Screen Shot 2012-03-30 at 17.59.086pm WATCH:

4.45pm Local government: UKIP snub Boris on second preference vote

12.15pm Local government: Boris launches Olympics manifesto

Noon ConHomeUSA: House Republicans pass Paul Ryan's Budget

10.15am WATCH: George Galloway celebrates most sensational victory in British by-election history. Ever. So he claims.

Miliband Ed on TV9.15am LeftWatch: Ed Miliband didn't win in Scotland. Ed Miliband didn't win in Bradford. If he doesn't win in London it's crisis time for him.

ToryDiary: Cameron needs Growth, Grit and Grip

Columnist Bruce Anderson: How many Thusha Kamaleswarans will be maimed or murdered before the rest of us wake up?

Fiona Hodgson on Comment: Our two Party Chairmen are doing a difficult job and they are doing it well

Also on Comment: Gareth Johnson MP – Great news from Kent: a vote to allow the first grammar school expansion for 50 years

Local Government:

WATCH: Osborne – Fuel crisis "caused by unions"

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This week's Deep End

Galloway grabs possession of Bradford West in by-election

Screen shot 2012-03-30 at 07.13.49"Respect swept from fifth place at the 2010 general election to a commanding victory for the ex-Labour anti-war campaigner against his former party on a swing of 36.59%. It was "the most sensational result in British by-election history bar none", he said on stage after being declared the victor with well over half the total votes. ..Mr Galloway won 18,341 votes to the 8,201 for Labour candidate Imran Hussain." – Daily Telegraph

  • The many accomplishments of Gorgeous George – Daily Mail

A dire result for Labour…

“In a big blow for Ed Miliband, Labour lost the seat which it has held since 1974 to the anti-war Respect politician, who will return to Westminster after a two-year absence.By the grace of God we have won the most sensational victory in British political history,” Mr Galloway said. The result will be seen as an indictment of Labour’s performance under Mr Miliband and it comes amid one of David Cameron’s most trying periods as Prime Minister." – The Times (£)

…And the Conservative vote collapses too

Screen shot 2012-03-30 at 07.21.34"The Tories, still needing to make inroads in northern immigrant areas, floundered badly as the party licked its wounds over its shambolic handling of the potential petrol strike. Jackie Whiteley, the Tory candidate came third, with 2,746 votes, 8.37%, a drop of 22.78% on the last election." – The Guardian

Labour Policy Chief Liam Byrne wants to quit front bench to fight Birmingham Mayoral election.  More bad news for Miliband…

"Ed Miliband was rocked last night after his policy chief announced he wants to quit — to become Mayor of Birmingham. Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne will formally unveil his plans to step down today. He will leave if Birmingham votes to have an elected mayor in May. It is a blow to Mr Miliband's bid to draw up a blueprint for Britain. Mr Byrne is in charge of his policy review and was due to report in the autumn." – The Sun

…And another day of dreadful headlines for Cameron. Fleet Street turns on Cameron as drivers queue, tempers fray, prices rise, the LibDems brief against Tory Ministers and Downing Street seems rudderless

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"Despite there being no possibility of a strike by tanker drivers for at least 11 days, motorists formed queues up to half a mile long at filling stations. In Dorset, police were forced to step in and ask seven forecourts to close temporarily because of fears for road safety. Elsewhere pumps ran dry, fuel was rationed and tempers frayed as drivers waited for up to an hour to fill up, buying 81 per cent more petrol and 43 per cent more diesel than on an average day." – Daily Telegraph

Coalition partners unite – and blame Maude…

"One senior Tory said: "Francis Maude has completely mucked up this week. He is to blame for the gargantuan queues outside petrol stations"…The Lib Dems blamed Maude for creating the panic buying. Dorset police confirmed that five garages were asked to close for a period, because lines of cars were causing congestion in Bournemouth and Weymouth, and there were reports of forecourt closures and petrol shortages across the UK." – The Guardian

…And now Davey adds to chaos

"Lib Dem Energy Secretary Ed Davey added to the chaotic Government warnings yesterday by calling for drivers to keep tanks two-thirds full. He said: “The impact of a tanker strike could disrupt the lives of millions of people.” – Daily Express

> Yesterday: Mark Field MP on Comment – The cost of keeping the Liberal Democrats inside the Coalition may undermine Tory candidates' election prospects

Tory MPs blame Craig Oliver and will tell Cameron: Get a grip

Screen shot 2012-03-30 at 07.26.46"Tory backbenchers have become so concerned at the lack of grip at No 10 that they will urge changes at the next meeting in Downing Street when Parliament returns after the recess. They are worried by the performance of Craig Oliver, the Prime Minister’s director of communications, and rumours that he has difficult relationship with several other key media figures at No 10 that are tarnishing the reputation of the Conservatives." – The Times (£)

  • How wheels came off and Tory communications machine ground to a halt – The Times (£)
  • "Downing Street intervened in the middle of Tuesday night’s transmission of Newsnight because officials felt that the programme was mispresenting the Prime Minister’s position on pasties." – The Times (£)

Petrol prices soar

"Some garages had pushed prices well above even the record averages set yesterday of 140.9p per litre for unleaded and 147.1p for diesel. In places as far apart as Gateshead in the North East and Chorleywood in Hertfordshire, motorists were having to pay an extra 3p to 4p overnight." – Daily Mail

