Screen shot 2011-06-23 at 18.11.46
5.45 Parliament: On the floor of the Commons, Mark Pritchard accuses the Prime Minister and Conservative whips of bullying

4.30pm Mark Fox on Comment argues that the Second Church Estates Commissioner shouldn't be confronting the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Chuck it, Baldry: stop knocking Rowan Williams

Screen shot 2011-06-23 at 16.23.25 12.45pm WATCH: Liam Fox: "Any reductions in British forces will be dependent on the conditions on the ground … and fully based on military advice"

Noon ConHomeUSA: Today's Republican and American political news

11.30am ToryDiary: The Conservative Party's three Parliamentary leaders: David Cameron, Tom Strathclyde…and Martin Callanan

11.15am ConHomeUSA: The four reasons why Obama is "likely" to lose

11am ThinkTankCentral: Nick Clegg recommends the Centre for Policy Studies plan for bank re-privatisation

ToryDiary: Fourteen Tory MPs set out a 'Mainstream Euroscepticism' in letter to the FT

Screen shot 2011-06-23 at 09.10.44
Also onToryDiary: Looking forward to 2018 and the Boris versus George fight for the Tory leadership

Comment: David T Breaker: The moral dilemma of aid

Also on Comment: James Wharton MP: On pensions, we mustn't allow our opponents to suggest promises are being broken where they are not

Local Government: Should Boris be helping the bees?

Parliament: Philip Davies leads the charge against a ban on smoking in cars

LeftWatch: Today's Order of the O.T.T: Dr Who screenwriter describes Cameron and Clegg as "savage" and "evil"

WATCH: Counting the cost of Libya

Liberal Democrats want a CGT hike for the better-off and a bank share giveaway…while Cable slams "ridiculous" and "outrageous" bonuses (once again)  

1) CGT

Screen shot 2011-06-23 at 05.23.15 "Their new policy sees the mansion tax modified to a mansion sales tax: people will be charged a higher rate of capital gains tax on any profit made when selling a million-pound-plus house. The CGT would be levied at least at 28% on that bit of the profit above £1m. Their mansion tax policy had eventually proposed an annual tax of 1% on £2m properties, so in this sense, their new policy could affect more people." – Allegra Stratton, The Guardian

2) Bank shares

"Nick Clegg wants to give every British voter shares in the state-owned banks as the deputy prime minister looks to revive his battered image by creating a “people’s banking system”.  Mr Clegg told the Financial Times he had written to George Osborne and Danny Alexander at the Treasury this week, asking them to look into introducing a “mass share-ownership scheme” as part of the privatisation of Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group." – Financial Times (£)

3) Bonuses

"Vince Cable is to hold top-level talks with the City grandees who set boardroom pay in order to thrash out ways to end the "ridiculous" and "outrageous" levels of executive bonuses.  The business secretary is also to demand more disclosure about bonuses and their link to company performance after hitting out at the "ethics of the wild east" in the City, which he said damaged the reputation of the UK." – The Guardian

Pickles "hung up phone on Spelman" over weekly collections

"Mr Pickles said to Mrs Spelman: “Why don’t you spend less time speaking to your officials and more time listening to the electorate?” Mrs Spelman then hung up on her colleague and the pair are thought not to have spoken since, according to their parliamentary colleagues." – Daily Telegraph

Clarke "threatens to cut free legal aid for suspects"

"Kenneth Clarke faced anger last night after threatening to scrap the automatic right of arrested suspects to receive free advice from a solicitor. As part of a drive to save £2bn from his department's budget, the Justice Secretary has announced moves to means-test suspects who want access to a lawyer provided by the state. Critics say the plan would undermine the right to equal treatment under the law regardless of background and create a new layer of bureaucracy that would hinder the criminal justice system." – The Independent

Nick Gibb says grammar schools should be allowed to expand

"He said state grammars would be able to take advantage of new rules to admit extra students without seeking the permission of local authorities. In a speech to head teachers, he praised the “world class” education provided by England’s 164 academically selective schools and suggested they were a powerful driver of social mobility." – Daily Telegraph

Afghanistan 1: Hague confirms that we're talking to the Taliban…

Hague Looking At Cameron "Speaking to The Sun while on an Afghan visit, Mr Hague became the first Government minister to confirm Britain IS in talks with its fanatical enemy. He said: "Talks do happen with the Taliban, let me put it that way. We are connected to what happens – we will assist where we can and we are strongly supportive of it." Mr Hague added: "We have been here many years because of our own national security." – The Sun

Afghanistan 2: Cameron set to order more British troops home

"Mr Cameron spoke to the US president via videophone to coordinate British and US withdrawal plans before Mr Obama addressed the American nation on live TV.  Before the speech, advisers said that the US was bringing troops home from a "position of strength" in Afghanistan.  Mr Obama was on Wednesday night expected to confirm the withdrawal of 33,000 troops, up to 10,000 of them by the end of this year." – Daily Telegraph

Obama outlines timetable for Afghan withdrawal – Financial Times (£)

