8.45pm ToryDiary: Tories' lead on economy down from +25% to +4%

5pm WATCH: David Cameron: "Everything that can be done is being done" to solve fuel strike crisis

2.45pm MPsETC: Mike Nesbitt MLA elected new UUP leader

Miliband E Bradford West12.15pm WATCH: Ed Miliband: "I am determined that we learn the lessons of what happened" in Bradford West

ToryDiary: If Ministers wish to confront the unions, tanker drivers are not the right way to do it

Thomas Byrne on Comment: An idea for taxpayer-funded politics that makes sense

Local Government: Cllr Paul Dendle seeks nomination for Sussex Police Commissioner


David Cameron seeks to reassure motorists that fuel will not run out, as union postpones strike

Cameron Scots independence"Speaking after chairing a meeting of Cobra, the emergency committee, he insisted the government and fuel companies were doing all they could to address the shortages that have been caused by panic buying in some areas. "The fuel companies are working flat out to resupply petrol stations," he said. "It is frustrating, I know, when petrol stations have queues. Everything that can be done is being done, but it will take some time."" – Guardian

  • Ministers under pressure to bring in emergency rationing as 999 crews struggle to get hold of fuel – Daily Telegraph
  • Fuel strike over Easter ruled out by union – BBC
  • Advice to drivers changed after panic buying – BBC
  • David Cameron: My 'heart goes out' to woman burnt in petrol accident – Independent

> From yesterday – WATCH:

Tory MPs question Number 10's judgment after the last week of bad headlines

Screen shot 2012-03-30 at 06.46.58"Although attention has switched to Maude, he is relatively small beer as Tories start to voice, in private for the moment, a thought that would have been unthinkable a few weeks ago: George Osborne, the man hailed by Cameron as the Tories' master strategist, is losing his touch. "It would have been heretical a few weeks ago, but people are starting to be critical of George," one Tory said. "The granny tax shows a genius but it shows an errant genius."" – Guardian

  • The truth about PM and pastygate: he ate a sausage roll – Daily Telegraph
  • Cameron turns to Olympics in difficult week – FT (£)

Charles Moore: Even I’m starting to wonder: what do this lot know about anything?

MOORE"I do not feel patronised by this milieu, but even I, as I watched the Budget on television and saw the “Quad” of Messrs Cameron, Clegg, Osborne and Alexander all in a self-congratulatory, Oxford Union row, did get that “What do they know about anything?” feeling which, opinion polls suggest, is doing the Coalition harm… Gay marriage, rather than looking modern, begins to seem a typically privileged preoccupation of pampered public schoolboys… Wind farms look like ways of making poor people pay higher energy bills. The endless increase in overseas aid looks like an insult to every basic-rate taxpayer." – Charles Moore

  • Tory MPs turn on George Osborne, England's new Cardinal Wolsey – Guardian
  • The Cabinet needs an injection of normal people into its ranks - Patrick O'Flynn
  • It took Dave just ten days to REALLY toxify the Tories – Simon Heffer
  • Despite Galloway's win, the Tories still have problems – Jonathan Freedland

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Cameron needs Growth, Grit and Grip

First the ‘pasty tax’ now church bells toll challenge for George Osborne

Screen shot 2012-03-30 at 08.18.48"Already facing a growing backlash over the so-called “pasty tax”, the Chancellor is now on a collision course with the Church of England over plans to impose VAT on restoration work on historic buildings. The change could cost the Church of England, which has 12,500 listed buildings up to £20 million a year. Last week the Bishop of London wrote to the Chancellor warning that the move could be a major “blow” to alterations designed to open up churches more widely to their local communities." – Daily Telegraph

  • "A European Court of Justice ruling meant he was under pressure to either slap VAT on all hot takeaway food or axe the duty completely." – The Sun

Eric Pickles on David Cameron: "You shouldn’t look down your nose at someone just because he’s had the misfortune to go to Eton. My colleagues [who complain] are foolish"


Eric Pickles interview with the Daily Telegraph: "“David Cameron has had personal experience of the difficulties that life can bring. I have always felt that David had the ability to walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes. You shouldn’t look down your nose at someone just because he’s had the misfortune to go to Eton. My colleagues [who complain] are foolish. This is the chap who took us out of the wilderness. My friends in the Tory party sometimes get used to discussing how many angels can dance on a pin head. That’s fine in opposition but in government it’s our chance to make a difference.”"

