7.45pm Zoe Healy on International: Fine Gael's big Irish victory

6.15pm WATCH:

Cameron Thoughtful2pm WATCH: In 25 minute interview with Al Jazeera David Cameron rejects In/Out referendum on EU, says drug legalisation would create more problems than it would solve; and identifies fall of Berlin Wall as defining world event in his political development.

10.30am ToryDiary: Hague says Government working round-the-clock to rescue remaining Britons in Libya

ToryDiary: What questions should feature in this month's grassroots survey?

ThinkTankCentral: Families £4,250 worse off this year as inflation becomes bigger issue than cuts

Ed Hall on Comment: First Past The Post is a simple, comprehensible and – most importantly – fair electoral system


Seats and candidates: Labour set for massive victory in Barnsley Central and No2AV campaign launches anti-Clegg poster

Glyn Gaskarth on Local government: Will those in non-jobs find real jobs?

WATCH: Hammond vows to convert opponents of HiSpeed rail plan

The UK is to stop direct aid to 16 countries, including Russia, China and Iraq

"Resources will be focused on the 27 countries that account for three-quarters of the world's maternal mortality and malaria deaths, such as Ghana and Afghanistan. By 2014, 30% of UK aid is expected to go to war-torn and unstable countries. The report confirms that direct aid to countries including Iraq and Kosovo will stop, whilst aid to India will be frozen." – BBC

Liam Fox: Libya crisis shows why we're right on defence reform

Fox Thumbs Up "As we have seen in Libya in the past 96 hours the UK still has the military capability to protect British interests. At a time when the commercial sector was unable or unwilling to fly, the Government used a range of military assets, including Royal Navy warships each with a detachment of Royal Marines and C-130 Hercules aircraft to evacuate hundreds of Britons and citizens from a dozen other countries. In fact, British Armed Forces have been leading the way with HMS Cumberland being the first military asset from any country to enter and evacuate citizens from the Libyan city of Benghazi." – Liam Fox in The Sunday Telegraph

But, writes Patrick Mercer MP in the Sunday Express: Defence cuts have left us too weak to help our own people

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: The RAF flies over 150 civilians out of Libya

TODAY'S MUST-READ: John Rentoul charts the twists and turns of Cameron's foreign policy

Cameron At Lecturn "Cameron's foreign policy, or lack thereof, is perhaps more important. To start with the formative issue, he only just supported the Iraq war. He classified himself as one of "the confused and uncertain", who voted "grudgingly, unhappily, unenthusiastically" for military action. Since then, he has stuck to his principles with the constancy of a pinball. Some of his best friends are liberal interventionists, and he is an admirer of Tony Blair, but in a speech in Pakistan in 2008 he said: "I am a liberal Conservative, not a neo-conservative". In the same speech, he preferred cliché to meaning: "We should accept that we cannot impose democracy at the barrel of a gun; that we cannot drop democracy from 10,000ft and we shouldn't try." Did that mean policy in Afghanistan and Iraq had been mistaken; or just Iraq; or just the democracy bit? During the election campaign last year, he was a muscular interventionist pledging whatever it took to get the job done in Afghanistan, and to protect defence spending from the worst of the cuts. Soon after he was elected, he had spun on a bayonet-point to do the one thing that the interventionists thought was an open invitation to the Taliban to fight on: namely to set a deadline for British troops to pull out of Afghanistan. Then he as good as declared that the main aim of foreign policy was trade promotion." – John Rentoul in the Independent on Sunday

"It is not fair to say that [Cameron] came to office without one, but it is reasonable to suggest that his foreign policy could be summarised on the back of an envelope. 1) Concentrate on domestic affairs. 2) Get out of Afghanistan as soon as we decently can and avoid any further foreign entanglements. 3) Hope Europe does not throw up anything which provokes my backwoodsmen. 4) Demonstrate the compassionate side of my Conservatism by maintaining the aid budget. 5) Sell more stuff abroad. 6) Concentrate on domestic affairs." – Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer

"Our world-class defence firms can be left to flog their own kit. British foreign policy means protecting our people and promoting democracy. Without being suspected of ulterior motives. The days of flogging tear gas to Arab autocrats should be well and truly over." – Fraser Nelson in the News of the World (£)

  • Janet Daley says we must decide whether to give active help to those who want freedom, or to consign them to the Middle Ages – The Sunday Telegraph
  • George Walden: Selling arms will always backfire on Britain – Independent on Sunday
  • Margareta Pagano: Cameron shoots himself in the UK-armed foot – Independent on Sunday
  • We must never again reduce foreign policy to the pursuit of profit – Ed Miliband for The Observer
  • Paul Wolfowitz: Libya’s oil curse has stained the West’s hands – The Sunday Times (£)

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Matthew D'Ancona clocks the decline of Hague and the rise of Osborne – "the real Deputy Prime Minister"

Labour plan to paint Coalition as "incompetent"

Forsyth James "Labour’s strategy over the past few months has been to paint the Coalition as incompetent and ideological. But Ed Miliband’s team knows the incompetence charge is the far more potent one. They remember how the Tory Party never recovered from Black Wednesday, despite the years of economic prosperity that followed, and so are determined to use every opportunity to undermine the Coalition’s reputation for effectiveness. They believe that once the Coalition is seen as incompetent, it will be impossible for it to command public support for the cuts or its reform programme. Their line will be: Would you trust this lot to get it right?" – James Forsyth in the Mail on Sunday

Ministers say high-speed rail will make Birmingham the new LyonThe Sunday Telegraph

"Our proposed high-speed network would bring central London to within 49 minutes of central Birmingham, to within 80 minutes of Leeds and just 73 minutes of Manchester. High-speed services would provide a huge uplift in capacity on key routes between the North and London, and, as passengers transfer to the new line, valuable capacity will be released on the existing network for commuter and freight services." – Philip Hammond in the Independent on Sunday

Chris Patten's powers as new Chairman of BBC Trust

PATTEN Chris "The chairman of the BBC Trust has a powerful position, but Patten won’t be able to interfere with day-to-day editorial decisions. Where he’ll be able to make an impact is by commissioning reports on, for example, how the BBC covers business or reports on religion. He’ll then be able to force programme-makers to absorb the lessons." – Tim Montgomerie in The Sunday Telegraph

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: David Cameron's Today joke (and what can we expect from Chris Patten?)

If Murdoch gets BSkyB, it will be a victory for monopoly capitalism – Will Hutton in The Observer

Political in Brief:

  • Labour 8% ahead in latest YouGov/ Sunday Times poll, Government approval rating = Minus 25% – YouGov
  • Liberal Democrat ministers asked for 'tithe' as party faces financial crisis – Observer

Peers and MPs blow £500k on Westminster art spreeMail on Sunday

Ed Balls urges the government to ditch the recent VAT rise on petrol to ease motorists’ misery amid fears fuel costs could hit £1.40 a litre

"In an interview with The Sunday Times, Balls urged immediate action, warning that Britain was facing a “cost-of-living crisis”. “Filling up a family car now costs £65-£75. World oil prices are already very high, and the chancellor has chosen, at this very moment, to raise fuel prices further, by pushing up Vat. I am urging him to reverse that increase,” he said." – The Sunday Times (£)

Huge numbers would support anti-immigration, patriotic party if it rejected violence


"A Populus poll found that 48% of the population would consider supporting a new anti-immigration party committed to challenging Islamist extremism, and would support policies to make it statutory for all public buildings to fly the flag of St George or the union flag." – Observer | Mail on Sunday

> Read ConservativeHome's diagnosis of the 'ANTI' voter

Barack Obama catches up with Republicans on gay marriage – Toby Harnden in The Sunday Telegraph

And finally… Larry the let-down?

Screen shot 2011-02-27 at 08.54.21 "We were promised a killer instinct and a readiness to clean up politics. Well, Downing Street, anyway. But as with some of his ministerial colleagues, the move into government has caused Larry the Cat to lose his way. The nation's premier pet is more interested in catnapping than rat-catching." – Independent on Sunday


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