Backbench message to Cameron over “No Second Coalition” claims: stand up to the Lib Dems now – not later

Pritchard Mark April 2012“However, backbenchers were sceptical about the idea yesterday, suspecting the plan was being floated to try to improve Mr Cameron’s standing among Tory MPs and activists. One MP said: “We know from experience that manifesto commitments are not always worth the paper they are ­written on.” Conservative backbencher Mark Pritchard urged Mr Cameron to do more to defy Lib Dem attempts to block Tory policies in the current coalition.” – Daily Express

  • Whitehall prepares for minority government – The Independent
  • Clegg to students: trust me – The Independent
  • Billionaire Tory donor Michael Hintze pulls plug on Cameron – Daily Mail
  • “On Friday I had the privilege of welcoming the latest recruit to Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm: a very happy elephant called Buta” – Ann Widdecombe, Daily Express

Today: Priti Patel on Comment – An Etonian stitch-up? Rubbish. This is the most inclusive Conservative manifesto ever.


Daniel Finkelstein: Cameron would be mad to rule out coalition

“Now, it is perfectly possible for a party, engaged in negotiation and reviewing the coalition terms on offer, to decide to reject them and retreat to opposition. It would, however, be very strange for the Tories to decide in advance that it would rather have Labour in office than renew its relationship, however difficult, with the Liberal Democrats. Yesterday, appearing to accept this logic, Downing Street was briefing that its approach would simply be to refuse to address the question of coalition at all.” – The Times (£)

  • Liberal Democrats entirely to blame if the PM wants to divorce – Stephen Pollard, Daily Express

Today: Columnist Stephan Shakespeare – Are coalitions here to stay?

Yesterday: Columnist Stephen Tall –What Clegg was really up last week

Prime Minister to discuss new British EU Commissioner with Merkel. (And Ladbrokes suspends betting after rush of money on Lansley.)

Lansley Website image“A number of British candidates have been mooted including Andrew Mitchell, former Tory chief whip, Michael Fallon, energy minister, or even a business leader such as John Cridland, head of the CBI, the employers’ organisation. But Ladbrokes recently suspended betting after a run of bets on Andrew Lansley, the former health secretary, who saw his odds fall from 16-1 to 5-1 in a matter of hours.” – Financial Times

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Cameron should not put too much faith in Mrs Merkel

Renewal poll finds that a pact Conservative-UKIP pact would lose Tory votes

“A poll for Conservative campaign group Renewal shows 41 per cent of ethnic minorities say they would never vote for the “toxic” anti-EU party. The survey also shows that 48 per cent of UKIP voters would never vote Tory, making a formal link-up between the parties pointless. David Skelton, Renewal’s founder, said the Conservatives should instead do more to win back working class voters in the North of England. Some Tory MPs say a pre-election pact would help to win back UKIP voters.” – The Sun (£)

David Skelton: Beware of a deal with Farage

david-skelton“Advocates of a pact forget that voters can’t simply be moved around like pawns on a chess board and that many Ukip supporters are using the party as a mid-term vehicle of protest. New polling by Ipsos Mori makes that point abundantly clear. Whereas a worrying 40% of voters say that they would never vote Conservative, that figure rises to 48% for Ukip voters…And the Ipsos Mori poll has some positive news concerning the party’s appeal to BME voters, who say they are more likely than voters in general to consider voting Tory; 35% of non-white voters say they’d never vote Tory, compared with 40% of all voters.” – The Guardian

Garnier, Ruffley, Halfon want tax cuts for lower paid workers

“George Osborne can do nothing about rates,” said Mark Garnier, a Tory member of the Commons treasury committee. “But I fear he will be unwittingly blamed for a rise.” With Labour hoping to fight the next election on “living standards” issues, Mr Osborne is being urged by Tory MPs to announce tax cuts for low and middle income households to counter any rise in mortgage rates. David Ruffley, another member of the Commons treasury committee, said: “Some people think this is a political iceberg heading in our direction.” – Financial Times

  • Osborne preparing to include winter fuel allowance, plus free bus passes and TV licences for pensioners in the welfare cap – The Sun (£)
  • Tories accused of faking working-class credentials – The Times (£)
  • Chancellor urged to cut bingo duty – The Sun (£)
  • The Workers’ Party – Times Editorial (£)

