Published:

Screen shot 2013-04-04 at 17.29.445.30pm ToryDiary: Energy companies: bigger fines…or more competition?

3pm James Lawson on Comment: The Liberty League is no threat to the Conservative Party

12.45pm David Skelton on Comment details his new move to boost the Conservatives in the north: Why I'm moving on – to help meet the Conservatives' northern challenge

11am Local Government: DCLG plans to move in with Home Office to cut costs

10am ToryDiary: Cameron gets a steer on Trident from Rahm Emanuel

Screen shot 2013-04-04 at 07.47.17ToryDiary: "Were I one of the bigger aid charities or ventures, I would be looking
very closely at my budget and spending, before Fleet Street gets there first." Aid in a cold climate

Henry Hill's Red, White and Blue column: Gone are the days when Scottish trade union leaders stood firm against independence

Andrew Lilico on Comment: A true Conservative should believe Conservatism can win

Local Government:

The Deep End: Watch out, China’s about to change the world economy – again

Cameron warns on Scottish visit: an independent Scotland could lose warship contracts…

Screen shot 2013-04-04 at 08.17.31"Making his first visit north of the Border in six months, Mr Cameron will host one of his PM Direct events at the offices of a Scottish-based defence contractor, when he will claim defence jobs in Scotland are more secure because of the Union and that being part of the UK "opens doors for the Scottish defence industry around the globe". "Defence matters and defence jobs matter," he declared last night. The PM added Scotland had a world-renowned and highly skilled defence sector that employed more than 12,600 people, with annual sales in excess of £1.8 billion." – Herald Scotland

…As he writes in defence of Trident and visits a submarine that carries it…

"For the first time, he suggests that Britain may be in range of ballistic missiles fired by the “highly unpredictable and aggressive regime” in North Korea. In an attack on the Liberal Democrats, who are considering calling for Trident to be scrapped, the Conservative leader also questions whether anyone can “seriously argue” that now is the time to surrender our deterrent, when the threat is “evolving”. The Prime Minister will on Thursday welcome home HMS Victorious, a Royal Navy Vanguard-class submarine, which carries Trident nuclear weapons." – Daily Telegraph (£)

Read the Prime Minister's full article here

…Meanwhile, North Korea rattles its sabres

Screen shot 2013-04-04 at 08.19.49
"The deployment of the battery to the US territory of Guam is the biggest demonstration yet that Washington regards the confrontation with North Korea as more worrying than similar crises over the past few years. It also suggests the Americans are preparing for a long standoff. North Korea ramped up its rhetoric on Wednesday, warning that it had authorised plans for nuclear strikes on targets in the US. The North Korean military said that the "moment of explosion is approaching fast" and that war could break out "today or tomorrow"." – The Guardian

Grayling moves to cut legal aid for prisoners' appeals…

"Prisoners are to be banned from getting millions in legal aid to fight jail bosses, The Sun can reveal. They will be stopped from taking the system to court over conditions, or which category they’re locked up under. And notorious lags held in segregation units will be denied state cash to try to force a move to cushier cells or jails. Slashing the aid bill will save taxpayers £4million a year and cut 11,000 cases brought by cons annually." – The Sun

…And his review of Britain's "crime and punishment lottery" will report next month

Grayling Chris Yellow"In Dyfed-Powys, in Wales, 45 per cent of all crimes were ‘punished’ with a slap-on-the wrist.  This compares with only 17 per cent in North Yorkshire. In 11 of the 44 forces in England and Wales, more than three out of ten criminals are given a caution rather than a jail term or community sentence. The British Transport Police dished out the ‘soft’ penalty in 98 per cent of cases." – Daily Mail

Councils "being forced to agree to more houses"

"Shockingly, 44 per cent of the plans that passed examination by the Planning Inspectorate had to raise their submitted housing targets in order to be found sound, reported Planning magazine. Last night Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for Clacton, said: ‘If the council decides it wants more homes, I’m not against them. But it should be entirely up to them, not central government." – Daily Mail

MPs call for fraud investigation as SSE is fined £10.5 million after cheating a million customers

Screen shot 2013-04-04 at 08.22.05"On a day of shame for the power industry, SSE was attacked for ‘failing its customers’ through ruthless ‘mis-selling’, either on people’s doorsteps, over the telephone or on the high street. Hundreds of thousands of new customers were attracted to switch from other suppliers at the height of the racket – which lasted for three years – and many ended up paying higher tariffs." – Daily Mail

  • British families are being exploited on energy bills – Daily Express
  • "Perhaps SSE isn’t bothered by the penalty. It represents just one per cent of its profits" – Sun Editorial

Pay your tax or aid to Pakistan stops, MPs tell the country's elite

Screen shot 2013-04-04 at 08.23.29"In a devastating critique of Pakistan’s failure to make its elite pay their fair share, the International Development Select Committee warned that the bailout provided by British taxpayers could not be tolerated. Sir Malcolm Bruce, the committee’s Liberal Democrat chairman, said that ministers “cannot expect people in the UK to pay taxes to improve education and health in Pakistan if the Pakistani elite does not pay meaningful amounts of income tax." – The Times (£)

