Ed Miliband 2011 7.30pm LeftWatch: The Sunday papers bring new poll headaches for Ed Miliband as his ratings hit a new low

6pm Gazette items covering events held this week:

4.30pm WATCH:

3.15pm Carl Thomson on Comment: Russia and the West should find common ground on the future of Transnistria

2pm ConHomeUSA: Today's Republican and American political news

1.15pm Parliament: Douglas Hogg – aka Viscount Hailsham – is tipped for an unconventional parliamentary return

Noon Martin Sewell on Comment: Printing money Quantitative Easing may sound harmless, but it has evil consequences

10.45am Parliament: Sheryll Murray makes a heartfelt plea for the retention of local marine rescue co-ordination centres

Michael Gove 2010ToryDiary: Michael Gove tells the truth about Britain's "discredited" exam system

John Phelan on Comment: A public sector strike over pensions will neither elicit public sympathy nor especially inconvenience us

Parliament: An elected second chamber seems even further away as names continue to emerge of those who will be scrutinising the plans

Local Government: The Big Society in Barnet

Gazette: Theresa May helps Women2Win marks its fifth anniversary

WATCH: Philip Davies MP defends his views about the minimum wage on Newsnight

Unison boss promises "biggest strike for 100 years"

OnStrike "The leader of the largest public sector union promises to mount the most sustained campaign of industrial action the country has seen since the general strike of 1926, vowing not to back down until the government has dropped its controversial pension changes. Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison – which has 1.4 million members employed by the state – described plans for waves of strike action, with public services shut down on a daily basis, rolling from one region to the next and from sector to sector." – The Guardian

"Chief Secretary to the Treasury  Danny Alexander told unions who are threatening to ‘unleash hell’ with a wave of strikes that they were making a ‘colossal mistake’.  The Liberal Democrat yesterday unveiled proposals designed to save £2.8billion a year from the spiralling cost of public sector employees’ generous retirement deals." – Daily Mail

  • If the unions fight, they’ll make Cameron’s day – Matthew Parris in The Times (£)

> Recent ConHome coverage:

Philip Davies courts controversy with suggestion that opting out of the minimum wage would help disabled people find work

Philip Davies 2011 "Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley, claimed people with disabilities or mental health problems were at a disadvantage because they could not offer to work for less money. Relaxing the law would help some disabled people to compete more effectively for jobs in “the real world” in which they are “by definition” less productive than workers without disabilities, he claimed." – Daily Telegraph

"The Conservative Party distanced itself from the comments made by Mr Davies, who has a history of disagreeing with the party's leadership. A spokesman said: "These comments do not reflect the views of the Conservative Party and do not reflect Government policy." A Downing Street spokesman said: "The aim of the national minimum wage is to establish fairness in the workplace and one of its key principles is to protect the most vulnerable workers. For that reason alone the Government would reject any suggestion for disabled people to be able to opt out of the national minimum wage." – Channel Four News

> Yesterday in Parliament: Philip Davies stands by his view that those with disabilities might be more able to get a job by working for less than the minimum wage

‘Coalition 2.0’ agreement put on back burner

"David Cameron and Nick Clegg are looking increasingly unlikely to negotiate a second “midterm” coalition agreement, amid further signs the government’s legislative reform revolution is running out of steam. Oliver Letwin, Mr Cameron’s senior policy fixer, favours a radical burst of reform in the first two years of the parliament, but regards the rest of the period until the planned 2015 election as primarily a chance to make sure the reforms work." – FT (£)

The Sun claims credit for forcing a U-turn from the man it yesterday branded "the paedophiles' pal"

Ken Clarke 2011 "Ken Clarke staged a frantic U-turn on cutting jail sentences for paedophiles yesterday – hours after The Sun shamed him. The Justice Secretary axed the sickos from his plans to reward criminals who plead guilty by making them serve just half the prison time they are given. Our exclusive yesterday lifted the lid on how paedos – nine in ten of whom admit their vile crimes – would benefit most." – The Sun

"Downing Street is finalising the revised policy and the Prime Minister is expected to begin an offensive in the coming days to dispel accusations that the Coalition is soft on crime… Back-bench Tories are urging Mr Cameron to show he is mindful of concerns about the party’s image on law and order by ruling out reduced sentences to all but a small number." – Daily Telegraph

Ken Clarke single-handedly saved the euro in the 1990s, says LuxembourgerThe Guardian

500 legal aid barristers earning more than the PM Daily Mail

Grant Shapps calls for self-build boom

"Mortgage providers should lend more to people who want to build their homes to kick start a self-build movement in the UK, a Government minister has said. Housing minister Grant Shapps says people in the UK already build more houses themselves than any one housebuilder, but the industry is still much smaller than almost anywhere else in Europe, something the Government wants to change." – Press Association

