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April 2011 newslinks

30 Apr 2011 08:59:19

Newslinks for Saturday 30th April 2011

10pm ToryDiary: Is Britain a centre left country? No.

6.15pm WATCH: Official Royal Wedding photos released

5pm Local Government: The battle for South Gloucestershire

Screen shot 2011-04-30 at 14.49.49 2.45pm ToryDiary: Final No2AV leaflet seeks to exploit Nick Clegg's unpopularity

1pm Andrew Lilico on Comment: Ten reasons to vote No to AV

10am WATCH: In front of tens of thousands of revellers in Hyde Park, Boris Johnson raises a glass of OJ to Kate and Wills

ToryDiary: Is the AV referendum all over bar the shouting?

Andrew Boff on Comment:  Our electoral system is broke - fix it #Yes2AV

Local Government: The battle for Middlesbrough

Britain basks in Royal Wedding afterglow

Screen shot 2011-04-30 at 07.33.39
"David Cameron today gushed over the 'incredibly romantic and moving' wedding service at Westminster Abbey.   He said the Royal Wedding represents 'the best of Britain', as he spoke of his pride at seeing William overcome the death of his mother to become a fine prince.  He arrived at Westminster Abbey with his wife Samantha, who broke with tradition by forgoing a hat or fascinator for a jewelled head piece." - Daily Mail

"Prime Minister David Cameron led the national day of celebration by hosting his very own Royal Wedding street party in Downing Street.  Mr Cameron and his wife Samantha invited 90 guests to Number 10 to celebrate Prince William and Kate Middleton's marriage.  Guests included children from local schools and representatives of Age UK and Contact the Elderly, as well as young charity fundraisers." - Daily Mail

Most politicians rose to the occasion...

Screen shot 2011-04-30 at 07.43.06 "Only a few minutes earlier Sally Bercow, wife of the Speaker of the Commons, had gone clacking past with a  Stone Age cleavage.  The sight of Sally the Alley in her glad rags would have been enough to weaken even Dizzy Gillespie’s embouchure." - Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

"The Home Secretary arrived with her husband. It is the first time that the person ultimately responsible for security on such a day was hidden under a hat that looked as if a pink leopard had been in a fight with a pink vulture." - Simon Hoggart, The Guardian

...Although Peter Hain did not

"Peter Hain, the Shadow Welsh secretary, complained that the BBC coverage of Westminster Abbey ignored Ed Miliband.  Loads of TV coverage of Cameron and Clegg but none of Ed. BBC airbrushing Labour like the Palace?” he posted on Twitter.  His comments referred to anger at the Palace’s failure to invite Tony Blair or Gordon Brown, despite asking former Prime Ministers Sir John Major and Lady Thatcher." - The Times (£)

ITV trounces BBC in the TV battle - Daily Telegraph

Royal Wedding comment

"There are other royal weddings – in Spain, or Sweden, or Swaziland – and I am sure they are very nice. But they do not stand for anything much in the eyes of the world….Nor could anything comparable take place in a republic…The Catholic Church, when installing (though sadly, no longer crowning) a new pope, offers a ceremony which brings home the power, the loneliness and the humility of that extraordinary position.  But nothing else anywhere has the archetypal quality of what was shown in Westminster Abbey, the same closeness between what is unspeakably grand and what is ordinarily human." - Charles Moore in the Daily Telegraph

  • In the monarchy game, only the bland survive - Matthew Parris, The Times (£)
  • Dynastic lessons from the familiar Windsor flourish - Simon Schama, Financial Times (£)
  • Britain at its best - Fraser Nelson, Coffee House
  • Yesterday's show of British institutions at their best hides years of political vandalism that wrecked our constitution - Iain Martin, Daily Mail

Yesterday's ConservativeHome coverage -

Labour accuse of Government of using day to bury bad news on the NHS - Daily Telegraph

The final stretch of the AV referendum campaign begins

Screen shot 2011-04-30 at 08.21.31 "Yet in the verdant constituency of Sheffield Hallam, which went Mr Clegg's way in 2005 after almost a century as a Tory seat, there appears a glimmer of hope for the embattled Deputy Prime Minister. Here the city forgets the social deprivation of its inner core and lost steel mills. Hallam is richer than Twickenham, 60 per cent hold a degree and the professional classes' large detached homes give way to the rolling Peak District." - The Independent

