11.30pm ToryDiary: Tory lead doubles in immediate wake of Bullygate

Ann Widdecombe 20107.45pm ToryDiary update: Ann Widdecombe resigns as anti-bullying charity patron but hits out at the Government for wielding "every last drop of their poisonous power"

7.15pm ToryDiary: Tory lead slips two points to 7% in new ICM poll

6.30pm LeftWatch: Francis Maude demands apology from Harriet Harman for Labour's use of taxpayers' money to subsidise political campaigning

4pm LeftWatch: Jack Straw ends early release of prisoners (in time for the election) Updated at 4.30pm with reaction from Dominic Grieve

4pm Latest posts on CentreRight:

3.45pm WATCH: Lord Mandelson makes the outrageous claim that Christine Pratt is part of a "political operation" linked to the Tory press office

Picture 152.45pm Parliament: The Commons has returned from its half-term recess – but hardly any Labour MPs have bothered showing up

2.15pm ToryDiary update: Lord Mandelson accuses Tory press officers of "guiding" journalists to Christine Pratt

2pm ToryDiary update: The agenda for next weekend's spring conference has now been published!

1.30pm Dr Crippen on CentreRight: We must not ring fence the waste in the NHS

1.15pm ToryDiary: What exactly is on the agenda for next weekend's spring conference?

12.15pm Mark Field MP on CentreRight: "Conservatives face the challenge of reviving our suburbs and transport
infrastructure amidst a depressing indifference to the true costs of
Labour’s decade-long spending spree"

Picture 1411.45am ToryDiary update: David Cameron calls for Sir Philip Mawer to investigate Number Ten bullying claims

11.30am Mark Wallace on CentreRight: "The decision of the National Bullying Helpline's Chief Executive to
reveal that Downing Street staff have called the Helpline is a serious
error that will do lasting harm to many people."

11.15am WATCH: Christine Pratt tells Sky News that she has never accused Brown of being a bully but is concerned about the failure of his office to follow due process

11am Julia Manning on CentreRight: Elderly Social Care failure should be a Tory campaign issue

10.30am James Bethell on CentreRight: The activities of militant white supremacists must be closely monitored


LeftWatch: Labour's new "pay-as-you-die" tax

Janan Ganesh and Stephan Shakespeare on Platform: The Network for the Post-Bureaucratic Age

Seats and Candidates: Simon Reevell uses his PPC Diary to file an update on how his campaign to oust Shahid Malik in Dewsbury is going

Local Government:

WATCH: Chief Executive of anti-bullying charity tells the BBC that Downing Street staff have called their helpline

Jeremy Hunt promises that arts funding is "significantly" safer under the Tories

HUNT JEREMY OPEN NECKED SHIRT "The claim comes as the Tories launch their arts manifesto, laying out what Hunt in an interview with the Guardian calls a set of "extraordinarily radical" policies "that could mean that the arts are getting substantially more funding at the end of a first term of a future Conservative government than they are at the moment". However, grant-in-aid government funding to the arts would take a hit, he said. "We're not making any promises that arts won't have to take its share of the pain when we address the critical issue of putting the nation's finances back on their feet." But, he said, "we are not going to single out the arts budget". – The Guardian

Tories send Ken Clarke to give assurances to Brussels about future government

"Ken Clarke, the shadow Business Secretary, is to hold secret talks in Brussels with Jose Manuel Barroso to assure the European Commission President the EU has nothing to fear from a Conservative government. The two-day visit to Brussels, which begins on Tuesday, by the most pro-EU member of David Cameron's cabinet-in-waiting is seen by European officials as a signal that a new Conservative administration will work with the EU executive rather battling against it." – Daily Telegraph

Labour and Lib Dems attacks George Osborne's offer of shares in RBS and Lloyds

George Osborne blue background "A Conservative government would offer subsidised shares in the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group to people on modest incomes, prompting accusations that they are encouraging irresponsible behaviour by the most vulnerable… George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, is trying to regain the initiative by offering the cut-price shares through the Isa scheme, so any dividends and capital gains would be tax-free." – The Times

"It might reasonably be said that taxpayers, who were forcibly enrolled in a shaky investment, are now entitled to the benefit of hard-headed commercial management in getting their money back. What cannot be reasonably argued, however, is that the socialisation of the banks' losses should now be followed by the subsidised privatisation of any gains. If you see George, tell him." – Guardian editorial

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: George Osborne plans to sell discounted shares in state-owned banks to ordinary Britons

Stephen Glover: Where are Cameron's friends on Fleet Street?

"If the Conservative Party ever needed an extra push from its friends in the right-wing Press, now is the moment. And yet only The Sun offers enthusiastic support, sometimes verging on the desperate. The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail – which, unlike The Sun, never endorsed New Labour – remain lukewarm about "David Cameron's Tories".- Stephen Glover in The Independent

> Saturday's ToryDiary: Why, Mr Dacre, haven't you declared war on Labour?