Benedict Brogan: This was the week No10 bid farewell to its reforming zeal

"A narrative is taking hold which Mr Cameron does not want, but which he will now struggle to reverse. In essence, it is this: that a ministry full of radical promise got off to an audacious start across a range of fronts, but is now in retreat, frightened of taking risks, riven by internal disputes and desperate to appease its Lib Dem junior partner. Even the FT has taken to packing its coverage of government under the rubric “Reforms in retreat”. – Benedict Brogan in the Daily Telegraph

Iain Martin: How Boy George became a man

George Osborne headshot "Behind the scenes in Downing Street and Whitehall, George Osborne is manoeuvring himself into a position where he now has an unassailable influence over both government and Tory policy. In the war for the ear of the Prime Minister, Osborne is finally triumphing over his old rival Steve Hilton, Cameron’s policy guru who had convinced him of the need to ‘detoxify’ the Tory brand with a series of stunts such as hugging Huskies and visiting Rwanda at a time his Oxfordshire constituents had been hit by floods. Until now, the cautious Osborne has always been wary of the fierier Hilton."  – Iain Martin in the Daily Mail

Charles Moore: Coalition plans to bring the Military Covenant into law must be strenuously resisted

"Once the covenant has legal force, impossible situations arise. Suppose, for example, that judges decide that the military duty of care means that soldiers must wear adequate protective clothing at all times. Then suppose that a British soldier attends a meeting of Afghan chiefs without wearing body armour and is assassinated. Or suppose that a light snatch vehicle, rather than a safer, stronger tank, is used in an operation, and the men in it are blown up. Such actions might be held by courts to be against the law. And yet, in military terms, where judgment on the spot is always so important, they might have been correct." – Daily Telegraph

  • Surge in applications for redundancy in the Army – BBC

NHS reforms hide 'new threats', warns Lib Dem health rebel

"A leading Liberal Democrat has warned there are "new threats" hidden within the reworked NHS plans that have been drawn up for the coalition. The former MP Dr Evan Harris, who led the first Lib Dem rebellion which forced the government to "pause" its reforms and think again, has told the Guardian he can't rule out another Lib Dem rebellion if the coalition doesn't move to ameliorate three new problems in its proposals." – The Guardian

  • Polly Toynbee: Cameron's "reformed" NHS is now a monster – The Guardian

The Scouts and Maggie made me, says new Tory Co-Treasurer

Peter Cruddas "When the Conservative Party announced last week that Peter Cruddas, a foreign exchange trader, would be its new co-treasurer, few outside the City knew who he was. Yet his appointment to one of the most powerful jobs in politics caps a rags-to-riches story that has seen this self-made billionaire rise from an impoverished background in Hackney, East London, to a front-row seat at the royal wedding." – The Times (£)

Greek debt: Europe at the crossroads

"Faced with the looming threat of global economic meltdown, the leaders of Germany and France buried their sharp differences over the worsening Greek debt crisis yesterday and issued an urgent call for EU agreement on a new rescue package for the financially stricken country." – The Independent

> Yesterday on ConHome:

Tony Blair distances himself from Tory public service changes

"I want to make it clear that I support the election of the Labour party and a Labour prime minister. All I have said is that insofar as [the coalition] are continuing the reform programme that we did when I was in government, I cannot suddenly turn round and say I am not in favour of this. I am in favour of them." – Tony Blair quoted in The Guardian

> Thursday's LeftWatch: Alan Milburn lambasts the Government for diluting the NHS reforms as Cameron uses support from Blair and Blairites "as a protective shield"

Other news and comment in brief

  • Middle-class families squeezed as soaring food and fuel bills leave them £900 worse off this year – Daily Mail
  • Treasury to introduce new restrictions for tax exiles – The Herald
  • Ed Miliband is right to think there is a lot he can learn from Margaret Thatcher – Times (£) editorial
  • Ed Miliband rules out EU referendum – Daily Express
  • Michael White: Why we should cherish prime minister's questions – The Guardian
  • Commonwealth nations begin talks on royal succession reform to allow for a female heir – Daily Mail
  • Six parties form Coalition government in Finland two months after election – Reuters

And finally… Judge orders Ed Balls to pay £1,000 over unsettled office bill

Ed Balls upset "Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, has been ordered to pay more than £1,000 to a landlord in a battle over the final bill for his former constituency office. Mr Balls agreed to pay £830 and £265 in costs to Park Sampson, the landlord of his former offices in his West Yorkshire constituency. The payment covers the redecoration of the property, the removal of rubbish and of furniture." – Daily Telegraph