9.30pm MPsETC: Jesse Norman visits EUtopia (and doesn't like what he finds)

Screen shot 2013-03-14 at WATCH: Nick Herbert MP and former Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell debate the civil service (and Herbert describes the impatience of Steve Hilton…)

1.15pm MPsETC: Steve Barclay and Charlotte Leslie up the pressure on Nicholson – and others

12.30pm WATCH:

10.45am Andrew Lilico on Comment: "How good are you at understanding why those that are heroes to your seem
like villains to others, or why some that seem mundane to you are
heroes to others?  Do you understand what a hero really is?" On heroism

ToryDiary: Let's slap a preservation order on Nick Boles

Red White and Blue: When a Welsh-speaking Tory MP was met by the snarl: "You're English"

Screen shot 2013-03-14 at 04.56.27Charlotte Leslie MP on Comment: Who tried to supress three crucial reports into NHS deaths under Labour?

Nadine Dorries MP on MajorityConservatism reports back from her session at ConservativeHome's Victory 2015 conference last weekend: My six point plan to win back the trust of C2 voters

Local Government: The Children and Families Bill must be just a first step in boosting adoption

LeftWatch: Has Lord Ahmed sold his house yet?

The Deep End: Sorry, but the internet won’t save us from the lobbyists

WATCH: Pope Francis I is elected

Cameron: I'm here to get the job done…

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"In a bid to reach voters directly, the frustrated PM said: “You’re not Prime Minister to be the good guy or the bad guy, the popular guy or the friendly guy. “You’re there to be the guy to get the job done. So it’s vital to look to the horizon and not tomorrow’s headlines. “There’s a daily battle out there in politics, of this story and that event. It’s all rubbish.” Labour now has 40 per cent support and the Tories 31 per cent — a lead down from last month’s 15-point gap, say YouGov." – The Sun

> Yesterday: WATCH – Britain in the global race. Latest Conservative PPB

…But MEPs challenge his veto on the EU budget

"Britain will be forced to return to the negotiating table over the EU budget after the European Parliament rejected a deal agreed by member states. David Cameron hailed an historic victory last month when he helped to secure the first ever real-terms cut in Brussels spending. But the Parliament yesterday flexed its muscles by rejecting the agreement reached by the heads of the 27 member states, demanding greater room for manoeuvre on spending." – The Times (£)

> Yesterday: WATCH – Martin Callanan MEP backs cut in EU budget

Jesse Norman: The EU’s insidious war on the nation state must be halted

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"It is this lack of legitimacy that poses the deepest challenge for the EU, deeper even than the economic challenges of debt and competitiveness. Without legitimacy, no government can sustain itself over time by democratic means. Unaccountable government is ineffective, unresponsive government; government which turns inwards on itself and becomes vulnerable to corruption, self-dealing and domination by special interests." – Daily Telegraph

  • Unifying Europe will bring trouble, not peace – Antony Beevor, The Times (£)
  • Germany has one last chance to really save the eurozone – Timothy Garton-Ash, The Guardian

The Prime Minister retreats to fight again on minimum alcohol pricing

"Despite his retreat, Mr Cameron told MPs yesterday: “We published proposals, we are looking at the consult­ation and the results to those proposals but, be in no doubt, we’ve got to deal with the problem of having 20p or 25p cans of lager in supermarkets. It’s got to change.” Some Tories backed his original plan, however. Backbencher Sarah Wollaston, a former GP, said cheap alcohol was “causing carnage”." – Daily Express

  • 'Oh God, Balls has fallen in the fermentation tank' – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph
  • "Tory U-turn on booze prices brings out Miliband's inner stand-up, but
    Cameron's gags go down worse than a week-old pint." – Simon Hoggart, The Guardian
  • "There has never been a convincing case for the minimum pricing of alcohol." – Daily Telegraph Editorial

> Yesterday:

May: the backlash and briefing continues

Screen shot 2013-03-14 at 08.19.51
"Senior Tories were scathing about May. "Theresa's not exactly measuring the curtains. But she does seem to be pacing the floor. Her team are a bunch of amateurs. They see The Thick of It as a training video." There is particular annoyance with May because senior figures believe that her speech to a ConservativeHome conference on Saturday, in which she spoke beyond her brief, showed that questions about Cameron's future are being asked at the highest levels of the cabinet." – The Guardian

