8.30pm WATCH: India seeks answers after Mumbai terror attacks

5.15pm ToryDiary: The Left should calm down. Reports of the death of Murdochshire Central are greatly exaggerated.

4.45pm ThinkTankCentral: Tim Knox is the new Director of the Centre for Policy Studies

Andrew_rt_davies 4.15pm Gazette: Andrew RT Davies is the new leader of the Welsh Conservatives

2pm Jesse Norman MP on Comment: The OBR Report paves the way to pinning down the real costs of PFI

Noon ConHomeUSA: Today's American and Republican political news

11am Roger Helmer MEP on Comment: The Coalition is wrong on too many fronts

ToryDiary: Parliament hasn't got the media on the run

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Anthony Browne on Comment: Why we shouldn't leave the EU

Also on Comment: Robert Halfon MP – Sign up to the Fair Fuel Petition today

Local Government: Squatters rights to be removed

Parliament: Read the whole of Brown's bonkers speech yesterday

Gazette: House of Commons victorious in Lords vs. Commons Boat Race

WATCH: Britain's‪ political backlash against Murdoch‬

As the Westminster village gazes inwards, look at what's happening abroad

1) Moody's places the United States's ratings on review

Screen shot 2011-07-14 at 08.52.10 "Moody’s placed the triple A rating of the US on review for a possible downgrade as fears mounted that Washington will fail to raise the federal debt ceiling by August 2.  “Moody’s considers the probability of a default on interest payments to be low but no longer to be de minimis,” the rating agency said on Wednesday.  The Moody’s action was expected, but by spelling out how even a brief default could lead to a lasting downgrade in the US credit rating, it heightens the pressure on Republicans and Democrats to reach a deal." – Financial Times (£)

2) Fitch slashes Greece's credit rating to junk…

"The euro plunged deeper into crisis last night as Greece’s credit rating was slashed to ‘junk’ status – just one notch above default – by another major agency. David Cameron told European leaders to act immediately to prop up the ailing country amid fears that the crisis stalking the single currency will drag down Britain. Credit rating agency Fitch yesterday indicated it expected the Greek government to default on its loans, cutting the country’s rating from B+ to CCC." – Daily Mail

3) …The day after Moody's did the same to Ireland

"As Germany blocked plans for an emergency euro zone summit tomorrow, notional Irish borrowing costs jumped to new records after credit rating agency Moody’s imposed a “junk” grade on Irish debt. The EU Commission intensified its criticism of the downgrade, saying it was “incomprehensible”, and Germany said it was “completely at odds” with the recent views of other rating agencies." – Irish Times

Gold price hits record high as eurozone woes spread across AtlanticThe Independent

US debt crisis and eurozone troubles could overshadow phone hacking – Michael White, The Guardian

> Yesterday inToryDiary: George Osborne reads riot act to EU finance ministers as sense of crisis grips €urozone

Now turn your mind to Britain's own future: OBR warns that taxes may rise by up to 12p in the pound

"The burden of extra levies will fall upon the public for half a century to cope with the aftermath of the credit crunch and the impact of our ageing population. Income tax would have to rise by 5p in the pound to keep the economy solvent, and may even have to go up by 12p if reforms to make the National Health Service more efficient do not work." – Daily Mail

"Britain's ageing population – and especially the demands placed on the National Heath Service – is the biggest driver of the coming crisis, the OBR says. In its first report on the long-term (50 year) horizon for the national debt, the OBR says that Britain's public-sector net debt, more colloquially known as the national debt, stands at £906bn, some 60 per cent of national income, or £35,000 per household." – The Independent

Yesterday in ToryDiary: Spectator warns that Osborne may be leading Britain into a "low-growth, high debt trap"

It's payback for "expenses": After decades of media humiliation, MPs tear Rupert Murdoch apart.  Cameron names judge…

