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10.15pm ToryDiary: Sixty-nine business and trade leaders back Hammond's hi-speed rail plan

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4.15pm Charles Tannock MEP on Comment: Reflections on revolution in the Arab world

4pm WATCH: William Hague makes statement on rescuing stranded Britons from Libya

3.15pm WATCH: Under AV people who vote BNP or Loony get their count voted most, says Cameron

Haldenby

12.30pm Andrew Haldenby on Comment: The number of people who work in the NHS is not a measure of quality

11am Robin Simcox on Comment: Events in the Middle East are vindicating the neoconservatives

10am James Hockney on Seats and candidates: Help me hold Labour to account for failing the people of Barnsley Central

ToryDiary: Michael Gove and Tim Loughton overhaul "politically correct" adoption guidance to get children into "loving homes" more quickly

ToryDiary: An audit of localism – and five forecasts about what will happen next

Brian Binley MP on Comment: Those who are blindly defending the European Court of Human Rights are only aiding its demise

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Philip Booth on Comment: Pensioners should suffer their share of the cuts

Local government: Open council meetings to bloggers, urges Eric Pickles

Divorcing couples to go through mediation before court under new Coalition plansBBC

Philip Hammond announces £100 million extra to help local councils fix potholesBBC

David Cameron's Middle East trip

Screen shot 2011-02-23 at 07.41.17 "David Cameron has expressed regret for decades of British double standards in foreign policy, admitting the west had been complicit in sustaining the Middle East’s strongmen under the mistaken belief that it preserved stability. Speaking as rebellions threatened to topple a third Arab dictator in less than two months, the prime minister argued that dismissing the Muslim world as unsuited to democracy amounted to “prejudice bordering on racism”." – FT (£)

"Mr Cameron had intended to use his long-planned trip to the Gulf to drum up orders for British business and had invited more than 36 executives to accompany him. But instead, he gave a speech to the Kuwaiti parliament which would have been unimaginable just a month ago. In it, he signalled a significant move from what he has previously called his "messianic" push to bolster trade towards political change." – Independent

FINKELSTEIN DANNY 2 "In Mr Cameron’s immediate circle, his closest political friends, George Osborne and Michael Gove, are both strong neocons. In other words, they believe that the robust promotion of liberty and democracy all over the globe is the only way to secure peace… [Cameron's] assertion yesterday that it was near-racism to argue that Arabs do not want democracy shows that his friends’ views have not been lost on him. And while his recent speech at the Munich security conference mainly attracted coverage for the parts about multiculturalism, what really set it apart was its identification of the doctrine of Islamism as the prime security challenge." – Daniel Finkelstein in The Times (£)

ConservativeHome's selection of extracts from Mr Cameron's speech.

  • David Cameron says expecting small countries such as Kuwait to manufacture all their defence weapons is at odds with reality – Guardian
  • Britain can push democracy or weapons – but not both – Simon Jenkins in The Guardian
  • Sky video report on Cameron's support for arms trade
  • "Libya’s civil war has already doubled the risk premium on oil prices to $10 per barrel, with more to come. But the real threat to prices is if anti-regime protests spread to Saudi Arabia, where demonstrations are already planned, forcing the King to make an urgent return. There would be no problem if a liberal, democratic regime were to spring up – but what if extremists gain power, cutting off oil supplies?" – Allister Heath in City AM

The Telegraph evaluates Liam Fox's plan to improve defence procurement

Fox serious "[Liam Fox's] proposed Major Project Review Board, which will keep a regular watch on the progress of equipment programmes, is a welcome attempt to inject some accountability into the process. The arrival of Bernard Gray to oversee procurement is another acknowledgement of how serious the problem is. His report last year, which described how the MoD had committed to buying equipment worth a total of £37 billion for which no money had been set aside, will be a good basis when starting to overhaul procedures." – Telegraph leader | Video of Dr Fox

  • "In what appears to be a toughening of his stance, Dr Fox said that the Trident nuclear programme needed the full fleet of four submarines at the Clyde Naval Base at Faslane." – Scotsman
  • Paddy Ashdown's attack on Liam Fox – James Forsyth in The Spectator

Ed Balls fall silent as tax revenues and US Treasury Secretary boost Osborne

OSBORNE OUTSIDE HMT "Timothy Geithner, the US Treasury secretary, has lent his support to George Osborne’s deficit reduction strategy, saying he is “very impressed” with the chancellor’s plans for rapid cuts in public spending and higher taxes to fix the hole in Britain’s finances. The strong public endorsement of Mr Osborne’s fiscal consolidation plans by a leading figure in the US administration will discomfit Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, who has often cited American plans for a slower pace of cuts as evidence that there is an alternative to the coalition’s strategy." – FT (£)

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

Coalition in Brief:

  • MPs ask Home Office to explain what it means by front line, at a time it is asking police chiefs to prioritise it – BBC
  • False Economy claims more than 50,000 NHS jobs to go – BBC
  • 99,000 cuts in language courses threaten David Cameron's integration plan – FT (£)
  • Conservative council leaders have warned Eric Pickles that the Government’s spending cuts will have “devastating” consequences on public services – Times (£)

Michael Howard: We need rule by elected politicians, not unelected judges

HOWARD-MICHAEL "Shami Chakrabarti prayed in aid the turmoil in the Middle East for her defence of the European Court of Human Rights in The Times this week. She claimed that there was some inconsistency between the way that British politicians have praised the courage of the protesters and recent criticisms of decisions by the judiciary. I may have missed something but none of the slogans I heard from the protesters called for the introduction of rule by judges. They were calling for democracy… I wish the commission that the Government is setting up to examine the creation of a British Bill of Rights well in its endeavours. The acid test will be whether it can return to Parliament the supremacy that rightly belongs to it." – Michael Howard in The Times (£)

The nanny state is alive and well under the Coalition government – Andrew Alexander in the Daily Mail

Vernon Bogdanor: Neither the Conservatives nor LibDems like the electoral reform they are putting to the people

"The last government to propose AV was Ramsay MacDonald's ill-fated second Labour administration in 1931. During the parliamentary debates, a leading Tory reminded MPs of Oscar Wilde's quip that the artist Whistler had no enemies, but was thoroughly disliked by all his friends. The same, the MP said, was true of AV. Little seems to have changed in the intervening years." – Vernon Bogdanor in The Guardian

The No campaign moves to 7% lead – Sun

Britain's ageing population and huge debt have propelled it into the top 10 of countries threatened by unsustainable public financesExpress

Save the Children says 1.6 million children live in severe povertyGuardian

And finally… Ann Widdecombe's recipe for living until you are 100Express

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78 comments for: Newslinks for Wednesday 23rd February 2011

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