5pm Jonathan Isaby on Comment: Next time an academic or student talks about education cuts, remind them of the university which is recruiting a Carbon and Sustainability Manager…

Picture 162.30pm WATCH: Damian Green insists there has not been an amnesty for illegal immigrants

1pm Local Government: Birmingham council outsourcing jobs to India highlights the dilemma of whether authorities should prioritise local jobs or taxpayer value

12.30pm From ConHomeUSA: As he makes his candidacy official, Mitt Romney faces a list of problems and one big question: what differentiates him in voters' minds?

11am Mark Reckless MP on Comment: It was Labour’s failure to deal with the backlog of asylum seekers that has resulted in an amnesty

Lansley-Big-BenToryDiary: Andrew Lansley warns that without urgent reform the NHS will face a serious funding crisis

Catherine Marcus on Comment: Why do so many of Thatcher's children in Britain identify themselves as Left-wing?

Most Rebellious Tory MPs graphic
Parliament: ConHome identifies the most rebellious Tory MPs during the Coalition's first year

Local Government: Key facts about the 2011 local elections

WATCH: Boris Johnson expresses his disappointment at failing in the online ballot to be eligible to buy any Olympics tickets

Home Affairs Committee claims Border Agency granted "amnesty" for asylum seekers…

"So many asylum seekers have been given leave to remain in the UK that it "amounts to an amnesty", MPs have said. Out of 403,500 cases dealt with by the UK Border Agency (UKBA), just 9% resulted in removal while 40% – 161,000 – of applicants were allowed to stay. The Home Affairs Committee also said it was "indefensible" that in one in six cases, the UKBA simply had "no idea" what had happened to the applicant." – BBC

…But Damian Green vehemently denies the suggestion

Green Damian Home Office "There's absolutely no amnesty. What we've done is get through to the bottom of that huge problem we inherited. The main thing is we've now eliminated this backlog from the system so that we can get on with the everyday job that the previous government couldn't because they had that backlog." – Immigration Minister Damian Green quoted in The Guardian

Government pledges to protect 31,000 OAPs in Southern Cross care homes

"David Cameron yesterday vowed to protect 31,000 elderly residents in care homes run by crisis-hit Southern Cross. The company, which runs nearly 750 UK homes, is on the brink of bankruptcy. Mr Cameron's official spokesman offered a "guarantee" that the residents will not lose out if the firm collapses. He said they will be able to stay in their present homes or move to another facility." – The Sun

  • How City predators destroyed firm caring for 31,000 old people – Daily Mail
  • "Elderly will suffer as cuts force councils to slash care services" – The Independent

> Yesterday on ConHome:

Ken Clarke launches inquiry into prison's test tube father…

Ken Clarke 2011 "Justice Secretary Ken Clarke ordered an inquiry today into why a prisoner is being allowed to father a child from behind bars. Mr Clarke insisted he had not approved the inmate's request for artificial insemination with his partner, granted this year. Reports suggested the decision was based on the prisoner's "right to family life" under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act – something Mr Clarke disputed." – Last night's Evening Standard

…as it is suggested it was Crispin Blunt who gave the green light

"Embattled prisons minister Crispin Blunt was labelled  ‘incompetent’ last night after it was claimed he took the decision to allow a prisoner to father a child from behind bars. Senior sources said Mr Blunt, already regarded across Whitehall as a ‘dead man walking’ after a string of blunders, approved the inmate’s application for artificial insemination because of his human rights." – Daily Mail

UK mortgage approvals hit record low in April…

"Mortgage approvals fell in April to their lowest level for the month since records began in 1993, amid warnings sliding house prices are likely to start hurting the country's biggest banks within months… Separately, lending to consumers rose more than expected in April as people flexed their plastic, the Bank figures revealed." – Daily Telegraph

…as weak manufacturing data is reported…

"Sterling dived against the dollar and euro on Wednesday after UK manufacturing data came in much weaker than expected, bolstering the view a struggling economy will keep UK interest rates at record lows until next year. The Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI headline index fell to 52.1 last month from a downwardly revised 54.4 in April, well below the 54.1 consensus forecast." – Reuters

…leading Labour to call again for spending cuts to be halted

"This disappointing set of figures is further evidence that last year's economic recovery is stalling. Even the manufacturing sector now seems to have joined consumers in entering a more difficult phase… George Osborne risks getting us into a vicious circle. He needs to think again on the speed and scale of the cuts, and realise that getting the economy growing strongly again and more people into work is the best way to get the deficit down." – Angela Eagle, the shadow Treasury minister, quoted in The Guardian

  • Interest rate rise ruled out as growth hopes fade – The Times (£)

