7pm WATCH: Cameron campaigns in Eastleigh. "Maria tells it as it is. We need that at Westminster."

Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 17.43.515.45pm ToryDiary: What would lower earners prefer – lower taxes or cheaper energy?

2pm WATCH: Eastleigh – the Coalition partners go head to head

11am LeftWatch: Conservative MP refuses to share platform with Palestinian & storms out of debate

ToryDiary: Under this Government, we have what Gordon Brown called for during his – "British jobs for British workers"

Henry Hill's weekly Red, White and Blue column: How the arch-devolutionists plan to side-step referendums

Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 08.24.39Eastleigh:

Local Government:

The Deep End: Fake market mechanisms will not reform our public services

Boris in Eastleigh. He slams Clegg (and has a word with Tim Montgomerie about the mansion tax: see below)…

Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 08.21.13
"Mr Johnson said: 'Nick Clegg's single biggest contribution to British politics is to execute the most spectacular u-turn anybody has ever seen on tuition fees and sing a song about it. 'My general view is that he's a great big quivering jelly of indecision and invertebracy. Cameron is strong; he has a clear plan for the country.' Mr Clegg who visited Eastleigh earlier in the week, has been criticised for heading abroad for a long week with his wife and sons in Spain." – Daily Mail

…In the meantime, Clegg flies off to Spain after revealing his mansion tax solution for the elderly: sell up or pay up

Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 08.41.52"The Deputy PM suggested that a home owner hit by the Liberal Democrats plan to tax high value homes should sell his house before they die. Mr Clegg told LBC Radio listener who had lived in his home with his family for 20 years should consider selling his property. During his weekly Call Clegg radio phone-in, the Deputy PM told the listener, known as John, that he would indeed be better off if he chose to sell up and move out." – Daily Express

Judge dismisses Pryce jury after it fails to reach a verdict. He says it is "struggling" with "the most basic concept" of trial by jury

"The eight women and four men on the jury at Southwark Crown Court in London were discharged after telling the judge that it was “highly unlikely” they would ever reach agreement on whether or not Miss Pryce was guilty of perverting the course of justice. Miss Pryce, who took speeding points on behalf of her ex-husband Chris Huhne, the former energy secretary, will now face a new trial before a different jury starting on Monday. The jury reached deadlock after sending the judge three separate notes containing 10 questions that suggested they were “struggling” with the most “basic concept” of trial by jury." – Daily Telegraph

  • Do we need IQ tests for juries? – Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail
  • The Vicky Pryce jury did its duty admirably – Stefan Stern, The Guardian

James Forsyth: Have the Tories lost in Eastleigh?

Forsyth James"The Liberal Democrats’ local advantage looks like it will be decisive, though. While the Tories are knocking on doors trying to find supporters, the Lib Dems know precisely where their electors are. As Thornton and Ming Campbell march down the street, a clipboard-wielding activist bounces along beside them shouting out which house to go to and the name of who lives there. They have a laser-like focus on their own support base: it is a get-out-the-vote strategy." – The Spectator

  • Make no mistake, Eastleigh is a pivotal event – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • The lesson from Eastleigh is simple: the Conservative leadership has lost control of the party – Steve Richards, The Independent

> Today:

> Yesterday:

Cameron in India.  He praises the Empire…

"The Prime Minister laid a wreath and expressed remorse as he visited the memorial in India to the 1919 Amritsar Massacre where hundreds of Sikh protesters were gunned down by troops under British command. But Mr Cameron…defended the achievements of British rule in India, saying: “I think there is an enormous amount to be proud of in what the British Empire did and was responsible for – but, of course, there were bad events as well as good. “The bad events we should learn from – and the good events we should celebrate.” – Daily Express

  • Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 08.25.49 Koh-I-Noor diamond to stay in Britain – The Sun
  • Cameron regret but no apology for Amritsar massacre divides families – The Times (£)
  • I wish more of us shared Cameron's pride in Empire – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Saying sorry for the past is humbug – Geoffrey Wheatcroft, The Guardian

…And hints that aid spending will shift to defence

"Hundreds of millions of pounds from Britain's aid budget are expected to be diverted to peacekeeping defence operations as the government moves to build up support on the Tory benches for overseas development. Amid deep unease among Conservative MPs at the size of the £10bn aid budget, which has increased while defence spending has been cut, David Cameron said on Wednesday that he was "very open" to the idea of pooling more resources." – The Guardian

  • "At last the penny drops for the Prime Minister on the international aid fiasco" – Sun Editorial

Cameron's private dinners net Tories £700,000 The Guardian

Special Protection policeman found dead: "he was not under investigation"The Sun

Under this Government, Brown's dream becomes real: it's British jobs for British workers