"David Cameron  laid out plans for an inquiry into phone hacking, press ethics, the actions of the police and the relationship between politicians and journalists. He announced that in the future he would like ministers to record all meetings with newspaper and other media proprietors, senior editors and executives “regardless of the nature of the meeting”…The Prime Minister also named Lord Justice Leveson — the barrister who prosecuted Rosemary West, Britain’s worst serial killer — as the chairman of the phone-hacking inquiry." – The Times (£)

Leveson seen as ‘steady pair of hands’ – Financial Times (£)

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…And abandons Coulson

"In a shift from his previous stalwart support, the PM conceded his ex-communications chief – arrested last week in the hacking probe – could be hauled before the courts if it was proved he lied about not being involved in law-breaking at the News of the World…Mr Cameron said: “These questions relate to the fact I hired a tabloid editor. I did so on the basis of assurances he gave me that he did not know about the phone hacking and was not involved in criminality." – Daily Express

Murdoch's fall

"Rupert Murdoch’s grand plan for a huge expansion of his media empire was in tatters last night as the 'firestorm’ over phone hacking forced him to withdraw his bid to take over BSkyB. The tycoon shelved his £10billion offer for the satellite broadcaster as it became clear that David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband were joining forces in a Commons vote urging him to back off." – Daily Mail

Brown's revenge…

"Gordon Brown gave vent to two years of anger over the phone-hacking scandal when he turned on Sir Gus O'Donnell and directly accused the cabinet secretary of blocking his plans to hold a judicial inquiry into the affair. In his first major speech in the House of Commons since he resigned as prime minister last year, Brown took the unprecedented step of reading a summary of O'Donnell's advice – which said an inquiry would be seen as politically motivated." – The Guardian

  • Murdoch could sell The Times, Sunday Times, The Sun – The Independent
  • Lord Chief Justice attacks media and politicians – Daily Telegraph
  • London Assembly rap for Mayor Johnson in phone hack – London 24
  • Sex bloggers Belle de Jour and Girl With A One Track Mind say they were hacked by Sunday Times – Daily Mail

…(Not to mention Cable's)

"Business Secretary Vince Cable has told the BBC that the withdrawal of the bid is "absolutely the right decision"." – BBC

Does man on green benches needs men in white coats?

Screen shot 2011-07-14 at 08.45.55 "After years of being courted by Mr Brown and other senior Labour figures, the tabloid dramatically announced it was switching its allegiance to David Cameron’s Conservatives. “Labour’s lost it” proclaimed the best-selling daily paper, alongside a big picture of Gordon Brown. The announcement was timed to cause maximum embarrassment to Labour and dominated the headlines on the day after the then Prime Minister’s keynote conference speech. As a result, Mr Brown is alleged to have said that he would “destroy” Rupert Murdoch." – Daily Telegraph

"We had been given a glimpse of a man in torment: a man imprisoned by his own manic need to prove he was always in the right. How glum the Labour MPs sitting behind Mr Brown looked. They knew this was not the way to win friends and influence people, and were perhaps wondering how they could ever have allowed such an unbalanced man to become their leader." – Andrew Gimson, Daily Telegraph

"Bercow started to scream at them. "Order! Order! Order!" he yelled three times, and three times the noise grew louder, because the Tories hate him. He was a supply teacher parachuted into Lord of the Flies." – Simon Hoggart, The Guardian

"With his strange genius for turning gold into mire, Mr Brown reintroduced rancour to a Chamber which moments earlier had been sunnily resolute. He really is an extraordinary catalyst of ill-will." – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

"Within minutes, the former prime minister had electrified the Commons. Graham Stuart actually had smoke rising from the back of his collar." – Simon Carr, The Independent

MPs flex their muscles

"Rupert Murdoch, his son James and News International chief Rebekah Brooks could be held in “contempt of Parliament” if they fail to show for a hearing into the phone hacking scandal… they now face the unprecedented humiliation of being formally “summoned” by the Serjeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons, Jill Pay. If they choose to ignore the summons, they could then be held in contempt of Parliament and sanctioned by the powerful Standards and Privileges Committee." – Daily Express

