Screen shot 2011-06-30 at 23.11.16 11.15pm WATCH: Ed Miliband robotically repeating same message to interviewer about public sector strikes

6.30pm WATCH: Alan Duncan observes how UK aid is being spent in Bangladesh

5pm Parliament: Lord Howell defends the Government as Labour Europhiles complain that the European flag was not flown from official buildings on Europe Day

4pm Andrea Leadsom MP on Comment: Cheques remain a vital method of payment and the banks need to clarify their plans for them

Picture 192.30pm Michael Gove thanks teachers who are working today and expresses sympathy with those who have been inconvenienced

12.45pm ToryDiary: Another Buckinghamshire Conservative Association put its money where its mouth is on High Speed Rail

12pm ConHome USA: Today's Republican and American political news

11.30am Parliament: Cheryl Gillan bats away an inquiry at Welsh Questions about the prospect of her resigning over High Speed Rail

Picture 1611am WATCH: Francis Maude tells BBC Breakfast this morning that today's strikes are "unjustifiable", not least because talks on public sector pensions are still ongoing

10.15am LeftWatch: Labour peer blames overspending under Labour for the recession

ToryDiary: The three MPs from the Tory margins at the centre of the Commons

Michael Burnett on Comment: Ensuring a Scottish independence referendum is defeated will mean English politicians staying out of the fray

Also on Comment, Niki Molnar: Conservatives can set about winning back women’s votes without the dramatics of certain female Fleet Street columnists

Parliament: Concerns are raised by Tory MPs about cuts to legal aid as Ken Clarke's justice bill gets its Second Reading

Local Government: Conservative councils best for Council Tax collection rates – Labour ones worst 

Also in Local Government:

LeftWatch: One quarter of voters look at a photo of Ed Miliband and think it's David Miliband…

Arianna Capuani in International: Lessons in Localism from Lombardy

Public sector workers start strike over pensions

OnStrike "The coalition government faces the first industrial uprising against its austerity measures today as up to 750,000 public servants strike over planned changes to their pensions. A third of schools are expected to close and two-thirds of universities have cancelled lectures. Benefits will go unpaid, court cases will be postponed, police leave has been cancelled in London and airports are bracing themselves for backlogs at immigration." – The Guardian

"Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, who is leading talks with the unions, vowed Britain ‘will not buckle’ in the face of industrial action and insisted the country’s ‘Dunkirk spirit’ would keep many schools and other services running. ‘I urge public sector workers to go to work today,’ Mr Maude said." – Daily Mail

"David Cameron last night urged parents to take their children to work to help minimise the impact of today’s national teaching strike." – Daily Express

  • Schools told to get set for months of strike action – The Times (£)
  • Pressure grows for MPs to share pensions pain – The Independent
  • Private sector staff must put in a third of their pay to match state worker benefits – Daily Mail
  • Strikers should heed the lessons of Greece – Telegraph editorial
  • Mark Serwotka: Why public sector strike deserves your support – The Guardian

> Yesterday on ConHome:

David Cameron under pressure to veto EU's demand for an inflation-busting budget increase

EU-FLAG "David Cameron is facing pressure to veto the latest ‘ludicrous’ cash demand from Brussels after it  announced plans to slap three new taxes on Britain. The European Commission yesterday revealed budget demands which would cost UK taxpayers £10billion… A senior government official described the EU demands as ‘ludicrous’. And a Treasury spokesman said: ‘The commission’s proposal is completely unrealistic." – Daily Mail

  • Cameron has faith in EU, says No 10 – FT (£)

> Yesterday on ConHome: Martin Callanan MEP suggests David Cameron might need Margaret Thatcher's handbag for the EU budget negotiations

…as Cabinet ministers and Downing Street aides privately speak of leaving the EU

"Two Cabinet ministers are reported to have been persuaded that the UK would be better off by cutting its links with Brussels. And Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Letwin, the PM’s policy guru, is also said to have swung behind growing Tory support for withdrawal… Last week it was reported that Mr Cameron’s strategy chief Steve Hilton also wants the UK to pull out. The latest reports of Government unease are revealed in today’s edition of the Spectator magazine." – Daily Express 

