7.30pm Matthew Sinclair on Comment seeks to set the record straight about what he describes as Melanchthon's "misleading" attack on the TaxPayers' Alliance
6pm Julia Manning on Comment: The right policies on clinical research can power economic growth
12.30pm Daniel Hamilton on Comment: Syria – Corruption, censorship, and the veneer of democracy
Also on Comment: Mark Field MP argues that British businesses, large and small, must be given all the tools they need to restore growth to our confidence-battered economy
- Boris urges tube drivers not to strike on day of Royal Wedding
- Faster evictions proposed for "neighbours from Hell"
Labour 3% and 8% ahead in overnight polls
Last night's ToryDiary: "This is only the start of the unpopularity. We've only started to walk into the valley of unpopularity. I predict our journey will last at least two years. Some time in the future we will celebrate an 8% deficit as our party climbs back to popularity. In the meantime get used to our party falling into the twenties and Labour reaching towards 50%."
David Cameron admits defeat over bankers' bonuses but gets agreement on extra bank lending
- "Downing Street has accepted that it cannot halt large bonuses for bankers and is instead negotiating to make employers disclose how many are given more than £1 million." – Telegraph
- "Britain's banks were given the go-ahead tonight to pay unlimited bonuses, drawing to a close a two-year political battle to rein in the City. After months in which a series of government ministers of all parties have threatened a toughening in the stance over City bonuses, Downing Street said the government did not intend to intervene in the pay of the UK's top bankers. Ministers are instead hoping for a face-saving deal in which the banks agree to lending targets and improve the way they disclose their pay deals. One of the options being discussed is releasing information on the five highest paid individuals at each bank." – Guardian
- "In failing to make [banks] show far greater restraint, ministers risk being seen as having backed away from a solemn pledge. How quickly the promise of a ‘new politics’, free from greed by bankers and MPs, appears to have been forgotten." – Daily Mail leader
- Allister Heath calls on the banks to invest in financial education for UK schoolchildren and adults – City AM
Labour confirm that they won't support Tory Europe rebels – Telegraph
- John Redwood on why he'll be voting against Govt on Europe and for "strongest formulations" of parliamentary sovereignty.
- "It is odd that Mr Cameron has picked a fight over this matter, rather than just accept the amendments. He was unequivocal while campaigning for the Tory leadership and during the election in his support for repatriating powers to the UK and preventing any further leaching of sovereignty to the EU. Perhaps he senses there is political advantage to be had in taking on the Tory Eurosceptics, who have not forgiven him for abandoning his pledge of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty." – Telegraph leader
- "Clause 18 of the European Bill is causing angst among coalition MPs, who fear that by conceding implicitly that Common Law is the basis of parliamentary sovereignty they may elevate the judiciary to a power that rightly belongs to Parliament (“Hague urges Eurosceptics to back referendum Bill”, Jan 10). They should not be concerned. The purpose of Clause 18 is to put it beyond all doubt, both by statute and by historical precedent, that Parliament remains sovereign. One can take issue with the Bill’s explanatory note for citing common law in support of Parliament’s existing primacy. One can question whether there is a need for the clause at all. But what is clear is that Clause 18 can do no harm and in future might do good. MPs contemplating amendments would do better to focus on helping the coalition to tighten the safeguards against the transfer of powers to the EU contained in the Bill’s “referendum lock”." – Lord Leach in a letter to The Times (£)
- Melanchthon on Platform: Two problems with the European Union Bill
Stuart Wheeler becomes UKIP Treasurer – Express
Cameron team seals £2.6bn deals with China
"David Cameron and Li Keqiang China’s vice-premier, have agreed trade deals between the UK and China worth £2.6bn, in what Downing Street says is an “important step change” in Britain’s trade relationship with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies." – FT (£)
Supermarkets make big job promises to Prime Minister – Scotsman
Government accused over military covenant
"The Government was accused yesterday of failing to do enough to support the Armed Forces and rebuild a military covenant that was stretched to breaking point under Labour. Vice Admiral Sir Michael Moore, Chairman of the Forces Pension Society, said a report by a task force set up by David Cameron to examine ways to improve the pivotal pact of support between the country and its military was “incredibly wet and feeble”. “It is flute music and arm waving,” Sir Michael told The Times (£)."
