11.15pm ToryDiary: Grayling and May in pincer movement on the ECHR.  They launch the biggest assault on it from senior Ministers in the party's history.

10pm ToryDiary: Cameron adopts ConservativeHome's "And" Theory of Conservatism

Screen shot 2013-03-02 at 19.08.457pm MPsETC: Flick Drummond selected to fight Portsmouth South again at the next election.  And James Davies will contest the Vale of Glamorgan

6.15pm Gareth McKeever on Comment: Where we out-campaign the LibDems, we beat them

2pm Tom Wadsworth on Comment: "What
were Eastleigh voters supposed to think when they had Cameron and Hutchings in
direct opposition on gay marriage? 
When Nick Boles et al talk up the importance of housebuilding whilst
ex-housing minister Grant Shapps runs a campaign attacking those who’ve
supported development?  When Conservatives
tell them UKIP aren’t serious, and then try and steal not just their messaging,
but their colour scheme and endorsements?" Selling the Conservatives to voters requires a clear, well-understood vision – that doesn’t exist at the moment

Screen shot 2013-03-02 at 13.55.071pm ToryDiary: Updated Philip Hammond intervenes to defend his budget, and takes aim at IDS's: The National Union of Ministers' target is the welfare budget – not the health and aid ring-fences

12.45pm MPsETC: What political class? We're governed less by professional politicians than we think

10.45am ToryDiary: Now’s the time for Honest Dave, Mark II

ToryDiary: Philip Hammond intervenes to defend his budget – and takes aim at IDS's: The National Union of Ministers' target is the welfare budget – not the health and aid ring-fences


Thinkers' Corner: Roger Scruton on Lord Rennard, Cardinal O'Brien and Inappropriate Behaviour

LISTEN: On Radio 4's Today programme, Tim Montgomerie – with the help of a lot of music – introduces 'Full Orchestral Conservatism'

After Eastleigh:

1) Tory reaction: Laing, Fabricant, Jackson and other Tory MPs call for change after Eastleigh…

FABRICANT MICHAEL"Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson fumed that the PM was “out of touch” with ordinary Tories. Mr Jackson warned: “Both gay marriage and EU migration feed into a narrative that too much emphasis is going to the liberal metropolitan elite and not enough to the blue-collar working vote that supported Margaret Thatcher.” He put the PM on probation by demanding real change by the “early summer” if the party wanted to win over voters. Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing — a close ally of ex-Cabinet minister Liam Fox — said: “Ordinary Conservative voters don’t feel that this Government is in tune with them, with their hopes and fears." – The Sun

…But Cameron refuses to "lurch to the right"…

"Despite admitting that the by-election result was “disappointing” the Prime Minister said he would reject calls by some backbenchers to lurch further to the right. He said the Tories will not be blown off course by the defeat in Eastleigh and called on the party to “remain true to our principles”. His comments came after Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said it would be “wrong” to abandon the centre ground." – Daily Telegraph

…As the blame game begins over Eastleigh's loss

"Tory sources yesterday blamed weak local organisation and the Lib Dems’ strong activist base in the constituency. But the defeat raises questions as to why Conservative Campaign Headquarters was not better prepared for a by-election that political observers had thought possible for many months. One MP, who made many visits to the constituency, said the local party was “one of the worst associations in the country."  – The Times (£)

2) LibDem reaction: Yellow B**tards aim to spook Tories over marginals.  Clegg's aide says that his leadership is secure until 2015…

Screen shot 2013-03-02 at 08.40.49
"Tim Farron, the party president, said the result showed the Lib Dems would not only hold their own against the Tories but were looking to seize “perhaps 20 or 30 Conservative-Lib Dem marginals after that”. One aide to Mr Clegg said: “This puts to bed any chatter about Nick’s leadership which is now secure until 2015. It’s a complete vindication of his strategy and tactics. We won in the most trying of circumstances.” – Financial Times (£)

…But not so fast! LibDem members plan to confront Deputy Prime Minister over Rennard claims

"Liberal Democrat members are to confront Nick Clegg over his response to allegations that party activists were sexually harassed by Lord Rennard, its former chief executive. An emergency motion criticising the leadership’s response to the claims is expected to be tabled at the party’s spring conference in Brighton next weekend. Grassroots members are angry that the allegations were not taken more seriously when they surfaced in 2008, and upset by Mr Clegg’s reaction when the details became public nine days ago." – The Independent

  • Clegg expected to announce next week where son will go for secondary education – The Guardian

