Conservative Home

« January 2009 | Main | March 2009 »

28 Feb 2009 08:57:54

Saturday 28th February 2009

7.45pm Seats and Candidates: Antony Calvert selected for Morley and Outwood

Ivan_cameron_and_family_27.15pm ToryDiary: David Cameron conveys his thanks for all the messages of support he has received this week

5.15pm Julia Manning on CentreRight: "We need a military health service in the UK that communicates the deep appreciation and respect that most of us have for our veterans. The price paid by our forces in the daily sacrifices of duty should be credited to them in the specialised care they receive when their losses later extend to their mental health."

4.15pm WATCH: Gordon Brown promises a clean-up of the banking system

2.30pm Local Government: Eric Pickles urges Conservative councillors to "get in touch with their inner Tory"

1pm Local Government: Bob Neill MP reports back on a successful Conservative Councillors' Association Conference

11.30am WATCH:

David_ruffley_2ToryDiary: David Ruffley announces "Mobile Urban Gaols" to spearhead Tory effort to let the police concentrate on policing

Abhishek Majumdar on Platform: Avoiding tax avoidance and restoring confidence to the UK

Seats and Candidates Search for 100 Peers: Sir Andrew Green

Local Government:

Greg Hands on CentreRight: Where spin meets the politics of envy - Labour's new policy to publish Council chiefs' salaries


Camerondavidredtie David Cameron sends message of support to today's Convention on Modern Liberty

"The Conservative leader said a Convention report earlier this week citing nearly 25 acts of parliament and more than 50 separate measures that have eroded British liberty added more weight to the evidence of the erosion of liberties: "It shows very clearly that the Human Rights Act has not protected us from these erosions, and may even have given them a veneer of respectability. That is why a Conservative government would replace the Act with a British bill of rights - to better tailor, but also strengthen, the protection of our core rights in keeping with the great tradition of freedom under law that has been nurtured in this country for centuries." - Guardian

> Yesterday's ToryDiary post on how the recession could impact the debate on civil liberties

Lord Myners under pressure as it emerges he knew about Sir Fred Goodwin's pension...

"The government last night moved to claw back half of the £16m pension pot for the disgraced RBS chief executive, Sir Fred Goodwin, as it launched a wider review of the multi-million pound rewards earned by ousted executives of the bailed-out banks. The move by ministers came as Goodwin was still refusing to relinquish his pension payout of £693,000 a year that he claims was secured with the knowledge of the City minister, Lord Myners... Myners came under pressure from the Tories and the unions yesterday to step down because of his handling of the crisis. Shadow chancellor George Osborne said Myners was in a very difficult position as he had known about the size of the pension last October and did not do anything about it. The senior Tory on the treasury select committee, Michael Fallon, called on Myners to resign." - Guardian

“Of course our anger should be directed at Fred Goodwin. But it should also be directed at Gordon Brown and Treasury minister Paul Myners for allowing this pension to be paid out for failure. We should be angry that this row has further sapped confidence in the Government’s ability to handle the banking crisis at the heart of this recession.” - George Osborne quoted in The Sun the pay-off and pension for ex-HBOS executive Peter Cummings comes under scrutiny

"The disgraced banker who helped bring Halifax Bank of Scotland to its knees was given a £600,000 pay-off and is likely to receive a pension of more than £400,000 a year. Peter Cummings, who masterminded many of the stricken bank's high-profile deals, has left with a pension pot estimated at £10million-plus... But yesterday Mr Brown attempted to distance himself from the deal, insisting: 'That was a decision that was made by Lloyds and HBOS - it was a merger that they decided'... Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said: 'Gordon Brown has a reputation for acting like Macavity when things go wrong, but even by his standards attempting to claim he had nothing to do with the Lloyds/HBOS merger is staggering'." - Daily Mail

Conservatives_and_unionists_logo Further coverage of the "sealing of the deal" between the Conservatives and Ulster Unionists

"The merger between the UUP and Conservatives will allow Ulster voters to play a key role in national politics, it was claimed yesterday. Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey and Conservative Northern Ireland spokesman Owen Paterson officially launched their plan to field joint candidates in the European and Westminster elections in Northern Ireland. They urged voters to focus on the opportunities their alliance presented and dismissed criticisms of their new title, 'Ulster Conservatives and Unionists - New Force'." - Belfast News Letter

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: European Elections will be first test for Conservatives and Unionists

