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5pm LeftWatch: Labour discussed whether to hold a public inquiry into phone-hacking… and chose not to

4pm WATCH: First trailer for the Lady Thatcher film, "The Iron Lady"

3.30pm WATCH: The secret to Conservative electoral success – women voters

3pm Parliament: Tory MPs debate the News of the World phone-hacking scandal

GaukeDavidTaxAwards 1.30pm Parliament: David Gauke MP is Tax Personality of the Year! Updated with award photo and citation

12.30pm Cameron Watt on Comment highlights a fault in the Localism Bill – "all tenants in social housing will no longer be able to take a complaint they have about their landlord straight to the housing ombudsman. Instead, it will have to made through a third party – an MP, a local councillor or a tenant panel.": Indirect Democracy

Noon ConHomeUSA: Today's Republican and US political news

11.30am Professor Philip Booth on ThinkTankCentral discusses Professor Robert Barro's 20th Annual Hayek Memorial Lecture: A crisis of government? 

FoxLiamIV11am WATCH: Liam Fox: "Changing aircraft carrier design was right"

ToryDiary: David Cameron must protect Britain's right wing newspapers by leading the clean up operation

Mohammed Amin on Comment: Why the Muslim organisations that criticise the Prevent Review are wrong

Ryan Bourne on ThinkTankCentral finds the government largely failing on key growth measures: We need to look back from the future to assess what government policies are needed to boost productivity

GAUKE DAVID On the Parliament blog:

Local government: Pickles urges outsourcing to Tyneside not India

Two videos from the Miliband/Cameron exchanges at PMQs yesterday:

Police inform George Osborne that he may have been victim of phone hackingTelegraph

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How the new UK edition of the Huffington Post headlines the latest revelations.

Widows of Iraq War victims were targeted by the News of the World phone hackers, police believeDaily Mail

Government under pressure to block Murdoch's takeover of BSkyB

HUNT JEREMY FORMAL "Some MPs believe there could be discreet contacts between Downing Street and senior News Corp figures urging the company to suspend its bid… Government officials insist [Jeremy] Hunt can only block the deal on media plurality grounds. Some ministers hope that media regulator Ofcom will spare their blushes by halting the takeover because the hacking scandal shows News Corp would not be a "fit and proper" owner of BSkyB." – Independent

Peter Oborne launches massive attack on David Cameron's connections with the Murdoch empire

"Until now it has been easy to argue that Mr Cameron was properly grounded with a decent set of values. Unfortunately, it is impossible to make that assertion any longer. He has made not one, but a long succession of chronic personal misjudgments. He should never have employed Andy Coulson, the News of the World editor, as his director of communications. He should never have cultivated Rupert Murdoch. And – the worst mistake of all – he should never have allowed himself to become a close friend of Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of the media giant News International, whose departure from that company in shame and disgrace can only be a matter of time. We are talking about a pattern of behaviour here. Indeed, it might be better described as a course of action. Mr Cameron allowed himself to be drawn into a social coterie in which no respectable person, let alone a British prime minister, should be seen dead." – Peter Oborne in The Telegraph

  • Steve Richards in The Independent explains how Cameron benefited from his links to Murdoch: "On the day Brown made his leader's speech at the pre-election Labour conference, Brooks declared with imperial arrogance that The Sun was endorsing the Conservatives, in a wrecking move carefully agreed with Coulson. Look also what happened to Nick Clegg during the last election. Clegg had never engaged in wooing. In response to his surging popularity, the Tory-supporting newspapers, including most of those at News International, turned on him, again working closely with Coulson."

Ed Miliband has declared war on News International

Miliband Ed Official "In calling for Ms Brooks’s resignation on Wednesday, Ed Miliband in effect declared war on Rupert Murdoch’s news empire and completely changed the terms of the political debate, at a stroke transforming the relationship between Westminster and the media group." – FT (£)

"it was a gross error of judgement to bring Andy Coulson into Downing Street machine as director of communications. What happened while Mr Coulson was editor of the News of the World was hardly a state secret. After all, he had resigned from that post over phone hacking in the first place. David Cameron simply made the wrong decision to give him such a senior post inside the government machine." – Ed Miliband writing for Huffington Post UK

Defending British newspapers from blanket attacks from MPs, The Independent praises their investigatory role

"At its best, British investigative reporting is second to none, with a clear sense of the public interest, quite properly, to the fore. Let's not forget that it was not only the MPs' expenses scandal that newspapers exposed, but the phone hacking whose ramifications are being minutely chronicled in some newspapers, including this one, even as others did their utmost to keep it under wraps." – Independent leader

David Cameron: We are creating a new era of transparency that will allow parents and patients to see exactly how doctors and teachers are performing before they use their services

Cameron earnest In an article for The Telegraph the Prime Minister to use the data about public services that is now published online: "Exploit it, hold your public services to account. They are there for you, so make them work for you."