Cost of Libya campaign reaches £200 million

"The government is expected to tell MPs on Thursday that the operation in Libya has cost about £200m in an attempt to head off growing concerns that the military bill is spiralling.  Ministers will put down a written ministerial statement to the house, bringing forward the announcement from next week.  However, some defence economists have warned the cost could reach £1bn if the campaign lasts into the autumn." – The Guardian

The bond between soldiers and politicians is close to breaking – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph

World Service row after ConHome spot

"But a junior civil servant who announced the move on the Foreign Office website as a ‘massive U-turn’ was last night facing disciplinary action.  The blunder left senior officials furious as it overshadowed the announcement by Foreign Secretary William Hague that he had agreed  to give the BBC World Service £2.2million a year to secure the broadcaster’s Arabic Service." – Daily Mail

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Oops! FCO website announces "Massive U-Turn" on World Service funding

Yesterday in the Commons: Miliband fights Cameron…

“Let me say to the Prime Minister in all sincerity,” began Ed to loud hoots of disbelief from the Tory benches. Ed’s panda eyes got even wider: he is not used to being taken seriously." – Ann Treneman, The Times (£)

…And Balls fights himself (he said that "I do my politics on the record", and claimed that Mandelson "is a good friend of mine")

Balls Ed Attack Dog "When he is on top form there is only one man on either frontbench who can destroy Ed Balls. His name is Ed Balls." – Michael White, The Guardian

Guardian reports Cameron PMQ view on Conservative MEPs, doesn't report his remarks on Labour MEPs – The Guardian

A million pupils don't speak English as a first language

"Rampant immigration was blamed yesterday for placing a “huge strain” on Britain’s schools as official figures revealed that almost one million pupils do not speak English as their first language.  A record one in six pupils in primary schools and one in eight in secondary education speaks another language at home, a massive increase in the past five years…In some parts of London, as many as three-quarters of pupils speak other languages, the Department for Education statistics say." – Daily Express

"Far too many schools are still letting families down" – Michael Gove's interview by e-mail in The Independent

Robinson and McGuinness aim to defuse Belfast violence

"East Belfast remained tense last night as First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness embarked on an initiative aimed at defusing the tensions that fuelled the serious violence over recent nights. The PSNI confirmed that the Ulster Volunteer Force in east Belfast orchestrated the violence while it was dissident republicans who were responsible for the shooting that wounded Press Association photographer Niall Carson on Tuesday night." – Irish Times

"Nobody of my generation can be surprised at what has been happening in the Short Strand in East Belfast over the last couple of nights…But it does mark a worrying escalation. Spare a thought for the officers of the Police Service of Northern Ireland who are standing between peace and violence." – Patrick Mercer MP writes in The Sun

Doctor who bawled out Cameron and Clegg "has asked to be placed on leave"Daily Mirror

European Commission wants to tear up illegal immigration rules Daily Mail

Head of Institute for Fiscal Studies says that the "sheer ambition" of the spending scaleback may overwhelm CameronThe Times (£)

NHS IT programme resignsFinancial Times (£)

Boris returns half his Olympics ticketsDaily Telegraph*

Coalition and Political News in Brief

Liam Byrne interview: Labour can't win if it doesn't admit mistakes

Byrne Liam "Mr Byrne acknowledged that Labour had:

  • failed to spend every pound wisely;
  • underestimated the effect of eastern European migration and failed to manage it properly;
  • moved too slowly on welfare reform and demanded to little from benefit claimants who were not trying hard enough to get a job;
  • failed to regulate the banks properly and stop executives rewarding themselves for financial failure." – Andrew Grice, The Independent

Hutton warns Ministers over pensions

"The former Labour business secretary who designed the coalition's contentious public sector pension reforms will warn ministers on Thursday that their plans risk becoming so punitive they could force people out of pension schemes altogether. Lord Hutton of Furness will warn of a "serious" risk of a mass exodus from the local government pension scheme – which is funded and has 3.5 million members – if contributions are raised too high and no other compensation is provided." – The Guardian

Christine Blower, NUT strike leader, gets 10 per cent pay rise

"Miss Blower's basic pay rose by almost £9,000 to £103,000, while her package of pay and benefits increased by more than £13,000 to £140,000 – up 10.4 per cent.  The increase is more than double the rate of inflation and four times the 2.3 per cent received by classroom teachers last year.  The NUT's accounts also reveal that union members funded a 16 per cent increase in contributions to Miss Blower's gold-plated pension last year." – Daily Mail

Serwotka plans chaos, praises Scargill – New Statesman

Today's Must-Read: Stephen Glover says that if Cameron loses the Falklands, he's dead meat

Screen shot 2011-06-23 at 08.54.48
"Even as things stand, our armed forces are evidently unable to fulfil all the tasks that politicians throw at them. Imagine what would happen if those tasks suddenly included fighting the Argentinians eight thousand miles away.  It does not bear thinking about, either for this country or Mr Cameron’s future. If he cares about either — which I am sure he does — he should take another, closer look at our defence expenditure, and think twice before embarking on questionable foreign adventures which we can probably never win." – Daily Mail

Other Comment

* Don't lose the other half, Boris!