BBC licence fee to be decriminalised

BBC‘The abolition of the BBC licence fee came a step closer yesterday when Downing Street backed plans to decriminalise non-payment. All three main parties will vote on Tuesday to end the threat of prison sentences for fee dodgers. More than 180,000 viewers – almost 3,500 a week – appeared in court in 2012 accused of watching TV without a licence.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: The BBC is dragged closer to the real world by decriminalising the licence fee

The Daily Mail calls for a Tory/UKIP pact

‘How can the Tories now build on Wednesday’s transformative Budget? Firstly, they must be much more united…And although it will stick in his craw, Mr Cameron – whose greatest failure was his inability to reform a boundary system that so loads the dice against the Tories – must strike a deal with Ukip to prevent them contesting the same seats and letting in a Europhile Labour Party.’ – Daily Mail Leader

Budget 1) Will Wednesday’s success translate into more votes?

OSBORNE SWORD‘The Tories have several mountains to climb before the May 2015 general election: polls this May for the European Parliament, where the UK Independence party expects to perform strongly; a Scottish referendum in September, where the independence campaign may be gaining ground; and a nagging perception that party leaders are out of touch with ordinary people. But there is good news for the Conservatives: a YouGov poll for The Sun showed the chancellor’s popularity improving four percentage points after Wednesday’s Budget.’ – FT

Budget 2) Fewer than one in four trust Miliband with the economy

‘A new survey found that fewer than one in four voters say they trust the Labour leader to run the economy. Mr Miliband’s support has dropped 10 points since January to 23 per cent while 21 per cent said the Budget had reduced their trust in his ability to manage the economy. Mr Miliband polls even worse than his party with 31 per cent of voters backing Labour to run UK Plc.’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: WATCH: Labour MP lost for words when asked about Miliband’s Budget speech

Associations want Boris as their MP

BORIS blue and red‘Yesterday it emerged that Tory constituencies were eyeing Mr Johnson as a potential candidate. One possible constituency is North-West Hampshire, the seat held by Sir George Young, the Chief Whip, who is standing down. Cathy Osselton, deputy chairwoman of the Tory constituency association, told the BBC that it would be doing the initial sift of applications in May, for a selection in June or July. She added “On a personal point, I would be very happy to have Boris as our MP. He would be a strong replacement for Sir George, who has been excellent.”’ – The Times (£)

  • ‘Friends’ say he will run in 2015 – The Sun (£)
  • Johnson could help Tories win next year – The Sun Says (£)
  • Old Etonians stand up for their school – The Times (£)
  • Water cannon is unBritish, say campaigners – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Cameron adds to the chorus urging Boris to stand for the Commons in 2015

Nationalisations, soaring NHS waiting lists, failing schools…welcome to Labour Wales

‘Ed Miliband has heralded it as his blueprint for a Labour Britain, likening the Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones, to a mentor. ‘We are showing here in Wales the difference a Labour government can make,’ Mr Miliband told last year’s Welsh party conference. ‘We can emulate the great things Carwyn is doing. There’s lots of things to learn.’  So I have come to see the sort of Labour government Britain might expect if the voters jump ship next May. It’s not encouraging.’ – Robert Hardman, Daily Mail

  • They hate reform more than they want to help the people – The Times Leader (£)
  • Shortfall in student debt repayment – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Local Government: Fewer people are going hungry than under Labour

Sanctions hit Russian share prices

Russian flag‘President Vladimir Putin’s “inner circle” was feeling the pain of US sanctions on Friday as foreign banks and investors scrambled to reassess their dealings in Russia and investments held by some of the country’s wealthiest oligarchs tumbled in value. Torbjorn Tornqvist, chief executive of Gunvor, the world’s fourth-largest oil trading house in which the US Treasury claimed Mr Putin had personal investments, said the group had been trading less in the last day as its banks reassessed whether they could continue to lend to it.’ – FT

  • A cunning approach from the US – FT Leader
  • Putin mocks sanctions – Daily Mail
  • The West struggles to present a united front – The Times (£)
  • OSCE team to visit Ukraine, but not Crimea – BBC News

>Yesterday: WATCH: Cameron claims “real progress” over Crimea

Retiring Sir Peter Tapsell still deplores Thatcherism

‘I put it to Sir Peter that monetarism had worked and that Mrs Thatcher’s tough medicine had saved the economy. He refuses to accept this. ”It destroyed British industry. The whole of the West Midlands was wiped out and has never recovered.’’’ – Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph


Scottish independence threatens us with a big debt bill

SALMOND on Marr ‘Alex Salmond has said an independent Scotland would walk away from the UK’s massive national debt if it is blocked from sharing the pound. The UK owes around £1.2TRILLION – equivalent to £18,993 per head if shared equally among UK nations, the Campaign for an English Parliament said. But if Scotland votes “yes” in September’s referendum, the individual debt burden would rise to £20,730.’ – The Sun (£)

  • Eric Joyce may quit parliament – The Sun (£)

Big six energy firms face competition investigation

‘Regulators have spent the last three months considering power firms’ profits, market shares and relationships with customers. They are expected to opt for the toughest possible measure and refer the entire industry to the Competition Commission. A full-blown investigation into the Big Six power firms – British Gas, EDF, E.ON, SSE, Npower and ScottishPower – would then follow and could last more than a year.’ – Daily Mail

Doctor to face first FGM charges

Police‘A doctor and another man are to be charged in Britain’s first prosecutions for alleged female genital mutilation. The practice was made illegal in 1985 and the prosecutions announced yesterday come after a campaign by women’s groups and the media, and intensive efforts by prosecutors and police, to end what has been called the UK’s shameful record on tackling the crime. Dhanuson Dharmasena, who is accused of carrying out the procedure on an adult woman, and Hasan Mohamed, alleged to have aided and abetted the crime, are being charged under the Female Genital Mutilation Act.’ – The Times (£)

The council that failed Daniel Pelka is still ‘inadequate’

‘The council heavily criticised over the death of murdered toddler Daniel Pelka is still ‘inadequate’ and failing to protect children, a damning new Ofsted inspection has revealed. The four-year-old was tortured and starved by his mother, Magdelena Luczak, 27 and stepfather Mariusz Krezolek, 34, in March 2012. Coventry City Council has come under heavy scrutiny ever since the murder, which shocked the nation after it emerged social workers, police and teachers had all failed to save him.’ – Daily Mail

  • Ofsted’s luxury credit card bills revealed – Daily Mail

Warning over ‘three-parent babies’ law

Baby shield‘David Cameron risks alienating his own voters should the Government approve plans to legalise embryos produced with DNA from three parents, he has been warned. Ministers are poised to give all MPs a free vote on the proposals, meaning that they will be allowed to vote according to their conscience.’ – The Times (£)

News in brief

  • Ten soldiers killed on the Western Front identified by DNA – The Times (£)
  • The UN ignored advice on plane communications – FT
  • Gazumping is back – Daily Mail
  • 150 prisoners released by mistake since 2010 – The Sun (£)
  • The Pope attacks the mafia – BBC News
  • Labour break centuries of tradition by putting party councillor into the City – FT
  • Turkish Twitter tantrum – The Times Leader (£)