4.15pm Jill Kirby on Comment: Big Government is still getting in the way of Big Society – and Big Growth
3.30pm J P Floru on Comment: How to destroy personal pension rights
Noon International: Remembering Ronald Reagan
11.45am LeftWatch: Labour planned to end the Educational Maintenance Allowance
Europe Minister David Lidington MP on Comment: Why every Conservative can be proud of the European Union Bill
Cllr Tim Crowley on Local government: Lib Dem Sutton Council on borrowing spree
Also on Local government: Gloucestershire plans to pay off £125 million of debt through farm sales
David Davis: Cameron's inner circle is predominantly “well-off” and risks becoming out of touch with a large part of the country – Telegraph
Superb blog from Benedict Brogan on the David Davis threat: "The David Davis eruption is becoming a weekly event. Ask around the Conservative parliamentary party and it is difficult to find a lot of enthusiasm for old bruiser. The new intake don’t really know him, while those who have been around for the most part think he’s lazy or arrogant or misguided or a crazed egotist or just one of those blokes who laughs at his own jokes. Or all of those. It’s been easy for David Cameron and George Osborne to dismiss him as a serial bandwagon jumper… [BUT AFTER LAST NIGHT'S INTERVENTION AND LAST WEEK'S VOTES-FOR-PRISONERS INITIATIVE]… It is too much to hope that his colleagues will overnight drop their objections to Mr Davis, but he is increasingly articulating a form of earthy, populist Conservatism that many MPs feel they do not hear enough from the Government and they might start to like it. Which is why No10 cannot afford to dismiss him any more: he is a threat."
> Yesterday evening's ToryDiary: David Davis launches "bombshell" critique of Cameron's understanding of 'real people'
Boris Johnson calls for Cameron to act on price of petrol
"The electric revolution is happening, but it will not be overnight. The up-front cost of the vehicles remains high, and there is still no electric people carrier. For the foreseeable future, millions of people will have to invest not just in a car but in an overpriced lagoon of fossil fuel. If I were the government, I would think seriously about that fuel duty stabiliser, because when it costs more to fill your tank than to fly to Rome, something is seriously wrong." – Boris Johnson in The Telegraph
- Philip Hammond hints at fuel duty cuts in March's Budget – Daily Mail | The Sun
- "The All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil made the bid for weekly fuel quotas. The group of 20 parliamentarians from the main parties argue that limiting what drivers consume would deal with global energy shortages and the climate crisis." – Express
John Hayes wants to create hierarchy of titles for master craftsmen in skills restoration
"Proposed reforms to the English apprenticeship system have been inspired by “a mix of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with just a bit of Vaughan Williams to add an English flavour”, according to the minister responsible. John Hayes, the skills minister, cited Richard Wagner’s opera, in which the drama takes place in and around a guild of poets and musicians in the 16th century. He said the guild system was at the “heart of my thinking". He wants a hierarchy of titles for people with high-level technical skills, as still exists in academia. Mr Hayes aims to “build a system of fellows and masters” in vocational training. In an interview with the Financial Times, he said: “We still hear the terms used. We think of master craftsmen and master-classes. The imagery is very much rooted in our consciousness. We’ve just taken away the public policy which matches the expectation.” – FT (£)
Centre for Social Justice: Coalition cuts being made on basis of 'hunches'
"The government is slashing billions of pounds' worth of services that could be saved if it planned its cuts better, according to a report by a thinktank with close ties to senior Conservatives in the coalition. The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) says it has identified a dysfunction in Whitehall where cuts are being made on the basis of "hunches" instead of sound analysis of whether or not a programme is productive. It suggests that far more efficiency savings could be found if the cuts were properly planned, but as it stands services could be sacrificed unnecessarily." – Guardian | Daily Mail
Chris Huhne has criticised Scotland Yard's handling of phone hacking scandal
"Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat energy secretary, cast doubt on News International's claims that hacking was the work of a "rogue reporter". He criticised the initial handling of the allegations by the police, and accused them of reacting to his calls for a full inquiry last year by "scurrying back to Scotland Yard" and dismissing the idea in an afternoon." – Guardian | Watch Chris Huhne
Can Cameron afford for Murdoch to get control of BSkyB?
"There is the controversial matter of Rupert Murdoch's bid for the 61 per cent of BSkyB that he does not already own… So powerful is the tide against the bid, and so encompassing – ranging from The Guardian to the BBC to the Telegraph Media Group to the Daily Mail – that it is increasingly hard to see how Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, can fail to block it. Friends and foes alike will be outraged if he doesn't. All Mr Cameron's political interests would seem to lie in making sure Mr Murdoch does not get his way." – Stephen Glover in The Independent
Concerns over growth, grow
"Britain’s economy may have suffered near-zero growth during the final three months of last year as freezing conditions damaged the recovery, economists have warned with the official figures due tomorrow." – Times (£)
"Bizarrely, the coalition is failing to follow its own, OECD-inspired advice: that the best way to reduce a deficit is to ensure that three-quarters of the reduction comes from cuts and only a quarter from tax hikes. So far, all the tightening is coming from tax hikes, including Vat and April’s rise in national insurance. The good news is that… the global boom is accelerating. The bad news is that the coalition is continuing to hammer private firms with more red tape and tax – and failing to follow its own policies on spending." – Allister Heath in City AM
Matt Ridley: Privatise the forests
"Although it has plenty of good people, like all nationalised industries, the Forestry Commission has shown itself to be deaf to its customers’ preferences. Staggeringly, it has nearly always run at a loss. Even last year, with buoyant timber prices thanks to subsidised biofuel boondoggles, its loss on your behalf — or “net operating cost” as its accounts call it — was £75 million. To own nearly ten times as much land as a top duke and yet to lose money is quite a feat." – Matt Ridley in The Times (£)
- Cutbacks are happening faster than social groups can grow to fill the gap – The Times (£) says Tory leadership is worried at public resistance to Big Society
- Owen Paterson brings forward plans for varied corporation tax for Northern Ireland – FT (£)
- The Sun launches a campaign for better compensation for injured war heroes.
- 500,000 lose the weekly bin run, despite Tory promises – Daily Mail
Clegg insists LibDems and Conservatives would fight general election as separate parties – Telegraph
Labour in brief:
- Ed Balls' problem is mainly one of arrogance. Like Gordon Brown, he believes he's superior to almost everyone – Mary Ann Sieghart in The Independent
- Yvette Cooper says national security has been sidelined while Tories and Lib Dems argue over the future of control orders – Guardian
- Alan Johnson's wife asks for divorce – Telegraph
Milton Keynes, Reading, Aberdeen, Leeds and Bristol are resilient in face of recession but Sunderland, Liverpool, Birkenhead, Swansea and Newport are struggling – Guardian
George W.’s younger brother Jeb is the most credible Republican candidate for 2012
And finally… Downing Street's rat seems to be avoiding eviction – after being spotted scampering across the PM's doorstep again – The Sun
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