6.45pm Columnist Andrew Lilico: Are we a "Christian country"?

Screen shot 2012-01-04 at 18.22.30

6pm ToryDiary: Britain's premiere of 'The Iron Lady' takes place this evening

6pm Tim Montgomerie on International: Romney will be the Republican nominee and with Rubio as his running mate he can win

5pm newslinks: The sentencing of Stephen Lawrence's killers to life leads today's teatime newslinks

3pm WATCH: Thatcher wasn't able to replicate what Reagan did in the US because of the NHS, says Rick Santorum

Screen shot 2012-01-04 at 14.08.332pm ToryDiary: The Lawrence family have led a "dignified pursuit of justice, they are a fine example to us all" says Boris Johnson

1.15pm ToryDiary: Gove labels Academies' critics "enemies of promise" who are "happy with failure"

12.30pm Local government: Labour councillor resigns from"pompous, idiotic, self serving" Party

11.45am WATCH: PCS Union leader Mark Serwotka: Labour is "not speaking for the bulk of working people"

Spelman211am ToryDiary: Spelman: This Government will stand up for rural communities which have suffered in the past

ToryDiary: David Cameron's praise for the Lawrence family – and the legacy of their son's murder

Columnist Jill Kirby: The taxpayer must not pay to repair toxic boob jobs

Martin Parsons on Comment: Stopping the spread of sharia should be central to British foreign policy

Local Government: West country councils oppose return to weekly bin collections

ConHomeUSA: All the best reactions and commentary on the Iowa Tie

WATCH: Doreen Lawrence says she cannot celebrate the convictions of Gary Dobson and David Norris for murder

Cameron praises the Lawrence family for their tireless fight for justice, after Stephen Lawrence's killers are found guilty after 18 years

Guardian"David Cameron issued a statement praising the Lawrence family for fighting "tirelessly" for justice. "Today's verdict cannot ease the pain of losing a son. But, for Doreen and Neville Lawrence, I hope that it brings at least some comfort after their years of struggle" - Guardian

  • The Daily Mail is wins plaudits for raising the profile of the Lawrence case – including from David Cameron and Ed Miliband – Daily Mail 

Editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre writes that as well as being a "glorious day for Neville and Doreen Lawrence" yesterday's verdict is good news for politicians and journalists alike

Murderers"It’s a glorious day for the politicians — particularly Jack Straw and David Blunkett — who, responding to the Mail’s campaign, commissioned the Macpherson Inquiry and reformed the centuries-old double jeopardy law, thus allowing the trial of two of the original suspects after a criminal action, private prosecution and an inquest had failed to secure justice for Stephen. And, finally, it’s a glorious day for British newspapers, proving that the power of journalism, courageous headlines and relentless campaigning can act as a huge force for good in society and make a major difference to countless lives" - Daily Mail

  • Jack Straw: 'Thanks to the Lawrences, Britain is better' - Times (£)
  • David Blunkett: The Macpherson Inquiry "fundamentally altered our approach to criminal justice" - Daily Mail
  • Jonathan Freedland: "This desire to punish the red tops' worst excesses endangers what should be a force for good" - Guardian

Since Lawrence's murder, "the story since 1993 is more good news than bad" for race relations in the UK, helped in part by changes in politics writes Trevor Phillips

An "institution that has changed recognisably since 1993 is politics. At the time of Stephen’s death, there were just four non-white MPs. Today there are 28, many representing seats where there is no significant ethnic minority electorate. One in three is a Conservative, and for the first time in history a Conservative Prime Minister calls a Cabinet to order with a Muslim, Baroness Warsi, at the table." - Telegraph

  • Roger Graef: 'It has improved but police still have a lot to learn on racism' –Times (£)

A Conservative party survey reveals that in some areas, only 3% of students are acheiving at least a C grade in traditional subjects, English baccalaureate (Ebacc) GCSEs

Gove"Last year, for the first time, schoolswere measured by the proportion of their pupils who had achieved a C grade or more in these subjects in annual league tables. The Tories found that in Knowsley, Merseyside, just 3% of pupils achieved the Ebacc. In Tower Hamlets, east London, just 5.9% did. Both are among the most deprived parts of the country. In contrast, in affluent shires, such as Buckinghamshire and Wokingham in Berkshire, 33.2% and 26.5% of pupils achieved the Ebacc" - Guardian