Allister Heath: Why I'm now worried about the economic recovery

Allister Heath "I was on the more “optimistic” side of the UK debate… The additional problem now is that manufacturing is also slowing, as demonstrated by yesterday’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) reading of just 52.1 (this suggests growth is now pretty feeble). And in a development which will terrify the Bank of England, pay rises are starting to accelerate for the first time, with the average settlement in the private sector reaching three per cent, according to figures out today from Incomes Data Services. While temporarily good news for workers, it suggests that an inflationary price wage spiral is building, confirming the fears of those who have long been arguing for higher interest rates. All of this suggests that the second quarter will see a slowdown." – Allister Heath in City AM

  • Steve Richards: As ministers insist they have no time for targets, you cannot move for them in relation to the economy – The Independent

Public service reform plan on hold

"David Cameron’s plan to free public services “from the grip of state control” has been put on hold until July, in the face of opposition from the Liberal Democrats and public concern over the privatisation of health and social care. The plan to transform public services through greater use of private providers, mutuals and social enterprises has already been cut back and is now the subject of coalition wrangling. Downing St insiders confirmed on Wednesday that the vaunted white paper on reform – originally set for publication in January – is now unlikely to be published until mid-July." – FT (£)

Michael Gove promises to free children from 'prison house of ignorance'

Michael Gove 2011 "Hundreds of schools in London must improve English teaching to stop pupils being condemned to a "prison house of ignorance", Michael Gove warned today. The Education Secretary refused to accept that it was "inevitable" that children from poorer areas would leave school with worse reading skills than youngsters from more affluent boroughs." – Yesterday's Evening Standard

Cameron and Clegg's disagreements over extremism and multiculturalism

"For all the very public spats during the AV referendum it was actually over the issue of extremism and multiculturalism, a month earlier, that the two men had decided they could and would disagree. Those who questioned the effect that government at loggerheads would have on policy making were told that two would become one in the seamless creation of government policy. So this week, or next, will herald the publication of Prevent, the government's counter-terrorism strategy." – Allegra Stratton in The Guardian

> Tuesday's ToryDiary: Is Al Qaeda no longer Britain's main Islamist problem? Lessons for the Prevent Review

Cameron denies that political pressure led to his resignation as Jewish National Fund patron

"David Cameron has denied that political pressure led to his decision to step down this week as a patron of the Jewish National Fund in the UK. In a statement released earlier this week, the Prime Minister’s Office said that Cameron left a number of charities because of his workload." – Jerusalem Post

  • Israel and Britain are allies in the fight for democratic values – Israel's ambassador to London, Ron Prosor, in the Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: "We are fortunate to have a Prime Minister committed to the State of Israel" says Conservative Friends of Israel

Hypocrisy of Barroso's private jet bill as UN was debating climate change

EU-FLAG "The office of José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European commission, racked up a €249,000 bill for private jets during the same period he attended the 2009 UN convention on climate change. Barroso's jet bill for the nine-month period is just a small part of €7.5m worth of trips on private jets chartered by EU commissioners over the last five years, uncovered in research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism." – The Guardian

  • £7 million blown on treats for fatcat Eurocrats – The Sun

Iain Dale observes Question Time in the Australian Parliament with incredulity

"It is incredibly rowdy but the speaker, I think, actually makes it worse. When the prime minister is answering questions, and the speaker is shouting "order! order!", she does not sit down but carries on, ploughing through it. It is a great spectacle but not a very edifying one… You have to have balance. I do like the adversarial system but the Australians take it to such an extreme that I just think it probably brings it into disrepute." – Iain Dale writing for the BBC from Australia

Political news in brief

  • Alex Salmond provokes fury with attack on UK supreme court – The Guardian
  • Cambridge dons plan to no-confidence David Willetts – The Independent
  • Outrage as state-funded primary school hires libel lawyers to sue council – Daily Mail
  • Government criticised for failing to fund summer drink-driving ad campaign – Daily Mirror
  • For Labour, even joined-up opposition seems a long way off – Dan Hodges in the New Statesman
  • Libyan oil minister confirms defection in further blow to Gaddafi – Daily Telegraph

And finally… Ken Livingstone compares Boris Johnson's chief of staff, Eddie Lister, to Ratko Mladic

Ken Livingstone "Ken Livingstone yesterday compared Boris Johnson’s chief of staff to a mass murderer. On a visit to Bromley, he called Eddie Lister, the former leader of Wandsworth Council, “the beast of Wandsworth” and “the Ratko Mladic of local government.” Ratko Mladic is a Bosnian Serb general who has been indicted for crimes against humanity including terror attacks against civilians, forced deportations, hostage-taking, torture, kidnapping, mass rape, and murder, all carried out as part of a campaign of genocide to cleanse a European country of its entire Muslim population. Eddie Lister is a local politician whose former council wants to charge people to use a children’s playground." – Andrew Gilligan's Daily Telegraph blog