Screen Shot 2012-03-25 at 00.30.56Midnight ToryDiary: Cameron must act quickly and introduce strict new caps on donations to political parties

10.45pm ToryDiary: Sunday Times says Tory donor invites donors to buy meetings with Prime Minister for £250,000

9pm ToryDiary: Voters oppose the "granny tax" and 50p rate cut, but back raising the income tax threshold for lower earners 10pm updated with YouGov figures

5.45pm MPsETC: Labour wouldn't reverse the 50p cut, and all parties agreed it was temporary: Tory MPs note Labour's opportunism

4pm Ben Howlett on Comment: The Chancellor's Budget will help to create an aspirational society for young people

6a00d83451b31c69e201675fd6b15b970b-500wi2.15pm ToryDiary: Boris distances himself from the Budget, and proposes a London-only early intervention scheme

11.30am LeftWatch: Leading Conservative columnist comes out against Boris Johnson

10.30am WATCH: William Hague: "We're not expecting Mrs Assad to try to travel to the United Kingdom at the moment"

ToryDiary: A defence of the 'Granny Tax'

Building a Conservative Majority (14): A new Party Chairman with the authority to rethink Tory electoral strategy

FLIGHT Howard 2Lord Flight on Comment: The Budget represented a very modest step in the right direction to regaining Britain's competitiveness

Also on Comment – Peter Young: The HMRC's report into the former 50p rate provides the evidence for substantial tax cuts

MPsETC: The Parliamentary Diary of Gavin Barwell MP reflects on the Queen's visit and a 'Budget for work'

Also on MPsETC: Sir John Stanley MP announces his retirement

Local government: Conservatives pick local entrepreneur as candidate for Mayor of Liverpool

WATCH: David Mundell MP: Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson "will turn round our fortunes"

David Cameron "increasingly confident" he will win Scottish independence referendum

Cameron IV on green"David Cameron is growing increasingly confident the UK government will win its battle for a single-question referendum asking the Scottish people to simply vote Yes or No to independence. The Scotsman has learned the Prime Minister is prepared to let the SNP delay the poll until its preferred date of October 2014 in the knowledge he will win the crucial argument in favour one straightforward question. Senior No 10 sources suggest Mr Cameron’s belief that he will outflank Alex Salmond on the framing of the ballot paper has been bolstered by the SNP’s cave-in on the Scotland Bill." - Scotsman

Scottish Conservative conference news roundup

  • Davidson ruth"Scottish Conservatives are being urged to offer "no compromises" to the SNP in their battle to keep the Union. The rallying call will come in Ruth Davidson's first speech to the party's conference since becoming leader." – BBC
  • Cameron gives Scots Tories a dressing down - Alan Cochrane
  • "David Cameron has pledged the Conservatives will “fight with everything we’ve got” to keep the United Kingdom together, as he launched a broadside against Scotland’s First Minister yesterday telling him to “stop dithering and start delivering” on the independence referendum." - Yorkshire Post
  • Cameron’s familiar patter is unlikely to win new converts - Scotsman editorial
  • "Home Secretary Theresa May will claim today that independence would leave Scotland open to mass immigration, when she addresses delegates at the Scottish Conservative conference. The claim, which drew an angry response from the SNP, will be made on the final day of the Troon event, which will also see new Scottish leader Ruth Davidson’s first address to conference." - Scotsman
  • David Trimble: Scottish nationalists 'doing violence' to identity of Scots – Guardian

Some Tories question Obsorne's handling of the Budget after "granny tax" receives bad press

Osborne Number11"Senior… MPs yesterday expressed anger over George Osborne's Budget raid on pensioners suggesting the Chancellor had been politically inept in his handling of the issue… MPs, normally supportive of Mr Osborne, questioned his strategy of trying to portray the freeze in pension allowances "simplifying the tax system". They said while they were broadly supportive of the substance of the policy… its presentation had been botched, resulting in two days of bad headlines for the Government." – Independent

  • How George Osborne 'fast-forwarded' his granny tax – Daily Telegraph
  • "[T]o attack the living standards and general circumstances of retired people who own their own homes and have savings or pensions income is not just morally wrong, but economically toxic as well." – Daily Express editorial

Continued newspaper criticism of Osborne's Budget

  • "But it leaves, you may have noticed, one major group of victims – not the retired, but the ever-growing, soon-to-be five million strong band of people who pay 40 per cent income tax at the newly reduced threshold of just over £41,000. They found no voice in the counsels of the Coalition. Their plight is a perfect illustration of why, unless cuts can really be made and growth can really be found, no Budget just now can take us much further forward." – Charles Moore
  • Treasury's ignorance about the higher tax threshold is astounding – Patrick O'Flynn
  • "The more George Osborne’s Budget speech is dissected and picked over, the more damaging to him and the Coalition it seems to be." – Simon Heffer
  • George Osborne’s green shoots appear to have wilted – Geoffrey Lean
  • Budget for the wealthy that exposes Tories’ fatal flaw – Andrew Grice
  • "As the Mail has said, there are many laudable measures in the Budget, such as the reduction in corporation tax and raising the threshold for income tax. However, it was a terrible miscalculation to pay for these policies by picking the pockets of pensioners, churches, charities, stay-at-home mothers and the aspirational – rather than by slashing spending by State bureaucracies which continue to squander billions on job-destroying quangos and gimmickry." – Daily Mail editorial