"This Liberal Democrat heartland in Fife is in danger of breaking" - The Times (£)

"The Cameron-Clegg relationship will change. "Nick has had a reminder of just how ruthless the Tory machine and the Tory press can be," one close ally said. Mr Clegg has no intention of being the sole "Coalition unity figure" while colleagues such as Chris Huhne and Mr Cable kick lumps out of the Tories; that would leave him in a weakened and dangerous place inside his own party.  The ruthless Mr Cameron may find that his Deputy Prime Minister develops a ruthless streak too." - Andrew Grice, The Independent

Poll officers ordered to hire more staff

"The Electoral Commission has issued new rules to avoid the chaos of the last general election when thousands were left queueing at polling stations unable to vote at 10pm.  Under the new statutory guidelines election officers will be expected to set up more polling stations, recruit more staff and print more ballot papers to ensure they do not run out, like last year. If they fail to do so the commission will withhold fees." - The Times (£)

Purnell urges Labour to rethink welfare

Screen shot 2011-04-30 at 08.22.27 James Purnell, the former work and pensions secretary, is to call on Labour to rethink its approach to welfare, relying less on cash transfers and instead offering guarantees of jobs and access to housing.  He also proposes a revival of the contributory principle whereby a claimant's benefits are linked more closely to the amount they have put into the system.  Describing "Blue Labour" as the most interesting element of the current debate within the party, he says it is central to understanding why the party lost so many voters." - The Guardian

Salaries criticised at state-owned CDC

"Ministers have attacked “inflated remuneration” at CDC group, the state-owned investor in emerging markets, after it emerged that senior managers are almost four times better paid than counterparts at development finance institutions.  An independent report commissioned by Andrew Mitchell, international development secretary, found that the £366,000 pay for CDC managing directors was 281 per cent higher than the mean at similar state-backed development groups." - Financial Times (£)

Coalition and Political News in Brief

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29 Apr 2011 08:58:43

Newslinks for Friday 29th April 2011

7.30pm ToryDiary: Boris Johnson's gift to William and Kate

12.30pm LeftWatch: Peter Hain complains about lack of coverage of Ed Miliband at Royal Wedding

12.15pm WATCH

ToryDiary: Twelve Tory quotes in support of our monarchy

Jill Kirby on Comment: The benefits of marriage are not coincidental

Local Government:

Parliament: Jeremy Hunt proves that Where there's a Will, there's a Way

WATCH:

As political hostilities pause for the Royal Wedding, Cameron visits wedding crowds and names his gift...

Screen shot 2011-04-29 at 07.55.00
"The UK leader confirmed he has selected a compilation of beautiful images of Anglesey as his gift for the couple.  Cameron, who was talking to US journalist Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News, admitted he expects the pair have 'probably got everything', but wanted to make a gesture…Cameron chose the photograph books, which include a number of shots of the Welsh island where William is based with the Royal Air Force, as he believes they will be close to the prince's heart." - Metro 

...And Boris will present Prince William and Kate Middleton with a bicycle made for two

"If William and Kate are still stumped for ideas on how to spend their honeymoon, London Mayor Boris Johnson may have just provided them with the perfect answer.  He will present them with a specially commissioned tandem based on the capital's cycle hire scheme.  He will also address the crowds gathered in Trafalgar Square to watch the wedding on a giant screen, propose a toast and cut a wedding cake." - Press Association

Cameron street party details - Reuteurs 

Hague tears up Syrian ambassador's invitation

"The Syrian ambassador's invitation to the royal wedding was withdrawn at the 11th hour yesterday amid continuing controversy over the guest list.  Foreign Secretary William Hague told Sami Khiyami that his presence at Westminster Abbey – which had been branded 'bordering on grotesque' by Labour MPs – was no longer acceptable." - Daily Mail

Police swoop on squatters "planning to disrupt Royal Wedding" as central London is locked down - Daily Mail

Yesterday: Gallery - Greg Barker decks out Department for Energy and Climate Change with Royal Wedding bunting

Fox and Cameron clash over arming Libyan rebels...

Fox & Cameron
"The PM said: "Well, I wouldn't rule that out." He said the rebels had been given better communications equipment to help protect civilians.  Within hours, Dr Fox had flatly contradicted his boss. He said: "We are not considering arming the opposition forces. We've made very clear that we are not arming them and we are not training them." - The Sun 

...As the Defence Secretary writes about Afghanistan in the Telegraph...

