7.45pm Local government: New poll gives Boris a 12% lead, biggest of campaign
6.15pm Columnist Andrew Lilico: "When someone says "Folk should not be permitted to criticise my conduct, as I am incapable of behaving otherwise", there is a lot at stake - an entire vision of society. No mainstream Christian could ever accept this, and if one wants to allow mainstream Christians in one's society, that Christians will not accept this is something one really must get over." The true person is the actor, not the feeler.
6pm WATCH: Cameron to Skinner - "He has the right at any time to take his pension - and I advise him to do so."
10am Local Government:
Columnist Bruce Anderson: France's election choice is between a jackanapes and a dunderhead
Annesley Abercorn on Comment: An urgent, coherent strategy is needed from the Government in order to save the Great British Pub
Majority Conservatism: How Conservatives might reach the North and address its "party of the rich" challenge
Cameron: Eurozone may face collapse
"David Cameron issued a stark warning yesterday that the eurozone is facing a renewed threat of collapse as he blamed economic woes on the Continent for Britain's double-dip recession. In comments which will infuriate other European leaders ahead of elections in France and Greece next weekend, the Prime Minister said Europe was not "anywhere near half-way through" its currency crisis. And he predicted that the euro could yet fall apart as countries such as Spain, Greece and Italy struggle to cope with the economic constraints imposed upon them." - The Independent
Local elections loom on Thursday
"David Cameron will face one of his toughest tests this week as his party goes into the local elections after a month of bad headlines, trailing Labour in the polls and with a cabinet minister’s career in the balance. Voters will on Thursday elect local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, and the Conservative party is bracing itself to lose up to 350 council seats after the coalition’s most challenging month yet." - Financial Times (£)
Lib Dems look for salvation in shape of Tories’ disarray
"The string of problems hitting the Tories could save the Liberal Democrats from a catastrophic meltdown in this Thursday’s local elections, party chiefs claimed yesterday. The Lib Dems are still expecting to lose up to half their 650 council seats in England and Wales as voters continue to blame Nick Clegg for joining the coalition. They could do even worse in Scottish local elections. But Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Liberal Democrat councillors in England and Wales, said that in the past two weeks there had been signs on the doorstep that voters were blaming the coalition’s current woes on the Conservatives rather than their partners." - The Times (£)
Prime Minister warned that gay marriage support will cost votes
"David Cameron was warned yesterday against ignoring the views of his party’s traditional backers.The warning came after a poll suggested his support for gay marriage could cost the Tories between eight and 30 seats in a general election. The survey was for the Coalition For Marriage, which campaigns against same-sex couples marrying on equal terms to heterosexuals. Opposition was very strong among people who voted Tory in 2010 but are intending to support other parties." - Daily Express
The many are losing the unequal struggle: Charles Moore reviews Ferdinand Mount's new book on how oligarchies now run Britain - Daily Telegraph
Conservative party's 301 radicals seek to shake up 1922 status quo
"The group will on Monday show it is reshaping the Conservative parliamentary party when it takes the distinctly un-Tory step of publishing a slate of candidates for the elections to the executive of the 1922 committee. Candidates of all ages and intakes will be put forward to modernise the "antique" backbench committee, which has a hierarchical structure whereby new MPs have to defer to longer-serving colleagues in the weekly meetings." - The Guardian
In praise of…Iain Duncan Smith - Guardian Editorial
Cameron must make the Conservative Party look like the nation
"Voters would love tougher action on crime, but fear the government won't deliver. Again, the deficit makes things harder, but the government could make some symbolic first steps. How about introducing much tougher penalties for hate crimes? After all, when there is disorder and crime it is not the rich or strong who suffer, but the weak, the poor, and those who are "different". It would be tough and fair. These are the values that should shape the next phase of tory modernisation." - Neil O'Brien, The Guardian
>Yesterday: Majority Conservatism - "For the rich. Selfish. Rubbish." Lord Ashcroft's new study shows what ethnic and religious minorities think of the Conservative Party. (But it's not all bad news, especially among Hindus and Sikhs...)
Labour's Lord Hutton unveiled as leader of Government's 'John Lewis' reform of public bodies - Daily Mail
Paul Goodman: How Cameron should deal with UKIP
"What is clear is that Mr Cameron’s best means of stopping Ukip have less to do with Europe than with keeping the promises he signed up to in the coalition agreement all those months ago. In particular, he should concentrate on getting immigration from outside the EU down to tens of thousands of people. Mr Cameron must also convince voters that crime really is falling. The next election will be tight. If he fails to focus on the issues that voters genuinely care about, Ukip could deprive him of the handful of seats essential for him to return to No 10." - Financial Times (£)
Labour councillor under fire after being pictured holding a rocket launcher - The Sun
Jeremy Hunt: Cameron plays for time...
