Ticket tout 6.30pm Parliament: Conservative MPs Mike Weatherley and Sajid Javid differ over whether to clamp down on "ticket touts"

4.45pm Roger Helmer MEP on Comment: How a light-hearted dig at the absurdity of modern social mores got me accused of committing a "hate crime"

3.15pm ToryDiary: Steve Hilton is NOT a hippy

3pm WATCH: Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen announces his resignation as leader of Fianna Fail

Isle of Wight1.45pm Parliament: Seven Tory ex-Cabinet ministers back successful amendment in the Lords to retain the Isle of Wight as a single constituency

11.30am Antonia Cox on Comment: Will cuts at the home of Trident compromise our safety?

10.45am WATCH: As the first Foreign Secretary to visit New Zealand in three decades, William Hague predicts a "tremendous future" for the relationship between our countries

ToryDiary: After Coulson, Downing Street should make four strategic shifts in communications strategy

Michael Gove 2010Michael Gove MP on Comment: The scale of our education challenge is so great that we need urgent reform. On every front.

Also on Comment: Alistair Thompson writes that the Strategic Defence and Security Review was not strategic and has not increased our security

LeftWatch: Miliband forces Ed Balls to U-turn on economic policy – but how long will he be able to contain him?

Parliament: Tory MPs condemn BBC slur against Norris McWhirter at Culture Questions

Local Government: Utility firms to face lane rental charges


Andy Coulson's departure from Downing Street dominates the front pages of the broadsheets

Picture 32 "Andy Coulson, one of the key members of David Cameron's inner circle, has resigned as Downing Street's director of communications, saying the wave of allegations that he was involved in illegal phone hacking when editor of the News of the World made it impossible for him to continue. "When the spokesman needs a spokesman, it is time to move on," Coulson said in a carefully crafted statement which had been in preparation for 48 hours." – The Guardian

No 10 mourns for Coulson the karaoke king who left them wanting more – The Times (£)

"David Cameron has rejected suggestions that hiring Andy Coulson had been an error of judgment, saying his communications chief had been “punished twice” for the News of the World phone-hacking scandal." – FT (£)

"Mr Coulson was probably better at tactics than at strategy and at winning good print rather than good broadcast coverage, but he grounded many political discussions in the day-to-day reality of the lives of the readers that he understood. This outsider’s perspective was occasionally a source of tension inside the Cameron team, but tension that Mr Cameron tolerated because he felt that he benefited from it." – Times (£) editorial

Steve Richards "The departure of Andy Coulson is highly significant for a single reason. In what is an almost impossible job he delivered for David Cameron. Very soon after Coulson arrived to work with Cameron in opposition, media coverage of the Tory leader started to improve considerably. Until his appointment Cameron's media strategy was based largely on the naive assumption that appearances on television news bulletins would be enough to project a message. The strategy overlooked the centrality of newspapers in reflecting and shaping the way a leader is perceived. Coulson addressed the gap quickly, most famously with his former employers at News International." – Steve Richards in The Independent

Who will get Coulson's job? – The Guardian

Other reaction to Coulson's departure

  • Daniel Finkelstein: Coulson fitted in. The Tories will soon miss him at their meetings – The Times (£)
  • Nick Watt: Why Andy Coulson's resignation came as no surprise to David Cameron – The Guardian
  • Simon Heffer: David Cameron's judgment over Andy Coulson was deeply flawed – Daily Telegraph
  • Paul Goodman: Andy Coulson had a nose for the view of the aspirational voter – The Guardian
  • Anthony Seldon: Great leaders don’t need spokesmen telling them what to think and do – The Independent
  • The prime minister has been damaged by the phone-hacking issue in ways for which he has only himself to blame – Guardian editorial
  • Andy Coulson has departed, but uncomfortable questions remain – Independent editorial

> Yesterday's coverage on ConHome:

Charles Moore: It was selfish – and wrong – of Lady Warsi to give that speech

Baroness Warsi 2010 "Lady Warsi is a remarkable woman. She is outspoken, brave and good, in a soundbite-y way, on television. She has striking dark looks and flashing eyes. She is Islam's version of the once-famous Edwina Currie. Like Mrs Currie, she turns out to be a bit of a liability. Lady Warsi's speech made some good points about the marriage of faith and religion. She drew interesting lessons from our history about how the problem of "divided loyalty" – once so much feared in relation to Catholics and Jews – can be overcome. But she nevertheless took her stand in a wrong and dangerous place." – Charles Moore in the Daily Telegraph

> Paul Goodman, David Green and Alex Deane all took exception to Warsi's speech on ConHome earlier in the week.

