Poor middle classes: Osborne to reject calls for tax cuts in Budget

OSBORNE blue tie“George Osborne will reject growing demands by Conservative MPs for significant tax cuts for the middle classes in his Budget next Wednesday. The Chancellor will argue that it would be fairer to target any tax reductions on people on lower incomes. He is expected to announce that the personal tax allowance, which will already rise to £10,000 a year month, will increase to at least £10,500 in April next year.” – The Independent

  • Tories offer squeezed middle a tax reprieve – The Times (£)
  • ‘Give £1billion tax cut to middle-earners’, say former Tory Chancellors – Daily Express
  • 40p rate ‘robs Peter to pay Paul’: Lord Forsyth condemns middle-class squeeze – Daily Mail
  • Five taxes the Budget won’t touch – Patrick Collinson, The Guardian
  • 40p rate is a ‘tax on aspiration’, business leaders warn – Daily Telegraph
  • Allister Heath: What do you stand for, George Osborne – and what’s your vision for Britain? – Daily Telegraph
  • Govt spending nearly £1million per person over their lifetimes – The Sun (£)

> Yesterday:

‘There is no going back if you vote for independence’: As the Conservative Scottish Conference opens, Cameron issues warning that a Yes vote means total separation

Screen shot 2014-03-15 at 09.23.06“There will be ‘no going back’ if Scotland votes for independence, David Cameron warned today. The Prime Minister said the country faces a ‘monumental battle to keep our United Kingdom together’ ahead of September’s referendum.” – Daily Mail

  • David Cameron: Scotland to be allowed to set own taxes – Daily Telegraph
  • Scotland won’t vote to break away, says Defence Secretary Philip Hammond – The Independent
  • Theresa May would seek passport checks between Scotland and England – The Guardian
  • Five unanswered questions at the heart of Alex Salmond’s intelligence plans – Daily Telegraph

> Today: Henry Hill on Comment – Vote ‘No’ for our country, not a contract

> Yesterday: Ruth Davidson MSP on Comment: Scotland’s referendum debate is revitalising Scotland’s Conservatives

Tory Interview 1) Gove brands Eton dominance of politics “ridiculous”

GOVE, Michael blue sky““It’s ridiculous,” splutters Gove, Britain’s education secretary, as he reflects on the immaculately connected and expensively educated inner circle of David Cameron, his friend and the country’s Conservative prime minister. Four of this exclusive group went to just one private school: Eton College, Cameron’s alma mater. “It doesn’t make me feel personally uncomfortable, because I like each of the individuals concerned,” he says. “But it’s ridiculous. I don’t know where you can find a similar situation in any other developed economy.” – Financial Times

  • Poor pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds children ‘benefit most in a grammar school system’ – Daily Mail
  • Who will be the next Tory leader? This sideshow threatens to upstage the main event – Andrew Grice, The Independent

> Today: ToryDiary – Time for Gove

Tory Interview 2) Boris: Will he won’t he will he won’t he…

“So, is he going to stand at the next general election? “I am supporting David Cameron, as mayor.” Is he ruling out becoming an MP in 2015? “I am saying I have to get on with this job and do it to the best of my ability and I have got two years ago go.” Ken Livingstone did both jobs. “So did I, briefly, at the beginning. But I’ve got a lot to do.” A London seat, we say, could be part of his remit. “You are very sweet to put it like that. I will think hard about what you say. I promise to think about it.” He laughs nervously.” – The Times (£)

NHS strike threat as Government refuses cost-of-living wages for all workers

NHS“Unions threatened strikes yesterday after ministers said giving all NHS workers a cost-of-living wage rise would lead to job losses. One union accused the Coalition of trying to provoke a fight by refusing to implement a pay review body’s recommendation of a one per cent increase. A Unison official warned: “If that’s what they want, that’s what they’ll get.” – Daily Express

