10.15pm ToryDiary: Samantha Cameron makes her debut on the campaign trail – and as a blogger

Labour-campaign-poster-fe-0019.45pm LeftWatch: 'Cameron will take Britain back to the 1980s'

7.15pm WATCH: Eric Carlin explains that he has quit as a member of the Government's advisory council on the misuse of drugs over the way in which Mephedrone has been criminalised

5.15pm LeftWatch: Will Stoke-on-Trent Central be Labour's next Blaenau Gwent?

4.45pm ToryDiary: 'Buy George', shares in Osborne are on the rise

4.30pm Gazette: A tribute to Croydon Councillor Lindsay Frost

3pm ToryDiary update: David Cameron accuses Labour of being "on the wrong side of working people and British business" over national insurance debate

CameronUnionFlag2.45pm ToryDiary: David Cameron pledges that a Scottish Secretary would have a seat in any Cabinet he forms

1.30pm WATCH: ITN reports on why today's political news suggests that David Cameron should be having a Happy Easter 

1pm ToryDiary: The bookies are still predicting a Conservative majority

Noon WATCH: Rail unions to reballot workers over strike action after court blocked next week's planned walkout

10.30am LeftWatch: Charity Commission rebukes League Against Cruel Sports for anti-Conservative political activity

ToryDiary: More business leaders back Conservative plans to scrap rise in national insurance

Picture 23 Max Wind-Cowie on Platform: Equality shouldn’t be a dirty word for Conservatives


Seats and Candidates: Tally of Martin Bell-inspired Independent candidates reaches 26

Local Government:

Parliament: John Maples backs windfall tax on banks and banking reform in his final Commons speech

TAXPAYERS ALLIANCE ThinkTankCentral: The TaxPayers' Alliance is the favourite think tank of ConservativeHome readers

Ruth Lea on CentreRight: Britain needs another 1980s-style “supply side revolution”

WATCH: David Cameron tells B&Q workers in Yeading about Conservative plans to cut government waste and debt – and stop the rise in the National Insurance

David Cameron defends his belief in repealing the hunting ban

Picture 21 "David Cameron described himself yesterday as a "country boy" who loved
hunting and shooting, hinting that if he was elected Prime Minister the
ban on fox hunting would come to an end… Mr Cameron stressed five
times over in an interview lasting only a couple of minutes that MPs
would get a free vote on the issue, and speculated that some Tories
would vote against bringing back hunting." – The Independent

Clear blue water is emerging between the parties

"A clear election choice is emerging. On one side are the Tories, backed by wealth-creating private sector bosses who had to make cuts to survive this bitter recession and who, in many cases, have emerged the stronger for it. On the other stands Labour, committed to never-ending spending on the bloated public sector, and its paymasters, the union barons who yesterday threatened 'very difficult' industrial disputes against any party which dares to make cuts. The stakes could not be higher." – Daily Mail editorial

"You have to be either brave or foolhardy to accuse some of the country's most successful businessmen, employing between them more than half a million people, of being dupes. Lord Mandelson and Alistair Darling fall into the second category. Their ill-judged tirade against the 23 captains of industry who yesterday endorsed on this page the Tories' plan to scrap planned increases in National Insurance contributions smacked of raw panic." – Daily Telegraph editorial

"The decision to raise money from NICs, rather than income or consumption taxes, is a toll on employment. Labour has argued that no risk should be taken with recovery. That ought to have been a point of agreement with the business leaders. As it is, the split looks deep and permanent." – Times editorial

The Mail tries to reheat last week's story about rumblings in Surrey East

Picture 29 "David Cameron was hit by a Tory race row last night amid claims that
up to 100 activists have signed a petition demanding the deselection of
one of his leading black candidates. Party sources say Sam Gyimah, a
33-year-old entrepreneur chosen to fight the safe seat of Surrey East,
has faced smears over his business interests… A Tory spokesman said:
‘Sam Gyimah is an excellent candidate who will be fighting the seat for
us at the election. The rumour of a petition is at least three weeks
old and in that time no petition has been presented to the party'."-
Daily Mail

> Last weekend in Seats and Candidates: Sam Gyimah knocks back attempt to undermine him

Good news in today's polls

"The Tory lead over Labour last night widened to eight points – its biggest in two months. The daily YouGov poll for The Sun put the Conservatives on 39 per cent, with Labour slipping to 31 per cent and the Lib Dems on 19 per cent." – The Sun

