5.30pm WATCH:

2.30pm LeftWatch: "Put aside for a moment the rights and wrongs of the claims about Mr Blair and Iraq.  My point is that regardless of their merits, he will never, ever shake off the cry of J'Accuse." Blair is finished in Britain. He should move to America

12.30pm Local Government: Council byelection results from yesterday

Noon: James Stanfield on ThinkTankCentral: What's wrong with the profit motive in education?

9.30am MPsETC: "Outrageous". "Unforgivable". "Unpatriotic". Tory MPs take to Twitter to condemn anti-British Olympics strikes

ToryDiary: Osborne blocks Davey bid for wind power subsidies as Energy Permanent Secretary quits

Columnist Bruce Anderson: Britain's feral underclass needs tough love

MajorityConservatism: Lord Ashcroft sets out four tests that policies should pass if the Conservatives are to be electorally successful

Screen shot 2012-07-20 at 08.03.30Adam Afriyie MP on Comment: The Conservative review of the Coalition Agreement must involve the whole party

Also on Comment: Lauren Thorpe – Infrastructure spending doesn't mean instant growth – and it's rife with risk

Cllr Rock Feilding-Mellon on Local Government: Spending more on the voluntary sector can save the state money

The Deep End: Why the Mechanical Turk cannot replace our organic institutions

WATCH: "The United Kingdom is appalled by the decision of Russia and China aimed at ending the bloodshed in Syria"

Theresa May: The Olympics PCS strike is "shameful"

May Theresa Home Office
"Ministers rounded on the Public and Commercial Services Union for calling a 24-hour strike next Thursday, when 249,000 passengers, including 129,000 Olympic visitors, are expected to arrive at Heathrow. Mrs May said that the action was shameful and Damian Green, the Immigration Minister, said that contingency plans were in place to deal with any disruption caused by a strike. “I think that it is shameful, frankly,” she said. “They are holding a strike on what is one of the key days for people coming in for the Olympic Games." – The Times (£)

  • Number of strikes doubles in two years – The Sun
  • 1200 more troops put on notice to guard Olympics – Daily Express
  • Police forces drop G4S over games – Politics Home (£)
  • "Cabinet ministers are up in arms after being ordered to use public transport rather than official Government cars to get to events at the London Games" – The Independent
  • Boris: Put a sock in it, we’re on to a winner – The Sun
  • The Olympic strike will bring shame on Britain – Daily Telegraph Editorial
  • "This battle is spearheaded by fatcat class warriors pocketing £120,000 to represent downtrodden workers, not a penny of which they will forfeit in the strikes they engineer." – The Sun Says

> Yesterday: Columnist Andrew Lilico – A Tory vision of the union movement

Law and Order 1) Crime at its lowest since 1989Daily Express 

Law and Order 2) Seven former Labour Ministers, including Lord Prescott, but only one former Conservative MP, Michael Mates, could be elected as Police CommissionersDaily Mail 

Law and Order 3) Tory and Labour police commissioner candidates to ditch privatisation planBirmingham Post

Law and Order 4) Met Officer Simon Harwood acquitted of killing Ian TomlinsonThe Guardian

IMF shifts gear on Osborne's Plan A…

"In a bleak assessment of Britain’s performance, the report warned that Mr Osborne should scale back his deficit-reduction plans in the next Budget if the economy has not gained momentum by early next year. The IMF also cast doubt on claims that easing back on austerity would would provoke a backlash in the financial markets…Ajai Chopra, the IMF’s mission chief to the UK, said. “The priority for UK policymakers is to implement more expansionary economic policies, important elements of which are now in train.” – The Times (£)

  • Wall Street is ready to pounce on the City, and we must defend it – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

…As Chancellor battles with Davey over wind power

Screen shot 2012-07-20 at 08.05.07"George Osborne is blocking a new subsidy regime for renewable energy, as he fights a coalition battle with the Liberal Democrats to ensure gas remains central to Britain’s future power needs. The chancellor fears overgenerous support for wind power and other renewable sources will deter investment in gas-fired power stations, which he believes offer businesses and consumers the prospect of lower bills in future." – Financial Times (£)

Hoban drives through Co-op-Lloyds deal

"It is seen as a cut-price deal for the Co-op, with the group agreeing to pay Lloyds, which is 40 per cent owned by the Government, £350million upfront and a potential further £400million by 2027. However, the price tag is far short of the £1.5billion first mooted. Lloyds customers whose branches are sold will see their accounts held under a new TSB logo from next summer. The 632 branches include 165 Cheltenham & Gloucester offices which are part of the Lloyds TSB group." – Daily Express

> Yesterday: Mark Hoban MP on Comment – We are delivering on our banking competition pledges – as today's sale of Lloyds branches to the Co-op proves

Miliband turns up pressure on HSBC chief

"Mr Miliband said yesterday that claims of wrongdoing at HSBC had “appalled” people.  “I think the very least he needs to do is come and answer questions about it.” Although the Commons broke up on Tuesday for its long summer recess, the House of Lords sits until next Wednesday. Labour Lords leader Baroness Royall wrote yesterday to coalition Lords leader Lord Strathclyde insisting that Lord Green must come to the House “to explain his involvement, if any” in the practices uncovered by the US Senate committee." – Daily Express

  • "These days the Labour leader looks less like a loser, but not yet like a winner." – Philip Collins, The Times (£)
  • Labour could strip private schools of charitable status, says Stephen Twigg – The Guardian

Brown to enter independence debate (So is the Union now doomed?)

