10.30am WATCH: David Cameron announces plans for a bank levy
The Guardian meets David Cameron's new breed of Tory MP
"Sir Tufton-Bufton is in for a shock. Whether or not the Conservative party finally wins this spring, the coming election will bring an extraordinary purging of the Commons. In the wake of the expenses scandal, almost 150 MPs are quitting and many more may lose their seats. If David Cameron takes office with a majority, most of his MPs will be first-timers, part of a new Tory elite that includes more women [the picture of Westminster North's Joanne Cash, right, is on the front page of the paper], more non-white and more out gay candidates than ever before – along with a sprinkling of media darlings whose only previous response to the words "Conservative party" might have been to ask why they hadn't been invited." – The Guardian
> Click here to read ConHome's extensive coverage of the next generation of Conservative MPs
Nuclear boost as Conservatives pledge tax on dirty power
"Britain’s nuclear energy industry received a boost yesterday when David Cameron pledged that a Conservative government would raise a carbon tax on coal and gas-fired power stations… Mr Cameron said that the carbon tax would be introduced via reforms to the Climate Change Levy, a tax on electricity production that is imposed on all forms of energy except renewables." – The Times
Tories eye war on defence waste before cuts
"A future Conservative government would overhaul defence spending by attacking bureaucracy and boost military exports to stimulate growth, the party's defence spokesman Liam Fox said on Friday… Fox, who along with Labour has conceded there would have to be defence savings somewhere, steered away from talking about deep cuts. Instead, he told a meeting of aerospace, defence and security professionals in London to expect radical reform of the way defence spending is apportioned and administered." – Reuters
"Shocking figures show that frontline troops risk being “short-changed” by waste at the Ministry of Defence, it was claimed yesterday. Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox cited research showing that only 18p in every pound spent by the MoD goes on military hardware." – Daily Express
Peter Oborne: Is there a sinister Labour plot to stop British troops voting in the election?
"It is not only by short-changing our brave soldiers, sailors and air crews of material support that Brown has treated them with contempt… Many of those in the Armed Forces (including those risking their lives on the frontline in Afghanistan) face the prospect of being unable to vote at the forthcoming General Election. This is a direct result of the Government’s cack-handed and thoughtless system which governs their voting rights… it now looks certain that, for the second General Election in a row, many of our fighting men and women will be denied the chance to vote. Most worryingly, this raises the very troubling question of whether Gordon Brown’s government’s failure to allow democratic representation to our Armed Forces is merely down to incompetence. Or is there some other more sinister reason?" – Peter Oborne in the Daily Mail
> Richard Benyon MP on Platform yesterday: British servicemen overseas must not be disenfranchised at the general election
UKIP candidates 'will not fight eurosceptic rivals'
"The UK Independence Party will not stand against hardline Eurosceptic rivals in other parties at the general election, its leader has said." – BBC
"The UKIP conference is in the Jurys Inn hotel in Milton Keynes, for one day only, like a very special sale. It is possibly the least charismatic place in all Milton Keynes, but even so, they are here – the Little England Euro-sceptics, brushing the dust from their eyes and proudly standing up to the Europe Monster, even as its tentacles threaten to strangle them… UKIP supporters are the worst dressers in British politics. Most are festooned with UKIP balloons and sashes and rosettes. It is a brave member who does not wear a Save The Pound brooch." – Tanya Gold observed the UKIP conference for the Daily Telegraph
Lord Pearson is interviewed in today's FT
> Yesterday's 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"
Mark Harper uncovers how Government benefits staff have scammed £2 milllion from their own department
"Figures released in a Parliamentary answer show that staff defrauded the department for work and pensions out of £1.8 million. More than half of that figure – £1.2million – was lost to benefit fraud, with £301,000 taken last year… Mark Harper, the Conservatives' Work and Pensions spokesman who uncovered the figures, said: “You couldn’t make it up. Right under the nose of department bosses, staff are fraudulently fleecing the taxpayer out of nearly £2 million. No wonder the department is losing nearly £58million a week in fraud and error when it can’t even get its own house in order." – Daily Telegraph
Chris Grayling promises to scale back the "frenzy of paedophile vetting"
"Driving instructors, home helps, speech therapists, builders and Sunday school teachers will all have to register with the state under new child protection laws, it was revealed yesterday. Cleaners, prison officers, children’s football referees, weight loss instructors, opera singers and St John Ambulance volunteers are also among the nine million who must pass a new vetting procedure – because their work may bring them into contact with children or vulnerable adults… Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘You just have to ask where all of this is going to stop. Of course we should check those who work closely with children and vulnerable adults, but the scale of what the Government is doing seems to be abandoning all common sense. We will scale back all of this, and make sure we have the simple, common sense vetting system that we need'." – Daily Mail
Matthew Parris: From this day forward, reward married couples
"Far from begrudging any married couple a modest advantage in their tax dues, I’m as conscious as most gay men are of all the distractions, costs, headaches and time commitments that a pram in the hallway brings. Though huge happinesses may come with it, I really don’t mind chipping in." – Matthew Parris in The Times
Ed Miliband promises a radical Labour manifesto
"Labour will pledge an end to the era of extortionate credit in its election manifesto, and is considering big increases in the minimum wage, the introduction of free school meals for all and a reduction in the voting age to 16, Ed Miliband, the cabinet minister responsible for its drafting, reveals today." – The Guardian
Labour to promise government webpage for every citizen in the race to create a paperless society – The Times
Local Labour party deselects MP Anne Moffat – BBC
The Tory roots of the Unite official in the heart of Downing Street
"Now at the centre of a political storm, Clare Moody, a national officer with Unite, the union orchestrating the British Airways strike, has focused attention on Labour’s links with the militants who threaten to bring the airline to its knees. Ms Moody, in her early forties, whose salary and pension are funded entirely by Unite, is one of the Prime Minister’s key aides. But while her personal Socialist credentials are impeccable and her admiration for Gordon Brown genuine and long standing, her background is one her Unite comrades would certainly not approve of, the Daily Express can exclusively reveal… Ms Moody’s mother Joan is a stalwart in the Witney Conservative Association in Oxfordshire, and was on the selection committee that chose David Cameron for the safe Cotswold seat." – Daily Express
BBC shelves Panorama Lord Ashcroft investigation – The Guardian
Please use this thread to highlight other interesting news and commentary and visit PoliticsHome.com for breaking political news and views throughout the day.