7.30pm WATCH: David Cameron calls for an apology from Gordon Brown

7pm Douglas Murray on CentreRight: How the Centre for Social Cohesion ensured a Hezbollah spokesman has been barred from entering the UK

Picture_35.30pm WATCH: "It’s no longer a time for big government" – Council candidate Peggy Mitchell finds her inner Tory on next Monday’s Eastenders

4pm ToryDiary: David Cameron admits the Conservatives were slow to acknowledge the problem of unsustainable debt 5.15 update: He uses the S-word as well

3.45pm Seats and Candidates: John Perry stands down as candidate for Dudley North

3pm Seats and Candidates: Simon Nayyar selected for Hackney South and Shoreditch

2.30pm Peter Whittle on CentreRight wants moderate Muslims to drown out the extremists

David_willetts_mp_22pm ParliamentDavid Willetts calls funding of further education an "unfolding disaster"

1.15pm Parliament: Charles Tannock says UN should force Sudanese President into exile or bring down full force of law

12.45pm Parliament: Daniel Hannan calls for justice for all

11.30am WATCH: Gordon Brown welcomes Ronan Keating and Gary Barlow to Downing Street for reception to mark Comic Relief

Dsc05153 ToryDiary: Eric Pickles is off to Majorca to get Brits abroad to register to vote

Seats and Candidates: George Lee selected for Holborn and St. Pancras Updated with biographical details

Rupert Matthews on Platform: Examining Labour’s European policies

Local Government:

WATCH: Kate Carroll, the widow of the policeman murdered by the Continuity IRA on Monday, says she cannot understand the mindset of her husband’s killers

Duncan_alan_new Alan Duncan demands more transparency on ministers’ interests

"Lord Mandelson has been accused of dodging a drive towards greater transparency over the financial affairs of Ministers. The Business Secretary faced questions after placing his investments in the hands of a blind trust, meaning he has not had to declare them in a new register of interests. Weeks after entering No10, Gordon Brown said that a list would be released ‘to ensure proper scrutiny of ministerial conduct’. It was finally published yesterday – nearly two years on – after being delayed by the reshuffle last October that brought Lord Mandelson back to the Cabinet… Shadow Leader of the Commons Alan Duncan said: ‘It’s taken two years to drag out this supposed ‘annual’ report from the Prime Minister. Now we find it’s virtually identical to the MPs’ register and that Lord Mandelson and colleagues are concealing their financial interests behind blind trusts. Gordon Brown’s promises of increased transparency now look threadbare. People will ask what his ministers have got to hide’." – Daily Mail

Ken Clarke exploits Mandelson’s differences with the Bank of England and Alistair Darling…

"Lord Mandelson was embroiled in a row with the Bank of England yesterday amid claims that ministers are divided over their response to the recession. The Bank rebuked the Business Secretary after he called on both the Bank and the Treasury to move faster to approve a scheme to help Britain’s struggling car industry… Kenneth Clarke, the shadow Business Secretary, said: "Mervyn King [the Bank’s Governor] is obviously annoyed that Peter Mandelson is dragging the Bank of England into the argument he’s having with Alistair Darling. Lord Mandelson knows perfectly well that he shouldn’t attack other members of the Government, but he’s showing signs of frustration that he’s not being allowed to do anything in his new job. What is important now is not personal rows between cabinet ministers, but that help is given as quickly as possible to improve credit availability to people who would buy cars if they could obtain loans." – Independent

…as the Business Secretary again refuses to accept that the Government has anything to apologise for

"Lord Mandelson has flatly rejected any suggestion the government "might have something to apologise for" or any degree of culpability for the recession. The remarks threaten to spark another political row centred on the business secretary, who was embroiled in a spat with the Bank of England on Wednesday over measures to help carmakers… The Tories seized on Lord Mandelson’s refusal to offer an apology as evidence of "division in the cabinet". George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, said: "If they can’t even agree about the need to apologise for mistakes, how can they possibly put those mistakes right?" – FT

Lord Laming’s devastating critique of the failings that doomed Baby P

"Lord Laming delivered a devastating critique of child protection in the wake of the Baby P scandal yesterday as he called for a far-reaching package of reforms from the cabinet table to the most junior frontline social workers… Michael Gove, the shadow Children’s Secretary, said the report was a "remarkable indictment of the state of child protection in this country". He said: "It is scathing about the unwieldy, overly bureaucratic nature of the regime currently in place. It reveals the problems we have with the information technology systems." Margaret Eaton, the chairwoman of the Local Government Association, admitted reform was needed. She said: "We are not here to make excuses – and striving to maintain the status quo is not nearly good enough." – Independent

"In an observation that may focus attention on Labour’s record of supporting marriage and the family, the social work chief hinted that more should be done to keep parents together. "Particular mention should be made of the part to be played by fathers, not least as good role models," Lord Laming said. "I believe the really important thing is that parenthood should be seen to be a lifetime commitment." – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday in Parliament: Michael Gove says case details of child deaths should be published in full

