3pm Nick Pickles on Comment: Today's letter from May and Clarke offers no details or justification for new surveillance and closed-court powers
2.45pm Local government: Most secondary schools have already chosen academy status
Noon ConHomeUSA newslinks: Romney polling 5% ahead in Santorum's home state, Pennsylvania
11.45am ToryDiary: The police and security services must have the tools to protect us
11am JP Floru on Comment: Rationing is the result of our communist water policy
Also on ToryDiary: 'Tough' Cameron still 11% ahead of 'Weak' Ed Miliband in 'best PM' rating
Columnist Andrew Lilico: Does it matter if politicans can't empathise with us?
Darren Millar AM on Comment: Wales' free prescriptions subsidise the wealthy while denying cancer patients the drugs they need
Local government: Free School in Manchester planned by Sure Start mums
- David Cameron's 'Nudge Unit'
- Are the old robbing the young?
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Babylon and the bankers
- Why is America growing faster than Britain?
- The closing of the American mind
David Cameron says he is "working for the long-term good, not short-term popularity"
"David Cameron will today attempt to wrest back the political initiative after a disastrous fortnight – by claiming he was ‘working for the long-term good, not short-term popularity’. Launching the Conservative local election campaign in Wales, the Prime Minister will pledge to continue taking ‘hard’ decisions even if these generate bad headlines." – Daily Mail
- The Prime Minister gets on the campaign trail in Wales – ITV
- David Cameron’s rating at new low – The Sun
> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Ten reasons to be proud of what this Prime Minister is doing
Cameron defends secret court hearing and surveillance proposals
"Downing Street brushed aside libertarian objections, including some from the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, to maintain that laws will be passed in the coming parliamentary sessions to allow secret court hearings in intelligence-related civil cases, and to extend state surveillance on the internet. But David Cameron and the justice secretary, Ken Clarke, said they were willing to look at details of both proposals, including the Liberal Democrat demand that only a high court judge could rule a tribunal should be held in secret." - Guardian
- American spy agencies refused to give Britain’s intelligence services full details of a “Mumbai-style” terrorist plot in this country because they feared that top-secret sources would be exposed - Daily Telegraph
- Surveillance plans could breach EU laws, expert claims - Daily Telegraph
- Rip up plans for secret justice, urges Miliband: Now Labour joins attack on controversial bill – Daily Mail
- Clegg accused of hypocrisy over secret justice – Daily Telegraph
Matthew d'Ancona: The Coalition must hold its nerve over digital surveillance
"There is a risk that the proposals will be diluted into irrelevance. So what? Well, quite a lot, actually. … In the digital world, it is little short of collective self-harm to exclude modern communications from the net. In spite of the lurid headlines, the objective of this reform is not to deprive us of our privacy, or make real the telescreen of Nineteen Eighty-Four but to ensure that those who protect us are not technologically outpaced by those who would destroy us. So: protest by all means. But be careful what you wish for." - Matthew d'Ancona
- National liberty is at stake, as well as national security – Martin Kettle
David Cameron the Christian embraces a moderate religious patriotism - Andrew Brown
> Yesterday on ToryDiary: David Cameron's Easter and Passover messages
PM's Big Society adviser 'worried' over charities cap
"An adviser to David Cameron on the "Big Society" condemned moves to impose a cap on tax relief for large donations by philanthropists, as opposition grew to the plan. Sir Stephen Bubb, a board member of the Big Society Trust, warned there was "great worry" over the scheme and predicted a Government rethink. Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, has meanwhile passed Chancellor George Osborne hundreds of letters from arts and sports organisations which say his move could have a disastrous impact on their income." – Independent
> From yesterday - WATCH: David Cameron: Big Society Bank will "help tackle our deepest social problems"
Rory Stewart MP: The Big Society is alive and well and living in Cumbria
"I am that strange creature: a believer in the Big Society. I am delighted that the Prime Minister has not given up on it… What makes me so keen? What I have experienced living in Cumbria. Here, we have found that Big Society can’t be reduced to new laws, or money: it is about attitudes. Big Society means forcing government and companies to bend to the will of communities, and their imagination, their values, and their energy. The problem I found, when I became an MP in 2010, was not that communities did not work – they had always been working. It was that they were being prevented from doing much more." – Rory Stewart MP
Damian Green raises the bar for non-EU skilled migrants
"The number of non-EU skilled migrants allowed to enter the UK is to be set at 20,700 annually for the next two years, the Government announced yesterday. Damian Green, the Immigration Minister, said that the current cap would remain the same until 2014 in an effort to allow certainty for businesses. However, the skill level will increase, resulting in middle-management jobs such as IT technicians and security managers no longer being open to non-EU migrants." – The Times (£)
