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Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today on Unite, Ken Clarke and the Vatican.

1. Purnell, Milburn, Kelly, Hewitt, Jowell: all members of Unite

The Conservatives' claim that New Labour figures such as James Purnell and Alan Miliburn have been replaced with union stooges isn't convincing, writes the FT's Jim Pickard. Almost all of the Blairites in question belong to . . . the Unite union.

2. Clarke calls for £30bn in additional cuts

Left Foot Forward's Will Straw discovers that Kenneth Clarke's pledge to reduce the Budget deficit to below 3 per cent of national income implies an extra £30bn in spending cuts.

3. Labour's collapse in Stoke

Over at Liberal Conspiracy, Phil BC looks at why Labour is struggling in its former stronghold of Stoke-on-Trent.

4. Civil servants told Tony Blair a Catholic could not be ambassador to Vatican

Nicholas Watt blogs about Blair's explanation of his role in breaking protocol and allowing a Catholic to serve as Britain's envoy to the Vatican.

5. Will the Indepenski give the Tories a fairer deal?

Finally, ConservativeHome's Tim Montgomerie looks at what Alexander Lebedev's imminent acquisition of the Independent means for the paper's political stance.

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