4.30pm WATCH: David Cameron explains his welfare crackdown
3.30pm International: Your brief guide to the fast-approaching Australian General Election
2.45pm Matt Sinclair on CentreRight: The Treasury aren't the obstacle to welfare reform
12.45pm Alex Deane on CentreRight: The Conservative Party's Project Umubano in Sierra Leone
10.45am Andrew Lilico on CentreRight: "For the removal of the compulsory retirement age to work, it must be accompanied by a relaxation of restrictions on demotion or pay cuts for older workers."
Martin Parsons on Platform: Conservative response to Labour's attack on Christian liberties
ConHome's Twenty Questions for the Class of 2010… answered today by Andrea Leadsom MP
CentreRight: Tom Greeves is funny and he's right-wing!
Public mood swings against the Coalition
"The public mood has shifted against the Lib-Con agreement. Only 36% agree that Britain is "better off with a coalition government than it would have been if either the Conservatives or Labour had won the election outright", with 50% disagreeing. Two months ago, the public approved the creation of the coalition by a margin of 45% to 43%." – Independent
Voting intention is Conservatives 39%, Labour 33%, Liberal Democrats 16%.
Also in The Independent, Rob Hayward lists the most vulnerable LibDem MPs
Government rejects EU push for right to levy taxes directly on British – Metro
"Lord Sassoon, the Commercial Secretary, said the Treasury would block any plans. “The Government is opposed to direct taxes financing the EU budget,” he said. “The UK believes that taxation is a matter for Member States to determine at a national level and would have a veto over any plans for such taxes."" – Telegraph
Downing Street blames Andrew Lansley for milk gaffe
"Downing Street has ordered a review of all departments’ proposed spending cuts in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the fiasco over free school milk. Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, who is on holiday, is being blamed in No 10 for failing to spot the political consequences of scrapping milk for the under-5s." – Times (£)
"If the proposal to reduce the size of the Commons is enacted, every Tory county will probably lose one Tory held constituency. He who shouts louder than his neighbour – and votes against the Government – may save his local skin at the re-selection competition in two years' time when seats are amalgamated. Mr Cameron's effective opposition to a poor ministerial decision may just be an example many of his backbenchers might choose to follow." – Michael Brown in The Independent
> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Stopping free milk would have been a 'duck house cut'
Osborne recruits quartet of City experts to manage cuts
"The chancellor has asked the bankers and financiers to act as the main figures from outside government on his “independent challenge group”, which has a remit to question the unquestionable in the Treasury’s austerity drive. The four are Adrian Beecroft, one of the founders of Apax Partners, the private equity group; Douglas Flint, finance director of HSBC; Richard Sharp, the former head of the Goldman Sachs European private equity arm; and John Nash, a founder of the Sovereign Capital buy-out group and chairman of Care UK, the nursing home group." – FT (£)
Has Willetts changed position on the graduate tax?
"It is too soon to conclude that Mr Willetts has changed tack. The government will not take a decision until Lord Browne’s universities funding review – which is supposed to look at all funding mechanisms – reports in the autumn. Mr Willetts’ comments, in suggesting that a tax should form part of Browne’s deliberations, can be construed as no more than a statement of the obvious." – FT leader (£)
"For the economy's sake, we should be encouraging our brightest youngsters to go into higher education. We won't achieve that by threatening them with swingeing tax penalties if they remain in Britain after their degrees." – Daily Mail comment
"The coalition wants a more “competitive” tax system. But a graduate tax would mean that a graduate paying a 40 per cent rate of tax today would pay towards 50 per cent. Some would pay approaching 60 per cent. The penal rates of the 1970s are coming back into view, closely pursued by the brain drain of that era." – Andrew Haldenby in The Times (£)
Transport minister Norman Lamb defends axeing of speed cameras
"This Government is firmly committed to road safety and securing yet further reductions in the number of people killed on the roads,” he told The Times (£). “We are also committed to giving local councils back powers. It is up to councils to decide where speed cameras should go. It is ludicrous for Government to specify for every road whether a speed camera should be there or not. These are not decisions for central government.”
Huhne says he is in favour of a mix of more nuclear, oil and gas and renewable energy – BBC
"The Lib Dem manifesto, on which the party campaigned three months ago, said the party would ‘reject a new generation of nuclear power stations based on the evidence nuclear is a far more expensive way of reducing carbon emissions than promoting energy conservation and renewable energy’." – Daily Mail
Motion at Liberal Democrat conference calls for boycott of Michael Gove's new schools – Guardian
Number of council houses given to immigrants has increased by 10% to nearly 10,000
"Tory MP James Clappison, who uncovered the statistics, said: 'This is one more aspect of the pressures created by immigration, at a time when people are waiting many years on a waiting list for tenancy." – Daily Mail
Conservative MP Dominic Raab tried to remove email address from websites
"Dominic Raab accused of making it hard for constituents to contact him, but MP for Esher and Walton says 'lobby groups swamp MPs with automated emails'" – Guardian
Charles Kennedy to split from wife, Sarah
"A statement issued by their lawyers said that the decision to split had been made with “great sadness,” and that the separation would be “amicable” for the sake of their young son. The couple married at the crypt of the House of Commons in 2002, and their only child, Donald, was born three years later at the height of the 2005 general election campaign." – Telegraph
"Insiders said his alcoholism placed an unbearable strain on their eight-year marriage and they have been spending more and more time apart. It is understood Mr Kennedy, 50, the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber in his native Scotland, was often absent from the family home in London where Mrs Kennedy – some 11 years his junior – raised their son Donald, five." – Daily Mail
Rachel Sylvester in The Times (£) lists the growers and shrinkers in the Cabinet, concluding with the international development team: "Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, and his deputy, Alan Duncan, are sprouting well. Their officials are baffled: Mr Duncan has replaced the African carvings in his office with a 20ft-wide velvet curtain, embroidered with a lion and a unicorn, dating back to the coronation, and a huge Union Jack. But they have taken to their new roles with zeal, showing compassion in disaster zones and determination in Whitehall. I recently put in a call to the DfID questioning the logic of the budget ring-fence and within minutes got a text from the Secretary of State saying: “Now, don’t be naughty.”"
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