Ian Birrell: Angry rightwingers who seek a return to the mythical golden age of Thatcher need to wake up
"This Tory version of the Tea Party movement calls for deeper cuts in public spending while urging tax cuts for the rich and opposing the removal of child benefit for high earners. Supporters claim to speak for ordinary people and seek tougher action on crime, on Europe, and on immigration – despite the lessons of the past, when banging on about such issues scared away moderate voters worried about jobs, schools and hospitals." – Ian Birrell
Peter Oborne: It’s time to give John Major the credit we so cruelly denied him
"The Conservative party manifesto of  reads well: a splendidly Tory document, it had a coherent message about low taxes, less regulation, and a smaller state. There were no clever strategems, nor attempts to “triangulate” the differences between parties. And, lo and behold, the Conservatives won. As David Cameron might well remember – after all, when that despised election was contested 20 years ago on Monday he was head of the political department at Conservative HQ." – Peter Oborne
Boris outlines growth ideas in economic plan
"Calling London “the economic engine room of the nation”, the current mayor said he would invest £221m in transforming high streets and supporting small businesses, and would launch a new London Growth Fund with a £70m allocation from the chancellor. The Tory candidate spoke of his work over the past four years in the mayoral seat, claiming to have “stood up relentlessly for the interests of the London economy, combating pointless red tape and crippling taxes.”" – City AM
- Boris is right to want to transform London into a city-state – Allister Heath
> From yesterday:
- Local government: Boris launches manifesto on the economy with boost for apprenticeships and free schools
- WATCH: Boris Johnson to Ken Livingstone: "You've got to stop lying"
Families lose £500 as new tax year starts
"Families with children will lose an average of £511 a year under tax and benefit changes which come into effect tomorrow, the start of the new financial year." – The Times (£)
- "A typical family can expect to lose £511 a year on average from tomorrow, while pensioners will be £315 a year worse off from April 2014, the think-tank said." – Daily Telegraph
Nick Clegg calls Conservative campaigning "vituperative, vitriolic and highly personalised"
"The deputy prime minister vowed to stop “apologising for being in government” and pledged to be “forceful and remorseless” in explaining his own policies. Criticising his coalition partners for their "vituperative, vitriolic and highly personalised" campaigning relating to the AV referendum, Clegg spoke of the Lib Dem preparations for the upcoming local elections." – Daily Telegraph
> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Beware of wolves when there's a full moon and Lib Dems when there are local elections
Vince Cable under fire as apprencticeships slashed at business department – Daily Telegraph
Miliband steals Cameron's slogan: 'We are all in this together'
"Ed Miliband has adopted David Cameron's political slogan “we're all in this together”, claiming that the Conservatives do not know what the phrase means. Labour is the only party that can deliver policies that look after the interests of the whole country, after the coalition announced tax cuts for the richest earners, he said. Mr Miliband’s raid on the Prime Minister’s rhetoric reflects a growing belief within the opposition that Labour’s message that the Conservatives are “out of touch” is resonating with the public." – Daily Telegraph
- A chance has opened up for Miliband. But can he take it? - Steve Richards
- Weird, geeky, and out of touch? Public meets the real Ed Miliband – Independent
Unions may reduce funding to Labour
"June could be a very expensive month for Ed Miliband and the Labour Party. The GMB, Britain's third biggest union, will take a vote at its annual conference on whether to cut its ties with Labour altogether, which would reduce the party's already depleted income by around £2m a year. Labour's biggest backer, the Unite union, has published the agenda for its June conference, including three resolutions from union branches suggesting that the union withhold 10 per cent of what it would normally donate" – Independent
Fuel tanker dispute: Conciliation talks to resume
"The Unite union and seven distribution companies have been holding separate meetings with officials from the conciliation service, Acas. A first day of talks extended into the early hours of Thursday at a secret location in London without resolution." – BBC
- Petrol prices hit 170p at some garages as strike talks begin – Daily Telegraph
Political parties are dying, but for democracy’s sake we need a better replacement than ‘George and the Muslims’ – David Aaronovitch (£)
- How women won it for George Galloway - Guardian
NHS watchdog attacks blitz on abortion clinics – Guardian
- £1m cost of abortion clinic inspections queried – Independent
- Just 12% of GPs back NHS shake-up, says poll - Daily Telegraph
Three-quarters of Scots 'want single independence referendum question' – Daily Telegraph
Young unemployed may be forced to live with mum and dad – Daily Telegraph
Put that hosepipe away or face £1,000 fine! – Daily Express
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