6pm LeftWatch: Ed Miliband bottles it – Labour will abstain on the EU Referendum Bill

MG3pm On ToryDiary, Mark Wallace writes in praise of Vladimir Ilyich Gove"He appreciates an often-neglected truth: that in the face of a left-wing establishment, it is the right in Britain who have a revolutionary task to fulfil."

2pm ToryDiary: Stephen Hester's eventual replacement is walking into a political minefield

1pm MPsETC: Solidarity with Julian Huppert: the hurt, pain and humiliation of being compared to Mr Bean

11.30am John Glen MP on Comment: How GoCo will help to improve defence procurement

ToryDiary: Welcome to Britain, Stephen Harper – and here are three lessons that David Cameron can learn from you

SCAndew Gimson profiles Samantha Cameron: "Mrs Cameron is visible, but not too visible. She looks pleased to meet people, but not too pleased; self-possessed, without seeming too self-possessed; stylish, without being outré. One never gets the sense that she is determined to hog the limelight, or to throw her weight around. She manages to be open, yet unrevealing."

Lord Ashcroft on Comment: (Another) response to Peter Oborne

Also on Comment, Lord Risby's memories of Henry Cecil

Peter Hoskin writes this week's Culture Column: Where politics meets culture in The Spectator’s rich archives

Free Schools Week continues on Local Government: Mandarin on the curriculum at the Tiger free school

Also on Local Government, Cllr Paul Osborn: Keeping Local Government Conservative

The Deep End: Banksy: Art for 'morons' not the people

Stephen Hester leaves RBS – Team Osborne denies that he was forced out 

RBS"There was speculation last night that Mr Hester may have been removed because he opposed the Government’s timetable for privatisation. … But the Treasury denied Mr Osborne had ordered RBS, which is 81 per cent state-owned, to remove him. … The Chancellor paid tribute to Mr Hester’s role in bringing the bank ‘back from the brink’ after former chief executive Fred Goodwin’s tenure." – Daily Mail

"Mr Osborne’s team insists there is no timetable for selling RBS, but it is clear that the chancellor is also rethinking whether the bank’s return to health could be accelerated by stripping out some of its bad assets." – Financial Times

  • "Hester's departure is a huge gamble, and one I fear will backfire" – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail
  • "Hester’s departure gives clues to banking’s future" – Philip Augar, Financial Times
  • "The relationship between chancellor and CEO has been prickly at times" – Jonathan Ford, Financial Times

But Team Osborne won't be denying the latest, fairly encouraging employment figures

Upturn"More than 1.2million jobs have been created in the private sector under the Coalition. … While the number of state workers has dropped by 614,000 since May 2010, the number in the private sector has jumped by 1.25million to a record 24.1million, the Office for National Statistics revealed." – Daily Mail

  • "More than a million over-65s are still working – double the number 20 years ago, official figures revealed yesterday." – Daily Mail

The Daily Telegraph hails Britain's "remarkable economic resilience"

DT"None the less, the signs are promising, and while we would have liked to see a more robust, pro-growth, tax-cutting approach from George Osborne, the Chancellor can at least rebut Labour’s charge that austerity is wrecking the country. For every job cut in the public sector, at least two have been created in the private. Given the historic scale of the contraction since 2008, the seeming resilience of the economy is nothing short of remarkable." – Daily Telegraph editorial

Although there are words of warning from other newspapers…

  • "Small firms are lightening pay packets far more than big companies, which have instead retrenched through the time-honoured British means of chucking P45s around like confetti." – Guardian editorial
  • "…these encouraging figures offer no guarantee that the worst is behind us. For the burden on private enterprise of supporting the state’s 5.7million employees still remains far too great." – Daily Mail editorial

> Yesterday, by Philip Blond and Adam Wildman on ThinkTankCentral: Why Risk Waivers for SMEs would help to fire economic growth

…and from the National Audit Office

NAO"The Treasury has been criticised by Whitehall spending watchdogs for relying on short-term emergency cuts to reduce the deficit rather than long-term reforms that would produce permanent savings for taxpayers. … It warns that the Government is not 'well placed to meet the forthcoming challenge of continued fiscal consolidation alongside substantial demand pressures.'" – Independent

CBI seeks raid on ringfenced budgets – Financial Times

  • "Difficult decisions about programmes and entitlements are not going to disappear even if sustained growth returns." - Martin Kettle, Guardian
  • "Borrowing for homes and roads would be popular" – Mark Ferguson, The Times (£)

David Cameron attacks Ed Miliband over those "tax efficient" Labour donations

DC"Referring to the donation, Mr Cameron told MPs: 'Then what do we hear this week from the Labour party that they are give tax avoidance advice to their donors.' … He added: 'He asked me to calm down but frankly I can’t calm down because this is money that ought to be going into our health service, it ought to be going into education, it ought to be going into training young people.'" – Daily Telegraph

  • "David Cameron’s hopes of securing a sweeping crackdown on tax evasion at next week’s G8 summit were in jeopardy last night as Bermuda led a revolt by Britain’s overseas territories." – The Times (£)
  • MPs accuse Google of "relying on deeply unconvincing arguments" to avoid paying British taxes –Daily Mail

> Yesterday:

And clarifies the Government's Help to Buy scheme

Htb"David Cameron has said the Help to Buy scheme, designed to help people on to the property ladder, will not be available on second homes or to foreign purchasers, ending months of uncertainty about the flagship policy." – Guardian

