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8pm WATCH: WWII veteran Ralph says he wants AV because his vote has never, ever counted under First Past The Post

7pm LeftWatch: A record of all the anti-Tory things said by Lib Dems in recent days

3.30pm ToryDiary: Tory MP tells Clegg to stop "whinging"

1pm Local government: Free schools planned for Wokingham, Haringey, Greenwich, Bedfordshire, Lewisham, Peterborough..

12.30pm Melanchthon on Comment: Let's just focus on two things: are the Yes2AV campaign's claims straightforward facts; and are the No campaign's claims lies?

Noon: ConservativeHome USA examines the decision of Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty to walk away from the Ryan Plan on Medicare: "Paul Ryan has shown he is courageous enough to put solutions before politics. Pawlenty and Gingrich, with their statements, are moving in the opposite direction."

Prepare

ToryDiary: David Cameron needs to be ready for an early General Election

Loanna Morrison on Comment: Labour no longer has a monopoly on the co-operative concept

Local government:

SHIELDS
Gazette: Six years ago The Times reported the launch of ConservativeHome

The result of the AV referendum will probably not be known until 24 hours after the polls close at 10pm on May 5thTimes (£)

Clegg begins all out attempt to rescue Yes campaign…

"Nick Clegg has authorised a bare-knuckle political fight to try to rescue the faltering Yes campaign for the alternative vote, in a strategy that risks inflaming tensions in the coalition ahead of next week’s referendum. The deputy prime minister hopes to mobilise key Labour supporters to back electoral reform by stepping up attacks on his Tory coalition partners, whom he claimed were part of a “nasty” No campaign that was pedalling “lies”." – The Financial Times (£)

Digby Jones backs AV but most businesses support FPTP – FT (£)

> Yesterday's NO2AV campaign press release: Top 10 misleading claims show 'Yes2AV' do not want to talk about the Alternative Vote

…but his rhetoric and anger threatens coalition stability…

"Doubts were expressed about whether the Coalition would last as planned until 2015 after Nick Clegg launched his strongest attack on the Tory-led No campaign and did not exempt David Cameron from criticism. Officially, both parties insisted it will be "business as usual" inside the Government after the 5 May referendum. But insiders believe the scars from the referendum battle will mean that the relationship between the Coalition partners will never be the same again." - The Independent

HUHNE BBC INTERVIEW "A Liberal Democrat cabinet minister [Chris Huhne] has widened an increasingly damaging rift inside the coalition by warning that the prime minister and other senior Conservatives could face legal action over the manner in which they have campaigned for a no vote in next week's referendum on a change to the voting system." – The Guardian

  • The Sun Says: "It must be hard after so many decades as also-rans but the Lib Dems must grow up and remember where they are: in Government."
  • "A general election this year? It's no longer impossible" – Jackie Ashley, in The Guardian

> Tim Montgomerie on ToryDiary yesterday: Clegg rages against Cameron's "lies"

The Liberal Democrats plan to assert identity on the NHS, Lords and crime

"Nick Clegg is to rewrite the Liberal Democrat role in the coalition as he seeks to put clear water between himself and David Cameron on key issues. The Deputy Prime Minister plans to respond to the lambasting he has received on the campaign trail by seeking to assert more openly his party’s policy differences with the Conservatives. Lib Dem ministers will be encouraged to have policy rows with Tory colleagues in public. The decision paves the way for a series of spats over plans for the NHS, an elected House of Lords and crime policy." – The Times (£)

  • Nick Clegg: I'm not David Cameron's mate – The Metro
  • "The Liberal Democrats face the prospect of having no female MPs after the next election if their current poll ratings continue, the Fabian Society says." – Guardian

New wave of European immigrants expected, lured by end of benefit restrictions

Immigration

"Britain faces a new influx of migrants who could claim benefits of up to £250 a week within weeks of arriving. From next Sunday, rules that ban Eastern Europeans from claiming unemployment, housing and council tax benefits until they have worked in the UK for 12 months are being lifted. Critics are concerned about the risk of ‘benefits tourism’ by immigrants from the eight former Communist countries affected." – Daily Mail