"David Cameron has said he is ready to order an inquiry into whether Jeremy Hunt broke strict ministerial rules - but only after the Culture Secretary has given evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. The PM said he will "act" if evidence emerges from Mr Hunt's testimony that the ministerial code was broken. The PM also insisted there was no "grand deal" with Rupert Murdoch for force through the BSkyB deal in return for the support of News International newspapers." - The Sun
...And says Brooks Christmas dinner was a mistake
"Attending the infamous Christmas dinner with Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch at which the BSkyB bid was discussed was a mistake, David Cameron confessed yesterday. However, the Prime Minister insisted he made no 'grand deal' with the pair in exchange for their media empire's support for the Tories. The Prime Minister admitted having a conversation with Mr Murdoch over his father Rupert's proposed takeover of BSkyB at a party at the Oxfordshire home of Mrs Brooks, who is now on police bail in the phone-hacking investigation." - Daily Mail
Whitehall cleaners call for pay increase - The Times (£)
Shapps and Green target "beds in sheds"
"The government is setting up a task force to tackle "beds in sheds" by acting against criminal landlords and removing illegal immigrants. Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Immigration Minister Damian Green will discuss the problem later with police, immigration and council officials.
Thousands of sheds and outbuildings are rented out illegally, say ministers." - BBC
BBC promises review of explicit sex film for children following criticism from ministers - Daily Mail
NHS news 1) reform vote set to open old wounds - Financial Times (£)
NHS news 2) Loophole lets foreign visitors get free treatment - The Sun
Talks held on proposal to fly Irish tricolour at Stormont - Belfast Telegraph
Flood chaos to last all week - Daily Express
> Please use the thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been given their own blog. Read our comments policy here.
5.30pm WATCH: "Not-Again-Ken" video to tune of "In The Navy"
Paul Goodman on Majority Conservatism: "For the rich. Selfish. Rubbish." Lord Ashcroft's new study shows what ethnic and religious minorities think of the Conservative Party. (But it's not all bad news, especially among Hindus and Sikhs...)
Columnist Nadine Dorries MP: The Tory leadership should listen to the activists and councillors who work so hard for the party
Kevin Andrews MP on International: Australian Labor is on the ropes
Jillian Lilico on Comment: 'Local procurement' could help maximise the effectiveness of UK aid spending
Ben Locker on Local government reports that Lib Dem MP for Colchester Sir Bob Russell seems to think that those with jobs should not be councillors
Jeremy Hunt is the firewall between Cameron and the Murdoch crisis - Independent on Sunday
"David Cameron has issued a devastating private warning that the crisis over Ministers’ links with Rupert Murdoch is ‘going to get worse before it gets better’ – amid fears at No 10 that George Osborne is being drawn into the heart of the row." - Mail on Sunday
"Rebekah Brooks, the former News International chief executive who is under investigation by Scotland Yard over her role in the hacking affair, is understood to be ready to disclose any text messages and emails between herself and David Cameron if required." - The Sunday Times (£)
Lack of appeal to minorities costing Tories seats - The Sunday Telegraph
"The Tories' reputation among ethnic-minority voters will not change overnight. First, the party must understand the anxieties and aspirations of people from these backgrounds – and that many do not believe Tory principles extend to the concern for others that are an essential part of their own religious and cultural identity. Otherwise, it will continue to be seen as a party of middle-class white people which talks only to other middle-class white people." - Lord Ashcroft in The Sunday Telegraph
Matt Chorley records the last 39 days of terrible headlines since the Budget - Independent on Sunday
Boris Johnson: We need more tax cuts - The Sunday Telegraph
> Yesterday evening's ToryDiary: Boris tries to shore up his core support, calling himself a "tax-cutting Conservative"
A Boris victory is the only thing that can save the Tories now - James Forsyth in the Mail on Sunday
Tim Montgomerie in the Mail on Sunday: "Cameron will also be aware that a re-elected Boris will become a huge new force in Conservative politics. Boris would have twice done what Cameron has failed to do – win an election outright. Moreover he would have won in a city where it’s very hard for Conservatives to win. Boris is ‘the Heineken Tory’ – reaching parts of the electorate that other Conservatives, notably Cameron, cannot seem to reach."
