Clashes at Cabinet and a Whitehall turf war over immigration…

Britain shield“For the government, the question of inflows and outflows of people has also been the rock in the road of good coalition relations. Immigration has caused more tension within Cabinet than almost any other policy since 2010 — among Conservative ministers as much as, if not more than, between Tories and Liberal Democrats. This is one of the few areas on which George Osborne — a liberal free marketeer who believes immigration is good for the economy — has very different views to Mr Cameron, who is in favour of tougher controls. “George does not want the Treasury briefing against the Home Office but his instincts are very different to David’s,” a friend says.” – The Times (£)

  • Migration vow was a major error, claim colleagues – The Times (£)
  • Senior Conservatives urge Cameron to abandon migration pledge – Daily Mail
  • Migration a fault line within the Conservatives, not the Coalition – The Times (£)
  • Embrace ID cards or immigrants, claims Calais deputy mayor – The Times (£)


  • No more room on the bus, Mr Cameron – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun (£)


  • Politicians should stop running scared of the debate – The Times (£)

…as Coalition parties spar over hate preachers

“A senior Conservative has accused Vince Cable of trying to water down proposals to ban extremist speakers from university campuses, as the coalition partners hit deadlock over planned guidance for universities. Grant Shapps, Tory party chairman, said his party wanted “proper, decent, tough rules that don’t ban free speech, but do ban preaching death” as the Lib Dems warned against a blanket ban.” – Financial Times

Cameron pledges to double the number of starter homes to 200,000

HOMES Manifesto“David Cameron will promise to double the number of cut-price starter homes today — as part of a Tory pledge to help people own their own house. The PM will also vow to free up council land to help Brits who want to build their own. The plan to double the number of starter homes built by 2020 will help first-time buyers under 40 by giving them a 20 per cent discount — passed on by developers.” – The Sun (£)

>Today: Cllr Joe Cooney in Local Government: Building homes on brownfield sites needs a boost

Hunt vows to tackle exodus of GPs

“The number of family doctors applying to work in Australia, Canada and other countries where they can earn more for fewer hours has jumped by 40 per cent in just five years. And around 22,400 GPs – more than half of England’s 40,200 family doctors – want to retire before the usual age of 60, separate figures show. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt described the situation as worrying and promised to make ‘important changes’ to the NHS to ease the pressure on GPs.” – Daily Mail

Matt Ridley: It’s a scandal that the NHS is too big to fail

NHS_Logo“Imagine if a large supermarket firm had maltreated, and sometimes killed, its customers in one of its stores the same way as the NHS had done in Mid Staffs and Morecambe Bay. That company would have lost its chief executive immediately, been deserted by its customers, found itself hammered on the stock market and then been taken over by its rivals — and rightly so. The best a grocery firm can hope for is to be taken for granted; it is never going to be celebrated at an Olympic opening ceremony.” – The Times (£)

Fox attacks defence cuts…

“His views were echoed by former Defence Secretary Liam Fox who suggested foreign aid be redirected in order to increase funds. ’To say that we were willing to guarantee a proportion of GDP for international aid but not willing to implement our commitments in terms of defence, I think a lot of Conservatives would find that very difficult to swallow especially at a time when you can see the international security environment is deteriorating,’ he told the BBC’S Andrew Neil.” – Daily Mail

…as Democratic Unionists make spending commitment a hung parliament red line

DUP logo“The largest party in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionists (DUP), will seek protection of the UK’s defence budget as a condition of its support in any post-election deal. Maintaining defence spending of at least 2 per cent of national economic output tops the party’s demands for propping up either the Conservatives or Labour in the event of a hung parliament, a senior DUP figure told the Financial Times.” – Financial Times

TheGoodRight: Voters prefer the right’s approach to social justice

“The good news is that voters appear to agree that work, family and education should be at the heart of public policies to combat poverty. YouGov asked two questions to a nationwide representative sample of British voters and the results suggest that an emphasis on the “social trinity” is – at the very least – competitive with an emphasis on welfarism as an electorally potent (as well as fundamentally effective) approach to beating poverty.” – TheGoodRight

  • Put modern marriage back at the heart of public policy – TheGoodRight
  • Church denounces welfare sanctions as ‘un-Christian’ – The Guardian


>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Archbishop Vincent Nichols presents his message on voting in May

