New Year Honours 1) Politicians from all parties share honours with business and the arts…

AMESS David“Elsewhere in the New Year honours list, a knighthood went to David Amess, a backbench Conservative MP since 1983, and a damehood was given to Anne McGuire, a Labour former minister who has represented Stirling since 1997. Stuart Polak, a lobbyist and chief of Conservative Friends of Israel, was made CBE. Lord Ashdown of Norton-Sub-Hamdon, the former Liberal Democrat leader, was made Order of the Companions of Honour.” – The Guardian

  • CBEs for two of finance sector’s top women – Financial Times
  • Creators of Tower of London poppies amongst New Year Honours awards – Daily Telegraph
  • City and political donors miss out – Financial Times
  • The real honours belong to those who politely turn them down – Ephraim Hardcastle, Daily Mail

New Year Honours 2) …as controversial figures receive awards

“Tony Blair’s key aide who helped him forge a secret pact with George Bush to wage war in Iraq receives a top honour today. Sir David Manning, who was Mr Blair’s foreign policy adviser and is now an aide to Prince William, is made a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. The honour comes as Sir David faces the prospect of stern criticism in the delayed Chilcot report into the 2003 war.” – Daily Mail

  • Rail chiefs to be honoured despite Christmas chaos – The Times (£)
  • Arise! Viagra creator receives award – The Sun (£)
  • Danczuk cries ‘Establishment stitch up’ over damehood for abuse enquiry judge – The Times (£)
  • Baroness Ashton’s new title raises eyebrows – The Express

>Today: Tony Lodge on Comment: Why is this railway quango flouting Conservative policy on competition?

Poll finds public trust Cameron more than Miliband with the NHS

NHS“In September, Ed Miliband said the Health Service was ‘creaking’ under David Cameron and claimed the Government was trying to privatise it. However, despite the rhetoric, a surprising ComRes survey showed that 22 per cent say they trust the PM to manage the NHS, compared with 20 per cent for the Labour leader. The survey also found that although Labour remains the most trusted party to control the NHS, its lead over the Conservatives in this department has fallen to three points – the smallest gap since the polling firm first asked the question in June.” – Daily Mail

London Conservative leader attacks excessive Games legacy spending

“The amount spent on the Olympic Games legacy is the financial scandal of the century, according to the Conservative party’s leader in London. Andrew Boff has broken the political consensus over the 2012 London Games with a broadside against the amount of public money “propping up white elephants”. Mr Boff, the leader of the Greater London Authority Conservatives in City Hall, said that there was a reluctance to criticise decisions taken about the Olympic site in east London because “too many political reputations were invested” in the Games.” – The Times (£)

Media can learn from business on diversity, claims Javid…

Britain shield“The media is not sufficiently diverse and could learn from business about encouraging people from minority ethnic backgrounds, Sajid Javid, the UK culture and media secretary, has said. Javid, who is the first British-Asian Conservative cabinet minister, said statistics clearly showed there was a gap given that just 6% of people working in newspapers, radio and television are from ethnic minorities compared with 14% of the population as a whole. In contrast, he said working on the trading floor of a bank before entering politics was “like walking round the United Nations” as it did not matter where a worker was from.” – The Guardian

…as Sol Campbell urges the Tories to appeal to the ‘black vote’

“Speaking exclusively to The Sun, the legend has nailed his political colours to the mast and declared he wants to see David Cameron back in No10. He announced: “I’d be happy with that for sure.” Donning his manager’s jacket, he calls on the Tories to get back out on the campaign trail, reconnect with hard-working Brits and target the “black vote”.” – The Sun (£)

Peter Oborne: Whatever happens in May, Parliament needs a new speaker

John Bercow“Unfortunately John Bercow has been a partial and self-promoting Speaker, said by his critics to be openly biased against the Conservatives, vindictive to those he dislikes and notoriously prone to favouritism. Mr Bercow may well face one or more knife-edge decisions, for example over a point of procedure in a confidence motion, which shape the circumstances in which a government can stand or fall. Yet he is not, to put it mildly, a figure in whom both main parties feel equal trust. Having Mr Bercow in charge is rather like putting a partisan referee on duty for a vital football match.” – Daily Telegraph