  • Michael Gove described the figures as evidence of "educational betrayal. He said: “Labour’s educational betrayal of the poorest children is the unwritten scandal of the last thirteen years.” - Telegraph

David Laws says that it is not the job of private schools to deliver state education

Laws writes: “It takes a great deal of effort, time, commitment and passion to get out of young people, in any private school, the results that the parents expect, and are paying for. I don’t think it is reasonable to expect them to pay for education once in the state sector, twice in the private sector and then discover that half the people that they paid to do the job in the private sector are going off running state schools” - Times (£)

Danny Finkelstein predicts that this time next year the Coalition will look similar and be in a similar position as it is todayTimes (£)

A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies says families will be more affected by coalition tax and benefit changes, than childless couplesGuardian

Rural communities and businesses "have been left on their own to try to find solutions to the problems they face", writes Caroline Spelman 

Spelman"There are many things that people in most cities and towns take for granted. If you want to make a phone call when you’re out then your mobile is guaranteed a signal. If your children need to file homework on-line then access to a decent internet connection is at your finger tips. But not if you’re in the countryside with a deadzone of mobile and broadband coverage. These are just some of the disadvantages that families living in rural communities face" - Telegraph

  • Rural communities left behind - Telegraph
  • Report warns that European and US dominance in farming is under threat due to a lack of natural resources, and the rising power of China, Russia and Brazil - Guardian

Climate Change Minister Greg Barker labels some green campaigners as the "environmental Taliban", saying they are wrong to accuse the Government of abandoning its low carbon agendaFT

The Department of Transport is setting up a panel to consider the implemention of drug-driving laws in the same way as drink-driving legislationGuardian

Bruce Anderson condemns europhiles to history, saying the people of Europe want a currency that will not "seize up"

Bruce_anderson"Money is like blood. If your blood is not working, nothing else will. If a country’s currency cannot work, the body economic will seize up. The peoples of Europe would like to work, earn, spend, save, invest. All they need is a currency that makes that possible. Italy has hardly grown for 10 years. Spain has five million unemployed. You do not have to be a Keynesian to believe that further austerity is not the answer" - Telegraph

The Iron Lady is neither "a leftie assassination job" or a "rightwing hagiography", writes Michael White: "for a film about politics, it is not very political" 

"This is a personal, essentially feminist story, about how a shopkeeper's daughter conquered a very patrician world, how she was torn between ambition and family (ambition usually won), how hard it was to become the first woman ruler of Britain since Elizabeth I – who dispatched her own (female) rival, her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots, to the block and instantly regretted it, as Thatcher might have done" - Guardian

Louise Mensch attacks the "trivilisation" of female politicans who are constantly judged by their appearance

Mensch"She told GQ it was sexist to ‘trivialise a woman politician based on her appearance’ and made reference to oft-used pictures of Home Secretary Theresa May’s distinctive shoes. 'Everything I had said was washed away under the fluffy-bunny thing of looks. It is Theresa May’s kitten heels all over again,’ she said. Interviewer Matthew d’Ancona points out that Mrs Mensch was happy to ‘co-operate’ with the photo-shoot but refused to be pictured in ‘skimpy outfits'" - Daily Mail

  • Kira Cochrane says that Mensch shares some interesting parallels with Thatcher, apart from her uncertainty over whether to stay in the political arena - Guardian
  • Byrony Gordon: 'Posing for a men's mag? Just the thing for Louise Mensch to show off her intellect' - Telegraph

> Yesterday:

Jo Johnson becomes Private Parliamentary Secretary to Business Minister Mark PriskTimes (£)

In the wake of faulty French breast implants, Professor Norman Williams, president of the Royal College of Surgeons calls for a mandatory database for all surgical implants Times (£)

"Do any of Britain's leaders really think further economic sanctions will stop Iran's nuclear programme?" asks Simon JenkinsGuardian

The Chairman of the Tory party in Northern Ireland, Lord Feldman says the UUP is wrong to reject mergerBBC

Sinn Féin looks likely to back an Irish campaign to pardon 5,000 men who deserted from the country’s forces to fight for Britain in the Second World WarTimes (£)


 > 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.