7pm Local government: Liam Byrne wants to be Birmingham's Mayor

5.15pm ToryDiary: Only 23% of Tory members expect an outright Tory majority after next election

4.30pm Eamonn Butler on Comment: Disillusionment with politicians is so great there is serious talk of clipping their wings

DAVIS DAVID3.45pm ToryDiary: David Davis warns remoteness from working class Britain could be as toxic for David Cameron as sleaze was for John Major

2.45pm Simon Kirby MP on Comment: I'm proud to say I've never voted against the Government or abstained

Noon ConHomeUSA: Rubio and Bush Snr both endorse the "inevitable" Romney

10.45am WATCH: Transport Minister Mike Penning says Francis Maude made a "mistake" with jerrycan of petrol advice

10.30am Local government: Will Livingstone condemn Olympics disruption by Occupy London?

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ToryDiary: It's a crisis? Send for Fallon!

Columnist Andrew Lilico: Conservatives believe in property and we should understand that a Conservative should not believe in wealth taxes

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

Christian Guy on ThinkTankCentral reflects on the conclusions of the Riots Communities and Victims Panel: The Social Justice Strategy should become the centrepiece programme of the Coalition

Local government: Kent County Council to vote on grammar school expansion

WATCH: Francis Maude and Charles Hendry talk to media about fuel strike precautions

David Cameron launching a Right to Provide and Right to Choose in the public sector: "Brick by brick, we’re tearing down the big state"

CAMERON IN CLASSROOM"State bureaucracy has proved too clumsy and inefficient, stifling the innovation we need at a time when value for money is so critical. I also have an instinctive belief that parents, patients and professionals are so much better equipped to make the choices that will drive improvements in our public services. Give the power to them, allow new providers to come forward with new ideas, and good things will happen." – The Prime Minister in The Telegraph

  • The Daily Mail: Public services may be run like John Lewis partnerships in radical shake-up planned by Coalition

Cameron has said there is "absolutely no justification" for strike action by fuel tanker driversGuardian

  • Government blamed for sparking panic buying as fire service union warn over minister's advice of storing fuel in jerry cans – Guardian
  • Petrol, pasties and the politics of panic: No.10 shambles over drivers hoarding fuel, and the tax on takeaway food – Daily Mail

Nearly half of Labour MPs are sponsored by Unite, the union which has called a strike of well-paid fuel tanker driversTelegraph leader

Miliband ball and chain

Forget Cruddas and Cameron. The REAL political travesty is Ed Miliband's silence about Red Len McCluskey – Andrew Pierce in the Daily Mail

The Sun Says: "Britain is, outrageously, at the mercy of a handful of well-paid tanker drivers, whipped up into militancy by the hard-Left boss of the Unite union which bankrolls the Labour Party. Ed Miliband can pathetically say he hopes a strike can be avoided. But he cannot and will not condemn the politically-driven bullying of Britain by his paymaster, Red Len McCluskey."

In The Times (£), Dom Raab MP accuses the Unite strikers of a political agenda: "Unite isn’t striking over earnings — oil tanker drivers’ pay is double that of other haulage drivers. It wants “reasonable minimum standards” covering health and safety and “wider stability” in the industry. But oil tankers are subject to onerous EU safety standards and haulage companies can do little about the volatility of global oil markets. These arguments are a fig leaf for Red Len’s political agenda. He opposes all cuts. He believes “there is no such thing as an irresponsible strike”. He advocates disruption during the Olympics and civil disobedience against public sector cutbacks."

