8.30pm ToryDiary: As we move towards the AV referendum, some good news for the Yes campaign

5pm WATCH Ed Miliband: The middle classes are already worried

1pm ToryDiary: GrieveWatch! My life and times with the Attorney General (as he is now)


11.15am Graeme Archer in Comment: Don't Look Now

ToryDiary: One man, more than any other, stands between David Cameron and the Tories adopting a sensible, popular policy on Europe

John Delius on Comment: How to fix "Health and Safety"

Local Government:

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Parliament: As Baldwin champions her bill, whatever happened to justice for England?

WATCH: William Hague: This is a profound moment for Egypt

Cameron to relaunch Big Society

Screen shot 2011-02-12 at 08.27.36 "David Cameron will relaunch his big idea, the Big Society, in a keynote speech on Monday amid growing fears in the Conservative Party that it has started to backfire on the Government.  As local authorities and voluntary groups feel the impact of the spending cuts, some ministers are worried that the Big Society will be seen by the public as an attempt to mask the cuts and hand state-financed services to private firms." – The Independent

"With several Downing Street meetings on the Big Society this week, a speech next week, and a series of announcements coming up, today he is appointing two ambassadors, Shaun Bailey, a youth worker, and the MP Charlotte Leslie, to become the Ant and Dec of the Big Society and ensure that everyone from Whitehall to Warwick is introduced to the concept.  Mr Bailey was brought up on a council estate in northwest London, Miss Leslie went to a genteel private school in Bristol, but they both describe themselves as “believers”." – The Times (£)

"Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, has promised to help unlock £78bn of charitable assets to help build the "big society".  He also pledged that as much as 25% of public service contracts will be handed to the private and voluntary sector in a bid to break up existing public service monopolies.  He also insisted the big society brand, under sustained attack this week from charities, council leaders and the Labour party, will survive. He said that in reality, no one opposed the concept." – The Guardian

A quiet rebellion against the Big Society – Financial Times (£)

Clarke warns that there will be no swift recovery, and digs in over bowing to the ECHR

"The Justice Secretary says David Cameron and the Coalition should brace themselves for serious political “difficulty” when the true impact of the austerity drive is realised.  In a grim assessment of the “calamitous” state of the economy, the former chancellor says he does not envisage “a quick rebound”. This puts him at odds with the Treasury, which believes the return to growth will be swift after the last quarter’s shock fall." – Daily Telegraph

"We meet on the eve of the historic debate on whether some British prisoners should have the right to vote.The House’s subsequent call, by 234 votes to 22, to uphold the blanket ban declared unlawful by the Strasbourg human rights court did not alter Mr Clarke’s belief that the court’s ruling must be observed.  “As Lord Chancellor, I do not contemplate either government or Parliament suddenly deciding it’s not bound by the rule of law… you can’t do it.” – Daily Telegraph interview

…But Cameron floats not giving prisoners the vote, paying fines and dusting down his British Bill of Rights

"Despite the outburst, David Cameron told colleagues he would rather pay compensation to prisoners banned from voting than try to pass legislation that had no chance of getting through the Commons.  The Prime Minister will scrap plans to introduce a Bill later this year responding to rulings on prisoners’ votes from the European Court of Human Rights, unless an acceptable compromise can be reached that satisfies his MPs." – Daily Mail

  • If Strasbourg has its way, we will all end up as prisoners – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • Ken's dumb – The Sun

Yesterday in Comment –

Cameron and Hague hail Egypt's "precious opportunity"

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"Speaking outside number 10, the prime minister said : "What has happened today should only be the first step.  "Those who now run Egypt have a duty to reflect the wishes of the Egyptian people and, in particular, there really must be a move to civilian and democratic rule as part of this important transition to an open, democratic and free Egypt." – Daily Telegraph

"Foreign Secretary William Hague has reacted to the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, by saying "we should have faith in the people of Egypt to shape their destiny".  Hosni Mubarak stepped down as Egypt's president after weeks of protests by anti-government demonstrators in Cairo and other cities.  Prime Minister David Cameron has called the events "Egypt's moment of opportunity". – BBC

Our best policy on Egypt: leave them to it – Matthew Parris, The Times

Yesterday –

WATCH: Speaking outside Downing Street, David Cameron says that Egypt now has a "precious moment of opportunity" to have a government that brings the country together

David Cameron and Nick Clegg head-to-head on AV: PM says No to vote reform as deputy says Yes

"The Prime Minister will make a speech next week urging the public to vote No to a change on the same day that his Liberal Democrat deputy plans to do the opposite.  Mr Cameron’s intervention is likely to attract more attention than Mr Clegg’s and risks infuriating his Coalition partners.  But the Prime Minister is understood to be determined to refute suggestions that the Tories are planning to ‘soft-pedal’ in the campaign against a switch to the alternative vote – or AV – system." – Daily Mail

MPs and Peers could cancel their holiday if the AV Bill's not agreed in time – Michael Crick

Yesterday –

Cameron to appoint Director of Strategy to sharpen policy message

Screen shot 2011-02-12 at 08.32.37 "Mr Cameron has already appointed a new communications chief and is using the departure of Andy Coulson to strengthen the No 10 machine, ensuring it has a tighter grip on other government departments.One leading candidate for the role is Andrew Cooper, director of Populus, The Times’ pollster, and a former strategy director for the Conservatives under William Hague.  The move amounts to an about-turn by Mr Cameron over his style of government." – The Times (£)

