1pm WATCH: Brown announces his five election pledges
9.30am Melanchthon on CentreRight: Europe must feature prominently in the election campaign
On CentreRight, Melanchthon has already replied to Tobias Ellwood.
Pensioner benefits join the NHS, international development, science, Europe and the Afghanistan campaign as ringfenced budgets under a Tory government
"David Cameron on Friday pledged to protect £4bn of spending on winter fuel payments, free bus passes and free television licences for the elderly, raising doubts about how the Conservatives would cut record borrowing faster than Labour… The Institute of Directors said free TV licences were “not essential”, and that “ring-fencing particular items of public expenditure risks making the big spending reductions we need much harder to achieve”." – FT
> Yesterday's ToryDiary: David Cameron launches pensioner pledge to rebut Labour smears about Tory policy as he says Brown should be ashamed of his record on the elderly
Polls send conflicting messages on economic competence
A ComRes poll, reported in the Daily Mail, finds Brown/Darling ahead of Cameron/Osborne when asked about economic competence but Angus Reid finds the Conservatives in the lead when only Cameron and Brown are mentioned.
Darling's proposals get thumbs down from business leaders in IoD poll – Telegraph
David Cameron needs to use Kenneth Clarke to lead the economic battle – Simon Heffer in The Telegraph
Tell us how, Mr Cameron
"We’re sick of the word “change”. What we’re waiting to hear is “here’s how”." – Matthew Parris in The Times
Richard and Judy in The Express
demand honesty from Cameron: "If David Cameron truly believes in open
democracy, let alone in the intelligence and good sense of the British
people, he should step up to the plate and tell us plainly how his
party thinks it can save the economy. All the noughts and the decimal
points, Dave. Give it to us straight. That is not just the right thing
to do, it will also have an automatic and immediate political pay-off.
Once the true scale and detail of the Conservative proposals are known
the full glare of the public gaze would fall on Brown. What would be
Labour’s answer? He’d have to tell us or fight the election running
> Yesterday's ToryDiary: VInce Cable sells austerity
Eric Pickles: We DID wobble in January
"I accept that we did wobble in early January, we always wobble at election time, even the great Margaret wobbled during elections. I never thought we had it made, I always thought it would be tough. I remain confident that we can deliver to David a working majority but don’t think for a second that I am taking it for granted.” – The Tory Chairman interviewed in The Times
For all the negative feelings towards Mr Brown, there is little enthusiasm for the Tories" – Andrew Grice in The Independent
Richard Benyon MP says a Tory government will have a fishing think tank
"In a move aimed at connecting with ‘the man on the bank’, Shadow Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon announced plans for the creation of an angling ‘think tank’ during a top-level meeting with some of the sport’s biggest names." – Angling Times
Margaret Thatcher is named as one of the "improbable heroes of the green movement" – FT
Angela Merkel has no plans to meet David Cameron when she travels to London next week
"Ms Merkel is still seething over Mr Cameron’s decision to pull the Conservatives out of the centre-right grouping in the European parliament, which is dominated by her own Christian Democrat party." – FT
£1.7m government ad boasting that police spend 80% of their time on the beat has been banned – The Sun
The Conservatives have accused Gordon Brown of "dishonesty" over immigration figures – BBC
Channel 4's FactCheck has reached the same conclusion: "Gordon Brown has done it again. The statistics he used for 2009 are an under-estimate, because they don’t include all migrants. The figures he used for 2007 and 2008, however, do. So he’s misled the public by comparing the most flattering data for the latest year with the most unflattering data in the previous years."
> Yesterday's LeftWatch:
Six weeks before the general election, Gordon Brown suddenly realises
that Labour's uncontrolled immigration policy has been wrong
Gordon Brown has told colleagues that strikes in the air and on railways could cost him the general election – Daily Mail
Heathrow protesters win third runway court victory – Guardian
"Rupert Murdoch has declared surrender. The future defeated him." – Jeff Jarvis in The Guardian on NewsCorp's paywall
The Mirror sends Lance-Corporal Jones to Steve Hilton's house, urging him not to panic.
Video and photographs here.
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