"As we move into the “fighting season” – the summer months when the conflict intensifies even further – it is clear that the next two years will be vital for the success of our mission…I know first-hand how difficult it is as a politician to ask the public for patience, even when things are expected to get worse before they get better. But patience and steadfastness are what we need if we are to avoid failure. So while the media focuses on Libya, we cannot and will not forget about Afghanistan. The task before us is simply too important." - Daily Telegraph 

...and compares his drinking to Winston Churchill's

"This is what Fox said: 'Given that until last night it was the last pint of beer I had I don't think it was entirely unreasonable. It is a bit like asking Churchill if he regrets having a drink during world war two.' " - Wintour and Watt, The Guardian

Hague: I am shocked and saddened by the explosion in Marrakesh - Politics Home (£)

Cameron laughs off Commons sexism row

Screen shot 2011-04-29 at 07.37.36 "Yesterday he brushed off the row and made light of the remarks.  He said: "I don't know what it is about some people on the Left. It seems that when they put the socialism in, they take the sense of humour out.  "I got home last night and my wife said to me: 'What sort of day did you have, dear?' And I told her I was attacked by Harriet Harman and defended by Michael Winner, and she said: 'What on earth were you up to?"' - Daily Telegraph

"This wasn't the first time his mask has slipped when he's under pressure in the chamber…I think it is becoming increasingly clear that this government has a problem with women. Despite promising to lead the most family-friendly government ever before the last election, the PM has shown scant regard for the needs of the 51% of the population who are women since he walked into Downing Street." - Angela Eagle in the Guardian

Calm down, dears - Daily Mail Editorial

Osborne overture to journalist who has erotic dreams about him

"Chancellor George Osborne has sent a suggestive message for a BBC radio presenter after she admitted to having erotic dreams about him.  Mr Osborne's message was played during Shelagh Fogarty's final breakfast show on Radio 5 Live before she moves to a lunchtime slot.  He wished her well in the message, before saying she would enjoy the extra sleep in her new role, adding: "More hours for those dreams you've been having." - Daily Express

Lisa Nandy PMQs cleavage sensation - The Sun

Liberal Democrats vanish from final push Yes to AV leaflets...

Screen shot 2011-04-29 at 07.43.05 "The Liberal Democrats are the party that dares not speak its name, according to the final leaflet of the “yes to AV” campaign, which avoids spelling out Nick Clegg’s support.  The leaflet — delivered a week early by mistake yesterday — names Labour, UKIP and the Green Party as supporting the alternative vote (AV), and includes their party logos. But the words “Liberal Democrat” are missing from the party’s otherwise unidentified “bird of freedom” emblem." - The Times (£)

...As Conservative MPs plan to block AV if Britain votes Yes

"Secret moves are planned by senior Conservatives to overturn the result of next week's referendum on electoral reform if the country votes to scrap the first-past-the-post system.  They would make a last-ditch attempt in the House of Commons to block a switch to the alternative vote (AV) if it is backed on a low turn-out of electors. No-to-AV campaigners would argue that the result lacked legitimacy because such an important constitutional change should have been approved by a majority of the public." - The Independent

Yesterday -

Goldie, Miliband and Clegg campaign in Scotland

"Tory leader Annabel Goldie has set out her determination to replace government with the voluntary sector in delivering some public services.  Miss Goldie wants to see the voluntary sector more involved in the "fabric of social life".  "I know that the third sector is more than capable of stepping in to supply public services, but big government, vested interests and fiefdoms have often got in the way," she said.  She made the comments as UK Education Secretary Michael Gove joined the Tory campaign in Aberdeen." - Scotsman

"Mr Miliband hopes that a night of local election victories on May 5 will give him the platform to start fleshing out his plans, though victory in Scotland could elude him. So too could a Yes vote in the AV referendum, a campaign he has helped lead. What does it say of his leadership that he has been unable to persuade more than half his own MPs to support the change? “I think we’ve been split on this for about 80 years,” he laughs." - Financial Times (£)

