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8pm WATCH: David Cameron says that Musa Kusa's resignation is a "serious blow" for Gaddafi – but reiterates that the Government will not be doing any deals with him

7.30pm Seats and Candidates: Academic study demonstrates how AV benefits the Lib Dems

Bercow biography cover6.45pm Comment: Jonathan Isaby reviews the first biography of Commons Speaker, John Bercow

5.15pm ThinkTankCentral: The IEA publishes a defence of liberalsing the gambling industry

3pm WATCH: Boris Johnson welcomes Arnold Schwarzenegger to City Hall and takes him for a ride on a Boris bike 

2.30pm WATCH: Ken Clarke announces the first prisons to be run by private sector contractors

1pm ToryDiary: CCHQ goes on a push to increase party membership to help drive future electoral success

12.45pm WATCH: William Hague says that ex-Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa will not be granted immunity from British or international justice

Picture 1112.15pm ToryDiary: William Hague launches NO to AV Group to support the No campaign ahead of the referendum

11.45am Max Wind-Cowie on Comment: The dishonesty of AV supporters over how their electoral system encourages candidates to pander to BNP voters

11.15am Local Government: Ken Livingstone backs UK Uncut's attack on Fortnums

11am Parliament: Ex-Labour MP Jim Devine jailed for 16 months over false expenses claims

10.45am ToryDiary: Like Arnie, IPSA will be back

Picture 9

10.30am Local government: Livingstone backs UK Uncut's attack on Fortnums

ToryDiary: The Liberal Democrats tug hard at the Concession-O-Meter

Philip Davies MP on Comment: The tobacco display ban is gesture politics of the worst kind and a triumph for the nanny state

Also on Comment:

Abortion470
Parliament: 79% of Tory members back Nadine Dorries' 'Right To Know' campaign on abortion

Also in Parliament: Charlie Elphicke calls for children to be guaranteed the right of contact with both of their parents

Local Government: While Labour nationally oppose Council Tax freeze, Labour councils claim credit for it

Gazette: ConHome's Graeme Archer longlisted for the Orwell Prize for blogging

WATCH: Baroness Warsi addresses a NotoAV meeting at Toynbee Hall, urging a No vote in May's referendum

Libyan Foreign Minister defects to the UK…

"UK officials have encouraged other senior Libyan officials to abandon Col Gaddafi after his foreign minister fled to Britain and resigned. Moussa Koussa arrived in London on Wednesday saying he was no longer willing to represent the Libyan leader's regime internationally. The Foreign Office said it wanted "those around Gaddafi to abandon him and embrace a better future for Libya". – BBC

…as Schwarzenegger rallies Tory MPs*…

Picture 8 "David Cameron would like the world to believe he is a measured war leader who follows the letter of the law and avoids the gung-ho language of Margaret Thatcher. So it came as a surprise to Conservative MPs, many of whom have severe doubts about the military action in Libya, when the prime minister turned up with a "secret weapon" at last night's meeting of the backbench 1922 committee. With a great flourish, Arnold Schwarzenegger marched into committee room 14 of the House of Commons, which overlooks the Thames, to endorse the prime minister's leadership over Libya." – The Guardian

* Photo tweeted last night by Robert Halfon MP

…and William Hague expels five Libyan diplomats

"Five Libyan diplomats have been expelled from Britain because they ‘could pose a threat’ to national security, William Hague has said. The foreign secretary said the embassy officials, who included the military attache, had been thrown out for ‘putting pressure on Libyan students and opposition groups’." – Metro

Andrew Lansley "battling" to save NHS reforms

Andrew Lansley 2 2010 "The Prime Minister and Nick Clegg are to plot a new strategy for the NHS overhaul as officials agonise about how to prevent the measures backfiring. Instead of a swift revolution, in which GPs take control of all local healthcare services within two years, Downing Street is considering a slower pace of change, making 2013 a goal rather than a deadline… Mr Lansley, the Health Secretary, is digging in, however. He insists that there should be no change to the scale and speed of reforms set out in the Health and Social Care Bill." – The Times (£)

  • Labour accused by Lansley of plotting NHS spending cuts – Daily Telegraph

David Cameron urges EU leaders to adopt British-style growth plan in new pamphlet

"Mr Cameron’s pamphlet, “Let’s choose growth”, is an exhortation to the world’s largest trading bloc to “unleash the forces of enterprise”. He says: “We cannot be complacent – the world won’t let us.” The prime minister’s glossy pamphlet opens with a chart showing the relative decline in the economic standing of EU states, to the extent that it forecasts that France and Italy will drop out of the world’s top 10 by 2050. Mr Cameron sees the mailshot to his fellow 26 EU leaders – as well as the presidents of the EU institutions in Brussels, business leaders and opinion formers – as a sign of Britain’s constructive engagement in Europe." – FT (£)

Caroline Spelman says some forests will still be sold off

Caroline Spelman despatch box "A chunk of England's publicly owned forest will still be sold off, Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary has admitted, despite the public outcry over plans to privatise woodland… Giving evidence to the Environment Select Committee, she admitted that the government would still go ahead with plans to get rid 15 per cent of UK woodland – the maximum allowed without changing the current rules. It means some 38,700 hectares, will be sold off over the next five years." – Daily Telegraph

