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Tuesday 17th April 2007

Lunchtime PlayPolitical update: David Cameron launches his first local election broadcast

Lunchtime BritainAndAmerica update: The Labour Party Is In Full Retreat in the War on Terror

BLOGS

ToryDiary: Baron Trimble of Lisnagarvey joins the Conservative benches and Tories make Brown an issue in the local elections

GOLDIE ATTACKS EARLY RELEASE SCHEME

"Annabel Goldie, the Scottish Conservatives' leader, blamed the Executive's "soft on crime" approach yesterday for killings, rapes and attacks on more than a dozen people. Miss Goldie published a list of serious crimes committed by offenders released early from prison over the past few years. While she stopped short of accusing Executive ministers directly for the misery suffered by the victims and their families, she claimed the Executive's approach to automatic early release was to blame." - Scotsman

NATIONAL NETWORK OF SCHOOL BUSES

School_bus "The Conservative party this afternoon unveiled proposals to create a national schools bus service as part of its commitment to green transport. The details emerged as it appeared that the government may miss its target to create "greener schools" because headteachers felt burdened by "initiative overload" and bureaucracy." - Guardian

YORKSHIRE TORIES DON'T MENTION DAVID CAMERON

"None of the council campaign literature given to The Times features his name. Eight candidates in wards within the Shadow Home Secretary’s constituency borders are standing pointedly as “Local Conservatives”. The East Riding of Yorkshire, the nation’s largest unitary authority, covers almost 1,000 square miles (2,600sq km). Nearly 23 per cent of the population are pensioners and the largest age group is 55 to 59. Here the “southern softie” Cameron has been forced into the back seat. Polling by local Tories has shown that the most important national issues here are crime and immigration. Not many will “vote blue to go green” — only 8 per cent of local voters rated the environment as the issue that most concerned them." - Times

ONE SIZE DOESN'T FIT ALL

Richard_bacon_mp "Hospitals should be allowed to choose the systems they want, provided that those systems meet national standards. The role of the centre should be confined to setting those standards and allocating budgets. Hospital chief executives should have the freedom to buy what they want for their hospital, in consultation with their own clinicians and also be given contractual responsibility for delivering it. This approach would not only deliver more products more quickly - it would also save a fortune, which the next prime minister will wish to note well." - Richard Bacon MP in the Telegraph

HAGUE AND JOHNSON KEEPING BUSY

"His earnings from directorships, TV, writing and on the after-dinner circuit have brought in £790,000, according to the new register of MPs' interests. Some £385,000 was earned before he was selected as part of Tory leader David Cameron's top team in January last year. But extra-curricular activities have still swollen his bank balance by a whopping £405,000 since." - Daily Mail

Johnson "To some he may seem an eccentric, self-deprecating, straw-haired fop. But Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, better known as plain Boris, the Tory MP for Henley, has emerged as one of the shrewdest financial minds in Westminster. According to new figures, he earned more than £405,000 from his extra-parliamentary activities in the 22 months after the last general election. That is more than six and a half times the annual parliamentary salary of £60,277, and stands a chance of challenging the top spot among parliamentary earners long occupied by his friend and colleague William Hague." - Guardian

DO THE CONSERVATIVES STILL HAVE A GUT FEELING FOR DEFENCE?

"If David Cameron intends our Armed Forces to remain high-quality, as his occasional statements on defence suggest, there are hard, budgetary facts to face. First, the Navy must have the ships both to operate in blue water, as our Nato and worldwide interests require, and for "littoral warfare", for those waters in which the terrorist and his sponsors swim. The RAF, though the service most able to integrate with American forces, must nevertheless fly more troop-lift helicopters and ground-support aircraft. There have been discredited doctrines of airpower in the past and, if the RAF is to remain a separate service, it must not be allowed to pursue any new ones. And the Army? The Army desperately needs more men." - Allan Mallinson in the Telegraph

LEARNING FROM CELTIC COUSINS

Welsh_assembly_2 "The Welsh Conservatives have come to terms with devolution - not because they have grudgingly stood for the assembly - but because they have embraced it, recognising that it is not only here to stay but can be used as a force for good. Welsh Conservative Assembly Members (AMs) are expected to learn Welsh, wrap themselves in the Welsh flag and try to reflect modern Wales. Significantly, they have also said that they will work with other parties in an effort to get Labour out of power - a sharp contrast to Annabel Goldie, who can't stop telling everyone that she doesn't want to be in power with anyone, implicitly arguing that a Tory vote is a wasted vote.  Nick Bourne AM, the leader of the Welsh Tories, has signalled to the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and independents that he will consider what is being called a grand coalition. Clearly aiming to tap into general electoral disenchantment with Labour, the Welsh Tories have thus become serious players." - Brian Monteith in the Scotsman

DWP RECOGNISES POLYGAMY

Polygamy "Monmouth Tory MP David Davies was astounded to discover recently that the Department for Work and Pensions recognises polygamous marriages that were conducted overseas. In a guide to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit, the department states that claimants in polygamous unions are entitled to "additional allowances for each additional partner". "Polygamy is both demeaning to women and alien to this country's culture," Davies tells me." - Telegraph Spy

PENSIONS BETRAYAL

"The Conservatives are calling for the establishment of a new "lifeboat" fund to help people who lost money when their pension schemes went bust. It's aimed at helping those people whose pension schemes collapsed over eight years between 1997 and 2005." - BBC

"At last Her Majesty's Opposition is starting to get it's act together over one of the biggest rip-offs against honest, hard working British people any government has ever perpetrated. Gordon Brown's tax raid on our occupational pensions, and the hole it has helped cause in the nation's savings, is shocking enough. But when you consider the damage Brown has done not to the well off, whose pension pots are overflowing, but to the savings of ordinary working people in Britain, then his perfidy is all the worse. Voters should be in no doubt. This Labour Government has utterly abandoned the vast majority of people who elected it 10 years ago." - Damian Rice in the Telegraph

LATEST LABOUR ELECTION BROADCAST, "IF I MET TONY AND GORDON" - PlayPolitical.com

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