3) Labour reaction: UKIP's hitting us as well as the Tories

Miliband Ed Official"One Labour MP described the outcome in the by-election as a “disaster” for his party and called for a new approach by Mr Miliband. Labour officials had insisted that the seat was not a target for the party, but the failure to gain any votes after almost three years of the Coalition government has worried some Labour members. The ability of the UK Independence Party to gain votes among working-class voters is a particular worry." – Daily Telegraph

  • Grotesque myth that Red Ed leads a 'one nation' party – Simon Heffer, Daily Mail

4) UKIP reaction: Farage's purple army marches on.  He plans to run 2000 local election candidates in May…

"Cameron's nightmare is that Ukip now owns the potent cocktail of EU-related issues, including migration and wage squeeze, and so can split the Eurosceptic right in 2015 – just as the SDP crippled Labour in the mid-80s. For the first time in a century the Conservative party has lost monopoly control of the right. Farage is already promising to put up 2,000 candidates in the May county council elections. Ukip could well come first next year in the European parliament elections, which are run on a proportional system. He also suggested he would take personal control of candidate selection and is demanding equal airtime on any politics platform he can imagine." – The Guardian

…As he tells the Times: I wasn't a Tory. I was a Thatcherite

FARAGE-NIGEL-pinstripe"I had always assumed
that Nigel was a Tory before he was UKIP. “No! I was a Thatcherite.
Different thing.” It turns out that he did join the party at 14, though
he was never active. I must admit that I cannot see him as one of the
Tory Eurosceptics lurking on the back benches of the Commons. Does he, I
ask, ever watch the likes of arch Euro-obsessive Bill Cash in the
Commons? “Why do you think I’m in UKIP?” says Farage, pulling one of his
amazing rubber faces." – The Times (£)

Lord Ashcroft crunches the numbers

"An incredible 83 per cent of those spoken to after casting their vote for Nigel Farage’s party said they had sent a ‘message that I’m unhappy with the party that I usually support.’ In addition, the poll – conducted on behalf of former Tory deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft – revealed that 22 per cent of 2010 voting Tories switched to UKIP, along with 19 per cent of Lib Dems." – Daily Mail

> Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment: Here's why Eastleigh voted the way it did

The Editorials:

  • "Put simply, electors are sick and tired of a gilded, out-of-touch metropolitan elite which seems more concerned with posturing over gay marriage, overseas aid and windmills than helping those whose disposable income shrinks by the month." – Daily Mail Editorial
  • "The most notable event of Thursday night was the rise of UKIP." – Times Editorial (£)
  • "The “loonies”, Mr Cameron, have already breached the walls of the asylum." – Sun Editorial
  • Can Cameron prove himself a winner? – Daily Telegraph Editorial

Matthew Parris deploys figures to suggest that reaction to Eastleigh is a storm in a teacup…

PARRIS MATTHEW"They are all negative numbers, unless prefixed with a +. 0, +3, 3, 6, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 11, 11, 12, 13, 13, 14 (Eastleigh 2013), 14, 14, 14, 15, 16, 16, 16, 16, 16, 17, 17, 17, 18, 18, 19, 19, 19, 19, 19, 19, 20, 21, 21, 21, 22, 22, 22, 24, 25, 27 (Eastleigh 1994), 27, 27, 29, 29, 29, 30, 30, 32. You will see that this week’s by-election, in which both the coalition candidates lost about 14 per cent of their previous share, is somewhat at the lower end of the range, across which the average loss was 17 per cent. So the swing away, we should agree, was not significant." – The Times (£)

…But Charles Moore isn't so sure

"Eastleigh brings out something which more and more voters feel. A quarter of a century ago, when people used to complain in pubs that “they’re all the same”, I used to argue back: it seemed to me patently false. Today, I stay quiet. Nigel Farage says that we have three social democrat parties now. There is a bit of truth in that, but I would put it differently. It is not so much that they all think the same thing. It is more that they are all the same sort of people. They all belong to a political elite whose attitudes and careers are pretty different from those of the rest of us." – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

And how should the party treat UKIP? Move away from it, says Ian Birrell…

Birrell Ian"Eastleigh proves it is pointless for Conservatives to present themselves as Ukip Lite. If voters want Ukip, they choose the real thing. The Tories must focus on the electorate’s daily concerns – above all, the economy, but also the cost of living, housing shortages, the greedy behaviour of corporate cartels and salvaging our education and health systems. The unvarnished Maria Hutchings could have given voice to such issues had she not been cast in a Sarah Palin role." – Iain Birrell, The Independent

(…But yesterday, Daniel Hannan said: move closer, and again urged Con-UKIP co-operation in the Daily Telegraph

More comment:

  • "Eastleigh suggests that unless Cameron can raise his game dramatically, he is heading for a place in history somewhere between John Major and Ethelred the Unready." – Max Hastings, Daily Mail
  • "Eastleigh punished Cameron for not finishing his modernisation project." – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
  • John Curtice: Ukip are the moral victors of Eastleigh – The Independent

Screen shot 2013-03-02 at 08.47.26Today
: Nick Tyrone  on Comment – After Eastleigh, do Tories regret opposing AV?

