5.15pm WATCH: The Conservative Party's new party political broadcast – "Don't let Labour do to your Council what they did to our country."

4.30pm ToryDiary: David Davis – "The Coalition's education policies will actually make social mobility even worse."

Screen shot 2011-04-05 at 15.19.26 3.15pm LeftWatch: What would happen if a Tory MP wrote a piece showing Ed Balls with a slashed throat?

2.30pm Brandon Lewis MP on Comment: Labour say they are in favour of localism, but it's mere lip service from a party that centralised for over a decade in government

12.30pm WATCH: Oliver Letwin is doorstepped over claims that he said people from Sheffield shouldn't fly abroad for cheap holidays

11.45am ThinkTankCentral: Policy Exchange says that schools are letting down some of their most able pupils

11.15am ToryDiary: Is "Right-wing" the wrong way to describe ourselves?

10.45am WATCH: What Greg Barker said about the Government, Thatcher and cuts

ToryDiary: Downing Street mustn't present the Liberal Democrats as the caring face of the Coalition

Screen shot 2011-04-05 at 07.17.36
Comment: Theresa Villiers MP: High Speed Rail is essential to meet the future needs of our economy

Also on Comment Jack Lopresti MP: William Hague must respond to Judge Goldstone disowning his own report on Gaza

Local Government: Lib Dem bluster shows ignorance of LGA rules

Parliament: Lansley under supported on front bench, but strongly supported from backbenches


WATCH: Obama re-election campaign underway

Lansley left isolated by Cabinet members during Commons NHS statement…

Screen shot 2011-04-05 at 08.20.06
"Andrew Lansley cut a lonely figure in the House of Commons as he announced that the government would use a "natural break" in the health and social care bill to review his NHS reforms.  Not a single voting member of the cabinet, apart from ministers involved in other business, lent their support to the health secretary by sitting alongside him on the frontbench…Cameron and Clegg will join Lansley later this week as he outlines the amendments that will be made to his bill when it reaches the House of Lords." – The Guardian

  • "Had David Cameron been in the Chamber he might have been surprised by the vehemence of the Tories’ support for the NHS reorganisation." – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

…As Stephen Dorrell and his Health Select Committee muscle in with Plan B

  Screen shot 2011-04-05 at 08.04.25 "However, their Plan B for reform envisages wholesale changes to Mr Lansley’s vision. Rather than family doctors being given control of the bulk of the NHS budget to buy services, the MPs say that hospital specialists and nurses should also be involved. “If you are going to design cancer services, isn’t it a good idea to involve cancer specialists?” asked Stephen Dorrell, the committee’s chairman. The committee said that councillors should also be taken on to the board of commissioning bodies, to make them more accountable." – The Times (£)

Health comment –

> Yesterday:

Cameron moves to smooth over previous row as he arrives in Pakistan

"Mr Cameron, who made those controversial comments on a trip to India in July 2010, will meet Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in Islamabad, seeking to improve co-operation on counter-terrorism operations and Afghanistan.  "Let's make today a 'fresh start' in our relationship," Mr Cameron will say in a speech, according to extracts released by his office. "It is time for a new step in relations between Britain and Pakistan, and between Britons and Pakistanis." " – Daily Telegraph

Paterson says poverty is fuelling Northern Ireland violence

Owen Paterson 2010 "Disaffected young people are playing a key role in the increase in violence by dissident Republicans that resulted in PC Ronan Kerr's death, the Northern Ireland Secretary warned last night. Owen Paterson conceded that the "old Provisionals" opposed to the peace process had managed to exploit unemployment and poverty to recruit teenage followers too young to remember the Troubles.  He said the Government must try to do more to tackle problems on "estates where there are sadly disaffected unemployed young people".' – The Independent

  • Dissidents re-group and plot to disrupt elections – David McKittrick, The Independent
  • The compromises of peace haunt Ulster – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday in Parliament: Owen Paterson condemns the "revolting and cowardly" murder of PC Ronan Kerr as Northern Ireland's politicians refuse to allow it to destabilise democratic processes

Scottish Tories risk "manifesto for honesty"

"Their manifesto for the May 5 Holyrood election, Common Sense for Scotland, laid out a raft of radical policies, including the reintroduction of prescription charges (abolished only last Friday), a qualifying age of 65 for free bus travel, an education charge of up to £4,000 a year for Scottish graduates, and a two-year freeze on public sector pay for those on more than £21,000."…The Tory message is that they are the only party “telling it like it is”. – The Times (£) 

Libya: Tornados sent, rebels supplied…

"David Cameron announced that four more Tornado fighter-bombers were being deployed to the Libyan mission, taking the total for the operation to 12…William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, also told MPs that Britain would supply the rebels with equipment, including communications kit.  Officials said it would “primarily” allow rebel commanders to contact the front line, but could also be used to call in coalition air strikes. Mr Hague said: “We are not engaged in arming the opposition forces.”" – Daily Telegraph