The Sunday Telegraph also examines the secrets of Boris' success: "What Mr Johnson does not say is as important as what he does. He does not spend his time trumpeting the virtues of wind farms, or increasing overseas aid, or promoting single-sex marriage".
Cardinal O'Brien, Leader of Scotland's Catholics, accuses David Cameron of 'immoral' tax stance - BBC
"In a BBC Scotland interview, he said: "My message to David Cameron, as the head of our government, is to seriously think again about this Robin Hood tax, the tax to help the poor by taking a little bit from the rich. "The poor have suffered tremendously from the financial disasters of recent years and nothing, really, has been done by the very rich people to help them."" - BBC
"Britain's wealthiest people are richer than they have ever been with a combined fortune of £414 billion, even though the rest of the country is mired in its worst recession since the 1930s. The Sunday Times Rich List 2012 (£), published today, reveals that the 1,000 richest men and women in the country have increased their wealth by 4.7% on last year’s total of £395.8 billion, surpassing the previous high of £412.8 billion recorded before the 2008 financial crash."
Robert Halfon MP says party needs more gritty spokespeople like Esther McVey - Mail on Sunday
Chief Whip Patrick McLoughlin has privately assured anxious Tory backbenchers that the gay marriage issue will never come to a vote and will be kicked into the long grass
"The pressure on Mr Cameron has been increased by warnings that a Tory rebellion in the Commons would eclipse last year's EU referendum revolt, when 81 Conservatives defied the Prime Minister. Backbenchers are reporting an 'avalanche' of protests from Conservative supporters over the gay marriage initiative championed by Mr Cameron." - Mail on Sunday
New measures will allow ministers to bar entry of non-EU citizens accused of serious charges such as torture or murder - Observer
The Sun on Sunday joins the Daily Mail in calling for a internet service providers to block porn as the default setting on their service - Sun on Sunday
If freedom means seeing our kids defiled by porn, I opt out - Minette Marrin in The Sunday Times (£)
> Friday's Deep End made the case for Claire Perry MP's bid to protect kids from online adult content
STILL THE BEST
"More people would like Mrs Thatcher to be in charge than the current prime minister or his predecessors, a poll reveals. The Iron Lady scored 4.5 out of 10 in a YouGov poll — pipping David Cameron into second, with 4.2 out of 10. Nick Clegg was the least favourite of all party chiefs, scraping 2.9." - Sun on Sunday
The Mail on Sunday gives Ed Miliband its main editorial page to attack David Cameron
"Any government is bound to make its share of mistakes, but from the Budget to the cash-for-access scandal and from the recession to Murdoch, the events of the last few weeks show this Government’s true colours. They are a direct consequence of being out of touch with the many and in touch with only a privileged few." - Ed Miliband in the Mail on Sunday
Ed Balls warns of a decade of Japanese-style stagnation without a plan for jobs and growth - The Observer
The BBC has launched an inquiry which could lead to a ban on MPs being paid to appear as guests on programmes - The Sunday Telegraph
All of the latest opinion polls look bleak for Sarkozy - Electionista
And finally... David Cameron's heartbroken former lover becomes a nun called Sister John Mary - Mail on Sunday
> Please use the thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been given their own blog. Read our comments policy here.
3pm International: One man confronted a whole hemisphere for Britain and the Falkland Islanders. It wasn't Barack Obama. It was Stephen Harper. Friend of Israel. Low tax conservative. Social conservative. All round good man.
