5.30pm MPsETC: What Tory parliamentarians want to see in the Budget

3.30pm WATCH: There is no magic money tree, says David Cameron


2pm ToryDiary: Five points about David Cameron’s speech on the economy

12.30pm On Comment, Iain Anderson considers what can be done about Europe. Among his recommendations: "Before the last election, the Conservative Treasury front-bench talked about having a permanent ministerial presence in Brussels. I believe that idea needs to be revived right now."

Noon WATCH: In a short film for the Daily Politics, Robert Halfon MP explains why he wants the 10p tax rate reinstated

10am MPsETC: The No Leaking Stories Group? Today's leak from the No Turning Back Group isn't the first…

ToryDiary: Cameron and a united Conservative Party can still do well at the next election

Red_white_and_blueHenry Hill writes the latest Red, White and Blue column: We will have to raise our game to gain from any collapse of the UUP

Henry Smith MP on Comment: George Osborne can kickstart growth by abolishing Air Passenger Duty

LeftWatch: Cable urges Osborne to do things differently

Local Government: Adoption and Fostering Panels should be scrapped

The Deep End: The blood-soaked history of hatred against the middle class

The economy 1) Cameron's Big Fightback. He says: "We will stick to the course"

CAMERON ON WHITE"Mr Cameron admits the challenges facing the economy are ‘huge’ and that there is a ‘long way to go’. … But he will say: ‘Most importantly of all, our economy, which was previously so badly unbalanced,  now has employment levels rising in every part of the country. … Rejecting calls for increased borrowing, he will add: ‘While some would falter and plunge us back into the abyss, we will stick to the course." – Daily Mail

> Yesterday on MajorityConservatism: "Question: What would you do were you in Cameron's place?" Answer: Start by looking back at last October's conference speech…

The economy 2) Osborne will use the Budget for monetary activism

Osborne’s Budget will pave the way for Mark Carney, incoming Bank of
England governor, to come to the rescue of the economy as the chancellor
sets the scene for a new era of looser monetary policy. … Treasury
officials are discussing proposals to change the remit of the bank to
coincide with the arrival of Mr Carney as the governor in July,
reflecting frustration at what was seen as previous BoE intransigence." –
Financial Times (£)

  • "We’re more radical than Thatcher with business tax reform" – David Gauke, City AM
  • "Supply-side, or structural, reform is merely a poshed-up label for a relatively simple idea, which is that by lowering the barriers to enterprise, tax as well as regulatory, you improve the productive potential of the economy. It’s plain that this is what the UK really needs." – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Fraser Nelson fires a budget warning shot at Osborne

The economy 3) Vince Cable wants Mr Osborne to spend more

Cable"Vince Cable has become the first cabinet minister to question George Osborne's 'plan A' economic strategy by suggesting that the Treasury should use Britain's record low interest rates to increase borrowing as a way of stimulating growth. … On the eve of a speech by David Cameron on the economy, in which the prime minister is expected to criticise Labour for demanding increased borrowing, the business secretary said that greater public investment was 'crucial' to reviving the economy." – Guardian

  • Steve Richards: The battle over spending is a sign of Cameron's fragility – Steve Richards, Independent

> Today on LeftWatch: Cable urges Osborne to do things differently

The Chancellor faces a warning over defence cuts

Osborne silhouette
report from the Conservative-led Commons Defence Committee is the
latest warning against more defence cuts in the Spending Review for
2015/16, which is being drawn up in Whitehall. … 'We believe that it
is vital that defence spending remains at more than 2 per cent of GDP in
line with the UK’s Nato commitment,' it concludes." – Daily Telegraph

Yesterday, Cameron moved to blame Labour for Mid Staffs after calls by ConHome and Tory MPs for Nicholson to go

Screen shot 2013-03-07 at 08.57.03"David Cameron yesterday shifted the blame for the Mid Staffordshire scandal on to Labour as he faced down yet more clamour for the NHS chief to resign. … In a marked change of tone, he told the House of Commons all those involved in the culture of top-down targets had to consider their position. … Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt went even further, accusing former ministers of a ‘deafening silence’ about the ‘catastrophic mistakes’ they had made." – Daily Mail

  • "Doctors are suspected of altering figures to mask the numbers of patients dying needlessly in hospital. … An investigation found that medical staff at Bolton NHS Trust were routinely ‘reclassifying’ the cause of death on patients’ records." – Daily Mail

On the comment pages:

  • "The many flaws of Mr Nicholson should not obscure the reality that in the end it is ministers who must carry the can – and for good reason." – Guardian leader
  • "This Tory-led Government has missed the opportunity of placing the blame squarely on Labour for its past mistakes, and it finds itself in the absurd position of being associated with shameful events over which it had absolutely no control. You can’t score a more monumentally stupid political own goal than that." – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • "Sir David Nicholson doesn’t deserve to be hounded out" – Sue Cameron, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday:

> Other health-related coverage from yesterday:

But the Prime Minister faces pressure from his own backbenches: Tory MPs are discussing a leadership challenge

Chris Grayling 2010 square"A plot to push for an EU referendum before the next election has been discussed by Tory MPs in a move designed to destabilise the coalition. … The prospects of an early end to the coalition and of a possible challenge to David Cameron’s leadership were discussed at a private dinner last week, which included leading figures from the Right of the party. … Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary who was a guest, had to intervene to 'calm down' fellow MPs, warning that it would be madness for Mr Cameron’s position to be challenged." – The Times (£)

> Today on ToryDiary: Cameron and a united Conservative Party can still do well at the next election

And there's pressure from the papers, too: The Sun castigates Mr Cameron over the arrest of Frank Armstrong