…And ban lifted on entry of Libyan regime members if they abandon Gaddafi

"Britain will lift its ban on members of the Libyan regime entering the UK if they renounce their loyalty to Muammar Gaddafi, the foreign secretary, William Hague, told MPs as western governments continued to try to engineer a political solution to the deadlocked conflict.  The announcement came ahead of news that Scottish authorities investigating the Lockerbie bombing are expected to question Moussa Koussa, Libya's foreign minister and Gaddafi confidant who defected to Britain last week." – The Guardian

  • Do we really have the stomach to keep bombing Gaddafi for six months? – Max Hastings, Daily Mail

Government cutting deeper than Thatcher, says Greg Barker

BARKER-GREG-PORTRAIT "A Tory minister was plunged into a political row after he said that the Coalition was inflicting cuts that Margaret Thatcher could only have ‘dreamt of’.  Environment Minister Greg Barker’s remark during a speech to a U.S. university was pounced on by Labour MPs who claimed it revealed the Government’s ‘ideological’ commitment to cuts.  Mr Barker told the Darla Moore School of Business in South Carolina that the Government was ‘making cuts that Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s could only have dreamt of’." – Daily Mail

Couples to get £300 a week in pensions shake-up…

"Couples emerged as the big winners of a radical shake-up of the state pension as ministers last night revealed they will be paid more than £300 a week.  Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith unveiled plans for a new flat-rate pension to replace the current system, which he says is bewilderingly complex and acting as a disincentive to save for retirement.  A Work and Pensions Department green paper revealed  that a new £140-a-week across-the-board payment will be introduced." – Daily Mail

…But some national insurance contributions will rise to help meet the bill

"Public sector workers, those in final salary pension schemes and the self-employed would be expected to pay more if pension ministers go ahead with plans to radically overhaul Britain’s state pension, experts warned…The five million public sector workers in final salary schemes and two million private sector workers in final salary schemes would be forced to pay more National Insurance – as much as £300 extra a year on a salary of £25,000." – Daily Telegraph

Gove plans Inspector spot-checks

"Inspectors will be able to drop in on schools "on spec" after claims that heads send home disruptive pupils and poor teachers on scheduled inspection days.  Spot-checks are to be introduced by Education Secretary Michael Gove in an effort to improve behaviour. It will also be legal for students to be searched for phones, iPods, cigarettes and pornography. Headteachers will be able to take legal action against pupils who make false allegations about staff." – The Independent

> Yesterday: WATCH – Michael Gove speaks about the new powers he is giving teachers to improve discipline in schools

Political and Coalition news in brief

  • Ulster police hunting for mole after bomb killing – Daily Mail
  • Gurkhas in the front line for job cuts – The Times (£)
  • Oil price rise could halt UK boom – The Guardian
  • UK arms sales to Arab states under fire – Financial Times (£)
  • Migration policy figures missing, say Oxford academics – BBC
  • Berlusconi trial starts tomorrow – Daily Telegraph
  • Alan Johnson to write childhood memoir – BBC

Clegg social mobility scheme to target unpaid internships

Screen shot 2011-04-05 at 06.27.35"Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, and Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, say that many hard-working families are seeing their aspirations for their children dashed because they cannot afford private education and lack the right connections." – Daily Telegraph

"More than half the people at the top of the legal profession, politics, business and journalism went to fee-paying schools, which can only be afforded by a few. Our drive to open up internships is intended to prevent the lucky few grabbing all the best chances. This is mobility for the middle, not just the bottom.  It is not about social engineering. Quite the opposite – it is about creating a level playing field." – Nick Clegg and Iain Duncan Smith, Daily Telegraph

Populus poll finds falling support for AV Yes campaign

"The proportion of voters who say they will answer “yes” when confronted with question on the ballot paper on May 5 has dropped from 41 per cent in early February to 33 per cent.  For the first time they have been overtaken by the number of people who say they would vote “no”, which has increased from 29 per cent seven weeks ago to 37 per cent this week." – The Times (£)

> Yesterday in Comment: Graeme Archer makes the case against introducing AV

Dominic Lawson: "Ideological" is Labour's empty insult

Screen shot 2011-04-05 at 08.56.16 "This, of course, was all part of Cameron's attempt to present himself as "heir to Blair", with the idea that just as Blair broke with the Labour Party's "ideological past" in the form of Clause IV, so he would do the same, in mirror image, with the Conservatives.  The difference, however, is that the Conservatives had actually won the battle of ideas in the 1980s. They might have wished to run away from the notion that they were divisive as a governing party, but they had – and have – no intention of returning Britain to the status quo ante Thatcher." – Dominic Lawson, The Independent

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