Published:

Cameron6pm WATCH:

5.15pm Lord Ahmad on Comment: The Conservative values I learned from my father, who arrived in Britain with only £5 in his pocket

2.45pm LISTEN: An eyewitness to the Eric Joyce incident describes what he saw

Pothole1.45pm Local government:  Worcestershire County Council are right to encourage residents to report potholes

1pm Jonathan Djanogly MP on Comment: Immigration needs more than a quick-fix solution

10.15 am Local government: John Bald delighted Michael Gove has cut Education Department spending on spin from £54 million to £1 million

ToryDiary: Cameron's strong move on Leveson exposes his growing weakness

Alex MortonAlex Morton on Comment: Let’s have more self-build housing – and quick

From last night, on MPsETC: Jesse Norman visits EUtopia (and doesn't like what he finds)

On Majority Conservatism, Gavin Barwell MP revisits his presentation to ConservativeHome's Victory 2015 conference: Seven ways of engaging ethnic minority voters 

Nick Pickles writes this week's Culture Column: Politics, like music, shouldn’t be done by the manual

Brandon Lewis on Local Government: Selby is the Council of the Week

The Deep End's Heresy of the Week: Russell Brand is right about drugs (but so is Peter Hitchens)

WATCH: Ed Miliband laments David Cameron's "deeply disappointing" decision to end the Leveson talks

David Cameron terminates the cross-party Leveson talks

Cameron"Labour and the Lib Dems are now expected to table amendments in the Commons giving MPs the choice of a beefed-up version of Tory proposals for a Royal Charter, backed in law, or a full Bill implementing the recommendations of Lord Justice Leveson’s report. Mr Cameron lost patience overnight and told Mr Clegg and Mr Miliband in a ‘tense’ joint phone call yesterday morning that he saw no point in continuing cross-party talks." – Daily Mail

  • "Hugh Grant telephoned senior members of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet to urge them not to accept David Cameron’s compromise on Press regulation, say sources close to the talks." – Daily Mail
  • More arrests in the hacking probe – Daily Mail

> Today on ToryDiary: Cameron's strong move on Leveson exposes his growing weakness

The newspapers back Cameron (on the whole)

  • Newspapers"In stark contrast to Mr Miliband, Mr Cameron has taken a principled stand throughout while trying to reach a compromise that will satisfy all parties." – Daily Mail editorial
  • "This newspaper believes that if a charter can be agreed without statute, then a new regulator can be established swiftly. But Mr Cameron is right to say – and the other parties would do well to heed his words – that the alternative is unworkable." – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • "The Prime Minister has advanced a practical scheme, establishing a Royal Charter to support the existence of a body that recognises the independent regulator. This is an ingenious solution and a reasonable compromise. But each time agreement nears, Mr Miliband moves farther away." – Times editorial (£)
  • "How have we got here? Because David Cameron has, for once, shown leadership and principle in standing up for a free Press." – Sun editorial
  • If MPs seize the presses it is you who will lose out – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • "This newspaper recently backed calls for a charter, underpinned by a short statute. With the Prime Minister still willing to talk, there is time for that compromise to be achieved." – Independent editorial
  • "…the prime minister decided, nevertheless, not to endorse [the Leveson report] – thereby risking press freedom becoming a political football. .. And so it has come to pass." – Guardian editorial

Cameron and Hollande are moving to arm the Syrian rebels

Syria"The Prime Minister will tell other EU leaders that he and Francois Hollande, the French President, can no longer stand by as the Syrian regime, armed by Russia and Iran, kills civilians and seeks to crush rebels. … It is understood that the British and French would be prepared to act together if no EU-wide deal can be reached. … 'We want to change the arms embargo so we can arm the opposition. That is want we want to do,' said a British source." – Daily Telegraph

Poll: people like Osborne's policies but don't like Osborne

"George Osborne's name has a 'toxic' effect on voters when it is attached to the Tories' economic strategy, a poll has found. … The public largely backs the Coalition's strategy to reduce the deficit and cut spending – until the policy is attributed to the Chancellor himself, the survey suggests." – Daily Mail