  • Baggage handlers at Stansted to strike over Easter – The Sun

Miliband opens fire…

"Mr Miliband said the government had played “political games” with the issue after days of negative reaction to the Budget and hospitality for Conservative party donors. “In a delicate situation which demanded statesmanship, the government showed partisanship,” Mr Miliband said. “They made a crude decision to play politics with petrol without regard for the consequence.”  Mr Miliband said that the crisis was another sign that ministers were “out of touch”." – Financial Times (£)

…As does David Davis, who says: Cameron and Cabinet are seen as well-fed toffs living in a different world

DAVIS"He also warned that the decision to cut child benefit had convinced voters that Old Etonian Mr Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne ‘don’t know how we feel and work, what our lives are like’…Mr Davis, who grew up in a council flat, said: ‘It’s an unfair allegation, but it’s a powerful one, and it works against us. They think we’re toffs. ‘The truth is, they look at the front bench, they see them all very well dressed, well turned out, well fed, and perhaps feel that they’re in a different world to them." – Daily Mail

  • The class war is still raging across the dining table – Harry Mount, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday:

Three attack stories on Conservatives:

The OECD claims that Britain is back in recession

"Britain is back in recession, according to the latest unwelcome forecast from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The UK economy shrank at an annual rate of 1.2 per cent in the final three months of 2011 and will contract by 0.4 per cent in the first quarter of this year, it said.  Two successive quarters of economic contraction is the technical definition of a recession. Some ministers are also privately concerned that the problems afflicting the eurozone could still return with a vengeance." – The Independent

The Sun keeps going with the pasty VAT row…

Screen shot 2012-03-30 at 08.18.48"The Pasty Tax is helping George Osborne to take more cash from millions of ordinary Brits than he is giving them, The Sun can reveal. The Chancellor trumpeted last week's Budget as a boost for hard-pressed pockets because he raised the income tax threshold. But a Sun analysis of official Treasury figures we have seen tells a different story. And it shows an average hard-working Sun reader earning £19,000 a year will be £21.52 worse off." – The Sun

…And the Independent raises the impact of the "tycoon tax" on charities

"They warn that the practical impact will be to deter rich philanthropists – as well as more ordinary people who receive a once-in-a-lifetime cash windfall – from handing over money to the good causes that increasingly rely on their largesse. They are questioning how the move (which reportedly came as a surprise to the Arts minister, Ed Vaizey) fits in with David Cameron's commitment to foster the "Big Society"." – The Independent

Payment by results will transform public services for the better – Oliver Letwin, The Guardian

Osborne aims to hit back with spending trap for Balls

OSBORNE-GEORGE-FROM-FT"George Osborne will challenge Labour to match a detailed co­alition programme of cuts stretching into the middle of the next parliament in an attempt to “finish the job” of eliminating the structural budget deficit by 2017. While the strategy will infuriate some Liberal Democrats, people familiar with the plan say it will underline their party’s economic credentials and has the support of Nick Clegg. It will also force Ed Miliband, Labour leader, to spell out how a Labour government would deal with the deficit." – Financial Times (£)


Neil O'Brien: Cameron needs friends in the north

"They still need far more female and ethnic minority MPs. But our polling shows people think it’s even more important that they also find candidates who are working class, northern and have real-world experience. However, it’s hard for such outsiders to get into the professionalised game of modern politics, not least for financial reasons. Quotas won’t work and aren’t fair. Instead, the party should think about how potential candidates are funded and developed at the start of their careers." – Neil O'Brien, Daily Telegraph

Other Comment

NHS watchdog not ready for new responsibilities, say MPs The Guardian

Heseltine swings into action for Birmingham Mayoral vote

Screen shot 2012-03-30 at 08.00.48"At the centre of attention and munching on a banana was Lord Heseltine. Age may have greyed his locks and he no longer holds elected office but he still eclipsed the Cities minister, Greg Clark – tipped for promotion to the Cabinet, but who yesterday didn't have a prayer of competing with Tarzan…Mr Clark was asked why, if the Government was so keen on city mayors, it was refusing to give them any more powers than the council leaders they would replace.  Lord Heseltine intervened. "No, no, you're asking the wrong question," in patrician tones." – The Independent

Kent expands grammar schools in first major expansion of selective schools for 50 years Daily Mail

Hague confirms funding of Syria's opposition

"Britain will provide a further £500,000 to support Syria’s political opposition in the face of president Bashar Assad’s regime, the Foreign Secretary said. William Hague is expected to announce the extra funding tonight during his annual speech at the Lord Mayor’s Easter Banquet. Mr Hague said the money would help 'hard-pressed' opposition groups to document the regime’s violations."  – Daily Mail

  • Hague tells Argentina "we will steadfastly defend Falklands" – Daily Telegraph

IDS and Grayling clash with Osborne over budget cuts

"Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions are understood to be arguing that their budget should be spared. An aide to Iain Duncan Smith, the DWP Secretary, said: “From our perspective, we wouldn’t see this as simply £10billion of the DWP budget, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be making that point as and when we sit down with the Treasury.” And yesterday Employment Minister Chris Grayling said his department should not bear the entire brunt of the latest cuts." – Daily Express

London Mayoral election news and comment from the Times

Johnson Boris Pointing 2

Extradition 1) Home Affairs Select Committee says extradition treaty "must be reformed": Powerful committee of MPs backs Daily Mail's campaign Daily Mail

Extradition 2) Reforming the extradition treaty between the UK and the United States cannot be impossible Daily Telegraph editorial

Scotland Yard press chief resignsDaily Express

Northern Ireland MLA McCallister delivers his baby son in the bathroomBelfast Telegraph

Yes, Prime Minister returns to television with a six-episode seasonThe Times (£)


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