Nowhere to shelter for Clegg on visit to Edinburgh - Herald Scotland

Watchdog halts Gove’s plans for shake-up of GCSEs

Michael Gove pensive 2010 "Plans for a radical reform of GCSEs face a long delay after the exams regulator signalled its opposition to early change.  It may be at least four years, and probably longer, before the first pupils sit the restructured exams demanded by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, according to the predictions of awarding bodies. That would fall beyond the scheduled date of the next general election and the term of the current coalition." - The Times (£)

Sir Malcolm Rifkind on the Fatah/Hamas deal

"What is indisputable is that the popular uprisings that have swept through the Middle East now draw strength from Palestinian politics…For both Fatah and Hamas, the imperative is to address the protesters’ demands now before they grow to encompass broader political and economic grievances that are even harder to satisfy.  If Palestinians are given reform, unity and leadership, it will not only be good news for them. It should also give confidence to the Israelis that the time for a viable Palestinian state has arrived." - Sir Malcolm Rifkind in The Times (£)

Can we really trust this sorry lot to clean up Parliament? - Peter Oborne in the Daily Telegraph

Guy Opperman MP to undergo medical treatment for a brain tumour - Journal Live

Coalition and political news in brief

  • Israel rejects Palestinian unity government with Hamas - BBC
  • Four UK celebrities hiding sex scandals behind legal super-injunctions are named on Wikipedia - Daily Mail
  • Trial by television for Marr as presenter returns to the screen - The Independent
  • Woman in sex session with Nigel Griffiths MP hides behind injunction - Daily Telegraph
  • End to welfare curb ‘may prompt flood of benefit tourists’ - The Times (£)
  • Hospitals told to look for 50% more savings - Financial Times (£)

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28 Apr 2011 08:59:57

Newslinks for Thursday 28th April 2011

5.15pm ToryDiary: No2AV lead still in double figures as Yes campaign becomes more dishonest and more dirty

Barker470

3.45 Gallery: Greg Barker decks out Department for Energy and Climate Change with Royal Wedding bunting

3.15pm Michael Bull on Comment: Young people need to be engaged in the world of work and the world of politics

1.15pm Local government:

12.15pm ToryDiary: SIX TIMES as many voters think Conservatives are prepared to take tough decisions than Labour

LIBERAL-DEMOCRATSToryDiary: Why the Lib Dems won't pull the plug on the Coalition

Dr Teck Khong on Comment: It’s time to consider real changes to the Health and Social Care Bill

Also on Comment, Christopher Hall: How AV has been defeated in decades gone by

Alok
Alok Sharma MP in Local Government: How Council taxpayers have funded £35 million of Trade Union salaries over the past three years

Also in Local Government:

Parliament: New Tory peer Lord Popat uses his maiden speech to thank Britain for giving him refuge from Idi Amin's Uganda in the 1970s

WATCH: President Obama releases his birth certificate to scotch continued speculation about whether he was born in the US

Benedict Brogan: The pointless AV referendum has helped bring out David Cameron's inner Tory

Benedict Brogan "Something has happened to David Cameron in the past fortnight. Call it an Easter resurrection, but he appears revived, not as a politician, but as a Conservative. He has found a confident voice that connects with the concerns of voters... He suddenly seems more robust, less prepared to be politically polite to avoid trampling the feelings of the Liberal Democrats. He has spoken out against the damage of immigration, and defended middle-class internships. And his troops at Westminster have returned from their break feeling perkier than I have known them for a year. It may be the beneficial effect of a glorious English spring, but as we approach the first anniversary of the Coalition, those MPs who have wondered at times whose side he is on are rejoicing: “Finally, David is talking like a Tory.” - Benedict Brogan in the Daily Telegraph

New DWP figures show three quarters of Incapacity Benefit claimants are not entitled to the money

"Three-quarters of claimants who apply for sickness benefit are found fit to work or drop their claims before they are completed, according to official figures. Over a 22-month period, 887,300 of the 1,175,700 applicants for employment and support allowance (ESA) - the successor to to the old incapacity benefit - failed to qualify for any assistance. Of those 458,500 - 39% - were judged fit to work while a further 428,800 - 36% - abandoned their claim before their medical assessment had been completed." - Press Association

Chris Grayling 2010 square “Once again we have clear evidence of the need for change in our welfare system. We now know very clearly that the vast majority of new claimants for sickness benefits are in fact able to return to work. That’s why we are turning our attention to existing claimants, who are simply abandoned on benefits. That’s why we are reassessing all of those claimants and launching the Work Programme to provide specialist back-to- work support." - Employment Minister Chris Grayling quoted in the Daily Express

