5pm Latest from Parliament:
4.45pm Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight: Should our MPs take a lead from their 1930s predecessors and take a pay cut?
- Not everyone in the EU is secretive
- Many MEPs work very hard
- It is right to leave the EPP
- The EU matters
- We should try to get our own way in the EU
- We should be well informed critics.
11.30am WATCH: President Obama's message to the people of Iran
Chris Heaton-Harris MEP on Platform: A Beginner's Guide to the “Discharge of the European Budget”
- Cllr Jill Tuck explains how she is cutting red tape in Cambridgeshire
- Government to spend £2 million on twenty more "Young Mayors"
- Should Town Halls be hired out for "adult comedy"?
- David Cameron refuses to promise tax cuts in Sky News interview
- Barack Obama becomes the first serving US President to appear on Jay Leno's Tonight Show
"David Cameron promised yesterday that an incoming Conservative government will not behave like "flint-faced turbo-charged accountants" when it comes to public spending. That will come as a grave disappointment to many who believe the bloated public sector needs exactly that sort of approach. Mr Cameron's speech was intended to outline the Tory blueprint for solving Labour's debt crisis, a crisis that threatens to lead to the worst set of public finance figures in peacetime history, a budget deficit of 10 per cent of GDP and the threat of another humiliating visit to the IMF with the begging bowl. Aware that not even Barack Obama can enjoy a decent political honeymoon in the current climate, he told his audience: "The work to restore fiscal sanity will have to start on day one." – Daily Telegraph
"Mr Cameron steered away from a slash-and-burn attitude to the public sector, or to tax cuts at all costs. Sharing the proceeds of growth between higher spending, tax cuts and debt reduction has been replaced by the priority of debt reduction to aid recovery. Public service reform will continue, though he accepts that this will not produce expenditure savings in the short term. On public spending, he talks of getting “more for less”, a suggestion similar to the repeated theme of Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, in his speeches to civil servants. Mr Cameron stresses that “we’re not going to rest our whole strategy for living within our means on a simplistic list of efficiency savings”. There will be “serious pay restraint” for those “who work behind the front line in public administration”. – Peter Riddell in The Times
"Yesterday a speech by David Cameron gave the first indication that the Conservatives are beginning to grasp the public spending nettle. Mr Cameron ditched his aspiration to 'share the proceeds of growth', pledging instead to focus on 'paying down our debt'… Yesterday's speech was a significant step – but only a first step. A far fuller picture of Tory ideas is required, and it's not yet clear they have the courage to make the cuts that are necessary if the economy is ever to recover." – Daily Mail editorial
"Mr Cameron, fearful of antagonising public-sector workers, is reluctant to talk about cutting back on state programmes; but causing offence will be unavoidable, because it is inevitable that the Tories will have to challenge the post-war consensus on how those programmes are paid for. The party has radical proposals for public-sector reform that will reduce the size of the state, which seems immune to the economic crisis. Mr Cameron needs to construct a coherent and straightforward case for the state to spend less, borrow less, tax less and do less by getting out of areas where it is neither needed nor wanted. His speech was welcome; but he needs to be bolder still." – Telegraph editorial
"Ministers have shut down no extremist websites, despite promising a crackdown. Powers came in with the Terrorism Act 2006. The then PM Tony Blair warned: “The rules of the game are changing.” But the Tories last night revealed that the Government has since failed to take any action… Shadow Security Minister Baroness Neville-Jones said: “It is shocking the Government has failed to shut a single website, even though Parliament gave them that power. This smacks of dangerous complacency and incompetence. We’ve known for years that organisations like al-Qaeda" – The Sun
George Osborne on the IMF's gloomy analysis of the economic outlook
"Britain’s public finances will be in far worse shape than those of most other developed countries over the next two years, according to a new forecast released on Thursday by the International Monetary Fund. By 2010, Britain’s deficit will be much bigger relative to the size of its economy than even the US, and nearly twice as big as the average among G20 nations… Responding to the latest IMF forecasts George Osborne, shadow chancellor, said: “These dreadful figures show how the Labour government has given us the worst public finances in the developed world. When Gordon Brown sits down at the London summit next month, he will find himself as the person forecast to have both the worst budget deficit and the longest recession in the G20.” – FT
William Hague urges Obama to lift Cuba blockade
