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Newslinks for Friday 13th April 2012

6.15pm WATCH: David Cameron holds press conference at Aung San Suu Kyi's home in Rangoon

5.15pm MPsETC: What are the toughest questions you would like to ask Michael Howard about Britain's aid budget?

CAMERON-PENSIVE3.45pm ToryDiary: Tory grassroots want blue collar Conservatives promoted to Cabinet

1pm Lord Flight on Comment: The Coalition needs to cut spending more to avoid counter-productive tax increases

12.30pm WATCH: David Cameron praises Burma's move towards democracy on historic trip

12.15pm ConHomeUSA: Bad day for Democrats as they upset stay-at-home mums

9.15am LeftWatch: Livingstone wasn't moved to tears by real Londoners supporting his candidacy. They were actors.

ToryDiary: Labour is only 6% ahead but the Government's approval rating is minus 31%. Which is the important number?

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Yesterday evening's ToryDiary: Will one of these four women be the next leader of the Conservative Party?

Columnist Bruce Anderson: Tory voters won't stay with UKIP if Cameron delivers economic competence and strong leadership

Mark Field MP on Comment: Plain packaging of cigarettes should be resisted as a matter of principle by all Conservatives

Local government: Glasgow Conservatives propose 10% Council Tax cut

WATCH:

IT'S FRIDAY AND IT'S THE DEEP END

Deep End

Tim Montgomerie in The Guardian: David Cameron may be error-strewn. But there's no alternative … yet

"How many strategic errors does the Conservative party have to make before even a Labour party led by the likes of Ed Miliband seems electable to the British people? I ask because the current Tory leadership seems to be playing the electoral equivalent of Go for Broke, the board game where you race to lose a million pounds and the winner is the one who becomes penniless first." - Tim Montgomerie in The Guardian

Is the negative Budget effect fading? - UK Polling Report wonders if Labour's lead is stabilising at 6%

Michael Gerson in the Washington Post gives a bird's eye view of recent Coalition troubles: "Cameron is fortunate that his Labor Party opposition is as hapless and divided as ever. But he can’t be pleased by the relish with which some conservative newspapers and politicians have joined recent criticism. Some of this is pent-up frustration with coalition government. Sharing the harness with Liberal Democrats has forced conservatives to compromise on a variety of issues, as well as to downplay conservative accomplishments in the name of coalition unity."

Jeremy Hunt and Vince Cable unhappy at charity tax - The Herald

Senior Tory MPs urge retreat on 'charity tax cap' - Telegraph

  • "Oxford, Cambridge and other universities have joined the revolt over plans to curb tax breaks on charitable giving, warning yesterday that the Government’s proposals jeopardise the philanthropy on which they rely." - Times (£)
  • The Tories are discouraging high earners from giving their money away, tarring philanthropy with the brush of tax avoidance - Nicholas Hytner, Director of the National Theatre in The Guardian 
  • Charities cannot exist without their generous backers, so a Treasury assault on them is intolerable - Fraser Nelson in The Telegraph
  • Government wrong to demonise philanthropists - Allister Heath in City AM
  • Even the super-rich should pay their taxes before they give to charity - Mary Dejevsky for The Independent

> Yesterday's Comment piece from Chris White MP: Attacking charity donors will have unintended consequences. The Government must change its plans.

Anti-gay adverts pulled from bus campaign by Boris Johnson

Not Gay

"Just days before the posters were due to appear on buses in the capital, Johnson ordered his transport chiefs to pull the adverts booked by two conservative Anglican groups following outrage among gay campaigners and politicians saying that they were homophobic. The adverts were booked on behalf of the Core Issues Trust whose leader, Mike Davidson, believes "homoerotic behaviour is sinful"." - Guardian | Daily Mail

Yesterday evening on ConservativeHome:

Theresa May to crack down on student visas

May Theresa 470 Sky

"All would-be students from Pakistan are to undergo a tough new “credibility test” before getting a UK visa after a pilot scheme found nearly half of applicants do not even speak English. Government sources expect that the face-to-face interviews will more than double the number of applicants turned down for student visas... Home Secretary Theresa May will seek to paint the problem as the result of the last Labour government’s dramatic reduction in the number of face-to-face interviews. She wants to step up the number of applicants interviewed in their home country by UK Border Agency staff, believing that will be a better way to weed out bogus and unsuitable people." - Express