Binley calls for trade to be removed from EU control

EU Exit“Brian Binley said Britain would be better off if trade were taken out of EU control, allowing us to make our own deals. The true cost of EU membership should be disclosed before any negotiations with Brussels ahead of an in/out referendum. In a pamphlet for the Civitas think tank, he said: “We need a genuine cost-benefit analysis and we need it quickly.” – Daily Express

Campbell mulls bid for Kensington

“Campbell, 40, has already had talks with the Tories about standing for London Mayor after a meeting with party chairman Grant Shapps. When asked about his ambitions for the Kensington seat, which Mr Rifkind is vacating, he said: “I’ll think about it.” The ex-Spurs and Arsenal defender has made no secret of his desire to become a Tory MP, but a source said he was not on the candidate list — and a spokesman said he was unlikely to be added soon.” – The Sun (£)

Brian Monteith: Davidson’s Conservatives defy the Scottish consensus

Scottish Conservatives“Fortunately the Scottish Conservatives have, over the past few years, begun to make more of the noises that, if listened to or copied by their competitors, could grow our entrepreneurial and aspirational classes. They have started to talk seriously about tax cuts, using the powers that Holyrood already has, the new ones it takes responsibility for this year, and those proposed to be devolved in the near future. As I have argued before, this is not just a (long-overdue) seminal change by the Scottish Conservatives, it is also a significant development in Scottish (and indeed British) political dynamics.” – The Scotsman

Brown unveils Labour plan for government takeover of North Sea oil

“Gordon Brown will today set out Labour plans for an “economic revolution” in Scotland that could see the UK government take ownership of oil and gas fields in the North Sea. In a major speech tonight, the former prime minister will call for the creation of a North Sea reserve fund to help maintain and upgrade infrastructure and provide last-resort debt finance for companies who want to keep supplies flowing.” – The Scotsman

‘Rising star’ claims Labour should learn from Galloway to win…

LABOUR dead rose“Labour must be tougher on benefits and copy George Galloway’s campaigning techniques if it is to win the election, one of the party’s rising stars has warned. Rowenna Davis, who is fighting to win the marginal seat of Southampton Itchen, said that the last Labour government had not done enough to wean people off welfare. She said it had been “criminal to leave people financially better off staying at home rather than putting in a hard day’s work”.” – The Times (£)

…as prospect of Labour-Nationalist pact spooks investors…

“Bankers say that clients are worried about various scenarios, all of which could hurt the pound. The first fear is that the UK could be without a government for days or even weeks after the vote, with parties struggling to win control of a fragmented parliament. The second worry is that Labour could take power with a coalition of leftwing parties such as the Scottish Nationalists and the Greens and slow the pace of spending cuts. Analysts believe that, while such a move could boost output in the short term, it is likely to hurt the pound over a longer period.” – Financial Times

…and Stuart calls for a ‘grand coalition’

gisela“Labour should consider entering a coalition with the Conservatives after the election, one of the party’s MPs has said, in a type of “grand coalition” not seen in the UK since 1945. Gisela Stuart — the independently-minded MP for the marginal seat of Birmingham Edgbaston and one of only a handful of eurosceptics from the Labour party — said she thought her party should not rule out doing a deal with the Tories, uniting the two major parties for the first time since the war.” – Financial Times

  • Tories struggle to reclaim former fortress in Edgbaston – Financial Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Party member expectation of a new Cameron-led government hits a record high

Khan reveals that Labour ‘cannot’ reverse legal aid reductions

“Labour will repeal restrictions on judicial review and make it easier for people to challenge government decisions they believe are unlawful, Sadiq Khan has pledged. In an interview with the Guardian, the shadow justice secretary said he would reverse the coalition’s bitterly-resisted courtroom reforms if his party won the election. Khan, who masterminded Ed Miliband’s leadership campaign, admitted Labour could not reinstate £600m of legal aid cuts imposed by the government but said making it easier for victims of domestic violence to obtain support from a lawyer would be a priority.” – The Guardian

Cooper demands Government step up efforts to combat radicalisation

Screen shot 2015-03-01 at 09.22.29“Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has told reporters that the government needs to be seen to be doing more to help combat extremism in Britain. In particular, Ms Cooper spoke of doing more work with communities in preventing radicalisation. “There has been a reduction in the community-led projects that could help prevent radicalisation and that is immensely important – especially at a time when we know there are all these concerns about Syria,” she said.” – Daily Telegraph

