7.30pm Local government: Oldham Council spends £3,000 on visit to luxury hotel to discuss cost cutting

6.45pm WATCH: Sky News's Joey Jones analyses Gordon Brown's appearance before the Chilcot Inquiry

5pm LeftWatch: Gordon Brown accused of evading the real questions at Chilcot and contradicting Geoff Hoon and others on defence spending

4.15pm ToryDiary: The pre-election "ground war" is being won by the Conservatives

4pm Stephan Shakespeare defends YouGov on CentreRight: It is because we constantly update that we remain reliably accurate

3.45pm Seats and Candidates: Conservatives on course for at least five gains in Wales

2.30pm ToryDiary: YouGov starts polling for CCHQ

SouthRibbleAdMonday1st 1.30pm ToryDiary: CCHQ approves strong immigration message for campaigning in marginal seats

1pm Local government: Cameron outlines transparency plans for Town Halls. The full text of his speech this morning to the Conservative Councillors Association.

12.45pm WATCH: Gordon Brown tells the Chilcot Inquiry that the Treasury did not interfere with military planning for the Iraq War

12.30pm Patrick Nolan on CentreRight: Recognising marriage in the tax system is bad policy

12.15pm Seats and Candidates: Annesley Abercorn launches a campaign video for his bid to regain Hazel Grove from the Lib Dems

10.45am ToryDiary: David Cameron refuses to take his MP's pay rise – and ministers in any government of his would have to follow suit

Michael Gove happyToryDiary: Michael Gove warms to further private sector involvement in state education

Paul Ormerod and Paul Diggle on Platform: A strong supply-side environment, not technocratic economic analysis, is needed to secure growth

Seats and Candidates: Robert Halfon is more recognised in his constituency than any other Conservative candidate

Last night in Seats and Candidates: Harshadbhai Patel selected for Brent North

Local Government:

Parliament: MPs vote to ban the supposedly sexist term that is "chairman" – despite a spririted defence from Sir Patrick Cormack


WATCH: ITN previews Gordon Brown's appearance before the Chilcot Inquiry

David Cameron to hold talks with Nicolas Sarkozy next month

SARKOZY"David Cameron will meet Nicolas Sarkozy during the French President’s visit to London this month to discuss collaboration if the Tories win the general election. The pair last met for a 20-minute talk in Paris in June 2008. A Conservative Party official said: “We have plenty to talk about. We want to talk to President Sarkozy about climate change, economic co-operation, competitiveness and the G20 summit this summer. There’s a genuine enthusiasm to work together.” – The Times

MPs get automatic 1.5% pay rise

"MPs will pocket an extra £1,000 a year after a sneaky pay rise was awarded at a time when millions of workers face pay freezes or job cuts. With Britain’s unemployment rate soaring to 2.6 million and increasing wage culls across both the private and public sector, politicians’ pay is set to go up to nearly £66,000 a year. The pay rise will prove awkward for MPs as it is due to come into effect in three weeks, just in time for the general election campaign." – Daily Mail

YouGov daily tracker has no change in Tory lead in last 24 hours The Sun | Last night's ToryDiary

Tory lead slips in the marginals

"The Conservative lead is crumbling in the crucial marginal seats that David Cameron is relying on to deliver general election victory for the party, a poll last night disclosed… The YouGov poll for Channel 4 News found the Tory lead in 60 Labour-held marginals had shrunk from seven to just two points over the past year. The slide in Conservative support is further evidence Britain could be heading for a hung parliament after the election expected on 6 May." – The Independent

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: YouGov marginals poll for Channel 4 suggests Tories on course to win 95 Labour seats

> WATCH: Tim Montgomerie, David Hill and Tim Razzall talk to Jon Snow about Channel 4's YouGov marginals poll

Electoral Commission gives all-clear to Tories over Ashcroft donations

ASHCROFT Michael "The Tories were last night cleared of wrongdoing over donations from Lord Ashcroft. Labour had tried to smear the Conservatives by saying £5.1million given by the peer's firm Bearwood Corporate Services over eight years broke funding laws. But after a 14-month probe the Electoral Commission ruled the billionaire's donation was "legal and permissible". A Tory spokesman said: "The attacks on Michael Ashcroft are part of a politically-motivated campaign to distract attention from the real issues facing this country." – The Sun

