9pm ToryDiary: Hilton. O’Shaughnessy. Peter Campbell. Tim Chatwin. All gone from Number 10. And now Rohan Silva is to leave. What does his move say about the mood in Downing Street?

7pm Alistair Burt MP on Comment: A significant moment, as the UN passes a Resolution to deliver an Arms Trade Treaty

6.15pm WATCH: George Osborne: "Our reforms are returning welfare to its most fundamental principles"

Osborne2pm ToryDiary: George Osborne’s “man of the people” speech

1pm MPsETC: Three campaigns are promised by Sir Gerald Howarth, the new Chairman of Conservative Way Forward. Take note, Number Ten

12.15pm LeftWatch: The curious case of David Bennett and his £53 a week

9.30am ToryDiary: Ministers can't just carry on attacking the ECHR. They must pledge to take Britain out of it.

ToryDiary: Careful with the churches, George

Also on ToryDiary: Is the Government gearing up for action on the minimum wage?

Lord AshcroftLord Ashcroft on Comment: Words matter. Don't choose them too carefully.

LeftWatch, from last night: Di Canio admires Mussolini. Mussolini admired Marx. Lenin admired Mussolini. Which makes Di Canio an…er…um…hang on a minute…

Cllr John Moss on Local Government: Council tenants with spare rooms need a nudge to downsize

The Deep End: Corporate tax dodgers make us all poorer, but the poorest people in the world suffer most

WATCH: Iain Duncan Smith discusses the benefit reforms – "This is about fairness"

George Osborne versus the critics of welfare reform: "defending the indefensible"

"Critics of reforms to the welfare state are ‘defending the indefensible’, George Osborne will say today. … In a major speech, the Chancellor will insist the Government aims to ‘use every penny we can to back hard-working people who want to get on in life’. … He will insist the average working family will be £300 a year better off after tax and benefit changes." – Daily Mail

  • Osborne"In a speech today, Mr Osborne is due to say: 'The changes coming into effect today are the start of resetting the system of financial regulation in our country. … They represent a fundamental change in how financial services will be regulated in the future.'" – Daily Mail

> Today on ToryDiary: Careful with the churches, George

> Yesterday:

Iain Duncan Smith versus the critics of welfare reform: "If I had to, I would live on £53 a week"


"Iain Duncan Smith has asserted that he could live on benefits of £53 a week as he defended sweeping welfare cuts which critics claim will disproportionately affect society’s most vulnerable." – The Times (£)

  • "Drink and drug addicts claim nearly half a billion pounds a year in sickness benefits, The Sun can reveal." – The Sun

> Today: 

Daniel Hannan also makes the case for change

DH"At last in Iain Duncan Smith we have a minister who understands that poverty is not simply an absence of money. Rather, it is bound up with a series of other factors: joblessness, low aspirations, family breakdown, substance abuse, poor qualifications. … It follows that you can’t cure poverty simply by giving money to the poor, any more than you can cure a drug addict by handing him a £20 note. You have to tackle the underlying problem." – Daniel Hannan, Daily Mail

And ConservativeHome's Paul Goodman asks, "Does religion still have a place in today’s politics?"

PG"We have grown used to political interventions from Rowan Williams and other churchmen that could double as editorials in the Guardian or New Statesman. But the truth is that until the Church of England and others reoccupy the ground they once held, they will be driven further out of people’s everyday lives. The more ground they are forced to abandon, the safer politicians will feel in ignoring them." – Paul Goodman, Daily Telegraph

More reaction to yesterday's Big Bang

  • "Mr Duncan Smith’s reforms richly deserve to succeed. How depressing that, even when advocating hugely popular policies, his supporters are often as unconvincing as his detractors." – Daily Mail editorial
  • "…the real problem is that the Government has done too little, rather than too much, to wrench the state leviathan from its course." – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • "…the whole country will benefit from a system that looks after the needy but doesn’t make workers better off unemployed." – Sun editorial
  • "…the biggest item of government spending remains welfare. The government has been brave and right to start rolling back the state’s munificent excesses …. But, again for political reasons, benefits for pensioners remain untouched. … These should at least be means tested." – Financial Times editorial (£)
  • Indy"How these measures will be judged, however, depends not on what has already happened, but on what happens next. … The generally quiescent public mood could soon turn." – Independent editorial
  • "The question for politics is whether this will mark the breaking point for the resigned stoicism that has characterised public opinion since cutting the deficit became such a dominant issue." – Guardian editorial
  • "It is nonsensical to continue giving these perks to everyone, however rich, when disabled people are having vital support slashed. We simply cannot afford to keep on pandering to the electoral power of pensioners, nor to remain in thrall to the outdated concept of universal benefits." – Ian Birrell, Independent
  • "I don’t know what Ed Miliband thinks. I don’t know his views about the State’s duty to people or about people’s duties towards the State." – Hugo Rifkind, The Times (£)