Amanda Platell reflects on how Ivan's death will affect David Cameron

"I was initially deeply sceptical over the way Cameron flaunted his family. Cameras in the kitchen... pictures of him kissing Ivan... it all seemed to be too intrusive, too much spin, too Tony Blair. But Cameron maintained we had a right to know what kind of man he was - and that meant witnessing at first hand how important his family life was to him. And over time, who could not admire the way he coped with Ivan's condition, without a hint of complaint for the sleepless nights, the frequent trips to hospital, the constant gnawing anxiety that must have left him utterly drained and exhausted? It showed the measure of the man." - Amanda Platell in the Daily Mail

Charles Moore expresses his unease about the suspension of the Commons on Wednesday

"Not surprisingly, the media reports of the political reaction to the death of David Cameron's son, Ivan, on Ash Wednesday, showed a House of Commons united. But, in fact, this was not so... At Gordon Brown's request, the House adjourned out of respect for Mr Cameron, suspending Prime Minister's Questions. No one in Westminster wanted to question this out loud, but, in private, many were unhappy about it. I think they were right to be." - Charles Moore in the Daily Telegraph

Welsh Tory candidate mourns her baby's death

"The Conservative parliamentary candidate in Delyn, Antoinette Sandbach, is mourning the death of her five-day-old son Sam. The baby died on Tuesday, the same day that the Conservative leader David Cameron’s son Ivan was taken ill before dying the following morning. The separate tragedy was revealed yesterday in a statement issued by the Welsh Conservative party." - Daily Post

William Hague: The government must be open about its role in Binyam Mohamed's Guantánamo ordeal

"This week Binyam Mohamed was released from Guantánamo Bay and transferred to the UK. Far from ending speculation, his return has inflamed rumours about what he endured since his capture in 2002... These are serious allegations. Torture is abhorrent and unacceptable, and for Britain to be associated with such practices, even at the level of unproven allegations, damages our reputation and our standing in the world. For Britain to clear its name, the government needs to be as transparent as possible about what happened to Mohamed, so that the British public, British officials and British allies know that this country does not connive, collude or participate in torture." - William Hague writing in The Guardian

> Our recent ToryDiary post on the issue

Forsyth_michael Lord Forsyth and SNP Finance minister clash over Scottish fiscal autonomy

"Former Tory Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth yesterday accused Finance Secretary John Swinney of tactics of "destruction" over his demands for full fiscal autonomy. The old adversaries clashed at a House of Lords hearing in Edinburgh examining the future of the Barnett Formula. Mr Swinney made clear that he rejected the replacement of the formula with a new needs-based assessment because he did not trust the fairness or impartiality of the Treasury to oversee that process. Former Scottish Secretary Lord Forsyth said his advisers had always warned against a needs-based system because it could cut funds to Scotland. He asked why Mr Swinney was rejecting the argument and added: "Is there some tactics here?" - The Herald

Cheryl Gillan's autism bill clears first hurdle

"A Tory MP's bid to improve support for people with autism has cleared its first Commons hurdle, despite government opposition. Cheryl Gillan's bill would put a legal duty on councils and NHS services to look after people with autism's needs. Labour claims their autism strategy would achieve the same effect without the "blunt instrument" of legislation. But Tory MPs cheered as they won a vote to stop the bill being "talked out" by 131 votes to 25 - a majority of 106. They had entered the Commons chamber to support the closure motion in unusually large numbers for a Friday and the bill was given an unopposed second reading - allowing it to move into its detailed committee stage." - BBC

Tories to oppose "unfair" port bill

"The Conservatives will table an amendment to a controversial bill that will see businesses that use UK ports face far higher rates bills. The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill, which is currently before Parliament in the House of Lords, proposes that companies that use the UK's 55 ports will have to pay millions of pounds more in business rates from April. The bill has caused particular controversy as the increased rates will be backdated to 2005, and the Conservatives plan to table an amendment." - Daily Telegraph

Johnson_boris_pointing Boris unveils celebration of London

"Plans for a month-long celebration of London which include live music, lectures and walking tours throughout June, have been unveiled. Inspired by the city's past, present and future, events being organised for the Story of London involve a Tudor river pageant... London mayor Boris Johnson said the event would have "superb attractions". Mr Johnson said: "There are so many stories to tell, in so many different ways, and the Story of London will be a kaleidoscopic exposition of the city's past, present and future." - BBC

Matthew Parris on the lessons of the miners' strike, which began 25 years ago tomorrow