Theresa May has only 18 days before curfew laws are lifted on Abu Qatada

May Theresa Home Office"Theresa May has just 18 DAYS to get a deal to boot Abu Qatada out of Britain before tough restrictions on the terror suspect are scrapped. Home Office chiefs have set up a base in Jordan to try to finalise a deal to send the hate preacher back. It comes as Sun readers continue to sign our Must Try Harder To Kick Out Qatada petition, with the total now at 122,000. Qatada was freed from jail last month and put on a 22 hours-a-day curfew. He is banned from using the internet and must wear an electronic tag." – The Sun

Greg Clark: The man behind new planning laws


"His colleagues say that he is the Clark Kent of the Government, the geek in glasses who is fighting to save his country. This week Greg Clark stepped into a telephone box and emerged as Superman, bringing to an end the battle between the mighty Treasury and the powerful countryside lobby over planning. His national policy framework created peace by reassuring environmentalists that the Government had no intention of concreting over the hills and vales of England while comforting developers that building would become easier." - The Times (£)

David Cameron under pressure over Lord Gold links to Conservatives

"David Cameron is facing calls to replace Lord Gold as head of the “cash-for-access” inquiry, after it emerged the peer had business ties with the Conservative Party’s co-chairman… Lord Gold was a senior partner at law firm Herbert Smith, which advised Lord Feldman's family company for many years, until at least 2008. Lord Gold personally acted as a solicitor for the ladieswear company in 1995." – Daily Telegraph

Wales is owed an apology for NHS funding cuts, says David Davies

"The Welsh Government should apologise after new figures suggested funding for the NHS in Wales was being cut while in England funding was going up, a Tory MP claims. Statistics supplied to Monmouth MP David Davies by the House of Commons Library show that between 2008/09 and 2014/15, the health service in Wales will take a 5.1% cut while over the same period the NHS in England will get a funding rise of 7.4%." – WalesOnline

Ed Miliband’s seven dinners with leader of fuel strike union

Miliband _140x140"Pressure was mounting on Labour last night to distance itself from Unite, as the union refused to rule out the threat of strike action which has stoked panic buying of petrol by motorists across the UK. Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed an announcement by Unite that it would hold off strike action by tanker drivers until after the Easter holiday, but the Tories attacked Labour leader Ed Miliband when he published a list of 43 meals he had with party donors, including seven from the union’s general secretary Len McCluskey." – Scotsman

  • "However the Labour leader included all meetings at his home or office with trade union general secretaries and donors who had given £7,500 or more, going further than Mr Cameron, who earlier this week published details only of meals with "significant" donors who gave more than £50,000." – Evening Standard
  • Ed Miliband entertained tycoon Labour donors in his own home – Daily Telegraph

Miliband promises to do better as George Galloway boasts of 'Bradford Spring' election victory

GALLOWAY George"Mr Miliband, who had been out on the campaign trail in Bradford, promised to get to the bottom of the defeat and "learn lessons". “We've got to understand the reasons why that happened in Bradford,” he said. “Above all it reinforces for me something that I've emphasised throughout my leadership which is that we need to be engaged and rooted in every community of this country."" – Daily Telegraph

  • A disaster for British democracy – Stephen Pollard
  • George Galloway fought his by-election campaign in Bradford West as a champion of Islam, nakedly appealing to race and faith – Andrew Gilligan
  • George Galloway fights only in Muslim seats where he can spin his narrative of grievance and victimhood – David Aaronovitch
  • Could there be any greater indictment of our political class than the election of George Galloway? – Sir Max Hastings
  • Once again, Miliband forges ahead – then blows it – Andrew Grice
  • A wake-up call for an out-of-touch elite – Daily Mail editorial
  • George Galloway’s victory is part of a pattern, as the three main parties struggle to adapt – Independent

Bradford's peaceful democratic uprising that elected me comes from the wellspring of discontent that swept Britain last summerGeorge Galloway MP

> From yesterday:

Foreign criminal syndicates 'behind metal thefts in Britain' – Daily Telegraph

Simon Cowell offers work experience scheme after letter from Iain Duncan Smith

"The show's boss made the offer after Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith urged him to give unemployed teens a chance. The minister wrote to Cowell following the pair's clash in The Sun. The music mogul has sent back a letter declaring he is eager to help out." - The Sun

Glut of NHS doctors by 2020, report warnsDaily Telegraph

Migrant domestic violence support scheme extendedBBC


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