4.30pm Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight: What does Robert Peston want to do to the economy that he's frightened to tell us about?
- Bradford proposes council tax freeze
- Harrogate freezes council tax
- Birmingham Council plans 2,000 cut in staffing level
"Secret truce" on care plans torn apart by Tory poster
"Secret talks to agree a truce between the parties over long-term care for the elderly were torn apart after the Conservatives released a poster attacking Labour’s proposals. Conservative MPs reacted with astonishment at the news that Andrew Lansley, the Shadow Health Secretary, approached his Labour counterpart last November to work together on the issue… Mr Lansley’s spokesman said that he initiated talks about consensus. “At no point was a consensus reached because we entered into the discussions with a set of principles. They were that we were committed to the retention of cash benefits and we were opposed to a compulsory levy. We don’t agree with a compulsory levy being placed on every member of society." – The Times
David Cameron pledges to put government contracts online
"David Cameron says the Conservatives would publish details of all government contracts worth more than £25,000, if they win the general election. The Tory leader said his party would end what it calls "Labour's secretive and wasteful contracts regime". – BBC
Chris Grayling rejects Alan Johnson's attack on Tory immigration policy
"Tory plans to put a yearly cap on immigration would damage business and hinder UK investment by international companies such as Honda, the home secretary said on Wednesday… Chris Grayling, shadow home secretary, said he would set the cap after taking into account the “skills needs of business”. But he added: “At a time when millions of people in this country are out of work, we also want to make getting them back into employment a key priority.” – FT
William Hague questions Alistair Darling's bailout of Foreign Office
"Alistair Darling agreed on Wednesday to bail out the Foreign Office, topping up its core budget by almost 10 per cent, after a collapse in the pound left diplomats facing a financial squeeze… The Conservatives said the package of support was still “full of ambiguity”. “Far from putting a stop to concerns about [Foreign Office] finances it raises even more questions,” said William Hague, shadow foreign secretary." – FT
Britain may be forced to bail out Greece – Daily Telegraph
"The government must make it clear that the UK taxpayer will not be put at risk. If Germany or France are stupid enough to agree to underwrite a rescue, so be it; but there should be no British guarantees or assistance." – Allister Heath in City AM
Departing MP who advised Cameron bags lobbying job
"Andrew MacKay, who served as Cameron's senior parliamentary adviser until he resigned last year, is to advise Burson-Marsteller on international matters, and will stand down as MP for Bracknell in Berkshire at the election." – The Guardian
David Cameron launches stinging attack on SNP's "dreams of independence"
"The SNP's "dreams of an independent Scotland will remain dreams", Conservative Party leader David Cameron claimed today. Mr Cameron, due to address his party's Scottish conference this week, hit out at SNP leader Alex Salmond in a series of newspaper interviews. The Tory leader accused the First Minister of living in "a perpetual episode of Braveheart" and claimed the SNP was "taking people for fools". – The Scotsman
"People are still wondering just how Scottish the Tories are north of the Border… One thing is obviously true of the Tory Welsh Assembly group and that is it has embraced devolution to a greater degree than the Tory party in Scotland." – Prof John Curtice quoted in the Daily Telegraph
Benedict Brogan: David Cameron has to convince the public to trust politicians again
"Those waiting to see the secret weapon that will convince them that it is not just time for a change, but time for the Tories will, I fear, be disappointed. His caution against grabbing the easy headlines governs his campaign. What we see is what we are going to get… If he wants this job, in the weeks ahead he is going to have to find new reserves of patience, of humility, and of inspiration that will persuade us that after all the lies and nonsense we have endured over the past 13 years, he is worth trusting." – Benedict Brogan in the Daily Telegraph
Steve Richards: Why underlying political currents are shifting away from the Right
"First, governments have shown it is necessary to spend their way out of this recession, the reverse of the 1970s lesson. Second, regulation has become more important and valued. No one is calling for less regulation, although David Cameron appeared to do so in his party conference speech last October. Third, international co-ordination is unavoidable, an echo of the climate change agenda." – Steve Richards in the Independent
Returning Officers moan about having to count votes on election night
"Returning officers reacted angrily, insisting that their task was to provide accurate results, not "entertainment". David Monks, who speaks on the issue for the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, said: "The general election is probably a couple of months away – in fact, it could be quicker than that – and there is a convention that the Ministry of Justice try not to introduce new substantial changes in electoral law and procedure within six months of an election." – The Independent
Labour MP demands Cameron apology for South Africa visit – Sky News
Charged Labour MP: "It's unfair to axe my golden pay-off" – Daily Mail
Hardline anti-police miners' leader lined up for safe Labour seat – The Times
And finally… School bans Valentine's cards to protect pupils from "emotional trauma"
"The tradition of exchanging cards on Valentine’s Day has been denied to children in one primary school. Pupils have been banned from celebrating or sending cards – to protect them from the emotional trauma of being dumped. The pupils have been warned that if any cards are found or exchanged in school, they will be confiscated. Teachers at Ashcombe Primary School in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, believe children are not ‘emotionally mature’ enough to understand relationships." – Daily Mail
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