"However much he tells us he understands our frustration, Mr Cameron can do nothing – either to stop EU citizens coming here or to block their access to our welfare system. The Home Office says it does not know how many more people will come here, or choose to stay, because of the change. Many will be hard working with the skills we can use. But not all will. One thing that is certain is that when the bills roll in, the PM will find himself under growing pressure once again to make common cause with the people of Britain, this time as they demand in ever greater numbers that we leave the EU so that we can make our own rules once again." – The Daily Express

GOVE MICHAEL NW The NASUWT teachers' union annual conference has passed a motion saying it has "no confidence" in government policies for education in EnglandBBC

"The resolution said that the Government's plans were opening up education to the private sector, and that this, and increasing the autonomy of head teachers and governors, was leading to "inequality of educational entitlement, lack of public accountability and abuse of the system''." – Telegraph

Private schools must join up with the new state system of academies and free schools – Anthony Seldon in The Telegraph

Private companies to be involved in university reform

"Private companies are to step in to run failing universities as the Government abandons direct help for colleges in financial trouble. Unprofitable courses will be scrapped and running costs drastically cut back under the plan, which will prompt vice-chancellors to pay private providers to take day-to-day control under contracts lasting ten years or more." – The Times (£) 

GDP figures expected to show growth

OSBORNE GEORGE NW "George Osborne faces a key test of his austerity policies this week when official data will demonstrate whether Britain's economy has returned to growth after the shock 0.5% contraction at the end of last year. Such is the level of interest in the GDP numbers for the first three months of 2011 that the Office for National Statistics is taking the unusual step of holding a live briefing. The last time the ONS made such a move was in January 2010, when Britain's recession was deemed to have ended." – The Guardian

The Sun backs NHS reforms

The Sun Says: "The Government has to reform the NHS – and the basic premise is simple: Cut the extravagant spending on managers which exploded under Labour and pour the £5billion savings into frontline services."

Gordon Brown earns thousands from speeches and writing - The Daily Telegraph

…but he's warned that Mrs Darling is helping her husband with his memoirs and it will be "fireworks" for Mr Brown – Andrew Pierce in the Daily Mail

Mrs Thatcher's handbag to be auctioned for charity

Article-1239285-07B88B46000005DC-136_306x600_popup "Margaret Thatcher's handbag – the weapon she reputedly deployed to enforce cabinet solidarity – is being auctioned for charity. The black Asprey bag, wielded on state occasions and at international summits, is being donated by the former prime minister to a sale of celebrity items at Christie's in June. The term "handbagging" entered the political lexicon as a reference to her manner of disciplining errant Tory backbenchers and ministers during her years in Downing Street. An estimate of £100,000 is understood to have been placed on the leather bag she carried during meetings with the US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev." – The Guardian

Rugby Legend, Gavin Hastings, launches Scottish Conservative sports manifesto - The Scotsman

Cameron attacks "El Presidente"

"Mr Cameron accused him of acting like "El Presidente Salmondo" and treating the Holyrood race like a presidential election. He said the SNP leader was trying to make the forthcoming election out to be one for First Minister." – The Rutherglen Reformer

47% of Scots ready to vote 'No2AV', 40% ready to vote yes – Scotsman

And finally…

"Nick Clegg will be portrayed as a tragic hero with hip hop swagger in a new musical play. The Deputy Prime Minister is the main character in Nicked, which opens on April 29. Using a book with some 18 rap and urban music songs, it charts the creation of the coalition Government after the 2010 general election up to the referendum on the Alternative Vote. The play's artistic director, Steven Atkinson, 26, said: "There's almost something Hamlet-esque about Nick Clegg, he's trapped in an impossible situation and that makes for great drama." Atkinson said hip hop tunes are a good way to tell the coalition's story because the verbal sparring of rappers is similar to Prime Minister's Questions." – The Daily Express

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