Midnight ToryDiary: Sir John Major becomes latest senior Tory to endorse gay marriage

Screen Shot 2012-12-09 at 20.21.029pm ToryDiary: Calling all young conservatives. Register now for the Young Britons' Foundation…

5.45pm ToryDiary: The benefits squeeze will cause real hardship to many families. It's a necessary measure in difficult times but no Tory should see it as a political ploy.

3.45pm WATCH: The Scottish Secretary says that an independent Scotland is "likely" to have to re-apply for EU membership

ToryDiary: Duncan Smith, Gove, Hague, Pickles and Hammond top Cabinet league table

MPsETC: Boris Johnson and Michael Gove sign up to new Tory-led campaign for same-sex marriage

Pauline Latham MP on Comment: Today is International Anti-Corruption Day. Let's tackle the corruption that is hurting the world's poorest people.

Local government: Harry Phibbs pays tribute to the late Nick Seaton and remembers ten of his finest arguments for educational improvement

Mail-1-329x437Britain, like America, may be tilting towards drug liberalisation as the House of Commons' Home Affairs Committee recommends: 'Treat addicts, don't lock them up'

"According to the most recent UK poll on the subject, conducted by YouGov, 49 per cent of voters supports keeping the law on drugs as it is, while 45 per cent support liberalising the law on soft drugs – either by downgrading offences or completely decriminalising drug use." – Mail on Sunday

The Mail on Sunday leader-writers are cautious: "A genuinely impartial inquiry, which examines the case against relaxation, studies the true state of law enforcement and looks seriously at the correlation between cannabis and mental illness, would be highly desirable."

Gove Michael June 2011Gove puts Department of Education on war footing over teacher pay reforms

The Sunday Times (£) lists his new reform ambitions:

  • "New laws to make it more difficult for teaching unions to call and conduct strikes;
  • Challenging strikes in the courts, possibly using the European Convention on Human Rights to guarantee children the right to education;
  • Making it easier for academies — semi-independent state schools — to dismiss sub-standard staff."

52% support Osborne's benefits squeeze; 35% do not

  • 33% say it was "right that benefits should only be increased at 1% a year";
  • 19% say it was wrong, "benefits should not have been increased at all";
  • 35% say wrong, "benefits should have been increased in line with inflation or more".

Source YouGov for The Sunday Times (PDF).

D'ANCONAMatthew d'Ancona warns that these numbers might not endure: "We have yet to see how the electorate responds to the sharper knives in the austerity canteen. Voters hate “scroungers” and benefit frauds. But many of them will also recoil from real-term cuts to benefits for those in work, and from the case studies of indigence that will quickly proliferate. Each such news item will bring what V S Pritchett called a “talent of pain” to the table. Decency is the spine of the British character and all who are bold enough to address our broken welfare system should take care not to affront it." – The Sunday Telegraph

Ed Balls: The Tories are attacking strivers, not shirkers

"the Government is pushing through three years’ of real-term cuts in everything from tax credits for working families to child benefit. Even maternity pay is being cut — a move branded the “mummy tax”. A one-earner family on £20,000 with two children will lose £279 a year from all the Government’s changes next April — on top of the cost of higher VAT — according to the independent House of Commons Library. No wonder some have already said this is effectively a tax on striving families." – Ed Balls in The Sun

Could benefits squeeze become defining political issue?

Miliband Ed At RallyEd Miliband has decided to oppose the Coalition's three year long 1% cap on benefits – Observer

In his Mail on Sunday column James Forsyth says Cameron wants to turn welfare into a "wedge issue".

Osborne has forced Labour into its historic stance of defending the poorest, in low-paid work and on benefits – John Rentoul in the Independent on Sunday

But The Observer reports that Vince Cable may not be on side, suggesting the Chancellor was 'demonising' the jobless.

"[The] more serious, charge against the Chancellor is that he has shattered one of the longstanding principles of the welfare state. Donald Hirsch, director of the centre for the study of social policy at Loughborough University, argues that the 1% cap is "the most historic moment for the economic welfare of the poorest people in Britain for 30 years". Since 1981, it has been accepted that benefits increase each year with prices, so that the living standards of the poorest are not eaten away by inflation."" – Heather Stewart for The Observer

Where are the rioters? Nick Cohen wonders why Britons don't protest like we used to – Observer

Osborne may have scrapped the fuel duty escalator but the beer price escalator keeps going up and upThe Sun

Lord Helseltine praises Team Cameron and blasts Ed Balls

HESELTINE-MICHAEL-NN"Chancellor George Osborne has set his face to the wind.  Michael Gove is tackling a country of educational underperformance. Iain Duncan Smith is talking about dependency as though he understands it. Unlike Labour, they are all determined to reduce the levels of debt. For there is no serious long-term future for our economy that does not grip the scale of indebtedness." – Lord Heseltine writing for the Mail on Sunday

