"They are increasing the Council Tax by 2.71% but at their budget meeting this week rejected cutting spending on consultants or councillor allowances. They spend £2.3 million on printing and photocopying. Another £120,000 goes on funding full time trade union posts. However they have made cuts in street cleaning, cut physiotherapy service, cut support for museums and the arts and put up council rents by 2.9%. Tenants in sheltered housing are facing an 20% increase in heating charges."
David Cameron will speak without notes to Tory Spring Forum, warning voters against 'five more years of Gordon Brown'
"David Cameron will tomorrow rally Tories for the general election fight with a barnstorming speech designed to show he has a clear “choice and change” plan for Britain. He is to speak with no notes – an echo of the ground-breaking speech credited with winning him the leadership – and drive home his message that voters have a choice between five more years of Gordon Brown, or change with David Cameron and the Conservatives." – Express
"After grumbling in Tory ranks that the party has not been strong enough in its attacks on Labour, he will play what he believes may prove his trump card, asking the voters why they would want "another five years of Gordon Brown". It is a line we will hear ad nauseam from now on. And it is a question Labour has not yet answered." – Andrew Grice in The Independent
"The attempt to put Gordon Brown in the line of fire this weekend represents a victory for Mr Bridges, who has convinced Mr Cameron that a policy blitz in January was a mistake. The effort to persuade voters that the party has a substantial programme turned the media from the Government to the Conservatives, he argued." – Times
"The Tory mission is simple: to rescue Britain from the economic mess that has been the hallmark of every Labour government. That is the message David Cameron must spell out, again and again, until polling closes on General Election day – because the idea of another five years of Brown in No 10 is unthinkable." – Peter Oborne in the Daily Mail
No surprise but… the Tories' election slogan will be "vote for change" – BBC
David Robson: Tories must focus on Labour's record, not Brown's character
"All the chatter about his personality and his “bullying”, not to mention the intervention of the ineffable Mrs Pratt, of the National Bullying Helpline, has made this not a bad week at all for Gordon Brown. It’s all far less damaging than talk about his dreadful record in government. These days, when very few leading politicians have any personality whatsoever, at least it makes him seem more interesting." – David Robson in The Express
Tories ponder tactics if there is a hung parliament
"Matt Hancock, chief of staff to George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, until he was recently selected as a parliamentary candidate, is taking charge of the post-election preparations. These revolve around an emergency budget, to be held within 50 days of the election, which would form the springboard to a second poll if the Tories were the largest party in a hung parliament. "The emergency budget will be crucial in setting out the long-term approach of Conservatives in tackling the fiscal deficit," one senior figure said. "But it will also give a chance to present a take-it-or-leave-it challenge. If Labour want to vote against it and trigger a general election, we would be very happy to have another election this year, when we would be confident of winning on the basis of the budget."" – Guardian
Charles Moore: Cameron's front men aren't performing
"George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, is still better as the strategist than as the front man. Ken Clarke, despite his strong record as a real Chancellor, turns out to be pretty useless at Opposition campaigning (he’s hardly ever known it, after all). He is slapdash and mentally idle. William Hague, though eloquent, witty, and something of a hero in the North, is not fighting as if his life depended on it (which, indeed, it doesn’t). And, by the way, who is Chris Grayling? Then there are the women. I bet you that 95 per cent of the voters could not name any of them, so I won’t either." – Charles Moore in The Telegraph
FT: Samantha Cameron is her husband's 'kitchen cabinet'
"David Cameron has a “genuine kitchen cabinet”, one close aide told the Financial Times. “His family is his core base and one of the reasons he keeps so calm in a crisis.” Samantha Cameron, once billed by her husband as his “one-person focus group”, is credited with influencing the Tory leader’s conversion to the modernisers’ cause, including his belated support for gay rights." – FT
"David Cameron's wife Samantha yesterday told of her pride in her husband for the first time…" – The Sun
Alex Massie: Council tax freeze isn't localist
"In terms of philosophy and consistency rather than from a purely political standpoint, there's at least one terrible promise here that contradicts the Tories' interesting, promising, commitment to localism and decentralisation. That's the commitment to freeze council tax. I've no doubt that this is politically savvy and likely to be popular but it's a rotten idea nonetheless. How serious can the Tories be about decentralisation when they seem to want to make local government more not less dependent upon central government? Where's the accountability and transparency in that? Nowhere, that's where." – Alex Massie at The Spectator
Catholic Church's pre-election report likely to boost Conservatives – Times
Give back the Falklands in 99 years – Matthew Parris in The Times
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