4.30pm Lord Bates on Comment: The North East of England shows that the Government's policies are hurting – but working

Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 12.49.113pm LeftWatch: Will Mitchell and Huhne embrace, like Wellington and Blücher after Waterloo, at Cabinet in 2013?

Noon ToryDiary: We ought to be much, much more angry about hospital treatment of the very elderly

ToryDiary: The police's bleak mid-winter

Stephen Hammond MP on Comment: Common sense has prevailed over the EU's MOT proposals

Local Government:
Extra council funding for roads maintenance

It's Comeback Christmas for Andrew Mitchell and…Chris Huhne! 

Mitchell: My story

Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 07.31.04
"In his first full account of the “plebgate” scandal that cost him his cabinet post, the Conservative former chief whip has told how the Police Federation, which represents more than 130,000 rank-and-file officers, exploited the row he had with officers manning the gate at Downing Street.  Mitchell claims the Police Federation is “not telling the truth” in its account of the affair. He believes he was the victim of a conspiracy by “police elements” and that somebody could have added words to the official police record of the spat."

  • Cameron initially wanted to sack him
  • Mitchell lost a stone in weight through stress
  • His public apology was a “disaster”

Mitchell article in full. Photo accompanying it shows former Chief Whip cuddling dog – Sunday Times (£)

Slightly more people now believe former Chief Whip than the policeYouGov

Cameron rushes to attack police, defend Mitchell

David Cameron 2010 open neck serious"David Cameron was last night forced into an extraordinary attack on the police, as he leapt to the defence of Andrew Mitchell over the "plebgate" affair…The Prime Minister said he was "deeply shocked" that a serving police officer was being investigated for "lying" about the incident at the gates of Downing Street which later led to the resignation of his then Chief Whip. Mr Cameron belatedly rushed to support the former cabinet minister after friends of Mr Mitchell accused the Prime Minister of leaving him "swinging in the wind" by failing to release CCTV footage that would have helped his case." – Independent on Sunday

  • Cameron's immediate future is easy, but unhappy voters and boundary changes may conspire against him in 2015 – John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday

More Mitchell news:

Nick Herbert: Britain's police must reform or lose respect and trust

Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 05.13.08"Last week on Any Questions, broadcast from a Buckinghamshire village, Jonathan Dimbleby gasped as the majority of his audience indicated they were losing trust in the police. Where once minority communities seemed alone in raising doubts, middle England has found common cause. This is not a crisis, but it is serious, and it must be addressed by police leaders. Elected police and crime commissioners must fulfil their new mandate to hold the police to account." – Observer

Other Mitchell comment: the editorials

More Mitchell comment: the columnists

  • "If this can happen in the heart of Whitehall, to a senior government minister, then most assuredly it can happen to any one of us, anywhere" – Robert Harris, Sunday Times (£)
  • The Police Federation should seize the chance to re-evaluate its culture to ensure that it is an organisation fit for purpose – Sir Paul Stephenson, Sunday Telegraph
  • Make Mitchell new BBC Chief – Toby Young, Sun on Sunday
  • Backstabbing Tories are the real villains of 'Plebgate' – Anne McElvoy, Mail on Sunday
  • I told you Mitchell was innocent – Peter Hitchens, Sunday Telegraph

And finally…

"Why I think that Andrew Mitchell might, just might, become a Tory leadership contender when a vacancy occurs" – Mike Smithson, Political Betting

> Today: ToryDiary – The police's bleak mid-winter

Cases of police corruption up by 62% in a year from 151 investigations a month to 245Mail on Sunday

Armed police to patrol all of ScotlandScotland on Sunday

Uurrgghh! Huhne tipped for Cabinet comeback

HuhneSnarl"Shamed ex-Energy Secretary Chris Huhne is poised for a sensational Cabinet comeback. The love-rat Lib Dem is awaiting trial with ex-wife Vicky Pryce over an alleged speeding ticket scam. But party chiefs are preparing for his return, amid talk at Westminster that the case will be dropped — speculation denied by the Crown Prosecution Service. One senior Lib Dem said: “If he was available, we’d have to have him back. Not immediately as we’d have to sack someone, but we need a big beast like that.” – Sun on Sunday

Aarrgghh! Huhne tipped as next LibDem leader

"Chris Huhne is tipped  to replace Nick Clegg as Liberal Democrat leader if  he wins a criminal case  being brought against him, senior party figures claimed last night. They say the former Energy Secretary would be the frontrunner to rescue the Lib Dems from ‘meltdown’ at the next General Election if Mr Clegg fails to halt the party’s alarming poll slide." – Mail on Sunday

> Yesterday: LeftWatch – Lib Dem President Tim Farron says the Tories could "go off to the far right"

Tory MP body language row one: Stewart Jackson slams "chav TV" Embarrassing Bodies

Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 07.53.01"A Tory MP has been criticised after he described viewers of the Channel 4 show Embarrassing Bodies as ‘chavs’. Stewart Jackson MP accused Dr Christian Jessen of making ‘crap chav TV’ after the TV presenter criticised a fellow Tory MP for being against gay marriage. The row began yesterday with Dr Jessen alerting his Twitter followers to an article in which David Davies was quoted saying that legalising gay marriage was ‘barking mad’." – Mail on Sunday

Tory MP body language row two: Gerald Howarth and Gavin Barwell's tea room same sex marriage row. Were ‘offensive words relating to sexual orientation’ used?