"David Cameron describes himself (I think sincerely) as an admirer of Lady Thatcher. If so, this is not a bad moment to think about the lessons of the miners' strike. I don't mean that he will face a bankers' strike; or a teachers' or prison officers' strike; or even a civil servants' strike; or any strike at all. I mean that shockingly early in the life of the next administration it will become clear that if prime minister Cameron is to do anything but affably tread water, there will emerge substantial, sometimes powerful and sometimes pitiable groups who can never be reconciled to his plans." - Matthew Parris in The Times

Boris to face Commons transport committee over snow disruption - Daily Telegraph

Peter Mandelson in new "favours for friends" row - Daily Mail

Commons Speaker took wife on taxpayer-funded trips to Hawaii and Bahamas - Daily Telegraph

VC holder Johnson Beharry condemns government failure to care for veterans suffering post-combat stress - Independent

Brown pins his hopes of recovery on Obama - Times

Obama outlines Iraq pullout plan - BBC

Lib Dems suspend Nazi fancy dress councillor - Independent



Please use this thread to highlight other interesting news and commentary and visit for breaking political news and views throughout the day.

27 Feb 2009 08:56:46

Friday 27th February 2009

5.15pm Mark Field MP on CentreRight: "Far from upholding the free market values and the honour of the law of contract, those who support Sir Fred’s entitlement as it was back in October will only help to undermine capitalism and all it does to create wealth."

Lord_howe_25.15pm Parliament: Lord Howe says the Foreign Office is underresourced

5pm WATCH: Ivan Cameron's doctor pays tribute to "strong couple", David and Samantha

5pm Parliament: Is Lord Falconer going to get a monster pension?

4.15pm ToryDiary: Cameron's Conservatives aren't serious says John O'Sullivan

3.45pm ToryDiary: European Elections will be first test for Conservatives and Unionists

Picture_132.45pm WATCH a George Osborne double bill:

2.45pm Andrew Lilico on CentreRight: "Would all these Labour MPs and government ministers saying that it is "unacceptable" for Goodwin to receive his pension be happy for other employers to treat dismissed staff in the way they propose to treat Goodwin?"

11.30am CentreRight updates:

10.15am Louise Bagshawe on CentreRight: Sir Fred chaired the Low Pay Commission

10am Parliament: Why aren't our bins collected more frequently?

ToryDiary: Will recession impact the debate on civil liberties?

Jonathansheppard Jonathan Sheppard on Platform: Why any Conservative must support Royal Mail reform

Local government:

Parliament: Philip Davies MP worries that schoolchildren are getting 'Romeo and Julian' lessons

Today's must-read: Our public debt is hitting Armageddon levels

"Most economists and ministers now believe that a prudent fiscal policy means not allowing public sector debt to exceed 40 per cent of GDP. But the Government is under no obligation to manage the public finances with this target in mind. Indeed, Britain is not even bound by the 60 per cent limit in the Maastricht treaty, as Margaret Thatcher managed to win an opt-out from the relevant article. This is just as well, given what has happened since last year. With the debts of the nationalised and part-nationalised banks now on the public sector balance sheet, the ratio of public sector debt to GDP in the UK exceeds that of Italy and Japan. And it is set to grow much higher. On the basis of the planned levels of borrowing, it could exceed 65 per cent of GDP in 2010-11." - Steve Bundred, Chief Executive of the Audit Commission, writing in The Times

Immigration is voters' top concern

"A Daily Telegraph/YouGov survey shows that it is the top concern that people want an incoming Conservative government to deal with. Fifty-two per cent said they wanted a Tory administration to reduce immigration. This week immigration figures revealed that one in nine people living in Britain was born overseas, highlighting a significant change in population make-up under Labour." - Telegraph

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Poll also finds Tories 10% ahead

Agreement reached on 'Ulster Conservatives and Unionists - New Force'

"The Conservative Party and Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) have confirmed their plans to fight elections in Northern Ireland on a joint ticket and under a new name. After painstaking behind-the-scenes negotiations the ballot papers will carry the title 'Ulster Conservatives and Unionists - New Force'." - Belfast Telegraph

0000d6e010dr "Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party Sir Reg Empey said: "I am delighted that my party has agreed to work more closely with the Conservative Party. This is something entirely new in Northern Ireland, something which would allow us to become more fully and demonstrably an equal partner within the UK family."" - Telegraph

Theresa Villiers makes the case for her high speed rail plan

“We believe that this will cement Birmingham’s place as a major European city and provide a major boost for jobs across the West Midlands. As well as regeneration gains, particularly around the stations for the new line, a top-class transport link that effectively shrinks the distance between the nation’s two largest cities will help integrate the economies of the Midlands and the south-east. Faster and better links to London help the rest of the country tap into higher relative levels of prosperity in the south-east, providing a boost for vitally important manufacturing industries such as car production, which are suffering so badly in the current recession.” - Birmingham Post

You knew all about my £693,000 a year pension deal, Sir Fred tells Labour - Daily Mail

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Did Labour authorise Fred Goodwin's pension windfall?

