7.30pm WATCH: New questions for Alistair Campbell over Iraq inquiry

4.30pm Lee Rotherham on Comment: An alternative to Clegg's plan for Lords reform

4.15pm WATCH: Laws in the Commons – "My motivation was solely to protect my privacy."

4pm Bruce Bell on Comment: A federal settlement for the UK – the political reform we really need

12.30pm WATCH: Laws is suspended from the Commons for seven days

11.30am ToryDiary: David Laws was motivated by a desire to keep his sexuality a secret. Not by money.

Screen shot 2011-05-12 at 10.32.01 10.15am ToryDiary: James Brokenshire appointed Security Minister

10am Gazette: Alex Deane elected as Common Councilman in the City of London

ToryDiary: David Cameron as Prime Minister – "a splinter of ice at the heart"

Matthew Sinclair on Comment: Two Conservative MPs will be speaking at the Rally Against Debt this Saturday

Local Government: Blair's former strategy director plans to start free school in Newham

Parliament: Graham Stuart attacks local councils over home education

LeftWatch: Ivan Lewis: 1) Labour "overspent without delivering sufficient value for money." 2) Er, I withdraw that.

WATCH: Tripoli rocketed after Gaddafi's TV spot

Laws report leaked.  Former Treasury Chief Secretary faces Commons suspension – and delay to any Ministerial return

Screen shot 2011-05-12 at 07.58.49 "David Laws may face a seven-day suspension from Parliament for allegedly breaching expenses rules – which could delay any plans to bring him back to Cabinet.  The former chief secretary to the Treasury is expected to be censured today over his expense claims for tens of thousands of pounds which was used to pay rent to his partner, Jamie Lundie.  The Standards and Privileges Committee will base its findings on an investigation by John Lyon, the parliamentary commissioner for standards." – Daily Mail

As Clegg urges "muscular liberalism", LibDem peers beat up police bill…

"In an ominous sign for the cohesiveness of the coalition, Labour and Lib Dem peers voted to undermine the Government’s plan to hold elections for police commissioners, a policy championed by the Conservatives.  The Lords backed an amendment tabled by the Liberal Democrat Baroness Harris of Richmond that would instead appoint commissioners, by 188 votes to 176. It will now have to be reversed in a Commons vote." – The Times (£)

Yesterday in ToryDiary: House of Lords defeat for elected Police commissioners shows the Liberal Democrats are becoming the Coalition's anti-reform faction

…And Cameron distances himself from his Deputy at the '22…

"David Cameron last night dismissed Nick Clegg’s claims that his party was acting as a restraining influence on Tory policies.  At a private meeting of Conservative MPs, the Prime Minister made no attempt to hide his irritation with the LibDems’ attempts in recent days to portray themselves as a moderating force on the Coalition.   It was wrong for Mr Clegg and other LibDems to try to claim credit for putting the brake on controversial health reforms, he said. The rethink was his idea, he added." – Daily Mail

…But today, they're back together again

"David Cameron and Nick Clegg will be together at an event later to launch a government drive on youth unemployment.  The prime minister and his deputy will announce a £60m package to boost work prospects and vocational education.  They will commit in their appearance in London to tackle "structural barriers" to young people starting a career." – BBC 

The Deputy Prime Minister is fine-tuning his plans for Lords reform

"A lottery could be used to decide which peers are thrown out of the House of Lords under one method being discussed to cut the second chamber down to as few as 300 members.  Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, will seek to re-energise his political reform agenda next week when he publishes a white paper on an elected second chamber that will set out plans to cull remaining hereditary and appointed peers." – The Guardian

Clegg critical of SNP’s "politics of grievance" – Scotsman 

Coalition Government "weak and indecisive"

Cameron & Clegg laughing
"A poll shows 63 per cent of people think the coalition is a bad thing and almost 60 per cent say the Lib Dems have no principles.  More than two-thirds of the public think the country is weaker under a coalition government and 73 per cent think it is more indecisive, according to a poll conducted for the Institute for Government.  Overall, 63 per cent of the public think the coalition is a bad thing and nearly 60 per cent feel the Liberal Democrats abandoned their principles by forming a coalition with the Conservatives." – The Times (£)