Hague meets Kerry as Kiev tells EU: give us €5bn by Friday – or we go bust

Screen shot 2014-02-26 at 08.19.09“The leaders of Ukraine’s revolution have told Western governments that they have three days to find €5 billion to avert economic collapse…In Washington, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, and John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, urged Russia to work with them for a peaceful outcome in Ukraine. Mr Hague made clear that to qualify for international assistance, Ukraine needed to meet conditions for an IMF lending programme and show a determination to tackle a “pervasive culture of corruption over many years”. – The Times (£)

  • RUSI warns that Russian military move on Ukraine would echo Hitler annexing the Sudetenland – Daily Express
  • Map charts the 100 statues of Lenin that have been toppled in Ukraine – Daily Mail
  • Russia is right to be upset over Ukraine – Georgy Minsky, Financial Times

Hunt decision due on whether or not to wind up Mid-Staffs

“A decision is due on Wednesday on whether the Mid Staffordshire NHS foundation trust should be dissolved. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, has the final say on plans to dissolve the trust and move key services to neighbouring hospitals. In January the health watchdog Monitor approved plans drawn up by administrators to downgrade some services at Stafford hospital despite opposition from local campaigners.” – The Guardian

  • ATOS awarded contract for NHS records – Daily Telegraph
  • Doctors urge action on early deaths – The Independent
  • “Jeremy Hunt is improving fast…Mr Hunt has been working hard on his image. The quiff is cropped short. The grin is under control. The hands are clamped firmly to the dispatch box. And the voice, once as chirpy as a Teletubby’s, is now pillow-soft with pathos.” – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: Hunt challenges Labour over their failure to back an opt out from NHS data

Floods 1): Willetts says climate change sceptics are “foolish”

Willetts David DP“Science Minister David Willetts has deepened a Tory civil war on climate change by branding sceptics “foolish”. He said there was “a clear and settled view” among scientists that mankind was to blame. And he claimed that had put the weather “on steroids”, meaning extreme weather like the recent floods was more likely. Mr Willetts’ remarks, in an interview with Total Politics magazine, will spark fury among many of his Conservative colleagues.” – The Sun (£)

Floods 2): McLoughlin urged to ‘knock some heads together’ over damage

“MPs heard from council leaders how Network Rail and the Environment Agency were too often at loggerheads and acting in ways which undermined the other’s efforts. But Mr McLoughlin promised that there was £31million of cash on the table to ensure services were robust in the future. And he was ‘sympathetic’ to wider improvements that would see services from Plymouth to London running at under three hours.” – Daily Mail

Schwarzenegger and Dyson aid Green Tory fightback

Screen shot 2014-02-26 at 08.23.17“The head of the coalition, Ben Goldsmith, warns that the neglect is so serious that the Tory party could lose the next UK election if it doesn’t come up with a grand plan to tackle “the great environmental crisis” – and says the “tools of competition and the free market” must play a leading role. The coalition is led by the London-based Conservative Environment Network think tank and includes Education Secretary Michael Gove, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary.” – The Independent

Schools 1) Gove will write to schools over female genital mutilation

“The education secretary’s pledge was given as he met 17-year-old student Fahma Mohamed, the face of the campaign, and praised her for her “inspirational” work. He agreed to write to primary and secondary headteachers drawing their attention to guidelines around the issue and reminding them of their duty to protect schoolgirls…Gove also agreed to consider how FGM education could be delivered in an age-appropriate way in classrooms, and promised to visit Mohamed and members of the youth charity Integrate Bristol at the City Academy Bristol, one of two schools in the country to run an FGM awareness project.” – The Guardian

  • Ulster’s truancy rate double England’s – Irish News

Schools 2) Truss: learn maths the Chinese way

s216_Elizabeth-Truss“Teachers in England should copy the way maths is taught in China’s top- performing province, Liz Truss, an Education Minister, said on a visit to schools in Shanghai yesterday. Its schools set children more work in pure arithmetic from a young age and use specialist teachers in primary as well as secondary schools, she said. Last week, Nick Gibb, a Tory MP and former schools minister, criticised resistance in England to traditional teaching methods such as mental arithmetic, rote learning and repeat practice, which are used in the Far East.” – The Times (£)

Make jobless pick fruit or lose benefits, says Eustice

“George Eustice insisted there would be no replacement for the Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme that provided 22,000 foreigners a year with temporary permits to enter Britain to harvest crops. It was scrapped in September. Instead, local unemployed people should be recruited to do the work, he said. But the proposal has sparked fury among farmers –  who say British jobseekers have a ‘work ethic problem’ which means people simply refuse to do hard manual labour.” – Daily Mail