"The confrontation between fiercely anti-gay marriage MP Sir Gerald Howarth and rising star Gavin Barwell took place in front of shocked colleagues in the Commons Tea Room.  One onlooker told The Mail on Sunday that ‘offensive words relating to sexual orientation’ were used – although this aspect of the exchange is denied by the men." – Mail on Sunday

Vince Cable takes issue with Peter Hitchens over migrantsMail on Sunday

Colin Firth takes issue with Theresa May over migrant (a Nigerian woman with kidney failure)Mail on Sunday

May and Pickles fight on against minimum alcohol pricingSunday Express

Triumph of the hereditary principle: Euan Blair, Emily Benn, Joe Dromey, Will Straw and Georgia Gould "aim to become Labour MPs"

Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 07.56.29"Tony Blair fuelled speculation last week that his eldest son Euan is to follow him into Westminster politics by revealing he had advised his son he needed "passion" to be an MP. If, as expected, the younger Mr Blair attempts to run for Parliament at the 2015 election, he joins a band of Red Princes – and Princesses – who are trying to emulate their famous Labour parents…Mr Blair told a lunch of political journalists last week: "Don't do it unless you feel it as a vocation." – Independent on Sunday

Israel fears plot by Hamas to seize West BankSunday Times (£)

Distrust and apathy hit disputed referendum in EgyptObserver

Cameron snubbed Obama to jump gun on troops' exitSunday Times (£)

Peter Oborne: IDS is fighting "the battle of his life" against Osborne and Shapps's "strivers v scroungers" strategy"

"This distinction between shirkers and workers is now becoming part of Conservative Party strategy. Last weekend, the newly appointed Tory chairman, Grant Shapps, launched a poster campaign with the slogan: “Time to end Labour’s something for nothing culture”, involving photos of idle young thugs, contrasting them with beatific portraits of white, hard-working families. I am told that when Mr Duncan Smith learnt of this campaign he was, in the words of an ally, “absolutely livid”. After a series of internal rows, the posters are now likely to be ditched. This is, however, very dangerous territory for the Coalition, and it is clear that Iain Duncan Smith is fighting the battle of his life." – Sunday Telegraph

  • IDS's advisers warn of consequence of benefits crackdown – Observer
  • Government is simply unaffordable – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph

Stephen Hammond forces EU backdown over MOT plan

bureaucrats have backed down over plans to impose MOT tests on millions
of British caravans and classic cars. Transport Minister Stephen
Hammond helped secure the deal which will see drivers spared the threat
of having their vehicles taken off the road if they have been even
slightly modified since leaving the factory. If implemented, the
European Commission MOT proposal would have cost British taxpayers an
estimated £1billion over five years in test fees." – Sunday Express

> Today: Stephen Hammond MP on Comment – Common sense has prevailed over the EU's MOT proposals

Defence cuts to hit 9,500 Army postsSunday Telegraph

Brit 7/7 widow ‘plotted station horror’Sun on Sunday

The KGB bugged Princess MargaretSunday Express

Lady Thatcher "may have cancer"

"Frail Baroness Thatcher faces an
agonising wait to learn if she has cancer. She had a tumour cut from her
bladder after urgent surgery on Thursday. Now medics will test it to
see if it is cancerous. The 87-year-old former Prime Minister was said
to have slept comfortably after the operation. Daughter Carol, 59, has
been by her bedside at an unnamed hospital and son Mark, 59, has been in
“close contact” over the phone." – Sun on Sunday

‘More tax staff cutting child benefit than chasing dodgers’Mail on Sunday

Row after Patten plugs own firm – Sunday Times (£)

Watchdog tells MPs to repay home 'profits'Independent on Sunday

Rotherham UKIP foster parents may sue councilMail on Sunday

Expenses cheat MP Margaret Moran keeps £25k 'golden handshake'Mail on Sunday

Boris Johnson is the politician you'd most like to have to lunch on Christmas DaySunday Times (£)

Charities hit by fewer people sending Christmas cardsSunday Express

Message of hope from new Archbishop of CanterburySunday Express

The cocaine addict, the father with a gambling habit – God values us all. At Christmas, we remember why we 'haves' must help the 'have-nots' – John Senmatu, Archbishop of York, Mail on Sunday


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