A very senior policeman has been arrested by detectives on suspicion not of taking bribes but of simply talking — yes, TALKING — to a journalist. … If you are running the country, Mr Cameron — and we have to assume you still are — was this on your instructions? … Has this outrage got your fingerprints on it?" – Sun leader

Who could replace the current Tory leader? Theresa May's name keeps coming up…

May & Cameron
"Theresa May is emerging as a ‘Stop Boris’ candidate for the Tory leadership if the party fails to win the next election. … Allies insisted she would do nothing to undermine David Cameron during this Parliament. … However, they conceded she could be the leading candidate to prevent London Mayor Boris Johnson winning a future contest, should the Tories not win the next election and Mr Cameron steps down." – Daily Mail

(…And there's always Boris…)

"Boris Johnson has agreed to a major BBC film about his life — sparking fresh speculation he is ready to go for the Tory crown. … The ambitious London mayor has given legendary documentary maker Michael Cockerell rare behind-the-scenes access. … Mop-haired BoJo, 48, talks openly about his rivalry with PM David Cameron." – The Sun

Immigration 1) The Home Secretary wants immigrants to pay to enter Britain

Screen shot 2013-03-07 at 09.04.49"Immigrants would have to put up a cash bond to enter Britain under radical reforms to be unveiled by Theresa May. … They will be required to pay the ‘entry fee’ as part of a guarantee that they will not be a burden on taxpayers and will leave when their visa expires." – Daily Mail

  • "A British minister has flown to Jordan in a fresh bid to clinch a deal to kick out hate preacher Abu Qatada, The Sun can reveal." – The Sun

Immigration 2) the Mail urges the parties to "unite to avert a new migration crisis"

"…the Mail can see no effective way of averting a disaster… unless, that is, we find the courage to defy Brussels and maintain our existing restrictions next year. … It is good that mainstream parties are at last agreed that migration must be kept to an absorbable scale. … But will they now unite in supporting the only realistic means of achieving it?" – Daily Mail Editorial

  • "All political parties need credible immigration policies. But a blundering bidding war is not the route to credibility" – Guardian editorial

Immigration 3) Yvette Cooper sets out Labour's tougher stance on immigration – but warns against an "arms race"

Cooper Yvette"In
her speech, Ms Cooper will say her party’s failures to control the
issue while in government resulted in immigration that was 'too high'.
'It is right to bring it down,' she said. 'Where the Government is
introducing sensible controls we support them.'" – Daily Telegraph

  • "Labour has only hollow words on immigration" – Daily Telegraph editorial

> Yesterday: WATCH – Miliband: We were wrong to dismiss concerns about immigration

More May: the Home Secretary is to look into foreign drug laws

"Home Secretary Theresa May will today dismiss calls for a complete rethink of drug legislation made in an MPs’ report last year. … But in a significant move, she will announce an official review of laws in countries like Portugal, where possession of small amounts of drugs is no longer a crime." – The Sun

IDS says that Labour are "spreading fear" over housing benefit cuts

need to put an end to the unfair situation where the taxpayer is
subsidising people to have homes, paid for by the state, with spare
rooms they do not need. … Labour have deliberately set out to scare as
many people as possible whilst opposing this change." – Iain Duncan
Smith, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: WATCH – Is it a bedroom tax or a spare room subsidy? Cameron and Miliband clash at PMQs.

Hague sanctions further support for the Syrian rebels

Hague William New Headshot"Britain stepped up its support for Syria’s mainstream opposition yesterday, offering it body armour, armoured four-wheel drive vehicles and other non-lethal equipment despite fears that the UK is being sucked into a 'quagmire'. …William Hague told parliament the escalating programme of assistance was designed to save lives, pressure the Assad regime to negotiate and marginalise jihadist groups." – The Times (£)

Mervyn King wants RBS to be split up – and quick

"RBS must be split into a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bank and returned to the private sector sooner rather than later, Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King urged today. … In a surprisingly outspoken criticism of how RBS has been run, the outgoing governor said the Government had failed to take decisive action to overhaul RBS and called the current system a ‘nonsense’." – Daily Mail

  • "Sir Mervyn King has a plan to deal with RBS – but here’s a better one" – Andrew Lilico, City AM
  • City experts warn that we face four more years of low interest rates – Daily Mail

Authors plead with party leaders to save libel reform Bill - The Times (£)

Lib Dems want to make it easier to ditch Clegg

party conference this week will week vote on new rules that would allow
grassroots members to force a leadership contest. … The attempt to
change the rules comes after questions about Mr Clegg’s position over
his handling of allegations of sexual misconduct by a senior party
figure." – Daily Telegraph

"A Liberal Democrat councillor has been accused of holding sex parties hosted by a dominatrix at his home"Daily Mail

Jim Murphy warns Labour against complacency

Jim Murphy"There are parts of the party, Murphy warns, that drift along with 'a sense of entitlement to win'. It is a complacency that goes without scrutiny in party structures and in constituencies where Labour is historically unchallenged; it is not particular to any wing or ideology. 'New Labour, Old Labour, left or right – you pay your money, you make your choice. There’s honesty and sincerity about all of them. It’s Lazy Labour we don’t talk about.'" – from Rafael Behr's interview with Jim Murhpy in the New Statesman

Stella Creasy: The case for capping payday loan rates is overwhelming – Stella Creasy, Guardian

  • Payday loan firms face an ultimatum: clean up or be shut downThe Sun

Civil servants plan a Budget Day strikeIndependent

And finally… Rand Paul talks…and talks…and talks…

"Republicans took to the floor of the Senate on Wednesday and kept talking for hours in an attempt to block the confirmation of President Barack Obama's counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, as director of the CIA. … Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, began shortly before noon, and talked for more than seven hours in an old-fashioned filibuster – in which a senator speaks until he can continue no longer – to prevent a vote on Brennan." – Daily Mail


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