> Yesterday:

Hammond: Slash benefits to save troops…

Hammond"Speaking in Norway, where he is inspecting the Marines’ Arctic training, he told The Sun: “You take half a percent out of the welfare budget, you’ve solved the problem in defence — HALF a percent. “There is a body of opinion within Cabinet that believes we have to look at the welfare budget again. “We’re creating jobs in the private sector and should expect to see the welfare budget shrinking, not growing. But it’s not happening.” He and Home Secretary Theresa May are leading a Cabinet revolt against cuts in crucial defence and police budgets — while the welfare bill is allowed to soar." – The Sun

…And the leading member of the National Union of Ministers says with a grin: "I have never seen myself as a union man"

"The tanks off our lawn message could not be clearer, and the fact that Mr Hammond is prepared to speak out so publicly may add to a growing sense that the Prime Minister is losing his grip. There have been anonymous reports of Cabinet ministers including Mr Hammond and Theresa May, the Home Secretary, forming an unofficial alliance to fight the cuts. So, are you a member of the so-called national union of ministers, Mr Hammond? “I have never seen myself as a union man,” he grins, pointedly not denying the suggestion." – Daily Telegraph

  • Pickles attacked by Labour over spending – The Sun

> Today: ToryDiary – Philip Hammond intervenes to defend his budget – and takes aim at IDS's: The National Union of Ministers' target is the welfare budget – not the health and aid ring-fences

Cameron's minimum alcohol price plan is doomed

"David Cameron has insisted on pressing ahead with proposals to outlaw selling alcohol at less than 45p a unit in England and Wales. But sources say the idea appears ‘dead in the water’, thanks to opposition from ministers. Economists predict the plans could push the average family drinks bill up by almost £100 a year. One minister said such a rise would be ‘inconceivable’ when cost of living is expected to be an issue at the next election. The minister added: ‘It would be political suicide and it will have to be abandoned.’ " – Daily Mail

Claire Perry, the Prime Minister's adviser on childhood, says: Britain’s parents have got it wrong

Claire Perry"Every moment of a child’s life is filled with organised activities, leaving young people unable to fend for themselves when they go to university, according to Claire Perry. Yet at the same time, they are allowed free range of the internet, where real dangers lie. “We’ve created a treadmill. It’s usually the mother that is orchestrating all of that and doing all the driving,” Mrs Perry said. “We have created rods for our own back. Children need time to be bored.”" – The Times (£)

Greening axes aid for Rwandan government is axed because of fears it was supporting Congolese militias

"The International Development Secretary said the UK will give £16million to Rwanda after earlier halting it because of the central African state’s support for brutal rebels in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. But the money will not be paid directly to the Rwandan treasury as initially planned but instead to aid agencies working in the country." – Daily Mail

Sterling falls below $1.50…

"The pound crashed below the symbolic $1.50 mark for the first time in two and a half years yesterday in the wake of new figures showing an unexpected slowdown at Britain’s factories. Sterling dropped by nearly two cents to $1.4993 as traders worried that the latest weak figures on manufacturing could lead to a triple-dip recession and a fresh round of money-printing. Although the currency managed a small rebound to $1.5019 in later trading, it has fallen by more than 7 per cent against the dollar in two months." – The Times (£)

…And home ownership is now at its lowest since the 1980s

From an all-time high of 70.9 per cent in 2003, now only 65.3 per cent of Britons own properties, according to official data analysed by Nationwide.  The firm’s chief economist Robert Gardner warned this figure was set to fall further. “Stubbornly high inflation will continue to exert pressure on household budgets,” he said. “Moreover, buyer confidence is likely to remain fragile until there are signs that the wider economic recovery is firmly entrenched.” – The Independent

ARCHER GraemeKiss goodbye to those dreams of an independent Scotland
– Graeme Archer, Daily Telegraph

Scottish independence: "English tourists won't be put off" Scotsman

Northern Ireland MLAs' vote to alter law on abortion faces delayBelfast Telegraph

Obama blames Republicans before signing 'arbitrary' sequester orderThe Guardian

Expert claims NHS ordered cover-up to fiddle death figuresDaily Mail

Call for more primary school placesFinancial Times (£)

Health service fees rise, but only in EnglandDaily Express

Prisoners should be given in-cell phones, inspector saysDaily Telegraph

And finally…The Prime Minister is selling off the Government's wine at £5000 a bottleThe Times (£)


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