay for 8,000 extra nurses, 7,500 troops or 5,000 cops.  Deputy PM Mr Clegg, backed by Labour leader Ed Miliband, wants the controversial alternative vote – or AV – system.  The proposed spending spree to introduce it will trigger furious protests as millions of families are hit by swingeing cuts." – The Sun

…As the Lords hunker down for the bill to make it happen…

Dozens of MPs face being hauled back from abroad and several Government ministers forced to cancel foreign trips because of a showdown between the Commons and the Lords over the voting reform referendum.  Parliament’s two most powerful select committees look set to be summoned back to vote as the Government battles to get the AV Bill on the statute book." – Sky News

…And the Yes and No campaigns unveil supporters

"The actors Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter, who both won Baftas for their portrayal of the royal couple in The King's Speech, have sent messages of support to the "Yes" camp.  They will be joined by the comedian Eddie Izzard, Martin Bell, the former independent MP, and Greg Dyke, former Director-General of the BBC, who are to become vice-chairs…The No Campaign will present the fertitlity expert Lord Winston as a backer at its launch today." – The Independent

An unnecessary reform of our voting system – Daily Telegraph Editorial

Andrew Cooper as Downing Street strategy head is "definitely the intention"

"His arrival will fill a gap that has existed since David Cameron entered Downing Street and Steve Hilton moved from political strategy to policy implimentation as ’senior adviser’ (many think he is director of strategy, when in fact he has never had the title in government). At various points Stephen Gilbert was supposed to take on parts of political strategy, and George Osborne has played a role." – Benedict Brogan's blog, Daily Telegraph

Yesterday in ToryDiary: The man tipped to be Cameron's new head of strategy argued that supporting the €uro would be the ultimate modernisation

(Britain would have fared better in the Euro – Phillip Stephens, Financial Times (£)

The media: the Government has stopped communicating – Ed Staite's blog

Dominic Grieve says Britain could withdraw from the ECHR

Screen shot 2011-02-15 at 08.23.13 "Grieve – in the past a supporter of a British bill of rights – also opened up the possibility of the UK withdrawing from the European Court of Human Rights.  He said: "The court doesn't have the last word. It only has the last word so far as parliament has decided that it should. We could, if we wanted to, undo that – I think we should always bear that in mind – and actually undo it without some of the consequences we have over the European Union." – The Guardian

Prime Minister relaunches the Big Society…

"The Prime Minister vowed to press ahead with his “mission” to give people more responsibility for public services and their own communities.  Criticism of the Big Society reached new heights yesterday as a trade union leader said the call suggested Mr Cameron’s “ideal society” is the failed state of Somalia….“You have a passion. I have a passion for charities and when I see them cut, the work they do in vulnerable communities cut, that is bad,” he told Mr Cameron at a London seminar on the Big Society." – Daily Telegraph

"David Burbage, the Conservative leader of Windsor and Maidenhead Council, is feeling bullish.  Liverpool’s decision to pull out of the pilot project for the Big Society, David Cameron’s idea for reinvigorating local communities, was “a political gesture”, he says. “It’s a Labour council wanting to give a kicking to the coalition”. He expects no such change of heart in the Royal borough.  “People are starting to understand what the Big Society is all about,” he explains in his office, a poster of David Cameron beside his computer." – The Times (£) 

…As Labour recruit says its bank "is a ten-year venture"…

"The Labour donor called in by David Cameron to help to rescue the Big Society project has warned that the £300 million bank he is setting up to fund charities is not a quick fix from the cuts.  Sir Ronald Cohen, the City financier who has given £2.8 million to the Labour Party, told The Times that the Big Society Bank was a ten-year venture and should not be seen as a remedy for funding problems at charities." – The Times (£)

…And the debate goes on (and on)

