12.45pm ToryDiary: Tory strategists want voters to think of two words when they think of David Cameron: Strong and Fair.

11am ToryDiary: Boris Johnson launches his nine point plan for London

ToryDiary: The Conservative Party remains the best hope for Eurosceptics

MPsETC: Roger Helmer MEP explains why he has defected from the Conservatives to UKIP

NORMAN JESSEMPsETC: Jesse Norman MP's latest dust up with Mervyn King is featured in his Parliamentary Diary… "Sir Mervyn keeps insisting that Quantitative Easing can’t include any assets except Gilts, or it would be subsidizing one industry over another.  I point out that the Old Lady lost her virginity a while ago–not quite in those terms–and QE has been consciously favouring different parts of the UK economy for years.  Banks, borrowers and equity holders do well; small business and savers do badly."

Quentin Langley on Comment: An elected Lords would produce better and more popular government

Local government: Labour council candidate insults The Queen as "Old fart Betty"

Cllr Don Williams on Local government: Bringing the high street back to life

Cllr Geoffrey Theobald on Local government: Brighton & Hove spend £300,000 a year funding the unions

New council tax bands could be centrepiece of Budget

COUNCIL TAX"The most powerful members of the coalition are tussling over how to frame a new levy that hits the wealthy as council tax bands become increasingly outdated. The plan would be the centrepiece of the Chancellor’s March 21 statement, along with a big lift in the number of people taken out of income tax." – Times (£)

The FT (£) joins the calls for a rebalancing of the tax system: "Mr Osborne should look to pursue a more comprehensive tax reform that not only harmonises tax rates for economically similar tax bases, but that shifts the burden away from beneficial economic activity and transactions towards green taxes and levies on wealth."

Danny Alexander gives strongest possible hint that he has won battle to keep 50p rate – Herald

Cameron clashes with EU leaders over reform plans Independent

"The prime minister expressed his “frustrations” with draft summit conclusions that reflected a cautious Franco-German approach towards liberalisation. He said he had turned the tables to secure some of his demands on deepening the single market and opening trade contained in an open letter written with other like-minded European Union leaders last month." – FT (£)

> ConHome's report on that letter from 21st February

"Britain was left out in the cold yesterday as EU leaders signed  a controversial treaty which  critics say could herald the dawn of a two-tier Europe. Furious Tory MPs last night argued Britain would be pushed to the margins of European decision-making and renewed their calls for a referendum on whether we should now leave the EU." – Daily Mail | Sun

Redwood John Oct 2011"Yesterday the 25 countries signed up to the fiscal pact Treaty. The UK did not sign it. That sounds like a veto to me. The veto had three good consequences. The first is this is now an intergovernmental Treaty, not an EU Treaty. They wanted an EU one and Mr Cameron exercised the veto. Their legal grounds for using the EU institutions are as a result insecure or non existent. The UK intends to push the legal issues further, as it has to do…" – Read John Redwood's other reasons…

'Disillusioned' Tory MEP Roger Helmer will defect to UKIP after 40 years in the party because of row with Baroness WarsiDaily Mail | BBC

Cameron to say real compassion means we have to deal with Britain's debtsIndependent

""People say Conservatives in government are taking tough action because they don't care," Mr Cameron will say. "But the opposite is true. We're taking those decisions because we do care. We care about the kind of country our children are going to grow up in; about not burdening them with debts that we are too timid to pay back." – PA

Philip Hammond has lost ANOTHER multi-billion pound contract for Britain – Patrick O'Flynn for The Express

Will Steve Hilton return to Britain to stand as Mayor of Brighton?BBC Newsnight's Allegra Stratton


  • David Cameron's strategy director to take unpaid leave – Guardian
  • "The Lib Dems hope that his departure will result in a more collegiate approach to government, but many of Mr Cameron’s Conservatives are likely to miss his deregulatory zeal." – FT (£)
  • "Although Hilton has never hidden his frustration with the slow pace of government, he had been happier in recent months, focusing on the implementation of early reforms now coming to fruition while promoting the spread of urban mayors, reform of the civil service and sweeping deregulation to boost growth." – Ian Birrell in the Daily Mail
  • "Radical ministers often recruited Mr Hilton to press their case to the prime minister, with whom he has an intensely close friendship that began over twenty years ago at Conservative Central Office. He has been an ally to Mr Gove, the education secretary, and Iain Duncan Smith, who is leading welfare reform. He has helped Nick Herbert, Greg Clark and Grant Shapps with police commissioners, city mayors and housing policy respectively." – Janan Ganesh at The Economist

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Steve Hilton to leave Downing Street: Has the raven left the Tower?

David Cameron knew he was riding a police horse, Downing Street saysTelegraph

Iain Martin yesterday: "Sometimes stories that seem to be silly (and this one is hilarious) illustrate bigger truths or become metaphors for a scandal. The duck house in the MPs expenses scandal is one such example. Horsegate, depending how far it runs and whether or not it seeps into the consciousness of voters via the News at 10 and satirical TV programmes, could come to be seen as an enduring symbol of the excessive closeness between the political, media and police elites."

> Yesterday's video: Cameron: I admit it! I come clean! I DID ride that horse! P.S: "I'm sorry to hear that Raisa is no longer with us."

David Cameron accuses Syrian regime of 'medieval barbarity'Telegraph | BBC

Education Secretary loses battle to keep email messages from personal account to special advisers secretIndependent

Mark Field MP: Boris is the Tories' only hope in London

Field Mark Feb 2012"Tory MPs argued that London was a Labour city, and that any of their collegaues apart from Mr Johnson would have little chance of becoming mayor. Mark Field, MP for Cities of London & Westminster, said: “We wouldn’t have a prayer in London, but Boris has [a] huge persona, able to appeal to people outside the usual Tory voting public.”" – Times (£)

  • Knives out for Boris: Now senior Tories are plotting to crush the Mayor if he ever launches a bid for No 10 after his mishandling of the riots – Sonia Purnell for the Daily Mail

Labour set up commission to consider deeper devolution to Scotland

"Senior party sources admit this process could eventually lead Labour to propose constitutional and political reforms in Westminster and other parts of the UK, to avoid Scotland's new powers creating further tensions with the rest of the UK, or raise questions about the role of Scottish MPs at Westminster." – Guardian

  • Nick Clegg has promised the Coalition will “get on with the business” of transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament as soon as voters reject independence in the referendum – Telegraph

Labour must bite welfare bullet to match the public mood – Andrew Grice in The Independent

  • British people support a harsh stance on benefits, but the Tories must not rekindle their old image as gradgrinds – Matthew Parris in The Times (£)
  • Benefit changes will help to balance some of the unfairness in the system – Graeme Archer in The Telegraph

Abolish the Departments of Business, Culture and International Development – Simon Heffer in the Daily Mail

The British people are not yet ready to reform the NHS – Charles Moore in The Telegraph


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