9.30pm WATCH: Chris Leslie MP accuses Tories of wanting to cut pay of poor while cutting tax of top 1%

5pm ConHomeUSA: "Propaganda at its best" – The 17 minute documentary on why America should re-elect Obama


3.30pm ToryDiary: Four conclusions about Cameron's 48 hours in Washington

1pm Grant Shapps MP on Comment: Housebuilding can drive Britain's economic recovery

ToryDiary: Osborne ready to abolish national pay bargaining

Columnist Andrew Lilico: Politics should be abandoned at the Olympics

HALFON-robertRobert Halfon MP on Comment: It's time for Conservatives to make friends with mainstream trade unionists

Local government:

WATCH: David Cameron pays tribute to Rowan Williams after he announces retirement

Osborne to 'scrap public sector national pay rates'

"Chancellor George Osborne is expected to reveal plans to scrap public sector national pay rates in the Budget. He is thought to have backed the plan after Treasury research found people in public sector roles earn, on average, 8% more than their private sector counterparts across England and Wales." – BBC

Ollerenshawe"Eric Ollerenshaw, Tory MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, warned this week that the issue could deepen the party’s unpopularity in the North. He said: "The emerging issue of possibly introducing regional pay bargaining in the public sector will need to be handled with care. The Government will need to make its case carefully in the face of arguments that such a policy would bring about a brain drain from the North, remove money from the Northern economy and even institutionalise the North-South divide."" – Daily Mail

"Public sector unions say national bargaining brings economies of scale to public sector pay. The NHS, for example, has 161 acute hospital trusts. Each of these, it is claimed, would have to gather labour market intelligence, draw up a negotiating position, hold a number of negotiating meetings involving senior staff, and set up new payroll systems." – Guardian

  • Civil and public servants overwhelmingly rejected the Government's pensions offer yesterday, setting the stage for a fresh round of strikes – Independent

Overall taxes on rich will go up in Budget, claims Times, but 50p rate will be cut to 45p

50P"Mr Clegg’s party has agreed to the tax cut on the condition that George Osborne, the Chancellor, can prove even more will be raised from the wealthy through other measures announced in next Wednesday’s Budget… Informed sources said last night that lowering the top rate of income tax to 45p for those on more than £150,000 a year, rather than returning to the pre-2010 rate of 40p for all higher earners, had been accepted as a compromise." – Times (£)

The FT (£) leader-writers liken cutting the rate to 45p to a "half-measure".

"The Coalition's challenge is to convince the public the top rate will be replaced with significant measures that hit rich tax avoiders. Without that, scrapping the 50p rate could be political dynamite that blows up in the Government's face, the moment when the voters judge we are definitely not "all in this together"." – Andrew Grice in The Independent

  • The Guardian calls for an overhaul of council tax bands: "Mr Cable is right that this country doesn't tax expensive property enough. But the best way to redress that would be by overhauling councils tax: doing the first revaluation since 1991, and changing the nonsensical banding system that taxes a home worth £10m the same as a nearby property worth £320,001."

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: "We wouldn't need the 50p tax if we taxed the Lib Dems every time they leaked stuff"

George Osborne can be part-time because of his brilliant Chief Adviser, Rupert Harrison

Osborne and Harrison

– Fraser Nelson in The Telegraph

David Cameron is to announce a new minimum price for alcohol within days of the BudgetTimes (£)

ClarkeOnPoliticsShowGovernment to expand tagging which will ensure offenders don't drink alcohol and stay in their homesTelegraph

  • The switch to community sentences aims to save £130 million – FT (£)
  • The Guardian reports that there'll also be more use of asset seizures: "No 10 believes it is wrong that wealthy offenders can lose expensive belongings, such as sports cars, while the authorities appear reluctant to seize goods, such as televisions, from less affluent offenders."
  • Ken Clarke must be replaced if we are to take Cameron seriously on crime – Sun

Cameron's new housing plan may fail to help buyersIndependent

The FT magazine publishes an extended profile of David Cameron

CAMERON Ivan 2"“I think to really understand Cameron, it is not enough to focus on his education and background,” [Andrew Feldman] says. “That only partly explains why he is cool under pressure, always has good manners and is courteous to people. You have to consider the tragedy of Ivan and his illness, and the loss of Ivan had a huge impact on him. I think he has, deep in his heart, a sense that however bad things are, they’re never as bad as that. Nothing will cause him that much pain, or that much sadness, ever in his life. That is his bottom line. The pain from that means whatever happens, he will survive.” – The profile is written by the FT's George Parker

  • Cameron sometimes seems like an ambassador for his Government, rather than its embodiment – In The Times (£) Matthew Parris wishes the Tory leader would be more prime ministerial and less presidential
  • Simon Heffer in the Daily Mail: "Come the next general election, voters must muse on the fact that the greatest enemy of the principles of conservatism has turned out to be the Conservative leader himself"

Robert Halfon for his union campaign is hero of the week and Peter Bone is villain for his dinosaur remarks on gay marriageThe Sun

Civil servants, judges and Eurocrats are the real masters of Britain – Charles Moore in The Telegraph

  • Nigel Farage MEP makes similar points in The Express: "It doesn’t matter what our politicians say and do, when the European Court rules, we must obey. In this world where we are governed by the ECHR, one has to ask, is nothing sacred?"

THATCHERRevelations from papers released by the Thatcher Foundation

  • "The Conservative party came close to splitting in 1981, newly released papers from the Margaret Thatcher Archive Trust show. Many doubting ministers had been sacked in a September cabinet reshuffle, the so-called "purge of the Wets". But in November 1981 Mrs Thatcher faced a rebellion of backbench MPs too." – BBC
  • Margaret Thatcher had a secret meeting with Rupert Murdoch just weeks before his 1981 purchase of the Times newspapers – BBC
  • Margaret Thatcher said miners were 'basically reasonable' – Guardian
  • Reagan's doodles – Times (£)

The Margaret Thatcher Foundation website.

Ed Balls on Gordon Brown

Balls Ed Feb 2010 2The Times (£) conducts a wide-ranging interview with the Shadow Chancellor: “Nobody is going to look back at any point in history and say that Gordon Brown was a great Prime Minister, but I think they will look back and say the leadership Gordon and Alistair [Darling] demonstrated on the world stage in 2007/8 was of monumental significance. That is known around the world, just less so here in Britain.”

Ed Miliband asks bearded man if he's a ladyMetro

It was a day of Labour gaffes: Car crash interview for Harriet Harman as she fails to answer basic question about cost of Labour's bank levy

And finally… The Sun compiles a gallery of photographs of Cameron laughing at Obama's jokes

Amanda-Platell-small-116x150"When Tony Blair was described as President George W. Bush’s ‘poodle’, he could at least have taken comfort from the fact that poodles had an honourable history as fearless, fighting beasts accompanying their masters into battle. Even Napoleon had one. Yet David Cameron’s gruesome love-in this week with President Obama made him more look like a chihuahua, or one of those grotesque little dogs carried in handbags by the likes of vacuous celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Geri Halliwell." – Amanda Platell in the Daily Mail

"The series of carefully arranged photo opportunities and oleaginous soundbites constituted too rich a diet – at times it felt like eating three puddings in a row on an empty stomach that was yearning for a main course" – Patrick O'Flynn in The Express


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