David Cameron's "Calm down, dear" jibe continues to provokes much comment

"David Cameron is facing demands for an apology after telling a female shadow cabinet minister to "calm down, dear" in furious exchanges at Prime Minister's Questions... But No 10 aides brushed off opposition demands for an apology, insisting it was clearly a humorous remark - echoing a well-known car insurance advert starring Michael Winner." - Press Association

Picture 3 "Michael Winner has described Harriet Harman and the Labour party as “politically correct lunatics” for calling David Cameron sexist following remarks made during Prime Minister’s Questions... Mr Winner, a film director, writer and producer, told the Daily Telegraph: “It’s ridiculous that people should talk about this seriously. It’s a comedy phrase that I wrote about ten years ago." - Daily Telegraph

"It’s a good job the Prime Minister is not a Bristolian or he might have invited Angela Eagle to “calm down, my lover” in which case po-faced Labour MPs would no doubt have become even more irate for even less reason." - Daily Express

> Yesterday on ConHome:

Cameron and Osborne welcome return to growth figures in new GDP figures

Cameron and Osborne "The UK economy grew by 0.5% in the first three months of the year, official figures have shown, reducing the risk of a double-dip recession. The chancellor welcomed the return to growth, which followed a contraction of 0.5% at the end of 2010... Chancellor George Osborne said: "It is good news that the British economy is growing. It is particularly good news that manufacturing is growing so strongly, when we have had such an unbalanced economy in recent years, and manufacturing has not done so well." - BBC

"Figures showing the economy avoided a double-dip recession by returning to growth were welcomed yesterday by David Cameron. He accused Labour of “talking the economy down’’ after the Opposition said it was “flat-lining”. He also said his Government’s market-reassuring policies had saved Britain from the crises suffered by nations like Portugal and Greece." - Daily Express

"Growth in the first quarter of 2011 was led by government spending, transport,  and financial and business services. These contributed 0.2%, 0.2% and 0.3% respectively to the GDP growth figure.  This was offset by a loss of 0.3% from construction, with 0.1% growth coming from others.  Whilst manufacturing continued some advance, mining and quarrying fell." - John Redwood analyses the figures

Allister Heath "It wasn’t the definitive result that was required to prove that the recovery has legs – but yesterday’s first-quarter growth estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) were encouraging nevertheless. They finally laid to rest the spectre of a double-dip recession and confirmed that the UK is undergoing a bumpy, muted yet very real private-sector led recovery." - Allister Heath in City AM

> Yesterday's on ConHome:

The Syrian ambassador is summoned to Foreign Office...

"The Foreign Office has summoned Syria's ambassador in London to reiterate its call for the violent crackdown on anti-government protesters there to stop. Officials said they had told Dr Sami Khiyami that the repression of demonstrators across the country was "unacceptable" and attacks must end." - BBC

...although he's still invited to the Royal Wedding

"Sami Khiyami, the ambassador to London, will be welcomed to Westminster Abbey despite fears that President Assad is preparing another violent crackdown after Friday prayers." - The Times (£)

> Paul Goodman on Comment yesterday: The dream that Syria's al-Assad could be lured away from Iran was always an illusion

Liam Fox under pressure over deploying troops to Libya

"Britain “may have to look at” deploying ground troops in the Libya campaign in order to establish safe havens for civilians, Liam Fox has said." - Daily Telegraph

Ministers blame 'courtier lunacy' for Royal Wedding snub to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown - Nick Watt of The Guardian

> Sunday's Leftwatch: Blair and Brown not invited to the Royal Wedding

Lib Dem Tim Farron on how First Past The Post promoted slavery

Tim Farron "To the list of ills blamed on Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system — lazy MPs, the expenses scandal, illegitimate government — was added a new shortcoming yesterday: slavery. Tim Farron MP, the Liberal Democrat president, argued that a different voting system would have protected Britons from the “organised wickedness” of the Thatcher era and also ended the slave trade... Kwasi Kwarteng, Tory MP for Spelthorne, took Mr Farron to task for his comments on slavery. He said: “It is an outrageous slur to suggest that our current voting system had anything to do with a hateful practice which Britain took the lead in abolishing. This latest attack shows how desperate the “yes” campaign has become.” - The Times (£)

