Picture 26 10pm LeftWatch: Ex-Cabinet ministers embroiled in new cash for influence scandal

8pm ToryDiary update: Tory lead increases 3 points to 7% in YouGov tracker poll for the Sunday Times

7.30pm LeftWatch: Ex-GMTV reporter bags Geoff Hoon's seat – with Unite backing

7pm ToryDiary: Tory lead drops to 6% in ICM poll for News of the World

6.45pm LeftWatch: A Labour blogger's attempt to smear Chris Grayling is exposed

5pm ToryDiary: Daniel Hannan weighs in to counsel voters against backing UKIP

4.45pm ToryDiary: Has Cameron found his big message today?

3pm Seats and candidates: The Guardian profiles the same Tory candidates that always get profiled

Picture 182.45pm WATCH: David Cameron explains why, like Margaret Thatcher, he wants to take on vested interests in the country

2.15pm Seats and Candidates: Eight further candidates selected to contest seats in Northern Ireland

12.30pm LeftWatch: Thirteen ministers around the Cabinet table take Unite's money – will they now return it?

11.30am LeftWatch: Nick Clegg's fantasy Cabinet in a coalition government is just that – a fantasy

10.45am LISTEN: Explaining David Cameron's Conservative Party to BBC World Service listeners

10.30am WATCH: David Cameron announces plans for a bank levy

9.45am ToryDiary update: David
Cameron says a bank levy would be "fair and necessary" if not universally popular

Picture 15

ToryDiary: David Cameron to invoke the spirit of Thatcher in challenging the vested interests in the unions – and the big banks, with a bank tax

Nick Herbert MP on Platform: What the Government's dog tax debacle tells us about this Labour administration

LeftWatch: As the Labour Government has run up debts for the country, the Labour Party has been storing up debts as well

Seats and Candidates: Melanie Hampton is the latest candidate to advertise on the back end of a bus

Local Government: Filling potholes the Bournemouth way

WATCH: Michael Fallon gives a critique of Labour's economic record to the Centre for Policy Studies and outlines the path for ensuring growth again

The Guardian meets David Cameron's new breed of Tory MP

Picture 14 "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

The paper also runs profiles of eighteen of the likely new intake and has this audio slideshow on its website

> 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

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Clark and Cameron launch 12-pronged Tory energy strategy

> Greg Clark MP on Platform: After years of Labour failure to plan ahead, we need a Conservative energy policy that will deliver secure, sustainable and affordable supplies

> Matt Sinclair on CentreRight fears the consequences of a carbon tax

Tories eye war on defence waste before cuts

FOX GESTICULATING "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

> Yesterday's 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

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

Mark Harper "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 societyThe Times

Local Labour party deselects MP Anne MoffatBBC

The Tory roots of the Unite official in the heart of Downing Street

Picture 16 "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

> Wednesday's LeftWatch: Senior Downing Street advisor is fully financed by Unite

BBC shelves Panorama Lord Ashcroft investigationThe Guardian


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