5pm Julia Manning on CentreRight: "Prescription charges for some people [low paid, diabetics, pensioners] should not be brought back in order to raise money. They should be brought back for everyone to help reverse our dependency culture and reinforce the message that we need to be in more control of our own healthcare, including being responsible when obtaining medication."
3.30pm Dan Hamilton on CentreRight: "The European People's Party group in the European Parliament has finally conceded, after seventeen acrimonious years and numerous rearguard actions to keep the party in the group, that its formal association with the Conservative Party is over."
- "I got the sucker"! Obama makes impressive kill of a fly during TV interview
- Hague tells Sky News that Tories don't want Blair to become President of EU
10.15am Graeme Archer on CentreRight: "Peter Mandelson is in charge of Everything, with the exception of gas and water. He has approximately 2,400 ministers, including Baroness Esther Rantzen of Luton Parkway (the Five Genitally-Shaped Fruit 'N Veg Per Day Tsarina), Lord Amstrad of Spurs (the Buy-To-Let Property Tsar – this government knows how to ride a wave!) and Shahid Malik MP, unless it transpires, as seems plausible, that Mr Malik is 'renting' one of his several forgotten offices from an outpost of the Amstrad Empire…"
- Free prescriptions for all must end, say Welsh Tories
- A letter complaining about Team Cameron's power is circulated to all Tory MPs
- President Tony Blair?
Seats and candidates: Simon Marcus adopted to take on Margaret Hodge (and BNP) in Barking
- Tim Montgomerie: Another disastrous week for Labour
- Ridley Grove: The political benefit of being reluctant cutters
Conservative MP Brian Binley claims £57,000 to rent flat from own company
"Initially, the arrangement for Mr Binley to pay his own company may have been within MPs’ rules. In 2005, the Green Book, which sets out parliamentary rules, stated that MPs were barred from claiming for “the costs of leasing accommodation from yourself”. However, in April 2006, the rules were tightened specifically to bar MPs from paying rent to their own companies. Following the change, the House of Commons fees office contacted Mr Binley to inform him that his arrangement was outside the rules." – Telegraph
Labour MP Jim Devine, former agent to Robin Cook, becomes fifth Labour backbencher to be sacked for dubious expense claims – Guardian
"MPs could be banned from employing their wives, husbands and children, Commons leader Harriet Harman said yesterday." – The Sun
Conservatives struggling to find new MEP allies
"David Cameron’s efforts to form a new group of anti-federalist MEPs have run into difficulty within days of the European parliamentary elections. After his pledge to quit the EU’s main centre-right bloc was criticised for isolating him from Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, recent attempts to avoid xenophobic allies are causing friction with his Czech partner. The Czech ODS, led by Mirek Topolánek, the former Prime Minister photographed naked at Silvio Berlusconi’s villa, wants as many parties as possible to join Mr Cameron’s group of MEPs to give it extra clout. But Mr Cameron is resisting the more populist candidates, such as Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League and the similarly inclined Danish People’s Party (DPP)." – Times
The Guardian is pleased that Ed Vaizey's policy for the arts is very similar to Labour's policy for the arts
"To all intents and purposes, this is Labour arts policy – which, after its post-1997 concentration on target-setting and diversifying audiences, adopted "excellence" as its buzzword, along with "participation", in the wake of the James Purnell-commissioned McMaster report. Vaizey responds: "Yes, there will be changes, but I am not pretending that they are massive ideological changes. I admit they are detailed points, and I am not going to pretend that an equally committed Labour minister wouldn't get them sorted if they had the same application."" – Guardian
Ann Widdecombe: We need more stopping and searching from police
"Police must stop and search at random in areas where there is trouble and where gangs roam. Anyone found with a knife should know that he or she will not be returning home that night and that loss of liberty is almost certain to follow. Those accompanying the knife-carrier should know they will face being sent home and subject to instant curfew." – Ann Widdecombe in The Express
John Bercow is a shameless, bumptious, expenses-fiddling greaser – Quentin Letts in The Daily Mail
Labour hits every home in Britain with a £6-a-year 'broadband tax' – Yorkshire Post
Unison threatens to cut election funding to cash-strapped Labour if it does not "do more" for public sector workers – Telegraph
"The Labour Party's struggle to raise a war chest with which to fight the next general election has intensified after Britain's second largest union said it was suspending donations to local parties. Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, said his members were tired of "feeding the hand that bites them". He told members at the union's national conference that it no longer wished to back candidates that supported further privatisation proposed by the Government, including a "privatisation of our NHS more radical than anything our members saw, even in the dark days of Thatcher"." – Independent
Darling rejects big changes to financial regulation
"Chancellor Alistair Darling is to announce later that he does not plan fundamental reform of the way UK financial institutions are regulated. Mr Darling will say the current regulatory system is not to blame for the credit crunch, according to speech extracts released by the Treasury. Instead, he wants to focus on improving the quality of judgement of regulators." – BBC
Secret Iraq inquiry will be seen as cover-up, warn Army and intelligence chiefs – Independent
Vince Cable attacks "sketchy" Tory plans for spending cuts
"Making explicit choices is surely preferable to an approach that cuts services indiscriminately. That is why it is necessary to take on some sacred cows: public-sector pensions (ending defined benefit schemes for new entrants and raising contribution rates); tax credits (embracing 2m recipients with well over average incomes); defence (involving vast long-term commitments to maintaining a worldwide role); and higher education for half the population." – LibDem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable writing in The Independent
Nick Clegg has called for the Trident nuclear deterrent to be scrapped – BBC
Alex Salmond challenges Unionist parties to multi-option referendum on Scottish independence – Times
Iran shows that the neocons were right
"The people of Iran might not get what we have. But in their millions, that is what they want. Really, they are just like us." – Daniel Finkelstein in The Times
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