1pm David T Breaker on CentreRight: Forget "Bully Brown", we need to focus on "Gordon Gold-Card"
Caroline Spelman MP in Local Government: Conservatives will allow local communities to shape the future character of their neighbourhoods – unlike Labour, who turned housebuilding into a target-driven fantasy
Also in Local Government:
David Cameron: "We've got a lot of work to do to convince people that change is possible"
"With less than 80 days to go before the country must choose a new Government, David Cameron has told Sky News he still has much to do to win over voters. Speaking on Jeff Randall Live, in the first broadcast from Sky News' city studio at The Gherkin, the Tory leader said: "This is a different team of people who will do things differently. We can get our economy going, we can mend the broken society but we've got a lot of work to do to convince people that change is possible because right now, I think they find that hard to believe." – Sky News
"David Cameron was last night accused of being unable to identify a £72 billion commitment in Treasury spending plans just weeks before he intends to fight the election on his ability to tighten the nation's finances. It came in an interview in which the Conservative leader also came under pressure to explain why he had ring-fenced aid budget which will see British taxpayers funding development in Pakistan at a time of economic hardship at home and why defence spending could be cut under a new Tory administration. In an interview on Sky News's Jeff Randall Live programme Mr Cameron said he would have to go away and find out about the £72 billion figure which is stated publicly in last year's pre-Budget report." – Daily Telegraph
This morning's opinion polls
"The Conservatives should no longer count on winning the election outright, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today. The new survey suggests Britain is on course for a hung parliament amid faltering public support for David Cameron's party. The opposition have also lost ground on key policy issues, including the economy, and in particular may be losing their campaign against Labour's so-called "death tax". Labour leads the Tories by eight points as the party with the best policy on care for the elderly." – Guardian
"A separate YouGov poll published by the Sun on Tuesday put the Conservatives on 39 percent, Labour on 33 percent and the Liberal Democrats on 17 percent. Both surveys suggest allegations that Gordon Brown intimidates his staff have yet to damage a Labour poll recovery. The projections show the Conservatives' lead has shrunk to its narrowest gap in recent months." – Reuters
The Conservatives should be praying to lose this election – Dominic Lawson in The Independent
Grieve accuses desperate Labour over its ending of prisoner early release scheme
"Labour was last night accused of a cynical election ploy after scrapping its controversial early release scheme for prisoners only weeks before polling day… Tory justice spokesman Dominic Grieve said 'the timing of the end of the scheme', only weeks before an election, 'confirms our fears that the Government is acting out of political desperation, not the national interest'. He asked: 'Is the Justice Secretary talking tough on crime before the election, to make it tough on us after?'" – Daily Mail
Stanley Fink to step down as Conservative Party co-treasurer
"Stanley Fink, Conservative Party co-treasurer, said he would step down from the role after the General Election fuelling speculation he will be offered a top Government job if David Cameron's party wins. The hedge fund tycoon's decision comes a week after his co-treasurer Michael Spencer said he would leave his post in the autumn to focus on Icap, the interdealer broker, where he is chief executive." – Daily Telegraph
> Search for 100 Peers: Stanley Fink
Gus O'Donnell denies warning Gordon Brown over behaviour
"The pre-election battle over Gordon Brown's character became more embittered today when the cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell denied that he had ever warned the prime minister about behaving in a bullying or intimidatory manner. He also rejected calls from the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives for an inquiry into Brown's behaviour." – The Guardian
"Mr Cameron, the Tory leader, had claimed earlier that it was important to “get to the bottom” of the matter after claims in The Observer newspaper and subsequently by the helpline about No 10’s culture. Mr Cameron called for Sir Philip Mawer, who advises on the ministerial code of conduct, to investigate allegations from the National Bullying Helpline. But his stance was undermined last night by the resignation of Tory MP Ann Widdecombe from the helpline – citing breaches of confidentiality." – FT
Chris Grayling on the CPS being in "meltdown"
"Parts of the Crown Prosecution Service in London are in "meltdown" with criminals being handed "get out of jail free cards" while "open and shut" cases are being thrown out of court, a memo seen by The Independent claims… Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary, said last night: "I hear all the same frustrations from police officers around the country who think the failings in the criminal justice system mean that criminals are just getting away with it, and that time and again they are re-arresting people for the same offences when they should already have been to court and be facing a prison sentence." – The Independent
Government criticised over delay in Glasgow North East by-election
"The Electoral Commission has criticised the amount of time it took to hold the Glasgow North East by-election. The watchdog said November's poll to replace former speaker Michael Martin could have been held much earlier." – BBC
> Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight: Why not hold by-elections a set time after the vacancy occurs?
Cameron backs pledge challenging prejudice against single parents
"The pledge is part of a Let's Lose The Labels campaign by charity Gingerbread to fight the peddling of stereotypes about single parents. Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have all signed a pledge to "challenge prejudice against single parent families and support Gingerbread's campaign". – Press Association
Labour cultivates online donors
"Labour intends to cast the general election as a David and Goliath struggle against a much wealthier Conservative party, David Blunkett said on Monday, as he set out plans for a “massive, two-month” US-style internet drive to cultivate small donors. Mr Blunkett, the former cabinet minister spearheading Labour’s election fundraising, said, in an interview with the Financial Times that spending on the campaign was being ring-fenced to ensure it did not bankrupt the party." – FT
MPs ponder cut in summer recess – BBC
Car bomb explodes at Newry courthouse – BBC
And finally: Crouching Norman… Kicking Dragon
"It's a classic kung fu scene. The unarmed hero bravely hurls himself into a seething mob and sends them flying with a flurry of well-aimed kicks. Slightly unusually in this case, the battling warrior was 77-year-old Tory veteran Norman Tebbit. And his victims? A bemused man and boy crouching nervously inside a ceremonial dragon costume during a Chinese New Year celebration. Lord Tebbit came over all Jackie Chan after revellers started banging drums and clashing cymbals outside a Chinese restaurant near his home. He ran into the crowd and grabbed the drum then turned his fury on the dragon, dancing away menacingly." – Daily Mirror
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