  • Surgery death rates to be published for the first time – Times (£)
  • "Ministers are to publish all spending on government credit cards in order to expose profligacy and waste as part of new plans to reveal swaths of government data showing low-performing schools, GP services and transport services." – Guardian

Defence review 'flawed by drive to cut costs'

"In a report published today, the National Audit Office (NAO) cast doubt on the Strategic Defence and Security Review and the decisions ministers took about the future of the Armed Forces. A continuing crisis in the defence budget raises the prospects of more major cuts, the watchdog said. It also accused ministers of denying auditors access to Whitehall papers on key defence decisions. Under last year’s review, ministers decided to go ahead with plans to spend £6.2 billion on two new aircraft carriers, even though, according to the NAO, military chiefs would have preferred the money to have been spent on smaller warships." – Telegraph

Cameron confirmed that a further 500 UK troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan in 2012Express

  • Bercow issues cool response to suggestion he job swaps with Afghanistan's speaker – Independent

The Sun focuses on inadequate compensation for injured war veterans

The Sun Says: "NOT for the first time, the Defence Ministry has its priorities wrong. It pays out three times more in school fees for officers' children than it does in compensation for wounded squaddies. The MoD offers all Forces personnel help with fees so kids have stability as parents serve overseas. The scheme aids well-paid officers most. A colonel could receive £240,000 subsidy per child. A soldier losing a leg is in line for only £92,000. Payouts for shrapnel wounds are as low as £5,000."

Daily Mail: Green taxes aren't used to improve the environment, they're just taxesMail leader

  • "The Treasury should ring-fence money from fuel duty to cut rising public transport fares in a bid to rebuild trust in green taxes, MPs have urged. The public has lost trust in green taxation because the Treasury appears to use it as a revenue-raiser rather than an effort to reduce pollution, said the Environmental Audit Committee." – Express
  • Chris Huhne's plans to increase private investment in British energy look hopelessly optimistic – Jeremy Warner in The Telegraph

Robert Halfon MP on how illegal immigrants can enter UK without a passportTelegraph

Sajid Javid MP: Britain needs a debt ceiling, too

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"My bill would require the government of the day to make the case openly before parliament for why it should borrow more. A vote will be taken and parliamentarians will have to explain their decisions to constituents. For any government conscious of its duty, let alone its popularity, the disincentive of doing this should not be underestimated. A debt ceiling would, at a minimum, force a national conversation where there has been only stealth and obfuscation heretofore." – Sajid Javid MP for WSJ

Telegraph renews attack on aid budget

"A paper from the Legatum Institute, a free-market think tank, said that World Bank figures show that between 1975 and 2005, aid to Africa averaged $25 per person per year. For China, the equivalent figure was $1.50, for India $2. Over that same period, China's economy grew at a compounded annual average of 7.9 per cent, India's by 3.5 per cent – while Africa's shrank by 0.16 per cent. It is hard to escape the conclusion that aid can inhibit growth; and without economic growth, there will never be an escape from poverty." – Telegraph leader

This NHS U-turn was a fake – Jacqueline Davis for The Guardian

BBCStand up for Britain's silent majority, Patten tells BBC as director-general admits: We failed to address immigrationDaily Mail

"The BBC will never again pay its director-general a salary as high as £668,000, the new chairman of the broadcaster said yesterday as he announced that two thirds of its senior managers faced redundancy." – Telegraph

Eurozone politicians threaten punishment of ratings agencies for downgrading Portugal

"Credit rating agencies were hit by a ferocious political backlash in Europe after Moody’s slashed its rating of Portugal to junk, sending the country’s implied borrowing costs skyrocketing to a record high. EU officials accused the agencies of anti-European bias and signalled that powers could be introduced to suspend ratings on countries that were in receipt of bailouts. The German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said that there was “no factual justification” for the downgrade, while the Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager said that the agencies had poor track records and that Moody’s timing was “strange”." – Times (£)

Allister Heath at City AM defends recent ratings decisions but still thinks the industry needs a shake-up.

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