  • The three candidates to replace Cameron: May, Afriyie, and Boris – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail
  • Online petition to curb Romanian and Bulgarian entry could see issue debated in Commons – Daily Mail

> Yesterday: Mark Reckless MP on Comment – Crunch Time for Theresa May

Osborne 'set to scrap fuel duty in the Budget'…

"Another potential boost for families will be the long-awaited announcement of the Coalition’s childcare tax break, which will be more generous than expected. Parents earning up to £150,000 are expected to benefit from tax relief which could be worth £1,000 or more, to help with the soaring costs of childcare which is hurting middle and working class families." – Daily Mail

> Yesterday: MPsETC – Lord Lawson says that Osborne has no "growth button" to press

…As he plots an alternative spending review

Forsyth_james"I understand that the departing head of the Number 10 policy unit Paul Kirby has drawn up an alternative spending review plan which would break this log-jam. As I say in tomorrow’s Spectator, rather than simply looking at departmental budgets for savings, it looks at how the government could raise money by moving things into the private sector. These privatisations would generate revenue; mitigating the need for deep reductions in the Home Office and Ministry of Defence budgets. This alternative spending review appeals to key figures in Number 10 who are seized with the importance of not going into the next election committed to cutting those Tory staples, the police and the armed forces." – James Forsyth, The Spectator

  • "Robbie Williams and Mo Farah will today urge George Osborne to clamp down on tax-dodging firms" – The Sun
  • Ministers warned of QE raid’s consequences – Financial Times (£)
  • Norman Baker 1) He urges oil giants to delay introduction of 'green' petrol amid fears 8.6million cars could be incompatible with the new fuel… – Daily Mail
  • Norman Baker 2) He says that he hates train announcements – Daily Express

Hunt bans gagging orders on NHS staff

"Last night Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt insisted that creating a culture of ‘openness and transparency’ across the NHS was vital to prevent a repeat of the Mid Staffordshire scandal, in which as many as 1,200 patients died. In an interview with the Daily Mail, he said that so-called ‘compromise agreements’, under which NHS staff cannot raise anything embarrassing to their employers when they leave their jobs, would be barred with immediate effect." – Daily Mail

  • Cash interest will put GPs in quandary – The Times (£)
  • Burstow: NHS is biased against treating mental health – Daily Telegraph
  • "Mr Hunt’s life-saving initiative is hugely welcome. But will he now persuade other departments to drop their campaign of intimidation against the public’s right to know?" – Daily Mail Comment

> Today: Charlotte Leslie MP on Comment – Who tried to supress three crucial reports into NHS deaths under Labour?

Gove ‘not told of bullying accusations against aide’

Screen shot 2013-03-14 at 08.22.04"Chris Wormald, the Education Secretary’s permanent secretary, confirmed that the department paid the official £25,000 to settle the case to avoid an employment tribunal but said it did so on legal advice. The DfE accepted it was at fault in the way it handled redundancy proceedings that led to the case, he said, but an investigation found no evidence to support her wider grievance claims. One of those accused of inappropriate behaviour by the official was Dominic Cummings, a special adviser appointed by Mr Gove who is closely involved in the Government’s school reforms." – The Times (£)

  • "What disaster in our nation’s schools had occurred? Answer: a minor allegation about the behaviour of a ministerial special adviser." – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • Civil servants brief against Alex Aitken, the new executive director of government communications – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: WATCH – Michael Gove trounces his critics at the Education Select Committee

Hammond tears into SNP defence policy

Hammond"In a speech in Edinburgh today, Mr Hammond will describe the SNP’s plans for the defence of Scotland if it succeeds in gaining independence as a “significant gamble”. A Scottish defence force would be able to offer only a “fraction” of the opportunities available in the British forces, he will say, making it difficult to attract high-calibre recruits. “One of the challenges any armed forces around the world will face is how to attract and retain high-quality recruits. And the key to recruitment and retention is the quality of the offer you are able to make to potential recruits,” he will say." – Scotsman

