12.45pm Roger Helmer MEP on Comment: Camborne are wrong about the single currency. Our recovery begins when the €uro breaks up.
12.30pm ConHomeUSA's digest: (1) Romney close to Iowa victory (2) Gingrich says he wouldn't support Ron Paul if he became nominee
- Tory members feel closest to the politics of Margaret Thatcher and Boris Johnson
- 70% of Tory members say EU veto was best act of Cameron's premiership
Mark Lancaster MP on Comment: We should promote credit unions to high risk borrowers
Harry Phibbs reviews Boris Johnson's Life of London
On Local government: Free school proposed for Barnes
Britain's borders will be closed to continental Europeans if the euro collapses
"Chancellor George Osborne has confirmed extensive contingency plans are being drawn up to safeguard Britain. The Treasury will not reveal specifics. But there will be limits on how much money can be deposited in British banks in any European stampede to "safe havens" like the City of London." – The Sun
- The €uro is accelerating the West's state-led decline – John Redwood
David Cameron plans minimum price for alcohol in England
"Ministers could copy Scottish proposals, which would ban the sale of alcohol below 45p a unit, or bring in a more sophisticated system of taxes based on the number of alcohol units contained in the drink. Both options would cost drinkers an estimated extra £700 million a year, with any extra tax revenue potentially going to the NHS. The Daily Telegraph understands that the Prime Minister personally ordered the radical “big bang” approach, which will be included in the Government’s forthcoming alcohol strategy." – Telegraph
Telegraph View: The Prime Minister's decision to inflict the political equivalent of new year gym membership on the nation is unwise, and smacks of nanny-statism.
Tory MP Andrew Griffiths tweets: "Minimum price for alcohol must be a floor price and not a tax. I support banning cheap booze but not hitting brewers."
- Meanwhile supermarkets are reminded that they must remove tobacco displays within 100 days – BBC
Despite NHS spending pledge four out of five doctors say patient care is being cut
"Doctors cite hospital bed closures, pressure to give patients cheaper, slower-acting drugs, cuts to occupational health support, and reductions in community health services as examples of recent cost-cutting measures." – Guardian
- "Hospitals are allowed to receive an average of 1.5 per cent of their income from private sources, but the new measure, inserted into the bill last week, would see that cap increase to 49 per cent." – FT (£)
- The Mail backs more private income for the NHS: "Isn’t it common sense to allow cash-strapped trusts to tap the income available from the private sector?"
One in three people claiming unemployment benefit is a convicted criminal – Daily Mail
- "Experts warned taxpayers risk “bank- rolling career criminals” as statistics revealed 1.23million people on unemployment handouts have been cautioned or convicted of offences in the last five years." – Express
- Chris Grayling comments in The Sun: "This is the first time any Government has done detailed analysis of the link between offending and the welfare state — and it paints a truly alarming picture. It underlines why we have said Britain needs a rehabilitation revolution — particularly to help former offenders into sustained employment."
Prison officers warn Crispin Blunt of riots as system nears capacity – Daily Mail
"The number being held in jails in England and Wales has increased by almost 4,000 in the past year to 87,393 this week – the highest ever total at Christmas. This is just 2,084 short of the usable operational capacity. The figure is expected to continue to rise next year, potentially requiring some prisoners to be held in police cells. The surge – partly fuelled by convictions following the summer riots – comes as the Ministry of Justice faces a spending squeeze of 28 per cent over the next three years." – Independent
- In her Express column Ann Widdecombe calls for clampdown on drugs in prisons.
Incoming Ofsted chief wants army of troubleshooters to run failing schools
"A network of local commissioners should be created to dismiss incompetent head teachers and strip failing institutions of academy status, according to England’s new chief education inspector… He called on ministers to appoint dozens of local commissioners to decide whether to close or merge academies or replace head teachers or governing bodies where standards were unacceptably low." – Times (£)
- FT (£) survey reveals relative failure of northern schools.
Politics in Brief:
- David Cameron claims Queen's visit to Ireland was a "game-changer" in Anglo-Irish relations – Metro
- £30 million could be lent to people who vuild their own homes – Telegraph
- Big Society projects get £3.1m from old bank accounts – BBC
- Shameless MPs have blown £83,000 surveying THEMSELVES on what they think of House of Commons' facilities – The Sun
- Britain is still world's third biggest defence spender, after dominant USA and also China – Economist
"The PM can sometimes sound like the vicar jollying along a church outing. Without inducing suicidal gloom, there needs to be a more sombre note… David Cameron needs to reach into his political soul and find the right language for these austere times" – Bruce Anderson in The Telegraph
Cameron's position has strengthened after he has acted in recognisably conservative ways – Tim Montgomerie in The Independent
In new year message Clegg says Coalition's decisions are "the right ones for the long-term good" – BBC
And Kevin Maquire's prediction for Clegg (and other politicians) in 2012: "Nick Clegg may chuck his toys out but the Lib Dems aren’t going to climb out of the Government pram. Having survived the last few weeks, these yellow birds aren’t turkeys voting for another Christmas." Read them all in The Mirror.
Nine out of ten Scots support ‘devo-plus’ – Scotsman
- Scottish Conservatives have urged Alex Salmond to release the medical evidence on which it based its decision to free the Lockerbie bomber – Scotsman
- New leaders of the Scottish Labour and Tory parties face a daunting challenge in the coming year – Scotsman
Wind farm operators are on course to earn up to £10 million this year for turning OFF their turbines – Telegraph
- Polly Higgins wants to find a Wilberforce-style capitalist to fight for the environment – Guardian
"Capitalism will endure, by changing" – The FT (£) looks at how capitalism has evolved and will evolve
Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit seller who burnt himself to death and sparked revolt across the Arab world… is The Times' Person of The Year (£)
And finally… Cameron gets Whitehall app for his iPad
"The Times has learnt that programmers inside the Cabinet Office are working on a new app for the Prime Minister that will bring together the latest information from across government with his favourite news sources. Mr Cameron will be able to see at a glance the latest NHS waiting-list figures, crime statistics, unemployment numbers and myriad other data which, in the short term, could provide quite grim reading." – Times (£)
> Please use the thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been given their own blog. This thread is moderated but during working hours (that's 6am to 10pm for ConHome) comments will usually be delayed no longer than sixty minutes. Read our comments policy here.