Effective control of the Scottish Conservatives "has been passed to London"

"Senior insiders told the Daily Telegraph that money raised by the Scottish Tories is being passed to the UK party along with ultimate oversight over a radical restructuring of their operations. In the latest sign Scottish party chiefs are being sidelined, applicants for three new regional campaign manager posts north of the Border are being asked to apply to the Conservatives’ Millbank headquarters in London. The Scottish Conservatives have been forced to accept their new status following the publication of a review by Lord Sanderson of Bowden, which was highly critical of their leadership, financing and membership recruitment." – Daily Telegraph

Tony Blair urges the west to confront Iran

Picture 25 "Tony Blair expressed his “regret” to the Iraq inquiry for the loss of life in Iraq but insisted such sacrifices must not dissuade the West from confronting Iran with “requisite determination and, if necessary, force”. Giving testimony for a second time before the Chilcot inquiry, the former prime minister confidently defended his decision to topple Saddam Hussein and pleaded with world leaders to abandon their “wretched posture of apology” towards Tehran." – FT (£)

  • Tony Blair's promise to George Bush: count on us on Iraq war – The Guardian
  • Bereaved relatives berate tearful Tony Blair at Iraq war inquiry – The Times (£)
  • Tony Blair is left without a sofa to hide behind at the Iraq Inquiry – Andrew Gimson's sketch in the Daily Telegraph

Cabinet Secretary orders inquiry into whether localist reforms undermine parliamentary democracy

"The head of the civil service has ordered an inquiry into the government's localism reforms amid growing concerns that its "big society" plans risk eroding the basic democratic principles of transparency and ministerial accountability, the Guardian has learned. There are fears by those at the top of Whitehall that parliament's fundamental right to hold the government to account for its actions is being tested by the scale of the coalition's ambitions to devolve power from the centre to local communities and outsource services to charities and the private sector." – The Guardian

House of Lords expenses system was a ‘quirk’ says accused peer

Lord Taylor of Warwick "A former Tory peer accused of lying about his expenses believed it was a 'quirk' of the House of Lords to list as his main residence a property he never stayed at. Lord Taylor of Warwick is on trial for claiming travel costs between a home in Oxford and London, when he actually lived in the capital. In practice, the expenses system works differently from the guidelines peers are given, he told the jury at London's Southwark Crown Court." – Daily Mail

Police minder confesses to liaisons with Alan Johnson's wife

"Alan Johnson’s former body-guard has admitted an affair with the politician’s wife. Close protection officer Paul Rice, 45, confessed yesterday after being confronted by superiors about his relationship with Laura Johnson. The experienced constable was suspended last night and is likely to face an unceremonious sacking over the scandal."- Daily Mail

  • How first a marriage and then a political career were ended – Andy McSmith in The Independent

Other political news in brief:

  • Row over hike in university vice-chancellors' pay – Daily Telegraph
  • Lord Mandelson is cleared to advise corporations and governments – The Times (£)
  • FSB warns that fuel duty rise will hit small firms – Daily Express
  • Boris Johnson's top civil servant 'sacks himself' – Yesterday's Evening Standard
  • Unite's BA cabin crew to strike at Easter – The Sun
  • NHS loses millions as fraud bill grows among health staff on the make – The Times (£)
  • 7/7 inquest to hear from MI5 agent – Press Association
  • Banking inquiry 'considering' sector break-up – BBC
  • UK can't deport asylum seekers back to Greece – Daily Mail

Ex-BBC anchor Peter Sissons: Left-wing thinking is in the BBC's DNA

Picture 31 "By far the most popular and widely read newspapers at the BBC are The Guardian and The Independent. ­Producers refer to them routinely for the line to take on ­running stories, and for inspiration on which items to cover. In the later stages of my career, I lost count of the number of times I asked a producer for a brief on a story, only to be handed a copy of The Guardian and told ‘it’s all in there’." – Peter Sissons writing in the Daily Mail

Is Henry VIII David Cameron's new role model? – Geoffrey Lean in the Daily Telegraph

And finally… William Hague is given a traditional Maori welcome in New Zealand

Picture 30
There are more pictures on the Foreign Office Flickr page, whilst Mr Hague is interviewed in today's New Zealand Herald

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