3.15pm Local government:
12.45pm Melanchthon on CentreRight: "If you're Greece, and you have been consistently ill-disciplined, lied and defrauded your way into the euro, failed to abide by even the most basic of accounting norms… you're supposed to be given tens of billions of euros instead of cutting back??
11.30am WATCH: Gordon Brown "gets personal" in Piers Morgan interviewToryDiary: Owen Paterson questions wisdom of forced coalitions in Northern Ireland politics
- Labour propose cancelling Norwich Council elections
- Reigate and Banstead freeze Council Tax – and plan 30% cut in energy consumption
David Cameron promises 'fresh start' in relations between Westminster and Holyrood
"He will set out proposals for a "new relationship" with the Holyrood SNP administration at the party's Scottish conference, while defending the Union… "We must repair the relationship between the British government and the Scottish government," he will say. "It's a disgrace that during one of the worst economic crises in our modern history, when the foundations of the Scottish economy were rocked, Gordon Brown didn't meet Alex Salmond for almost a year." – BBC
George Osborne attacks Labour 'poverty of ambition' for Wales
"Conservative shadow chancellor George Osborne has accused Labour of "poverty of ambition" for Wales… The shadow chancellor was in Cardiff to unveil what he called a "new economic model for Wales", setting out Tory plans for a private sector recovery. "I thought we had a real insight into what Labour's vision of Wales is this week when Peter Hain said at least Wales is richer than Rwanda," he said." – BBC
Tory pledge to move fast on financial reform
"An incoming Conservative government would move swiftly to dismantle the current structures of financial regulation, transferring banking supervision to the Bank of England within a year of winning a general election. Only two days after Hector Sants resigned as head of the Financial Services Authority, Mark Hoban, the shadow financial secretary to the Treasury, scotched suggestions that the Tories had cold feet about the planned reforms, which rest on disbanding the City regulator and giving more power to the Bank." – FT
George Osborne put on the spot by departure of Hector Sants – Mark Kleinman writing in The Times
Liam Fox aims to boost military ties with France
"A Conservative government would seek to boost Britain’s military relations with France, Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, said on Thursday, stating that he wanted to see “a renewed and energised Anglo-French synergy” in future years. In a speech setting out how he views the UK’s military alliances, Mr Fox made a strong call for closer bilateral defence co-operation between Britain and France, saying the two countries should do more in areas such as cybersecurity, joint training and the reform of the Nato alliance." – FT
"The Conservatives said on Thursday they would closely examine whether Britain should stay in the European Defence Agency, set up to promote European defence cooperation, if they win an election due by June." – Reuters
Labour minister unapologetic after saying it's OK to have your home repossessed
"Labour's housing minister yesterday insulted millions struggling to survive the recession by claiming that having their homes repossessed might be their “best option”… Grant Shapps, shadow housing minister, said: “John Healey’s remarks are crass and insensitive. It proves Labour ministers have lost touch with reality and I’m calling on him to apologise to the tens of thousands of families who have lost the roof over their heads.” – Daily Express
The Conservatives have not abandoned environmentalism
"Worries about the Tories’ commitment to the cause may be exaggerated. For one thing, neither scepticism nor indifference is prevalent at the very top of the party. Steve Hilton, Mr Cameron’s strategist, voted for the Green Party at the last general election. A rough measure of a leader’s commitment to an issue is the calibre of personnel he allocates to the relevant portfolio… Mr Cameron has handed it to Greg Clark, one of his better shadow-cabinet talents. Nick Herbert, who holds the other green portfolio of environment and rural affairs, is another bright spark whom many in the party want to see in a bigger job." – The Economist
What would Britain look like after a few years of Tory government?
"It would be living through a necessary period of austerity, as (after a gentle start) Prime Minister Cameron and George Osborne, his chancellor of the exchequer, battled to slash the deficit. With luck they would have met their pledge to protect Britain’s credit ratings and avert a steep rise in interest rates. This aspect of the Tory platform is cherished and promoted by the state-shrinking wing of the high command. Meanwhile, if the more sociological, visionary Tories are to be believed, their government would be busily re-making society. It would encourage a culture of thrift, civic activism and renewed respect for marriage and the nuclear family. Its welfare programme would be reducing the bills for social failure. It would inaugurate a “post-bureaucratic” age." – Bagehot in The Economist
"Beware, British progressives, of what you might get if Cameron falters. Australia is busy offering us a foretaste of a far nastier alternative." – Julian Glover in The Guardian
Why is David Cameron seeking to crack down on lobbying?
"Mr Cameron believes that if he wins power, there will be a surge in attempts to get close to his Tory government. He is trying to stake out the ground before that happens, according to his close advisers… Tories are concerned by the fact that several dozen of their prospective MPs are former lobbyists, while Mr Cameron's seven years in corporate communications at Carlton Television may associate him, in the eye of the public, with the industry he is declaring war on." – The Independent
Tory attack on lobbyists rings hollow – Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian
Geoff Hoon to quit Parliament at the election
"Geoff Hoon, the former defence secretary who last month launched a failed coup attempt against Gordon Brown, has announced that he will stand down from Parliament." – Daily Telegraph
Hoon's resignation letter in full – Sky News
David Cameron rejects calls for 'Cadbury Law' in UK industry – Birmingham Post
Boris Johnson criticised over support for suspended Tory councillor – Guardian
Mandelson hails euro as "remarkable success" – Daily Mail
MI5 chief defends agency over torture cover-up claims – Daily Telegraph
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