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Screen shot 2011-07-25 at 20.07.11 8pm VIDEO: Rory Stewart urges us NOT to believe Cameron and Obama's arguments for staying in Afghanistan. He argues:

  • Afghanistan is not a threat to us.
  • The Taliban could not take control of Afghanistan.
  • Even if they could, they would not invite back Al Qaeda.
  • Anyhow, Al Qaeda bases could be destroyed by surgical strikes if they were re-established.

…The Tory MP argues that it's time to leave Afghanistan.

5pm WATCH: David Cameron: "People in Norway are very much in our hearts and in our minds"

3pm ToryDiary: Greg Clark MP is appointed Minister for Cities

12.45pm Andrew Lilico on Comment agrees with Charles Moore, disagrees with Tim Montgomerie: "Any right-winger must surely understand that the events of the past few years have been morally disastrous for our project.  The wealthy took high returns out of the banking sector for a number of years, then when the reckoning came they used their political influence to tax the poor to keep the rich rich – and used the newspapers to tell the poor that this was done in their own interests.  A more classic paradigm demonstration of how the Left's critique is correct could not be imagined."

Noon ConHomeUSA: All the latest on the US debt talks and the race for the GOP nomination

Screen shot 2011-07-25 at 09.00.13ToryDiary: After the Norwegian massacre Cameron faces calls to monitor and curb extremist "right-wing" groups

Jo Johnson MP on Comment: The UK needs an aviation strategy for London and the south-east

LeftWatch: Just as the Coalition hits its rockiest economic time, Vince Cable is back and he's on the warpath

John O'Connell for Local government: It's possible for town halls budgets to get out of auto-pilot

Also on Local government: Councils own £250 billion worth of property

Screen shot 2011-07-25 at 08.29.13Screen shot 2011-07-25 at 08.30.01

Gazette: ConservativeHome's 2011 Party Conference programme

Video: Vince Cable calls for an end to media moguls

An extra 5,000 soldiers face losing their jobs in addition to the 7,000 redundancies already announced

"Entire Army battalions and regiments are to be disbanded on their return from Afghanistan, a memo sent to officers discloses." – Telegraph

LANSLEY ANDREW NW Two month-old letter from Andrew Lansley raised doubts about Coalition's public pension plans

'The Health Secretary describes parts of the reform proposals as “inappropriate” and “unrealistic” and warns they will hit women health workers particularly hard." – Telegraph | Guardian | BBC

Cameron warns that Britain is facing a crisis of confidence with a “general feeling” that the “best days” of the country are now behind us

"In the interview [with the Big Issue], Mr Cameron said: “Over the past few years, this country has had some real knocks and people’s confidence in our country has been shaken to the core. I’m talking about the expenses scandal, the financial crisis, this whole disgraceful and sorry episode of phone hacking. There’s a sense that the rich and the powerful – politicians, bankers, the press and the police – have been serving themselves, not each other.“Add to all that the way the world is changing, with the rise of new powers like China and India, and I think there’s a general feeling that maybe our best days as a country are behind us.”" – Telegraph

  • David Cameron admits he thinks of his father's outlook on life when he faces criticism – Daily Mail
  • "Travelling to communist Russia inspired David Cameron to become involved in politics, the prime minister has revealed." – HuffPostUK
  • The Murdoch scandal proves it: the prime minister is brilliant under fire—and otherwise a bit of a muddler – Newsweek

GROWTH Forget phone hacking – if tomorrow's growth figures are dire, the Coalition really will be fighting for its life – Julian Glover in The Guardian

Two think tanks examine the economic gloom:

  • "Families are facing a crash in living standards as severe as the 1970s, a leading economist has warned. A grim cocktail of soaring inflation, tax rises and stagnant wage growth will put a huge strain on household spending power, according to the  Institute of Fiscal Studies." – Daily Mail
  • "According to the Resolution Foundation think tank, out of each £100 of gross domestic product, only £12 now goes in wages to the bottom half of earners, down from £16 in 1977. About £14 goes to the top 10 per cent of earners alone, and £3 to the top 1 per cent. When bonuses are included, the gap is even wider: the top 1 per cent take home almost £5 of each £100 of GDP while the bottom half receive only £10." – Independent

Screen shot 2011-07-25 at 07.35.09 Vince Cable believes the recent phone-hacking scandal has “vindicated” his judgment on Murdoch and he's reasserting his anti-bank views and support for a different economic policyFT (£)

The Independent records how Vince Cable is flexing his political muscles on the economy: "Mr Cable, in an unusual intervention, said: "If there is a sustained period of weakness of demand, the right approach to that is not for the Government to relax its fiscal discipline… but it is about the Bank of England pursuing policies of low interest rates – which also help keep our exchange rate down and therefore help exports – but also using expansion of quantitative easing, perhaps in more imaginative ways, not just acquiring government securities.""

  • 'US right-wing nuts ruining the economy', says Vince Cable – Metro

Allister Heath: Osborne right to cut spending but wrong to increase taxes

"The Chancellor’s bid to gradually cut the deficit remains essential to salvaging the economy. Osborne’s mistake has been to rely too much on tax hikes, especially April’s job-destroying national insurance increase inherited from Labour, as well as January’s VAT increase, to protect spending. He hasn’t benefited politically from this choice – everybody thinks he is slashing spending by far more than the reality – and the taxes are damaging growth." – Allister Heath in City AM

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: George Osborne pledges to "go for growth" and cut red tape

MPs call for energy doorstep mis-selling compensationBBC

Britain wants tighter eurozone – without Britain – George Parker in the FT (£)

  • Ken Clarke opens door to Britain joining €uro in next decade – Express

Andrew Pierce: Shapps lined up to replace Warsi as Tory Chairman

SHAPPS GRANT-1 "Warsi, as has been reported here, was not given the job because of her political acumen or intelligence, but because of her religion and the colour of her skin as part of  Cameron’s never-ending quest to try to modernise the look of his party. The experiment has been an abject failure, which is why Shapps, the clever communicator, is being lined up for the role. He is telegenic, which is all-important in today’s 24-hour media-driven age." – Andrew Pierce in the Daily Mail

Stephen Glover: The Sun didn't win it for Cameron

"According to Ipsos Mori, there was a 13.5 per cent Labour to Conservative swing among Sun readers compared with a national swing of 5 per cent among all newspaper readers. On the other hand, this swing was 7 per cent among social grades C2 and DE, which make up a high proportion of its readers. It is also noteworthy that there was a 10 per cent Lab-Con swing among readers of the Daily Star, which took little interest in the election and offered no party endorsement." – Stephen Glover in The Independent

  • George Osborne braced for embarrassing revelations over News Corporation talks with Rupert Murdoch – Daily Mail

And finally… The Daily Mail has something POSITIVE to say about the EU

"Generally, the Mail would be the first to agree it’s no business of the EU to dictate how British food companies should package their products. But for once, don’t the Eurocrats have a point when they say bacon pumped with water to increase its weight should be clearly labelled as such? If the protesting food companies seriously believe that Britons prefer the texture of water-filled bacon, there’s nothing to stop them from continuing to sell it. All that is being asked of them is a little honesty." – Daily Mail leader (bottom of page)

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