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31 Mar 2007 08:54:59

Saturday 31st March 2007

Boxers 10.45pm BritainAndAmerica update: Giuliani remains ahead of Clinton and McCain in early polling

10.15pm ToryDiary update: Tories seek to establish true cost of Gordon Brown's attack on pensions

9.45pm Seats and candidates update: Steve O'Connell selected to succeed Andrew Pelling on GLA


ToryDiary: Charles Moore: Cameron's strategy is working

Seats and Candidates: The ones that got away

YourPlatform: Damon Lambert believes the TRC's recommendations should be implemented immediately


Brown"Gordon Brown defied repeated warnings from his own officials about the potentially devastating impact of his £5 billion-a-year raid on pension funds and went ahead with it regardless, The Times can reveal. Pensions campaigners described the revelations — the result of a two year battle by The Times — as an absolute disgrace, and said that it showed the Chancellor “knowingly set about destroying” Britain’s pensions system." - Times

"Peter Hain yesterday told critics of Gordon Brown to "put up or shut up" and accused them of having a subliminal desire to see the Conservatives win the next election" - Guardian


"Tony Blair has tried to seize the "happiness" agenda back from David Cameron with a call for more flexibility at work. The Prime Minister directly challenged the Tory leader's remarks that there was more to life than making money and that improving people's happiness should be a key priority for politicians.  Mr Blair, addressing a conference in Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry, took a sideswipe at the Eton-educated Mr Cameron, saying: "It's a lot easier to say happiness is more important than money if money is not a problem." However, Mr Blair and Mr Cameron appear to be agreed that more people now put happiness as a priority in their lives, rather than merely paying the bills." - Independent


Shaun_bailey"David Cameron's drive to modernise the Conservative Party achieved a high-profile success with the selection of a black youth worker to fight a key London target seat at the next election. Mr Bailey, a writer and community leader, has campaigned against gun crime among black youth. Mr Cameron said of Mr Bailey: "He has got a real understanding of some of the most important issues in London. He will be a great role model for the future."" - Telegraph

>>> See ConservativeHome's interview with Shaun on Wednesday


"The great Tory boobies believe that what people "really" want is unchanging Conservative verity, and that only a false consciousness induced by the media prevents them from recognising this. David Cameron has a much clearer understanding. He realises that it is not enough to keep blowing the same bugles from sad shires, though he loves those shires as much as anyone. Things have changed, and so must the Tories. Why should that surprise or dismay a party that produced leaders as different as Disraeli, Churchill and Margaret Thatcher?" - Charles Moore in the Telegraph


Iran_cuffs"Teheran is well aware that we have been taking on additional military responsibilities while running down our capacity. Struggling to meet our commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are in little position to pick a new fight. Public opinion, too, has changed. Where our great-great-grandfathers clamoured for the rescue of Gordon, we have reacted to Iran's provocation with a resigned shrug. Americans, in particular, cannot understand why we seem so indifferent to the fate of our own people. Part of this indifference has to do, disgracefully, with anti-war sentiment: there is a feeling that we have no business being in the Gulf, and that we therefore are in no position to complain when things go wrong." - Telegraph leader

"European foreign ministers failed last night to back Britain in a threat to freeze the €14 billion trade in exports to Iran, as the hostage crisis descended into a propaganda circus." - Times

"Western tactics must be to thwart the hopes and influence of these extremists. That means racheting up the pressure on Tehran, while pursuing an adroit diplomacy. There could, eventually, be a face-saving conference to delineate, once and for all, the waterway boundary, disputed since 1639. That is for the future. For now, Britain must make clear to Iranians as they enjoy a holiday that their country’s actions are despicable, unworthy of an old and proud civilisation." - Times leader

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30 Mar 2007 07:43:21

Friday 30th March 2007

6pm ToryDiary update: Mandela Blasts Top Barnet Tory Over Dodgy Shirt

2ndpreferences_2 3pm ToryDiary update: 30% of Tory voters have UKIP or BNP as second choice

11.30am Seats and candidates update: Richard Tracey adopted for Merton and Wandsworth's GLA seat