> Yesterday's LeftWatch: Lib Dem President Tim Farron says Thatcherism amounted to "organised wickedness"

  • Patrick Wintour: Yes to AV campaign is bookended by leaders who are struggling or unpopular - The Guardian

National Audit Office finds that PFI schemes will cost every household nearly £400 next year

"In a scathing report, the spending watchdog warned the Government that PFI deals were no longer suitable for funding future projects given the spiralling costs of repaying bills over many decades. The price tag for repaying PFI firms will reach £8.6 billion next year alone, with the taxpayer owing a total of £121.4 billion on public projects which are worth only £52.9 billion." - Daily Telegraph

> Jesse Norman MP on Comment last December: Taxpayers deserve a rebate from Gordon Brown's costly Private Finance Initiatives

News in brief

  • David Cameron to campaign in North Wales today - BBC
  • Labour Welsh Assembly candidate in sick attack on Lady Thatcher - Daily Express
  • University campuses are 'hotbeds of Islamic extremism' - Daily Telegraph
  • European Court threat to stem cell research - Daily Express
  • UK and Malawi expel each other's diplomats - Reuters

And finally... Ann Widdecombe speaks about her regrets at never marrying and losing her first love

Ann Widdecombe 2010 "For decades, her no-nonsense approach and seeming indifference to the opposite sex have been some of Ann Widdecombe’s defining characteristics. Now the former Tory politician has revealed that one of her major regrets is not having children – adding that her first boyfriend Colin Maltby was ‘the love of her life’.  She compared Mr Maltby ending their romance to ‘losing a general election’." - Daily Mail

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27 Apr 2011 08:33:10

Newslinks for Wednesday 27th April 2011

Screen shot 2011-04-27 at 20.32.27 8.45pm WATCH: Angela Eagle says Cameron was "rattled" when he told her to "calm down, dear"

6.30pm WATCH: I will always tell you the truth, says Caroline Lucas in Green Party broadcast that doesn't mention the environment

6pm Paul Goodman on Comment: The dream that Syria's al-Assad could be lured away from Iran was always an illusion

4pm WATCH:

Screen shot 2011-04-27 at 12.44.52
 2pm Mark Field MP on Comment: Banking reform - never a cost-free revolution

1pm Local government: 

12.30pm ToryDiary: Oh dear. A PMQs that will be remembered for Cameron's "calm down dear" putdown to Yvette Cooper

THATCHER STATUE 11am LeftWatch: Lib Dem President Tim Farron says Thatcherism amounted to "organised wickedness"

9.30am ToryDiary: Economy grew by 0.5% in last quarter

ToryDiary: Why Cameron shouldn't and won't try to force a general election soon

Andrew Bridgen MP on Comment: Bailing out Portugal would be throwing good money after bad and urgently needs to be debated in Parliament

Screen shot 2011-04-27 at 07.17.20

LeftWatch: The Yes campaign target Cameron in final stages of campaign... but a majority of Labour MPs are now backing No2AV

Baroness Stowell on Parliament writes about her first few months in the House of Lords

Local government: The battle for Telford & Wrekin and Tory council leaders reply to Rod Liddle's Non-Jobs charge

Cameron No2AV David Cameron brands Lord Ashdown ‘sanctimonious’ over AV - Metro

The Express records Cameron's latest attack on AV; 'A life support machine for dead governments'

The FT (£) records Tory unhappiness at recent Lib Dem attacks on them: "Another well-connected Tory MP said: “What the Lib Dems have done has made Lords reform less likely. Tory backbenchers don’t like all this mucking around with the constitution. “What the Lib Dems have been doing is pathetic and childish. It makes it much less likely we will do anything to help them after May 5.” Conservative MPs are particularly scornful of Mr Huhne, whom they suspect of whipping up anti-Tory sentiment to establish his leadership credentials, should Mr Clegg be forced out of office. “He’s on manoeuvres,” said one Tory minister."

