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Midnight Seats and Candidates: Nadhim Zahawi selected for Stratford-on-Avon

10pm LeftWatch update: Labour's election slogan to be "A Future Fair For All"

9.45pm Seats and Candidates: Candidates selected for Aberavon, Neath and Ogmore

8.45pm LeftWatch: Labour's election slogan to be revealed…

6pm LeftWatch: Guess which group of economists were given more prominence by the BBC this week?

5.15pm Seats and Candidates: Conservative Association office burns down in top target seat

Demolition4.30pm Matt Sinclair on CentreRight: Hi-speed rail may end up being a big vote loser

3pm LeftWatch: Gordon Brown is clearly embarrassed by the presence of the Greek Prime Minster at his Lefties' love-in

2.15pm WATCH: The BBC's Mock The Week mocks the latest Conservative poster campaign

1pm Agneta Cederstrom on CentreRight: Streamlining the police force

10.30am Seat and Candidates: James Purnell is the latest senior Blairite to be quitting the Commons at the election

Picture 610.15am WATCH: Coronation Street star Bill Roache endorses the Conservative voluntary insurance scheme for elderly care and condemns Labour's plans for a compulsory death tax

ToryDiary:

René Kinzett on Platform: In defence of the "Robin Hood Tax"

Local Government:

Alex Deane on CentreRight: In the 1970s, Britain and our way of life was threatened more than we are today – but our predecessors did not sacrifice our freedoms and liberties

WATCH: Kay Burley of Sky News mistakes US Vice President Biden's Ash Wednesday cross for a bruise

"Tory fears of vote backlash put high-speed rail route in doubt"

VILLIERS THERESA NW "Theresa Villiers, the shadow transport secretary, told the Guardian that the Conservatives had refused offers to view an advanced copy of the high-speed rail white paper, due to be published next month, which will be followed by a public consultation on a route linking the capital with Britain's second city. "We are not going to give a political blank cheque to Labour," said Villiers. The Tories have instead reserved the right to draw up an alternative London-to-Birmingham route should they win the election, saying it would be "unfair" to strike a deal behind closed doors." – The Guardian

Adonis rebukes Boris over tube funding demandFT

William Hague wants to know what ministers knew and when about the murder of the Hamas leader

"Ministers are under pressure to explain whether they knew two weeks ago that British passports were used by a hit squad that killed a Hamas leader in Dubai… William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, called on the Government to make a statement in Parliament about when the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary were first told of a possible British link. Mr Hague said he was “not suggesting any complicity with Israel” but suggested it was an “entirely possible scenario” that ministers were aware of a British connection at the end of January." – Daily Telegraph

Sir Nicholas Winerton is berated in the press for his remarks about standard class rail passengers

WINTERTON NICHOLAS "David Cameron was last night reeling from an angry public backlash over the snobbery and arrogance of Tory MP Sir Nicholas Winterton. Veteran Winterton, 71, stirred up a hornet's nest during a radio phone-in yesterday when he pompously insisted he should get free first class rail travel at the taxpayers' expense so he did not have to sit with ordinary people. He said he did not want to be forced in with those who had standard class tickets, adding: "They are a totally different type of people." – Daily Mirror

"Sir Nicholas Winterton has a point. Consider his argument that MPs need the "peace and quiet" of first class travel because of the amount of work they do on the move. How would Sir Nicholas have devised his ingenious plan to transfer ownership of his mortgage-free home to a family trust, rent that home from the trust, and then claim the rent back from the Commons Fees office, if he had been surrounded by noisy commuters looking over his shoulder the whole time?" – The Independent

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Rail passengers in standard class are "a totally different type of people" moans Tory backbencher who wants the taxpayer to fund his first class travel

Stratford-on-Avon to select John Maples' successor tonight

"A huge turnout from the 900-strong association is expected this evening to select a candidate. But the list imposed by Tory Central Office means they have a choice of four women (none of whom has ever fought a Parliamentary seat), one of ethnic origin and only one local (white) man. Many Stratford-upon-Avon Tories, represented over the years by John Profumo and Angus Maude (a member of Margaret Thatcher's first Cabinet), are opposed to the way Cameron has changed selection procedure. It has been dubbed the battle of the Stratford Squireachy and the Cameron Cuties." – Daily Mail

> Seats and Candidates: Shortlist for Stratford on-Avon

BBC executive accused of conflict of interest after seeking Tory candidacyGuardian

Penrith candidate Rory Stewart disagrees with Afghanistan policyPoliticsHome

David Cameron says Lily Allen's music is unsuitable for children

Picture 3 "Raunchy pop star Lily Allen was yesterday branded "unsuitable" for kids by David Cameron. The Tory leader said he has tried to ban his six-year-old daughter Nancy from listening to the singer, whose hits include F*** You Very Much. He said: "My daughter is obsessed by Lily Allen, who I think is slightly unsuitable. So a bit of a fight takes place"… Mr Cameron spoke out as he launched a raft of measures to stop youngsters being "sexualised" – and instead allow them to have a childhood." – The Sun

