Published:

8pm WATCH: David Cameron: Big Society Bank will "help tackle our deepest social problems"

5.15pm ToryDiary: Beware of wolves when there's a full moon and Lib Dems when there are local elections

5pm JP Floru on Comment: Our craving for pasties shows our hunger for growth

Charlesmoore220_1785033f4.15pm ToryDiary: Charles Moore apologises to David Cameron for implying that last week's petrol furore was a sinister Tory plot

3.45pm Local government:

2.45pm Local government: Boris launches manifesto on the economy with boost for apprenticeships and free schools

1.45pm ToryDiary: David Cameron's Easter and Passover messages

Noon ConHomeUSA newslinks: Romney takes three states – the general election has effectively begun

10.30am Professor Philip Booth on ThinkTankCentral: Environmental problems and the “Big Community”

ToryDiary: Ten reasons to be proud of what this Prime Minister is doing


Columnist Jill Kirby: If more of Michael Gove's colleagues acted like him, the public might begin to see the point of a Conservative-led government

6a00d83451b31c69e20168e9976a7c970c-150wiMartin Vickers MP on Comment: The party which acts quickest to increase representation of working class MPs could go a long way to determining the outcome of future elections

Local government:

WATCH: Boris Johnson to Ken Livingstone: "You've got to stop lying"

Cameron calls for a 'Christian fightback' over attempts to ban wearing crosses and town hall prayers

CAMERON DAVID official"David Cameron has issued a rallying call for a 'Christian fightback' against attempts to ban the wearing of crosses and town hall prayers. The Prime Minister – who joked that he had felt like he 'needed someone to pray for me' during  the recent rocky period for the Government – used a pre-Easter meeting with church leaders to say Britain needed the values of the Bible more than ever. He issued a public plea for them not to 'fall out' with the Government over plans to allow gay marriage." – Daily Mail

  • Cameron tells Christians he doesn't want a fight over gay marriage – Daily Telegraph
  • "David Cameron has ventured into territory avoided even by Tony Blair, the most devout prime minister in living memory, during his time in Downing Street." – Guardian

Government retreats on digital 'Big Brother' plan

CLEGG NICK"Plans to allow the authorities to monitor the online activity of every person in Britain were pushed back last night after being condemned by MPs of all parties. The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, announced that the contentious measures would be published only in draft form and would be subject to widespread consultation – concessions that could delay the proposals for at least a year." – Independent

"Civil liberties campaigners and Lib Dem MPs last night welcomed Mr Clegg’s words as a significant concession, although the Coalition remains committed to overhauling the rules on communications records." – Daily Telegraph

  • David Cameron defends surveillance plans – Independent
  • Spying on us all isn't just daft, it's the act of a PM with no beliefs – Matthew Norman

> From yesterday:

Dominic Raab MP: No to Orwellian surveillance of mobile phones, emails and websites

Raab Dominic Parliament

"There is still time to salvage the plans… First, the scheme should be limited to terrorism and a list of serious crimes. Second, access to data should be confined to the intelligence agencies and police. Third, access should be subject to a warrant approved by a judge. This would not hamper law enforcement – no judge would have refused a warrant in the Soham case. A government’s first duty is to protect the public. But, ultimately, it falls to Parliament to scrutinise the security case for these proposals, preserve the privacy of the law-abiding majority, and protect the country from yet another epic data-sharing disaster." – Dominic Raab MP

  • Liberal Democrat MPs stand up for data privacy – Lib Dem MPs write a letter to the Guardian

Ministers are forced into climbdown on secret trials

CLARKE KEN PURPOSEFUL"Kenneth Clarke is to back down over plans for a big extension of “secret” trials, The Times has learnt. The Justice Secretary believes that proposals to hold a wide range of trials behind closed doors go too far and should be scaled back. Instead of allowing closed trials whenever “sensitive” evidence is given, Mr Clarke accepts that the new powers should apply only to material where disclosure poses a risk to national security." – The Times (£)

  • Nick Clegg demands changes to Coalition's controversial 'secret justice' plans – Daily Telegraph
  • "Perhaps the liberal in the Lib Dem leader is not quite dead after all. With his reawakened love of liberty, may we now hope he will block state snooping on the internet – and fight for Gary McKinnon?" – Daily Mail editorial
  • "Ken Clarke has “abandoned” victims of crime under a shake-up of funding for support groups, charity leaders claimed yesterday." – The Sun

Neil O'Brien: Michael Gove is trying to put himself out of a job setting A-levels

GOVE MICHAEL NW"Michael Gove’s decision to hand back control of the examination system to the universities has been widely welcomed as the last, best chance to rescue the A-level. For decades, politicians have presided over a system in which such qualifications have been relentlessly devalued. … Michael Gove is a transformer, not a manager – and by opening the door to innovation… he is essentially trying to do himself and his department out of a job, to create a system in which good qualifications drive out bad ones through competition, without the need for meddling politicians." – Neil O'Brien

David Cameron launches £600m 'big society' fund

"David Cameron will attempt to breathe fresh life into his flagging "big society" initiative when he launches a £600m fund to support grassroots social projects on Wednesday. The prime minister will announce that £400m from dormant bank accounts will be used to help finance the scheme, dubbed Big Society Capital. A further £200m will come from Britain's four largest high street banks – Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and RBS." – Guardian

