2.30pm ToryDiary: Replace Cameron! Replace Osborne! The frenzied speculation continues to no good purpose.

11.30am Completing our series on Little Guy Conservatism, we note Liz Truss MP and her agenda for more affordable childcare for parents who want to work

ToryDiary: Cameron says he feels "very strongly" about married tax allowance but delays its introduction for FOURTH time

Peter Smith on Comment wonders if the British state will tolerate and meaningfully respect sincere Christian views in the public square: The next step in equality — Protecting the freedom to differ

VIDEO: Is Parliament too much like Downton Abbey? BBCTV's Giles Dilnot talks to Tory MPs Angie Bray and Eric Ollerenshaw

AUDIO: Tory MPs promise revenge on Lib Dems for Clegg's boundary betrayal

David Cameron has slapped down traditionalists in the cabinet opposed to proposed gay marriage laws by saying he would not introduce tax breaks for married couples in the March budget

Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 08.53.13

Guardian | ITV

"The Coalition’s marriage policy is in tatters because Nick’s metrosexual, minority obsessions have once again trumped the values of the majority of Britain’s hard-working families" – Amanda Platell in the Daily Mail

On yesterday's Spectator blog Melanie McDonagh made the case for the allowance: "£150 a year, which is what a transferable tax allowance would mean for a basic rate couple, isn’t a fortune, but it would help make ends meet. It would signal that the government is in favour of stable marital relationships. It would align British practice with that of other European governments – France and Germany have no compunction about privileging families and married couples. And it would help rebalance the essential unfairness of the proposed tax relief for childcare, which is that it is directed at those families where both parents go out to work, at the expense of those families where one parent stays at home."

> Today's ToryDiary: Cameron delays marriage tax allowance for FOURTH time

One in five of voters who supported the party in 2010 would “definitely not” do so again if the Coalition presses ahead with gay marriageThe Telegraph reports a new ComRes poll

Downing Street expects that at least 130 of the Tory party's 303 MPs will vote against PM's position on gay marriage – Guardian | Times (£)

Vote ‘no’ and you will blush to remember it – Matthew Parris makes the case for gay marriage in his Times column (£).

LGBTory Chairman Matthew Sephton says the concept of marriage has always changed and developed through history and there is widespread support for gay marriage – Telegraph

Cheryl Gillan and Caroline Spelman said to be among Tory women favouring Theresa May as next Tory leader
Daily Mail

May Number 10

"She has been caricatured as Britain’s answer to Angela Merkel. Tough, unshowy but effective – although with better taste in footwear and a rather different take on Europe. Now senior Conservatives have started talking up the prospects of Theresa May becoming the party’s next leader if the Tories lose the next election." – Independent

"It is not Mr Cameron whom the public is wary of, but the Tory party"The Guardian gives the Prime Minister an endorsement of his continuing leadership. As does The Independent.

James Kirkup in The Telegraph examines the leadership speculation: "The May local elections, the next GDP figures, a scandal arising from Mr Cameron’s old aide Andy Coulson, a military disaster in Africa; all are adduced as potential triggers. Then there are the unexpected twists, the unforeseen events that so often determine the course of political history. “There’s more than enough dry tinder under the leadership,” says one senior Tory. “It would just take one spark for the whole thing to go up in flames.”

Andrew Grice in The Independent: "Mr Cameron lacks the authority that an outright win in 2010 would have given him. His unforgiving MPs do not trust him to win next time, and so give him little room for manoeuvre. Ironically, by destabilising him, they could jeopardise the very election victory they seek."

A letter to The Guardian argues that there is an anti-Tory majority in the Commons if only the LibDems would realise.

Speculation also swirls around George Osborne

Osborne & Cameron 2

“We can’t win a general election with George Osborne as Chancellor. Shares in Osborne are not just plummeting with the parliamentary party, they have ceased trading altogether.” – in his Express column, Patrick O'Flynn reports on growing Tory unhappiness at the Chancellor.

David Cameron made clear he has "full confidence" in his Chancellor as rumours continue to swirl of plots against the Conservative leadership – The Herald

  • George Osborne says RBS' US fines should be paid out of bankers' bonus pots, not by taxpayers – BBC

Cameron DID promise to increase defence spending AFTER 2015, claims Fox aide

"In 2010 the Service Chiefs and Defence Ministers agreed, in good faith, to sweeping defence cuts on the understanding that there would be increased funding for the Armed Forces after 2015… Now is not the time for confusion, it is a time for clarity, commitment and leadership." – Luke Coffey, adviser to Liam Fox at the time of the spending settlement, in The Telegraph.

  • Liam Fox could be David Cameron's Willie Whitelaw, representing blue collar Britain and providing an experience, balanced voice – Patrick O'Flynn in The Express

PM commits to 20 more years of aid as other countries slash their budgets
Daily Mail

AID UKThe Daily Mail is unimpressed: "The Mail has a suggestion to make to the PM: cut the international aid budget by half and give the money to our heroic Armed Forces. It is morally unsustainable that our soldiers die for a lack of resources while third-world dictators are given money to squander on their kleptocracies."

Neither is The Sun: "Mr Cameron is cutting the Armed Forces, yet pledging to fight more wars.
He is axing benefits, yet showering money on foreign countries like India who don’t need our help. One week he makes a defining speech on Europe. The next, Europe apparently forgotten, he is making speeches in Liberia promising to end world poverty with British money."

  • PM calls for more responsible capitalism and greater tax transparency at UN conference on development goals – Guardian

Cameron extends promise to protect pensioner benefits, such as free bus passes and winter fuel allowance, until 2016Independent | Express

David Cameron has been taught the difference between "debt" and "deficit" by Britain's top statistics official, after he was accused of confusing the two economic termsTelegraph | Fraser Nelson at Coffee House

Home Office's "snoopers' charter" costs £400million before a single piece of data has been collectedDaily Mail

Argentina subs talks with William Hague over the FalklandsThe Sun

Lord Ashcroft's post-Europe speech polling

MAA_2012_ConHome"David Cameron’s high-profile speech on Europe has cheered Conservative supporters, but done little to improve the party’s chances of success at the next general election, according to polling by major Tory donor Lord Ashcroft… Writing on the ConservativeHome website, the Tory peer said: “If anyone expected an immediate leap in the Conservative Party’s popularity, the evidence should by now have disabused them of the notion.”" – Yorkshire Post

> Lord Ashcroft on ConHome yesterday: The Europe speech has cheered Tories… but it has not moved votes

"Legal immigration is a boon to the economy and society. Not only would it be illegal to discriminate against those with the right to come here. It would be unjust." – The FT (£) urges Cameron to make the case for immigration from Romania and Bulgaria.

Unequal seat sizes implies unequal votes – Graeme Archer in The Telegraph argues the LibDems have abandoned their historic principles in voting down boundary reform.

The Profumo scandal marks the beginning of the rot setting into public life in Britain
– Simon Heffer in the Daily Mail

The great doctrine of our time – Equality – is pursued at all costs but it reduces our freedoms – Charles Moore in The Telegraph

Fact of the day: Houses in London’s 10 most expensive boroughs are now worth as much as the property markets of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland combinedFT (£)

And finally…

Salmond addressing SNP

Alex Salmond has claimed that he was a more accomplished boy soprano than Aled Jones, the Welsh singer who shot to fame in the 1980s for his angelic rendition of Walking in the Air – Scotsman


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