3.15pm Local Government: Conservatives take power in St Albans
3pm Graeme Archer on Comment: "I’d got used to the people who would read the things, could even cope with the sometimes rebarbative comments, but now I feel like, like, like Tony Blair, with the heavy hand of literary history weighing down on my shoulder, like every word or phrase has to contain scintillating, hitherto un-noticed insight" – A Reader Writes
Noon Elizabeth Truss MP on Comment: "Private sector" organisations that rely heavily on public subsidies are unaccountable and untouchable
A photograph of some members of the 1922 Committee taken by Anton Hammerl
- After Labour's U-Turn, will Lib Dems seek to thwart free schools?
- Mark Lehain: The struggle to open a free school in Bedford
ThinkTankCentral: Policy Exchange has plans to get tough on benefit claimants
- Ken Clarke tells BBC1's Question Time that he's sorry about his rape remarks
- David Brooks says social environment is key determinant of national success
Clegg jokes that he is Velcro man, and Cameron is Mr Teflon.
"Mr Clegg, explaining the fortunes of the two men in Government, tells colleagues that, whereas the Prime Minister is “the Teflon man”, he is “the Velcro man — everything sticks to me”… Some of Mr Clegg’s closest colleagues are concerned that the burdens of man-marking the Prime Minister while keeping his party together and trying to maintain a semblance of family life are too great." – Times (£)
- "Voters dislike and distrust Clegg. He is reviled – and not just by students who have hanged effigies of him. Nearly two in three voters over 40 couldn't find anything positive to say about the Deputy Prime Minister, according to a recent YouGov poll. Does anyone seriously believe that Cleggphobia can become Cleggmania again? Unless, say, he saves a drowning child between now and May 2015, it's highly unlikely." – Mehdi Hasan in the New Statesman
- Essex Police has begun a formal investigation into allegations that Chris Huhne got his wife to take the blame for a speeding offence – Times (£)
- In the Daily Mail Stephen Glover wonders if marital breakdown has affected Chris Huhne's judgment.
Clegg demands more changes to NHS plans
"Nick Clegg has warned David Cameron he will not ask Liberal Democrat MPs and peers to support the Government's health reforms unless they are "substantially changed". In a paper sent to the Prime Minister and seen by The Independent, Mr Clegg demanded four radical changes to the NHS and Social Care Bill during the "pause" the Government has called as it tries to allay fears about the reforms." – Independent
Lansley decides to keep England's 28 NHS cancer networks – Guardian
- The Economist warns the Coalition that its caution about the profit motive and the health sector is unhealthy and untypical of European experience: "Britain is unusual among rich democracies not in how much private involvement there is in its public services, but how little. Only 4% of acute-care beds are provided by private companies. In Germany, the proportion of hospitals run for profit (32%) overtook the number of publicly run ones (31%) two years ago (charitable and voluntary organisations account for the rest). The Spanish region of Valencia allows for-profit firms to run over 20% of its health-care services, with the sort of long-term deal British providers hanker for. New European democracies are experimenting with similar public-private mixes. Two-fifths of Slovak hospital provision is delivered by private operators."
- Cameron wants to be a One Nation radical… a consensual revolutionary – Bagehot wonders if he can pull it off.
Ed Miliband presses home attack on Cameron's law and order credentials
"[Coalition] prison policy is based not on the need for reform or increased rehabilitation for offenders. It is based on the need to cut costs. Their police policy isn't based on what will make the streets safer but how to quickly find a 20 per cent cut in the police budget… By reducing the number of police on our streets, by halving sentences for violent offenders, the Government are risking creating more victims. They are failing a very simple test. They are not making our communities safer now or for the future." – The Labour leader in The Independent
Government to scrap plans to let off rapists early – Telegraph
"Downing Street made clear yesterday that publication of the Green Paper had been postponed indefinitely, as officials examined ways to toughen up the proposals." – Times (£)
Sun furious at Ken Clarke's survival
- "Full of bluster but still offering only grudging apologies for his rape insults, Ken Clarke clings on as Justice Secretary. So much for David Cameron's pledge to provide a young, modern Government in tune with 2011 Britain." – The Sun Says
Ken Clarke apologises on BBC1's Question Time
"Mr Clarke told Question Time, filmed this week at Wormwood Scrubs prison in west London: "I obviously upset a lot of people by what I said and I'm sorry if I did, by the way I put it. "All rape is serious. It's one of the gravest crimes. My choice of words was wrong. It's because I got bogged down in a silly exchange."" – BBC
In The Guardian, Simon Jenkin despairs of Britain's press: "It is the oldest trick in the book. You snatch a politician's mildly controversial remark. You eradicate context and qualification and invite rent-a-quote to be subject of the verb "to slam" or object of the verb "to infuriate". You then get the leader of the opposition to demand a sacking, and stake out the victim's house to see how he takes it. Ken Clarke's spot of bother over rape sentencing this week has been a classic. His suggestion that not all crimes within a category are necessarily identical is almost trivially obvious. But who cares when the political heat is on and the mob is running hotfoot to the guillotine?"