  • Osborne v Balls is the nastier fight than Cameron v Miliband – Martin Ivens in The Sunday Times (£)
  • Ed Miliband tells lies about taxing and cutting – Toby Young in The Sun

MoD set to axe hundreds more soldiers under 'hugely damaging' plans to cut army to just 82,000, claim Tory MPs Patrick Mercer and John BaronMail on Sunday

Tory MPs warn Osborne that defence cannot be cut further, with one suggesting the aid budget must be trimmed first – Sunday Express

"The Prime Minister is to push ahead with the winding down of Britain’s war and wants to withdraw up to 4,000 troops by the end of next year, almost halving the size of the combat force in Helmand province, according to military sources. He is said to have overruled military chiefs who wanted to maintain a strong force right to the final months of the Nato combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014." – The Sunday Times (£)

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Autumn Statement means less funding for Defence – and potential Budget rebellions from Tory MPs

The Sunday Times: Where is the serious spending review?

"When the coalition took office it embarked on a rapid spending review which set the tone for this parliament. It was not an exhaustive examination of the size of the state as was done by Canada and Sweden in recent years. It did not look at how a zombie economy could afford such a generous welfare state. It was a short-term fix. A proper review of spending is urgently needed to give us the scaled-back state we can afford and alongside which the private sector can flourish. Otherwise, we will stagnate and this decade really will be lost." – The Sunday Times leader (£)

> Earlier this year Paul Goodman proposed a Comprehensive 'Lower Spending Commission'.

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove join new Tory campaign group to push for same-sex marriageThe Sunday Telegraph | Sky News

GAY same-sex-wedding-cake"Mr Gove and London Mayor Boris Johnson are among 19 senior figures who have signed the letter calling for marriage to be open to all, regardless of sexuality. The group has been put together by Nick Herbert, the former police minister who resigned from the government in September's reshuffle. It includes Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, who is Catholic, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt, an evangelical Christian and former Tory Cabinet minister Lord Fowler." – BBC

Same-sex marriage is a true Tory principle – Nick Herbert MP in The Sunday Telegraph

The Sunday Times (£) predicts a mini-Cabinet rebellion on gay marriage.

> The list of Freedom To Marry supporters.

A group of 12 "Turquoise Tories" met the Prime Minister last week to express their concerns that some ministers are killing off the Conservatives' green agenda with anti-wind farm rhetoricIndependent on Sunday

The Sunday Herald scare-mongers: "A quarter of Scotland has been opened up for drilling as part of Chancellor George Osborne's new dash for underground gas. The potentially huge scale of the exploration has stirred fears of contamination, radioactive wastes, climate pollution and explosions."

Osborne's belief in shale gas is "fracking crazy" – Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: The developed world may soon be compensating the developing world for climate change

Liam Fox suggests "Back to a Common Market" as new slogan for Tories on Europe

Fox Liam Blue BB"Dr Fox will say a “new consensus” is emerging in Britain which points to a looser, trade-based relationship with the EU. Britain should seek to renegotiate its membership along these lines – then put this to the test in a referendum, he will argue. “If the choice is between a looser, more economic relationship and leaving, then I would choose to stay,” the former cabinet minister will tell the Royal United Services Institute. However, he will add: “If the choice is between the current trajectory towards ever-closer union and leaving, then I would choose to leave, albeit reluctantly.”" – The Sunday Telegraph

Some Tories say the Prime Minister should tell fellow EU leaders that for Britain it’s 'Common Market or Quit' – Iain Martin in The Sunday Telegraph

"As Ukip’s surprisingly strong showing in recent by-elections has demonstrated, the electorate is increasingly impatient with the EU as it is presently constituted. If the Tories are to stop losing support to Ukip, they need to act decisively. Further drift points only in the direction of electoral defeat." – The Sunday Telegraph leader

  • English nationalists want less Bruseels – John Redwood
  • Worries grow that non-Euro states could be frozen out of new EU decision-making structures – Independent on Sunday

Jeremy Hunt to announce more accurate smear test for cervical cancerMail on Sunday

Prime Minister hires plane for £700,000 trade mission jaunt from London to New York, Brazil and back againMail on Sunday

Bishop Joe Devine attacks David Cameron’s moralsScotland on Sunday

Independent-1-329x437It's not so much fun being young anymore…

  • The cost of a degree is now £100,000… claims the Independent on Sunday
  • "Half of under-30s who rent from private landlords fear they will never buy their own house — even though nine in ten want to. And a fifth of those aged under 45 have delayed starting a family until they find a stable home." – The Sun

Under the 'Good Friday' agreement, flying the Union Flag is illegal in Northern Ireland on 348 days of the year – Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday

Italy PM Mario Monti announces plan to resignBBC

And finally… This will there will be an election to the House of Lords

The Independent on Sunday previews the 'by-election' to replace the late Lord Ferrers.


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