Anger as Cameron rules out reshuffle of his Cabinet flops

"Some [backbenchers] want to see senior ministers including Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and Conservative Party co-chairman Baroness Warsi sacked or shifted to other posts before this year’s parliamentary summer recess.  Questions are also being raised about the ministerial futures of Foreign Secretary William Hague and Chief Whip Patrick McLoughlin." – Daily Express

Top 1% poised to pay 25% of income tax

"Under 1 per cent of taxpayers are expected to pay a quarter of all income tax this year, according to official projections.  The importance of this group of about 275,000 people – three times the number that can fit into Wembley stadium – who will pay the new 50p tax rate is a measure of Britain’s highly skewed income distribution and progressive tax structure." – Financial Times (£)

Yesterday in Comment –

Matthew Sinclair: Lower, reformed taxes will reduce tax complexity

Industry halves estimate of forest windfall

"Ministers are hugely overestimating the financial windfall that could be achieved by selling England’s public-owned commercial forests, the timber industry has warned.  Caroline Spelman, environment secretary, has predicted that up to £350m will be raised by selling off the commercial forestry to the private sector in an attempt to deal with tough spending cuts to her ministry.  But Stuart Goodall, chief executive of the Confederation of Forest Industries (ConFor), said land agents had made their own estimates." – Financial Times (£)

Yesterday in ToryDiary: Lessons for the Government to learn from the forests fiasco as Caroline Spelman puts the sell-off on hold

Gove loses High Court case over scrapping school building projects

"Mr Justice Holman said Mr Gove failed to properly consult six local authorities before imposing the cuts, and in five of the cases his decision amounted “to an abuse of power”.  The ruling means that other groups affected by central or local government cuts could apply for a judicial review if they believe they have not been adequately consulted." – Daily Telegraph

Overall, a win for Gove – James Forsyth, Coffee House

Counter-terrorism projects worth £1.2m face axe as part of end to multiculturalism

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"The move follows a speech by David Cameron a week ago in which he declared that the doctrine of multiculturalism had "failed" and would be abandoned.  The Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) is already driving a major re-think of a project called Preventing Violent Extremism.  The project has been criticised by both libertarians who claim it is an excuse to spy on Muslim communities, and others who claim it is funding non-violent groups which nevertheless propound fundamentalist schools of Islam." – Daily Telegraph

  • Cameron backs us, says Marine Le Pen. Oh no, he doesn't – Michael White, The Guardian
  • David Cameron's speech was a cry of distress – David Barber, Financial Times (£)

Other Coalition and Political News in Brief

  • Hospital A & E Waiting Times rise – Financial Times (£)
  • Daily Telegraph calls in investigator over leak of Vince Cable remarks – The Guardian
  • How millions of women are facing pension poverty by getting £40 a week less then men – Daily Mail
  • David Cameron creates Dragons' Den for small business suppliers – Daily Telegraph
  • Boris recruits troubleshooter from the suburbs – Evening Standard
  • £27m fund will replace axed debt advice services, says Vince Cable – The Guardian

At last, victory over Labour's army of snoopers

CleggNickDeclaring "They place tighter restrictions on the use of CCTV cameras, wheel clamps, town hall bin spies and DNA samples taken from innocent people.  The measures to restore historic liberties eroded under Labour were outlined in a “Freedoms Bill” announced by Deputy Prime ­Minister Nick Clegg.  He said: “Labour engaged in a 13-year assault on our hard-won freedoms. The Government is determined to hand them back." – Daily Express

Nick Clegg cancels Mexico trip over vote – The Independent

EU spends £230m on fact-finding trips

"The EU blew £230million last year on junkets to exotic locations including the Seychelles, it emerged last night.  MEPs and bureaucrats enjoyed dozens of taxpayer-funded trips and fact-finding missions in 2010, research reveals.  A visit for seven MEPs to the Seychelles cost £50,000 in hotel and travel expenses, while £77,000 was spent on a trip for 45 to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo." – Daily Mail

How to destroy our universities

"The fault lies with the schools, not the universities. If this Government did not maintain its doctrinaire, bigoted and ignorant prejudice against selective schools, the state system would produce many more students capable of thriving in the best universities. If such universities are forced to take a quota of pupils who are not academically up to it then those universities will decline. Standards would need to drop to avert a rash of failures." – Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph

Other Comment

  • Just who is bashing who, Mr Osborne? – Ruth Sunderland, Daily Mail
  • It's make your mind up time for David Cameron – Patrick O'Flynn, Daily Express
  • How much more inflation will it take to get the Monetary Policy Committee to notice it? – John Redwood's Blog

How Ed Balls gagged the IMF on the state of the UK economy in the run-up to the financial crisis

"Labour ministers put pressure on international inspectors to ‘tone down’ warnings about the precarious state of the economy before the financial crisis, according to a devastating report.  The International Monetary Fund told the last government as early as 2004 that it was borrowing and spending too much.  But the advice was rejected by Treasury officials who demanded that the global financial watchdog water down its public criticisms of tax and spending policies." – Daily Mail

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