11pm Cameron's wooing of Tory MPs continues as new MP advisers appointed – including Boris's brother

5pm WATCH: Cameron to Miliband – Labour is the Welfare Party

3pm ToryDiary: Mark MacGregor is the new Deputy Director of Policy Exchange

Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 13.48.192pm ToryDiary: Andrew Gimson's first PMQs sketch: Miliband's neighbours looked unhappy. And Cameron's looked no happier.

1.30pm Dan Boucher on Comment: A lesson from Wales. Labour has Co-op candidates. We should have Mutual ones.

12.30pm MPsETC: How Margaret Thatcher's name is being used as a code for loyalty

10am Henry Hill's Red, White and Blue Column: Scottish independence may mean no Scottish banknotes

Tory Diary: A plea to Downing Street over the ECHR. Please put up or shut up.

Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 07.53.56
The Deep End continues our Compassionate Conservatism series:

Columnist Stephan Shakespeare: Dull, pedestrian, uninspiring – but perhaps a winner for politicians: "Competence Guaranteed"

Letter from a Treasury Minister: A question for Miliband. Will you stick to our spending plans or not?


Local Government: Setting the bar – What would be a good result for Labour on May 2nd?

Spending and borrowing 1) Osborne hits his borrowing target – just about

Osborne April 2012"Public sector net borrowing, excluding financial interventions such as bank bailouts, came in at £120.6 billion, down from £120.9 billion, according to the Office for National Statistics. The figure, which also excludes the transfer of Royal Mail pensions assets and the Treasury’s cash grab on interest payments on quantitative easing, was £300 million lower than the Office for Budget Responsibility had pencilled in." – The Times (£)

Spending and borrowing 2) The Treasury sharpens its axe

"A Treasury source says: “No minister has complained directly to the Chancellor yet. There has been no whingeing or complaints about the proposed cuts in private, not a word. Everything they are saying is in public. They just want to sound tough, but tough ministers make cuts.” Defence special pleading has particularly infuriated the cost-cutters.  “The MoD insist that they are being cut to the bone and will have to disband the SAS,” one minister says. “But they don’t even know how much their estate costs to run. That’s not reconcilable. It’s huge when their estate covers 1 per cent of Britain’s land mass.” – The Times (£)

Spending and borrowing 3) Miller's gambit for fighting off cuts: the arts make money for Britain

MILLER-MARIA"She will say that larger venues must also help to market Britain abroad if they want to preserve their funding. Mrs Miller will say: “I know that this will not be to everyone’s taste but in an age of austerity, when times are tough and money is tight, our focus must be on culture’s economic impact.” Her call, to be delivered in a speech at the British Museum, comes as ministers square up for a brutal spending round. Mrs Miller’s department is in line for deep cuts." – The Times (£)

  • Women and the economy: Women miss out in labour market as new jobs go to men – The Independent
  • Women and the economy: Truss says Government is right to target working women with tax breaks – Daily Mail

Allister Heath: Stick to your guns, George

"Refusing to listen to critics is not a course of action I would usually recommend to George Osborne, the Chancellor, who has made far too many mistakes already. But there is one issue on which he should remain steadfast, and that is his modest programme of public spending cuts. The Government mustn’t listen to those calling for a dramatic U-turn. The Coalition’s commitment to reducing the size of our bloated state is the best thing about its economic policy, and that will remain true regardless of how good or bad the GDP figures turn out to be on Thursday." – Daily Telegraph

> Today:

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – George Osborne avoids the embarrassment of rising borrowing – but other dangers lie in wait

Osborne: It won't be worth England's while to share the pound with Scotland

Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 08.10.24"Unveiling a Treasury paper on the currency and monetary options for an independent Scotland, the Chancellor used a speech in Glasgow to claim that the SNP’s plan for a pound-sharing deal with the UK after independence was a “deep dive into uncharted waters”. SNP ministers accused Mr Osborne of “scaremongering”, with First Minister Alex Salmond insisting the Chancellor was “sabre-rattling” in an effort to push people back from supporting independence." – Scotsman

  • "A horrible thought occurs to me: was Mr Osborne's trip to Scotland part of some dark Conservative plot to lose the great battle for Scottish independence next year, and thereby secure the Conservative Party victory in the general election of 2015?" – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph
  • Even if he loses, Salmond will win – Alice Thomson, The Times (£)
  • Good for Osborne, reminding the Scots that independence is not a one-way street – Iain Martin, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – The Conservatives must campaign for Justice for England in 2015

Qatada: Cameron "considering temporary withdrawal from ECHR" But has he consulted Clegg…?

Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 07.43.18"The furious PM is considering a temporary withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights so judges in Strasbourg can’t block Qatada’s expulsion. He has told senior ministers to find a way to return the twisted preacher to Jordan to face terrorism charges and end his “intolerable” stay in Britain. The PM’s call came during a council of war with Home Secretary Theresa May, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and Attorney General Dominic Grieve. The meeting was held shortly before the Court of Appeal refused the Government permission to take its case to boot out Qatada to the Supreme Court." – The Sun

  • Put Abu Qatada on a plane – Daily Express Editorial
  • Much Abu about nothing – Sun Editorial
  • Britain and Germany join forces to demand curb on the 'burden' of benefits tourists – Daily Mail
  • Ambassadors say up to 35,000 Romanians and Bulgarians may come. Migration Watch says up to 50,000 – Daily Express

…Who, meanwhile, may block a "Snooper's Charter" bill (until after next week's local elections are safely out of the way, at least)

"Home Office sources were pointing to the ever varied way in which criminals are using the internet to plot crimes and attacks. Liberal Democrat sources say Clegg, whose previous intervention sent May's original draft bill back to the drawing board, is currently examining the new proposals to see if he can back them as a "proportionate and necessary" response to the problem. The Lib Dem leader will be hoping that he can dampen any controversy until at least after the county council elections next week." – The Guardian

  • Criminal inquiry launched over claims that Lord Rennard molested party activists – Daily Mail
  • Clegg refuses to rule out coalition with Labour – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday:

A million people who are fit-to-work have been on benefits for three years

Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 05.26.59"The statistics are likely to add to a Coalition row over the growing cost of social security payments, which economists say is hampering efforts to reduce the deficit. It could also add to tensions within Labour over how to deal with the growing benefit budget. In an annual report on his Social Justice Strategy, Mr Duncan Smith will publish statistics showing “the scale of entrenched social breakdown that has taken hold across Britain over the last decade” – Daily Telegraph

Health Minister Earl Howe wants 'Hospital hotels' for 30,000 elderly patients

"Visiting hours for family members would be far more flexible than in a hospital, relations would be able to stay in a nearby room, and the system would save the health service tens of millions of pounds. The model is based on a system widely used in Scandinavia, with large hotel chains running the service on hospital sites. The proposal is to be formally reviewed by NHS England, the new body responsible for recommending how local doctors’ groups should provide for their patients." – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: Charlotte Leslie MP on Comment – What the Royal College of Nursing can learn from the teaching unions

Soubry: rebellion = twattery

"Anna Soubry, the Minister for Public Health, said there was “no vacancy” at No 10, amid continued grumblings on Tory back benches over the Prime Minister’s performance. “When people talk about such-and-such a person as an alternative to Cameron, there is no vacancy,” Ms Soubry said. “What we now need to do is stop people in the party engaging in quite a lot of twattery, and to accept that we’ve achieved a huge amount, and it’s all to play for." – The Times (£)

UKIP leader's big tease at press gallery lunch over Farage-Gove pact

Farage Nigel March 2012"The prospects of a deal with David Cameron are just about zero. Who would I like to see lead the Conservatives, who could we do a deal with? I don’t know but I would have thought there are some very good thinking people like Michael Gove, who doesn’t just dismiss somebody’s point of view,” he said. “Boris [Johnson, the London mayor] is, of course, a great pretender but history shows that they rarely win,” he added." – Financial Times (£)

  • Welsh MPs should be banned on voting on fox-hunting and English schools, says UKIP leader – Wales Online
  • "Had he had talks with Tory MPs about cutting deals? "I have had discussions with many people in pubs all over Westminster, many of which I can remember!" – Simon Hoggart, The Guardian
  • "Listening to a Farridge speech, you begin to suspect the greatest influence on his politics is not Baroness Thatcher but Top Gear: his oratorical style is a noisy mix of blokey joshing and no-frills frankness. He could easily be the next Jeremy Clarkson." – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph
  • Farage defends strip clubs and calls UKIP candidate who runs one a "free market entrepreneur" – Daily Mail

Miliband tries to kill off general strike

"Ed Miliband has denounced as “a terrible idea” the threat of a general strike by two of Labour’s biggest union donors, ahead of a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the threatened protest. The Labour leader, who has been warned by Tony Blair, former Labour prime minister, against leading the party into a leftwing comfort zone, went head-to-head with Unite and Unison by calling for talk on industrial action to be “killed off quickly”." – Financial Times

  • Miliband the illusionist must try to conjure up more with less – Daily Telegraph

> Today:

"It's time the Tories learned to love the unions"

Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 08.21.40"Conservatives need to recognise that their party has historically been supportive of trade unionism – it was Benjamin Disraeli who legalised picketing, for instance. Many values that unions stand for, such as community, mutual help and, dare I say it, a "big society", are also fundamentally Tory values. There's also a political imperative. If Conservatives are serious about winning the next election they must remember that unions, though diminished, still have just under seven million members. They hold the balance in many of the seats in the north and Midlands that Tories need to win if they're to get an overall majority in 2015." – David Skelton, The Guardian

News in Brief


> Please use the
thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to
ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been
given their own blog. Read our comments policy here.