"Prince Charles’s charity The Prince’s Trust is facing an investigation into a potentially illegal donation to the Conservative Party. The £10,050 was channelled through the group Women2Win, which is backed by David Cameron and campaigns to get more women Tory candidates. Last night, Women2Win said it was prepared to repay the money to the trust – as the Charity Commission said it was examining what appears to be a clear contravention of the law banning charities from funding political parties… At the centre of the inquiry is a joint fundraising lunch arranged by The Prince’s Trust with Women2Win at the Commons nearly two years ago, with Lady Thatcher as guest of honour. Twelve people paid a total of £20,100 to meet her. The money was collected by The Prince’s Trust, which then paid half the proceeds to Women2Win." – Mail on Sunday
Tories demand inquiry into Binyam Mohamed’s allegations of torture
"MPs have demanded a judicial inquiry into a Guantanamo Bay prisoner’s claims that MI5 was complicit in his torture. In a Mail on Sunday interview, UK resident Binyam Mohamed claims MI5 fed his US captors questions which led him to make a false confession… The Conservatives have called for a police inquiry into his allegations of British collusion. [Shadow justice secretary] Dominic Grieve called for a judicial inquiry into the allegations. "And if the evidence is sufficient to bring a prosecution then the police ought to investigate it," he added… Former Conservative shadow home secretary David Davis accused the government of "stonewalling" by referring the claims to the Attorney General rather than the Director of Public Prosecutions. "What appears to have happened is they have been turning blind eyes," he added." – BBC
> Binyam Mohamed interview – Mail on Sunday
First two soldiers murdered in Northern Ireland for 12 years – BBC
Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson has this morning released the following statement:
"Our deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of all those murdered and injured in this cowardly attack. Those who commit these acts have no popular support. They must be brought to justice as soon possible and they cannot be allowed to disrupt the progress that has been made in making a better Northern Ireland for all."
Employment minster Tony McNulty was accused of misleading parliament by Labour and Tory MPs last night after leaked documents suggested he had suppressed figures that highlight the failure of the government’s flagship welfare policy… Shadow work and pensions secretary Theresa May said secretary of state for work and pensions James Purnell should apologise for the "cover-up". "James Purnell’s department has been caught red-handed, hiding damning figures and indulging in the dark arts of spin to cover up how badly their so-called flagship programme is doing," she said. "If ministers are not upfront about the problems in the department, how can they ever make any headway in solving them? Labour has wasted 10 years when they could have carried out wholesale reform to the welfare system." – Observer
Newsweek introduces "Nice Guy" David Cameron to the world as Britain’s next Prime Minister
"You’d never know it from the graceful, self-confident address he made to a joint session of the U.S. Congress last week, but Prime Minister Gordon Brown is on the way out. That, in any event, is the growing consensus in Britain. The polls and the political chatter point toward a victory by the Conservatives under David Cameron in the next election, to be held sometime within the next 15 months." – Newsweek
"A new political party aimed at “cleaning up politics” is being set up by a multi-millionaire businessman. Sir Paul Judge, a former Tory grandee, believes the power of the internet and disillusionment with sleaze make the time right for a party dedicated to independent thought and open governance. Judge hopes the new party will act as a lightning rod for voters alienated by Westminster’s tribal divisions and endemic scandals. It aims to field a full complement of 72 candidates in the European elections in June as a prelude to campaigning in the next general election, which must take place by June 2010. The party has no specific policies and no manifesto. Instead, it will select its candidates by public vote from anyone who puts themselves forward, provided they are committed to the principles of good governance, including selflessness, integrity, openness and honesty." – Sunday Times
> Sir Paul Judge writes about his new venture in the Sunday Times
Gordon Brown’s 30,000ft tantrum: "I have nothing to apologise for. It is not my fault. Get in the real world."
"The full depth of Gordon Brown’s anger over suggestions that he should apologise for the recession was laid bare in extraordinary scenes on the Prime Minister’s plane last week, 30,000 feet over the Atlantic. In recent weeks, Mr Brown has been under growing pressure from fellow Ministers, including Peter Mandelson, Alistair Darling and Ed Balls, who fear his refusal to say sorry could hinder the Government’s chances of winning public support for his economic recovery plan… But Mr Brown has vehemently resisted the moves – and his anger boiled over in a series of outbursts during his trip to see US President Barack Obama. The Prime Minister stormed: ‘You want me to go on television and apologise, but I am not going to do it. I have nothing to apologise for. It is not my fault. Get in the real world’." – Mail on Sunday
Matthew d’Ancona: Gordon Brown must apologise, and quickly
"Brown must say sorry: not in order to subject himself to some abject humiliation or for profoundly moral and theological reasons. The apology that is required is not penitence on bended knee, but an outstretched hand: "Most of these things happened on my watch in my 10 years as Chancellor. I am sorry that you are suffering financially and I am sorry for my part in that. I wish I could have done more to prevent it. Now I seek your trust so I can repair the damage and prevent it ever happening again." Not so awful, is it, Gordon?" – Matthew d’Ancona writing in the Sunday Telegraph
John Rentoul: "When Nick Clegg speaks to Lib Dems in Harrogate today, he could tell them, without sounding ridiculous, to go back to their constituencies and prepare for government."
"The Lib Dem leader has positioned himself astutely for the possibility of a hung parliament. He has done two important things. One, he has reinterpreted the old Paddy Ashdown policy of equidistance… He would look first to work with whichever party won more seats… The second thing that Clegg has done to prepare for a hung parliament is to say that electoral reform is "not a deal breaker". – John Rentoul writing in the Independent on Sunday
> Nick Clegg to tell spring conference: "The Conservatives will never be a party of change" – BBC
"When Arthur Scargill decided to use the miners’ union to take on
Margaret Thatcher in 1984, they both knew that the stakes were high.
Extraordinarily, had she not defeated his strike, it would have been
the third time in a decade that the unions had brought down an elected
government… The strike, during which I was secretary of state for trade and
industry, was about more than the future of the miners or the coal
industry. It was about the very future of democracy in Britain." – Norman Tebbit in the Mail on Sunday
Labour MP Tom Harris calls for an all-party effort to tackle the benefits culture
"No matter who wins the arguments in the TV newsrooms and the Commons about who should accept the blame, our society will remain hobbled by benefits dependency. No single party, I’m convinced, has all the answers. James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has proposed some of the most radical changes yet to the welfare state. But just because Labour is in Government does not give us a monopoly on solutions. Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa May, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, have much to add to this debate, as has Frank Field, the Labour MP who was asked by Tony Blair to ‘think the unthinkable’ back in 1997, who did – and was sacked for his efforts." – Mail on Sunday
> Fraser Nelson also considers the need for welfare reform in his News of the World column
David Cameron to open new galleries at the British Museum – Observer
Tory MP’s attack on the Speaker "censored" by parliamentary journal – Mail on Sunday
Stanley Johnson on how he became an MEP – Sunday Times
President Obama to roll out the red carpet for Martin McGuinness (much to Gordon Brown’s fury) – News of the World
Derek Simpson re-elected as joint Unite leader – Observer
Brown plans international onslaught on abuses of the banking system – Sunday Herald
Minister plan to reduce speed limit in rural roads to 50mph – Sunday Telegraph
Peter Hain warns Brown he is running out of time – Independent on Sunday
Harman less popular than Mandelson among Labour members – Sunday Telegraph
Lib Dems hijack Kate Winslet in touched-up advertisement – Independent on Sunday
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