7.30pm WATCH: Bob Crow announces the RMT strike by signal workers

Lord Pearson of Rannoch6.15pm ToryDiary: Lord Pearson tells UKIP he wants his party to stand down candidates in "seven or eight constituencies" in favour of existing MPs or other candidates who will "fight for our freedom"

5.30pm LeftWatch: Are the unions about to deliver a "Spring of Discontent"?

5.15pm ToryDiary: Liam Fox attacks Labour's record on defence
funding as he promises that a Conservative Government would want to see
British defence and security companies flourishing

4pm WATCH: Unite's Tony Woodley announces that the strike by BA cabin crew will be going ahead

3.45pm Seats and Candidates: The candidates for the Tory target seats in Scotland emphasise that the election will be a choice between Brown and Cameron

3.00pm Local government: Council byelection results

1.30pm ToryDiary: The 1922 Executive reaffirms that ministers would not be able to vote in internal elections if there is a Conservative Government

Screen shot 2010-03-19 at 12.12.4612.15pm Two posts on the new Tory energy policy unveiled today:

Noon Patrick Nolan on CentreRight invites you to try your hand at being Chancellor of the Exchequer using Reform's online calculators

11am Matt Sinclair on CentreRight fears the consequences of a carbon tax

ToryDiary: The Conservatives are preparing a Budget week billboard campaign lambasting Gordon Brown for his handling of the economy

6a00d83451b31c69e20120a9536df0970b-150wi Richard Benyon MP on Platform: British servicemen overseas must not be disenfranchised at the general election

LeftWatch: Labour and Lib Dem candidates refuse to allow election debate to be filmed and posted online

Seats and Candidates: Paul Bristow pays tribute to the Labour MP he would have been facing at the general election

Local Government:

Peter Cuthbertson on CentreRight: How close will it be on 6th May?

WATCH: Michael Howard and Michael Mates feature among a group of retiring MPs discussing politicians' egos and how to deal with constituents

Greg Clark: "We are in favour of nuclear power"

CLARK GREG "One new nuclear power station would be opened every 18 months under a Conservative blueprint to avoid the first widespread electricity blackouts since the 1970s. Shadow energy spokesman Greg Clark told the Daily Mail there would be 'no limit' on the expansion of nuclear power under a Tory government. 'In the past, we haven't been entirely clear – this is a very clear statement that we are in favour of nuclear power,' he said." – Daily Mail

"Huge offshore wind parks and new nuclear reactors to be financed by a state-backed Green Investment Bank would be built under plans to reform energy policy and meet tough emission reduction targets to be announced by the Conservatives today. In a package of measures with far-reaching implications for industry and consumers, David Cameron is also expected to call for a floor price for carbon to be set as a way of stimulating investment in cleaner forms of energy." – The Times

Tories back postcode variation in services

"The public would have to accept more variation in public services under a Conservative government, George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, warned on Thursday. His comments were echoed by Francis Maude, shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, who said there would be “postcode variation” in provision under the Tories. Underlining the Conservatives’ determination to make greater use of voluntary organisations and social enterprises to deliver public services more innovatively and locally, Mr Osborne told a conference organised by the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations: “A massive challenge for everybody will be explaining that if we want things done locally, then not everyone is going to get a uniform service.” – FT

Today's YouGov tracker pollThe Sun | Last night's ToryDiary

Liam Fox discusses his plans for the MoD under a Conservative Government

Liam Fox Daily Politics "Inside six months, Mr Fox wants to reshape his department, publish two green papers – on sovereign capabilities and small companies – settle a Whitehall-wide security and defence review, and secure adequate funding for its conclusions. And, of course, there is the war to run in Afghanistan. Considering the last SDR took 18 months, it is a daunting schedule. “Acquisition reform will probably be a bit later, maybe when we’re six months in,” he says, in a reluctant concession. “It may be ambitious, but I would rather aim to be overambitious than to waste time.” – Financial Times

Tory wheeling and dealing let Ashcroft break non-dom pact, papers revealThe Times

Pressure builds on Hague over Ashcroft's secret non-dom deal The Guardian

Peter Mandelson and Ken Clarke get the claws out

Ken Clarke and Lord Mandelson "If the British economy were really facing a Greek or Icelandic meltdown Peter Mandelson and Ken Clarke could sit down over a quiet drink and sort out a recovery plan in 30 minutes. In the process Ken would devour a couple of pints and three cigars while Peter would sip a white wine spritzer through a straw. But it isn't. So they didn't. There's an election coming. At yesterday's lunchtime gladiatorial session, organised by the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), they squared off in a manly fashion as if they both fear and dislike each other – which clearly they don't, which is probably why their parties have never loved them." – Michael White in The Guardian

Mandelson warns of further tax rises next year

"Labour does plan to raise taxes next year if it wins the election, Lord Mandelson revealed yesterday. The First Secretary admitted that “further” raising of taxes beyond the range of measures already announced would have to be considered a year from now. Public spending cuts would also have to be examined, he said." – Daily Telegraph

Cameron overrules Clarke on national insurance contributions

"David Cameron on Thursday overruled Ken Clarke, after the shadow business secretary appeared to backtrack on a Tory commitment to spell out details of a core tax policy ahead of the general election. The Conservative leader acted after Mr Clarke told a London event that the party could not decide until it was in power whether it would reverse the one percentage point rise in national insurance that is due to take effect in April… The Tories later issued a statement confirming that Mr Cameron’s pledge remained intact. “Ken [Clarke] is right to say that Budgets are difficult to penetrate from opposition but our policy on NICs is clear – we will set out our position before the general election,” an official said." – FT

BBC making covert smears against the Conservatives

"A Sun investigation has unearthed an alarming BBC bias against the Tories in the run up to the Election. Covert smears on David Cameron's Conservatives are being made right across the state-owned network – sparking hundreds of viewers' complaints. News coverage, chat shows and even kids' TV are guilty." – The Sun

Union behind BA strike receives £18m from taxpayers in ‘money-laundering’ deal with Labour

"The union behind the British Airways strike has received £18million from taxpayers under Labour, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. Unite, and the two unions that formed it, received the public money under two little-known funds to improve management and training for its members. It has been the biggest beneficiary of one of the schemes, the Union Modernisation Fund, and received a sixth of all the money given out under the Union Learning Fund." – Daily Telegraph

Lib Dem think-tank suggests Clegg could support Tories in a minority government

Nick Clegg in Birmingham "The Liberal Democrats would support a minority Conservative government in a hung parliament despite "profound differences" between the two parties, according to a report published today. CentreForum, a liberal think-tank, predicted that divisions over policy would prevent Nick Clegg entering a formal coalition with Liberal Democrats sitting in a David Cameron Cabinet. But it concluded that the pressure on the third party to act responsibly in a hung parliament would result in Mr Clegg sustaining the Tories in power if they won the most seats." – The Independent

Lord Tebbit facing charges after 'kicking dancing dragon' during Chinese New YearDaily Mail

Bloody Sunday report delayed until after the electionThe Times

Tony Blair's fight to keep his oil cash secret Daily Mail

Iron Lady’s paperwork to be given digital future

Margaret Thatcher "A Welsh company has landed the job of digitising the private archives of Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This project is intended to give greater access to the behind-the-scenes details of Mrs Thatcher’s political career than has happened with any politician in any country. The thousands of archive boxes include personal letters, details of her egg-based diet, her father’s sermon notes and draft manifestos with her amendments scribbled in the margins." – Western Mail


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