5.15pm ToryDiary: Voters agree that Margaret Thatcher was better PM than Tony Blair

Coulson at NOTW5pm ToryDiary: On Andy Coulson, the BBC is dancing to Labour's tune

Noon: Matthew Elliott on CentreRight: Why Janice Small was right (in February) about AV

10.15am WATCH: Tony Blair considers cancelling London booksigning amid security concerns

ToryDiary: Conservative MPs should vote for a turnout threshold in the AV referendum bill

FIELD MARK Mark Field MP on Platform: Constitutional change should be promoted carefully and sparingly – which is why a referendum on changing the electoral system should be on hold for a year

Local Government: More councils open their books

"Rab Butler is my political hero because he showed that in politics you can make a real difference." – Gavin Williamson MP answers ConHome's Twenty Questions for the Class of 2010

Ian Parsley on ThinkTankCentral: The Centre for Social Justice's new report on social breakdown in Northern Ireland shows that simply throwing money at problems does not work

Paul Goodman on CentreRight: Seven barriers to a successful Papal visit (which I hope can be cleared)

WATCH: A new poll shows 60% of people are in favour of the Government taking steps to reduce the deficit

The FT reports that Tory whips have averted a rebellion on the AV Referendum Bill tonight…

"A threatened Conservative rebellion on voting reform – which could have raised serious tensions within the coalition – looks to have been averted after intense pressure by the Tory whips. David Cameron told whips to ensure the coalition did not suffer its first defeat in the Commons tonight, when Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, presents a bill allowing a referendum next May on adopting the alternative vote to elect MPs." – FT (£)

…but the dissent remains with the prospect of defeats in the coming weeks

DAVIS DAVID "David Davis today puts himself at the head of a simmering Tory rebellion over the Coalition's plans for reform of the voting system. David Cameron's former leadership rival insists the Government must consider shifting the date of a planned referendum on whether Britain should adopt the so-called 'alternative vote' (AV) system. Mr Davis also says ministers will have to agree to implement a threshold for a minimum turnout in the poll if they want to get legislation through the House of Commons… Though the legislation is expected to pass unscathed through the Commons tonight, there is a real prospect of the Government suffering its first defeat when it returns in the weeks ahead." – Daily Mail

Lib Dems "will lose most seats" from proposed boundary changes

"Labour will seek to exploit unease among Liberal Democrats by warning today that their MPs are most vulnerable to David Cameron’s planned boundary changes. An analysis for Jack Straw, the Shadow Justice Secretary, suggests that Nick Clegg could lose up to half of his 57-strong parliamentary party from the move to cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600." – The Times (£)

David Miliband challenges Lib Dem MPs to back his plans for electoral reformThe Independent

> Janice Small on Platform yesterday: Why Conservatives should vote ‘Yes’ to the Alternative Vote

> Melanchthon on CentreRight: Why Conservative MPs should vote against holding an AV referendum

Damian Green to promise smarter immigration controls

Damian Green 2010 "Immigration minister Damian Green is expected to promise "smarter" controls on entry to the UK when he releases research showing that tens of thousands of people admitted on student visas were still in the country five years later. In his first major speech since the coalition Government took office, Mr Green will acknowledge that the annual cap on economic migrants from outside the EU will not be enough on its own to deliver the target of reducing net immigration to the tens of thousands." – Press Association

Michael Gove wants baccalaureate qualification for England

"The education secretary, Michael Gove, today announced plans to combat the decline in exam standards by proposing an English baccalaureate qualification to recognise the achievements of GCSE students who complete a broad course of studies. The "English bac" would not replace GCSEs, but would be a certificate to reward pupils who pass at least five of the exams, at grade C or above, including English, maths, one science, one foreign language and one humanity. "If you get five GCSEs in those areas, I think you should be entitled to special recognition," Gove said." – The Guardian

"In an interview yesterday, the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, expressed concern at the sharp decline in the number of students taking exams in foreign languages… Mr Gove's recognition of the problem is welcome… But will Mr Gove's idea of a Baccalaureate help rectify matters?" – Independent editorial

PHILLIPS-MELANIE "Anyone who understands what has actually happened to the education of our children must pray that Michael Gove succeeds in doing what he says he intends to do. No other minister faces a challenge of this magnitude — to reverse decades of cultural subversion. No other minister has a task of such importance. For, without an educated population, a society cannot survive and thrive. For sure, his reform programme is not perfect. But with Michael Gove, we now have the best chance of tackling our education disaster — a chance that we may not have again." – Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Gove to push English Baccalaureate

The Left-wing media continue to give prominent coverage to the News of the World phone-tapping allegations

"News International and David Cameron's PR chief, Andy Coulson, face the prospect of a fresh parliamentary inquiry into phone-hacking by the News of the World after Labour MPs said they plan to press for the issue to be referred to the powerful standards and privileges committee of the House of Commons." – The Guardian

"All five candidates for Labour's leadership used a debate yesterday to call into question Mr Cameron's judgement in appointing Mr Coulson, the former News of the World editor, to head his press machine. In a further development, lawyers for a group of public figures confirmed they were to go to court this week to force Scotland Yard to disclose the names of thousands of politicians, celebrities and journalists who are believed to be victims of phone hacking." – The Independent