Miliband appeals to the ‘Spirit of ‘45’ in New Year message…

“In a deeply political New Year’s message, the Labour leader launched a thinly-veiled attack on David Cameron and the Coalition’s policies. Referring to the war, he said that the ability of previous generations to overcome “the most daunting odds to rebuild” shows that “we surely can meet the problems of our time”. The message comes just five months before the general election, which experts have predicted could be one of the most acrimonious and personal political battles in recent history.” – Daily Telegraph

…as Blair claims he is ‘too left-wing to win’…

MILIBAND Red Ed“Tony Blair has issued his most withering assessment of Ed Miliband to date, suggesting he has turned Labour into a ‘traditional Left-wing party’ and predicting he will lose the general election. The former prime minister indicated he thought Mr Miliband had deserted the political centre ground, leaving the Tories likely to win. In a thinly veiled swipe at the Labour leader’s approach to business, Mr Blair said winning elections was about ‘not alienating large parts’ of the business community.” – Daily Mail

  • Ex-Prime Minister is gunning for Miliband ‘the loser’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Matthew Hancock MP on Comment: At last, an end to Labour’s burden of bonkers bureaucracy

…and he faces further pressure as marginal constituency parties appear to shun BME candidates

“Just one non-white candidate has been selected so far in the 34 seats where a sitting Labour MP is stepping down in the general election in May – the constituencies which should provide the best opportunities for the party to get new prospects elected. By contrast, five Conservative associations among the 32 in constituencies where a sitting MP is retiring have chosen minority candidates. And only a small number of black or Asian standard-bearers have been chosen by Labour activists in the ultra-marginal seats where Mr Miliband stands the best chance of winning new seats and capturing the keys to Downing Street.” – The Independent

  • Party selects 18 year old politics student to fight Wealden constituency – The Independent
  • Abbott claims Black MPs were seen as a threat when she was elected – The Sun (£)

Isabel Hardman: Clegg faces a kneecapping from the Tories

CLEGG Bird“This newspaper reported last week that Nick Clegg is the target of a “decapitation” campaign by Labour in his Sheffield Hallam constituency. The deputy prime minister is confident he’ll survive, but there are other plans to maim him. While Labour aims for his head, leading Tories are devising a kneecapping strategy to stop Mr Clegg wielding too much power in a future coalition.” – The Times (£)

  • Conservative plans to keep Clegg out of key role in future coalition – The Times (£)

Shambles as almost one third of pupils decline Clegg’s lunches

“The full chaotic state of Nick Clegg’s flagship free school meals project was exposed last night. Freedom of Information requests by the Mail and a survey by Labour reveal that schools in a third of areas are still failing to give all their pupils a ‘hot and nutritious’ meal. Three months after the £1billion policy was supposed to have been implemented up to 30 per cent of pupils in some parts of the country are refusing the free meals and eating their own packed lunches.” – Daily Mail

UKIP appointed lawyer to keep “bad stuff” under wraps

UKIP glass“While Ukip has achieved almost unimaginable success this year, 2014 has also been a year littered with gaffes by party members. And its chiefs appeared to predict such blunders two years ago, by hiring an Oxford-educated City barrister to keep “bad stuff” hidden from the public domain, it has been revealed. The documents seen by the Daily Mirror fly in the face of Ukip’s attempt to present itself as a party which is not concerned with spin like the three main Westminster parties.” – The Independent

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Opposition to a pre-election pact with UKIP among party members reaches a new high

News in Brief:

  • ‘Misleading’ Hacked Off advert banned by watchdog – Daily Mail
  • England’s surge in rural migration – The Times (£)
  • Network Rail boss will not take bonus after disruption – The Guardian
  • UK Ebola patient moved to London – Financial Times
  • Of seventy hopefuls for ten jobs… only five were British – Daily Mail
  • Sixteen things banned in 2014 that aren’t porn – The Independent

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