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: The Big Bang that happened today

Poll raises further doubts about the new health reforms

NHS"Ministers insist that the reforms, which replace primary care trusts with GP-led clinical commissioning groups, will put patients first by giving financial control to family doctors … But a poll released today suggests that only one in ten patients was told about their rights under the NHS Constitution when they last saw a GP or went to hospital, and that only one in five knew that they had a right to choose where they were treated." – The Times (£)

  • "This latest cure for the NHS really could kill the patient" – Polly Toynbee, Guardian

Berlin and Germany "snub" Britain's review of EU powers

"The Foreign Office invited Berlin and Paris to take part in its so-called 'balance of competences' study, which is examining whether powers should flow back from Brussels. … But after high-level discussions between the French and German governments, they have decided not to assist the British review." – Financial Times (£)

Ministers turn to road-building to boost the economy

Motorway"Britain’s second toll motorway is to be given the green light in an attempt to stimulate the faltering economy with capital spending. … Ministers are set to revive a decade-old plan to ease congestion on the M4 in South Wales as part of a multibillion-pound road-building scheme. … George Osborne has agreed to underwrite the £1 billion project, which is expected to be announced by the Chancellor in the spending review in June." – The Times (£)

  • "The UK is set to avoid falling back into recession, according to the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC). … The BCC believes a strong performance by Britain's service industries during the first three months of the year has kept the economy growing." – BBC
  • "Capital spending on infrastructure will improve the efficiency of business and enhance the prospects for sustainable growth. It is a good and welcome idea." – Times editorial (£)

"The overhaul of rail franchising last week has done little to appease investors, who have labelled the government’s management of the process 'amateurish' and a 'shambles'"Financial Times (£)

Could the minimum wage be frozen or cut?

"[The Government] has told the Low Pay Commission, which sets the minimum wage, that it must formally consider its impact on 'employment and the economy', before agreeing future increases. … The change, which will be written into the Commission’s new terms of reference, raises the prospect of the first ever across-the-board freeze or cut in the minimum wage for everyone if the economic uncertainty continues." – Daily Telegraph

> Today on ToryDiary: Is the Government gearing up for action on the minimum wage?

Current civil servants will keep their perks

FM"Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude and Sir Bob Kerslake, the head of the civil service, set out last year plans to cut down on staff perks that were out of step with modern working. … However, Mr Maude and Sir Bob have now admitted the changes will only apply to new recruits or to newly promoted officials." – Daily Telegraph

British forces speak about the torture they witnessed at US facilities in Iraq

"British soldiers and airmen who helped to operate a secretive US detention facility in Baghdad that was at the centre of some of the most serious human rights abuses to occur in Iraq after the invasion have, for the first time, spoken about abuses they witnessed there. … 'I saw one man having his prosthetic leg being pulled off him, and being beaten about the head with it before he was thrown on to the truck.'" – Guardian

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: Are we sticking to the plan in Afghanistan? The generals seem to have their worries…

Chris Grayling urges cross-party action to reform our human rights laws and deport Abu Qatada

CG"I don’t personally understand why the other parties are so opposed to change, to bringing back the democratic rights of Parliament. I would welcome an agreement from Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband to support radical reform of our human rights laws. We would deliver those changes at the earliest possible opportunity." – Chris Grayling, Daily Mail

"Britain's decision to make Pakistan its biggest recipient of foreign aid is under scrutiny amid claims that £300million is helping to bankroll Benazir Bhutto’s former party"Daily Mail

Claire Perry: "Our children are operating in an increasingly sexualised culture"