Yesterday in –

Inflation figures today

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"Pressure is set to mount on the Bank of England as inflation is expected to surge and trigger another letter of explanation from governor Mervyn King.  After jumping to 3.7% in December, analysts expect the inflation figures to show a rate of 4.1% for January, as the VAT hike from 17.5% to 20% on January 4 and soaring commodity costs pushed up the cost of living." – Press Association

Osborne eyes tax rebate to boost green deal

"George Osborne is considering giving homeowners a rebate on stamp duty in return for joining a “green deal” scheme amid growing concern that current government plans could fail to spark a big increase in home insulation.  The chancellor has been urged by ministers in the Department for Energy and Climate Change to introduce the incentive in the spring Budget to stimulate the scheme, designed to help Britain meet its carbon commitments." – Financial Times (£)

Other economy stories –

  • "£8.2bn needed to meet shortfall in Whitehall" – The Times (£)
  • Cable call: Vince falls in with the doves – Evening Standard
  • £23bn of extra red tape to fall on firms: Burden of regulations 'could derail recovery' – Daily Mail
  • "Call off fuel tax hike or risk a deeper recession" – Daily Express

Yesterday in Comment: Julian Wolfson and Tim Bond – A two term growth agenda

Andrew Lansley wins High Court ruling banning home abortions

"Controversial plans to allow women to complete the abortion process at home have been shot down by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.  Under current laws, women have to take two courses of abortion tablets in front of their doctor…The British Pregnancy Advisory Service argued that it was unfair for women to face the ­possibility of miscarrying while on their way home.  But Mr Lansley opposed the plans and High Court judges agreed that he had the power to decide where abortions took place – not the medical profession." – Daily Mirror

Gove charms Commons as the Speaker summons him – again – to make a statement

GOVE MICHAEL NW "The longer it went on, the more obvious it became that Gove was stuffing Labour. His emollient tone had taken them – and, who knows, perhaps also the Speaker – by surprise. His normal manner is more aggressive and allows for heckling and Speakerly putdowns. This Gove display, darn it, was hard to attack.  He yielded, agreed, flattered. What low behaviour! That’s not what Labour’s heavy gang was expecting." – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

Labour tries to reheat the Building Schools for the Future row – James Forsyth, Coffee House

Anger over £1 billion aid to India

"Ministers provoked fury over Britain’s spiralling overseas aid budget yesterday by pledging a further £1billion of tax­payers’ cash to new economic giant India.  International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell confirmed that the coalition Government would hand over £280million a year to the rapidly growing country at least until 2015…Critics last night savaged the aid as an “unacceptable” waste of public money at a time when public services in Britain were being drastically cut." – Daily Express

Yesterday in ToryDiary Andrew Mitchell freezes UK aid to India and plans to put extra money in failing states

Other Coalition and Political News in Brief

Faulty Cable

"THE PM has slapped down Vince Cable over explosive plans to give new rights to millions of workers.  David Cameron urged his Business Secretary to re-think plans to impose an EU directive on temp and agency staff rights.  The row emerged as bosses warned firms will be hit by an extra £23BILLION worth of red tape over four years.  Number 10 is furious that senior Lib Dem Mr Cable has run up the white flag and told officials to impose the Brussels diktat." – The Sun

Miliband reads the last rites on New Labour

"Ed Miliband has ordered that New Labour is ditched once and for all.  The party leader is binning the website name and is expected to go back to  A source said: “It is true that the domain name is ready to be changed. It is untrue there is any nervousness about the change. We are more concerned with cuts, crime and the NHS.”  The move has been jumped on by the Tories as “proof” that Labour have moved to the left under Ed Miliband." – Daily Mirror

And finally…Mews at Ten: Downing Street cat appointed

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"Step aside, George Osborne. A new political beast joins David Cameron's inner circle, with a licence to kill.  After TV cameras saw a rodent scuttling past the prime minister at least twice last month, No 10 has confirmed that it is to take on a feline deterrent.  Although his or her identity was under wraps on Monday, reports suggest the recruit goes under the name of Larry, a former resident of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home." – The Guardian


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