Theresa May urges her party to "make the case for reform"

The speech to mark the 10th anniversary of the Reform think-tank was described by one guest as 'Prime Ministerial in its canvas'. The comments are certain to be noted down by Mr Cameron and his allies in Number 10. … In a nod to the late Margaret Thatcher, who in power was frequently described as a 'conviction politician', she said: 'Let’s have the courage of our convictions – and keep making the case for reform.'" – Daily Telegraph

As her department warns of further Abu Qatada appeals

"Abu Qatada could be kicked out of Britain within weeks after Jordan’s parliament passed a new treaty with the UK. … But Whitehall sources warned there is a chance the hate-preacher may go back on his pledge and launch a new appeal against deportation." – The Sun

Go Go Gove: Toby Young on the "best leader Labour never had"

Spectator"Another aspect in which Gove is more like a Labour politician is the passion with which he argues his case. Most Conservatives are reluctant to claim the moral high ground, falling back on arguments designed to appeal to voters’ heads rather than their hearts. Not Gove. There are moments during his endless round of television and radio debates when he seems to catch fire, harnessing an Old Testament rage that is more reminiscent of Labour firebrands like Nye Bevan and Michael Foot than a Tory grandee." – Toby Young, The Spectator

  • "In education, Michael Gove has shifted the centre groundyond five years at RBS" – Gavin Barwell MP, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday:

Tory MPs among those calling on David Nicholson to step down now

DN"Mr Barclay, Tory member for North East Cambridgeshire, said it ‘stretches credulity’ that Sir David did not know about the payments and called for him to step down now. ‘He should have immediately sought to investigate,’ he said. … ‘It is a clear conflict of interest for a hospital, where a member of staff has raised concerns, to use taxpayers money to pay people off with no external scrutiny.’" – Daily Mail

  • "Nicholson is shifty and incompetent. He has to go immediately." – Sun editorial

Further NHS stories, including a transparency row

  • "Hospital doctors who perform badly will be able to opt out of league tables that are designed to improve transparency in the NHS." - Daily Mail
  • "Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday suspended controversial plans to close three children’s heart surgery units." – Daily Mail

Peter Oborne takes issue with Lord Ashcroft (and his tweets)

Lord Ashcroft"In recent weeks, the Conservative peer, who has been one of the most important figures in the Tory party ever since William Hague put him in control of its finances 15 years ago, has been engaged in an open, menacing and extremely public campaign against David Cameron." – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

Lord Ashcroft responds on ConservativeHome

"Overall, my political commentary amounts to a prolonged reminder that the winning party will be the one that pays attention to the voters and their priorities. I hope that party will be the Conservative Party – but I think I’m more use to it as a truth-teller than a cheerleader." – from Lord Ashcroft's article on ConservativeHome

"A top Conservative Party funder is revealed today as the man behind one of Britain’s biggest high-cost lenders"Independent

Nick Clegg admits Lib Dem failures in response to Lord Rennard allegations

Clegg"The Deputy Prime Minister ‘made mistakes’ over the allegations against Lord Rennard, according to a highly critical report into attitudes to women among senior Liberal Democrats. … Mr Clegg conceded that ‘women had been let down’ after the independent report said he should have ‘asked more questions’ when the claims – which Lord Rennard denies – arose five years ago." – Daily Mail

  • "Forgive us, but [Mr Clegg's] doe-eyed protestations of remorse are wearing thin. … They also stand in stark contrast to his blustering obfuscations and denials when this story first broke." – Daily Mail editorial

Vince Cable has concerns about "zero-hours" contracts

"Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, is worried that some companies are abusing the contracts and has asked his officials to review the growth of the contracts in both the private and public sectors. Although he is unlikely to ban them, they could be restricted or workers on them given more protection." – Independent

"A Liberal Democrat has complained that he is being bullied by fellow MPs who groan every time he stands up to speak in the Commons"The Times (£)

Tom Harris quits the Labour frontbench to (actually, really) spend more time with his family

TH"The MP said he was quitting because he could not reconcile the workload as a frontbench spokesman on rural affairs with his responsibilities to his family. … 'I know where my priorities lie; the task of juggling front bench responsibilities and being a husband and father to a young family located 400 miles away is simply beyond me,' he wrote." – Daily Telegraph

Harriet Harman proposes a media ownership cap of 15 per cent

"A media ownership cap as low as 15% across newspapers, broadcasting companies and online sites must be considered to stop companies feeling they are 'above the rule of law', according to Harriet Harman. … The shadow culture secretary is also calling for a 'robust fit and proper person' test to be introduced under a fresh push for curbs on the industry." – Guardian

News in brief

  • Judge charged with perverting the course of justice in Chris Huhne case – Daily Mail
  • Political correctness resulting in female circumcision being ignored in UK, say MPs – Independent
  • Network Rail is 23 per cent less efficient than its Continental counterparts, claims report – The Times (£)

And finally… Sally Bercow's eBay sell-off

Ebay"Sally Bercow has blundered into controversy again – by flogging antiques from her free home in Parliament. … The furniture is her own, but photographs of it in her eBay advertisements were clearly taken in the grace and favour apartments provided for her husband John, Speaker of the House of Commons. … And it appears that buyers of 43-year-old Mrs Bercow’s unwanted stuff were invited into the Houses of Parliament to pick up their purchases." – Daily Mail


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