Simon Reevell MP on Comment: Pressing ahead with Lords reform without a referendum misrepresents what voters agreed to
Glyn Gaskarth on Local Government: The politics of pensions schemes
Local Government: Council byelection from yesterday
David Cameron cornered over Jeremy Hunt
"Lord Justice Leveson will not rule on whether Jeremy Hunt broke the Ministerial Code in his dealings with the Murdoch empire, sources have disclosed. The judge’s position will undermine David Cameron’s refusal to order a Whitehall investigation into the Culture Secretary’s conduct in relation to the News Corporation bid for full control of BSkyB. Sources said that Lord Leveson, who is carrying out a public inquiry into media standards, “does not consider himself to be the arbiter of the code”." - Daily Telegraph
> From yesterday:
Leveson inquiry rejects Jeremy Hunt's bid to appear early
"Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has had his request to appear at the Leveson Inquiry early refused after pledging to hand over his private emails about the BSkyB takeover bid. A spokesman said Lord Leveson had decided not to change the scheduling "in the interests of fairness to all"." - BBC
The Telegraph pile on Hunt, saying he "avoided £100,000 tax bill in deal just days before rate rise" - Daily Telegraph
Iain Duncan Smith says suggested £10bn welfare cuts will be tough
"George Osborne will be blocked if he attempts to raid a further £10 billion from the welfare budget, a former Tory leader is warning, as a major faultline opens up in the Cabinet over the next round of spending cuts. Iain Duncan Smith has told the Chancellor that welfare spending is not an “easy target” and rejects the call to squeeze the bill by £10 billion between 2014 and 2016 to protect spending in other Whitehall departments." - The Times (£)
IDS interview: ‘You fester on incapacity benefit. No one cares, and you get worse’ - The Times (£)
Tory backbenchers urge party to reduce fuel duty and soften tone of language to appeal to ordinary voters
"Robert Halfon, a member of the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs, urged ministers to drop their aggressive language about unions and pleaded for a cut in fuel duty to help ordinary families "crushed" by soaring petrol prices. ... Mr Halfon said the Tories found it difficult to convey the appeal of policies – such as raising income tax thresholds – designed to help "hardworking people, strugglers or strivers"." - Independent
"Cameron is urged by senior Tories to bring the Cabinet reshuffle forward after turbulent month sees poll ratings crash"
"Middle-ranking ministers being tipped for promotion include housing minister Grant Shapps, employment minister Chris Grayling and disability minister Maria Miller. Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke are widely predicted to be axed, while party chairman Baroness Warsi, who is admired by senior figures but thought unsuited to her current post, is expected to be moved to a new portfolio." - Daily Mail
Grant Shapps rejects Newham "social cleansing claims"
"My view is that it's unacceptable to say to families, we're going to move you 130 miles away without giving you a say. Some people might want to start a new life. Fine. But you don't do that behind their backs, writing to housing associations and setting it up. It's also borderline illegal. I'm absolutely clear that, given the housing cap of £21,000 – and in Newham it's something like £15,000, because it depends where you are – there are places available for rent, so why would you do this?" - Grant Shapps interview in the Guardian
Damian Green summoned to Parliament to explain Heathrow chaos
"Damian Green, the immigration minister, has been summoned to explain a crisis at border control to MPs after a spate of lengthy queues and increased waiting times spread to Heathrow’s flagship terminal. Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, told the Financial Times that he had asked Mr Green to appear before the panel of MPs as reports of “chaos” at British airports gathered pace." - FT (£)
Patrick O'Flynn: "not only is the Lib Dem presence in the Government damaging the country, it is now also doing potentially lethal damage to Conservative electoral prospects."
"The Lib Dems have worked out that damaging the Tories is in their interest. Twice as many of the 57 Lib Dem MPs have Tories in second place in their constituencies as have Labour in second place. So by depressing the Tory rating through acts of sabotage the Lib Dems can expect to save twice as many seats as they would by concentrating their fire on Labour. If this strategy results in Labour becoming the largest party after the next election the Lib Dems will just swap sides, so what do they care?" - Patrick O'Flynn in the Daily Express
Boris Johnson: ‘He’s a barefaced . . .’ [pauses] Liar? ‘Yes’
"He says his opponent, who is accused of using a company to minimise tax, has still failed to produce evidence of his own full earnings. “It is unbelievable,” he snipes. “He is a barefaced . . .” Liar? “Yes.” No regrets there, then. ... Asked about national politics, Mr Johnson squirms. “I’m far more interested in driverless trains.” And then he hits out at Mr Livingstone again. “‘I won’t automate the Tube,’ ” he says, mimicking his opponent’s voice. “LUDDITE. The guy is a Luddite.”" - Boris Johnson interview in the Times (£)
> Yesterday on Local Government: New poll shows Boris 8% ahead - but could he get his budget through the London Assembly?