Greedy councils’ parking spy cameras to be banned

“The move, to be announced by Eric Pickles next month, comes after figures show that councils have collected an extra £80 million a year from parking tickets in the past seven years, with some more than trebling their income last year . Government data shows that despite attempts by the Communities Secretary to stop councils being over-zealous with penalty notices, the number of tickets has mushroomed and the fines have escalated.” – The Times (£)

  • How Labour-controlled Carlisle council kept bill for playgrounds down… it spent £10k closing them – Daily Mail

Tory bosses accused of giving up on winning outright in 2015

Rosette shield“The party unveiled a “40-40” strategy last year, under which their fight will be concentrated on 80 seats…But the most recent figures revealed David Cameron’s party have instead channelled most of their donations to marginal-Tory held seats. Out of 373 individual donations to local associations in 2013, 281 – 75% – went to seats which Tories now hold. Just 56 – 15% – went to Labour-held seats, and 36 – 10% – to Lib Dem seats.” – The Sun (£)

  • Millionaire Tory peer killed in Norfolk helicopter crash was suing its Italian manufacturer over ‘a number of safety defects’ – Daily Mail
  • Government accused of deliberate attempt to cover up fraudulent, incompetent and embarrassing outsourcing contracts – The Independent

Labour 1) We’re too complacent about Ukip threat, warns senior Labour MP John Healey

John Healey, the former Housing Minister and shadow Health Secretary, told The Independent that Labour could face a “crisis of confidence” if Nigel Farage’s party makes big gains in the local authority elections in May. He said his party was not taking Ukip “seriously enough.” – The Independent

  • Nigel Farage: ‘The Press have massively overreacted – again’ – Daily Express

Labour 2) Cut Help to Buy, start helping to build, says Ed Balls

BALLS Ed Spend can“Balls called on the chancellor to consider restricting the government’s Help to Buy scheme to first-time buyers and cut the maximum size of a mortgage that qualifies for taxpayer-funded support from £600,000 to well below £400,000. Regional caps should be introduced to reflect the vastly higher prices in London and the south-east… The shadow chancellor also proposed an emergency “help to build” scheme, underpinned by new government guarantees, to support the building of a further 10,000 houses this year.” – The Guardian

  • Help To Build: Cashflow boost for brickies in Budget – The Sun (£)

Tony Benn 1) Latter-day saint…

“Much will be written about the remarkable political contribution of Tony Benn in the weeks ahead. I have been reflecting on what he had in common with another teacher and thinker. Karl Marx. Both understood and appreciated the significance of history. Both were able to inspire followers by analytical thought. Both, however, reflected the mistake of believing that interpretation of values should not be affected by either change in circumstance or human nature.” – David Blunkett, The Independent

  • Dominic Sandbrook: A political giant, yes. But if he’d got his way, we’d have been like North Korea – Daily Mail
  • Tony Benn knew the rules but would not play the game – The Guardian
  • Gifted, principled, and so very wrong – Daily Mail Editorial
  • Tony Benn was a political giant and an extraordinary man. But his actions damaged the very causes he championed – Independent Editorial
  • ‘I hope I didn’t cause offence’: Tony Benn’s message from beyond the grave – Daily Telegraph

Tony Benn 2) …or political sinner?

Screen shot 2014-03-15 at 09.28.42“Demythologising the leaders of the Left in Britain since 1945 would be a useful first step towards thinking straight about modern political history… Just because death or old age has drawn their teeth, why hold back from putting the boot in to these people’s malignant legacy?” – Matthew Parris, The Times

  • Tony Benn said ‘I’m a national treasure now I’m harmless’ …it wasn’t always so – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun (£)

> Yesterday:

News in Brief

  • PCSO wins £4k payout for hurting her knee during burglary investigation… but lawyers get £57,000 in legal fees – Daily Mail
  • Warship fires dummy torpedo into nuclear submarine dockyard wharf – The Guardian
  • First World War hero buried with full honours 99 years on – Daily Express
  • London’s glittering spires: Nearly 250 high-rise developments planned for the capital – The Independent
  • Pentagon signs up Welsh pub band for military tour – The Times (£)