Brown Hands UP
"The former PM, who has so far kept out of the debate about Scotland's future, will use the Donald Dewar Lecture on August 13 to outline his views. Mr Brown has, since leaving office after the 2010 General Election, devoted most of his time to charity work. During his tenure as PM, the MP for Kirkcaldy often beat the drum for "Britishness". His appearance at the book festival will precede that of his former Cabinet colleague Alistair Darling, who has become the leader of the anti-independence Better Together campaign." – Herald Scotland

  • Whisky industry goes to court over minimum alcohol pricing – Scotsman

Don’t let accountants dictate defence policy, says Nato chief

"Britain and its Nato allies must avoid letting accountants dictate the rate of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the head of the alliance said yesterday. Anders Fogh Rasmussen told The Times that his top general in Kabul would by December outline the pace of exit for all Nato combat forces over the next two years, a process that he predicted would be “gradual”…Mr Rasmussen said that he retained confidence in Britain’s ability to play a lead role in future Nato missions, despite a dramatic reduction in the size of its military to save money." – The Times (£)

Abroad: Prime Minister warns Taliban as peace talks fail

"His comments, on a visit to Kabul yesterday, signalled that talks with the militant group have broken down. Sending the Taliban what he dubbed “a very clear message”, the PM declared: “You cannot wait this out until foreign forces leave in 2014 because we will be firm friends and supporters of Afghanistan long beyond then. So now is the time to participate in a peaceful political process.” He added that “a strong plan to transfer security responsibility” will leave a “capable Afghan force able to defeat an insurgency”." – The Sun

  • On his flight back from Helmand, David Cameron should think about the risks he is taking with cuts to our armed forces – Allan Mallinson, Daily Mail

> Yesterday: WATCH – ‪David Cameron visits troops in Camp Bastion‬, Afghanistan

At home: Cameron angers Eurosceptics by "showing his hand"

Screen shot 2012-07-20 at 08.15.47"Mr Nuttall said: ‘By ruling out ever leaving he is signalling to the rest of Europe that they can refuse our demands safe in the knowledge that we will still be there picking up the cheque…Senior backbencher Bernard Jenkin said the Prime Minister’s decision to limit his options before negotiations even open was inexplicable. Mr Jenkin said: ‘In politics you can never say never." – Daily Mail

  • Spain's ten-year bond yield jumps above 7% – the 'point of no return' – Daily Mail
  • Cameron must see that future prosperity lies beyond EU borders – Daily Mail Comment

> Yesterday onToryDiary:

Ashcroft analysis shows Tory voters threatening to turn against Prime Minister

"A detailed analysis compiled by Lord Ashcroft, the Conservative Party’s former deputy chairman and polling expert, found that Mr Cameron faces a “formidable” challenge to win the next general election…Lord Ashcroft’s study, titled Project Blueprint, found that continuing credible economic management was still the critical factor among those who will potentially support the Conservatives at the next election." – Daily Telegraph

Lord Ashcroft: The coalition David Cameron and the Conservatives need is in the country, not the Commons

Screen shot 2012-07-20 at 08.13.07"I have spent the past few months crunching the numbers, polling the public to find out what the Tories need to do to gain power in their own right. The results show that it is still – just – possible for them to win an overall majority. However, it is an increasingly daunting task…Many Conservatives, up to and probably including the Prime Minister, are frustrated with coalition politics at Westminster. To be free of it, we must recognise that outside Parliament, all politics is coalition politics. There is a winning coalition still out there for the Tory party – but only if it shows more direction and grip." – Daily Telegraph

  • The Ashcroft Plan to Win is "all sensible stuff" – John Rentoul, The Independent

> Yesterday: MajorityConservatism – Ten things we learn from Lord Ashcroft's latest mega poll on the path to a Tory majority

"The pressure on the Prime Minister is showing"

"Midway through the five-year parliament, the Tory party re­sembles a ship listing in stormy waters. The prime minister is confronted by a mutinous crew, while the political chart with which he began his journey – two to three years of painful cuts followed by a pre-election boom – has turned out to be no guide at all. Worse, in the eyes of some Tory MPs, he appears to have no political compass to lead him out of trouble." – George Parker, Financial Times (£)

End in sight for Assad as diplomacy stalls at U.N

"Hopes for any kind of peaceful resolution of the escalating crisis faded as Russia and China used their vetos at the UN security council to block a western-backed resolution calling for punishment if Assad failed to implement an internationally backed agreement on a ceasefire and political transition with the opposition. The foreign secretary, William Hague, condemned the UN developments as "inexcusable and indefensible" and warned Assad that his regime was "doomed". The White House also condemned it as "highly regrettable." – The Guardian

  • Syrian borders in rebel hands, battles in Damascus – Reuters
  • Wife flees as Assad prepares for last stand – Daily Express
  • Assad will fight for Syria street by street – Michael Burleigh, Daily Mail

The British Muslims who forged a terror plot to plant peroxide and bleach bombs in Jewish areasDaily Mail

Screen shot 2012-07-20 at 06.04.55The enemy within? Anti-Tory couple spot face of Margaret Thatcher in baby scamThe Sun

Clegg scheme will pay firm to wake jobless teens BBC

We're ready to cut off milk supply, farmers warnThe Independent

Parades Commission will be debated in SeptemberNewsletter


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