  • "The politics of the economy are not, however, a zero-sum game. It does not follow that because the Tories are down, Labour or the Liberal Democrats must be up. There is a sort of triple dip operating here in which the fortunes of all three parties have fallen at once, and that is due to the power of fatalism." – Philip Collins, The Times (£)

Another poll suggests voters want Osborne to cut aid – as recommended by Lord Ashcroft

Aid"More than half of all voters – 55 per cent – want to see a reduction in the overseas aid budget, in defiance of David Cameron’s refusal to shelve its protected status. … Their views emerged as Tory peer Lord Ashcroft urged Mr Cameron to stop ring-fending money for spending on aid. … In an article for Conservative Home, he said that the target of spending 0.7 per cent of national income is ‘arbitary and even bizarre’." – Daily Mail

> From Wednesday, Lord Ashcroft's post urging Mr Osborne to: End the ringfence for international aid

As the Sun rounds on the Chancellor's booze taxes

"British drinkers have been clobbered by more than 20 booze tax rises by the Coalition. … Treasury takings are expected to soar by £3billion as a result — while the number of pints being sunk has slumped." – The Sun

But cheer up, George – Mervyn King reckons recovery is in sight

King"The Bank of England's governor said last night that the 'recovery is in sight' in a boost for the Chancellor ahead of his Budget next week. … In a rare television interview, Sir Mervyn King said Britain's anaemic economic growth is finally drawing to an end following the long and painful downturn." - Daily Mail 

  • "In an abrupt change of tone for the outgoing Bank of England governor, Sir Mervyn said sterling was now 'properly valued', reflecting fears that the rapid fall in the pound this year will raise inflation and squeeze household budgets further." – Financial Times (£)
  • "The Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee looks set to back down over its suggestion that Britain’s banks were short of up to £50bn in capital." – Financial Times (£)

Jeremy Hunt wants more private sector managers in the NHS

Hunt"Private sector executives are to be brought into the NHS under fast-track training amid fears that health managers are too institutionalised. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, is to rewrite NHS recruitment rules to attract 'fresh pairs of eyes' after the Mid Staffordshire scandal." – The Times (£)

  • "Jeremy Hunt, health secretary, has taken the first step to finding a cure by banning gagging clauses in severance payments that stop ex-employees from blowing the whistle on poor patient care. But more needs to be done." – Financial Times editorial (£)
  • The NHS is still not safe for whistleblowers – Phil Hammond, The Times (£)
  • "This brilliant surgeon can't find work in the NHS. Is it because he blew the whistle on child deaths at a leading hospital?" – Steve Bird, Daily Mail

> Yesterday:

"Most NHS staff are to receive a 1 per cent pay rise from April, ending a two-year pay freeze but sparking union anger at a real-terms pay cut"Financial Times (£)

Nick Boles urged to delay his planning reforms – including by his old think-tank

Boles"Centre-right think tank Policy Exchange today joins a range of conservation groups in calling for the Government’s controversial National Planning Policy Framework to be delayed for at least six months to give councils more time to prepare." – Daily Mail

  • "Britain’s big infrastructure projects are expected to be handed to an independent body to try to reduce political risk…" – Financial Times (£)
  • "Plans to boost superfast broadband in rural areas descended into farce as BT was left as the only bidder for £530m of state funds." – Financial Times (£)

> Today, by Alex Morton on Comment: Let’s have more self-build housing – and quick

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Let's slap a preservation order on Nick Boles

Grant Shapps message to the party: let's finish the job

Shapps"'I think the simple message for spring conference half way through this Parliament is we’ve started this job and we need to get it finished,' he says. 'Not for our sakes. We may or may not win the next election but my God we need to finish this, the job of stopping this country going bust, fixing the mess that Labour left, or at least as far as we can. If it’s not finished, we will be asking to come back and finish it as a majority government.'" – from Grant Shapps' conversation with The House Magazine