"Labour support has dropped below 30% for the first time in three months, according to a new Guardian/ICM poll. The results confirm that the Conservatives retain a clear lead as Gordon Brown prepares to call the election, expected to be announced next week. Although the Conservatives are at 38%, down two points on the last Guardian/ICM poll and down one on a more recent ICM survey, the party will draw comfort from Labour's failure to make progress. Labour has slipped two points since the most recent ICM poll to 29%." – The Guardian

> Last night's ToryDiary on the polls

The Telegraph claims YouGov "gives Labour an unfair advantage"

"The Daily Telegraph can disclose that the “raw” results of YouGov surveys in the month up to mid-March, covering more than 16,000 people, indicated that the Conservatives had a lead of more than 12 per cent. However, the figures – leaked to The Daily Telegraph – were then “weighted” using an undisclosed YouGov formula which reduced the lead to six per cent… Last night, You Gov said all polling companies applied weighting to surveys.” – Daily Telegraph

YouGov chairman Peter Kellner issued a prebuttal yesterday, as did Anthony Wells of UK Polling Report

> Yesterday's ToryDiary

Labour accuses Tories of sleight of hand over cuts

"David Cameron was challenged today to explain how he intended to "magic" an extra £12bn of public spending efficiencies over the next year amid Labour claims that the government will already be driving through efficiency savings across Whitehall worth £35bn by the coming year in comparison with 2007-8." – The Guardian

Andrew Lansley reaffirms Tory plans on alcohol duty during visit to Edinburgh

Andrew Lansley 2010 "Duty would be trebled on alcopops and tax doubled on super-strength cider by an incoming Conservative Government as part of David Cameron's plans to tackle Britain's alcohol problem. Super-strength beers such as Carlsberg Special Brew and Tennent's Super would also be hit by a tax increase, said the shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley.Mr Lansley outlined the Tories' plans on a visit to Edinburgh yesterday that saw him reaffirm his party's opposition to the SNP's attempts to impose minimum pricing on alcohol in Scotland." – The Scotsman

Gordon Brown claims to back marriage in the tax system after all

"Gordon Brown dramatically undermined Labour attacks on Tory marriage policy yesterday after he appeared to back the principle of recognising married couples in the tax system. Labour has spent four years rubbishing David Cameron’s pledge to grant marriage tax breaks as ‘social engineering’. But in an interview with over-50s magazine Saga, Mr Brown made the bizarre claim that he has already done just that. He said that by allowing husbands and wives to transfer their Inheritance Tax allowances to each other, ‘it’s a recognition of marriage in the tax system if you like’." – Daily Mail

Grant Shapps slams quango's £33,000 junket to the French Riviera

"A quango funded by the taxpayer and set up to provide affordable housing spent nearly £33,000 sending seven staff to a conference on the French Riviera. The hotel bill was £1,400 per person per night when the Homes and Communities Agency attended the annual MIPIM International Property Conference in Cannes. That made a total of £29,400 for three nights, on top of nearly £3,000 travel costs… Shadow Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: “In the midst of a recession and with 1.8 million families on the waiting list for a home, it’s unacceptable for the organisation responsible for building affordable homes to be spending so much on putting up so many staff in luxury apartments." – Daily Express

Tracy Corrigan: How a shift in Tory thinking can boost business

"The Big Society plan sounds as if it would only affect, well, society, but I think there is an underlying shift in Tory attitudes that may change policies towards business and commerce too. The Tories' enthusiasm for social enterprises and ideas such as the school voucher system involve a coupling of business and government which suggests a subtle repudiation of the last Conservative administration's enthusiasm for unfettered market forces." – Tracy Corrigan in the Daily Telegraph

> Wednesday's ToryDiary: David Cameron promises "neighbourhood army" of 5,000 full-time community organisers

In his last pre-election column, Jeff Randall bemoans politicians' lack of honesty

Jeff Randall "In a system run by a heavy mob of spin shysters, smear merchants and rebuttal units, the avoidance of uncomfortable facts and inconvenient truths is what passes for a good day on the stump. Detail is the devil's work. This, I'm afraid, is the intellectual emptiness into which contemporary British politics has collapsed. Most mornings, I turn on the Today programme, listen to the obfuscation that masquerades as parliamentarians' highbrow comment, and fight a primeval urge to smash the radio." – Jeff Randall in the Daily Telegraph

Lib Dems urge Labour to force referendum on PR

"The Liberal Democrats today urged Labour to show resolve and force through a referendum on Commons voting reform in the final days of parliament, insisting that a majority could be achieved in both houses." – The Guardian

Pound leaps on good factory data and ‘Conservatives to win’ poll The Times

Next week's RMT rail strike ruled unlawfulThe Sun

TV historian Tristram Hunt selected for safe Labour seat BBC

Ex-Haringey children's services boss in line for £1 million compensationDaily Mail


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