  • Charities under threat from Treasury tax relief policy, says Centre for Social Justice – Daily Telegraph
  • People will be able to invest their savings in “Big Society ISAs” to help fund good causes like playgroups and libraries under plans unveiled by David Cameron – Daily Telegraph
  • The Big Society needs cash: now it has a way to get it – Sir Richard Lambert
  • The Big Society promise that has yet to deliver – Independent editorial

Daniel Finkelstein: Forget the past fortnight, the Tories are perceived as the party of wealth – that is far more damaging

Finkelstein Daniel NN"As there is no money and no growth, the Tories are being forced to do what the modernisers least wanted to do – to choose between measures that might make Britain competitive and ones that seem economically fair. Hence the 50p tax rate decision. Taking these problems together — being seen as favouring the well-off and having to act in ways that risk making this perception worse — the challenge facing the Conservatives is more formidable than questions over its advisers or the composition of its communications operation." – Daniel Finkelstein (£)

  • Ignore the pasties and the petrol stories: it was a good fortnight for the government – Sir Simon Jenkins

> Yesterday on Comment - Lord Ashcroft: The Conservatives have taken a hit but still lead on leadership, competence and ideas to deal with Britain's problems

Benedict Brogan: The Government risks undermining the national consensus for cuts

"The Prime Minister has been told that he is in danger of throwing away something precious, namely an invaluable public consensus that austerity is needed and that the Government’s plan is the right one. This, senior Tories say, matters more than passing excitements about pasties and jerry cans. Those agitating for the deckchairs in the party and Downing Street to be moved about will be disappointed. Instead, Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne will try to get back to the only thing that will save them come the next election: governing well enough to persuade the electorate that the pain yet to come is worth it." – Benedict Brogan

Conservatives will not win elections without more focus on minority voters, says Baroness Warsi

Warsi qt"The Conservatives will not win the next election unless they appeal more to black and Asian voters, Baroness Warsi, the party’s co-chairman, has warned. … According the New Statesman, Baroness Warsi told a meeting of MPs: “[U]nless and until campaigning with BME [black and minority-ethnic] communities is institutionalised and embedded in every aspect of what we do as a political party, we cannot win an overall majority in 2015.”" – Daily Telegraph

Boris Johnson calls Ken Livingstone "a f***ing liar"

Johnson Boris Pointing"After months of stressful campaigning in the run up to May’s London mayoral election, he finally let his rival, Ken Livingstone get under his skin. In a crowded lift, in front of three witnesses, the Mayor met the ex-Mayor in a nose to nose confrontation, and called him a “f***ing liar” three times over. He was, reputedly, red with rage." – Independent

  • "Sources said Mr Livingstone “grinned nervously” while Green mayoral candidate Jenny Jones backed into the corner of the lift." – The Sun

> Yesterday on Local government: Listing Livingstone's lies from LBC debate

It won’t happen overnight, but I will reverse Tory decline, vows Davidson

Screen shot 2011-09-11 at 16.16.26"Ruth Davidson is aiming to end the party’s “stagnation” at the ballot box in Scotland when voters go to the polls at next month’s council elections. The Tories are pledging to give communities a chance to run their own services, with plans to cut council tax in some areas and allowing local authorities to keep more of the money they raise through business rates. But the new leader admitted she will not turn the party’s electoral fortunes around overnight." – The Scotsman

  • In full: Scottish Conservative local government manifesto – Scotsman
  • Tories warn SNP council vote 'will be used to back separation' – Daily Telegraph
  • Conservative legacy of liberty tossed aside in power grab – Scotsman

Clegg proposes way to end 'big money' political donationsIndependent

Unions do have a hold on Labour, says former General Secretary

WattPeter"Peter Watt said Mr Miliband’s views on an issue like the threatened petrol tanker drivers’ strike would “absolutely” be affected by party dependence on funding by the union involved. … “Does that mean that Ed Miliband is going to be absolutely bound to take on what Len McCluskey says and act on it? No. But it would be a nonsense to say he clearly isn’t influenced.” Tory Party co-chairman Baroness Warsi said: “Peter Watt has let slip the worst kept secret in British politics – the trade unions not only fund the Labour Party but decide its policy.”" – Daily Express

MPs back Turkey's bid to join EUIndependent

MPs seek to resist CIA demands over disclosureGuardian

Welfare-to-work provider A4e in running for new contract despite fraud inquiryDaily Telegraph

£42m benefit bill for children who don't even live in BritainDaily Express

Border guard shortage risks 'gridlock' at airports this Easter, airlines warnDaily Telegraph

As George Galloway unveils wife No4, ex says: 'We never got divorced'The Sun

And finally… "A couple whose romance was partly inspired by Ed Miliband met the Labour leader in Carlisle last night"

Miliband _140x140"David Atkinson asked out fiancee Karen Gallagher at a union meeting with the line: “Do you want to come and see Ed Miliband with me?” The pair attended a rally addressed by the Labour leader at the Crown and Mitre as a first date. Romance blossomed and they are due to get married in September. They met Mr Miliband at the launch of Labour’s local election campaign in Carlisle at the Richard Rose Academy last night." – The Cumberland News

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