6.15pm Local Government: Durham Labour councillors increase their allowances by 20%

2.15pm5.15pm ToryDiary update: Mystery surrounds reportedGeorge Osborne's spokesman rubbishes reports of a Tory plan to "massively cut" civil service

11.45am Alex Deane on CentreRight points us to seven myths about taxing the rich

Picture 111.30am WATCH: Andrew Lansley discusses plans to give all patients access to their medical records

ToryDiary: Tory "wiki-health" plan would let patients access, amend and share medical records online Updated at 10am after Andrew Lansley's appearance on the Andrew Marr show

Alistair Thompson on Platform: The next Conservative Government should issue shares in the nationalised banks to every UK taxpayer

Mark Wallace in Local Government: David Cameron should take heart from the increasing number of quangocrats who are fighting each other for survival

WATCH: Speaker Bercow says he want to strengthen Parliament at the expense of the power of the Executive

Tories "plan to increase VAT to 20%"

"The Tories plan to hike VAT to 20 per cent within days if they win the next General Election. Shadow Chancellor George Osborne will also announce massive job cuts to the civil service — scrapping entire government departments — to slash public spending… Economists predict increasing VAT to 20p in the pound would raise £20 billion over four years. And Mr Osborne believes his civil service plan — involving scrapping large quangos, merging government departments and dramatically reducing manpower — would save £80 billion over the same period." – News of the World

Picture 6 "Last night, a Tory spokesman attempted to dismiss suggestions that they would raise the tax to 20 per cent. However, if the move does go ahead, the exact tax-raising model they are likely to follow is a Treasury plan to raise VAT to 20 per cent worked on in detail in 2001, when Tony Blair was prime minister and Mr Brown was chancellor, but which was never implemented." – Sunday Telegraph

> Last night's ToryDiary: Tories deny plans for 20% VAT

> Recent ToryDiary: Sir John Major raises the prospect of 5p on the basic rate of income tax and VAT at 20%

Charlie Elphicke on the state of the public finances

"A Tory government might have to order a mass sale of public assets, including Channel 4, and delay the upgrade of the Trident nuclear deterrent if it is to avoid "carnage" of frontline public services, a Tory candidate close to the shadow chancellor, George Osborne, says today. The warning from tax lawyer Charlie Elphicke, Tory candidate for Dover and Deal, who is a key figure in the party's future economic team, was issued with the authority of Osborne's office." – Observer

Read Charlie Elphicke's article in full here

It's time for tough decisions on state spendingSunday Telegraph editorial

John Whittingdale questions BBC Today presenter Evan Davis's role at think-tank

"The BBC has allowed leading journalist Evan Davis to remain a key member of a policy think-tank while forcing newsreader George Alagiah to step down as patron of a charity over a ‘conflict of interest’. Mr Davis, who presents Radio 4’s Today programme, sits on the policy advisory board of the Social Market Foundation, which sets out to influence the political agenda… John Whittingdale, the Tory culture committee chairman, said: ‘If the BBC are going to be absolutely determined to avoid any criticism, many of the same arguments would apply to Evan Davis as apply to George Alagiah’." – Mail on Sunday

Michal Kaminski After the false claims of homophobia and anti-Semitism, Michal Kamiński is now accused of being too pro-European

"David Cameron's new alliance in the European Parliament hit fresh controversy last night when it emerged that its Polish leader had spoken out in favour of the Lisbon Treaty, which the Tories say would be a disaster for Britain and Europe… But inquiries by the Observer reveal that Kaminski, from the Polish Law and Justice party, has praised the treaty as a good deal for Poland and is not opposing its progress into law. In a further embarrassment for Cameron, Kaminski has also called for his party to unite with others in support of the common agricultural policy (Cap), which the Tories regard as the epitome of EU waste." – Observer

> Last week's ToryDiary: Timothy Kirkhope rebuts the smears against Michal Kamiński

Roger Helmer claims that homophobia is a "propaganda device"

"One of David Cameron's MEPs and close friend of the controversial Polish politician at the centre of a row over anti-Semitism has sparked fury by claiming that homophobia does not exist…. He added: "'Homophobia' is merely a propaganda device designed to denigrate and stigmatise those holding conventional opinions, which have been held by most people through most of recorded history. It is frightening evidence of the way in which political correctness is threatening our freedom. " – Independent on Sunday

Daniel Craig's stepbrother as Cameron's "philosopher king"