David Cameron should have more faith in the Christian vote

"Yesterday, Theos, which styles itself "the public theology think tank", published research which showed that our politicians, and particularly David Cameron, could be ignoring the religious vote at their peril. The survey, conducted by ComRes, shows that, while the poll lead for the Tories slips further into single figures, support for Conservatives from Christians has risen only from 38 to 40 per cent since 2005. This figure is important, because 48 per cent of Christians surveyed said that they are "absolutely certain" to vote, a figure that rockets to 61 per cent among Christians who say that their faith "is very important" to their lives. The national average of those "absolutely certain" to vote is 47 per cent." – George Pitcher in the Daily Telegraph

Chris Grayling: The police need more protection against assault

"Almost 50 police officers a day are off sick after being attacked fuelling concerns over growing violence on the streets. More than 17,000 days were lost last year due to injuries to officers – a rise of 11 per cent on the previous 12 months… Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary, said: "We just don’t give our police officers adequate protection against assault. There was a time when attacking a police officer would have been treated with the upmost severity by the criminal justice system, but that doesn’t happen anymore and it’s not good enough." – Daily Telegraph

William Hague denies latest poll has hit Tory morale

William Hague serious square "The Tories sought to put a brave face on the the setback in the polls, arguing they had never underestimated the coming electoral challenge. William Hague, shadow foreign secretary, said it had in "no way dented the morale of the party leadership". But there is a palpable unease in the Tory high command over Labour's position recovering in national polls – seemingly in spite of their leaders' low ratings." – FT

"The Tories’ lead over Labour could shrink even further as the general election approaches, William Hague warned yesterday… “If an election were held now there would be a clear Conservative victory but it’s not – it’s being held in 10 or 11 weeks’ time.” Rejecting talk of a drop in morale among senior Tories, he insisted the party remained on course." – Daily Express

> Saturday night's ToryDiary: YouGov's Tory lead lowest for more than a year

Julian Glover: Britain needs a Tory victory because…

"At candidate selection meetings hopefuls are sometimes asked to complete a sentence as they might on the doorstep: "Britain needs a Conservative government because …" So let's set David Cameron the same test. What would he say? Even his friends don't know for sure, which is rather extraordinary, so close to polling day." – Julian Glover in The Guardian

YouGov chief Nadhim Zahawi quits to stand as Conservative candidate

Nadhim Zahawi "Nadhim Zahawi has quit as chief executive of YouGov, one of Britain's biggest polling companies, to stand as a candidate for the Conservative Party at the General Election. Mr Zahawi has been selected as the Conservative candidate for Stratford-on-Avon constituency, YouGov said today. The seat is currently held by Conservative John Maples, who is stepping down at the election." – Daily Telegraph

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

Reaction to the Gordon Brown bullying claims

"So that’s what Alastair Campbell meant when he complained about Gordon Brown’s ‘psychological flaws’. At the time the phrase had a hugely debilitating effect on Tony Blair’s leadership; now it reads like the mother of all understatements. If an even temperament is a vital quality in a leader, then Mr Brown should never have been allowed through the door of Number 10." – Benedict Brogan in the Daily Telegraph

"This is deeply embarrassing for Gordon Brown at the worst possible moment. The latest poll suggested only a 6 point gap between the Conservatives and Labour. His campaign launch on Saturday was effective with a clear message coherently delivered. But this bullying stuff appears to be snowballing." – Iain Martin in the Wall Street Journal

"When I was a Labour Party press officer a quarter of a century ago, I used to visit a cramped office in the House of Commons shared by two junior MPs, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. Of the two, the one who was the warmer personality and easier to work with, in my experience, was Mr Brown." – Andy McSmith in The Independent

How Gordon Brown's tantrums caused a storm over Downing Street – Patrick Wintour in The Guardian

New Labour, Old slogan

Blair Brown Future Fair for All "Gordon Brown's "new" slogan for Labour is the same tired old catchphrase the party trotted out seven years ago. The Prime Minister unveiled the motto "A Future Fair for All" at an election rally in Coventry on Saturday. But the wording was no different from the slogan on his lectern in 2003 when he addressed the Labour conference in Bournemouth." – The Sun

> Saturday's LeftWatch post: Gordon Brown reckoned "A Future Fair For All" was the theme of the Blair Government

Ex-Tory donor to give £100,000 to UKIP campaign to unseat John Bercow

"Stuart Wheeler, one of Britain’s biggest political donors, is to give around £100,000 to the UK Independence Party to help it to unseat John Bercow, the Commons’ Speaker, in the general election." – The Times

Asian TV millionaire to join the BNP

"A tycoon who starred on TV's Secret Millionaire is joining the British National Party to rile them – because he is Asian. Mo Chaudry, 49, will formally apply today – days after the BNP had to change its whites-only constitution because it breached equality laws." – The Sun

> Tariq Ahmad last week on Platform: The BNP's ideology remains bigoted and divisive and it is the duty of the Conservative Party to counter their activities

And finally… Boris Johnson refuses to wear a ski helmet

Boris Johnson messy hair "Never, in all the times when I have felt myself being catapulted head-first from my crossed skis, has it occurred to me to wear a child’s helmet to go skiing. Goggles, yes; a woolly hat, yes; but a helmet – not on your nelly. That was my message, delivered as politely as I could. And yet when we arrived at the pistes, my sense of wonderment grew. Something weird has happened, and it has happened in the past couple of years. It is as though the ski helmet has propagated itself like some frenzied bacillus. Everywhere you look there are thousands of skiers – children and adults alike – transformed by their headgear into shiny-bonced tadpoles." – Boris Johnson in the Daily Telegraph


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