Chris Grayling: bring us your legal disputes

"The world's tycoons and international companies are being urged to bring their disputes to London as legal services generate an increasingly significant proportion of UK export earnings. … Launching a fresh initiative to promote British courts and arbitration panels, the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, welcomed the annual £3.5bn brought in from abroad by lawyers." – Guardian

Headteachers tell Gove: keep our AS levels

"The heads of England’s best schools are pleading with Michael Gove to drop the most controversial part of his A level reforms. … In a letter to The Times today, the heads of leading private schools join state school leaders in appealing 'in the strongest terms' for AS levels to be kept within the A level." – The Times (£)

Jeffrey Archer discusses Lady Thatcher's health

"‘I still see her and get weekly updates – she’s not well,’ he told Reader’s Digest. ‘Mary and I were among her closest friends; Margaret adored Mary. Now she doesn’t even know who I am. So terribly sad.’" – Daily Mail

IDS versus the BBC

IDS"Iain Duncan Smith has attacked the BBC for ‘adopting the language of the Labour Party’ by calling a key welfare reform a ‘bedroom tax’. … In a letter leaked to the Daily Mail, the Work and Pensions Secretary accuses the corporation of helping to alarm hundreds of thousands of people in social housing who will be unaffected." - Daily Mail

  • "Why you should march against this heartless, pointless 'reform'" – Polly Toynbee, Guardian

Boris Johnson advises Theresa May to "put a sock in it" (or does he?)

"While not mentioning Home Secretary Mrs May by name, BoJo fuelled the backlash against her by saying: 'If ministers are setting out their stall now, it strikes me as being very odd. They should save their breath and cool their porridge. Put a sock in it and get on and back the Prime Minister.'" – The Sun

And Nick Clegg has some words for May, too

Clegg"He will tell the conference in Dundee: 'Just last weekend Theresa May gave a speech arguing that Britain could pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights. That we could abandon the rights of British citizens just to satisfy the Right of the Conservative Party. She wants this option to remain on the table. No chance. As I said last weekend, it won’t be on the Cabinet table as long as I’m sitting round it.'" – The Times (£)

  • Nick Clegg still regards jailed Chris Huhne as a friend – Independent

"He must be expelled" – the Times on the Lord Ahmed row

"It is perfectly reasonable that the Labour Party should wish to take a short time to investigate comments made by Lord Ahmed of Rotherham during an Urdu-language interview in Pakistan. Having conducted our own extensive investigation, however, The Times is wholly confident of what Labour’s should reveal." – Times editorial (£)

  • Lord Ahmed’s buffoonery hurts Muslims too – Maajid Nawaz, The Times (£)
  • The anti-Semites mistaken for mere eccentrics – Stephen Pollard, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: 


Boxing gloves"An MP forced out of the Labour party after a drunken brawl in a Commons bar was arrested again last night in similar circumstances"
 - Daily Mail

Fraser Nelson: Don’t attack Britain’s oldies – they keep the economy going

"Throughout the great recession, Britain’s grey workforce have been working harder than ever. Almost a million of them are now employed – behind checkout desks, at the office or even setting up companies. The proportion of elderly people in work has doubled over a decade." – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

250,000 extra school places will be needed next year, thanks largely to the baby boom and immigrationDaily Mail

53% of Britons think Iraq invasion was wrongGuardian

And finally 1)…The council that spent £1,000 on a spoof music video

WCC"A cash-strapped council has angered residents by spending £1,000 of public money on a spoof Frank Sinatra music video about potholes. … The video was intended to promote Worcestershire County Council's highways department and its work. … However, with road damage in Worcestershire at record levels, locals were left wondering why the council was taking time out to make a parody of Sinatra's classic 'My Way'." – Daily Mail

  • Only three viewers logging on for live £100,000 council meeting broadcasts – Daily Telegraph

And finally 2)… Neil Hamilton gives up panto to concentrate on Ukip

"Pantomime’s loss looks as if it is about to be politics’ gain — or vice versa, depending on your point of view. Neil Hamilton, a doughty campaigner for the UK Independence Party at the Eastleigh by-election, plans to forsake the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd to campaign full-time for Nigel Farage’s party." – Daily Telegraph

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