"Clegg needs Cameron to prove that his party can be trusted with government. Cameron needs Clegg to give him the Commons majority he didn't win. Lashed together by circumstances, falling out and making up by turn, they're two tramps in a Samuel Beckett play, waiting not so much for Godot as for something to turn up." – Paul Goodman in The Guardian

Yesterday on Conservative Home:

Tory MPs tell Prime Minister to stand up to Europe

"Last night, Euro sceptic critics feared the Prime Minister was ready to “wriggle out” of a showdown with ­Eurocrats and European judges, lending weight to the Daily Express’s crusade to get Britain out of the EU.  The onslaught of questions about Britain’s relationship with Brussels and Strasbourg came during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons yesterday. Senior Tory backbencher Philip Hollobone raised the issue of the court’s call for the scrapping of Britain’s ban on jail inmates voting." – Daily Express

Yesterday in ToryDiary: Ed Miliband challenges Cameron on the NHS, and Liberal Democrats stay loyal at PMQs 

Osborne signals tough new approach to unions

"Business leaders must join the battle to rewrite workers’ rights, George Osborne said yesterday, as the coalition signalled a new, tougher phase in its relations with the unions.  Wideranging plans to cap the costs of discrimination cases, dilute pension rights for state employees who move into the private sector and alter entitlements when companies change hands were revealed yesterday by ministers.    The Chancellor announced the new, more muscular approach to the unions in a speech to business leaders at the Institute of Directors." – The Times (£)

Chancellor urged to cut more red tape – Financial Times (£)

Hammond hits out at railway unions

Hammond "Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, will say today that he wants the railways to be more efficient. Wages account for half of costs, and he acknowledges that the lack of “21stcentury employment practices” is blocking progress.  A dossier of complaints by train companies today shows examples of bitterly defended rights that are keeping costs high and blocking reforms…Several companies are reluctant to discuss their complaints publicly, fearing retaliation from unions." – The Times (£) 

Prime Minister to generals: start troop withdrawal from Afghanistan now

"Following the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the Prime Minister is increasingly determined to start bringing the Afghan mission to an end. He has told defence chiefs he wants to start the withdrawal this summer, as the US begins to reduce its troop numbers.  But British commanders have warned David Cameron that an early exit could jeopardise the counter-insurgency mission, allowing the Taliban to regain territory and popular support." – Daily Telegraph 

Brady pushes for more selective schools

"Graham Brady, a former shadow minister for Europe, tabled an amendment to the education bill calling for independent schools to be allowed to select their pupils on ability even if they opted out of the private sector and turned into academies.  He later withdrew the amendment, which was signed by 38 MPs, including two from the Labour party – Gisela Stuart and Eric Joyce – during a debate on the bill on Wednesday because the government did not support it. However, he told MPs in the Commons that he would "continue to argue the case"." – The Guardian 

Cameron, Tory MPs and IPSA – Latest

"David Cameron is trying to head off an extraordinary move by his own MPs to scrap Parliament’s tough new expenses regime.  Ministers are on standby to vote against a backbench Commons motion today which would tear up strict rules demanding a receipt for every expenses claim.  Ministers believe the revolt would be ‘disastrous’ for the image of  Parliament, still suffering the fallout of the expenses scandal." – Daily Mail

Law unto themselves – Daily Mail Editorial

Yesterday in ToryDiary: Cameron backs down over IPSA, new committee to be set up

Hugh Robertson warns that England's prepared to quit FIFA

Hugh Robertson "England may quit FIFA unless the controversy-hit body cleans up its act, sports minister Hugh Robertson has warned.  He spoke following claims that four football federation delegates wanted bribes in return for backing the FA's 2018 World Cup bid.  Mr Robertson said: "I have taken the temperature from other football associations around the world. There is a desire to try and work to change FIFA from the inside." – The Sun 