The continuing hot pasties saga…

  • The West Cornwall Pasty Company outlet at Leeds station where PM recalls enjoying his last pasty closed two years ago – Guardian
  • "David Cameron became embroiled in a pasty tax fiasco yesterday when he was apparently caught telling fibs about his love of the hot snacks" – Daily Mail
  • Top pasty-maker warns PM in row over takeaway food – Scotsman
  • The Sun: "Slapping VAT on hot takeaway food is not a trivial issue, much as it may seem like it for rich men in Westminster. It is a kick in the teeth for hard-up working people. And a potential disaster for those whose jobs may live or die on it. Like the 13,000 in Cornwall's pasty trade. Mr Cameron needs to find the courage to reverse this unfair hike."
  • The Greggs affair will forever haunt this Chancellor – Judith Woods for The Telegraph

The Chancellor’s approval rating has slumped from 72% in December to 53% in a ConservativeHome survey

OSBORNE GEORGE BLUE"The survey revealed misgivings about the coalition. While 50% of respondents felt it was a good thing for the nation, compared with 44% who did not, far fewer (31%) thought it had benefited their party. The number of party members who are confident that the Conservatives will still be in power after the next election has fallen from 88 per cent in July last year to 62% yesterday." – Times (£)

Osborne must choose: Are you Chairman or Chancellor?

"Osborne can be told to choose between his role as part-time Chancellor and part-time Tory chairman. At present he is doing both jobs badly. The Conservatives are in urgent need of a chairman with independent power and authority, capable of standing up for the membership and tasked with securing the general election victory that Cameron and Osborne signally failed to deliver in 2010." – Peter Oborne in The Telegraph

Must-read of the day: The Tories' uphill election struggle

Hasan Mehdi"The simple truth is that Cameron needs to increase the Tory vote share at the next election if he is to secure a parliamentary majority. But not since 1974 has an incumbent prime minister pushed up his party's share of the vote. It was beyond the ability of Margaret Thatcher (in 1983 and 1987) and Tony Blair (2001 and 2005) and as a leading psephologist, John Curtice of Strathclyde University, points out: "Cameron is no Thatcher or Blair. If you look at his leader ratings, he is basically an average prime minister . . . He doesn't enthuse people."" – Mehdi Hasan in the New Statesman

Lords Committee questions wisdom of 0.7% aid target becoming lawDaily Mail

"In a report published on Thursday, the House of Lords economic affairs committee said enshrining the 0.7% figure into law "would deprive future governments of the flexibility to respond to changing circumstances at home and abroad"." – Guardian

  • Daily Mail leader: "For our country’s future, public spending must come down. And overseas aid – often corrupt, wasteful and counter-productive – is the obvious place to begin"

Mitchell Andrew Feb 2011Andrew Mitchell held shares in company which avoided millions in stamp dutyTelegraph

Osborne is facing opposition from within the government over plans to cut £10bn from welfare budgetsFT | Telegraph

Some charities say they are pulling out of the government's Work Programme for the long-term jobless, claiming the payments received are inadequateBBC

"At last the government has set a target date for the privatisation of Royal Mail. By autumn of next year, the Queen’s head could fall into private hands"FT leader (£)

"ONE in five UK adults is "functionally illiterate" a report reveals today. The staggering total means up to EIGHT MILLION are so poor at reading and writing they struggle in their daily lives."The Sun

  • "Forget the granny tax, forget the 50p rate of tax and forget the pasty tax. The most important, but least discussed element of last week’s Budget is the continuing evidence of Britain’s underlying economic weakness." – Chris Giles in the FT (£)

Peer slams cost of English students studying at Scottish universitiesScotsman

Lords reform Committee recommends referendum to approve any changes

"Nick Clegg is facing a severe setback over his plans for an elected House of Lords after a decision by a cross-party committee to call for a referendum before any changes are introduced. The Deputy Prime Minister is likely to reject the call as it would ruin any chance of the first elections for the new chamber to coincide with the next general election, in May 2015." – Times (£)

The budget, the NHS risk register, the riots report – the coalition seems badly news-managed. Or is all this noise a smokescreen? – Zoe Williams in The Guardian

2012avatarsmallSally Bercow has said the Government's plans to ban a so-called legal high – "Mexxy" – made her tempted to try it before it was too lateIndependent

"Sally Bercow drew sharp criticism from drugs campaigners last night after saying she was tempted to try the latest legal high before it is banned. Ministers are set to outlaw the sale of methoxetamine – also known as mexxy or MXE – within days after it was linked to two deaths and experts warned of its dangerous effects." – Daily Mail


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