Councils using their spot fines to milk the public, says Pickles

"Backing an investigation into the surge in on-the-spot penalties, the Conservative politician has condemned the use of external contractors, whose rewards depend on how much they raise, for undermining public confidence and "the quality of justice". Pickles' comments came in response to a report, entitled Pavement Injustice, by the libertarian pressure group the Manifesto Club, according to which the annual number of summary fines rose from 13,926 in 2001-2 to 226,640 in 2011-12." – The Guardian

> Yesterday: Local Government – Pickles warns that councillors should not take payments to lobby their own councils

Pope Francis I begins first day in office

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"Pope Francis is beginning his first day at the helm of the Catholic Church, attempting to set out his vision for his papacy amid a testing schedule. He will lead cardinals in his first Mass, begin appointing senior Vatican staff and may visit his predecessor, Benedict, Pope Emeritus. The first Latin American and Jesuit pope has received a flood of goodwill messages from around the world. But the Argentine also faces a series of tough challenges. The Church has been dogged by infighting and scandals over clerical sex abuse and alleged corruption." – BBC

  • The Jesuit Pope – The Times (£)
  • Pope with sandals comes scandal-free – Financial Times (£)
  • Critics say Pope did little to help those who disappeared when country was under military rule – Daily Mail
  • Argie Pope Francis made call to reclaim Falklands – The Sun

> Yesterday: Luke de Pulford – Why we all should care about this papal election

Raab slams  ‘justice of the street’

Dominic Raab"Dominic Raab, Tory MP for Esher and Walton in Surrey, said: “The growth in use of spot fines to deal with violent crimes, drug offences and shoplifting amounts to the imposition of a tax rather than a proper punishment. “Criminal justice is not about raising revenue. It is about making sure… substantial crimes are properly punished.” He was speaking after it was revealed they have raised £132million in less than a decade and more than 225,000 were issued during 2011-12, including a littering fine for a man who dropped a £10 note." – Daily Express

  • James Brokenshire: Criminals can buy cyber hacking kits – The Sun

The Daily Mail sinks its teeth into Nick Boles

"Boles himself is clever, plausible, charming — and willing to say, or do, almost anything to advance himself. So far, however, his principal achievement has been to rouse Middle England to a rage which I find myself sharing.  The man in Whitehall does not know what is best for the English countryside. The Government’s crazy planning free-for-all rouses builders and unscrupulous local politicians into a cynical dash for the concrete-mixers." – Max Hastings, Daily Mail

> Today: ToryDiary – Let's slap a preservation order on Nick Boles

Miliband plans to set up network of regional banks to lend to local business

Miliband Ed Official"The move is intended to break the logjam since the 2008 financial
crisis which has seen the banks build up big cash reserves rather than
help companies to expand. After net lending to business fell by £4.5bn
in the final three months of last year, George Osborne is under pressure
to shake up his Funding for Lending Scheme in his Budget next week so
it provides more help to small and medium-sized firms." – The Independent

Labour's Lord Ahmed blames Jewish conspiracy for jailing him

"Lord Ahmed claimed that his prison sentence for dangerous driving resulted from pressure placed on the courts by Jews “who own newspapers and TV channels”. Britain’s first male Muslim peer also alleged that the judge who jailed him for 12 weeks was appointed to the High Court after helping a “Jewish colleague” of Tony Blair during “an important case”. He claimed, falsely, that Mr Justice Wilkie was hand-picked and sent from London to carry out the 2009 sentencing at Sheffield Crown Court because no other judge was willing to handle his case." – The Times (£)

> Today: LeftWatch – Has Lord Ahmed sold his house yet?

News in brief:

  • Lords Committee finds that Britain is 'woefully' under-prepared for rising number of elderly people – The Guardian
  • Russia warns UK against arming Syrian rebels – Financial Times (£)
  • Conflict in Syria creates wave of British jihadists – The Independent
  • Senior Cardiff council cabinet member exposed as director of unlicensed debt company – Wales Online
  • Northern Ireland is slipping behind the rest of the UK in just about every measure of employment, growth and productivity – Belfast Telegraph
  • More 'very high profile' celebrities set to be arrested over child sex allegations within next few weeks – Daily Mail
  • Huhne and Pryce's sentences are too lenient, says David Burrowes MP – Guardian
  • Carina Trimingham pays Huhne a 30-minute visit – The Sun


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