"The armed forces face the immediate prospect of having to make significant cuts – of well over £1bn a year – on top of those announced in October's defence review, it emerged today. The Ministry of Defence faces a "nightmare" as it tries to cope with the extra shortfall in this year's planning round, a leading defence analyst said. The "defence review has not done enough", Michael Clarke, director of the Royal United Services Institute, told a conference in London attended by senior military officers." – The Guardian
Control orders will become "terrorism prevention powers"
"The cabinet will today approve the wholesale reform of control orders, including the end of house arrest and a lifting of the ban on computer and mobile phone use… The time limit on holding terrorist suspects without charge will fall from 28 days to 14 days, and there will also be new curbs on police stop-and-search powers. The term "control order" itself will also disappear, being replaced with the term "terrorism prevention powers"." – Independent
Philip Stephens accuses David Cameron of failing to grip key issues
"[Cameron] has been careful not to let the job take control. Toiling officials speak (often with a tinge of envy) of a prime minister who puts in “family-friendly hours”. He styles himself the government’s chairman rather than its chief executive… The light touch approach has its downsides. In the absence of a lead from Downing Street, the strategic defence review descended into a shambles. A Tory-led committee of MPs has lambasted a bungled attempt to reduce the number of Whitehall quangos. A needless upheaval in the National Health Service promises nothing so much as a political train wreck. It will not be too long before the buck starts reaching No 10." – Philip Stephens in the FT (£)
Nick Clegg to speak up for 'alarm clock Britain'
"Nick Clegg will today begin his campaign to speak up for what he describes as "alarm clock Britain" – people on middle and low incomes who are anxious about their standard of living… He has been working on the concept – his version of Ed Miliband's "squeezed middle" – for months, holding seminars with policy experts such as the Resolution Foundation, as well as the Cabinet Office, and sees the group as being defined as much by character as income levels. The key characteristics of alarm clock Britons are that they rise early, at present in the dark, work long, sometimes unpredictable shifts for relatively little money, and play by the rules. They resent those not in work and on welfare." – The Guardian
"David Laws, the former Lib Dem Cabinet minister, has been put in charge of Nick Clegg’s “Alarm Clock Britain” agenda, seeking policies that will make life better for low- and middle-income families." – Daily Telegraph
Nick Clegg sets out his views in a piece for The Sun.
Lib Dems accused of breaking byelection rules after local government minister Andrew Stunnel announces £100m housing scheme during Oldham campaign visit – Guardian
- Meanwhile the Lib Dems accuse the Labour candidate of misleading about her localness: "The Lib Dems highlighted literature stating that Labour’s candidate had lived in Newhey, very close to Oldham, with her family for 25 years. Last year, when Ms Abrahams ran unsuccessfully to become a Labour MP in Colne Valley, she claimed to live in Longwood, near Halifax — almost 15 miles away." – Times (£)
Ed Miliband woos founders of the SDP
"Mr Miliband is doing all he can to woo Liberal Democrats into what allies describe as a “coalition of values”. Senior Labour figures talk of mending the fissure in the centre-left caused by the formation of the SDP 30 years ago this March. I am told that Lord Owen, one of the original Gang of Four, has written twice to Mr Miliband in the warmest terms and that a meeting between the two men is planned. At the weekend, the peer said his “heart belongs to Labour still”, and that he hoped to be able to vote for the party again. Baroness Williams of Crosby, a second member of the breakaway group that turned into the Lib Dems, also says that she feels closer politically to Labour than to the Conservatives." – Rachel Sylvester in The Times (£)
- Gang of Four member Lord (Bill) Rodgers accuses Labour of patronising attitude to Lib Dems – Letter to Guardian
Tory MP Patrick Mercer attacks Obama for describing France as America's strongest ally
"Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a former commander of the Sherwood Foresters regiment, said: 'I’m getting a bit fed up with the American President using terms like "best ally" so loosely. 'It’s Britain that has had more than 300 servicemen killed in Afghanistan, not France. 'That to my mind is a lot more powerful than any political gesture making.'" – Daily Mail
61,000 asylum seekers have gone missing inside UK – BBC
Other political news in brief:
- Cameron hosts export strategy meeting – FT
- Lansley announces extra cash for tainted blood victims – BBC
- Sitting MP Eric Illsley's expenses trial begins today – BBC
- Ruling due on detention of children – Press Association
- Don’t merge child safety agency, warn Children’s commissioners – The Times (£)
And finally… Fisheries minister Richard Benyon doesn't know his fish
"The fisheries minister, Richard Benyon, has spent much of his time in the job locked in complex negotiations in Brussels over EU quotas – so much time, in fact, that he apparently has not been able to learn what the animals look like. In a mischievous impromptu test by a Channel 4 show to be screened tonight, the man in charge of Britain's fishing fleet struggled to name 12 species such as haddock and plaice. The minister managed two on his own: cod and monkfish and, with the help of the presenter, managed a third: pollock. Among the fish he could not spot were turbot, whiting and halibut." – Independent
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