"A clean bill of health from the commission will come as a relief to Ashcroft, but he could soon be called in front of a group of influential MPs. Labour MP Gordon Prentice, who chairs the public administration select committee, said he would hold a “special one-off inquiry” into Ashcroft’s peerage and tax affairs on 18 March. Three Tories on the committee said they would not take part in the grilling, accusing Prentice of political point scoring." – City AM

Lord Ashcroft faces new claims of tax avoidance – The Guardian

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: The Electoral Commission rules Lord Ashcroft's firm's donations to the Tories as "legal and permissible"

Liam Fox: Brown has serious questions to answer at the Chilcot Inquiry today

Liam Fox Daily Politics "Gordon Brown will today face questions over claims that he denied funds needed by the Armed Forces to fight in Iraq. … Liam Fox, the Conservative shadow defence secretary said Mr Brown has "serious questions to answer" today. He said: "There have been so many accusations that he knowingly underfunded defence, that he blocked equipment orders, cut the budget while we were at war, and played politics with announcements of troop numbers. He must be held to account for these decisions, some of which may have had tragic consequences.” – Daily Telegraph

Ten questions Chilcot should ask BrownTimes leader

Backbench reformers win big role in controlling Commons business

"A long campaign to wrest control of the parliamentary agenda from government triumphed today when MPs voted overwhelmingly to establish an elected backbench committee to take responsibility for tracts of Commons business. The reforms, passed in the dying days of a discredited parliament, represent the most radical erosion of the authority of party whips for many years." – The Guardian

> Yesterday in Parliament: Sir George Young welcomes the passing of the "Wright reforms" to give more power to backbenchers over Commons business and committee chairmanships

Andrew Lansley seeks OFT ruling on NHS care provision

"The competition watchdog has been asked to rule on the health secretary's policy that NHS organisations should be the "preferred provider" of NHS care. Andrew Lansley, the Conservative health spokesman, approached the Office of Fair Trading yesterday after the Department of Health in effect blocked an investigation into the policy by its own competition advisers… Mr Lansley accused Andy Burnham, the health secretary, of being "a puppet of the [health] trade unions", who, from Unison to the British Medical Association, have strongly supported Mr Burnham's view that NHS organisations should be the preferred provider of NHS care." – FT

George Osborne finds Alistair Darling's latest economic pronouncement "extraordinary"

George Osborne on Marr 2 "Alistair Darling has risked a further split with Gordon Brown after admitting Britain's debt-laden economy is on "thin ice". The Chancellor made the remark in a private discussion about British finances… Shadow chancellor George Osborne said: "This is an extraordinary admission of the risks that Gordon Brown is running with people's jobs and mortgages. Everyone knows that you shouldn't go out on thin ice in the first place." – The Sun

Welsh Tories gather in Llandudno for party conference

"David Cameron's party are in town for their Welsh spring conference but, in reality, this will be the party's pre-election rally and pep talk for the troops. An eve-of-conference message from the party's shadow Wales secretary Cheryl Gillan sets out themes for the weekend. She could not be clearer. Bluntly, she says that Wales cannot afford five more years of Gordon Brown and Labour." – BBC

SNP members threaten boycott of licence fee over exclusion from TV debates

"The row over Alex Salmond’s exclusion from a series of televised general election debates has escalated dramatically after it emerged SNP supporters are threatening a boycott of the BBC licence fee. Stewart McMillan, a Scottish Nationalist MSP, said party members had told him the decision not to include the First Minister in the three shows was akin to “spitting on Scotland”. – Daily Telegraph

Tony Blair's memoirs to be published in SeptemberDaily Mirror

And finally… David Cameron gets less-than-welcome backing from Robert Mugabe

"Robert Mugabe has backed David Cameron to win the election. The Zimbabwe president said his country would have better relations with London if the Conservatives got in. "We have always related better with the British through the Conservatives than Labour," he said. "We have a better chance with David Cameron than with Brown." – Daily Telegraph


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