Published:

7pm Local Government: Council byelection results from yesterday

6pm Nick Thornsby on Comment: "The actions of Conservative MPsare not only making that elusive Parliamentary majority — already
looking increasingly distant — unattainable, they are also, jeopardising any hope of returning a Conservative to Downing Street as part of
a future coalition."
As a Liberal Democrat, I ask – What are you, our Coalition partners, playing at?

Screen shot 2013-05-17 at 17.49.584pm Mark Prisk MP on Comment: How this Government is boosting one of the great Thatcher policies – the Right to Buy

2.45pm WATCH: From the Taxpayers Alliance – ‪Income Tax and National Insurance: What are you really paying?‬

1.45pm Max Wind-Cowie on Comment: "We must
cease to assume that women are entitled to massively more in the way
of parental leave. And
courts cannot any longer justify their presumption in favour of women when ustody is being decided."
Boys will be boys

10.15am LeftWatch: The truth about Nick Clegg's manifesto referendum pledge  and how he is breaking it

ToryDiary: How Jeremy Hunt plans to improve the NHS (and boost his own standing)

Also on ToryDiary: When it comes to Europe, 17% of voters think Cameron is driven by beliefs, but 64% think he's driven by tactical calculations

Herbert Nick Jan 2012As the return of the same-sex marriage bill looms, Nick Herbert MP on Comment says the tide of opinion in the western world is for change…

…And Tim Loughton MP makes the case for equality in civil partnerships.

Iain Dale's Friday Diary: Guess which member of my household voted UKIP

The Deep End: Heresy of the Week – Never mind UKIP, it’s young voters Conservatives should watch out for

Local Government: Councils should use imperial measures

A new Tory MP is in the spotlight over Europe. James Wharton, Harold Macmillan's successor in Stockton, will present a Referendum Bill…

Screen shot 2013-05-17 at 08.12.42
"Conservative MP James Wharton announced he will introduce the Bill in the Commons next month. And the PM slapped a three-line whip on the move in a bid to unite the party after a week of turmoil. Mr Cameron was left bruised after 114 Tory MPs rebelled and backed another Bill slamming the lack of an in-out EU referendum Bill in the Queen’s Speech. But Mr Wharton, 29 — who became the Tories’ youngest MP when he was elected in 2010 — faces an uphill battle to force his Bill through as both Labour and the Lib Dems are opposed to it." – The Sun

…But Clegg and Labour will oppose it

"But Deputy PM and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg opposes the Bill, while Labour confirmed it doesn’t back it because now is the “wrong time” to commit to a future referendum. But aides declined to say if Labour leader Ed ­Miliband would order his MPs to vote against the measure. A source said: “We will consider the tactical question when it comes up but we do not want it to go through.”…A YouGov poll shows 43 per cent of British voters want to leave the EU." – Daily Express

  • Cable EvilTory battle over Europe is damaging UK economy, says Cable – Financial Times
  • Farage forced to enter pub shocker – The Sun
  • Cameron’s strategy to staunch pressure for EU departure is falling apart – Philip Stephens, Financial Times
  • Leaving Europe would be bad for British business – John Cridland, The Guardian

Yesterday:

Downing Street "planning for Coalition break-up"

'Some of David Cameron’s senior aides are talking through a range of scenarios, including the Lib Dems quitting up to a year before polling day. One such contingency envisages Vince Cable taking over from Mr Clegg and using the opposition benches to reposition the Lib Dems as equidistant between the Tories and Labour. Another scenario involves an “amicable divorce” in which the Lib Dems agree to Mr Cameron leading a minority government and wave through next year’s Budget, but put campaigning distance between themselves and the Conservatives." – The Times (£)

Hammond and Paterson dig in over spending round

Hammond large"Some ministers failed to provide Mr Osborne with the list of 10 per cent in proposed departmental cuts he ordered before last month’s deadline. One said the chancellor was “asking too much”. Those regarded as being awkward include two rightwing Tories – Philip Hammond at defence and Owen Paterson at environment – along with Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat business secretary…Mr Osborne and Danny Alexander, his Lib Dem chief secretary, are preparing for weeks of attrition but insist that they will achieve their objective of cutting departmental spending in election year by £11.5bn." – Financial Times

> Yesterday:ToryDiary – An improving economy may rescue Cameron and Osborne, but it won’t deliver them from some tricky questions:

Hunt plans end to written prescriptions

"Jeremy Hunt is to unveil plans for a £260million system that will
dispense drugs electronically and, he says, prevent needless deaths. At
least 11 people died in the NHS last year because they were given the
wrong drugs or incorrect doses. Medicines are being prescribed
incorrectly because patients’ notes are lost, while research suggests
that eight per cent of hospital prescriptions have mistakes in them." – Daily Mail

> Today: ToryDiary – How Jeremy Hunt plans to improve the NHS (and boost his own standing)

Loughton pushes for straight civil partnerships.  And Miller retreats on them – as the return of the same-sex marriage bill looms

LOUGHTON TIM"In yet another U-turn to placate restive Tory backbenchers, the Government has promised a review into the future of civil partnerships five years after same-sex marriage becomes law. It will look at whether the partnerships should be scrapped – or whether they should also be offered to a man and woman as an alternative to marriage." – Daily Mail

