10.30pm ToryDiary update: Tory lead is also up to 7% in latest YouGov/Sun tracker poll

10pm ToryDiary update: ComRes figures are 37/30/20

9.45pm WATCH: The opening statements from tonight's Channel 4 Chancellors debate

9.30pm ToryDiary update: Tory lead is 7% in ComRes poll – more details to follow at 10pm

9.15pm ToryDiary: Labour and the LibDems did not win a debate they expected to win

Screen shot 2010-03-29 at 19.57.18 ToryDiary: Live blog of Cable v Darling v Osborne

7.45pm ToryDiary: Opinium/Express poll has Tory lead back at double figures

7.15pm WATCH: Joanna Lumley and the campaign for Gurkhas' rights hit back at Labour minister Kevan Jones for smearing them

5.15pm Parliament update: Sir George Young welcomes new rules on MPs' expenses

Picture 255pm LeftWatch: Labour candidate gives Nazi salute as he lazily smears Tory allies in Europe

3.45pm WATCH: The BBC's Giles Dilnot explains where in England there are local elections taking place on May 6th

3pm Andrew Lilico on CentreRight welcomes the announcement of rises in NICs thresholds and early spending cuts as promoting recovery and protecting jobs

2.45pm Local government: Labour-run Copeland Council's zero rating on housing

2.15pm Seats and Candidates: Reading West's Alok Sharma releases a campaign video

Picture 221.15pm WATCH: Sir Ian Kennedy explains the principles behind the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority's overhaul of MPs' expenses

12.30pm ToryDiary: Ian Birrell joins David Cameron's office as speechwriter

12.15pm ToryDiary: Former Labour MP joins the Conservative Party

11.45am Parliament: Parliamentary Standards Authority announces MPs' expenses shake-up – but they will still be allowed to emply one family member

11.30am Matthew Elliott on CentreRight welcomes George Osborne's announcement on National Insurance

11.15am ToryDiary: Taxpayers, the NHS AND defence benefit from Tory assault on waste

10.30am WATCH: George Osborne announces Conservative plans to block rises to National Insurance 

Picture 12
ToryDiary: The Conservative attacks on Gordon Brown are entirely justified and justifiable (whereas Labour's personal poster campaign against George Osborne is not)

Mark Littlewood on Platform: Selling off unnecessarily state-owned assets should be part of a package to drastically cut public spending

LeftWatch: Tony Blair to make first election campaign appearance tomorrow

Seats and Candidates: Antony Calvert launches new fundraising website in his bid to give Ed Balls a "Portillo moment"

Local Government:

ThinkTankCentral: Tory government urged to develop strong policies against genocide and war crimes

WATCH: Philip Hammond clashes with Hilary Benn over tax and spending plans

Gazette: A tribute to Myrtle Boal

Conservatives to block National Insurance rise

George Osborne on Politics Show "The Conservatives will promise to block next year’s rises in National Insurance, allowing them to fight the general election on a platform of lower taxes than Labour. The multi-billion-pound tax pledge, to be made by David Cameron and George Osborne, is intended to open up “clear blue water” between the parties. Tory insiders said it would form the centrepiece of the Conservative election campaign and make seven out of 10 workers better off." – Daily Telegraph

"After several weeks in which the Tory poll lead has narrowed, George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, will announce that the party will cut the cost for employees and employers, who each face a 1 per cent increase in contributions from April 2011. It is understood that the Tories would reduce the planned rise by about half, although only low and middle-income earners would benefit. The announcement comes on the day that Mr Osborne confronts Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, and Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, in the first big television debate of the election campaign." – The Times

"One can see the appeal for the Conservatives of today's announcement of a cut in national insurance. It comes just a few days after Alistair Darling's budget – which was notably short on tax-and-spend doorstep pleasers – and on the morning of the chancellors' debate on television." – Guardian editorial

"Tonight's debate between the three men vying to be the next Chancellor is not only the first real salvo in the election campaign but also a crucial test of credibility for George Osborne. After the blatant dishonesty of his latest budget was exposed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Alistair Darling might be expected to be nervous at the prospect. But with the polls still too close to call and the public apparently unconvinced that the Tories are to be trusted with the economy, it is arguably the Shadow Chancellor who has most to prove." – Daily Mail editorial

Picture 14

> Last night's ToryDiary: Seven out of ten working people will be better off if Cameron becomes Prime Minister