10.30am BritainAndAmerica update: Waiting for the UN is usually the most dangerous plan in the world

10am Seats and candidates: Candidates to be proud of



ToryDiary: Lord Tebbit becomes sponsor of 'Better Off Out'

Seats and candidates: Shaun Bailey adopted for Hammersmith and John Maples answers your questions

YourPlatform: Mark Prisk MP highlights more of Labour's failure of small businesses


"More than 35 councillors have defected from Labour and the Liberal Democrats to the Conservatives in the past two years, the party said yesterday. Senior figures said as many as four Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors were approaching the party each month about joining David Cameron's Conservatives." - Independent


"Although the Conservatives have made substantial progress, they have failed to make a breakthrough either north or south of the border. A legacy of distrust left over from the Major years probably explains a lot but the voters' second preferences hints at a continuing dilemma. When asked which party they would back if they decided not to vote Tory, Conservative voters were split between the left and right. As the figures show, 29 per cent say they would vote either Liberal Democrat or Green with 30 per cent saying they would switch to either Ukip or the BNP." - Anthony King in the Telegraph


Dinner"David Cameron was rebuked by parliamentary watchdogs yesterday for using his Commons office to raise money for the Conservatives. The Tory leader apologised for the "ill-advised" use of his office in a letter which coincided with a separate report by the standards and privileges committee into "cash for dinners" allegations against several of his MPs, which said political fundraising clubs should not be allowed to use dining rooms in the house in future." - Guardian


"Mr Reid's plan is not much more popular within Labour's ranks. Blunkett thinks it will "Balkanise", Clarke calls its "batty" and Beckett nearly bolted from government over it. More important, since Gordon Brown intends to take direct control of security when he becomes Prime Minister, John Reid's half-baked plans will also be short-lived. The Home Office is crying out for strong ministerial leadership and effective operational coordination. Mr Reid's plan will achieve neither. Breaking up the Home Office will just undermine public security, and overwhelm the justice system." - David Davis in the Telegraph


"Opinion poll leads are not the only signals of party success. The revelation that George Osborne had made a serious attempt to lure the Lib Dem Work and Pensions spokesman, David Laws, to the Conservative benches was another indication of great confidence among the Tories. However, the fact that Osborne made it public revealed a degree of political naivety and overconfidence that needs to be banished." - Iain Dale in the Telegraph

Jimallister_2 "The Democratic Unionist Party's MEP, Jim Allister, has resigned from the party, saying that his "stomach churned" on seeing the hitherto sworn enemies pledging to work together. "Sinn Fein, in my view, is not fit for government, nor can it be in a few weeks," he said. "They filled coffins day upon day and I have yet to hear a word of repentance or genuine remorse from those men". Allister is intending to remain an active MEP - and I gather that he can expect approaches from Conservatives eager to sign a new colleague."  - Telegraph Spy


"Red-faced Tories were last night forced to take down a blow-up ad. The 30ft by 20ft sign was erected in the car park at St Joseph's church in Clarkston in Glasgow - but it blocked the disabled access bays" - Daily Record


"The Conservative Party has recruited advertisers Saatchi & Saatchi to revamp its image and get its political message across ahead of the General Election. The agency is expected to help portray the opposition leader Margaret Thatcher in a softer image and as being less strident than she is currently perceived. " - BBC On This Day

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29 Mar 2007 07:23:14

Thursday 29th March 2007

5pm Seats and Candidates update: David Morris selected for Morecambe & Lunesdale

1:30pm ToryDiary update: "Be the change"

Theresa_may"Defending the move, Commons leader Jack Straw said the annual £6.5 million cost was a 'reasonable and relatively modest sum' for MPs to communicate with their constituents. He insisted it could not be used as a 'propaganda tool' or to 'entrench the position of incumbent' MPs. But critics said it allowed Labour to 'load the dice' in favour of incumbents. Shadow Commons Leader Theresa May said: 'Of course MPs have a duty to communicate with their constituents. But we also have a duty to spend our constituents' taxes wisely. With modern means of communication, we can communicate with our constituents without spending great sums of taxpayers' money'." - Daily Mail

