5.45pm LeftWatch: No support among Labour Euro candidates for In/Out EU referendum

2pm WATCH: Data, data, data – Conservative Party strategist Jim Messina on winning elections

1pm ToryDiary: Labour are rattled by the Conservatives hiring world class election strategists

10.30am Calum Crichton on Comment: Questions about the SNP's welfare policy

ToryDiary: Why can't we be told how many members the Conservative Party has?

Nick de Bois on Comment: The solution to zero hour contracts is a more free labour market

WATCH:Boris and IDS hurdled by freerunners in Waltham Forest

TimespicklesPickles backs renting over driveways to motorists

"Householders are being urged to turn their driveway into a car park under government plans to tackle the excessive on-street charges imposed by town halls. Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, will say today that he is allowing homeowners to rent out their drives for up to £2,400 a year without planning permission." – The Times (£)

  • "Communities Secretary Eric Pickles suggested some councils may be worried about losing income from parking fees. It comes after he said lifting parking restrictions could boost local shops. BBC political correspondent Robin Brant said the new guidelines were the latest announcement from the Department of Communities and Local Government in what appeared to be a concerted attack on town halls on behalf of motorists." – BBC

> Yesterday Local Government: Oxfordshire County Council proposes new bus lanes to raise revenue from fines

ObamaConservatives hire Obama campaign chief Jim Messina…

"The Tories are hoping to emulate Mr Obama's re-election against a backdrop of economic problems. Many other governments that have sought re-election during economic turbulence have been punished by voters at the ballot box. The Conservatives are also thought to hope that Mr Messina will bring to their operation the same binding marriage of social media and political organisation that many in the US credit with securing Mr Obama a second term. Mr Crosby is said to admit privately that this area is not his strength." – BBC

  • "Mr Messina, who is working solely on the election campaign, and not on party policy, will report directly to Mr Cameron’s Australian election strategist Lynton Crosby, and Tory co-chairmen Grant Shapps and Lord Feldman. Sources said he ‘does not come cheap’ although he has ‘not yet’ cost the party £1million. ..Last night Mr Messina confirmed his role with the party. He said: ‘I have long admired Prime Minister Cameron. ‘While I will not be moving to London, nor will I be managing any type of day-to-day political operations, I will be offering  strategic campaign advice leading up to 2015." – Daily Mail

…as Andrew Haldenby says Obama's spending cuts are working

"It is fair to say that the US is witnessing the end of Obamanomics and the beginning of a new era of fiscal restraint. In his first phase, President Obama’s role model might have been President Johnson, the creator of the Big Society and its associated social programmes. His inspiration now might be President Clinton. Bill Clinton was the most fiscally conservative president of modern times. His final year in office saw federal spending fall to just 19 per cent of GDP. His policies included a radical programme of welfare reform that continues to influence policy on both sides of the Atlantic. The challenge for Keynesians lies in the fact that the US economy has continued to recover despite these historic cuts." – Andrew Haldenby The Times (£)

ConservativelogoConservatives won't say how many members they have

"Grant Shapps, the Tory chairman, has ignored calls to say how many ballots were sent to members in the selection of European Parliament candidates. The Conservatives have not published a national membership figure since the 2005 leadership vote, when David Cameron won a ballot of 253,600 members. Membership revenues — which parties are legally obliged to publish — suggest falling numbers of fee-paying backers. Some say the figure could be only 100,000." – The Times (£)

  • "Some informed sources suggest that national membership has more than halved since Mr Cameron was elected party leader. Total grassroots strength may now be below 100,000. We cannot know for sure because the Conservative Party refuses to publish the information that it has just gathered as part of the ballot it conducted for the selection of MEP candidates. This unacceptable secrecy will be remembered by trade union leaders when Conservative MPs next attempt to lecture them about poor turnout in their own strike ballots. The Conservative Party is in danger of becoming a party that rightly extols transparency in government but leaves its own house in darkness." Leader The Times (£)

> Today ToryDiary: Why can't we be told how many members the Conservative Party has?

There should be an elected Conservative Party Chairman says Adrian Hilton

"Had Peter Cruddas been working with a directly-elected party
chairman, and had he himself been directly elected by the wider
membership, neither the Prime Minister nor the Party Board would have
been able to act in the peremptory fashion they did. Such separation of
powers, shared responsibility and mutual accountability are better
guarantors of justice than the highly-centralised, disdainful and
unresponsive party machine over which David Cameron currently presides."
– Adrian Hilton Daily Mail

> Yesterday: On Comment, Lord Ashcroft writes about the silent victim of The Sunday Times’s “cash for access exposé”: "Sarah
Southern has always maintained a dignified public silence over the
events of early last year but, with her permission, I am able to tell
her side of events for the first time."

UnitelogoUnite dominate Labour Euro candidate selections…

"Ed Miliband was accused of caving in to a ‘stitch-up’ by the Unite union yesterday as its candidates dominated the party’s list of prospective MEPs. Candidates who are backed by Unite, have worked for Unite or are members of Unite secured the top slot in ten of the 11 regional lists of Labour candidates for the European elections next May. That means that the vast majority of the party’s representatives in Brussels will owe their success to the union, run by hard-Left firebrand Len McCluskey." – Daily Mail

  • "In the South West Clare Moody, a Unite political officer and former aide to Gordon Brown, tops the regional list of candidates. She is backed by six separate unions and has been selected ahead of Glyn Ford, a popular Labour figure who was MEP for a decade until 1999. Dr Razvan  Constantinescu, who was seeking to become a candidate, accused Unite of “engineering” the selection process, and said it was “painfully reminiscent” of what had happened in Falkirk." – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday LeftWatch: Unite officials, retreads and washed-up Brownites picked in Labour's troubled MEP selections

