Salmond will back Labour unconditionally

SALMOND smiling‘Ed Miliband could be given unconditional support by the Scottish Nationalists to lead the next government, Alex Salmond has said. In his latest intervention, the former Scottish first minister said that his party would do whatever it took to lock David Cameron out of Downing Street. He claims that the SNP will wield huge power after the election, enabling it to keep out the Conservatives even if it has no electoral deal with Labour.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Cameron and Miliband: paralysed by Salmond, like rabbits at the approach of a weasel

Cameron ambushes Miliband on VAT

‘David Cameron ruled out any rise in VAT if he is re-elected, delivering a hammer blow to Ed Miliband’s central election assault. The Labour leader was left reeling by the surprise announcement at the last PMQs before the general election. And party officials were forced to junk a raft of attack posters and press releases. Challenged by Mr Miliband’s taunt on whether he would keep VAT at 20%, the PM immediately hit back: “You are right, straight answers are deserved by straight questions. “The answer is yes.”’ – The Sun (£)



Last minute ‘payback’ motion introduced to make it easier to sack Bercow

HAGUE William looking right‘William Hague is to use his last day as an MP to make it easier to oust John Bercow as Commons Speaker, it emerged tonight. Commons rules will be changed to ensure a secret ballot when new MPs return after the election to vote on Mr Bercow’s survival. One senior Tory said it should come as ‘no surprise’ that people wanted to target the Speaker, who has repeatedly clashed with David Cameton and other senior ministers. Another said: ‘It’s payback time.” – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: A mis-formed villain who seized power through treachery is today to be solemnly buried

Voters agree with Tory policies…but aren’t turning blue

‘Tory efforts to rein in spending and curb welfare payments have won a resounding vote of public approval, according to nation- wide research. There has been no public backlash against five years of austerity and even Labour voters support reforms to the benefits system, the British Social Attitudes Survey found. The report also said that voters have broadly accepted student tuition fees, while the majority of the population is satisfied with the NHS. This support for what are effectively Coalition policies is not reflected in the polls, however, even though the General Election is in six weeks’ time.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: Lord Ashcroft on Comment: Why I started polling – and how it can be a force for good

Lynton Crosby – the man with a plan

lynton-crosby‘The mythology around “Lynton” is bigger than the man — a backroom fixer hired to save the Tory party from itself. The Westminster bubble fixates on him to such a degree that they dispense with his surname, without most of them ever having heard him speak. Even his clothes attract curiosity. He has adopted the dress code of the English stockbroker belt, wearing Barbour jackets and sometimes brightly coloured trousers. George Osborne and Mr Cameron were so desperate in the middle of 2012 — after the omnishambles budget and growing internal revolts — that they handed control of their political machine to Mr Crosby…Who exactly were they getting for their money?‘ – The Times (£)

Warsi’s decision to speak at a Labour candidate’s event attracts criticism

‘Conservative peer Baroness Warsi has sparked Tory fears she may defect – after agreeing to headline a wannabe Labour MP’s meeting on Islamophobia. The former Minister for Faith and Communities – who blasted the Government over its support for Israeli airstrikes on Gaza – is due to speak at event hosted by Labour’s Jo Cox in Yorkshire this weekend…She insisted she had no plans to switch parties. “Do you think I’m going to wake up one day, have an ideological bypass and wake up a Socialist?”’ – The Sun (£)


Stewart warns defence cuts risk isolating us in a dangerous world

DEFENCE cuts‘Britain is “lurching to isolation” because of ongoing defence cuts, a senior Tory MP warns today. Commons Defence Committee chairman Rory Stewart will issue the fresh alert to all party leaders in a speech over fears of a fresh axe to the military’s budget in the summer. The UK is withdrawing from the world stage while facing more simultaneous threats now than for decades, Mr Stewart will say. And he will list the seven failed state terror threats of Northern Nigeria, the Sahel, North Africa, the horn of Africa, Yemen, Iraq and Syria – on top of resurgent Russia.’ – The Sun (£)

Montgomerie: Labour is heading left, whatever happens

‘They feel that just as much as Blair’s alliances pulled Labour in the wrong direction it will be pulled in the right direction by the new multi-party political landscape. And by right direction they mean, of course, a left-wing direction. Away from austerity. Towards more regulation of job creators. Towards environmental policies that do nothing to combat climate change but which impose heavy costs on electricity users. Towards state funding of political parties.’ – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

Report published into scandal of infected blood

NHS_Logo‘Prime Minister David Cameron apologised to those whose lives have been ruined by the error and pledged an extra £25million towards compensation. Campaigners burned copies of the Penrose Inquiry and said they had not received a single answer to their questions. In the Seventies and Eighties, thousands of people – including hundreds of haemophiliacs – were infected with Hepatitis C or HIV during blood transfusions.’ – Daily Express

Attack of the quangocrats – Human Rights Commission criticises Tory policy

‘Tory MPs reacted angrily last night after a supposedly impartial £19million-a-year taxpayer-funded quango tore into the party’s plans to reform human rights law. Despite there being under two months to the election, the Equality and Human Rights Commission piled into the political debate over the future of Labour’s Human Rights Act.’ – Daily Mail

Taxman’s ‘cosy’ relationship with avoiders under fire

money‘The taxman enjoys a ‘cosy’ relationship with the accountants who help multinationals avoid billions in tax, a damning report will claim today. A powerful committee of MPs claims weak law enforcement means tax avoidance – and evasion – remains ‘a risk worth taking’. The Public Accounts Committee said HM Revenue and Customs is failing to sufficiently tackle ‘widespread’ tax avoidance.’ – Daily Mail

  • Green taxes on business have doubled – Daily Mail
  • New pursuit of digital tax avoidance – FT

News in Brief

  • One of the Germanwings pilots was locked out of the cockpit – Daily Mail
  • May and Hammond set to leave the BBC with Clarkson – The Times (£)
  • The fourth most important thinker in the world is…Russell Brand? – Daily Telegraph
  • Zayn Malik leaves One Direction – Daily Mail
  • Richard III will be buried today – Daily Telegraph
  • Saudi jets bomb Yemeni rebels – The Times (£)
  • Customs officers find woman hiding in tiny suitcase – The Sun (£)
  • Eurozone blocks latest Greek attempts to stay afloat – Daily Telegraph
  • Tonight is the first leaders’ debate…sort of – The Guardian