Screen shot 2011-02-22 at 21.49.14 10pm WATCH:

5.45pm Local government: Let's admit it, many Tory councils aren't good enough

5pm Matt Sinclair on Comment sees no necessary tension between localism and economic growth

3pm ToryDiary: Nigel Lawson's excellent advice to George Osborne: Stick to your guns and return fire

2.30pm Zehra Zaidi on the situation in Libya: "What the international community can do is limit the death and suffering.  This regime, with its dismal international and human rights record, is owed no grace period.  The Security Council must move now fast to secure a no fly zone over Libya, patrolled by NATO jets, and cordons established where humanitarian aid can filter through.  There is capacity to do so with armed forces of various countries in range."

Petrol pump 2pm Andrew Lilico on Comment: "The old 1990s idea of the fuel duty escalator was supposed to be that of a green tax, providing incentives to explore alternative technologies.  But that was in an era when oil prices sat at $10-$30 per barrel.  Are such incentives really required in the same way with oil prices of $110 per barrel?"

Noon Seats and Candidates: Former Conservative MP defects to Labour

10.45am WATCH: Discussing defence procurement reform, Liam Fox tells the BBC that "there's no painless way to deal with the debt inherited from the last Labour government"

10.30am Robert Halfon MP on Comment: It is hard to believe that the LSE thought it a good idea to take money from the mass murderer, Gadaffi

ToryDiary: Cameron says repression and extremism are false choice and Arab world can build strong democracies

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ToryDiary: The limits of localism


Local Government: New Homes Bonus calculator

WATCH: ‪Hague on Gaddafi Venezuela rumours‬ 

As he tours the Middle East, Cameron calls for reform and not repression in the region…

 "With popular uprisings flaring in countries across the Middle East and North Africa, Mr Cameron will today insist that regional leaders must respond with “reform not repression.”  On Monday, the Prime Minister became the first Western leader to visit Egypt since a popular uprising ousted Hosni Mubarak.  He urged Egypt’s interim military rulers to ensure a “genuine transition” to civilian rule and declared: “Greater openness can lead to greater stability.” " – Daily Telegraph 

…But comes under fire over arms sales…

"David Cameron's efforts to promote democracy in the Middle East by becoming the first foreign leader to visit Cairo were overshadowed as it emerged that he will spend the next three days touring undemocratic Gulf states with eight of Britain's leading defence manufacturers…Britain has approved 1,155 arms export licences for Kuwait since 2003, worth a total of £102.3m, according the Campaign Against the Arms Trade.  Key deals on the table this week include the sale of Eurofighters to the Gulf." – The Guardian

  • What on earth is Call Me Dave doing in Egypt? – Richard Littlejohn, Daily Mail
  • Wind of change blows Cameron off course – Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)


Hague suggests that Gaddafi may be in Venezuela, the dictator insists that he's in Libya

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"Libya's leader, Muammar Gaddafi, has dismissed reports that he had fled amid the unrest sweeping the country, calling foreign news channels "dogs".  Speaking to state TV from outside a ruined building, he said "I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela," after rumours that he had flown to Caracas.  Col Gaddafi's statement came after security forces and protesters clashed in the capital for a second night.  The UN Security Council is to meet in closed session to discuss Libya." – BBC

"Following an emergency EU meeting of foreign ministers on the situation in Libya, Mr Hague was asked if Britain, or other Western countries, knew if Col. Gaddafi had left Tripoli.  “About whether Col. Gaddafi, is in Venezuela, I have no information that says he is although I have seen some information that suggests he is on his way there,” he said.  British officials stressed that Mr Hague was referring “not to media reports but information from other channels”. “This is credible information,” said a diplomat." – Daily Telegraph

Venezuela says Hague's Gaddafi comments "irresponsible" – BBC

  • Has Britain left itself defenceless if Gaddafi goes? – Benedict Brogan's blog, Daily Telegraph
  • Shabby politics and the appeasing of a monster – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Blame Libya for what it does with its weapons – not Blair or Britain – Michael White's blog, The Guardian


Alternative vote campaigns running neck and neck as Yes support falls by seven points

