4pm WATCH: Willetts – "We're being tougher than Thatcher"

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 15.37.543.30pm Lord Risby on Comment: The dogs barked for the Agricultural Wages Board…but Labour's caravan stubbornly refused to move on

3pm WATCH: Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce arrive at court for sentencing

1pm Fiyaz Mughal on Comment: "Muslims must not tolerate
those who call for intolerance or hatred towards secular Britons or other
faiths. But Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hated is something we must all take responsibility for, before the
situation escalates out of control." The rising scourge of anti-Muslim hatred

11.15am ToryDiary: Fox moves away from Osborne

10.45am Local Government: Telegraph exposes councillors lobbying for planning developments

ToryDiary: Four headline conclusions from Saturday's Victory 2015 Conference

Also on Tory Diary: Maude heads queue of Conservative MPs who believe Nicholson must go

Columnist Garvan Walshe: End of the Chávez show

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 07.50.48
Greg Hands MP on Comment: How Ed Balls is silently steamrollering his opponents within the Labour Party

  • Balls avoids office next to Miliband's and lurks in old Leader of the Opposition’s office
  • Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 07.52.14Key ally is MP Vernon Coaker, known to Balls as “Big Vern” – the name of the gangland boss in Viz.
  • Outside Coaker's office is piece of paper taped over the engraved “Leader of the Opposition” sign, which has both his name on it and that of “Rt Hon Ed Balls MP”.

Also on Comment: Kathy Gyngell – It breaks my heart that Nick Clegg is so blind to what mothers really want

Local Government: Debt-ridden councils' multi million pound art hoarding

The Deep End: China distances itself from North Korea but is still trapped in a paranoid mindset of its own

Fox takes on Osborne over ring-fencing. (Yesterday, he took him on over tax)…

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 05.03.30"In a direct challenge to the Chancellor, Dr Fox warns that Mr Osborne is making a mistake by exempting spending on the NHS, schools and the aid budget from the £10 billion worth of cuts he wants to find for 2015-16. The provocative intervention, ten days before the Budget, will be seized as further evidence of a growing gulf between Mr Cameron and the Tory backbenches. Dr Fox’s comments place Mr Osborne in an unlikely pincer movement, coming two days after Vince Cable told Downing Street to lift the ring-fences around some Whitehall budgets or do serious damage to others, such as his Business Department." – The Times (£)

  • Ray Winstone claims country has been 'raped' by high taxes – Daily Mail
  • £2million home owners who avoid paying tax face a £15,000 property levy – Daily Mail
  • Five people competing for every vacancy in Yorkshire – Yorkshire Post

…And Lawson, Tyrie and the Archbishop of Canterbury take the Chancellor on, too – over banking reform

"In a report on Monday, the commission, chaired by Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie, objects to the proposed law’s requirement that a bank’s equity capital must exceed 3 per cent of its assets. The commission, which includes Lord Lawson, former chancellor, and Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, said it is “wholly unconvinced” that a 3 per cent leverage ratio is sufficient…The original Vickers review recommended a leverage ratio of at least 4 per cent." – Financial Times (£)

IDS to Welby: There's nothing moral about trapping people on benefits

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 07.57.00"Mr Duncan Smith, a devout Roman Catholic, insisted it was neither fair nor moral to trap millions of families on welfare payments which made it not worth their while seeking work. The intervention of 43 bishops threatens the biggest row between the Government and the Church since the Coalition was formed in 2010…The Coalition has announced that increases in out-of-work benefits and some tax credits will be limited to one per cent for the next three years, a move which will save more than £2billion a year." – Daily Mail

  • Holy wrong – Sun Editorial
  • Preaching the gospel of the half-baked Left – Daily Mail Editorial
  • The Archbishop of Canterbury has lent his moral weight to a critique of the Government’s welfare plans. It would be stronger if he supplied an alternative – Times Editorial (£)
  • You don't beat poverty by trapping families on welfare benefits, Archbishop – Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail

Cameron aims to make it the 'new norm' for pupils to receive training if they do not go to university

Cameron Thoughtful One Show"David Cameron will today pledge to make it the ‘new norm’ for school leavers to take an apprenticeship or go to university. Government sources said that in the next stage of welfare reform, an ‘earn or learn’ scheme could be introduced – meaning school leavers will not be able to claim out of work benefits if they do not enter a job or take up an offer of work-based training." – Daily Mail

LibDem spring conference: Clegg spurns May over the ECHR and Cable over his "Plan C"

"Rehearsing the Lib Dems’ key message for the 2015 election, Mr Clegg said Labour could not be trusted on the economy while the Tories could not be trusted to create a fair society. He said: “We are the party that shares the country’s priorities: Fair taxes; better schools; jobs. The only party that will deliver a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling every one to get on in life.”…One Clegg aide said: “We are not going to start borrowing more money.” – The Independent

  • Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 08.06.25Clegg goes all Korean as he delivers his speech to Gangnam-style moves – Daily Mail
  • Two prominent campaigners against Justice and Security Bill resign
    from LibDems as party members reject Clegg's line on courts – The Guardian
  • Ashdown suggests that LibDem MPs should vote for Labour's Commons
    mansion tax motion.  Laws says they should vote against it.  Farron says
    he doesn't disagree with it – Daily Telegraph
  • "Clegg has told David Cameron he will not back a referendum on Britain’s
    membership of the EU in the next parliament." – Financial Times (£)
  • Senior Liberal Democrats call for a charge on plastic bags – Daily Mail
  • “One of the unintended consequences of the expenses scandal was
    that MPs can now no longer have a proper family life,”  – Lord Ashdown
    interview, The Times (£)

> Yesterday: LeftWatch – Clegg again paints the Conservatives as extreme. When is Cameron going to kick back?