Express attacks BBC for hosting Question Time in Wormwood Scrubs
"The decision by BBC chiefs to host last night’s Question Time within Her Majesty’s Prison Wormwood Scrubs was a repellent mistake. Many viewers must have been appalled at seeing convicted criminals spouting opinions and grilling politicians on one of the nation’s flagship current affairs shows. These law-breakers should have been banged up in the cells rather than pontificating on the issues of the day alongside Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke and civil liberties campaigner Shami Chakrabarti." – Macer Hall in The Express
FT: Don't rob Andrew to pay Liam… but The Telegraph disagrees
"This newspaper does not support the policy of ring-fencing public expenditure, and is therefore against enshrining the aid target in law. But robbing the aid budget to pay defence would be a mistake. Britain exercises valuable soft power through the deployment of smart and effective aid. For relatively small amounts of money, it plays an important role in some of the most vulnerable and unstable parts of the world. There is evidence to suggest that aid money is being wisely spent. The international development secretary, Andrew Mitchell, has reconfigured his budget to devote more to conflict prevention and good governance in countries that are relevant to UK interests." – FT leader (£)
"The public simply does not understand why the Government is increasing the overseas aid budget by 34 per cent when it has to make deep cuts in defence. Theresa May's explanation to the Police Federation conference that it would protect the country from terrorists was rightly greeted with derision. In his leaked letter to the Prime Minister this week, Dr Fox also opposed the aid increase. He is not alone in thinking that money earmarked for building schools in Pakistan would be better spent supporting our hard-pressed military." – Telegraph leader
> Tuesday's ToryDiary: Another Liam Fox letter leaks, this time registering his concerns about the aid budget
William Hague welcomes Obama's Middle East speech – FCO
In a piece remembering Lord Bingham, Peter Oborne declares the Libyan intervention "illegal": "What started out as a legal humanitarian intervention has turned into an illegal war seeking regime change and targeting the country’s leadership. This change has scarcely been noted, but the Cameron Government will in due course pay a price for such a stealthy change to its war aims." – Telegraph
Government U-turns on coastguard station cuts – The Herald
David Cameron's uncle Sir William Dugdale says the working classes prefer to be led by an aristocrat and the Prime Minister should not be ashamed of his background – Telegraph
Labour ex-City minister Lord Myners said time "not right" for Brown to run IMF – BBC
An outsider like Peter Mandelson could be perfect for the IMF – Martin Kettle in The Guardian
"When Canada embarked on its consolidation, the economy was already growing strongly. It started with quite high interest rates; as these fell, it substantially reduced debt servicing costs, which in itself provided much of the adjustment. Britain, by contrast, starts from a position of already very low rates. It’s going to get no help from that quarter. Yet to delay the consolidation, as urged by the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, is not an option either."
Mary Portas is the latest television personality to be recruited by government – but politics is too important to be treated like a reality show – John Walsh in The Independent
The Queen looking radiant on her visit to Ireland.
"The success of the Queen’s state visit is an historic event. She and the Duke deserve our heartfelt thanks. For those of us who dearly wished to see old sores healed, it has been a magical few days. I have no doubt that it is emblematic of a new relationship between Britain and Ireland and that, when history looks back with its penetrating eye, that will become much clearer than perhaps it is today. This past week a new chapter has been opened, a better chapter, a chapter of an improving relationship between two inherently friendly neighbours that will — I sincerely hope — put an end to our troubled past and offer a much happier and brighter future for the people of both Britain and Ireland." – John Major in The Times (£)