Hague urges Uganda not to pass Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Foreign Secretary William Hague has re-iterated the government's opposition to Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill, urging local officials to reject it. Writing on micro-blogging site Twitter he said: “We oppose this bill and will continue to raise our concerns with Ugandan government. We urge Ugandan MPs to reject it.”  He continued: “Our embassy is lobbying Ugandan gov & the UK initiated a formal EU demarche to the Ugandan foreign minister on the bill.” – Pink Paper 

The Independent interviews David Willetts…

"I think that we have achieved a hell of a lot and I think we've achieved something that's eluded successive governments," he says "We've put finance of higher education on a solid strong financial footing. If anything, more cash goes to universities, but because it comes from students and loans, it will in the long term reduce the fiscal deficit." – The Independent 

…And gets a story to keep up the pressure on him

"Next year's university applications could be thrown into chaos after the minister in charge suggested students could get a cut-price degree at the last minute.  The Universities minister, David Willetts, said in an interview with The Independent that universities would be allowed to slash fees or offer other incentives only weeks before lectures begin, to fill courses during the clearing process.  It raises the prospect of students holding off from accepting places and a mad scramble for the cheapest courses, as universities lower fees to attract students." – The Independent

"Two brains was made to look a half-wit" – Allegra Stratton in The Guardian

Cameron to pay first visit to Republic of Ireland

"The Conservative leader will meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Dublin's Government Buildings on Wednesday for face-to-face talks.  The trip coincides with the the Queen's historic state visit to the Irish Republic – the first ever by a reigning British monarch.  Mr Kenny described Mr Cameron as a friend and said he was looking forward to welcoming his London counterpart to the Irish capital for their discussions." – Belfast Telegraph

Coalition and Political News in Brief

King signals rate rise this year

Screen shot 2011-05-12 at 06.48.34 "Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, has forecast slower growth and higher inflation, warning that Britain faces a “difficult time ahead”.  Even with the weak outlook, the Bank signalled on Wednesday that there was likely to be a rate rise this year, economists said. According to Mr King’s forecasts, inflation is on track to hit 5 per cent this year and remain higher than the Bank’s 2 per cent target." – Financial Times (£)

Hemming challenges Hunt to challenge superinjunctions

"Yesterday MPs called on the Government to join forces with media organisations and challenge at least one of the current injunctions in the Supreme Court – to see if the higher body of judges is more inclined to support press freedom.  Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming asked Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to ‘instruct legal representatives to intervene in one or more cases’." – Daily Mail

Portillo, the ultimate Purple Plotter – Fight next election as Coalition, form next Government as Coalition

"Never forget that Labour has a built-in electoral advantage (which may not be much reduced when the Commons is cut back to 600 seats)…If, as we approach the next election, it seems Ed Miliband could achieve a majority with, say, only 38 per cent of the vote, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats might conclude that their best hope of retaining office is to fight as a coalition seeking re-election. With that in mind, it is time for Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg to mend fences. Their partnership may have to endure for many years." – Financial Times (£)

Other Comment

  • From No 10 to Year 10: why I back free schools – Peter Hyman, Blair's former head of strategic communications, in The Times
  • He's botched defence, made a dog's breakfast of NHS reform and hammered the middle classes. Yet, in his first year, Cameron's shown daring and hints of greatness – Max Hastings, Daily Mail
  • Salmond is no Braveheart: let's vote now – Michael Forsyth, Daily Telegraph
  • A privacy law may be the lesser evil – Steve Richards, The Independent

And finally…A Guardian headline to keep its readers happy

Screen shot 2011-05-12 at 08.56.46
"The Queen has become the second-longest reigning monarch in 1,000 years of British history, overtaking George III.  George III reigned for 59 years, 96 days, plus 13 extra leap-year days, a total of 21,644 days. Only one royal ancestor has had greater longevity on the throne: the Queen's great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria." – The Guardian