> From yesterday:

Tim Montgomerie: George Osborne cannot be both Chancellor and chief strategist for the Conservative Party. Michael Gove should be appointed Party Chairman

"Who could be a powerful party chairman for Mr Cameron? Someone who enjoys both his confidence and also Mr Osborne’s. Someone effective in the media. Someone in tune with MPs and the grassroots. Someone who understands the striving class who are, at best, lukewarm about the current Conservative Party. Someone with the brains to devise a plan to win two million more votes. Someone with the courage to question if the current Tory strategy relies too much on the frailties of Ed Miliband as it once relied on the frailties of Gordon Brown. Step forward Michael Gove." – Tim Montgomerie (£)

Hundreds of thousands ‘will get caught’ in 40p tax net

"The hundreds of thousands of people who will be sucked into the 40p tax bracket in the coming years will find it impossible to use the range of sophisticated avoidance measures routinely exploited by the wealthy, tax experts have warned." – Independent

George Osborne must clarify income, says Ed Miliband

Miliband Ed Purple"Ed Miliband has challenged George Osborne to “come clean” over his income after the Chancellor insisted he did not earn enough to benefit from a lowered top rate of tax… the Labour leader suggested Mr Osborne had “a good accountant” and warned that, although he had no details of the Chancellor’s arrangements, he must “account for his own situation”." - Daily Telegraph

> From yesterday - WATCH: Channel 4's Michael Crick investigates whether George Osborne is a 50p taxpayer

Minimum alcohol pricing measures seen as an attempt to bury bad Budget news

  • "David Cameron was accused yesterday of rushing out the Government's strategy to combat binge drinking, to distract attention from unfavourable media coverage of the Budget. His plan for a minimum price of 40p a unit for alcohol, which will raise drink prices in supermarkets and off-licences, was due to be published on Monday. It was brought forward to yesterday amid mounting criticism of the so-called "granny tax"" – Independent
  • Tory MPs blast 40p minimum for booze – The Sun
  • Minimum alcohol price rushed through to deflect budget criticism, says Labour – Guardian
  • Drinks companies threaten legal action over Prime Minister's assault on cheap alcohol, claiming it 'breaks EU law' – Daily Mail
  • Government-controlled pricing for alcohol is just stupid – and depressing coming from a Tory prime minister – Graeme Archer

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Cameron claims minimum price for alcohol could save 9,000 lives over next decade

Ken Clarke wants to let serious offenders be able to wipe their criminal record clean

"The soft-touch Justice Secretary wants to change the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act to let more serious criminals wipe the slate clean. Anyone jailed for between 30 months and four years will have their offences struck from their criminal record after seven years. Those currently jailed for more than 30 months have it on their record until they die. It means they have to alert potential employers when they apply for a job." – The Sun

Boris wants "strategic oversight" of London's schools to prevent the riots happening again

  • Johnson Boris Copenhagen"Johnson, who has already launched an inquiry into the state of the capital's education, told the Guardian on Friday that he believed some schools in London were "chillingly bad", adding that it was unacceptable to have 55% of young black men unemployed." – Guardian
  • "Mayor distances himself from Budget" – Evening Standard
  • London mayor takes no credit for helping cut the 50p tax rate – Guardian
  • Boris deputy to be asked about pressure on police – Independent

"Ministers could take back control of more than 100 laws on crime and policing from the EU, it has emerged."The Sun

The Prime Minister backs calls to rename Big Ben landmark Elizabeth Tower after the Queen - Daily Mail

> Yesterday on MPsETC: Tobias Ellwood MP campaigns for Parliament's Big Ben Tower to be renamed for Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Google 'operates a magic roundabout' of tax avoidance in Britain, says Charlie Elphicke MPDaily Telegraph

Douglas Alexander: Labour could form coalition with Lib Dems after next electionDaily Telegraph

Labour attacks £500m NHS budget clawbackGuardian

Jonathan Freedland: I've backed Ken Livingstone for mayor before, but due to his attitude towards Jews, this time I just can't do it

LIVINGSTONE KEN@DEMO"I can no longer do what I and others did in 2008, putting to one side the statements, insults and gestures that had offended me, my fellow Jews and – one hopes – every Londoner who abhors prejudice. Back then I tried to shrug off Livingstone's quip to property developers the Reuben brothers that they could "go back to Iran and see if they can do better under the ayatollahs", even though telling immigrants to go back to where they came from is the language of a pub racist from the 1950s." - Jonathan Freedland

Brussels offers Britain €7.7bn to adopt financial transactions tax

"The European Commission has tried to entice David Cameron into adopting the controversial financial transactions tax (FTT) by pledging to cut Britain's contributions to Brussels by €7.7bn (£6.4bn). In a move that has astounded British MEPs, Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the EC, announced that the levy could halve European Union members' contributions." – Daily Telegraph

Rewritten planning laws 'ease concerns’

Countryside"A new definition of “sustainable development” will offer more balance between economic, environmental and heritage issues. A requirement that building should go ahead on “brownfield” land ahead of “greenfield” will also be made more explicit." - Daily Telegraph

300,000 oppose gay marriage in biggest petition since electionDaily Telegraph

Aircraft carrier costs will be half what you think, US tells ministersDaily Telegraph

And finally… So, you think you're having a bad hair day? Meet the inch-long 'Cow Killer Ant' with a Boris Johnson barnet - Daily Mail


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