- Robert Halfon MP calls for warmer Tory relationship with ordinary union members
- Car crash interview for Harriet Harman as she fails to answer basic question about cost of Labour's bank levy
3.30pm Richard Mabey on ThinkTankCentral: The wider debate about bankers' bonuses is about income inequality – and we can win it
1.30pm Local government: Councils should learn from orchestras
1pm Zac Goldsmith MP on Comment: Planning reform must not be a blank cheque for developers
12.30pm Local government: Council byelection results from yesterday
Noon ConHomeUSA newslinks: From April USA will have world's highest corporate tax rate
11.45am Local government: Boris has visited London boroughs SIX times as often as Livingstone
10am Guy Opperman becomes third Conservative MP to publicly declare for higher taxes on wealth to pay for lower taxes on poorer Britons: A bit of extra tax on properties over £2million seems perfectly fair to me
Columnist Bruce Anderson: The UK/US relationship is and will remain indispensable
Sir George Young MP on Comment insists he is not trying to neuter the BackBench Business Committee: The Government has helped to liberate Parliament from 100 years of executive control
Lord Ashcroft on Comment: If your horses have run slowly at Cheltenham, now may be a time to back a politician or two
Patrick Nolan on ThinkTankCentral: There really is no money left and no scope for giveaways in next week’s budget
Quote of the day on the Local government blog: "On Wednesday I was at a meeting discussing adult social care at Hammersmith Town Hall with a group of Kosovan executive mayors. We talked about how the system worked, some of the challenges involved, the immense costs, the merits of personalised budgets, the alternatives of residential and non residential care. How for every three pounds spent, one goes on working out what to do with the other two. The Kosovan listened politely as the Albanian interpreter repeated everything. Then they said: "In Kosovo old people are looked after by their families.""
- Dominic Raab MP calls for reform of "lop-sided" US/UK extradition law
- David and Samantha Cameron visit Ground Zero memorial park as their US visit draws to close
THIS WEEK'S DEEP END
- In praise of Prince Charles…
- The global "fertility implosion"…
- "When a nation’s institutions prevent the poor from profiting from their work, no amount of disease eradication, good economic advice or foreign aid seems to help"…
- The idea of financial repression…
- Labour now look a lot like the Tories a decade ago.
READ THE FULL DEEP END.
The Guardian: George Osborne will cut top rate of income tax from 50p to 40p
"The Liberal Democrats appear to recognise that they are not going to be able to block what is Osborne's key demand for the budget, but are trying to maximise the concessions they can extract in return. Government sources say that from the outset the chancellor has seen a cut in the 50p rate as the headline-grabbing measure of the budget, and views it as the simplest single step he can take to show his commitment to an enterprise economy." – Guardian
"Sources said that the Chancellor was unlikely to unveil a new council tax band or mansion tax, or agree to a minimum tax burden for the rich. But he could offer anti-avoidance measures packaged as the tycoon tax that Mr Clegg could use to appease his party." – Times (£)
"Although Mr Osborne is unlikely to name a minimum rate as suggested by Mr Clegg, he may package a bundle of anti-avoidance measures and brand them as a “tycoon tax”, allowing the Lib Dem leader to tell his party he won concessions in return for allowing the Tories to reduce the top rate of tax." – FT
Treasury sources tell The Telegraph that any suggestion that 50p will be axed is "wild speculation".
- Alex Massie in The Spectator is appalled at the prospect: "Really, people, how do you think this looks? Do you really think the modest fiscal benefits of abolishing the 50p rate now, in these economic circumstances, trump the reputational damage this must do to the government?"
- "It is imperative that no new wealth taxes are introduced in “return” for any income tax cuts. Britain is an astonishingly over-taxed country. Tax loopholes should be shut. But there should be no new taxes and no tax hikes." – Allister Heath at City AM
In an article for The Guardian Tim Farron and David Laws set out their two tests for getting rid of 50p: (1) The "Super-rich" must pay more overall and (2) the tax burden should be shifted to target wealth.