"The Conservative leadership has called on President Obama to lift the half-century-old American blockade of Cuba, in an attempt to pressure the Communist regime to change its ways. William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, became the first senior British politician to visit Cuba for many years this week, holding talks with the new foreign minister and other senior figures. He found that far from weakening the hardline Communist tendencies of the Cuban Government, the American blockade was continuing to reinforce them, and was being used as an excuse by ministers for the poor state of the economy and the locking up of dissidents… Mr Hague told The Times last night: “After nearly half a century it is time to try a different approach. The embargo seems to reinforce the hostility of Cubans to the United States and the lifting of it would remove the excuses used by the Cuban leadership to justify poor economic performance and human rights abuses." – The Times
"There is disappointment in the Conservative Party's ranks following news that Lynton Crosby is being lined up to run the far-right party Libertas's campaign for the European elections in June." – Independent
"I can't imagine that either The Jury Team or Libertas will be a roaring political success, but the moves by [Sir Paul] Judge and Crosby can't be welcome at Conservative HQ. Both men will be helping candidates run against official Conservative nominees. Surely, with the Conservatives riding high in the polls and set to form the next government, David Cameron should be attracting big defectors, not losing them?" – Michael Crick on the BBC Newsnight blog
> Yesterday afternoon ConservativeHome brought you the exclusive on Lynton Crosby's engagement by Libertas
Steve Richards outlines one policy which would "make the Tories look serious"
"There is one policy they could propose that would change everything. It would show how serious they were about repaying debt and doing so in a way that was fair. It would be dramatic, make every front page, top every news bulletin and throw Labour into turmoil. David Cameron and George Osborne could announce that they are scrapping their pledge to abolish inheritance tax… Imagine if the Tories announced that they were scrapping their pledge. Labour would either have to follow suit, looking weakly pathetic again. Or it would enter an election supporting a tax cut they do not believe in against the Tories claiming to be the progressive party of prudence and with ammunition to back up the claim. If Mr Osborne were to reverse his pledge on inheritance tax there would be the same beneficial impact for the Tories as there was when he made the proposal in the first place. I know some close to the leadership are contemplating such a move. I wonder if they will dare to make it." – Steve Richards writing in The Independent
Edward Leigh on the NAO's critical report on Northern Rock
"While depositors were queuing up outside branches to withdraw their money and the Treasury was pouring public money in to stabilise the Rock, the bank was still ploughing on with awarding mortgages of up to 125% of a property's value. Why didn't the Treasury demand an immediate stop to the reckless lending that got the bank into trouble in the first place?" – Edward Leigh quoted on the BBC website
"Tory MP Nicholas Soames is fighting the British National Party to stop them using his grandfather Winston Churchill's face on one of its promotion leaflets. Mr Soames said he was taking "all possible steps" to prevent the far-right wing party using the wartime prime minister's image on a leaflet entitled "This Britain is Yours!". The 61-year-old said he was "disgusted" by the BNP's use of a photograph of his grandfather to push its so-called Battle For Britain election campaign." – Daily Telegraph
Tory-run Hillingdon will fund D-Day veterans' trips to Normandy as Brown dithers and dallies
"Gordon Brown led a remarkable Labour U-turn yesterday over the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings this summer. The Prime Minister indicated he would be happy to attend a commemoration ceremony in Normandy on June 6. At the same time, the Ministry of Defence, which has consistently refused to give any assistance to veterans who want to travel to France, agreed to hold new talks with their leaders… Ray Puddifoot, leader of Hillingdon Council in West London, said his authority would pay the travel costs of veterans in the borough, and urged other councils to offer similar support. He said: 'The Government has pushed the country towards financial bankruptcy – now they seem to be adding moral bankruptcy. These veterans were there when their country needed them. Now we must be there for them when they need us'." – Daily Mail
Twenty lazy Labour MPs to be told to pull their weight – Daily Telegraph
European leaders reject calls for a further fiscal stimulus – Times
Police and immigration officials lacked enthusiasm for ID cards when they were proposed – Daily Telegraph
Former Health Secretary Hewitt backs law change over assisted suicide – Guardian
George Galloway to be banned from Canada – The Sun
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