Nick Bourne reshuffles his Welsh Tory team, moving chief rival - BBC

Labour minister, Caroline Flint MP, warns unions against boosting the BNP

"A minister has warned Labour MPs and trade unions they will play into the hands of the British National Party if they continue their campaign against companies they claim recruit "foreign workers" to undercut pay levels." - Independent

Teenage pregnancy levels highest for a decade - Times

Ministers admit they handed over terror suspects in Iraq to US, sparking claims of extraordinary rendition - BBC

Councils in England will be forced to publish information on how much their chief executives earn - BBC

Taxpayers_alliance "Gold-plated pensions gobble up £1 in every £5 of council tax we pay, a report will reveal today. The bill for UK town hall pensions hit a massive £4.5 billion last year — with the average council paying about £10million. The typical Band D tax is due to rise to a record £1,414 in April — with £282 spent on council workers’ deals. And the Taxpayers’ Alliance, which uncovered the figures, claims that about 3,500 councillors are now on index-linked, final-salary pensions." - The Sun

Clean streets, safe neighbourhoods and strong schools should be recipe for Republican revival in US cities - Heather MacDonald in The Guardian


Please use this thread to highlight other interesting news and commentary and visit for breaking political news and views throughout the day.

26 Feb 2009 08:59:47

Thursday 26th February 2009

11.45pm ToryDiary: Tories 10% ahead (YouGov)

6.45pm Local government: Worcester Tories will NOT support twinning with Gaza

Green_damian_blue_background_26pm ToryDiary: "I regard anyone born in Britain as British" says Damian Green

5pm ToryDiary: Did Labour authorise Fred Goodwin's £650,000pa pension?

3.45pm Parliament: Malcolm Harbour welcomes proposal to exempt small businesses from EU regulation

12.15pm Parliament: Gordon Brown breaks Commons rules on office sub-lets

12noon Parliament: It was right to suspend PMQs yesterday

11.45am Parliament: Nick Hurd backs short-term Treasury loans to sound charities

Crabbstephen2 11.30am Parliament: Stephen Crabb calls for clear Government message on gas storage

10.30am Local Government: Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh's budget speech on Hammersmith and Fulham's Council Tax cut.

9.45am Parliament: More than a hundred MPs want to see police report on Damian Green arrest

ToryDiary: A brief glimpse of Samanatha Cameron's anguish

Elizabeth Truss on Platform sets out a manifesto for police reform: "Despite having the most expensive police service in the developed world per capita - costing 20 per cent more as proportion of  GDP than the US - Reform’s new report, A New Force, shows that there are major gaps in provision, particularly in tackling organised crime. The street price of drugs is falling – cocaine costs half as much as a decade ago. People-trafficking is rising."

Local government:


Picture_2 WATCH: Margaret Thatcher's new Downing Street portrait

Brown makes private call to David Cameron

"Gordon Brown has spoken to David Cameron to express his condolences over the loss of his son Ivan. Mr Brown had already said in Parliament that everyone's thoughts and prayers were with the Conservative leader, but he later spoke to him privately." - BBC

How Ivan changed David Cameron

"As political adviser to cabinet ministers Norman Lamont and Michael Howard, and later as director of corporate affairs at Carlton Communications, Mr Cameron's public school confidence sometimes extended to a touch of arrogance. Friends say that was knocked out of him by his and his wife Samantha's experience in bringing up Ivan. At Carlton, former colleagues noticed a change in him after Ivan was born in 2002. One described him as a "different man" and "much less frivolous". Another said that whereas he had previously appeared "arrogant", Ivan's disability has been "a real leveller". His lifelong friend, the writer Giles Andreae, has said it had given the Tory leader "more humility"." - Andrew Grice in The Independent