… as the union plans legal action against "racist" Home Office van…

"The Unite union has said it is seeking legal advice about whether the Home Office "incited racial hatred" by sending vans around London encouraging illegal immigrants to "go home". Its leader, Len McCluskey, called the poster-covered vehicles "vans of hate"." – BBC

  • "Last week the Home Office resorted to sending vans round six London boroughs telling illegal immigrants they would be arrested unless they volunteered to go home. Not only was the message ill-judged – no consultation but causing much offence – it revealed the desperation of an increasingly out of touch government that now desires only that it appears to be doing something." – Shadow Immigration Minister Chris Bryant Daily Telegraph

Indhome..and a Quango challenges Home Office over checks on illegal immigrants

"The Home Office is facing an investigation into whether its officials broke the law by carrying out “racist” spot checks to find illegal immigrants…The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it was demanding an explanation for raids in the past week which led to the detention of dozens of suspected illegal immigrants…. the minister responsible for immigration, Mark Harper, said all the inspections at train stations had resulted from direct intelligence. I absolutely refute the suggestion that we are targeting people because of their race, or we are doing racial profiling – we are doing nothing of the sort,” he said." – The Independent

  • "Nigel Farage said: "Spot checks and being demanded to show your papers by officialdom are not the British way of doing things. Yes, of course we want to deal with illegal immigration, but what's the point of rounding people up at railway stations if at the same time they're still flooding in through Dover and the other nearly hundred ports in this country. I'm astonished that the Home Office has become so politicised that they're actually advertising 'another 10 arrested'. Before long they'll be live video-streaming these arrests." – The Guardian

Lords reform revived with plan to exclude criminal and lazy peers

"Peers with serious criminal records or those who stop attending Parliament could be kicked out of the House of Lords. The proposal follows the storm of criticism yesterday over the appointment of 30 new members – a move which left all three main party leaders accused of polluting politics…under the proposals peers who do not attend the House or who have left the country will be told to retire. And those who have been given custodial sentences of a year or more will be stripped of their peerages." – Daily Mail

GuardianidsCivil servants criticise implementation of Universal Credit

"Staff working on the biggest shakeup of the welfare state in its history have described the project as "soul-destroying" and "unbelievably frustrating", with some saying they are under so much pressure that they can only engage in "firefighting and panic management". A leaked internal survey of scores of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) employees working on the government's flagship Universal Credit programme describes an environment of poor management and high levels of stress. Labour said the survey was "utterly damning"." – The Guardian

Plaid hold Assembly seat but UKIP beat Conservatives

"Plaid Cymru has retained its Welsh Assembly seat in Ynys Mon, denying Labour the chance of a majority in the Senedd. The nationalists’ candidate, Rhun ap Iorwerth, polled 12,601 votes — almost three times more than his nearest rival, the Labour candidate, Tal Michael. The result was no surprise, given that Anglesey is the Plaid heartland, but the night did produce a shock as UKIP narrowly missed out on second place, trouncing the Conservatives in the process. But the night very much belonged to Mr ap Iorwerth, a former journalist turned politician." – The Times (£)

EdheadsLabour MP attacks Miliband

"A senior Labour MP yesterday launched a devastating attack on Ed Miliband, calling his leadership “hesitant and confused”. George Mudie confessed he was deeply worried about the party’s prospects with the next General Election just 18 months away. ..He insisted: “The Government are setting the agenda, making the weather and we’re responding to it. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown never did that.” The veteran politician, 68, added: “Do you know our position on welfare? Because I don’t. Do you know our position on education? Do you know our genuine position on how we’d run the Health Service?” – The Sun (£)

Two thirds of MPs taking holidays abroad

"Abta’s senior public affairs and research manager, Stephen D’Alfonso, said: “Our annual MP holiday survey shows that for MPs, like many of their constituents, a summer holiday abroad is part of the British lifestyle. We’d ask MPs, as they head on these holidays, to think about the effect of air passenger duty, the Government’s tax-take from flying, will have on family budgets and on our ability to enjoy summer holidays abroad.” – The Times (£)

SkidmoreLet school pupils develop their own opinions says Chris Skidmore

"There is no doubt that politics teachers, who will often have passionately-held views of their own, have a difficult job. It’s much harder to be unbiased than it is to speak your mind. Yet it is vital that they are able to put their views aside. For every Carola Binney, who sees the bias for what it is, who knows how many are leaving school with someone else’s political opinions….We owe it to these pupils not to burden them with any of the political prejudices of our generation, and to give them the chance to make their minds up for themselves." Chris Skidmore MP Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday LeftWatch: Exam board insists A-level Politics students give left-wing answers

ParrisMatthew Parris: In praise of hypocrisy

"Hypocrisy is a healthy part of what we are, how we work and how politics works. Three cheers to the jury that acquits a defendant they know is guilty as charged, because they think the law’s unfair. It is very, very important that, while outwardly professing the centrality of logic, we do not shackle ourselves to arguments. Reasoning does matter in politics, but instinct and observation, not logic, are often what best signal to us that an argument is off course. We need to leave ourselves plenty of slack in politics and morality, plenty of space, to follow the promptings of intuition in what we do; and when it doesn’t feel right, nobody should padlock himself to the maxim: “Practise what you preach.” A healthy dollop of hypocrisy can liberate." Matthew Parris The Times (£)

News in brief

  • Elite universites offer places through clearing system – Daily Telegraph
  • Nick Boles stripped of Wind Farm policy – The Independent
  • Lord Oakeshott attacks Nick Clegg – again. Daily Telegraph
  • Call for "passive resistance" after Zimbabwe elections – BBC

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