10.45pm Latest CentreRight posts:
- Melanchthon on the limits of toleration and the demerits of equality
- Andrew Haldenby blogs that a Reform seminar today concluded that we must ask how to cut spending, not when (since action is needed right now)
5.45pm Paul Goodman MP on CentreRight: A looming debate on how the Speaker should be elected could have a big affect on John Bercow's future
10.30am WATCH: EU inches closer to bailout for Greece
The Daily Mail attacks Cameron for tacking and trimming
"Voters don't like politicians who tack and trim, constantly changing their minds. The Conservatives have done it on Europe, marriage and their strategy for a draconian cutback in spending. With the election only months or perhaps weeks away, this confusion is hugely counterproductive. If Mr Cameron wishes to present himself as a credible alternative prime minister, he must stick to his policies. And incidentally, as a loyal supporter of the Tory Party, is it unreasonable of the Mail to ask for more illumination on exactly what those policies are?" – Daily Mail leader
"The problem for Cameron is that his wobbling is not confined to the economy. There's a pattern here, in which the one thing consistent about the Tories is their inconsistency. "Vote blue, go green", the early, eco-version of Cameron urged; yet two-thirds of planning applications to build wind turbines are rejected by Tory councils… It's hug a hoodie one moment, build a floating jail the next. Cameron boasts of transparency out of one side of his mouth, only to stonewall questions about the residency of his party's ultra-generous donor, Lord Ashcroft, out of the other. " – Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian
George Osborne's eight economic benchmarks get mixed reviews
"Mr Osborne set out benchmarks for judging a Conservative government, prompting sceptics to ask how voters were meant to judge the main parties ahead of the election in the absence of detailed tax and spending plans. Business welcomed the approach as a useful framework for supporting the recovery. But employers’ groups called on the Tories and Labour to provide far more substance on their plans for cutting the deficit ahead of the election." – FT
City AM's verdict: "The report is a damp squib. A few of the proposals are great; most are fluffy; some are downright bad; none are new."
The Telegraph's verdict: "It is a credible and persuasive approach that gives the Tories a platform from which to mount a sustained pre-election onslaught on the discredited Government that landed us in this mess."
When to cut?
"At one moment, the Opposition says it will be swift in making cuts; at another, that it will make them in due course. The reality is that serious, swift savings this year are not possible. Departmental budgets already exist. Laying off staff or abandoning contracts cannot be done overnight and can incur extra costs. All the Tories need to promise is an early Budget with a clear plan for substantial cuts starting next year. If they promise anything less, British government debt will be downgraded. It's not rocket science." – Andrew Alexander in the Daily Mail
The Conservative Party does not seem to have the first idea what it is doing – Simon Heffer in The Telegraph
> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Five observations on the Tories and cutting the deficit
Tories oversell advisory role of Lord Stern
"George Osborne’s relaunch of Conservative economic policy suffered a setback on Tuesday when Lord Stern, the climate economist, rejected the shadow chancellor’s claim that he would be advising the party. The Tories had made the peer’s apparent recruitment the centrepiece of an advance briefing of Mr Osborne’s speech. The shadow chancellor told a London audience he was “delighted Lord Stern has agreed to advise us on the creation of this [proposed] green investment bank”." – FT
Conservatives would scrap the BBC Trust and create a new body answerable to licence fee payers – Times
The Guardian praises David Willetts and his new book, The Pinch
"The Pinch mixes an authoritative exposition of how the baby boomers scooped the wealth pot with unexpected film-buffery, and fascinating factual nuggets about the surprisingly large tally of grey beards in the 17th century, and the power of tax cuts to lure frail Australians into raging successfully against the dying of the light. He explores the deep demographic currents of our time and the deep ethical challenges that they pose. If Cameron wins in the spring, here are two brains that he cannot afford to live without." – The Guardian
Immigration must be cut by three-quarters says Nicholas Soames – Express
Brown promises to push through law before election to pave way for referendum on voting reform – Guardian
Lord Mandelson says he is "disappointed" that Kraft would not commit to managing Cadbury's brands in the UK – BBC
The Chief Rabbi backs the Catholic Church on defending religious freedom
"When Christians, Jews and others feel that the ideology of human rights is threatening their freedoms of association and religious practice, a tension is set in motion that is not healthy for society, freedom or Britain. Rather than regard the Pope’s remarks as an inappropriate intervention, we should use them to launch an honest debate on where to draw the line between our freedom as individuals and our freedom as members of communities of faith. One should not be purchased at the cost of the other." – Jonathan Sacks in The Times
Daniel Finkelstein: What if we don't act overseas?
"It is impossible to have a sensible Iranian policy unless we contemplate not only the potential consequences of acting — hard diplomacy, sanctions, even a military strike — but also the potential consequences of not acting. Can we sleep at night when a regime that executes dissidents is building a nuclear bomb? We have to measure the sin of omission as well as that of commission." – Times
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