4.15pm ToryDiary: Paul Goodman presents a five point plan for Conservatives to win over the 'squeezed middle'
11.30am Lee Rotherham's verdict on David Cameron's EU "deal": "Imagine you rented a house or flat where the rent kept going up, year after year. But your landlord was the worst sort. He never mowed the front lawn. The ornamental pond had lots of dead fish floating around in it. You had no locks on the doors and your co-tenants with impunity raided your fridge and your tool collection and never brought anything back. Then one day you came back from work to find that he’d gone into your flat and taken £100 out of your wallet to increase the rent. Getting £50 back would not, I suggest, be a triumph, nor for that matter a permanent solution to your housing issues."
10am ThinkTankCentral: "Cameron may well have severely underplayed the UK's hand" says Open Europe
Mark Clarke on Platform: We must make the NHS even more whistleblower-friendly
Local government: By 68% to 23% voters support the Coalition on Housing Benefit
"The Prime Minister was said to be “bristling” with anger after the Mayor of London suggested that capping housing benefit at just under £21,000 a year would lead to the poor being “pushed out” of their homes." – Telegraph
"Boris does not speak by accident. His blunders are always calculated, and suit his style of drive-by politics. No10, where Boris is loathed, sees nothing accidental or inadvertent in his remarks about Kosovo. Both his words and his choice of subject for a row with the PM are described as “strange”, but the tone is icy cold. This is war." – Benedict Brogan on Telegraph blogs
"For far too long we have tolerated a welfare state that gives a better lifestyle to benefits claimants than to hard-working families who pay their own way. After all, countless immigrants, including Kosovars, manage to live and work very successfully in London while paying their own way without recourse to the state. That is what Boris Johnson should be devoting his undoubted eloquence to arguing." – Daily Mail leader
Housing benefit cuts are a vote-winner among the commuting classes – Andrew Gilligan in The Telegraph
> Yesterday's ToryDiary: "The Coalition's housing benefits policy is not only morally right it is a big first test of its determination to bring the deficit under control."
> Tim Montgomerie in The Guardian: "As soon as possible, we must move to a system where people on benefits are not able to afford a better lifestyle than those who are working. I would say that 99% of Conservative MPs understand that. They also understand that this is the first big test of the government's determination to make difficult spending decisions. They know that Cameron cannot weaken or every lobby will smell weakness and attempt to reverse other pledges. On this first battle of the deficit, Cameron must show that he's not for turning."
Higher rate taxpayers must declare if their wife receives child benefit… but will they always know?
"Families could face draconian fines under Government plans to enforce child benefit cuts. Couples with one higher-rate taxpayer will be required to inform the taxman whether or not the mother is claiming child benefit. And fathers will be liable for financial penalties if their partners have quietly kept on taking the allowance without telling them." – Daily Mail
"Child benefit was designed specifically to bypass husbands or partners and is paid directly to the mother. In the interim, fathers could be forced — by law — to fill in an additional form to declare their income, which undermines George Osborne’s promise that the system will be less bureaucratic. This would then be enforced by a new law threatening legal sanctions if they failed." – Times (£)
> Iain Martin at the Wall Street Journal broke this story yesterday: "How can the government easily prove the connection between mothers who pay no tax or earn less than £44,000 and the higher rate taxpayer she might live with?"
'Twenty Tory MPs will help keep the foxhunting ban'
"Mike Weatherley, the MP for Hove and Portslade, is one of around 20 new Conservative MPs who are in favour of retaining the 2004 Hunting Act, which outlaws hunting with dogs. "The likelihood is that the ban will stay," he told the Guardian. "I think there's enough of us to ensure that the ban will remain. A lot of people who decided not to vote Conservative will be surprised to find that it's Conservatives who will stop it [being repealed]." – Guardian
Councils may get extra money if they approve wind farms
"Local councils are to get extra funding if they give the go-ahead to new wind farms, under plans to stop local communities sabotaging renewable energy projects. Ministers are worried at the vast number of wind farm projects that are being turned down by councillors in the face of local opposition." – Independent
"Ministers may give councils the power to keep the business rates they collect locally in an attempt to stimulate economic growth in the regions, Vince Cable has revealed. The measure – which will be welcomed by local authorities – was announced in the government’s white paper on regional economic growth on Thursday." – FT (£)
Police failed to make a single arrest for suspected terrorism after stopping and searching more than 100,000 people last year – FT (£)
No evidence that people support mandatory life imprisonment – BBC
Pubs could be banned from opening in poor areas in a planned blitz on binge drinking – The Sun
Family holidays will be “beyond many people’s reach” after tax hikes add up to £340 to the cost of getaways – Express
"Airport tax will leap by up to 55 per cent from Monday, adding hundreds of pounds to the cost of family holidays abroad. The increases in Air Passenger Duty (APD) for all flights out of UK airports, which come into force next week, will push up the tax on a family of four’s trip to the Far East or Australia by £240 to £680. Those in economy face an increase of £120 to £340." – Daily Mail
Turkey's EU accession bid is going nowhere soon – Martin Kettle in The Guardian
And finally… Wine, tennis rackets, a rug and iPad among gifts from other world leaders to David Cameron
"Somewhere in the cellars of Downing Street a post-election celebratory hamper from the designer Kelly Hoppen sits unopened, as does a rug from the prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ties from Silvio Berlusconi and tennis rackets and wine from Nicolas Sarkozy. A £429 iPad from Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, is down in the cellars too – but that's because Cameron already had purchased one previously given to him by the headphones tycoon Mike Faith. If this had been the Blairs, that one might have found itself on eBay faster than you could say comprehensive spending review." – Guardian
But, notes the Daily Mail, NOTHING for Nick Clegg.
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