Greg Clark teams up with Lords Heseltine and Adonis to sell city mayors

"Mr Clark is embarking on a tour of the 10 English cities due to vote on May 3 whether or not to have a mayor, supported by Lord Heseltine, the former Conservative minister who has been pushing the idea for decades, and Lord Adonis, the former Labour transport secretary.
If their campaign is successful, it could see local government in England reshaped, with 26 mayors hoping to emulate the success of Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson in putting London issues at the centre of national politics." - FT (£)

Cigarettes may have to be sold in plain packets following public consultation - Guardian

Cameron ready to reward Burma for reforms by easing sanctions - Independent

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"David Cameron will become the first British prime minister to visit Burma when he arrives in the capital Nay Pyi Taw shortly. He is due to meet President Thein Sein before travelling to Rangoon for discussions with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi." - BBC

George Osborne foolish to say tax returns should be published - Tom Utley in the Daily Mail

  • It’s not intrusive to know how much politicians earn - Heather Brooke in The Times (£)

Austere times for middle-ranking diplomats - now limited to an “entertainment” expenses budget of just £200 a year - FT (£)

Britain needs new laws permitting internet surveillance in time for the Olympics - The Sun Says

Welsh Conservatives promise "power to the people" at local elections launch - WalesOnline

Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, said his party was "having conversations" with Tory MPs who felt out of tune with David Cameron's leadership - Independent

Ed Miliband takes personal charge of Labour's Bradford inquest

"Ed Miliband has said Labour's defeat in last month's Bradford West by-election cannot be "dismissed as a one-off"... He admitted his party had not been "engaged" enough in the community nor "understood" some of its problems." - BBC

  • "An increasingly disillusioned electorate is turning away from the main parties" - Independent leader

Philip Collins, former speechwriter to Tony Blair, says the Labour Party is the real nasty party

"A few crazed Eurosceptics apart, there isn’t a lot of anger on the Right. For all that they are known as the nasty party, the Tories actually behave rather nicely. The Left, by comparison, is a torrent of bitter rage. The divide-and-rule politics of Ken Livingstone and George Galloway, the antics of the tinpot revolutionaries at the NUT conference in Torquay and the depressing attempt by Labour’s fixers to take the choice of mayor out of the hands of the people of Birmingham are all of a piece. There is a nasty edge to politics on the left that is distinctly unappealing to the watching electorate." - Philip Collins in The Times (£)

  • "The Right-Wing machine" run by the richest 1% is demonising Ken Livingstone - Owen Jones in The Independent

Screen Shot 2012-04-13 at 08.07.38With a controversial front cover The Economist launches an attack on the economics of Scottish independence

"Spending per head is currently 13% more than in Britain as a whole, supplying free university tuition, for example, which is not available south of the border. Welfare spending, which consumes a third of public funds, is 11% higher than in England and is rising faster as a share of public expenditure than any other category. The SNP hopes to extend state paternalism further, promising free universal childcare and more generous state pensions. Public sector employment, already 24% in Scotland compared with Britain’s 20%, would presumably increase. Mr Salmond hopes to fund all this by adopting low corporation taxes to pull in investment. It remains a matter of judgment whether Scotland could go it alone. But after the banking and euro-zone crises, Scotland would be far more vulnerable to shocks as a nation of 5m people than as part of a diversified economy of 62m. There is an irony here: to preserve a distinctively open-handed Scottish social model, staying in the union might be the safest choice." - Economist

Former Cabinet secretary Lord O’Donnell has emerged as a surprise possible replacement for Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King - Telegraph

Britain's ageing population represents one of the great challenges of our time - Telegraph leader

That old chestnut, the Left/Right debate: "The concept of a left-right spectrum, on which any politically interested person can be placed, obscures more than it illuminates. It muffles important issues and erects barriers between those who should be allies." - Samuel Brittan in the FT (£)

And finally... Cameron admits that Yes Minister IS true to life

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The Daily Mail quotes the Prime Minister: "‘You’ll be amazed to know that when I was a student in the 1980s, I actually once had to write an essay on “How true to life is Yes Minister?” I think I wrote in the essay that it wasn’t that true to life. ‘I can tell you, as Prime Minister, it is true to life.’" More in The Sun.

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