4pm Majority Conservatism: Not Woodwind Conservatism. Not Brass Conservatism. But Full Orchestra Conservatism.
Paul Abbott on Comment: We need a referendum on Europe – not Lords reform
- Nadhim Zahawi MP notes that "exactly 0% of people" say Lords reform should be Coalition's priority
- 7 out of 10 victory for Douglas Carswell v David Cameron in battle of Conservative brands
Local government: More evidence of voter fraud in east London
Also on Local government: Tory candidate for Salford Mayor Karen Garrido promises "year-on-year" Council Tax cuts
Boris Johnson v David Cameron
"Boris Johnson has launched a scathing attack on the government’s record on immigration, calling on ministers to “get a grip”. The mayor of London is facing a financial crisis linked to the soaring number of foreigners setting up home in the capital. Last week he was forced to appeal to the Treasury for an extra £300m for education because primary schools were bursting at the seams. In an interview with The Sunday Times (£), he warned that the relentless influx of newcomers — many of them illegal — was putting a huge strain on public services, calling on David Cameron’s administration to “blooming well sort the problem out”.
- "My conversations with senior Labour figures leave me with the strong impression that they are close to giving up on Mr Livingstone's chances of winning back the mayoralty" – Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer
Five Cabinet ministers v Lords reform
- Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Gove, Philip Hammond, Owen Paterson and Lord Strathclyde all oppose the Coalition's plan for Lords reform – Observer
- "Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, Michael Gove, the education secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, the works and pensions secretary, Owen Paterson, the Northern Ireland secretary, and Lord Strathclyde, the leader of the House of Lords, are “strongly opposed” to including the reforms in the legislative programme for the next session of parliament." – The Sunday Times (£)
- The Sunday Telegraph says Nick Clegg is ready to make concessions: "Mr Clegg was initially pushing for chamber of 300 full-time peers, with no more than 60 appointees. However, the source said the Deputy Prime Minister may be prepared to settle for 450 peers, with around 90 appointees."
Michael Gove v Ken Clarke
"The spat happened at a tetchy Cabinet meeting last week after Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, said that Britain would not be able to get through all the changes to the court it had originally hoped, at a conference which ended in Brighton last Friday… As Mr Clarke addressed the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday before the conference, he was challenged by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, who intervened to say that the compromise was not acceptable. He was immediately strongly backed up by Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, and Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary." – The Sunday Telegraph
Rupert Murdoch v The Coalition
"Murdoch senior took to Twitter to pour scorn on ministers' plans to lend more money to the International Monetary Fund. The 81-year-old tweeted: "Govt sending IMF another £10bn to the euro. Must be mad. Not even US or China chipping in. Same time taxing hot food." In another message, he wrote: "English spring countryside as beautiful as ever if and when sun appears! About to be wrecked by uneconomic ugly bird killing windmills. Mad." – Independent on Sunday | Press Association
- Murdoch's The Sun joins in: "Mr Osborne protests that this cash comes from a separate pot which “couldn’t be used” to cut our taxes. But George, no one cares. No one’s listening. People only see a Government forcing them to pay 20 per cent more to eat, so it can hand over the proceeds to prop up a failed foreign currency we never wanted any part of. Bonkers doesn’t cover it."
- As does The Sunday Times (£): "It does not make sense to bail out bankrupt eurozone countries. It may have been right at first, but after four attempts it has become clear the European Union is putting sticking plaster on a dying patient. Mr Osborne’s critics are right in insisting extra IMF resources are not used to save the eurozone from itself. Eurozone leaders got themselves (and us) into this mess and it is up to them to get us out of it."
