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7pm Seats and Candidates: Another Labour MP ducks out of defending a top Tory target

6.45pm ToryDiary: Dan Hannan calls for a return to sanity in the public finances and a revolutionary dispersal of power at the Brighton Tea Party

5.30pm ToryDiary: (1) Show Labour failed, says Osborne, (2) Show that they are still failing, and (3) Show that Conservatives will be different

5.15pm Seats and Candidates: David Cameron gives his full backing to Speaker Bercow's re-election bid in Buckingham

4.30pm LeftWatch: Your chance to be Alistair Darling escaping Ed Balls & Co in the 'Forces of Hell' video game

4.15pm Melanchthon on CentreRight offers Six critiques of Labour (to balance the six reasons for voting Conservative)

3.15pm WATCH: In a spring conference WebCameron video, David Cameron says that the Conservatives can win by being a "modern and radical" party

Picture 292.45pm ToryDiary: Eric Pickles urges Brown to "call the election now" as William Hague says the choice facing Britain is "change or ruin"

12.15pm ToryDiary: Results of the elections to the National Conservative Convention

11am ToryDiary: Local Conservative associations raised £25 million last year

10.30am MyLabourPoster: Guess who got selected as the Labour candidate in the one Midlands seat without an All Women Shortlist?

ToryDiary: We're changing tactics and turning our guns on Labour, declares George Osborne

Last night's ToryDiary: Tax cuts feature prominently in six Tory election pledges

Loanna Morrison on Platform: It is Labour's failure to control immigration and its obsession with promoting "multiculturalism" that has allowed the BNP to re-emerge

Seats and candidates: The Independent's attack on Lord Ashcroft backfires, revealing that 81% of target seat funding comes from local activists

Local government: Should the British Tea Party Movement begin with the Town Halls?

Screen shot 2010-02-27 at 08.08.41 Also on Local government, Harry Phibbs blogs that David Miliband's own council is raising council tax, cutting services but not dealing with waste:

"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."

LeftWatch: 'Let's talk about immigration', say Ed Balls and Tom Watson in message to local voters

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

Bridges-George "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

HANCOCK MATT "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

COUNCIL TAX "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 ConservativesTimes

Give back the Falklands in 99 years – Matthew Parris in The Times

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67 comments for: Saturday 27th February 2010

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