11.30am Completing our series on Little Guy Conservatism, we note Liz Truss MP and her agenda for more affordable childcare for parents who want to work
Peter Smith on Comment wonders if the British state will tolerate and meaningfully respect sincere Christian views in the public square: The next step in equality — Protecting the freedom to differ
David Cameron has slapped down traditionalists in the cabinet opposed to proposed gay marriage laws by saying he would not introduce tax breaks for married couples in the March budget
"The Coalition’s marriage policy is in tatters because Nick’s metrosexual, minority obsessions have once again trumped the values of the majority of Britain’s hard-working families" – Amanda Platell in the Daily Mail
On yesterday's Spectator blog Melanie McDonagh made the case for the allowance: "£150 a year, which is what a transferable tax allowance would mean for a basic rate couple, isn’t a fortune, but it would help make ends meet. It would signal that the government is in favour of stable marital relationships. It would align British practice with that of other European governments – France and Germany have no compunction about privileging families and married couples. And it would help rebalance the essential unfairness of the proposed tax relief for childcare, which is that it is directed at those families where both parents go out to work, at the expense of those families where one parent stays at home."
> Today's ToryDiary: Cameron delays marriage tax allowance for FOURTH time
One in five of voters who supported the party in 2010 would “definitely not” do so again if the Coalition presses ahead with gay marriage – The Telegraph reports a new ComRes poll
Vote ‘no’ and you will blush to remember it – Matthew Parris makes the case for gay marriage in his Times column (£).
LGBTory Chairman Matthew Sephton says the concept of marriage has always changed and developed through history and there is widespread support for gay marriage – Telegraph
Cheryl Gillan and Caroline Spelman said to be among Tory women favouring Theresa May as next Tory leader – Daily Mail
"She has been caricatured as Britain’s answer to Angela Merkel. Tough, unshowy but effective – although with better taste in footwear and a rather different take on Europe. Now senior Conservatives have started talking up the prospects of Theresa May becoming the party’s next leader if the Tories lose the next election." – Independent
James Kirkup in The Telegraph examines the leadership speculation: "The May local elections, the next GDP figures, a scandal arising from Mr Cameron’s old aide Andy Coulson, a military disaster in Africa; all are adduced as potential triggers. Then there are the unexpected twists, the unforeseen events that so often determine the course of political history. “There’s more than enough dry tinder under the leadership,” says one senior Tory. “It would just take one spark for the whole thing to go up in flames.”
Andrew Grice in The Independent: "Mr Cameron lacks the authority that an outright win in 2010 would have given him. His unforgiving MPs do not trust him to win next time, and so give him little room for manoeuvre. Ironically, by destabilising him, they could jeopardise the very election victory they seek."
A letter to The Guardian argues that there is an anti-Tory majority in the Commons if only the LibDems would realise.
Speculation also swirls around George Osborne
“We can’t win a general election with George Osborne as Chancellor. Shares in Osborne are not just plummeting with the parliamentary party, they have ceased trading altogether.” – in his Express column, Patrick O'Flynn reports on growing Tory unhappiness at the Chancellor.
David Cameron made clear he has "full confidence" in his Chancellor as rumours continue to swirl of plots against the Conservative leadership – The Herald
- George Osborne says RBS' US fines should be paid out of bankers' bonus pots, not by taxpayers – BBC
Cameron DID promise to increase defence spending AFTER 2015, claims Fox aide
"In 2010 the Service Chiefs and Defence Ministers agreed, in good faith, to sweeping defence cuts on the understanding that there would be increased funding for the Armed Forces after 2015… Now is not the time for confusion, it is a time for clarity, commitment and leadership." – Luke Coffey, adviser to Liam Fox at the time of the spending settlement, in The Telegraph.
- Liam Fox could be David Cameron's Willie Whitelaw, representing blue collar Britain and providing an experience, balanced voice – Patrick O'Flynn in The Express
PM commits to 20 more years of aid as other countries slash their budgets – Daily Mail
The Daily Mail is unimpressed: "The Mail has a suggestion to make to the PM: cut the international aid budget by half and give the money to our heroic Armed Forces. It is morally unsustainable that our soldiers die for a lack of resources while third-world dictators are given money to squander on their kleptocracies."
Neither is The Sun: "Mr Cameron is cutting the Armed Forces, yet pledging to fight more wars.
He is axing benefits, yet showering money on foreign countries like India who don’t need our help. One week he makes a defining speech on Europe. The next, Europe apparently forgotten, he is making speeches in Liberia promising to end world poverty with British money."
- PM calls for more responsible capitalism and greater tax transparency at UN conference on development goals – Guardian
David Cameron has been taught the difference between "debt" and "deficit" by Britain's top statistics official, after he was accused of confusing the two economic terms – Telegraph | Fraser Nelson at Coffee House
Home Office's "snoopers' charter" costs £400million before a single piece of data has been collected – Daily Mail
Argentina subs talks with William Hague over the Falklands – The Sun
Lord Ashcroft's post-Europe speech polling
"David Cameron’s high-profile speech on Europe has cheered Conservative supporters, but done little to improve the party’s chances of success at the next general election, according to polling by major Tory donor Lord Ashcroft… Writing on the ConservativeHome website, the Tory peer said: “If anyone expected an immediate leap in the Conservative Party’s popularity, the evidence should by now have disabused them of the notion.”" – Yorkshire Post
> Lord Ashcroft on ConHome yesterday: The Europe speech has cheered Tories… but it has not moved votes
"Legal immigration is a boon to the economy and society. Not only would it be illegal to discriminate against those with the right to come here. It would be unjust." – The FT (£) urges Cameron to make the case for immigration from Romania and Bulgaria.
Unequal seat sizes implies unequal votes – Graeme Archer in The Telegraph argues the LibDems have abandoned their historic principles in voting down boundary reform.
The Profumo scandal marks the beginning of the rot setting into public life in Britain – Simon Heffer in the Daily Mail
The great doctrine of our time – Equality – is pursued at all costs but it reduces our freedoms – Charles Moore in The Telegraph
Fact of the day: Houses in London’s 10 most expensive boroughs are now worth as much as the property markets of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland combined – FT (£)
Alex Salmond has claimed that he was a more accomplished boy soprano than Aled Jones, the Welsh singer who shot to fame in the 1980s for his angelic rendition of Walking in the Air – Scotsman
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