Jamie Oliver v Michael Gove
"Jamie Oliver has made a blistering attack on Michael Gove over school food, claiming that some of the education secretary's flagship academies are lowering nutrition levels among pupils and profiteering from junk food vending machines because they have been allowed to ignore national standards." – Observer
Douglas Hurd v George Osborne
"Lord Hurd, who served in the governments of Baroness Thatcher and Sir John Major, has attacked the Chancellor’s plans to introduce VAT on church renovations." – The Sunday Telegraph
Peter Oborne v Theresa May
"Mrs May has not… displayed the cool, calm deliberation one would expect from a Home Secretary properly conscious of the gravity of her office. Lawyers for Qatada have asserted that he is liable to be tortured or, at the very least, convicted on the basis of evidence gathered under torture. This claim may be wrong, but it is a serious one. It was therefore disgraceful of Mrs May to exploit the prospect of Qatada’s imminent departure to his native Jordan as some kind of propaganda coup." – Peter Oborne in The Sunday Telegraph
- We're British, which means Abu Qatada should stay because you are innocent until proven guilty – John Rentoul in the Independent on Sunday
- Peter Hitchens takes a different view in the Mail on Sunday: "Mrs May cannot even bundle mullahs efficiently – because she and her Government insist on revering and obeying the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg."
- 81% say that Britain should deport Abu Qatada NOW, regardless of his appeal – YouGov
Andrew Lansley backs lower pay for NHS staff in poorer areas – Observer
Martin Ivens: Focus on four things
"No 10 has expended its capital in recent months on a host of irrelevant interventions and dull speeches. A Populus opinion poll much studied by ministers suggests that voters expect a Tory-led government to cut the deficit, encourage growth, reform welfare and help families. The prime minister should be throwing his weight behind these priorities." – Martin Ivens in The Sunday Times (£)
- "Anyone who thinks that the party will achieve an outright majority by fighting a campaign dominated by Europe, immigration and aggressive small-state conservatism hasn’t paid much attention to recent political history." – Matthew d'Ancona in The Sunday Telegraph
Another Scottish donor's financial problems may squeeze Scottish Party – Sunday Herald
Convicted fraudster and former Lib Dem donor Michael Brown is being extradited to the UK from the Dominican Republic – BBC
Ed Miliband ready to make fresh appeal to the 31% of 2010's Lib Dem voters who are prepared to vote Labour – Independent on Sunday
Northern Ireland judicial establishment's case against Peter Hain's book could cost taxpayers £300,000 – Independent on Sunday
David Cameron leads tributes to Labour peer Lord Ashley, who has died aged 89
"BBC presenter Andrew Marr, who is married to the peer's columnist daughter Jackie Ashley, said he had also won major victories "for the victims of the drug Thalidomide, for victims of Army bullying, and for victims of domestic violence"." – BBC
Prime Minister's statement: "I was saddened to hear about the death of Lord Ashley, who made such a significant contribution to public life. He was a tireless campaigner for disabled people and had a huge impact, not just through his charity work and pushing for legislation in Parliament, but also in changing attitudes. It takes characters like Jack, with his extraordinary tenacity, to push for that kind of positive change. He will be sorely missed and my thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Yesterday's Week in Westminster programme featured a fascinating discussion, led by Peter Oborne, on the rise of protest parties with Nigel Farage, George Galloway and Caroline Lucas – BBC
The French economy is a poisoned chalice for whoever wins the presidency
"Financial markets have awaited today’s first round of the country’s presidential election with growing apprehension. A victory by the Socialist challenger François Hollande propelling him into the second round as clear favourite against the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy has the potential to spark a major sell-off in both bond and equity markets. Hollande has pledged that he will renegotiate the fiscal stability pact reached with other Euro- zone leaders only after the most tortuous and protracted negotiations. Sarkozy has been battling to close the gap – but he, too, has hinted at modifications in the teeth of public hostility to “Merkeleconomics”." – Bill Jamieson in Scotland on Sunday
- Meanwhile… "The Dutch governing coalition collapsed on Saturday when far-right politician Geert Wilders pulled out of budget cut talks, saying it was not in the Netherlands’ interest to meet the deficit limit of three per cent imposed by the new European fiscal pact." – FT (£)
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