"Mr Cameron’s aides say that Mr Coulson “is going nowhere” and a number of Tory ministers have leapt to the former editor’s defence. Michael Gove, the education secretary, said that police had investigated the hacking claims and found the Downing Street media chief had “no case to answer”. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Gove said: “I have had a look at some of the press reports and there seems to be a recycling of allegations we have had before." – FT (£)

> ToryDiary: New York Times reopens tabloid hacking claims allegedly involving Downing Street Communications Director

SNP "to shelve plans for vote on independence"

Alex Salmond square "The Scottish Government has confirmed it is poised to drop its flagship plan for an independence referendum in this parliament, despite spending three and a half years preparing for the vote. First Minister Alex Salmond is set to abandon plans to put his referendum bill before MSPs and will instead appeal directly to the electorate to back the need for a vote on independence at next year's Holyrood election." – The Scotsman

George Osborne to scrap Pre-Budget Report

"George Osborne will scrap the pre-Budget report this year in a break with Gordon Brown’s era and a signal of a return to more normal economic policymaking. The chancellor’s decision to ditch what had become a second annual Budget will save resources at the Treasury; in its place a slimmed-down autumn statement, with new forecasts, towards the end of the year." – FT (£)

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown rails at Guido Fawkes…

"Here he is making history again and again by disseminating titbits on politicians, some valid most low and distasteful… His "news" is carried by others through the internet sewers until the stench becomes intolerable. Think of them as the worst end of the press, disreputable and increasingly intrusive, and all in the name of what, exactly? It is simply political soft porn and must alarm the more serious bloggers, who conscientiously pass on invaluable information about political parties and the workings of government." – Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in The Independent

…as William Hague Tweets his thanks to the public for their support this last week

Hague yesterday used Twitter to thank the public for its support
following last week’s personal statement denying internet claims of a
gay affair. The Foreign Secretary said he and his wife Ffion had
received ‘huge public support’ after issuing a statement on Wednesday,
in which he denied having a relationship with a male aide and revealed
that Ffion had suffered a number of miscarriages." – Daily Mail

> Thursday's ToryDiary: William Hague given vote of confidence by Tory members

Pickles and Cable calm fears for enterprise bodies

"Eric Pickles and Vince Cable are seeking to calm business fears that local enterprise partnerships (Leps) will be a fragmented patchwork of council-dominated talking shops, as almost 50 bids to set up the economic development bodies around England are lodged." – FT (£)

The public are "baffled" by the Big Society

"David Cameron’s commitment to renew civic life and create a Big Society is called into question today by the think-tank and charity most closely associated with the project. The Young Foundation says that the Big Society is in danger of being reduced to a slogan with ministers failing to establish what the programme will entail, what the budget will be and how they plan to measure success. It says that the public has been left baffled by the little it has seen so far/ " – The Times (£)

Tony Blair says Coalition is soft on crime

Tony Blair 2010 TV interview "The former prime minister, who famously once promised to be “tough on crime”, criticised the Government’s plans to cut prisoner numbers and scale back the DNA database. In an interview published in today’s Daily Telegraph, Mr Blair said he “powerfully disagrees” with the liberal penal policies of Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary. “You’ve got to put in prison those who deserve to be there,” he said, adding Britain should look to developing countries that “just don’t accept” criminality. He said “dysfunctional families who produced 14-year-old kids stabbing one another to death” are “making people’s lives hell”. – Daily Telegraph

Clueless: Labour rivals flunk quiz

"Bungling Labour leadership rivals flunked a simple quiz yesterday – with Ed Miliband stumped on the date of St George's Day. All five candidates struggled to cope with the questions designed to see if they are "in touch" with the real world." – The Sun

> Yesterday's LeftWatch: Only two of Labour's putative leaders know when St George's Day is

David Miliband: "I have changed since the general election"The Independent

Ed Miliband's team confident their man will win Labour race on second votesThe Guardian

10 million in line for rebate after tax fiascoDaily Telegraph

Junior doctors desert the NHSThe Times (£)

EU budget chief says UK rebate should endReuters

Ministers plan for Oyster Card-style travel across the UKDaily Mail

Misery for millions today in first wave of tube strikesDaily Express

And finally… What Tim Montgomerie got up to this weekend

Picture 2 "It might seem an unfortunate time for a Secretary of State to bed down for the night with a leading Tory blogger, but should the nature of the relationship between International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell and Tim Montgomerie, the ConservativeHome website editor, become the subject of internet speculation, they can at least call on eight Ethiopian children, three cows and a goat to confirm that their union was solely political. Mr Mitchell, usually more comfortable in the Santorini linen sheets of his constituency home (graciously provided by the taxpayer), spent Saturday night on the floor of a single-room thatched mud hut in Ethiopia, as part of a fact-finding visit to the country. Mr Montgomerie slept under a rug on the bare floor next to the fire." – The Independent

> Tim will be writing about his trip to Ethiopia on ConHome in due course


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