David Cameron expected to be off duty for at least ten days - ITN

Matthew Parris: Speaker wrong to cancel PMQs

"I did not care for the House of Commons's impromptu memorial ceremony yesterday, which may now become a precedent for whenever a party leader suffers a close personal loss. The House is there to look outward to the nation as a whole, not inward. Parliament marks the deaths in action of British servicemen in Afghanistan with a simple one-line acknowledgement, and should do no more for sadnesses closer to home." - Matthew Parris in The Times

Gove: Deprived children twice as likely to skip school than those from the richest areas - Telegraph

Conservatives want to turn Britain into California

"Fraser Nelson says that the Conservatives are taking their cue from the West Coast of America: the land of Google, Stanford University and venture capital. They want to rebuild Britain in California’s image: dynamic, high-tech, green and ‘family-friendly’" - Fraser Nelson in The Spectator

'The Ashcroft effect'

Ashcroft_michael "In opinion polls, the Tories now do about five points better in marginal seats, where British elections are decided, than they do nationally. Gordon Brown found this out to his horror when he commissioned one such survey of swing seats, just before he cancelled the election-that-never-was in autumn 2007. The ‘Ashcroft Effect’, as it was known in Number 10, meant that a hung parliament was a distinct possibility — even if the national polls pointed towards a Labour win. The Prime Minister found out, embarrassingly late in his planning, that he had been comprehensively outmanoeuvred." - Fraser Nelson in The Spectator

Tories accepted £250,000 from Lord Ashcroft's wife - Times

Verdict on UUP-Tory deal today

"The Ulster Unionist party's ruling executive is due to meet to give its verdict on proposals for a partnership with the Conservative Party. The most difficult issue has been which name the new grouping will take, as most assembly members opposed Tory plans to drop the word "Ulster". It is understood the new name will be the Ulster Conservatives and Unionists but the word "party" will not appear." - BBC

Labour's eight largest unions protest Lord Mandelson's plans for Royal Mail

Mandelson_peter_sky "The concerted attack comes on the day the government publishes its bill to change the way Royal Mail is set up. But Mandelson will make significant moves to meet party rebels halfway by offering some reassurances today. The business secretary's commitments include assuring that Royal Mail is not completely privatised without further primary legislation; that a universal letter service, six days a week at a single affordable price, will be enshrined in law; and that Ofcom will get extensive powers to investigate the prices the service is allowed to charge private competitors and to ensure it is not forced to provide a hidden subsidy to rivals." - Guardian

"The legislation for the part-privatisation of Royal Mail that Lord Mandelson published yesterday has triggered near-hysteria in the Labour Party. Half the party's backbenchers are threatening rebellion, there is open dissent among Cabinet ministers and Gordon Brown will almost certainly have to rely on Tory votes to get the measure though the Commons. Everyone agrees that Royal Mail is a poorly run business, burdened with a ballooning pensions liability which is expected to rise to more than £8 billion by the summer. Yet perfectly sensible plans to put the company on a sounder commercial footing, while guaranteeing the pension fund, have induced a fit of the vapours in Government ranks. This does not augur well for the future, because Royal Mail offers just a tiny taste of what is to come in the public sector." - Telegraph leader

Labour peer sent to prison for texting while driving - Independent


Please use this thread to highlight other interesting news and commentary and visit for breaking political news and views throughout the day.

25 Feb 2009 08:56:29

Wednesday 25th February 2009

5.45pm ToryDiary: Where to send donations in memory of Ivan Cameron

4.30pm Greg Hands on CentreRight: All eyes are on Brown meeting Obama - but when will he have a proper meeting with Vladimir Putin?

4pm WATCH: The parliamentary tributes to Ivan Cameron in full

3pm Local Government: Matthew Elliott responds to Daniel Moylan's attack on the TaxPayers' Alliance

2.45pm Andrew Lilico on CentreRight responds to Mark Field on the issue of banks printing money

2pm Jill Kirby on CentreRight: So, Harriet, are you sorry for the wasted years?

Noon ToryDiary: Brown, Hague, Cable and Speaker Martin pay tribute to Ivan Cameron as PMQs is cancelled

9.45pm Parliament: Are the Government doing enough to tackle the Chinese on human rights?

Ivancameronhasdied_2 9.30am ToryDiary: Ivan Cameron has died

ToryDiary: Should the Conservative Opposition do more opposing?

Jonathan Delaney on Platform: Today's world leaders are leaders in name only

Seats and Candidates:

And two selections in Yorkshire last night:

Markfieldmp Mark Field on CentreRight: "Printing money now would simply represent more of the same. I fear it will lead this nation to fiscal and monetary ruin."

