10pm ToryDiary: One in three Tory members think Cameron is the heir to Blair
Camerons thinking copy

5.45pm ToryDiary: It isn't too early to draw conclusions about the terror in Boston

Noon: Peter Walker on Comment: Police Commissioners. Don't let the bad news from Cumbria
drown out the good news from Sussex, Leicetershire, Yorkshire…

Tory Diary: Pickles dismantles Osborne's new conservatory

Earlier this week, ConservativeHome championed a "Conservatism for Bolton West". Now its candidate has his say. Chris Green on Comment: Immigration control, extraditing criminals, welfare reform, cutting fuel bills, the EU – the doorstep issues in Bolton West

Osborne to Fitch: We've shown flexibility by "not chasing the debt target"

Screen shot 2013-04-20 at 08.48.28"Speaking on the sidelines of the IMF spring meetings in Washington, Mr Osborne was defiant. “I don’t feel a particularly strong political challenge to our economic policy,” he said. “I don’t feel under particular pressure politically because I don’t see anyone coming up with a credible alternative.” Fitch blamed weak growth and the disappointing results of austerity for its decision to downgrade the UK’s triple A credit rating to double A plus." – Financial Times (£)

  • Chancellor launches legal challenge to Financial Transaction Tax – Daily Telegraph
  • Tyrie's Treasury Select Committee accuses Osborne of failing to answer 19 key questions about the Help to Buy scheme – The Guardian
  • Tyrie challenges Chancellor on BoE remit – Financial Times (£)

"We'll fight for the pound in your pocket." Cameron launches local elections campaign…

Cameron said: “And then you come home and there, on the door mat, is
the council tax bill. “There is a clear moral imperative to keep that
tax down. That’s why we said to councils of all colours – even when
money is tight, we’ll give you extra cash to freeze council tax.” Mr
Cameron claimed the elections were a “real choice” between “red or blue”
and accused Mr Miliband of swinging to the Left. “There are some
councils – some Labour councils – who just don’t get it,” insisted Mr
Cameron." – Daily Express 

> Yesterday: Local Government – Conservatives launch local election campaign

…and, elsewhere, is angry about the party's local election campaign plans

Cameron Serious 1009"A
Cabinet source said the Prime Minister had been ‘distinctly
unimpressed’ after Mr Shapps addressed a private meeting of Conservative
ministers on preparations for the final fortnight of campaigning up to
the May 2 poll. Mr Cameron demanded to know why, when he is doing at
least half a dozen campaign visits a month, some members of the
Government appeared set to do none." – Daily Mail

Simon Heffer asks: Will Cameron turn Thatcherite?….

"One of the influential voices urging a change of direction is the party's chief election guru, Lynton Crosby, an Australian pollster with a long record of success and reliable instincts about voters' concerns. He is rightly worried about the number of traditional Tories who've become disaffected by the so-called 'modernising' agenda, with policies such as the legalisation of same-sex marriages." – Simon Heffer, Daily Mail 

…And Patrick O'Flynn answers: he wants to!…

"David Cameron has, rather late in the day some might say, been seized by the virtues of conviction politics and bold leadership. He has realised that all the high points of his career – the winning of the Tory leadership, the staving off of a massacre in Benghazi, the use of the British veto in Brussels, the imposition of a ceiling on benefits payments – have been characterised by strong and audacious decisions: to stand, to act, to block and to cap." – Daily Express 

…So is a new Downing Street 'share-owning democracy' plan evidence of intent?

Cameron_Thatcher1"The Daily Telegraph understands that advisers to David Cameron are to study ways of making it cheaper and easier for households to invest in British companies, especially newly-founded firms. Ministers are also considering using the potential privatisations of state-owned firms like RBS and Royal Mail to give voters shares. Some Conservatives believe that boosting share-ownership should sit alongside helping more people buy their own homes in party promises to create an “aspiration nation”. – Daily Telegraph

  • Does David Cameron have the stomach for a fight like Lady Thatcher did? – James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph
  • If David Cameron wants to show he is Lady Thatcher’s heir, he should understand that taking tough decisions brings political rewards – Daily Telegraph Editorial

> Today: Chris Green on Comment – Immigration control, extraditing criminals, welfare reform,
cutting fuel bills, the EU – the doorstep issues in Bolton West

Miliband compares himself to Thatcher and says that the centre has moved left

"Mr Miliband’s comments coincided with reports that Labour intends to fight the next election promising to spend more than the Conservatives after the 2015 election, including on housing and other capital schemes.  Although Labour denied that any decisions on post-election spending had been taken, the party’s rhetoric suggests it would increase state spending on infrastructure and settle a longer timeframe for balancing the books." – Financial Times (£)

Balls denies planning to outspend Tories post-2015

Balls Ed Portrait"The Shadow Chancellor said it was “wrong” to suggest that he had decided to cut the deficit at a slower rate than George Osborne after 2015 to avoid some of the deep cuts the Tories will make to public spending. He refused, however, to reveal how Labour would approach spending after the next election, and appeared to suggest that he had not yet decided on the speed at which he would cut the deficit." – The Times (£)

  • Phone-in caller shreds Shadow Chancellor – Daily Mail
  • Clegg will use Welsh party conference to launch attack on Labour policies – Wales Online

Charles Moore's official biography of Margaret Thatcher begins its serialisation in the Telegraph.  Here he is on the making of a Prime Minister.