Give poorer pupils a university leg-up, at expense of middle classes 'flattered' by high A-Level grades, says David Willetts

"Good A-level grades achieved by middle class pupils thanks to high-quality schooling ‘flatter’ them, a top Tory minister said last night. David Willetts said some children from privileged backgrounds are ‘so well taught that their grades kind of flatter them rather than understating their underlying ability’. As a result, he said, pupils from lesser schools should be helped into universities, even at the expense of wealthier counterparts, saying they often thrive on degree courses despite lower school grades." – Daily Mail

Ken Clarke denies he is out of touch on sentencing for drug dealers…

Ken Clarke "Defiant Ken Clarke told The Sun yesterday he was not out of touch with the real world – as he backed soft-touch sentencing for drug dealers… He told The Sun: "The Sentencing Council guidelines are produced by judges who I think are very well aware of the world of drug dealing and drugs." – The Sun

…and denies weakening new anti-bribery law

"Ministers have been accused of undermining the long delayed legislation intended to crack down on payments of bribes by business executives. Anti-corruption campaigners claim the government has surrendered to lobbying by business groups, creating loopholes that will allow dishonest companies to continue paying bribes to foreign politicians and officials." – The Guardian

Chris Huhne accuses Baroness Warsi of Nazi tactics over AV referendum

"Chris Huhne, the energy secretary, accused his cabinet colleague Lady Warsi of descending to Goebbels-like propaganda after she claimed the alternative vote would make mainstream parties pander to extremists such as the BNP… "This is another example of the increasingly Goebbels-like campaign from the anti-AV people, for whom no lie is too idiotic given the truth is so unpalatable to them. AV makes lazy MPs work harder and reach out beyond their tribe. It is what Britain needs to clean up politics." – The Guardian

MPs "gagged" over Brussels power grab

"Anger erupted at Westminster last night after sweeping powers for Eurocrats to meddle in Britain’s economy were nodded through Parliament without a vote. Tory MPs were furious that plans for the EU annual “growth survey” were approved in the absence of a Commons debate… Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: “This is a significant step that has serious implications for the expenditure of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money that has been taken without any debate." – Daily Express

Arts groups feel the pain as axe fallsThe Times (£)

> Yesterday on ThinkTankCentral: The IEA calls for an end to state funding of the arts

BSkyB takeover would boost diversity, says Jeremy Hunt

HUNT JEREMY NW "Jeremy Hunt defended his decision to approve News Corporation's takeover of BSkyB, claiming the deal would boost the diversity of British media. The Culture Secretary told the Commons culture select committee he was confident the plan, which includes splitting off Sky News, would increase plurality as it "strengthens the independence of Sky News over and above where it is now". – The Independent

Balls owns up over Labour's structural deficit

"Ed Balls, shadow chancellor, has admitted that the last Labour government ran a structural deficit – having previously denied it – in the latest evidence of the party being more upfront about its record in office… Mr Balls told the New Statesman: “In retrospect, three years on, it was clear once the financial crisis had hit that people reappraised what their view of trend growth was and – in retrospect – of course there was a structural deficit.” – FT (£)

> WATCH: David Cameron brands Ed Balls "the most annoying person in modern poltiics"

Steve Richards: The Lib Dems irrelevant? Far from it

Steve Richards "If anything the influence of the Liberal Democrats on the Coalition is growing, and exceeds what they might have expected on the basis of their relatively small number of seats. They are, in theory, the rather pathetic, junior partners in a coalition of the radical right. Yet in reality they are important and substantial partners, at times almost co-equals." – Steve richard in The Independent

Matthew Parris: Neocons are nuts

"Like Marxists, neoconservatives belong to a cult that cannot be proved wrong by actual events. They just reinterpret the evidence. After two minor setbacks in Iraq (involving the wreckage of America’s good name in the world) and Afghanistan (where we’re still stuck, and dying), a new cause has their nostrils aflare: Libya… Even as we speak, neocons are preparing a fallback position if the Libyan thing doesn’t go according to plan. It’s all going to be President Obama’s fault." – Matthew Parris in The Times (£)

Political new in brief

  • Miliband launches Labour's local election campaign – Press Association
  • MoD supply chain "failing frontline troops" – Sky News
  • Nick Clegg's new 'report card' aims to improve social mobility – The Guardian
  • Family law shake-up to give grandparents the right to see their grandchildren – Daily Mail
  • Ex-Labour MP Jim Devine expected to be jailed today – Press Association

And finally… Why Ed Miliband won't have a best man at his wedding

David and Ed Miliband "Ed Miliband yesterday confirmed that older brother David will not be best man at his wedding. Aides insisted that no one was taking the role because Ed and partner Justine Thornton were doing away with tradition. But there were claims that Ed, who will marry on May 27, feared asking David, who he defeated in the party’s leadership race, for fear of being snubbed. David Miliband, who chose Ed as his best man when he married 13 years ago, will instead be among some 50 guests at the country hotel ceremony." – Daily Express

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