"James Bond actor Daniel Craig’s stepbrother has been given a major role by David Cameron devising policies aimed at ousting Labour from power. Theology lecturer Phillip Blond’s celebrity link is revealed today as he defends the controversial views that have led some to call him the Conservative leader’s ‘Red Tory philosopher king’." – Mail on Sunday

Lewis-Julian-2 Julian Lewis wins PCC adjudication over News of the World's false second home claims

"The Commission was not impressed with the newspaper's evidence for claiming that Dr Lewis was 'hardly' at his constituency home: there seemed to be no convincing reason to doubt his assertion that he was there regularly throughout the year. Nor had the newspaper been able to substantiate the claim that he had sought to 'censor' the story… The central claims in the story were therefore misleading, and… the Commission was satisfied that Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code had been breached and upheld the complaint. " – News of the World

> Julian Lewis's initial rebuttal of the claims and attack on the role of Norman Baker in endorsing them

Patrick Mercer demands resignations over MoD failure to send vehicles to Afghanistan

"More than 1,000 armoured vehicles are being stored at a depot in Britain instead of being sent to troops on the front line in Afghanistan, it was revealed last night… Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a former infantry commanding officer, said last night: ‘Even if you are training with vehicles or holding some in reserve, you don’t need to store 1,000 vehicles in a garage in the middle of nowhere. Our troops need these vehicles and they need them now. There must be no excuses. MoD officials must resign over this issue’." – Mail on Sunday

Denis MacShane mourns the impending retirements of some independent-minded Conservative MPs

"Farewell to Tory MPs such as Ann Widdecombe, Nicholas Winterton and Anthony Steen. Labour MPs will never forget the courage of Widdecombe as she stood tiny and alone on the Tory benches to denounce foxhunting. Nicholas Winterton is a stout rightist wearing his £ lapel badge to tell the world he does not like Europe. Yet in the 1980s he was alone in denouncing Robert Mugabe's massacres in Matabeleland… Steen is a lone voice in the Commons raising with a persistence bordering on the manic the plight of young children who disappear from local-authority care. He has single-handedly made into a Commons issue the hidden slavery of young girls trafficked as prostitutes to satiate the dirty old men in our community." – Labour MP Denis MacShane writing in The Observer

HANNAN DAN Daniel Hannan wants to see more Open Primaries

"British politics changed last week – utterly, permanently and benignly. The
selection of the Conservative candidate in Totnes through an open primary,
on an impressive turnout of 24 per cent, will purge our body politic. Whips
will be weaker and backbenchers stronger; Parliament will again become a
proper check on ministers; MPs will be more representative of their
communities; the disenchantment that we saw during the recent expenses
crisis will be assuaged." – Daniel Hannan writing in the Sunday Telegraph 

Michael Portillo discusses the Totnes selection and Speaker Bercow in the Sunday Times

> Jonathan Isaby: In praise of the Totnes Open Primary

"Spin doctors" swoop on safe seats

"The next election was supposed to mark a fresh start for Britain’s political system with a new intake of MPs untainted by Westminster scandal. It has now emerged, however, that more than 50 prospective candidates chosen by the main parties are already working as lobbyists and public relations executives and are deeply enmeshed in the world of spin and politics." – Sunday Times

A further 60 Labour MPs will quit before the electionObserver

Rafael Behr: "The Tories think the internet favours them; They're wrong"

"The Tories have got the campaigning part sewn up. They've never had a go at the e-governing part, but flatter themselves that they'd be pretty good at it. In every sector, the disruptive force of the internet has tended to be centrifugal and atomising – dispersing power to individual consumers. That, David Cameron believes, makes it inherently conservative. This is what he means when he bangs on about the "post-bureaucratic age". And he isn't pretending. Cameron is too image-obsessed to use such an ugly phrase unless he thinks it is profound." – Rafael Behr in The Observer

Tories accepted £50,000 from landowner allegedly using illegal pesticidesSunday Times

Boris plans "fete week"Sunday Express

Harriet Harman's half-hearted week in charge of the countryMail on Sunday

Ed Miliband nearly quit politics after "mid-life wobble"Mail on Sunday

Mandelson considers plan to give poorer pupils lower A-Level grade offers for universitySunday Times

David Miliband and Alan Johnson: We firmly oppose torture, but it is impossible to eradicate all riskSunday Telegraph

Frank Field MP: Slash the BBC licence feeSunday Times


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