Published:

Bates Michael7.45pm WATCH: Lord Bates returns to Britain after completing over 6 million steps for the Walk for Truce campaign

5pm Reactions to the latest unemployment figures and inflation forecasts lead our teatime newslinks

5pm Local government: London councillors allowances league table published

4.45pm ToryDiary: "A speech by the PM has to be an event" says Janan Ganesh. He's right.

3.30pm Local government: Tower Hamlets Council pay adviser £1,000 a day

3.15pm Patrick Mercer MP on Comment: Abu Qatada must go back to his home country and face justice

3.15pm WATCH: Lord Freud: "The number of people long-term sick coming back into the workforce is terribly encouraging"

Gyimah Sam radio1.15pm WATCH: Sam Gyimah MP is challenged to live on benefits for a week

12.45pm Local government: Monmouthshire to freeze Council Tax

Noon ConHomeUSA: The battle for Michigan begins as Romney and Santorum draw contrasts

11.30am Lord Wei on Comment: Why we need legal advocates for trafficked children and the scandal of those we lose from local authority care

10.30am WATCH: Martin Callanan MEP: A default and devaluation "is the only way to salvage something from the Greek economy"

ToryDiary: Cameron focuses on Britain's £17 billion alcohol problem

Majority hook 2
Majority Conservatism: Building a Conservative Majority (2)… Replacing the Barnett formula with a nationwide Social Justice Fund

Columnist Jill Kirby: Vince Cable's choice for university access tsar shows why Gove should be given control of higher education

Philip Booth on Comment: This medium-termist government needs to think long-term – now

Local government: Labour rule in Glasgow under threat

WATCH: Baroness Warsi: "To encourage social harmony, people need to feel stronger in their religious identities"

David Cameron to announce support for minimum alcohol pricing and "drunk tanks"

Cameron David April 2011"He will back such initiatives as "drunk tanks" – one-person cells used to hold troublemakers – and "booze buses" that tour the streets helping incapacitated drinkers. Mr Cameron will say that in the past year there were 200,000 hospital admissions with patients suffering alcohol-related conditions – 40 per cent more than in 2003 – while the number of people treated for extreme drunkenness more than doubled to 18,500." – Independent

Following negative credit rating outlook, Tory MPs urge more pro-growth measures

Field Mark on BBC"George Osborne faces growing pressure from Conservative MPs and business leaders to produce a show-stopping growth Budget next month… Mark Field, MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, said the Treasury should accelerate its plans for credit easing while John Redwood, former cabinet minister, called for tax cuts for entrepreneurs… Peter Bone, a Tory MP, said it was time to find billions for urgent tax breaks for business" – FT (£)

  • "Firms also called for tax breaks in next month's Budget after the Chancellor confessed our proud AAA status on international markets was "on the line"." – The Sun
  • "The Bank of England’s emergency policy of printing billions of pounds of new money will not be enough to restore the economy to a healthy balance" – Daily Telegraph
  • Credit agency clowns are making life difficult for the Chancellor George Osborne – Jeremy Warner
  • The real reasons why UK is in trouble – Allister Heath for City AM
  • "Made in Britain" must be restored as a badge of pride – Patrick O'Flynn for the Daily Express

> Coverage from yesterday:

Clegg's hope of tax cuts for lower earners hit by bleak news on economy

Clegg on BBC Breakfast"Nick Clegg's hopes of faster tax cuts for low earners have been hit by the succession of grim news in the economy. Britain's cherished AAA credit rating is under renewed pressure because of fears over weaker-than-expected growth figures and the impact of the eurozone crisis on this country." - Independent

"Senior Tories, who are unhappy anyway at the way Mr Clegg has tried seize credit as the coalition’s tax-cutter, are warning that this is not the right time for a big tax giveaway. They are telling Mr Osborne to concentrate on cutting National Insurance contributions for employers as a way of spurring growth." – The Times (£)

Tories angered by Vince Cable's controversial new universities "tsar"

Cable Vince Yes"Prof Ebdon… is regarded as openly hostile towards the country’s leading universities and has already threatened them with “nuclear” financial penalties. The decision has angered Conservative MPs who believe that Mr Cameron has “caved into” Liberal Democrat pressure on an issue that threatens to undermine education standards. A senior Conservative source said: “This appointment threatens the standards in some of the country’s, and therefore the world’s, best universities. The Prime Minister agrees and needs to put his foot down.”" - Daily Telegraph

