10pm WATCH: Jon Snow interviews Daniel Hannan MEP and Derek Draper on tonight's Channel Four News

8.45pm ToryDiary: Has President Obama requested to meet David Cameron next week?

7.30pm ToryDiary: Tory lead still 10% in latest YouGov poll – and people say public spending is too high

7pm Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight: Is Ed Balls's candour about his ambition to be Chancellor foolish or refreshing – or both?

Picture 116.30pm ToryDiary: The Conservatives declare victory in the battle of the fiscal stimulus

5.15pm Local Government: Conservative Councils charge lower Council Tax than Labour and the Lib Dems.

5pm WATCH: Sky News's Tim Marshall on the impending police investigation into claims of torture from ex-Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed

4pm Iain Murray debuts on CentreRight: "The fact is that we can tackle virtually every 'environmental' issue without going down the road to ecological serfdom"

3.45pm International: Czech Prime MInister Topolanek brands Obama's fiscal stimulus as "the way to hell"

3.15pm WATCH Two clips from today's Daily Politics:

1pm Parliament: MEPs call for the Strasbourg Parliament to be scrapped

Picture 4 12.45pm Jeremy Hunt on CentreRight: Why we need an urgent review of regulations on local newspaper ownership

12.30pm Tim Montgomerie on CentreRight: All green issues are not the same

Noon Parliament: What is the state of Armed Forces accommodation?

11am Roger Helmer MEP on CentreRight: Christopher Beazley and Caroline Jackson are wrong about the EPP

10.45am Parliament: What is the best way to tackle AIDS in Africa?

9.30am Charlie Elphicke on CentreRight: Do we risk a Gilt Strike? – "Sterling has collapsed on World markets – falling by some 30%. Our recession will be deeper than elsewhere, with a 3%-5% contraction on the cards this year. Our budget deficit at 10% of GDP will be higher than elsewhere. If the World is your oyster, why should you buy British Government debt when interest rates are so low and the risks so high?"

CAMERON DAVID FACEToryDiary: David Cameron sets out the moral, economic and political case for fiscal responsibility

Philip Booth on Platform: The case for privatising the Bank of England

Local Government:

Seats and Candidates:


Shadow Cabinet takes campaign for tax breaks on savers around the country today

"Conservatives will put pressure on Chancellor Alistair Darling to adopt their proposal for tax breaks for savers in his April 22 Budget. Shadow cabinet ministers, including leader David Cameron, are visiting all corners of Britain to talk to savers and pensioners and explain their plan to abolish tax on savings for basic rate taxpayers. Mr Cameron argues that the move would not only boost the economy by putting more spending money into people's pockets, but would also ease the pressure on savers who have seen their income fall as the base interest rate tumbled from 5% to 0.5% since September 2008." – Press Association

OSBORNE GEORGE NW George Osborne raises concerns over yesterday's failed gilt auction

"A UK government bond auction failed for the first time in seven years on Wednesday, a sign of intensifying strains in bond markets over record amounts of debt issuance needed to pay for the bills of recession, stimulus packages and bank bail-outs." – FT

"Today's failed gilt auction should be of real concern to everyone. It is too early to say, but the risk is that at some point the Government will not be able to fund its huge debts, and that could push up interest rates for families and businesses at the worst possible time. The fact that the Government cannot sell its debt the day after the Bank of England Governor warned about too much borrowing vindicates the argument the Conservatives have made about the dangers of Labour's debt crisis." – Shadow Chancellor George Osborne quoted in the Daily Mail

Ken Clarke provokes another media frenzy on inheritance tax

"Ken Clarke, the shadow business secretary, admitted yesterday that he did not know how a future Conservative government would afford its key pledge to take all but millionaires out of inheritance tax. The Conservatives are sticking to their policy to effectively cut inheritance tax for those in properties worth more than £300,000, despite a new commitment last week that a future Conservative government would reduce government debt rather than offer tax cuts. They said the policy had been independently costed and the estimated £3bn required to lift the inheritance tax threshold could be raised by charging non-domiciled UK resident workers, so-called "non-doms", £25,000 a year to live and work in the UK. But yesterday, when challenged as to whether the number of non-doms would remain high enough – nearly 150,000 – to fund this proposal, Clarke said: "We don't know how many non-doms will be here, we don't know how much our policy of raising fair taxation from foreigners who work in this country will raise, so within a parliament we will implement a promise. We are committed to it." – Guardian

"On Wednesday night Mr Clarke’s spokesman said that the shadow business secretary had merely been “stating the obvious”. "I don’t know, you don’t know how many non-doms there will be in this country in one year or two years’ time,” he said. “But the figures produced at the time of the announcement were based on the best estimates for the number." – FT

Shadow of debt mountain forces Gordon Brown to back off tax cuts

"Gordon Brown sounded a retreat yesterday from injecting more borrowed cash into the economy, amid evidence that confidence in Britain’s ability to repay its record debts is faltering. The Prime Minister played down the prospect of further tax cuts in the Budget the day after Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, warned that the country might not be able to afford a second fiscal stimulus." – The Times

Spelman-Caroline-on-QT "Negligent" councils broke rules to invest in Icelandic banks