  • Tory MPs fight to save the National Parks from suburbanisation – Geoffrey Lean, Daily Telegraph
  • TV regulator to investigate Benefits Street after nearly 1,800 complaints – Daily Mail
  • NFU President says animal welfare given higher priority than human life – Daily Telegraph
  • Goldsworthy ready for election re-match with Eustice – Western Morning News

Quentin Letts: Ben Gummer proposes to call a tax…a tax

Ben_Gummer_smoke_2“Mr Gummer approved of this ‘first substantial plantation of the Welfare State’. His speech yesterday was aided greatly by not being a rant but by being put in a tone of moderation and decency. The trouble with NI, he explained, is that the scheme has been bent so badly out of shape by the politicians who have followed Lloyd George…‘The link between contributions and benefit was eroded,’ said Mr Gummer. ‘What remains of National Insurance is not really a contributions-based scheme but a system of entitlement.’ ” – Daily Mail

The Times v Peter Bone: latest…

“It can also be revealed that Mr Bone, 61, the MP for Wellingborough, was heavily in debt and owed almost £200,000 on a series of credit cards. Had he been declared personally bankrupt, the chartered accountant would have been forced to resign as an MP…In a letter to The Times, Mr and Mrs Bone’s solicitors, Wilson Browne, stated that Mr Bone was at no stage in danger of going bankrupt because he “was at all material times solvent upon the equity in the property”.” – The Times (£)

…The Mail v Harriet Harman: latest

harman“Harman wrote a submission to Parliament about the Protection of Children Bill, which sought to ban child pornography.  Harman began by saying that the NCCL ‘deplored the exploitation of children’. But she argued that the Bill should be watered down, to reduce the sentence for anyone merely in possession of offensive photographs of children.   She also wanted a prosecution to be made more difficult, urging that a picture of a naked child should not be considered indecent unless it could be proven that the subject had suffered.” – Daily Mail

  • Harman tweets Mail website picture of girl aged 12 in bikini – The Guardian
  • New evidence casts doubt on Harman’s defence – Daily Telegraph
  • Tom Watson, calls for probe into state cash for Paedophile Information Exchange, claims that Conservatives are also implicated – Daily Mail
  • Tolerating paedophile lobbyists was a mistake, and Harman should say so – Times Editorial (£)
  • She is insensitive and arrogant – Daily Telegraph Editorial
  • Fool Harriet – Sun Editorial

> Yesterday: LeftWatch – Harman should have given a proper apology

Miliband “to bring Labour EU policy into line with LibDems”

MILIBAND Red Ed“He is expected to say that a Labour government would seek to reform Britain’s relationship with Brussels, including ending abuses of the directive that allows free movement within the EU. He will accept the need for a Europe-wide treaty change at some point to help fix the eurozone’s structural problems — and will say this should be the moment Britain holds a referendum. However, he is due to say that an automatic plebiscite by 2017, as offered by David Cameron, would damage British business as relations with the country’s most important trading partners were thrown into doubt.” – The Times (£)

  • McCluskey says that Unite is tightening its grip on Labour – Daily Mail
  • Grangemouth: Row over alleged e-mail leaks – Scotsman
  • Mandelson backs old enemy Balls at fundraiser – The Guardian

 News in Brief

  • Grieve urged to intervene over barrister shortage – Financial Times
  • Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg arrested over Syria-related terror offences – Daily Express
  • Hyde Park bombing trial collapses over IRA man’s immunity letter – The Times (£)
  • Backlash over automatic transfer of UK workers’ pension pots – Financial Times
  • Suspect gold floods global markets – The Guardian
  • First Minister’s failure to use Welsh puts his credibility ‘in tatters’ claim – Wales Online
  • Polar bear limbers up – The Sun


And finally…Spitting Image exhibition puts Thatcher centre stage

“She used the men’s toilets, smoked a cigar and ate her steak raw – the vegetables could look after themselves. Thirty years on, the voice of Margaret Thatcher believes the jury is still out on whether Spitting Image helped or harmed her reputation. “One of the big questions which is still unanswered is whether we did her a favour or not in the sense of portraying her as strong and dominant,” said Steve Nallon.” – The Guardian

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