"The yes and no campaigns for the alternative vote are running neck and neck, suggesting the yes campaign has fallen back since Guardian pollsters ICM last surveyed opinion on the issue in December.  The latest poll shows those planning to vote yes to AV at 37% (down seven points), the same as no (down one), with don't knows at 27% (up nine).  Once these results are filtered for likely turnout the yes campaign is leading by a statistically insignificant 51% to 49%." – The Guardian

"Changes are from the last time ICM asked the question in December – this is the first time that a poll that was not prompted with explanations of the system or pro- and anti- arguments has shown the No campaign catching the Yes campaign. Note that the fieldwork was conducted between Friday and Sunday, the first since Cameron’s and Clegg’s repective pro and anti speeches and the first since the media have starting to devote some attention to the campaign." – Anthony Wells, YouGov

David Kirby's services shake-up blueprint

"David Cameron's radical reform of public services will need to be extended throughout the public sector including tax collection, welfare programmes, magistrates courts and border controls, according to David Kirby, No 10's new head of policy development.  Kirby, who was appointed by Cameron on Friday, is one of the main minds behind a public service reform white paper due in the next fortnight, which the prime minister has hailed as the biggest revolution in the public sector since the 1940s." – The Guardian

Reform calls for Cameron to introduce vouchers

HALDENBY-ANDREW "Mr Haldenby said the logical outcome of what Mr Cameron was proposing was private firms tendering for contracts to run public services, such as schools and hospitals, with the public able to shop around.  "To me, the logic of what David Cameron is saying is for my family I choose health care which covers all of us. I could choose the NHS or Bupa. Will there be more private provision? Yes. Will there be more employees setting themselves up in new companies? Yes." " – Channel 4 News

  • Could privatisation curb big-spending departments? – The Independent
  • NHS turmoil is just the start of Tory ideology run wild – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

Yesterday in ToryDiary: Cameron makes a big promise to end the state's public service monopoly

Fox to name and shame lax defence contractors

"Liam Fox is to name and shame defence companies that fail to deliver military projects to the government on time, in a radical attempt to re-establish control over the department’s heavily overspent procurement budget.   As the defence secretary wrestles with the consequences of slack spending on equipment programmes over many years, he will announce on Tuesday a raft of measures aimed at bringing order to the Ministry of Defence finances." – Financial Times (£)

  • MPs blast defence chiefs' £8bn waste on just four failed projects – Daily Mail
  • Defence cuts? Why, they’ve barely started – Paddy Ashdown, The Times (£)

Maude draws up secret plan to tackle general strike

"A secret ‘war plan’ to prevent a general strike has been drawn up by ministers – with thousands of union-busting workers lined up to cross militant picket lines.  A unit has been set up in the Cabinet Office to prevent Britain grinding to a standstill in the event of mass public sector walkouts.  Officials have conducted ‘war games’ to ensure that strike breakers are available to run vital facilities such as the Tube and energy hotspots such as power stations." – Daily Mail

Gove: I want adopted children to have the chances I've had

GOVE MICHAEL RED TIE "Michael Gove has spoken movingly about being adopted in an appeal for more help for kids left languishing in care.  The Education Secretary said he "can never adequately repay" his parents, who adopted him at four months old.  Mr Gove said he was lucky to get "a second chance".  And he hit out at the politically correct rules currently preventing hundreds of needy children finding loving homes.  His comments came as the Government prepares to announce a radical shake-up of adoption procedures." – The Sun

"Thousands of children are currently in the care system waiting to be adopted. Every day they wait is a day they're denied the loving home all children deserve.  But politically correct attitudes and ridiculous bureaucracy keep many of those children waiting far too long.  I want to make it easier for the most vulnerable children in our society to secure the love, care and opportunities I was fortunate enough to enjoy." – Michael Gove, The Sun

Nearly a migrant a minute came to Britain under Labour

"Labour's open-door immigration policy led to the largest population explosion since the Saxon invasion more than 1,000 years ago.  An audit of official figures last night revealed that during the party’s 13 years in power Britain’s foreign-born population increased by three million. At the same time, nearly a million British citizens left the country." – Daily Mail