Brown Hands UP
"The majority of jobs created in Britain over the past year have been filled by workers who were born in this country, official figures revealed yesterday. It represents a dramatic reversal on Labour’s 13 years in power when there was a haemorrhaging of jobs to foreign workers. Office for National Statistics figures show that three in four jobs have gone to workers born outside Britain since 1997, even hitting more than 90 per cent at times." – Daily Mail

  • White Britons are now in minority in London – Daily Mail

> Today: ToryDiary – Under this Government, we have what Gordon Brown called for during his – "British jobs for British workers"

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Encouraging news on employment; disheartening news on 4G

The NHS and the elderly 1) We don’t believe in NHS magic any more – Matthew Parris, The Times (£)

The NHS and the elderly 2) 90% of NHS staff say sack NHS Chief David NicholsonDaily Mail

The NHS and the elderly 3) Should one man take the blame for mid-Staffs – Sue Cameron, Daily Telegraph

Willetts's job solution for the elderly: go back to University

Willetts David smiling"Mr Willetts said the age limit on student loans to cover tuition fees had been lifted, making a degree course “great value” for older people. This would help them cope with the pressure they would face to keep up to date as they worked well into their sixties, he suggested. His comments followed a government report which found that the country’s future economic success would depend on the skills and contributions of older workers." – Daily Telegraph

‘Under-performing’ academy schools receive warningsThe Times (£)

Gove adviser over e-mail exchange:  "The Independent seems to be on a kamikaze mission to go bust as fast as possible by writing ludicrous and dishonest stories."

Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 08.34.10"A controversial aide to the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, faces questions over a potential breach of the code of conduct for ministers' special advisers after he implied that a journalist required therapy…The ministerial advisers' code says that special advisers must not take public part in political controversy and must "express comment with moderation, avoiding personal attacks"…Asked about the email, Mr Cummings said: "The Independent seems to be on a kamikaze mission to go bust as fast as possible by writing ludicrous and dishonest stories." – The Independent

Senior Pakistani Taliban commander captured in AfghanistanThe Guardian

Deficit vow in doubt after 4G auction

"David Cameron’s vow that the coalition is cutting Britain’s deficit is in doubt after the auction of 4G broadband raised £1.2bn less than the Treasury had predicted. Full superfast mobile services will finally be launched in Britain after a five-year wait but the auction undershot the government’s own forecasts. The one-off sale of spectrum to five groups – Vodafone, EE, O2, 3 and BT – raised just £2.3bn against the estimate of £3.5bn made by chancellor George Osborne two months ago." – Financial Times (£)

Peter Oborne: Osborne should stick to his job, stay away from Chequers this weekend, and leave politicking to others

OBORNE"It is unforgivable that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should take advantage of the extreme weakness of a useless opponent (Labour power brokers are now discussing the possibility of Alistair Darling or, intriguingly, David Miliband as Mr Balls’s replacement). George Osborne is fortunate in his enemy, but even so, he has no business discussing trivial election issues at Chequers this afternoon. His place is in the Treasury, fighting night and day to save the British economy from impending disaster." – Daily Telegraph

8,000 let off prison 10 timesThe Sun

Ex-UUP duo may join the Conservatives

Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 08.38.48"Two MLAs who dramatically quit the UUP last week in a row over unionist unity have opened contacts with the Conservative Party. While John McCallister and Basil McCrea have stressed they may not make any decision about their future for months, the Tory Party is now emerging strongly as a possible home for the duo…"The Tories are in the frame," Mr McCallister told this paper yesterday. "A firm announcement is unlikely before Easter," he added." – Belfast Telegraph

Former Salmond adviser says Scotland may need own currencyScotsman

Anthony Seldon: It’s time for Ed Balls to quit

"Forgive me, but you stop Ed breathing fresh air. With you close to him, his breath will always be stale and smell of a toxic brand. Without a prolonged period out of the public eye, neither you nor the party will ever rid yourselves of the opportunistic, negative and bullying image of the Gordon era. Yes, we both believe he was a better prime minister than the conventional wisdom says but it will take years for his achievements to be recognised properly and the stain of his modus operandi will never be eradicated." – New Statesman

RSPB demands ban on deadly pesticides linked to bee declineThe Independent

Miliband's Swedish model

Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 08.18.05
"Miliband, who peppered his remarks this week with references to “fairer distribution” of wealth and said he saw Sweden as an example of a place with “a more equitable distribution of incomes,” said this didn’t mean he was planning tax rises for the U.K. “I don’t think I would really use the phrase Stockholm-on-the-Thames,” he said. “There are some lessons you can learn, and some things that are different. They’ve always had a tradition of significantly higher tax and spending, which we don’t have in Britain and aren’t going to have in Britain. We’ve said that we want tax cuts for low and middle income families. That’s a sign of a fairer tax system; it’s not about higher taxes.” – Robert Hutton, Bloomberg

> Yesterday: LeftWatch – Anthony Seldon calls on Balls to stand down

Big freeze will last until the end of the monthDaily Express