"Fifteen children are expelled from school for sexual misconduct on average every day. … At least one of these will be from primary school … Last night Claire Perry, the Prime Minister’s adviser on childhood, said: 'These statistics on expulsions confirm the uneasy sense that many parents have; that our children are operating in an increasingly sexualised culture which is spilling over into the classroom.'" - Daily Mail

  • Teachers warn that the rise of "raunch culture" is damaging schoolgirlsDaily Mail

Tory councillor criticised for naming a park after his sonDaily Mail

> Yesterday on Local Government: 

Janan Ganesh: The Tory party is forgetting the qualities that could ensure victory

JG"The Tories most fearful of defeat for their party in 2015 are those most likely to bring it about. They are the source of the pathological indiscipline that undermines Mr Cameron in full view of the public. … All the while the fundamentals that determine elections do not justify anything like this kind of panic." – Janan Ganesh, Financial Times (£)

Dominic Lawson on Boris Johnson

"…the opportunity for him to make a formal challenge is far more likely to follow, and not precede, a Conservative defeat at the ballot box. This may be just as well: for if there is one job at which Boris Johnson would be brilliant, it is Leader of the Opposition." – Dominic Lawson, Independent

Prison isn’t working for Huhne, or for us, says Jill Kirby - Jill Kirby, Daily Telegraph

Labour considers policy on workers' rights

JC"Labour is examining plans to introduce a new fair work commission to bring together the existing enforcement bodies that aim to secure workers their rights, and act as a champion for vulnerable employees, as part of its policy review." – Guardian

Andy Burnham talks about social care reform

"'My gran went through the care system just over a decade ago, and it was thoroughly depressing,' he told the magazine. 'We walked in one day, and her knuckle was red raw because someone had ripped of her engagement ring and stolen it. I remember my mum saying to me: 'If you ever get into Parliament, you had better do something about this.'" – Daily Telegraph

Paulo Di Canio versus David Miliband

Di Canio

"Paolo Di Canio stepped up his row with David Miliband yesterday by calling his accusers ‘stupid and ridiculous’. … The new Sunderland manager spoke out after the former foreign secretary quit his role at the football club because of the Italian’s ‘past political statements’." – Daily Mail

  • "Miliband’s resignation from Sunderland over Di Canio is admirable" – Tobias Jones, The Times (£)

> Today on LeftWatch: Di Canio admires Mussolini. Mussolini admired Marx. Lenin admired Mussolini. Which makes Di Canio an…er…um…hang on a minute…

Labour's Karl Turner: Bob Crow is a "great socialist"

"Rail union chief Crow has a three-bed council house despite his £140,000 a year. … Hull East MP Mr Turner was asked if it was right for Crow to be subsidised by taxpayers. … He replied: 'Bob’s a great socialist. Doesn’t believe in buying home.'" – The Sun

"A militant teaching union yesterday pledged to fight a government clampdown on ’elf and safety bureaucrats"The Sun

Police commisioner (and former Labour minister) Vera Baird says that her force will not prioritise combating low-level drug useDaily Mail

Salmond loses Murdoch

AS"Rupert Murdoch's interest in winning independence for Scotland has ended. News International's top selling title in Scotland, The Scottish Sun – whose support is widely regarded as crucial to the 'Yes' campaign in the run-in to the September 2014 referendum – will not be backing independence." – Independent

Naomi Long, the MP for east Belfast, talks to the Independent about the situation in her cityIndependent

Rachel Sylvester: Are we right to assume that happiness breeds success?

"In adulthood we assume that happiness leads to success that in turn generates contentment. The Prime Minister at one point even promised to promote 'general wellbeing' alongside 'gross domestic product' as national targets. … But often the greatest success comes after a struggle." – Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)

Philip Johnston: Parliament has become the worst enemy of free speech – Philip Johnson, Daily Telegraph

And finally… David Cameron, saviour of sheep


"Mr Cameron heard Swampy’s desperate bleating at 6pm on a Friday evening as he left neighbour Julian Tustian’s farm. … Mr Tustian said: 'When I got there, David was in the swamp, waist-deep in mud, along with the two police, who had all gone in there to help drag this sheep out. … He was brilliant, pulling, pushing and shoving. He was covered in mud, he looked a mess. It’s nice to see, really – the police didn’t have to do that and neither did David Cameron.'" – Daily Mail


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