"Mass immigration is an entirely different matter. The question now is how did it happen and what can be done about it. Was it all a Labour conspiracy? Was it sheer incompetence in government? Or was it wholesale retreat in front of the race relations lobby?  The strongest evidence for conspiracy comes from one of Labour’s own. Andrew Neather, a previously unheard-of speechwriter for Blair, Straw and Blunkett, popped up with an article in the Evening Standard in October 2009 which gave the game away." – Sir Andrew Green, Daily Mail

Labour's lasting legacy – Daily Telegraph Editorial

U.S Treasury Secretary backs Osborne's spending scaleback

George Osborne 2010 micced up "UK Chancellor George Osborne's austerity plan has received the backing of the US Treasury Secretary.  Timothy Geithner told the BBC that he was "very impressed, as just one man looking from a distance, at the basic strategy that he's adopted".  He said Mr Osborne had been handed "problems not created by this government". But he said the chancellor had "locked his government and the coalition into a set or reforms that are very good"." – BBC

Pickles Under fire From Tory-Led Councils

"While Labour and Liberal Democrat-controlled councils have been outspoken against cuts, the anger of many Tory-led authorities is revealed for the first time.  In a letter to Mr Pickles on December 23, the Conservative leader of North Yorkshire County Council John Weighell said: "The implications for North Yorkshire are potentially devastating and I believe that the settlement is unfair in the way that it treats this council with serious consequences for front line services." – Sky News

Yesterday in Local Government: John Bald – Where Cambridgeshire should cut

Coalition and Political News in Brief

  • Judges warn that Europe could alter UK trial system – The Times (£)
  • 7/7 inquests: MI5 missed opportunity to identify terror ringleader – Daily Telegraph
  • Politicians get £1m pick of Games seats – The Independent
  • Hard Left forces out "moderate" NUS president Aaron Porter – Daily Mail
  • Irish voters look to a more stable future as election countdown begins – Henry McDonald,The Guardian
  • Boris welcomes mobiles on the tube – ITN

Clegg: I'm a victim of scaremongering

Clegg DPM "Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he had been the victim of "cynical scaremongering" over the scale of the coalition cuts.  Speaking at a town hall-style debate in Sheffield, Mr Clegg accused the Labour Party in Sheffield of spreading "insulting" political falsehoods.  The Sheffield Hallam MP was taking part in a question and answer session organised by the local newspaper The Star.  He was asked by a member of the public about the Big Society and the effect the cuts would have on it." – Press Association

Cable in U-turn over export department

"Vince Cable has accepted he can not disband a government department that he had vowed to axe in opposition, but is to extend its remit to include green technology projects currently struggling for funds.  The business secretary said in September 2009 that he would scrap the Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) that underwrites insecure business ventures around the world including arms deals. In the past 20 years the ECGD has subsidised hawk trainer jets for Indonesia and oil pipelines." – The Guardian

Should David Cameron help to lead the campaign against AV?

No, he shouldn't – Daniel Finkelstein: "Cameron's impact on the campaign might rally the Tory core, and that is worth having, but by the same token that might push Labour's base vote out.  But the biggest problem with the Prime Minister's involvement is that he is, well, the Prime Minister. It is hard to run an insurgent campaign against establishment plans when you live in 10 Downing Street.  So I am not convinced – I could be persuaded, but I am not convinced – that Cameron should play a heavy role." – The Times (£)

Yes, he should – James Forsyth: "If the No campaign is going to be use so many politicians as spokesmen for it, it might as well have one of the most able ones involved…Second, and most importantly, Cameron’s presence on the trail would highlight Nick Clegg’s absence…Finally, and this is a matter of self-interest for Cameron, the Conservative party is in fractious mood. It is all too ready to believe that it has been betrayed over AV. If the leader keeps a low profile, this accusation is far more likely to stick." – James Forsyth, Coffee House

I never realised how much porn was on the internet, admits Jacqui Smith

"In an interview with the Radio Times to publicise a documentary she has made for Radio 5 Live on the subject, Ms Smith admits that, despite overseeing legislation outlawing violent and bestial pornography, she found it “quite shocking” to learn of the ubiquity of online porn. “I thought the attraction of porn was that it’s illicit: you go into a private shop to buy a DVD,” she told the magazine. “But what the internet has done is to open up free, hard pornography to anybody of any age. I found that quite shocking.” – The Times (£)

Simply shameless – Daily Mail Editorial


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