"Others will judge whether, so far – volume two will contain the greater part of her time in office – I am succeeding. All I want to say here is that, in Margaret Thatcher, one is dealing with such extreme apparent contradictions that the subject is much more difficult and much more interesting than any other politician since Churchill. She was undoubtedly the most truly conservative person (though Jim Callaghan ran her close) ever to reach No 10 in the era of universal suffrage." – Daily Telegraph

Moore reveals the story of Thatcher's first boyfriend – the romance, the dances, the carnations, the blue dress…

Screen shot 2013-04-20 at 09.01.30"The first [dance], and best, was the Randolph Ball at the Randolph Hotel: “We had a
marvellous time … Tony hired a car and we drove out to Abingdon to the
country Inn 'Crown and Thistle’. I managed to borrow a glorious royal blue
velvet cloak which match [sic] the blue frock perfectly.”…Asked about it 60 years later, Tony remembered buying the carnations from
Moyses Stevens. When reminded of Margaret’s blue dress, he suddenly broke
down in tears and said: “It was a very special evening.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Lady Thatcher's authorised biography sparks excitement and scepticism – The Guardian
  • Athletic Amanda Thatcher said to have undertaken missionary work in China – The Times (£)
  • Scargill: the former comrades who call him names, the mistress who called him "Honey Bear" – Daily Mail
  • Thatcher death party organiser made £150,000 on her council home which she bought under former PM’s right-to-buy scheme – Daily Mail

> Yesterday:

Pickles masterminds home improvements compromise

than have to suffer imposing ground floor extensions, neighbours will
be able to object and refer the proposals to the local council. However,
the rights will only apply to people who are immediate neighbours with
an adjoining property, and not others who live a couple of doors down.
The changes were unveiled by the Communities secretary in a letter to
rebel Tory MPs who have been fighting the plans in the House of
Commons." – Daily Telegraph

> Today: Tory Diary – Pickles dismantles Osborne's new conservatory

"Hunt may look sat though he wouldn't say boo to a goose, but he's aggressively taking on the doctors"

some of the bluntest criticisms I have ever heard from a Health
Secretary about a major part of the NHS, Hunt went so far as to brand
the current GP contract "disastrous".  In effect Hunt wants to pay GPs
by results, docking them money if too many of the patients on their
books keep pitching up at casualty…The aggressive approach of Hunt, who
does not look like he would say boo to a goose, is what Sir Humphrey
Appleby might term "very brave"." – Patrick O'Flynn, Daily Express

Timothy Garton-Ash: To stay in Europe, vote Conservative

EU-FLAG"So I would lay a bet that such a referendum would result in a majority for staying in. This would be Britain’s “Nixon to China” moment. But here’s the other half of the paradox: that outcome would split the Tories. A significant minority of the parliamentary party, its national membership and its voters could not accept that the Conservatives – of all people – had led the country into a historic vote to stay in the hated EU…The result could be a split in the Tory party comparable to that which occurred over the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846. If, therefore, your priority is the unity of the Conservative party, you should vote Labour or Liberal Democrat. If you want Britain to make up its collective mind about staying in the EU, rather than remaining Europe’s fence-sitting mugwump, vote Conservative." – Financial Times (£)

  • We've got enough criminals so keep Kosovo out of Europe, says UKIP MEP – Daily Telegraph

Words, words, words: Daniel Hannan on the incomparability of Shakespeare

"Foreign writers – especially Germans – often feel that Shakespeare is really one of them, that he was somehow accidentally born in the wrong country. In much the same way, leftists sense in their bones that he was a radical, rightists that he was a Tory. GK Chesterton was convinced that he was a Catholic. And, in a sense, they're all right. Or rather, as Eliot himself put it, the most anyone can hope for is to be wrong about Shakespeare in a new way." – The Guardian

News and Comment in brief

  • FBI interviewed bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev two years ago: claim – Daily Mail
  • Bercow under fire for 'shutting down' questions about his tax bill for grace and favour apartment in Parliament – Daily Mail
  • MPs get plugs to charge phones in debate – The Sun
  • Regulator to tighten childcare rules – Financial Times (£)
  • Scotland 1: Darling supports Lamont’s income tax plan – Scotsman
  • Scotland 2: Economics at heart of English-Scottish union – Financial Times 
  • Neil and Christine Hamilton win apologies over phone hacking – Daily Mail
  • Residents could get franking profits, says Government adviser Lord Browne – The Times (£)
  • More than half the population of Libya may need aid by the end of the year – The Guardian
  • IRA victim Brush ‘can’t back Maze plan’ – Newsletter
  • Measles epidemic claims first death – Daily Telegraph
  • Fleet Street swoops on romance between top Leveson lawyer and top hacking victims lawyer – The Sun (and elsewhere)
  • Smaller blogs escape post-Leveson rules – The Independent
  • My great achievement: no MP has completed the marathon faster – Matthew Parris, The Times (£)


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