Meanwhile the Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott has warned that David Cameron would have "burned Scotland at the stake" if he hadn't been restrained by Nick Clegg in Coalition - Scotsman

Farron, Huhne and Cable are the leading contenders to succeed Clegg - The Guardian

Hours before GDP figures, Osborne warns that Britain is still not out of the economic woods

OSBORNE LOOKING UP "George Osborne, the Chancellor, has warned his Cabinet colleagues that the country continues to face “difficult” economic conditions, on the eve of critical growth figures. Official figures today will reveal how Britain fared in the first three months of 2011 after suffering a deep drop in output in the final quarter of 2010, blamed on freezing weather. But economists are warning that the royal wedding bank holiday may have a dampening impact on growth figures for the second quarter of 2011, due later this year, further contributing to the “choppiness” of the recovery deep into the year." - Times (£)

Middle class students will pay at least £2,700 more in university tuition fees to subsidise those from low income families – even if they go on to earn much less in later life - Telegraph

Public Accounts Committee warns that NHS reforms may distract from hunt for £20 billion of efficiency savings - BBC

PM 'won't rule out' arming Libya rebels amid fears of drawn-out war - Daily Mail

The Sun calls for the "rules" of the Libyan conflict to be changed so that Gadaffi can be targeted and eliminated.

William Hague has said he "utterly condemns" the violence being used by Syrian forces against pro-democracy demonstrators - BBC

Anatole Kaletsky notes how the Coalition is taking money from the young and giving it to the old

"Spending has been cut on most programmes that benefit future generations but do little for the bulk of today’s voters — school buildings, universities, scientific research, energy innovation and long-term infrastructure investment. Child benefit has been cut for higher-earning families and education maintenance allowances have been abolished. Meanwhile, government spending on elderly voters continues to grow, sucking the lifeblood out of public services that would benefit children and build the nation’s future. State pensions have been gold-plated with David Cameron’s unprecedented “triple-lock” guarantee, which promises annual escalation in line with the highest of three inflation factors: consumer prices, average earnings or 2.5 per cent. Free bus passes and television licences, winter fuel payments and age allowances have all been left untouched." - Anatole Kaletsky in The Times (£)

In Scotland, Annabel Goldie stands by orthodox Conservative policy on prisons

Goldie Orange Jacket "Community-based alternatives to prison sentences have "severe flaws", Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie has claimed. Miss Goldie, campaigning outside Barlinnie Prison with Glasgow list candidate Ruth Davidson, wants short jail sentences for convicted criminals to be brought back. The Scottish Conservatives have pledged to restore custodial sentences of three months or less as an option for the courts." - Scotsman

Ed Balls attacks Alex Salmond's "barmy" economics

 "Mr Balls said it was “baffling” that someone who has made such inaccurate pronouncements about the economy over the last four years could be trusted to be in charge of Scotland. Reeling off a list of examples during a Holyrood election campaign stop, he called the notion of fiscal autonomy for Scotland “barmy” and Mr Salmond’s support for adopting the euro “totally crackers”." - Telegraph

A Labour candidate for the Welsh Assembly has apologised after saying he hopes Margaret Thatcher will die soon - BBC

Stephen Glover (no fan of Tony Blair) attacks Royal family's decision to exclude the two former Labour PMs from Friday's wedding

  • "t is highly regrettable — indeed, I would say constitutionally irregular — that the two most recent prime ministers of this country, who happen to be Labour, have not been invited to Friday's Royal Wedding.
    Neither Tony Blair nor Gordon Brown is among the guest list of 1,900 that includes — let's be frank — some pretty unsavoury foreign leaders, as well as some rackety private individuals." - Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail
  • Daily Mail leader: "This paper never held a torch for Tony Blair. But the fact is that he and Gordon Brown were the Prime Ministers of this country for 13 years. As such, they were the people’s representatives, the figureheads of our democracy and the Queen’s first ministers. Excluding them from the guest list for the royal wedding, while inviting Lady Thatcher and Sir John Major, breaks every constitutional convention."

> On Sunday on LeftWatch Tim Montgomerie reached the same conclusion.

The Prime Minister's cuts to the Health and Safety Executive will cost more lives - Johann Hari in The Independent

Dan Hannan enjoys watching France and Italy square up to each other over control of their borders

"The French government is demanding less European integration. President Sarkozy, furious at the sight of Tunisian migrants being waved through by Italian carabinieri, and uncomfortably aware that opinion polls put him behind the Front Nationale’s Marine Le Pen, is demanding that the Schengen Treaty be revised to allow countries to reimpose frontier controls." - Dan Hannan in The Telegraph

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