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Monday 25th February 2008

11.30pm ToryDiary: ComRes gives Tories 11% lead

6pm CentreRight updates:

5.30pm ToryDiary: Portillo programme on Thatcher

4.30pm PlayPolitical: Hillary Clinton mocks Obama's rhetoric and is compared to an obsessive student running for school president

12.30pm ToryDiary: 51% agree that Brown is a ditherer

10.15am Local government: Westminster Council works with supermarkets to tackle street drinking

ToryDiary: David Cameron pledges to vote for lower abortion limit

Elizabeth Truss and Laura Kounine on Platform: The academies programme should be deepened and widened

PlayPolitical video: Sarkozy caught on film insulting member of public who wouldn't shake his hand

>> Don't miss our live blog from 9pm tonight for Michael Portillo's documentary on Margaret Thatcher.

The future of The Speaker and the reputation of the Commons

"The Speaker of the House of Commons has manoeuvred himself into an untenable position. He stands accused - not directly, but effectively - of misleading the public about taxi bills incurred by his wife and charged to the taxpayer; of using Air Miles acquired on official business to buy air tickets for his family; and of claiming expenses to help to cover the cost of a home in Glasgow on which he does not have a mortgage. At the same time it has fallen to the Speaker to order a review of alleged abuses of Westminster's complex and ill-defined expenses system by his fellow MPs. His approach has been widely and rightly criticised as lacking both urgency and independence. In these circumstances it is not just difficult to see how Michael Martin can honourably retain his post. It is impossible." - Times leader

"Until the Speaker goes, our faith in Parliament can't be restored" - Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail

"The salaries of MPs could rise by more than £20,000 a year in return for the second-home allowance being scrapped, under plans being examined by a committee chaired by the Speaker." - The Times

CentreRight: Who should replace Speaker Martin?

Tory MEPs resist David Cameron's call for transparency on employment - Daily Mail

George Osborne aims to create first trading market for green technology companies - FT

Davisdavid208_2 David Davis warns against comprehensive National DNA Database

"Conservatives called yesterday for improvements to the Government's national DNA database, but warned that extending it to all Britons would create a "nation of suspects".  David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, floated the idea of past criminals being added to the database, and said more needed to be done to ensure that all current offenders were included." -  Independent

24-hour drinking has fuelled 25% increase in early hours violent crime

"Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "This is a shocking indictment of the Government's failure and it is the public who are paying the price.  Alcohol-fuelled crime is on the increase yet Labour's response has been pitiful.  Despite unleashing 24-hour drinking on all our towns and communities they have simply failed to enforce the law against alcohol related offences."" - Daily Mail

Nick Herbert warns against lax bail conditions

"Jack Straw faced calls to tighten restrictions on people facing trial yesterday after figures showed that dozens of people charged with murder were freed on bail last month.  Nick Herbert, the shadow Justice Secretary, called for action after officials confirmed that 60 out of the 455 defendants charged with murder were freed on bail at the end of January. Only six out of 41 people charged with manslaughter were held in custody. Last week the prison population rose over the 82,000 maximum capacity." - Independent

Nhspensions £1 million cost of NHS pensions

"Research by the Institute of Economic Affairs has also found that 8,449 NHS employees have retired on an annual pension of at least £33,000 - equivalent to a pension pot of about £1 million.  Last year it emerged that nearly 4,000 retired civil servants had pension pots of more than £1 million." - Telegraph

Much more at the TaxPayers' Alliance.

Britain's biggest companies warn Darling about tax burden

"Britain's biggest companies have told Alistair Darling that he should not add to the scale and complexity of the corporate tax burden in next month's Budget... Overall, taxes paid by Britain's largest corporations soared by nearly 11 per cent last year from 2006 and by more than a third compared with levels in 2004, according to the survey for the Hundred Group of finance directors of leading companies." - Times

Cleggnickonnewsnight Nick Clegg confirms call for in-out of EU referendum

"The debate about Europe has been a thorn in the side of British politics for decades. Now the wound has become infected. Europhile and Eurosceptic trading blows about the Lisbon treaty in grand rhetoric that obscures the facts. If you're pro-European, as I am, you're accused of being a sellout. If you're anti-European, like most Conservatives, you're accused of being a headbanger. It isn't new, but it isn't edifying either.  It's time we pulled out the thorn and healed the wound, time for a debate politicians have been too cowardly to hold for 30 years - time for a referendum on the big question. Do we want to be in or out? Nobody in Britain under the age of 51 has ever been asked that simple question. None of them were eligible to vote in that 1975 referendum. That includes half of all MPs. Two generations have never had their say." - The LibDem leader writing in The Guardian

CentreRight: Louise Bagshawe notes how LibDem David Heath is running scared of his Europsceptic Tory opponent

Labour luvvies join together to campaign against Boris Johnson - Guardian

If you'd like to donate £2 to the Boris campaign by SMS, text BORIS then your email address to 60777. Messages cost £2 and will appear on your next bill. Click here for full details

Green & Blacks chocolate money deployed to counter Ashcroft effect in marginals - Telegraph

How ex-Labour ministers are cashing in on their connections - Daily Mail

Forget Fairtrade - only free trade can help poor - Janet Daley in The Daily Telegraph

Raul Castro has been unanimously selected to succeed his brother Fidel as Cuban leader - BBC

Weekendhighlights ToryDiary: The politics of small promises: A reflection on Team Cameron's belief that limited promises are the best way to regain voter trust.

Local government: Government did nothing about up to 400,000 homes being in wrong council tax bands

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