Boris Johnson: Young British Muslims should realise those like Jihadi John are not honouring Islam

“Yet none of these solutions will be any use unless we also change the way these people are sometimes viewed, and especially by young Muslims growing up in this country, whether in London schools or anywhere else. We need to debunk these jihadists and their phoney ideology. There is nothing pure or honourable in their barbaric subculture – of rape camps, throwing gays off cliffs and burning people alive in cages.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Winning more Muslim support against terror and extremism

Lib Dems 1) Party would veto Miliband’s fees pledge

BARRIE CHARACTER EDUCATION“Ed Miliband has been warned that his cast-iron promise to cut university fees would be vetoed by the Liberal Democrats as part of any power-sharing deal. In a move that risks further alienating student voters, Ed Davey, the climate change secretary and a potential Lib Dem leader, said that his party would simply refuse to implement the £3,000-a-year cut if in government. The Labour leader announced his intention to slash annual tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000 last week, after weeks of internal wrangling.” – The Times (£)

  • Davey brands Miliband university funding plans ‘stupid’ – The Guardian

Lib Dems 2) Clegg branded ‘spineless’ after his party kill experimental treatment bill

“The father of a terminally-ill boy has accused the Liberal Democrats of being “spineless” after they killed off a new law to allow doctors to test new drugs. The Medical Innovation Bill would have allowed doctors to test cutting edge new treatments on patients to help find cures for cancer and other serious illnesses. It was being promoted by Lord Saatchi, the advertising magnate after his wife Josephine Hart died from ovarian cancer.” – Daily Telegraph

Lib Dems 3) Alexander calls for extra £1bn levy on banks

MANIFESTO money“Danny Alexander is pressing George Osborne to introduce a £1bn annual levy on banks in this month’s Budget to help eliminate Britain’s £30bn structural deficit “fairly”. The Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury wants the Tory chancellor to agree to a supplementary corporation tax charge on banks until the fiscal deficit has been eliminated.” – Financial Times

Lib Dems 4) Webb describes pension reforms as a “gamble worth taking”

“The minister responsible for the biggest restructuring of Britain’s pension system in decades has admitted that the scheme is risky and could leave some people without funds in their old age. Steve Webb, the pensions minister, who came up with a plan to allow Britons aged 55 to 65 unfettered access to their pension pots when they retire, said his proposals were a calculated risk. However, he added that it was a gamble worth taking. “We wouldn’t be doing it if we thought it was a disaster, but you do take a risk when you trust people with their own money,” he said.” – The Times (£)

Farage attempts to keep policies secret…

UKIP glass“Ukip is to delay publishing its manifesto for as long as possible, party leader Nigel Farage revealed today. The party’s detailed pitch to voters had been expected to be set out at its spring conference in Margate this weekend. But Mr Farage today insisted he wants to release it as ‘late as practicably possible’ in the election campaign, which would give voters less time to challenge the party on its contents.” – Daily Mail

…as he hints at third Tory defector

“UKIP leader Nigel Farage has hinted that a third Tory MP could defect to his party before the general election. He said a “conversation” was ongoing that could result in a bombshell moment in the run-up to the vote on May 7. Westminster was stunned last autumn by the defection of Tory MPs Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless to Ukip, triggering by-elections which they won.” – Daily Express

Our party must reform to be serious, warns senior Green

green20party (1)“The Green Party will have to rethink its internal structures if it wants to be a serious political player, one of its most senior members has said. As the party licks its wounds following the shambolic launch of its general election campaign last week, in which its leader, Natalie Bennett, gave what was described as the “wost-ever interview” by a party leader, the leader of Brighton and Hove’s Green-led council has admitted his party will have to reform to cope with the pressures of the spotlight.” – The Independent

News in Brief:

  • Thatcher ordered field tests of ‘death ray’ project in the Falklands – Daily Mail
  • Baroness D’Souza, Lord Speaker calls for peers to be “one in, one out” – Daily Telegraph
  • Camden council call in Boris over ‘eyesore’ Euston extension – The Times (£)
  • BBC argues for licence fee extension – Financial Times
  • Union Jacks on taxpayer-funded projects may seem provocative to separatists – The Scotsman
  • Public make no moral distinction between tax avoidance and evasion – The Independent
  • Two-thirds of British laws since 1993 ‘inspired’ by Brussels – Daily Mail