How a decade of cuts banished the depression of the 1930s
"‘There is no magic in it,’ Chamberlain said in his triumphant 1935 Budget interview screened in cinemas up and down the land. 'The application of the principles of sound finance has established confidence in industry. Confidence has begotten enterprise and enterprise has increased employment and profits, so revenue has increased faster than expenditure.’ ... In other words: cuts in public spending, balancing the Budget, low interest rates and, finally, tax cuts." - George Trefgarne for the Daily Mail
Chief constable quits over police reforms - The Times (£)
Scottish council elections: ‘Jobs for all’ promise from Ed Miliband - Scotsman
Alex Salmond is an ‘undercover lobbyist’ for Murdoch, says Ed Miliband
"Mr Miliband said this week’s revelations about the “warm” relationship between the SNP leader and the press baron were “shocking”, adding that Mr Salmond should have been “open” about the fact that he was prepared to talk to Jeremy Hunt about the BSkyB bid. Mr Salmond has defended himself by saying that he nurtured his relationship with the Murdoch empire and was prepared to lobby for the News Corp take-over of BSkyB in order to protect and bring jobs to Scotland." - Scotsman
Graeme Archer: When did Britain become the kind of country that tolerates voting fraud?
"In the London borough of Tower Hamlets, where a Ken Livingstone supporter is mayor, the number of registered voters increased by a “surprising” 7,023, in a single month, between April and May 2010. Likewise, in a borough with a large Bangladeshi community – not a society to which the concept of communal voting is unknown, or one famous for its liberated women – the proportion of postal votes has inexorably grown." - Graeme Archer for the Daily Telegraph
There's only two Derek Rowleys! Labour cries foul as Tories field namesake in 'lookalike' election - Daily Mail
Taxi for Tory donor: Tycoon loses contract after rows over cash-for-access, cyclists and bus lanes - Daily Mirror
"Former Labour MP Margaret Moran will not face a jury on charges of fiddling her expenses, after a judge determined that she is not fit to plead." - Scotsman
Cops want power to nail internet pervs - The Sun
Martin McGuinness hints he is willing to meet the Queen - Scotsman
And finally... "David Cameron has shown he is totes clued up about The Only Way Is Essex" - The Sun
3pm WATCH: Whips Office calling all Tory MPs! Whips Office calling all Tory MPs! In all media interviews, use this Australian Labour politician as a template...
1pm The Deep End on internet porn and children: "Imagine that one of your neighbours is a distributor of pornography. His house is full of the stuff, with all but the most extreme images lying around everywhere. Now imagine that he leaves his door open at all times, allowing your children to wander in where they can view his collection at will. How do you feel about this person? Obviously, you’d warn your children to keep well away, but wouldn’t you also want him to take some responsibility, to keep his door locked and his curtains drawn?"
Also on Today's Deep End:
Noon ConHomeUSA newslinks: Boehner emerges as Romney's chief ally on Capitol Hill
11am Gill Wyness and Tom Frostick on Comment: Why Conservatives should back efforts to tackle information inequalities in higher education
10.15am Local Government: New poll shows Boris 8% ahead - but could he get his budget through the London Assembly?
Columnist Bruce Anderson: Poms are bad enough for Murdoch, but Cameron's an Old Etonian pom to boot
Tony Lodge on Comment: A Gigawatt or a Megawatt? Why the PM must get a grip on energy policy
Cllr Gary Porter on Local Government: Vote Conservative next Thursday for better local government
Boris attacks "charity tax" and "snooper's charter" as second poll finds him eight point ahead
"Boris Johnson has urged the Government to retreat from its proposed “charity tax” as he seeks to distance himself from a Conservative Party sliding in the polls. The Mayor of London also put himself at odds with ministers over the proposed “snooper’s charter”, designed to allow the authorities to monitor conversations over the internet. “I’m very, very sceptical about that,” he said. Mr Johnson used an interview with The House magazine to portray himself as a political force independent of Tory ministers. “My relationship with George [Osborne] is fine — provided he’s coughing up,” he said." - The Times (£)
Today's Must-Read: Britain is becoming a three-party country
"When the local elections are held next month, it could well be that a new picture of Britain starts to emerge. Rather than being one nation, with Tory shires and Labour cities, we may see a political tricolour, with the nationalists at the top, Labour in the middle and the Tories at the bottom…When the Tories last commissioned a study about the North, it concluded that the geographical aspect was a red herring. The greater problem was the lack of a message for the blue-collar workers who make up a greater share of voters in the North. These people are worried about crime, schools and the cost of living in general – not the environment, overseas aid or Lords reform." - Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
EU migrants to get free healthcare in Britain
"Britain was ordered by EU chiefs last night to give millions of foreigners full access to NHS healthcare. In a move that could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds, the Brussels-based European Commission insisted that immigrants from within the EU are entitled to stay and use the service indefinitely even if they do not pay UK taxes." - Daily Express
The Hunt hunt latest. Those on his case include...
1) ...Bernard Jenkin (who breaks ranks to say independent adviser should investigate whether Ministerial Code was broken)...
