8.15pm ToryDiary: 'Scotifying' the Scottish Tories

7.15pm Gazette: Former Attorney General Nicholas Lyell has died

3.30pm Charles Tannock MEP on CentreRight: The displaced Chagos islanders' plight should be reconsidered

1.15pm International: Australia's Tony Abbott is now (also) ahead on second preference votes

Prescott-m Noon Paul Goodman on LeftWatch: I can't stand the sight or sound of John Prescott but which retired Conservative minister, post-1997, showed a tenth of his willingness to be up-and-at the Government?

10.45am Tim Montgomerie on CentreRight: Lefties are messier than conservatives

10am Local government: Tim Loughton proposes new rules for foster children

ToryDiary: Coalition must offer "light at the end of the tunnel" to taxpayers

Julian Morris on Platform: The Unseen Costs of "Green" Investments and Initiatives

LeftWatch: Mandelson, Campbell and Blair all warn Labour against 'Red Ed'

Local government: Government to help councils act against illegal gypsy and traveller sites

Also on Local government: Shropshire CEO attacks spending transparency

Liz Truss MP reveals Ronald Reagan as her political hero in answering ConservativeHome's Twenty Questions

Boris Johnson denies he threatened to quit if Cameron vetoes Crossrail…Independent

> Tim Montgomerie yesterday: "Conservatives
at every level need to understand that some tension between the Mayor
of London and the government isn't just inevitable but politically
healthy. We all need to understand that Boris will win if he's seen as
London's champion, not if he's seen primarily as a Conservative."

…not least because Boris is likely to be able to claim he saved Crossrail (with a little help from Philip Hammond)…

HAMMOND PHILIP "London’s flagship £16bn Crossrail project is set to survive the imminent wave of spending cuts in a decision that will be welcomed by the capital’s commuters, senior government figures have revealed… The project has been marked as one of the highest priorities by Philip Hammond, transport secretary, alongside highways maintenance and funding to Network Rail for track maintenance. By contrast other capital spending projects in that department look increasingly likely to fall by the wayside, including dozens of upgrades to A-roads and a £7.5bn order for 1,400 Hitachi trains to replace Britain’s ageing InterCity fleet. Mr Hammond recently publicly stated that it was more important to clear a maintenance backlog on Britain’s road network than authorise new bypasses and road-widening schemes." – FT

Militant unions hold up Academy freedoms

"Only about 30 of the 2,000 schools who expressed an interest in converting to academies have done so before the new school year, Mr Gove will announce on Wednesday. A further 150 schools are waiting for their formal applications to be approved. Friends of the Schools Secretary are reported to have blamed the situation on “aggressive” unions and “useless” officials." – Telegraph

Aid agencies protest at 'securitisation' of development spending

"The government is to introduce a wholesale change to Britain's overseas aid budget by demanding that projects in the developing world must make the "maximum possible contribution" to British national security, according to a leaked Whitehall paper." – Guardian

More than £868,000 was spent over five years at eight of Scotland's 32 councils to cover absences for trade union activity, according to figures released by the Scottish ConservativesScotsman

A £12m home in a tax haven, a taste for cage fighting… and a judge branded him a liar: Should the Tories have taken £500,000 from this man?Daily Mail

Margaret Thatcher blocked Soviet aid for Scargill's striking miners

ThatcherNoTurningBack "Now newly released Downing Street documents have shed fresh light on the relationship between Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev, exposing how Thatcher exerted intense diplomatic pressure on the future leader to successfully block a Soviet donation of much-needed cash to the strikers." – Guardian

Telegraph: David Miliband is right choice for Labour

"David Cameron is reputed to say that the candidate he fears most is David Miliband. On balance, he is right to do so. Mr Miliband has experience of high office, and the maturity that comes with it. In an important speech last week, he insisted that he has no interest in taking Labour back to the days when it was incapable of appealing to vast swaths of Middle Britain." – Telegraph leader

070509blairquotes_sieghart "David Miliband's definition of middle class may extend further up the income scale than Ed's. But what both believe is that the interests of the middle class are no longer the same as those of the filthy rich. And, if they are going to define themselves against the Coalition Government, one way is to defend the benefits that middle-income voters get from the welfare state. Labour can only afford to keep those benefits by taxing the rich more heavily. So the left-right divide at the next election is likely to be between one party arguing for a universal welfare state in which people who put money in can expect to get something out, and two parties arguing for a pared-down version that only helps those in need. In that case, Labour would be campaigning for the middle classes and the Coalition for both the poor and the rich. If you thought coalition government threw up unexpected political alignments, you ain't seen nothing yet." – Mary Ann Sieghart in The Independent

A Russian researcher who works for LibDem MP Mike Hancock has been investigated by MI5Daily Mail

Alex Salmond predicts Scottish independence will be "dominating" issue at next year's Holyrood elections

"Alex Salmond yesterday fired the first shots before next year’s Holyrood election by pledging to put the SNP’s core policy of independence at the heart of his party’s campaign. Mr Salmond surprised observers with his bullishness on the issue, predicting it would be the “major, perhaps dominating” issue in the election and indicating that the SNP intends to link it to the UK’s public spending crisis." – Times (£)

Former BBC chairman Michael Grade yesterday said the organisation was too big and “almost unmanageable”Express

And finally… Ed Vaizey reveals that Labour-supporting artists hate the fact he has their work hanging in his office

VAIZEY-ED "Moving into the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Mr Vaizey secured a drawing by the former Young British Artist, Michael Landy, called Compulsory Obsolescence. It was the first painting Landy completed after Break Down, a performance piece from 2001 in which he destroyed all of his possessions. But when Mr Vaizey met the artist at a dinner at the Royal Academy and told him of his choice he did not get the reaction he had hoped for. I told Michael Landy he was hanging on my wall and he was absolutely horrified," Mr Vaizey admitted to The Independent."


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