  • MPs summon Piers Morgan over hacking claims – Daily Express
  • Witnesses who refuse to appear before select committees in Parliament should face criminal charges – The Times (£)
  • Politicians demand more power over intelligence agencies – The Guardian

Comment –

  • Hypocrisy and weak politicians – Daily Mail Comment
  • The procedures governing mergers and press regulation should not be set in haste – The Times Editorial (£)
  • Now we know who runs the country – Steve Richards, The Independent
  • Cameron masters the Commons, but can he convince the country? – Bruce Anderson, Daily Telegraph
  • Revenge of the political class – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Will anything really change? – David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)
  • Ed Miliband's Bartlet moment – Wintour and Watt, The Guardian

And from behind the prison walls, Conrad Black ignites the cannons

"[Murdoch] is, as Clarendon said of Cromwell and the British historian David Chandler updated to Napoleon “a great bad man”. It is as wrong to dispute his greatness as his badness." – Financial Times (£)

Yesterday's ConservativeHome coverage:

Fox lambasts European "free riders" over Libya

FOX GESTICULATING "It is quite clear that they cannot continue to shoulder the burden of everyone else’s defence,’ said Dr Fox. ‘When we look at the sometimes pathetic contributions being made by some countries inside Nato, the European elements of Nato cannot expect the U.S. to come to our aid on every occasion. ‘Far too many of our European partners are still trying to get a free ride and they should regard Libya as a wake-up call." – Daily Mail

Huhne's £1000 family wind farm bill

"Families face punishing increases in energy bills of up to £1,000 a year to fund a switch to green energy and build new nuclear power stations. Chris Huhne yesterday outlined a new regime that will encourage firms to build thousands of wind turbines, tidal power stations and nuclear plants.  There is a fierce dispute between the Government, green campaigners, academics and industry analysts over the true cost of the programme." – Daily Mail

Parliament: Charles Walker and Anne Main highlight the burden of green taxes and carbon charging during Chris Huhne energy statement

Clarke set to shut two prisons

"Latchmere House in London and Brockhill in the West Midlands will shut in September.  Mr Clarke said the move would save £4.9million. His decision was condemned last night by Tory MPs who he enraged six months ago by shutting down three other prisons. One backbencher said: "People are afraid we're going soft on crime and closing prisons will fuel those fears."..But Mr Clarke stressed there would be an extra 2,500 prison places over the next year." – The Sun

New Conservative leader in Wales to be named today

"The Conservatives are to announce their new leader in the Welsh assembly later on Thursday.  Votes will be counted and the results of a party election will be declared at the Swalec Stadium, Cardiff, probably between 1200 and 1300 BST.  Some 5,000 party members were eligible to vote in the contest between AMs Andrew RT Davies and Nick Ramsay. The contest comes after former leader Nick Bourne lost his seat in the assembly at May's election." – BBC Wales

Mark Prisk interview

Mark Prisk "This is not meant unkindly, but Mr Prisk has some of the vocalisations of the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, and also something of his bounciness, though in a pleasant, sunny, enterprise-boosting rather than a plain irritating way. More of a coincidence really.  Anyway, he has to be upbeat in his job, talking up British manufacturing in the days following the loss of thousands of jobs at Bombardier and its suppliers." – Interview, The Independent

Iain Duncan Smith was right: foreign workers took three in four new jobs in Britain in the last year Daily Mail

Other Political News and Comment in Brief

  • Civil servants awarded £20,000 bonuses as public sector faces cuts – Daily Telegraph
  • Migrant births hit record – Daily Express
  • Growth of animal tests trails science funding – Financial Times (£)
  • Blasts bring terror back to streets of Mumbai – The Times (£)
  • Hunt announces £57 million investment in Welsh broadband – Daily Post North Wales
  • Assassin who killed President Karzai’s brother hanged in public square – Daily Mail
  • Schools cut subjects to fit with new Baccalaureate – The Independent
  • Assange "told woman that he preferred virgins" – The Sun
  • I want to introduce more choice for those seeking abortion, not less – Nadine Dorries MP, The Guardian



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