Late morning updates:


ToryDiary: Conservatives establish 'Operation Miliband'

London Mayor: Introducing Simon Fawthrop as a contender for the Conservative candidacy

Seats and candidates: Jessica Lee selected for Erewash




"Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, and two senior officials should quit or be sacked for their part in last year's farm payments "catastrophe," a committee of MPs said yesterday.  The select committee, which is dominated by Labour MPs, took the highly unusual step of calling on all those responsible for the failure to pay English farmers their subsidies to "consider their positions"." - Telegraph



"Britain needs a powerful new body to promote science throughout society, a Conservative party policy task force says today. The programme of the Science, Engineering and Society Agency (Sesa) would range from helping the public understand the nature of risk to providing scientific literacy courses for civil servants and politicians. In its third report, the science task force says a Conservative government should move funding from existing departments and agencies into Sesa." - FT


"Tony Blair was embarrassed in the Commons yesterday as David Cameron urged him to axe a tax hike that hammers small businesses. The Tories are vowing to reverse the swingeing rise in corporation tax on small firms that Chancellor Gordon Brown announced in last week’s Budget." - The Sun


"No doubt there are many things to be done at the national, local and neighbourhood level (although Blair has given many of them a go already) but in terms of individuals acting rather than not acting, which is what Cameron is exhorting us to do, then, unless it’s just more hot air, ultimately he, me and lots of chaps like us have to get better at fighting. Home-Office-funded sparring sessions? Tax relief on protein shakes? Subsidised dumbbells? Come on, Dave, you need a few policies." - Robert Crampton in the Times


Cameron_turbine_2"Tory leader David Cameron has been forced to remove a wind turbine from the top of his house. Planners said the generator faced the wrong way and breached rules. Cameron, above, erected the turbine on his new £1.1million home in Kensington, London, last week. Neighbours who objected to the mast were delighted when it was pulled down." - Daily Record


"Every Conservative MP has just received a four-page missive from BA's political affairs department, explaining how "very disappointed" the company is at the party's ideas and describing its thinking as "seriously flawed". "The proposals as they currently stand will damage UK competitiveness and the UK aviation industry while having little or no impact on emissions," it concludes." - Telegraph Spy


"One year ago, the Conservatives gave Shireen Ritchie a desk in party HQ, charging her with breathing life into the slate of election candidates. But Mrs Ritchie, stepmother of Madonna's husband Guy, is the target of a whispering campaign from some London Tories, who want her removed from the post. They believe that she has breached the supposed neutrality of her office by lobbying party members to back her friend, Nick Paget-Brown, to become a Tory candidate for the London Assembly elections in May." - Independent's Pandora

>>> This story is inspired by yesterday's Seats & Candidates post


"Ministers are to decide whether plans for 17 new casinos can be rescued after defeat in the House of Lords.  Peers rejected the plans, which include a giant super-casino in Manchester, by 123 votes to 120." - BBC


Miliband"In the 1980s, "I need" was replaced as the dominant philosophy by the politics of "I want". A political philosophy emerged which, again in its ideology and its methods, understood the times. The Thatcher government licensed this materialism, encouraged aspirations and captured a new constituency. Its method was simple: get out of the way. The revolution was never completed." - Telegraph

"This looks very much like a first draft of a new New Labour agenda which, in Mr Miliband's words, is "in tune with the times". It has strong overtones of the localism being espoused by David Cameron's Tories. This is doubtless going to be the key battleground for the next general election." - Telegraph leader


"The Tebbitite right-wingers who are fretting about Cameron being insufficiently conservative should chill out; it's the rest of us who should be worried. If we do not want to be ruled by a Brideshead Regurgitated clique, we need to get to work now to ensure Cameron's rising star ends up as merely a shooting star. Then he can return to his true vocation - as a shooting-hunting-and-fishing star." - Johann Hari in the Independent

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28 Mar 2007 08:49:56

Wednesday 28th March 2007

8pm ToryDiary update: ConservativeHome's 2nd birthdaySamcoatesandsamcoates_2

3.45pm ToryDiary update: Sam Coates and Sam Coates

3.30pm on The Fisk: Iain Murray says 'Give free market environmentalism a chance'

