3.45pm Latest on Local Government:
- Cllr Paul Scully on Lib Dem Sutton Council's £8.5 million immersive simulation experience
- Cllr Brian Coleman invites us to "Commend a Copper"
- Ken Clarke joins plea for Tory Councils to cut Council Tax
- Cameron urges more councils to trim council tax
- Our guide to contests continues with today's focus on North Yorkshire
- David Davis discusses the forthcoming elections on yesterday's Daily Politics
- Pilot ID card scheme to be launched in Manchester
David Cameron launches Tory local election campaign
"David Cameron has urged voters to use next month's local elections as a referendum on Gordon Brown's leadership, asking them to deliver a clear message to his "weak, useless and spineless" Government." – Independent | FT
Tories decline to commit on Crossrail
"The Conservative party refused to give unequivocal backing to the Crossrail project on Tuesday night in a move that could set it on a collision course with Boris Johnson, the Tory mayor. Mr Johnson is determined to press ahead with the new rail line, which will run from Maidenhead in the west of London to Abbey Wood in the east." – FT
Grayling attacks farcical trialling of ID cards in Manchester
""The government is split down the middle on ID cards but it looks as if Jacqui Smith is carrying on regardless," said the shadow home secretary Chris Grayling. "They should abandon this farce and scrap the whole scheme."" – Quoted by the BBC
The Financial Times warns the Tories to be more positive about Europe – FT leader
> Caroline Jackson launches another attack on David Cameron's decision to take the Conservatives out of the EPP
Dominic Grieve: Probation checks on murderers freed from jail are being reduced – The Sun
The Tories can't afford to insult state employees – Daniel Finkelstein in The Times
Interview with James Cleverly AM, Boris' 'youth ambassador'
"London's youth ambassador James Cleverly, brought in after mayor Boris Johnson's disastrous first appointment, tells Hélène Mulholland that there's more to the Tories' plans for young people than cracking down on crime." – Guardian
Boris meets Boris as Tussauds unveils waxwork of mayor – Guardian
10p tax hike (£42bn) needed 'to rescue British economy' – Daily Mail
As many as 100 Labour MPs may rebel on Royal Mail privatisation – Guardian
> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Ken Clarke confirms continued Tory support for Brown on Royal Mail
Brown retreats from Blairite agenda on schools
"In a sign of a clear shift from Blairite rhetoric about need for “choice” and “competition” in public sector reform, Mr Brown attacked those who “tackle school failure by relying on market forces”. Mr Brown said a Tory system would merely be exploited by well-to-do parents. “A whole generation failed – waiting for the market to work,” he said. “Power for a few parents, not for the many.”" – FT
ConservativeHome comment: "ConHome recently noted that The Times would swing to the Conservatives if it saw more evidence that Brown was abandoning a Blairite commitment to public service reform. Brown will pick up support among the public sector unions for yesterday's speech but he will have lost sympathy from Wapping's Thunderer."
Jane Moore: Brown and Blair betrayed us
"When we entrusted power to Tony Blair in 1997, he talked about the strong foundations of family life, how the welfare state should encourage work not dependency, and that we wouldn’t be paying more in taxes and getting less. But that’s all it was… talk. And his unelected successor is even worse. So now we’re truly angry, but we don’t need to picket or riot. Besides, we’re still too law-abiding for that." – Jane Moore in The Sun
Margaret Thatcher's 1974 election as Tory leader was an accident
"Sir Keith Joseph had been cajoled into standing against Ted Heath in 1974 after two electoral defeats. But with the persuasion of an aide, he made a speech about the poor breeding too fast and withdrew in the subsequent uproar. Horrified that no other Shadow Cabinet member apparently had the guts to challenge Ted, she decided to run, though sure she would not win. The Conservative Party was not ready for a woman leader. But her candidature might provoke a second ballot in which other senior Tories might enter the lists. Which is what happened – and the impressed backbenchers decided for her and against the faint-hearts. Poor thing! She was stunned and it took her a long time to find her feet." – Andrew Alexander in the Daily Mail
'Labour is most in thrall to Thatcherism'
"Brown's "Green New Deal" is pitifully small, and his ability to sell any policy is limited by his own lousy communication skills and his refusal to decisively cast off the shroud of Thatcher. Even the 50 per cent tax rate was introduced with a nervous, quaking commitment to reverse it once the recession ends. Who will point out that during America's largest boom – the 1950s – it had a 92 per cent top rate of tax under a Republican President? And so the window to a better, more social democratic Britain seems to be creaking shut. Gordon Brown stands frozen as his Blearsy-eyed colleagues hiss and snap all around him, protesting at even the tiniest nudges to the left. Why won't Labour let the Iron Lady rust?" – Johann Hari in The Independent
America is falling out of love with Britain – Max Hastings in the Daily Mail
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