  • OECD reports budgets are down by 4 per cent but Britain sticks to foreign-spending target – The Independent
  • Islamabad’s failure to collect income tax makes British aid harder to justify – Times Editorial (£)
  • "For geopolitical and security reasons the West has turned a blind eye to Pakistan's failure to reform its tax system. This cannot continue." – Sir Malcom Bruce, Daily Telegraph (£)

> Today: ToryDiary – "Were I one of the bigger aid charities or ventures, I would be looking
very closely at my budget and spending, before Fleet Street gets there first." Aid in a cold climate

Work and Pensions Select Committee says that the single-tier pension should be beefed upDaily Telegraph (£)

Philpott Debate 1): The Daily Mail – Yes, welfare is to blame

Screen shot 2013-04-04 at 08.24.37"Can the Left not understand how it feels for an office cleaner, setting
out for the early shift, to know that her feckless neighbour will still
be in bed, long into the afternoon, sleeping off his publicly-funded
hangover from the night before?" – Daily Mail Editorial

Philpott Debate 2) The Guardian's Zoe Williams: – No, welfare isn't to blame

"In part, this is just what hardship does. Generosity drops away and distrust is amplified and embellished, to use as a fig leaf over a spirit of meanness. But the roots go back further than the financial crash, to the widening inequality that has had as its inevitable side-effect a growing and real suspicion between social groups, whose lives and circumstances bisected one another less and less. So much current political rhetoric relies on accepting the idea that the poor differ in fundamental ways, that they care less for their children, that they are less honest, that they are more stupid." – The Guardian

  • Davis, Jenkin, Reckless suggest restricting child benefit payments to two children – The Times (£)
  • 440,000 families 'will lose £16.90 a week' – The Guardian
  • Britain says Yes to benefit cuts – Alex Massie, Scotsman
  • The Left's frenzied assault on Iain Duncan Smith is a ludicrous tactic – Leo McKinstry, Daily Express
  • Real Time Information may not work – Daily Telegraph Editorial (£)

> Yesterday:

Plan for general strike mooted

"The proposed 24-hour walkout would be the first time since 1926 that private and public-sector workers have co-ordinated a nationwide mass action. The tactic, which would represent a significant escalation to the unions’ protests against the Coalition’s austerity measures, will be discussed at the meeting of the Trades Union Congress’s general council this month. The proposals were initially drawn up by Unite, with 1.4 million members, which argues that “such action is desirable”. – The Independent

Sarah Wollaston wins yesterday's Lynton Crosby On-Message Backbencher of the Day award…

Wollaston Sarah"She also criticised the Prime Minister's latest reshuffle that saw him employ John Hayes as a minister without portfolio to help liaise with backbench MPs, when he already has Sam Gyimah as his PPS. At the same time, John Hayes has his own ministerial aide. On her Twitter feed, Dr Wollaston said it was "hard to justify" having all these people on the payroll vote, meaning they have to support the Prime Minister." – Daily Telegraph (£)

(…Runner-up: Kris Hopkins)

"In a riposte to frustrated Tories determined to appeal to “leafy,
wealthy parts of rural Britain”, Kris Hopkins, who heads a modernising
group of new MPs, said that he and others were “fed up” with their
complaints about the Prime Minister. Mr Hopkins, who leads the 301
group of MPs from marginal constituencies, said that he blamed himself
and other modernisers for allowing a “small number of disenchanted
individuals” to dominate the debate over the party’s direction." – The Times (£)

Peter Oborne: The case for Cameron

Oborne Peter 2"This Government is potentially as ambitious as the great Attlee administration of 1945-51, or the Thatcher government 30 years later. It is simultaneously trying to mend our broken NHS, education and welfare systems. If it succeeds in only one of these ambitions, the Coalition will have been worthwhile. If it succeeds in two, it will be remembered as one of the great reforming peacetime administrations. Even if it largely fails (perhaps the most likely outcome), it will still have made a heroic and admirable effort to change Britain for the better." – Daily Telegraph (£)

  • What will Cameron be remembered for? – James Forsyth, Spectator

News in Brief

And finally 1) Boris to play with Pippa

"The Duchess of Cambridge’s sister threw down the gauntlet after hearing the London mayor would like to be whiff-whaff “world king more than he wants to be PM”. Writing in The Spectator, Pippa, 29 — who played at national level as a schoolgirl — said: “I’m told the Johnsons are almost as competitive as the Middletons. I’d like to lay down a challenge. Bring it on.” Boris, 48, replied: “I’m game if she is.” Table tennis was originally called whiff-whaff." – The Sun

And finally 2) Special ConHome investigation: Has Matthew Parris been forced to tweet – and if so, who forced him? We seek the guilty man

"I have agreed to tweet (@matthewparris3). It will apparently be helpful to tweet that I’ve written in the paper. Also to write in the paper that I tweet. I write that I tweet that I write. We shall all be up our own bottoms by Christmas." – Matthew Parris, The Times (£)

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