Budget 1) Osborne: It’s decision time

osborne-budget‘We’ve come a long way in five years but it’s not enough just to get back to where we were as a country before Labour’s Great Recession. For the first time ever, every part of the UK must reach its undoubted potential. I want to see growth, more jobs and better wages in all parts of the country and we have a plan to deliver this. The choice facing Britain couldn’t be clearer. We can stick with the competence of a strong Conservative team working to a long-term economic plan to secure a better future for you, your family and Britain.’ – George Osborne, The Sun on Sunday (£)

>Today: Dr Liam Fox MP on Comment: Osborne should make this a Budget for winning


Budget 2) Plans to extend pension freedoms to current pensioners

‘Five million retired people are to be given the right to cash in annuities worth more than £10 billion in a Budget pension windfall. Chancellor George Osborne is to grant them the same right to cash in annuities as those who have not already taken their pensions. Under reforms to be introduced next month, workers will be able to cash in part or all of their savings.’ – Mail on Sunday

>Yesterday: WATCH: BBC editors on what to expect from the Budget

Budget 3) The crucial week for the Tory election campaign

Union Jack Tree Logo‘What would a successful budget look like? Our latest poll shows that voters’ top priority is help for low-paid families through increases in income tax and national insurance thresholds. YouGov finds consistently that the Tories still suffer from their reputation as a party out of touch with ordinary voters. Measures this week to dispel that reputation would do far more good than anything else — as long as voters believe that any tax cut is a reward for a growing economy and not a cynical election bribe.’ – Peter Kellner, Sunday Times (£)

Budget 4) A new push on inheritance tax

‘Millions will be able to pass their homes to their kids tax free under plans being drawn up by the Chancellor. George Osborne wants to reform inheritance tax on family houses. Moves to raise the threshold to £1million or abolish tax have been blocked by Lib Dems. But Mr Osborne is working on an alternative.’ – The Sun on Sunday (£)

Budget 5) The Lib Dems belatedly try to ‘scale back’ Osborne’s plans

CLEGG Bird‘A Liberal Democrat involved in the process reveals: ‘The Tories came to us with things they knew we couldn’t say no to, to get the OK for things they wanted.’ Indeed, the Budget will contain clear Liberal Democrat ‘wins’ such as more money for mental health.However, the Liberal Democrats have become increasingly concerned in recent days about just how much Osborne would be announcing from the despatch box on Wednesday. One tells me: ‘It all got a bit out of hand, it is being scaled back.’ – James Forsyth, Mail on Sunday

  • Cable attacks Tory support for immigration restrictions – Mail on Sunday

Farage 1) I’d support a minority Tory government in return for an early referendum

‘Nigel Farage has revealed his radical plans for Ukip to support a minority Conservative government after the next election. The UK Independence Party leader says that he is willing to make a deal with the Tories on the condition that they hold an EU referendum before Christmas. The detailed plans for a hung parliament set out that Ukip and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party would work together to support the Conservatives on a vote by vote basis.’ – Sunday Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: How to lose an EU referendum, by Nigel Farage

Farage 2) Heseltine compares the UKIP leader to Enoch Powell

Enoch Powell‘Powell was a more intelligent politician than Farage, but had the same irresponsible instinct – to mix up race relations with immigration. Of course the Government is right to exercise control of the level of immigration, but it is one of this country’s proudest claims that there should be no prejudice on grounds of colour, class or creed…Farage’s words followed a now-familiar pattern. He came up with a ridiculous, headline-generating statement, then claimed not to have said what the recording of the interview clearly revealed…His more extreme supporters can add a nod and a wink on the doorstep.’ – Lord Heseltine, Mail on Sunday

Nightmare Coalitions 1) Labour MPs plot to wreck any deal with the SNP

‘Labour MPs are hatching secret plans to wreck any deal with the Scottish Nationalists by holding an emergency summit after the Election. A meeting of the entire Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) would be convened in order to veto any attempt by Mr Miliband to win Downing Street by brokering a deal with Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP.’ – Mail on Sunday

Nightmare Coalitions 2) Cameron warned not to rush into a new pact with the Lib Dems

Coalition Colours‘David Cameron has been warned he will face a leadership challenge if he seeks to force another coalition deal on Tory MPs after the election. Senior Conservatives have privately advised Downing Street that backbench MPs will trigger a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister’s leadership within days of the election if he seeks to repeat his deal with Nick Clegg without their consent.’ – Sunday Telegraph

Lord Ashcroft: Our Boys deserve an Afghanistan and Iraq memorial

‘The raw courage that our servicemen have displayed in Iraq and Afghanistan must never be forgotten. To play a key role in not just one, but two, recent overseas campaigns has put a tremendous strain on our Armed Forces – and has involved huge personal sacrifices…I strongly believe that today’s heroes – men and women who took the fight to Saddam Hussein and the Taliban – will become tomorrow’s legends, individuals whose courage will be revered for ever.’ – Lord Ashcroft, The Sun on Sunday

No sign of Barbara Castle’s alleged dossier on sexual abuse

Police shield‘A search of an Oxford archive for an explosive sex abuse dossier allegedly compiled by the Labour grande dame Barbara Castle has failed to find any evidence of the documents. It is the second time that a dossier supposedly outlining the activities of a Westminster paedophile ring and naming offenders has appeared to be more myth than reality.’ – Sunday Times (£)

  • Theresa May must deliver justice to victims – Sunday Express Leader
  • Rob Wilson alleges he was threatened for blowing the whistle on police errors – Mail on Sunday
  • 300 toddlers stopped and searched – Sunday Times (£)
  • MPs’ concerns about ‘out of hand’ police raids – Sunday Times (£)

Where is Putin? Rumours fly

‘Vladimir Putin is ‘alive’ but ‘neutralised’ as shadowy security chiefs stage a stealthy coup in Moscow, it was claimed last night. Former FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev was behind the plot, claimed chairman of the pro-Kremlin national Islamic Committee, Geydar Dzhemal. There have been no confirmed sightings of Putin for nine days.’ – Mail on Sunday

News in Brief