David Cameron tells advertiser
s to stop sexualising children or lose money
The Times

> Yesterday's ToryDiary posts:

David Cameron and co-operatives

"On February 15th, came the elucidation of Mr Cameron’s three-year-old plan for public-sector organisations to be run as co-operatives. Nurses could manage their clinics, job advisers take over their employment offices and teachers run their schools. The state would fund them and ensure compliance with basic standards. But the freedom to innovate and set management structures would belong to the workers, as would any surplus income they generated… Mr Cameron is planning to make the case for a grown-up attitude to risk and failure; without accepting these things, he believes, public-service reform will never get anywhere." – The Economist

Gordon Brown to claim the Conservatives are outside the political mainstream

Gordon Brown brooding "Gordon Brown is to question the Tories' credentials as a "modern, mainstream" party, saying the image they "present" is undermined by their policies. He will tell a conference of centre-left European leaders that Conservative policies would endanger the recovery and hurt middle-class families." – BBC

Brown to launch campaign with pitch to middle classes

"Gordon Brown is to set out Labour's pitch for the next election tomorrow, in an attempt to ward off Tory efforts to win the support of key swing voters. It is understood that the Prime Minister will use the high-profile speech in Coventry to appeal to middle class voters who were vital in delivering New Labour three consecutive election victories." – The Independent

Bagehot goes on a journey to meet the swing voters who will decide the election The Economist

> Yesterday on LeftWatch: Gordon Brown will unveil four election themes this weekend (but don't expect him to call the election)

'Cash for access' accusations over Cabinet’s awayday to Durham

"There were renewed calls to block costly regional Cabinet visits after yesterday’s awayday to Durham resulted in “cash for access” accusations. Alistair Darling, Ed Miliband and Nick Brown used the trip to make an unpublicised visit to the North East Economic Forum, a conference organised by lobbyists to bring together local businessmen and politicians. Before the event, sponsors were invited to pay £5,000 for a stand and to get a “personal introduction to key speakers and guests”. – The Times

> Yesterday on LeftWatch:

Damian Green claims thousands of prisoners are not on the DNA database

Damian Green 2010 "Thousands of prisoners in England and Wales may not be on the national DNA database, the Tories have claimed… In a statement to the BBC, a Home Office spokesman said the "vast majority" of prisoners were on the database. Damian Green, shadow immigration minister, said the figures showed the government was pursuing a policy of growing the database for the sake of it. It is shocking that the government has no idea how many dangerous criminals do not have their DNA on the database," he said." – BBC

Britain at risk of worse deficit crisis than Greece

"Britain is at risk of a Govenment deficit crisis worse than that of Greece, sparking serious fears over the economic stability of the country. In surprise news which sent the pound sliding on Thursday, official figures showed that the Government borrowed £4.3 billion last month. It was the first time since 1993 that the public finances had gone into the red in January – a month in which tax revenues usually push the Exchequer into the black." – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday's LeftWatch: The Labour Government breaks another record for economic mismanagement

Andrew Lansley: Hospitals face 'fine' if patients sent back to wards

"Hospitals will be 'fined' under the Conservatives if patients are readmitted to wards within a month of being discharged, in an attempt to encourage better home care, it has been announced. Around 500,000 patients are readmitted to hospital within a month of being discharged which the Conservatives claim shows they are not getting proper follow-up care or are being sent home too early… Andrew Lansley, Shadow Health Secretary, has announced that under a Conservative government, hospitals would have to pay for patients' support care at home to avoid them requiring admitting again." – Daily Telegraph

Most young families cannot afford to buy their own home

"Around three-quarters of young families in England cannot afford to get on the housing ladder. Analysis by a Government housing advisory body showed just 26.1% of families under 40 could afford to buy a suitable home, with the figure as low as 5% in parts of London and the South East… Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps said: 'It is no surprise that Labour have tried to bury this bad news, as it reflects the complete and utter failure of Labour's housing policies." – Daily Mail

Harriet Harman tried to muzzle Sir Thomas Legg

HARMAN RED "Harriet Harman leaned on the Commons watchdog to get him to suppress MPs' expenses claims, The Sun can reveal. Sir Thomas Legg wanted to highlight the most excessive claims that had been rejected by parliamentary officials. But Ms Harman put pressure on him, asking whether it was "appropriate" to name and shame the MPs making the claims." – The Sun

Expenses row MPs still owe £100,000The Guardian

Jeff Randall: The lessons David Cameron should learn from historyDaily Telegraph

Powers to stop alcohol related disorder 'wasted'Daily Telegraph

20,000 council workers facing redundancy The Independent

Some economists back Alistair Darling in delaying cutsFT

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80 comments for: Friday 19th February 2010

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