Questions over RBS’s billions stashed in tax havens

"A bank bailed out by the British taxpayer poured more than £25billion into tax avoidance schemes, it was revealed last night. The Royal Bank of Scotland – saved from collapse by a £20billion injection of public money – tied up collossal sums of cash in offshore havens… George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, said: ‘While Gordon Brown claims he will deal with offshore tax avoidance, he is increasing the government’s stake in banks that, like RBS, have offshore subsidiaries. It is another example of this government’s lack of a coherent strategy – and something will have to give soon’." – Daily Mail

Hague600 William Hague criticises Government’s division of G20 countries into two groups

"The British Foreign Office has risked sparking a diplomatic row after it emerged that countries attending next month’s G20 summit have been secretly divided into "high" and "low" priority groups. Officials regard only 11 of the countries attending the summit to be significant enough to be targeted as "high priority", according to a leaked memo… William Hague, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said: “The downgrading of some participants before they have even set foot in London sends completely the wrong message. In particular it is wrong for Commonwealth countries such as Australia and Canada to be put into the so-called second tier. So too are some of the world’s developing countries whose people will potentially be among those hardest hit by the global crisis.” – Daily Telegraph

Cabinet Office papers reveals there were fears over the 2003 Iraq dossier

"Fresh evidence of scepticism among intelligence staff when the government "sexed up" its Iraqi weapons dossier before the 2003 invasion has been revealed in documents disclosed yesterday by the Cabinet Office… The shadow foreign secretary, William Hague, said the documents shed "interesting light on the process by which the caveats in the joint intelligence committee’s original assessment of Iraq’s WMD programmes were stripped out of the dossier that was presented to parliament and the British people". – Guardian

BERR Committee raises doubts over Tory abolition of RDAs

"Conservative plans to axe regional development agencies are in trouble today after a committee of MPs warned businesses will suffer if they disappear. The MPs’ report highlights the "achievements" of the quangos set up to attract investment and jobs and the "broad and strong consensus" that they are badly-needed. The verdict is a major blow to the Tories, who have pledged to repeal the 1998 Act that created One NorthEast and Yorkshire Forward and hand their powers over economic development to local councils. To add to the embarrassment, the Business Committee which carried out the inquiry is led by Conservative MP Peter Luff, a close ally of party leader David Cameron" – Northern Echo

Harriet Harman and Alan Duncan’s "Dispatch Box tiff"

"For weeks Commons leader Harriet and her Tory shadow, Alan Duncan, have been cooing at each other over the dispatch box. The fact that Hunky Dunky is gay and Harriet is known as Harperson is beside the point. It is all too obvious that they adore each other… Hunky brandished a copy of the Mirror that featured an interview with Hattie. “May I congratulate you for being in the centrefold? In the past you have said that you think prime ministers’ wives ought to buy their clothes at Primark. Now you say that you love stilettos and shop there yourself.” At this Harriet leaned down to inspect her black patent leather stilettos. (Again, I am not making this up.) “I’m more Savile Row, I have to admit,” flounced Hunky. MPs were shouting at him now, presumably about footwear. He grimaced. “But not stilettos.” Hunky scrambled back to his script. “Might we conclude that this is preparation for you becoming prime minister yourself?” – Ann Treneman’s parliamentary sketch in The Times

Scots Tories urge support for newspapers

"Tory media spokesman Ted Brocklebank has called on the Scottish Government to re-consider its decision to switch its advertising to the internet in a bid to tackle the financial problems in the newspaper industry." – The Scotsman

> On CentreRight yesterday Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt lamented the loss of local newpapers

Simon Jenkins: This Thatcher mythology condemns her strengths and excuses her failings

"Margaret Thatcher is now taking her turn in the stocks as an originator of the recession. On the 25th anniversary of the coal strike, it is the fault of Thatcher and her battle with the miners. It is the fault of Thatcher, the deregulation fanatic. It is the fault of Thatcher and the idolatry of greed. Commentators of the left have pitted her against the noble miners’ leader, Arthur Scargill, in coalition with Karl Marx, socialism and king coal. Can we not see they were right all along? The politics of blame has found its narrative. This one is drivel. British history is getting like Soviet history under the commissars, a prisoner of the world view of its partisans. To see Scargill’s miners, of all lost causes, being trundled from their stables to do duty as prophets of the credit crunch is ludicrous." – Simon Jenkins in The Guardian

Jeff Randall compares Gordon Brown and Bernard Madoff

"What’s the difference between Bernard Madoff and Gordon Brown? Answer: one has drained fortunes from gullible victims, plundering their income and savings to create an illusion of prosperity. The other is going to jail." – Jeff Randall in the Daily Telegraph

Binyam Mohamed blames UK for his mistreatment BBC

4 out of 5 "knife yobs" avoid jailThe Sun

Brits run up £9 billion credit card interest billSky News


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