4.15pm Zac Goldsmith on CentreRight contrasts how the judicial system treats a paedophile and a 'mercy-killer'
3.30pm Local government:
12.15pm Forthright opinions on CentreRight:
- Mark Wallace: "Foreign Office Ministers need to ask themselves: which is best for Britain and for Pakistan – defeating violent, organised terror plots targeted at Pakistani and British civilians, or organising sports exchanges between Rugby and Kabbadi teams?"
- Melanchthon: I fear that Trident II is an obsolete vanity weapon
- Windsor and Maidenhead Conservative Council announce 4% council tax cut
- Pay freeze for local government announced
ConservativeIntelligence's 'Guide to the Tory manifesto' conference:
Oliver Letwin outlines key Tory themes and warns of extreme financial environment
"When it came to domestic policy, the uniting thread would be "decentralisation, accountability and transparency"… It would mean payment by results in areas such as prisoner rehabilitation and in getting people back into work – where [Letwin] felt that any private employment agencies would have to work hard to earn their living in these difficult times." – Iain Watson for the BBC
"Oliver Letwin, the Tories’ policy chief, told a London conference on Wednesday that manifesto commitments would not “increase the overall expenditures” in the short term, and were an “indispensable part of balancing the books” in the medium to long term. He refused to be drawn on suggestions that what he termed the “extreme fiscal environment” would force a Conservative government to limit its first-term pledge of recognising marriage in the tax system to parents of young children."- FT
"We have developed a business plan for each department which sets out quite specifically what that department is going to achieve over the course of a Parliament, what it will seek to achieve in the months after the election, what legislation is required, what kinds of administrative action is required, what kind of secondary legislation is required, what kinds of things need to be done in order to prepare these steps, how long they are likely to take and so forth," [Letwin] said." – Press Association
ConservativeIntelligence's 'Guide to the Tory manifesto' conference:
Michael Fallon and Lord Forsyth warn of deep spending cuts
"Speaking at the ConservativeIntelligence's Tory conference in Westminster, which was addressed by the party's policy co-ordinator Oliver Letwin, Forsyth said there is now "only one game in town" – achieving economic growth and cutting the public sector. "On the crisis, overall it seems to me that we need to be able to reduce the overall level of public expenditure over a parliament by about £75bn," Forsyth said as he went further than the Tory leadership which has shied away from spelling out the exact extent of cuts. "This is not going to be easy stuff … Taxes should not go up. Part of the problem is that taxes are far too high. The government is taking far too much. If we continue like this … we are actually going to destroy our economy. We have to face up to this and make these reductions." Forsyth insisted that he was saying what should happen, rather than what would happen. "I am answering the question what should happen not what will," he said." – Guardian
"Michael Fallon, the senior Tory MP on the Treasury Select Committee, also called on his party to embrace deeper cuts. He told the conference: "I would expect the manifesto to be much more realistic than we have been hitherto about the size and scope of public services we can afford." He added: "The emergency budget [within 50 days of the election] will be the crisis budget. We can't afford for the crisis to build up. We can't wait till 2011." Mr Fallon, a former minister, predicted that the Tories would axe immediately "large capital projects" and "some frothy departmental expenditure" such as outside consultants, quangos and NHS bureaucracy." – Independent
> If you would like to buy a copy of the ConIntelligence guide to the Tory manifesto please click here.
Jeremy Hunt attacks Labour's £6-a-year phone line tax
"Labour's new "broadband tax" will hit more than three million households which have no plans to go on the internet, the Tories revealed last night. Chancellor Alistair Darling unveiled a scheme late last year for a £6-a-year tax on every home with a fixed line phone – 23 million households. The £175million raised will fund plans for super-fast broadband across Britain. But the Tories say millions of people – including cash-strapped pensioners – will be paying for a service they will never use." – The Sun
The Sun Says calls it a "poll tax on the internet".
Jeremy Hunt: I want a light-touch regulatory environment to enable digital media businesses to thrive – NewMediaAge
Daily Mail backs Tories on marriage
Marriage "is one issue on which there's a clear divide between the parties. And it's one on which everyone who cares about our children and the health of our society should side firmly with David Cameron." – Daily Mail leader
"Despite his wobble a couple of weeks ago, when in his own words he 'messed up', David Cameron is showing he does have some convictions, and that he can be brave when it comes to defending them." – Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail
David Cameron should honour his marriage vow – Ferdinand Mount in The Spectator
Family values have the Tories in a twist – Steve Richards in The Independent
The Tories plan a radically different education system, with new schools – James Forsyth in The Spectator
Fall in official unemployment rate masks rise in the 'hidden jobless' – Independent
One in five young Brits remain out of work – The Sun
"There's a temptation to look at these things through a racial lens, but class is the more important issue. We have two classes in this country: those who work, and those who don't. There is an unprecedented number of people more able and more willing to rely on the welfare state to provide for them, rather than provide for themselves. In previous recessions there wasn't this degree of dependence on the state." – Tory candidate Shaun Bailey in The Independent
Annabel Goldie warns Labour not to fan Scottish nationalism if David Cameron becomes PM – Telegraph
A bill aiming to give terminally ill people the right to die is to be published at the Scottish Parliament – BBC
I'll testify any time you want, Gordon Brown tells Iraq Inquiry – Daily Mail
"Jack Straw is to become the latest high-profile figure to give evidence to an official inquiry into the war in Iraq. He was Foreign Secretary between 2001 and 2006, covering the lead up to the 2003 invasion and its aftermath. Mr Straw is likely to be asked about a letter he wrote to Tony Blair suggesting there was not enough support for military intervention… In the letter, Mr Straw wrote: "There is at present no majority inside the Parliamentary Labour Party for any military action against Iraq." He also warned: "We have also to answer the big question – what will this action achieve? There seems to be a larger hole in this than on anything."" – Sky
Harriet Harman to make inequality a key dividing line with Conservatives – Guardian
General Election Night might be saved after all
"Survey finds that returning officers in more than half of the UK's 650 constituencies will be starting their counts when polls closed – rather than waiting till the next day." – Guardian
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