ConHome returns at 9am on 27th December. Do vote in our end of year survey if you haven't already done so. As well as the regular questions we are asking readers to decide our awards for the year – including minister, backbencher, policy, gaffe and conservative achievement of 2012.
1.45pm ToryDiary: Happy Christmas to all of our readers
1.45pm Peter Walker on Comment: The police need leadership – and to get back to basics
10.30am LISTEN: On last night's BBC Westminster Hour, Carolyn Quinn talked to Tim Montgomerie, Stephen Tall and Hopi Sen about the political year
ToryDiary: Prufrock's Christmas Carol
Nick Timothy argues that it is time for the Conservative Party to remember its historical debt to Radical Joe Chamberlain: "At the birth of mass democracy, he gave the Party an unambiguous mission: the betterment of Britain’s working classes. He believed that the state must remain small, capitalism must be preserved and private property protected, but working-class children needed to be educated, workers protected from industrial injuries and unscrupulous bosses, and the ownership of property extended to people of all classes."
On MPsETC, Martin Callanan MEP: The year ends with tensions over the EU budget but progress on some other important issues
David Cameron issues his Bible-focused Christmas message…
"Christmas also gives us the opportunity to remember the Christmas
story – the story about the birth of Jesus Christ and the hope that he
brings to the countless millions who follow him. The Gospel of John
tells us that in this man was life, and that his life was the light of
all mankind, and that he came with grace, truth and love. Indeed, God’s
word reminds us that Jesus was the Prince of Peace." – Read the full text.
…and is he trying to rebuild his credentials with churchgoers?
The Mail and Telegraph think so:
- "David Cameron offered an olive branch to Christians last night, issuing the most overtly religious Christmas message by a prime minister in recent times. He quoted from the Gospel of St John in an apparent attempt to parade his religious credentials while controversy rages about his government’s plans to introduce gay marriage." – Daily Mail
- "Speaking at the end of a turbulent year for relations between church and state, he signalled a personal religious faith, referring to Jesus as “the light of all mankind”. In language common in US public life but rare in British politics, he spoke of his own “hope and prayer” at Christmas while describing the Bible as “God’s word”." – Telegraph
> Today's ToryDiary: 12 things Cameron can do to win back the support of churchgoers
Tim Montgomerie: Cameron should champion religious freedom
"According to America’s Pew Research Centre, it is not just the
Middle East where the foundational freedom of religion and conscience is
in retreat. There are twice as many countries where restrictions are
getting worse rather than better. Seventy per cent of the world’s
population live in countries where religious freedom is restricted in
severe ways by political policy or by intimidating social forces… The
gay marriage debate has undermined David Cameron’s standing with many of
Britain’s churchgoers. A commitment to religious liberty — building on
his solid support for faith schools and fighting poverty overseas —
could help to restore relations." – Tim Montgomerie in The Times (£)
Coalition set to focus on pension reform in big mid-term review
– Osborne will agree to single tier pension of about £140 per week in exchange for linking retirement age with life expectancy
– Women, the self-employed and low earners will be main winners – FT (£)
"Britons will have to wait longer to receive a state pension under a government plan that will see future increases in pension age linked to fast-rising life expectancy. George Osborne, chancellor, had made an automatic review of the state pension age in line with longevity the price of his support for a move to a new, flat-rate pension intended to reduce reliance on means-tested benefits and help the lower paid." – FT (£)
Under adoption reforms parents will help choose children rather than social workers controlling whole process
"Under the new proposals, parents will be granted access for the first time to the national register of all children awaiting adoption and empowered to request that a particular match is pursued on their behalf. In addition, parties or activity days that bring together parents and children waiting to be adopted will be introduced nationwide, enabling parents to make the first move and express an interest in a particular child." – Times (£) | Guardian
Osborne chooses tax relief rather than state provision for childcare
"The Chancellor is expected to overrule Nick Clegg by announcing that parents will be able to write off up to a third of their child care costs against tax. The Liberal Democrats are arguing for an alternative plan which would see the state provide more free care." – Independent
- Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe has said his force would launch "a ruthless search for the truth" in the "plebgate" affair – BBC
- Mitchell: I was stitched-up in smear campaign – Independent
Implications for the police
"Ministers are ready to use the Andrew Mitchell affair to press through changes to working practices resisted by rank-and-file officers, The Times (£) understands. One well-placed minister said that the apparent role of the Police Federation in the former Chief Whip’s demise strengthened the Home Office case for new terms and conditions."
"Plebgate has now morphed from an F-word spat into a crisis of confidence in Britain’s police service. For David Cameron it is a heaven-sent opportunity to make our thin blue line go straight." – Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun
"From Orgreave to Hillsborough, police have been accused of doctoring the evidence. I've even seen it happen" – John Kampfner in The Guardian
"Both the main parties have traditionally cosied up to the police, but the Mitchell affair is especially traumatic for the Tories. Until now they have always believed that the police are fundamentally on their side. The discovery that this is not necessarily so can only be good for democracy. From now on perhaps they will be a little braver in taking on what is surely one of the mightiest and least reformed vested interests in the country." – Chris Mullin for The Times (£)
> Yesterday's ToryDiary: "The media pendulum that swung all the way, one way, is now swinging all the way, the other – and knocking the police off their perch"
While 'outrage inflation' has become endemic in public life, the real
work of monitoring the powerful is left undone – Jackie Ashley in The Guardian
Mail blasts Ed Miliband's deployment of class war during 'Plebgate'
"The way Ed Miliband shamefully tried to exploit the alleged use of the toxic word ‘pleb’, as part of a class war campaign against the ‘toff’ Prime Minister. His ugly behaviour will only further alienate voters who want to see politicians focusing on jobs, immigration, Europe and healthcare – not scoring cheap points." – Daily Mail leader
The catalogue of abuse and neglect at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch reads like something out of a novel by Charles Dickens – Express leader
> Yesterday's ToryDiary: We ought to be much, much more angry about hospital treatment of the very elderly
Cameron and Clegg pen joint reply to Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered black teenager, in bid to head off embarrassing row over equalities commitments – Guardian
Baroness Thatcher is said to be "in good spirits" as she recovers from minor surgery but is expected to celebrate Christmas in hospital – ITV
"Baroness Thatcher is awaiting the results of tests to learn if she has cancer, it emerged yesterday. The former Prime Minister had a growth removed from her bladder on Thursday and tests will show if it is benign." – Express
MPs may be sued over their second home profits if they refuse to hand over part of the profits they have made – Daily Mail
43% of households believe their finances will worsen in 2013, compared with 24% who expect it to improve – Guardian
SNP figures say close referendum defeat might mean another vote on independence within just five years
"Opposition parties attacked the ‘neverendum’ strategy, which is understood to have wide support within SNP ranks, and urged voters to frustrate it by handing the separatists an emphatic defeat in two years’ time." – Telegraph
…but, reports The Scotsman, aide to Alex Salmond says vote will be a once-in-a-generation event.
- "Instead of warbling on about the Union, Labour could champion a new federal Britain run in the interests of working people" – Owen Jones in The Independent
And finally… Amid rumours that Ben Affleck might run for the US Senate… "Hollywood actors have a chequered history in politics," warns Benedict NIghtingale in The Times (£)
And finally 2… "I hereby announce that this year’s winner for the greatest cultural masterpiece of 2012 is Gangnam Style…" – Boris Johnson in The Telegraph
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