"The senior Tory MP Bernard Jenkin, chairman of the Public Administration Committee, suggested he was unhappy with the Government's handling of the situation when he said the Prime Minister's independent adviser on the Ministerial Code, Sir Alex Allan, should conduct "swift preliminary enquiries" to see if the Culture Secretary had a case to answer. Mr Jenkin said: "I think it is extraordinary that any special adviser should have anything at all to do with a Secretary of State's quasi-judicial role in a matter such as a takeover bid and whether to refer that takeover bid." - The Independent
2) ...Harriet Harman (still toiling to keep the story going...)
"Harriet Harman last night challenged Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to publish his text messages and emails with former adviser Adam Smith about News Corporation’s bid to take over satellite broadcaster BSkyB. The Shadow Culture Secretary issued her demand as Labour sought to keep up pressure on Mr Hunt…Ed Miliband yesterday claimed Mr Hunt remained in his job only because he was a “firewall” protecting David Cameron from scrutiny over his own dealings with News Corp executives including Mr Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks." - Daily Express
3) ...The FSA...
"But the Financial Services Authority is looking at claims that Mr Smith’s giving News Corporation price-sensitive information about its BSkyB takeover bid constitutes the serious offence of ‘market abuse’. In addition, Mr Hunt will have to hand over copies of paperwork on the takeover and transcripts of his emails to Mr Smith to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards." - Daily Mail
4) ...Oh, and don't forget the LibDems...
"Senior Lib Dems stopped short of backing Mr Hunt, saying only that he should explain himself when he gives evidence to Lord Justice Leveson. Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, told ITV News: “Jeremy has to be given an opportunity to present his side to the story.” - Daily Telegraph
(And the DCMS Permanent Secretary is gnomic when quizzed by the Public Accounts Committee) - The Guardian
A history of Special Adviser gaffes - Daily Telegraph
New evidence emerges that Osborne was lobbied by Murdoch - The Independent
And there are bad headlines for another senior politician: "Alex Salmond endured one his worst batterings at the hands of opposition leaders during First Minister’s Questions as he was attacked over his dealings with the tycoons Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump." - Scotsman
Liam Fox labels LibDems "roadblocks to deregulation"
"Inside the Coalition, resistance to deregulation largely comes from the Liberal Democrats. Two things need to be pointed out to them. First, that they make up only one sixth – not one half – of the Coalition and must expect that Conservative economic ideas will be dominant. Second, that if the economy does not improve, they can expect a very unhappy date in 2015 with the voters, and their antipathy to labour market reform makes this more likely." - Daily Telegraph
"Mr Fox, the former Defence Secretary, told The Sun: “If you have a deficit reduction strategy without labour market reform you are driving with the handbrake on. The Lib Dems will be totally liable if they are the roadblock to deregulation. Any small company in Britain will tell you they are scared of taking people on because they can’t get rid of them if it doesn’t work out. It makes it impossible to take on new people.” - The Sun
War of words erupts over welfare plan - Belfast Telegraph
David Cameron: This is the greenest government ever
"The government has achieved its aim of being the "greenest ever", David Cameron said on Thursday, in his first significant remarks on the environment since reaching office. "When I became prime minister I said I would aim to have the greenest government ever and this is exactly what we have," he told energy ministers from the world's leading nations at a summit in London. Cameron said he "passionately believed" the growth of renewable energy was vital to the UK's future. "I believe renewable energy can be among our cheapest energy sources within years not decades," he said. But he warned: "We need to make it financially sustainable." - The Guardian
Wet Tory magic: rain goddess Caroline Spelman conjures up one of the wettest Aprils on record, but still urges people to combat drought by saving water as tornadoes, torrents and thunderstorms threaten Britain
"Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, said the spring deluge would not be enough to end the drought affecting many parts of the country. “I could be deluded into thinking that I had the power to make it rain this week,” she joked. She added: “Although we have got really heavy rainfall this month, it isn’t enough to make up for two very dry winters in a row. “So it continues to be important that everyone takes responsibility for saving water. The current conditions allow the water companies and farmers to top up their reservoirs, which is a good thing. But it is very important that we continue to make all the efforts we can.” - Daily Telegraph
Neil Heywood did not work for UK government, Hague insists - Daily Telegraph
Couples will be forced to breach confidentiality rules and reveal their finances to each other in child benefit shake-up - Daily Mail
Mystery surrounds Jemima Khan's claim that George Galloway has converted to Islam - Daily Telegraph