Theresa May considers emergency legislation over bail court ruling

Theresa May Home Secretary "Senior police officers will meet the home secretary later to discuss how to respond to a court ruling restricting the use of bail in England and Wales. Theresa May is considering emergency legislation following a High Court ruling that suspects can be freed on police bail for no more than four days… Mrs May has expressed "great concern" over the ruling's effect on policing." – BBC

Ken Clarke seeks to clarify existing laws about rights to defend propert

 "Last week the Justice Secretary said he would "bring forward legislation to clarify the law on self-defence". But yersterday he promised instead to try to make existing legislation clearer. He said: "If an old lady finds she's got an 18-year-old burglar in her house, picks up a kitchen knife and sticks it in him, she has not committed a criminal offence. We'll make it quite clear you can hit the burglar with a poker if he's in the house and have a perfect defence when you do so." – The Sun

  • Reoffending rates among ex-prisoners are a "national scandal", says Clarke – BBC

Michael Gove: How Asia can teach us a lesson on maths, which should be studied every day

Michael Gove 2010 "Maths teaching in schools should be overhauled, with the introduction of Asian-style daily teaching and a focus on fundamentals, the Education Secretary has suggested. Michael Gove has signalled a return to academic rigour in the maths curriculum amid concerns that the UK is lagging behind other countries." – Daily Mail

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: While striking teaching unions want to take Britain back to the 1970s, Gove plots a path to 21st century survival

Treasury Select Committee chairman Andrew Tyrie questions Government's bank ring-fencing plansDaily Telegraph

Allegra Stratton: Backbench mutterings grow as David Cameron loses appetite for reforms

"The new generation feel that the Diet-Coke Tories are doing what they have to do get through the politics of now, and despite Cameron's exhortions, reform for them is a sepia-tinted image from ten years ago. They fear that Cameron, stung by criticism that he was doing too much, has over-corrected and has now done all the reforming he plans to do. In contrast, the new intake are preoccupied with ideas for five, 10 and 20 years time." – Allegra Stratton in The Guardian

Tories out for vengeance as Speaker slaps down the PM

Speaker Bercow 2010 "Senior Tories vowed ‘revenge’ on Commons Speaker John Bercow yesterday after he slapped down David Cameron during Prime Minister’s Questions. Tory MPs said they would push through plans to ensure the Speaker has to face a vote on his future, scuppering his quest for two terms." – Daily Mail

"Mr Cameron was furious. He sat down with exaggerated slowness and shook his head. For a moment his demeanour recalled that of Mr Darcy, in Pride and Prejudice, when confronted by behaviour of unspeakable oikishness." – Andrew Gimson's sketch in the Daily Telegraph

  • Downing Street plays down John Bercow spat – BBC

Europe breathes easier as Greece agrees austerity package

"The Greek Parliament has passed a crucial package of austerity measures that will allow it to claim a €12 billion (£10.7 billion) bailout and avoid defaulting on its debts for a little longer. George Papandreou’s five-year austerity plan was carried by 155 votes to 138 in a dramatic afternoon vote." – The Times (£)

> WATCH: Greek Parliament passes austerity bill amidst violence in the streets outside

Con Coughlin: It’s time for Britain to merge its Army, Navy and Air Force

Picture 9 "The bitter rivalries that erupted during last year’s defence review undoubtedly had a detrimental effect on its outcome. Merging the Armed Forces into a single entity would not only put a stop to such counter-productive squabbling, it would provide us with the lean, mean fighting machine we will undoubtedly need to protect us against the many dangers that lie ahead. Our senior officers put self-interest above the national interest – and that is a luxury this nation can no longer afford." – Con Coughlin in the Daily Telegraph

Our leaders could learn so much from Reagan's appeal to the common man – Dominic Sandbrook in the Daily Mail

News in brief

  • Voting takes place today at the Inverclyde by-election – Sky News
  • BSkyB takeover to get go-ahead – Daily Mirror
  • English students face £36,000 university fees in Scotland – The Times (£)
  • Treasury unveils tax avoidance reforms – FT (£)

And finally… Why was it generous of George Osborne to stay at the Commons until the end of PMQs yesterday?

"Osborne had tickets for the tennis, you see, in the Royal Box no less, and play started at 1pm. But the Chancellor couldn't leave his best friend and boss without a bit of support for the big match of the day in the Commons, so he had to miss the beginning of the tennis." – The Independent