Tax relief to ensure that more big-budget television programmes such as Downton Abbey are made in Britain will be announced in the Budget next week – Independent
David Cameron urged by 101 public figures to ignore 101 Tory MPs and use budget to promote clean energy – Guardian
Jobs for life axed under proposed reform of the police
"As part of the biggest shake-up of policing in a generation, bobbies could be forced to prove they are fit enough to catch criminals" – The Sun
"The ending of a ban on compulsory redundancies and the introduction of annual fitness tests for every officer, including chief constables, is intended to prepare the service for the next 20 years. In an attempt to bring fresh thinking to the service, the proposals would open the way for new recruits with business, military and intelligence service backgrounds to join at senior rank without having to start as a beat constable." – Times (£)
"The words "husband and wife" are to be removed from official forms under the government's plans to legalise same-sex marriage, a government paper reveals. Immigration and benefits forms will replace some references with the "neutral term" "spouses and partners"." – Telegraph
Daily Mail leader: "But would gay marriage confer any more legal rights than civil partnership, and is there really a genuine demand for it? If there is, the Government certainly hasn’t demonstrated it, so is it fair that ministers should be bullying the Church so viciously over the issue? In trying so desperately not to be ‘nasty’, they are in danger of further undermining traditional marriage and riding roughshod over religious freedoms enshrined in British law and culture for centuries."
William Rees-Mogg in The Times (£): Extending the right to marry only weakens an institution that society needs to be strong
Robert Halfon MP wants Tories to form a new friendship with trade unionists – Telegraph
"Conservative MP Robert Halfon has called on his party to embrace the movement, claiming one third of members are Conservatives and more public sector workers voted Tory than Labour at the last election. In a pamphlet, Stop the Union Bashing, published by think-tank Demos, he urges Tories to look beyond union bosses such as Unite's Len McCluskey and PCS boss Mark Serwotka and court grassroots members." – Huffington Post
Half a million incapacity benefit claimants are fit for work, Government’s OWN figures show – Daily Mail
> Yesterday's ToryDiary: 71% of disability claimants are capable of work
PM and President discussed possibility of tapping of oil reserves – Telegraph
"The two leaders talked about the possibility of releasing some of their countries’ reserve oil stock to increase availability and lower forecourt prices. Speaking in New York, Mr Cameron said: “We are all facing the problem of higher oil prices and that translates into the cost of filling up the family car, which is very high here in the US, but frankly even higher in the UK." – Express
Thursday's Washington Post and New York Times splashed photos of the prime minister's visit on their front pages – BBC
Samantha Cameron shares her memories of 9/11 on emotional return to New York – Telegraph
- "For a British prime minister to align himself with one side in American politics is a rookie error. To do it with the party on the opposite side (supposedly) of the political spectrum is pure folly." – Toby Harnden in the Daily Mail
- "On the face of it, the PM and president make an odd political couple. But they had a mutual interest in ensuring the trip was a success. It suited a president described by his critics as the most left-wing one in modern times, to be best pals with a Conservative leader as he prepares to seek re-election. It did Mr Cameron no harm to be seen on the world stage being feted by its most powerful leader." – Andrew Grice in The Independent
Mary Dejevsky: Mr Cameron is a PM too English for his own good
"Cameron was brought up to be an Englishman, and he has naturally become a very English prime minister, with all the pluses and minuses that entails. He is at home in Westminster, in the City, in his Oxfordshire constituency and elsewhere in the Shires. He does not always travel well" – Mary Dejevsky in The Independent
Sticking with Gordon Brown’s flawed policy keeps people in poverty – Fraser Nelson in The Telegraph
Stewart Jackson MP warns that another Tory rebellion is on the cards… this time over the IMF bailout – Express
Time to get back control of fishing policy – John Redwood
London Mayoral candidates clash on transport with Boris Johnson saying it was "cretinous" to consider reducing money for the Tube at a time when demand is rising – BBC
Unemployed young people would be guaranteed a job under Labour but stripped of benefits if they refused it – The BBC reports on Ed Miliband's latest announcement
Margaret Thatcher was told by Merseyside Police that Hillsborough tragedy was drunk fans' fault – Metro
Plaid Cymru members have elected Leanne Wood as their new leader – BBC
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