"Local authorities ignored warnings and “negligently” put nearly £33 million of taxpayers’ money in Icelandic banks days before their collapse, the local government spending watchdog says today. As the Government announces that council tax is set to rise by 3 per cent next month, it has emerged that 127 councils — one in four — have nearly £1 billion in the banks, with little sign of getting it back… Parliamentary questions tabled by the Conservatives have also revealed that the Financial Services Authority knew of the risks in Icelandic banks at the beginning of last year and told the Treasury and the Bank of England. Both institutions failed to inform the Department for Communities and the Audit Commission. “It is a scandal that the Financial Services Authority and the Treasury knew the Icelandic banks were at risk, but failed to sound the alarm bell or issue any warnings,” said Caroline Spelman, the Shadow Communities Secretary." – The Times

Council tax bills have doubled under Labour, say Tories

"Typical families are paying £726 more in council tax since Labour came to power, according to research. The figure reflects increases in local taxation over the past dozen years in the form of 'stealth taxes'. This year's bills  -  to be confirmed in figures to be released today  -  will be more than double the £688 charged to a family living in a benchmark Band D residence in England in 1997-98." – Daily Mail

Coverage of yesterday's speech by Theresa May on welfare reform

"Gordon Brown was last night accused of dragging Britain ­towards a “social catastrophe” of dependency on benefits. In a scathing attack, the Tories called for an end to “doling out money left, right and centre” to undeserving claimants languishing on state support. The message, calling for a radical overhaul of the benefits system, was delivered yesterday by the new Shadow Welfare and Pensions Secretary Theresa May. She denied the Tories were ditching ­welfare reform after the jobless total climbed to two million for the first time in a decade. Instead, a Conservative government would ensure benefits are time-limited so long-term claimants cannot get the dole ­unless they do community work." – Daily Express

> Yesterday's ToryDiary

Iraq war inquiry will be held in private

"The Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, angered critics of the Iraq war yesterday when he indicated that a long-awaited inquiry into the planning and execution of the conflict, promised by the Prime Minister, would be held behind closed doors… The shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said there was no "reasonable impediment" to beginning the inquiry straight away. He called on Mr Miliband to make an announcement before Parliament breaks up for the summer. "This should have been done long ago," he said. "It is alarming that by setting a date of 31 July, when Parliament will have adjourned for the summer, the Government are now dragging out at the setting up of an inquiry until the autumn. This is unacceptable." – Independent

> Yesterday's ToryDiary

Daniel Hannan speaking Daniel Hannan is a YouTube hit

"An MEP's withering attack on Gordon Brown in which he likens him to a "Brezhnev era apparatchik" has become a surprise hit on the internet… The three-and-a-half minute speech, which drew cheers and laughter from fellow MEPs in Strasbourg, was not covered on mainstream broadcasts. But it was posted on the video sharing website YouTube shortly after the sitting and attracted 90,000 viewers within 24 hours after being picked up by US news outlets and political blogs." – Daily Telegraph

Update: As at 8am, it had been viewed 637,625 times

> Last night's ToryDiary: Daniel Hannan MEP becomes a worldwide internet phenomenon

Government to allow abortion clinics to advertise on television

"Abortion clinics are to be allowed to advertise on television and radio for the first time… The proposals by the Advertising Standards Authority will give Britain among the world's most liberal broadcasting regimes on sexual health services. The watchdog claims it is responding to Government calls for action to combat rising teenage pregnancy. But its plans were furiously condemned last night by family campaigners and MPs… The Conservative MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, Nadine Dorries, described the lifting of the advertising controls as 'insane'. Mrs Dorries, who is leading calls for a cut in the upper limit for so-called 'social' abortions from 24 weeks to 20, said: 'The very last thing we want to see is advertisements for abortion services in the middle of a break for a programme like This Morning'." – Daily Mail

Recession pressures lead to drop in laws

"The number of new laws being passed by the Government has dropped for the first time in 18 years as ministers concentrate on fighting the economic downturn. Research by a top City law firm shows that the amount of legislation created during 2008 was the lowest since 1991 – the height of the last major economic slowdown. Just 2,037 new laws were made last year compared to 2,346 in 2007, a fall of 13 per cent and the lowest level for 18 years." – Daily Telegraph

Gordon Brown tells Matthew d’Ancona why he is so preoccupied with national identity

"The first time I went to America I looked at [how] people thought of themselves as Americans, and went into bookshops in America and found there were so many books about the idea of America, the values of America, the identity of America, what America is and who Americans are. And then I looked at the debate in Britain, and found that we were so wedded to the idea of evolution that we had not considered that — actually — our national identity, more so than America, and earlier than America, was founded on our values." – Gordon Brown quoted in The Spectator

NelsonFraser Fraser Nelson: 45p tax was all about entrapping the Tories

"The 45p tax for the rich proposed by Gordon Brown has but one purpose: to entrap the Tories. For five months they resisted the bait, refusing to endorse or reject the new tax. Then last week Mr Osborne declared that the tax would be ‘difficult to avoid’. It is hard to see why. The 45p tax is scheduled for April 2011 so, to avoid it, Chancellor Osborne would only have to refrain from introducing it: simplicity itself. The Institute for Fiscal Studies says the tax would raise ‘approximately nothing’ simply because those targeted (people who earn more than £150,000) would hire better accountants, or emigrate. It is always the case with high rates of tax. So no plausible economic argument is being made for this tax. The balancing act being carried out by Osborne is political rather than fiscal." – Fraser Nelson in The Spectator

Obituary of Tim Brinton, former Conservative MP for GravesendGuardian

Obama strategists recruited to advise BrownDaily Telegraph

Gordon Brown's world tour reaches BrazilBBC

Ed Balls hints at leadership ambitionsDaily Telegraph

Extent of council spying revealedBBC


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