  • "Mr Cameron has always insisted that the Coalition will govern in the national interest: it cannot be solely about pacifying the Liberal Democrats. He has impressed most when he has been bold in his decisions – there is time yet for boldness over Prof Ebdon." - Daily Telegraph editorial
  • Dumbing down of state education has made Britain more unequal than 25 years ago - Toby Young

Report says NHS reforms will lead to reduced patient care and over-spending

LansleyAndrewInterview"The government's health reforms run a high risk of reducing levels of safety and patient care while leading to overspending, internal NHS reports have warned. The potential for conflict between NHS organisations in the new system and upheaval during the transition is high, according to risk assessments drawn up by the four English NHS regions." - Guardian

  • NHS bill eligible for new parliament debate after 100,000 sign e-petition - Guardian
  • TripAdvisor-style reviews by patients 'predict worst hospitals' - Daily Telegraph
  • NHS ‘lets mentally disabled patients die’ - The Times (£)

> Yesterday - Columnist Stephan Shakespeare: Voters approve of U-turns – if they bring politicians back in line with the public

Pressure mounts on the Government to send Abu Qatada home

AbuQatada1"A security adviser for the Prime Minister was among those who said all options should be considered, including sending Qatada back to Jordan regardless of a European court ruling that he should not be sent… It came as the Jordan justice minister Ayman Odeh promised Qatada would be given a new and fair trial with no evidence gained from torture." – Daily Telegraph

> From yesterday:

Sir Malcolm Rifkind: An economic blockade can defeat President Bashar al-Assad

RIFKIND NEW"Some might be concerned that ordinary Syrians would suffer hardship as a result of a total economic embargo. That cannot be denied, but it would be preferable to all the bloodshed that would be part of a protracted civil war… Closing the air space around Syria, combined with a naval blockade, would also stop most of the arms supplies. The international community must not be mesmerised by the Russian and Chinese UN vetoes. There is much that can and should be done to end the suffering of the Syrian people." – Sir Malcolm Rifkind for the Daily Telegraph

  • UN General Assembly to vote on new Syria resolution – Daily Telegraph
  • Kosovo shows how the west can intervene in Syria - Radwan Ziadeh for the FT (£)

> Yesterday:

House of Lords votes down plan to cut housing benefit

"Defiant peers have narrowly voted again to demand that the government drop plans to cut housing benefit for claimants in under-occupied homes. The peers voted by 236 to 226, even though the Commons had last week rejected a similar amendment from the Lords" - Guardian

Falklands tension set to rise with visit of defence committee MPs

"Members of the defence select committee are expected to visit military installations on the islands, where a garrison of more than 1,000 troops is stationed at Mount Pleasant Complex, 35 miles (56km) from the capital, Stanley. The MPs will also visit the crews who are manning the RAF aircraft on the islands." - Guardian

Union threatens to turn off the taps for Miliband

Miliband Edsep 11"Ed Miliband is facing the threat of an open break with one of Labour's biggest union backers because of his refusal to promise to end the public pay freeze. Delegates to the annual conference of Britain's third biggest union, the GMB general union, will hold a vote on whether to put an end to the formal link with the Labour Party – a move that would deal a body blow to the party's already flimsy financial base." – Independent

Scottish independence question causing people "confusion and concern"

SALMOND-ALEX"The Scottish Affairs Committee will call on the Government to clarify big questions about a possible break-up of the union… Scotland’s national debt is one of the most pressing issues as there is controversy over whether it would be responsible for debts arising from the bail-out of Edinburgh-based Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS… The Treasury is already working on the potential costs of a break-up, while the Scotland Office has posed a number of questions to Mr Salmond about how he would solve the problems of splitting up shared services." – Daily Telegraph

Armed Forces face higher energy bills - Daily Telegraph

Cuts to children's services risk greater social inequality, says coalition adviser - Guardian

Even non-believers can find wisdom and comfort in observing the rituals of faithDaniel Finkelstein for the Times (£)

  • We stand side by side with the Pope in fighting for faith – Baroness Warsi for the Daily Telegraph
  • Atheists’ arrogance is their Achilles’ heel, as Richard Dawkins showed yesterday – Stephen Pollard for the Daily Telegraph

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