>> A two week old MORI survey gives the Conservatives an 8% lead (see

2.30pm ToryDiary update: Manchester casino would mean degeneration - not regeneration

12:35pm ToryDiary update: Cameron asks Blair about Iran and business tax

12.15pm BritainAndAmerica update: Iran kidnapping - What Britain must do next


ToryDiary: Labour set to be minority party in both England and Wales and Tory lead down from 11% to 4%

Seats and Candidates: Shireen Ritchie faces 'bias' concerns and Calder Valley selection


YourPlatform: Neil O'Brien's comprehensive article, Environmentalism is the last refuge of a Europhile


"On too many vital issues, the Tories and the Labour Party - to the impoverishment of political debate and the future of Britain - have the same policies.  But inexorably, we are seeing the emergence of one area over which there are fundamental differences: the family.  Yesterday, in a considered speech, David Cameron laid the blame for many of today's ills at the door of family breakdown... But Mr Cameron also recognises that marriage is the cement which can hold society together. Parents of young children who have been through a wedding ceremony are six times more likely to stay together than those who have not.  The Tories - unlike Labour - would encourage commitment to marriage through the tax system - an approach practised by many European countries.  His bold assertion will offend many on the Left who will say we cannot be judgmental about marriage, families and the upbringing of children.  Indeed, the Labour Party has gone out of its way to undermine marriage both by recognising civil partnerships and, much more worryingly, financially incentivising single motherhood.  Mr Cameron has raised issues which cry out for debate. He deserves praise for his courage in saying what, by and large, most politicians choose to ignore." - Daily Mail


"David Cameron would be forced to consult his Cabinet on all new policies or face censure by Parliament if he became Prime Minister under Conservative plans proposed by Ken Clarke to restore confidence in government. The idea is aimed at preventing future Prime Ministers copying Tony Blair's informal "sofa style" which has been blamed for major policy failings, including errors over the Iraq war. The plan for a new ministerial code, drawn up by Mr Cameron's own advisers, is the centrepiece of the first report by the Tory leader's Democracy Task Force." - Telegraph


Alexsalmond_2"The Populus poll puts the Nationalists ahead of Labour in both the first-past-the-post and proportional-representation sections. They are on track to win 50 seats in the 129-seat Scottish Parliament, seven more than Labour. The Liberal Democrats would have 18 MSPs, the Conservatives 17 and the Greens one." - Times

"It is not unusual for the Scottish National Party (SNP) to have an opinion poll lead north of the Border five months before an election. It is unprecedented for it to be in that position a mere five weeks before the ballot boxes are opened." - Times leader

"Not without good cause, Scottish Labour politicians smell a rat. They believe Mr Cameron is more interested in a weakened Labour Party than in saving the UK. Their leaders attacked him yesterday and said that his relative silence in the fight against the SNP was endangering the very union he purports to support. The Tory leader has five weeks to prove them wrong." - Telegraph leader


"Few Tory politicians are more vocal about their desire to leave the European Union than Harwich MP Douglas Carswell. So imagine his horror when he and his girlfriend arrived in Berlin on Saturday for a romantic weekend, to find that the leaders of the EU's 27 member states had converged on the German capital to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome." - Telegraph Spy



"When she arrives at Stressholme Golf Club in Darlington - her final stop in the Tees Valley - she seems relaxed and easygoing. She may be anxious to go home, with the long journey back to Maidenhead, her Berkshire constituency, looming, but if she is, she doesn't show it. She greets the women warmly and, perching casually on a desk, her leopard-print pumps on display, begins the team talk." - Northern Echo


"Next week on April 1st, the Dental Contract will celebrate its first birthday, except that there won’t be any cake, balloons or bubbly. Even those few dentists who have managed to hit their newly imposed NHS targets spot on are still feeling their professionalism has been undermined. Most dentists that contacted 2020health for our review of the Contract said the past year had been one of uncertainty and disappointment." - 2020health

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