  • Tatchell sides with Loughton over Government "stalling" – The Guardian

> Today:

The police must help the media name suspects, says May

"She insists police chiefs must NOT stand in the way of the transparency of journalists’ reporting. Mrs May says reputations can be ruined if a public arrest “turns out to be based on nothing at all”. But crucially she also goes on to say: “There is, however, also a case for making the names of those arrested public. It can also lead to further witnesses coming forward. “And where the press has already identified the suspect, and asked for confirmation from the police, the police should confirm it.” – The Sun

Gove rides to the rescue of Boles in his Keith Joseph lecture yesterday evening

GOVE MICHAEL BLACK
"He criticised people who are fighting development in rural areas, which has
been made easier by the Government’s relaxation of planning rules earlier
this year. He also claimed that building more homes in the countryside could
add to its beauty. “These planning reforms have not been without their critics but no one who
believes in social mobility, in aspiration, in pro-family policies, in
thrift and in freedom can be anything other than delighted by the release of
more land for housing,” he said." – Daily Telegraph

  • Examine your consciences over Oxford abuse, Gove tells officials – The Times (£)

Halfon demands inquiry into oil price-fixing after new report

"The row comes after European Commission investigators raided the London offices of oil companies Shell and BP on Tuesday as part of a price-fixing investigation. Tory MP Robert Halfon, who has called for an investigation into alleged cartels and market manipulation in the oil market for the past three years, said there must be a full inquiry." – Daily Mail

Nik Darlington: The real Conservative split – safe seats versus marginals

Screen shot 2013-05-17 at 08.45.24"The average constituency majority of Tory MPs who signed John Baron’s
(majority 12,398) amendment last week is greater than 8,000. More than one-third of signatories have majorities in excess of 10,000. Some MPs from marginal (and ultra-marginal) seats backed it but they were few
and far between. The names of ringleaders ring familiar, their electoral cushions ring like
phone numbers: Nadine Dorries (15,152), Bernard Jenkin (11,447), Bill Cash
(13,292), Adam Afriye (19,054), Charles Walker (18,804), David Davis
(11,602), Douglas Carswell (12,068)." – Daily Telegraph

Latest Select Committee push for headlines. Hodge tells Google that it "does evil"

"Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee, told Google's northern Europe boss, Matt Brittin, that his company's behaviour on tax was "devious, calculated and, in my view, unethical". He had been recalled by MPs after being accused of misleading parliament over the firm's tax affairs six months ago. Hodge said: "You are a company that says you 'do no evil'. And I think that you do do evil." Hodge was referring to Google's long-standing corporate motto, "Don't be evil," which appeared in its $23bn US stock market flotation prospectus in 2004." – The Guardian

  • A quarter of MPs say that there's too much drinking in Westminster – The Guardian

Fraser Nelson: We can’t afford a shiny new transport system like HS2

Nelson Fraser August 2011"The High Speed 2 project has ended up being rather less ambitious than Mr
Osborne’s imaginings: it might shave 35 minutes from the journey between
London and Birmingham, and reduce the Birmingham-to-Newcastle journey time
to two hours from three. It is easy to see the appeal of this, but it would
come at a cost. At least £35 billion – and spending on such projects
traditionally doubles. Would the benefits cover the cost? Would commuters
want it enough to pay the higher fare? Might the money be better spent
elsewhere? As soon as you ask such questions, the case for HS2 disintegrates." – Daily Telegraph

  • "When I asked a transport economist why the BBC couldn't find a
    member of his profession to defend HS2 on air he said, "because there
    aren't any"." – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian

> Yesterday:

Maude v Jenkin: battle continues on civil service reform

"Relations between Westminster and Whitehall are unusually tense, following attacks on civil service “obstructionism” by Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister. A number of cabinet colleagues are reported to share his frustration, believing that policies are not being delivered with the speed the government has sought. Mr Jenkin said ministers appeared to have made up their minds that “the civil service was to blame for successive governments’ poor performance”." – Financial Times (£)

Jon Cruddas, the man in charge of Labour's policy review. And how it works.

Screen shot 2013-05-17 at 08.47.11"Cruddas is determined the policy review does not fall into a mechanistic set of Whitehall prescriptions that is designed to modernise the country but fails to strike the right note with the electorate. With his "Blue Labour" roots, Cruddas insists "it is tackling issues politics have ignored for decades like mental health, fatherhood and the ownership of football clubs or learning lessons from far and wide – even Republican Texans on prison reform"." – The Guardian

News in Brief

  • Shock revelation: Fallon opposed Labour's Post Office privatisation plans – Daily Telegraph
  • Census shows that Christians have the oldest age profile of all the main faiths while Muslims have the youngest – The Times (£)
  • Obama stays cautious on Syria – The Guardian
  • Breakthrough in IVF treatment could triple number of births – The Independent
  • Donald Trump begins wind farm legal challenge – Scotsman
  • Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson's trips abroad cost Northern Ireland taxpayer £350,000 – Belfast Telegraph
  • Sally Bercow McAlpine tweet trial begins – Daily Express
  • Legacy use agreed for last of eight big Olympic venues – Financial Times
  • Beckham retires – The Sun

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