Michael Gove wants ex-servicemen to retrain as teachers…

Michael Gove 2010 "Forces heroes will be given financial help to retrain as teachers under Tory plans. Former members of the Army, Navy and RAF would receive £9,000 for a post-graduate teacher training course. Fewer than 70 ex-servicemen a year shift their leadership skills and discipline to the classroom. But shadow schools secretary Michael Gove said his Troops to Teachers scheme would lead to hundreds more signing up." – The Sun

…as he accuses Labour of undermining adult authority in schools

"More than one in four teachers has been forced to deal with violent pupils this year, new figures show… Michael Gove, shadow schools secretary, said: "The Government has undermined adult authority in schools. Over the last ten years teachers have been denied the power to keep order in the classroom and stop violent incidents. Unless there is good discipline pupils can't learn and teachers can't teach and the children who suffer most are the poorest." – Daily Telegraph

Tories attack Labour's £7 billion pre-election spending surge

"Ministers have made £7bn of spending pledges to boost the UK's regional economies in the past two months, fuelling opposition claims that they are engaged in a pre-election binge at taxpayers' expense. Nearly a third of the total comprises transport projects affecting Labour-held marginal seats or areas bordering them, Financial Times research has found. Other projects involve def-ence contracts – some directly benefiting marginals – and grants and loans for industrial companies." – Financial Times

Will this waste of our money never stop? – Philip Johnston in the Daily Telegraph

David Cameron signals that industrial relations will be an election battleground

David Cameron speaking blue 2010 "British Airways and union leaders clashed again today over the impact of the strike by cabin crew as David Cameron signalled his intention to use industrial relations as an election battleground, condemning Gordon Brown for "weakness" over the dispute… "We have seen from the prime minister a certain weakness in response to these industrial disputes," the Conservative leader told BBC1's Politics Show." – The Guardian

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Highlights from David Cameron's Q&A with voters on BBC1's Politics Show

Pro-hunting campaigners are supporting the Tories

"Hundreds of hunt supporters are under orders to ride into action in key marginal seats within hours of a general election being called, in the knowledge that David Cameron will allow a return to hunting with dogs if he gets to Downing Street. Documents seen by The Independent show that hunt masters have been rounding up supporters and sending them to the most fiercely contested seats, ahead of a big push planned for the first 72 hours of campaigning." – The Independent

Chris Grayling tears into Labour's five election pledges

Chris Grayling 2010 square "Gordon Brown's five key election pledges were last night branded a CON. Vows on issues affecting every voter were exposed as nonsense. Critics tore into his promises to SECURE economic recovery, RAISE living standards, BUILD a hi-tech economy, PROTECT frontline services and STRENGTHEN fairness in communities. Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: "Gordon Brown is not telling the truth about what he has done. Why on earth should anyone believe any more of his hollow promises?" – The Sun

> Yesterday's LeftWatch: Labour's five pledges don't stand up to scrutiny

Darling admits he did threaten to quit the Government

"Alistair Darling has admitted for the first time that he threatened to quit the Government over Gordon Brown’s attempts to move him from the Treasury. The Chancellor said that he told the Prime Minister has not prepared to accept any other post, forcing Mr Brown to back down." – Daily Telegraph

> WATCH: Darling threatened to quit Government if Brown moved him

Female suicide bombers kill 35 in Moscow Metro blastDaily Telegraph

'Meow meow' review may be hampered after drug adviser quits in scientific objectivity rowThe Guardian

MoD planning for surge in casualties 'falls short'BBC

Labour increases lead over SNP in ScotlandThe Times

Sir Bob Worcester: The election debates are the wild card in this electionDaily Mail

Boris Johnson: I accosted the litter louts and you should tooDaily Telegraph

New MPs' expenses regime unveiledPress Association

Bishops battle for rights of Christians as they back nurse barred from work for wearing a crossDaily Mail

And finally… SamCam ditches her scooter

Picture 13 "Cameron has given up riding her beloved scooter after falling pregnant with her fourth child. The 38-year-old wife of Tory leader David has made the sacrifice as a safety precaution ahead of the new arrival, due in September. Samantha regularly rode her black Piaggio from their West London home to her office at luxury stationers Smythson in Bond Street… A Tory Party spokesman said: "Now she is more heavily pregnant she won't be using her scooter. She is looking after herself." – The Sun


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