5pm ToryDiary: What are the moral principles underpinning this Government?

4.15pm Parliament update: Video of George Osborne's first Commons exchange with Ed Balls

4pm Parliament: Is it ever right to restrict the activities of an All-Party Parliamentary Group?

3.30pm Gazette: David Cameron meets David Hasselhoff

3pm Parliament: George Osborne wins first Commons exchange with Ed Balls

12.45pm WATCH: George Osborne explains why he is increasing the bank levy by £800 million


Noon from ConHomeUSA: A Pledge By America, not the Pledge To America, is what will save our nation's future

11.45am ToryDiary update: The Institute of Directors warns against bank levy becoming a regular source of easy revenue

11am Local government: The Big Society in Hammersmith and Fulham is thriving

11am Richard Fuller MP on Comment: Promoting democracy in Africa should be a foreign policy priority

10.15am ToryDiary: Would you like Steve Hilton, Craig Oliver and Ed Llewellyn to explain what they are doing?


ToryDiary: Francis Maude defines and defends the Big Society


ToryDiary: Family breakdown costs the taxpayer £1,364 every year


ToryDiary: George Osborne announces £800 million extra tax on banks


David Davies MP on Comment: A layman's guide to the difference between debt and deficit – and why the Government is right to be cutting it (the deficit)

Ed Watkins on Comment: The narrow scope of the English Baccalaureate undermines Michael Gove’s credentials as a liberalising reformer


Parliament: Justine Greening confirms Treasury looking at Fair Fuel Stabiliser

Local government:

William Hague starts 'reform tour' in Tunisia

HAGUE WILLIAM NW "William Hague will meet senior ministers in the interim government. He will go on to visit more nations in north Africa and the Middle East, and will announce new funding for projects linked to political and social reform." – BBC

Ten Tory peers back Labour amendment for 40% turnout threshold on AV referendum

"The government suffered a narrow defeat in the House of Lords on Monday night when rebel Tories joined forces with Labour peers to make the planned referendum on electoral reform non-binding if turnout falls below 40%. Labour hailed its win as highly significant after an amendment by the former minister Lord Rooker to introduce a 40% threshold in the referendum on AV, due to take place on 5 May, was backed by 219 peers to 218. The Labour peers were joined by 10 Tory rebels including the former cabinet ministers, Lord Lamont, Lord Brooke and Lord Forsyth." – Guardian

6a00d83451b31c69e20147e25f525e970b-250wi Big Society under scrutiny

  • The Guardian suggests Eric Pickles vetoed 10 Downing Street plan to secure extra funding for 'Big Society groups.
  • David Cameron must spell out his vision for the Big Society or see it strangled at birth, argues Philip Johnston in The Telegraph
  • "Downing Street is concerned that some of its key ideas, such as the Big Society and NHS reorganisation, are becoming confused in the minds of voters with public sector cuts. Mr Cameron wants to separate the two and argues that vested interests and bureaucracies are trying to thwart reform by blaming the Government for cuts in services." – Independent
  • "There is such a thing as society. Sometimes the state is a necessary binding agency even if it is an inefficient one. Only in Britain is there an enduring fantasy that services can improve with less investment. The day Cameron and Osborne opted for sweeping cuts was a defining one with a thousand consequences. One of them is brutally clear. The decision killed off the Big Society and no relaunches or "revolutionary chiefs" can save it as the axe falls." – Steve Richards in The Independent
  • "A combination of misplaced government urgency to do too much too soon, ill-thought-out projects and, above all, the scale of the cuts has weakened confidence in the big-society offer. There is no evidence that the country is falling back in love with the big state, but Mr Cameron has failed to sell his alternative." – Guardian leader

Most Liberal Democrat MPs oppose coalition's NHS reformsGuardian

Eight leading charities attack NHS shake-up – BBC

Screen shot 2011-02-08 at 07.04.55 "Universities are to be given government approval to offer more places to students from poor backgrounds with lower A-level grades in order to transform the social mix on campuses."Times (£)

It is not 'fair’ to tie universities’ hands – The Telegraph attacks Coalition plans for "social engineering" of university admissions.

Public split on pace of deficit reduction

"David Cameron’s decision to eliminate the deficit within one Parliament received backing from 46% of voters even after they were told that this means “bigger spending cuts over the next four years”. Meanwhile 54% said they supported for Labour’s strategy of halving the deficit by 2015, even though the question pointed out “there is a cost to borrowing more money for longer." – Times (£)

Overnight polls show Labour leads of 3% and 6% are noted by UK Polling Report.

Banks to back small firms with pledge to lend £1.3bnIndependent

The FT(£) backs David Cameron's speech on extremism: "The prime minister wants to make it “impossible” for extremists to succeed. That goal is itself impossible, but its aim is laudable. We should be intolerant not just of extremism but also of apathy towards it. Mr Cameron’s speech is a summons to reflection – and action."

Cameron savaged Gordon Brown's Government yesterday after it emerged Britain did "all it could" to make sure the Lockerbie bomber was freed from jailThe Sun | Yesterday's Parliament report

Cameron's enlistment of Blairites

"the Tory disciples of Mr Blair are keen to make common cause with his Labour apostles. Alan Milburn and John Hutton were appointed to head reviews of social mobility and public sector pensions. Julian Le Grand, a former adviser to Mr Blair, has recently been brought back to help to mutualise the public services for Mr Cameron. Lord Freud, appointed by the former Labour Prime Minister to implement welfare reform, is now doing the same job for the Tory one. Baroness Morgan of Huyton, Mr Blair’s former political secretary, is to chair Ofsted, the schools inspectorate." – Rachel Sylvester in The Times (£)

Sun attacks Cameron on ECHR

European-court-of-human-rights-source-garant-ru The Sun Says: "Once again, the Government runs away from confronting Europe on human rights. David Cameron and Nick Clegg had pledged a review of the law amid anger that Europe can over-rule Britain. That's now off the agenda. Tories and Lib Dems can't agree, so rather than tackle this crucial issue they have bottled it. So we will stumble on, with our Government happy to shout about kicking out terror suspects but unwilling to act. If Mr Cameron thinks this fudge will bring him a quiet life, he's mistaken."

Labour's legacy of wasteful spending

"A project to widen two stretches of the UK's busiest motorway could have wasted £1bn of public money, MPs have said. The Highways Agency gave poor cost estimates for the M25 scheme and did not look at possible cheaper alternatives, the public accounts committee found." – BBC

Daily Mail attacks BBC's coverage of the Coalition

BBC megaphone "Even by the sorry standards of the BBC – apologist-in-chief for the bloated public sector – the past few days have been vintage. On reducing police numbers, selling off forests, the end of the Big Society, library closures – you name it – critic after critic has been wheeled out to prophesy that the Government’s cuts will mean the death of civilisation as we know it. What the Corporation never points out is that over the past few years, the private sector has already had to go through considerable pain, with employees’ wages frozen or cut and their pensions decimated." – Daily Mail leader

And finally… Does Jeremy Paxman deserve £800,000?

"He has looked anything but content in recent times, but Jeremy Paxman has signed a lucrative four-year deal with the BBC worth £3.2million. The contract, which includes Newsnight and his other TV work such as University Challenge, is an estimated 20 per cent less than his previous deal as bosses rein in the Corporation’s pay bill. Paxman, 60, who is one of the BBC’s top earners, was on £1million a year at the  station, but insiders have said this has been reduced to £800,000." – Daily Mail

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