With UKIP attacking on one flank, the LibDems plan to attack on the other.  They target Tory-LibDem marginals.

"The Liberal Democrats are planning a wholesale reassessment of their 2015 election strategy which will see the party pour resources into about 25 Tory-held marginal seats. Party strategists believe a significant number of Conservative seats – particularly in the south-west – are now vulnerable following the success of Ukip at splitting the Tory vote in the Eastleigh by-election last week. They believe there are between 20 and 30 Conservative seats that could fall to the party, even if the Lib Dems themselves see an erosion of their vote."  – The Independent

After THAT speech, Miller hails May's "fantastic credentials" and Wollaston lays into Cameron's "inner circle"

MILLER MARIA"As her fellow cabinet colleague Maria Miller hailed May's "fantastic credentials", the home secretary was said to be pleased with the reception for a speech in which she strayed way beyond her brief…Sarah Wollaston, the independent-minded Tory MP for Totnes, warned that the prime minister was "running out of time". In a series of tweets, she wrote: "Inner circle still look far too posh, male & white & Cameron is running out of time to fix it … I consider myself a Cameron loyalist; he is the best person for the job but should listen to critical friends." – The Guardian

Tim Montgomerie: Calm that May-nifesto mania: Boris would beat Theresa

"While Mrs May may have the skills and grit to be an accomplished Prime Minister, I doubt she’ll ever get the opportunity to live at No 10. Just like Mitt Romney, who would have been an effective chief executive of America but was a lousy political campaigner, Mrs May may lack the warmth to connect with the electorate…For now, therefore, there is no great danger of Theresa May-nia becoming contagious. In a future trial of strength between the political celebrity of Boris Johnson and the political competence of Theresa May, I have to disagree with the bookies and would predict a victory for London’s Mayor." – The Times (£)

  • Judges to hear May's Qatada appeal – Daily Express
  • Law and order spending bill falls by 10% in first two years of the Coaliton – Daily Mail

> Today: ToryDiary – Four headline conclusions from Saturday's Victory 2015 Conference

> Yesterday:

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 08.17.29Time for Europe to let British farmers grow GM food, says Paterson

"Mr Paterson, who has previously spoken out about the benefits of GM technology, has decided to make a high-profile speech in the hope of turning the tide on the issue. It is understood he has the firm backing of Chancellor George Osborne, who believes GM food could provide opportunities for British farmers. Brussels has so far only approved two GM crops for human consumption, although they are widely used in the US and China, and can be fed to animals in the EU." – Daily Mail

Maude believes that Nicholson should go

"Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude is thought to have urged the PM to force Sir David out. He says it would be wrong for him to stay after the deaths of 1,200 patients in the Stafford Hospital scandal. Sir David was boss at the time. Mr Maude told Mr Cameron senior public sector figures must be held to account. The Cabinet Office said “no comment” when asked about Mr Maude’s views last night." – The Sun

> Today: Tory Diary – Maude heads queue of Conservative MPs who believe Nicholson must go

Leveson nears endgame

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 08.16.18"The wrangling over the Leveson reforms will reach a climax over the next 48 hours as the three party leaders try to agree common ground. “We are approaching the end, this is the decisive point,” said a figure closely involved. The three main parties have coalesced around the idea of using a Royal Charter to set up a new body that would oversee a beefed up press regulator. But Labour is insisting that the body would be vulnerable to future meddling from ministers unless it is given extra protection in law. – The Times (£)

Balls: I'm going nowhere

"He suggested the rumours about his position as Shadow Chancellor were coming from the Conservatives. “There are plenty of people in the Conservative party who would like me out of the way as soon as possible and the more of them there are, the better as far as I’m concerned. “That shows that Ed Miliband and I are taking the argument straight to David Cameron and George Osborne and saying ‘you’re out of touch, you’re getting it wrong’.” – Daily Telegraph

> Today: Greg Hands MP on Comment – How Ed Balls is silently steamrollering his opponents within the Labour Party

SWP set to split over Comrade Delta rape claims

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 08.19.39"Hundreds of members of the Socialist Workers Party are set to resign after the leadership appeared last night to have survived an uprising over claims that it set up a summary court that cleared one of its leaders of raping a member. A secret conference of 500 “comrades” was believed yesterday to have backed the handling of the rape allegations by the ruling Central Committee. Britain’s largest far-Left party has been deeply divided since it emerged in January that a leader known as Comrade Delta had been cleared of rape by a “disputes committee” made up of fellow present and former members of the ruling group." – The Times (£)

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