Local Government:

WATCH: President Obama makes first address to joint session of Congress

Clarkekenlong Ken Clarke confirms Tory backing for part-privatisation of the Post Office...

"The Conservatives pledged yesterday to support the Government over the sale of a third of Royal Mail and warned Gordon Brown against caving in to his Labour opponents. In a move that appeared to guarantee that Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, would get his way, Kenneth Clarke promised to vote for the part-privatisation plan. Only a handful of Tory MPs would oppose it, he said." - The Times a ComRes survey suggests there is opposition to the plans across all sides of the chamber

"The survey of 154 MPs from all parties found that only 28 per cent of Labour backbenchers back the Government's line that a part-privatisation deal is the only way to safeguard the long-term future of the Royal Mail, while 58 per cent oppose it – a margin of more than 2-1 against. There is more support among Tory MPs, 64 per cent of whom support the Government's approach. But 28 per cent oppose it, suggesting that some Tories may join with the Labour rebels to oppose the Bill. Among the Liberal Democrats, 53 per cent endorse the partial sell-off while 43 per cent reject the idea." - Independent

> Yesterday's ToryDiary on the issue

Dominic Grieve backs Jack Straw over blocking the release of Cabinet minutes on Iraq War

"Details of cabinet discussions held in the run-up to the Iraq war are to be kept secret after the Government decided to take the unprecedented step of vetoing their publication. Campaigners had demanded to see the minutes of two meetings, on 13 and 17 March 2003, amid allegations that the Cabinet failed to discuss properly or challenge the decision to invade Iraq. The legality of the war was also discussed at the meetings... The Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, said releasing the minutes risked doing "serious damage" to the frank discussions that take place around the cabinet table... The Tories backed the Government's decision to block the release of the minutes, but the shadow Justice Secretary, Dominic Grieve, said the verdict left an "overwhelming case" for a full public inquiry into the waging of war in Iraq." - Independent

George Osborne brands Brown a "headless chicken" over bank bail-out...

"The Prime Minister has been accused of behaving like a "headless chicken" after it emerged the government was giving Lloyds Banking Group a £480 billion discount on loan interest... George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, said the government showed a lack of direction over how to handle the economic crisis. "Britain's recession is made worse by the fact that there is no coherent government plan, no clear sense of direction and no confidence in a Prime Minister who is behaving with the frenzy of a headless chicken." - Scotsman

...and declares savers to be the "innocent victims" of the recession

"Households withdrew a record £75million a day from their savings last month, figures have shown. Over the whole of January £2.28billion was pulled out of personal accounts, the highest monthly figure since the British Bankers’ Association began its records more than a decade ago. ... Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, said: ‘Here is further evidence that savers are the innocent victims of Gordon Brown’s recession. We need to help them now by abolishing the basic rate tax on savings and build a long-term economy not founded on debt’." - Daily Mail

The Guardian's G2 supplement profiles David Cameron...

"David Cameron is potentially only months away from being Britain's prime minister. But does he know what he wants to do with power, and what does he actually stand for?" - Guardian G2 profile the paper asks in a leader: Where is Cameron's Tory project headed?

"Labour is in the doldrums, at 30%, but the Conservatives have not found trade winds of their own. At 42% the party's rating is a squeak above its average in ICM polls over the year; Labour is just below its average, and the 12-point gap between them is typical. Enough for a workable victory, perhaps - but not yet evidence of a nation gripped by prospective transformation... he has taken his party from nowhere to the brink of office. Along the way, the Conservatives have evolved. How that evolution is to continue is unclear." - Guardian editorial

New_thatcher_portrait_for_downing_s Baroness Thatcher returns to Downing Street today to unveil new portrait

"Baroness Thatcher will return today to 10 Downing Street to unveil a portrait that captures her at the height of her power 27 years ago. The event marks only the third time a living ex-prime minister has had their painted portrait on display in Downing Street, after David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill. But instead of the prestigious occasion it was supposed to have been, today's unveiling has become mired in controversy and infighting... When Lady Thatcher was asked who she would like to invite and supplied a list of names, all but one of whom worked with her during her Downing Street years. The odd one out was David Cameron, who was 12 years old when Mrs Thatcher came to power. Someone from Downing Street called back to inquire whether she really wanted this person to be present. The result was an outcry from the Conservatives, who alleged that a petty-minded Labour Prime Minister was trying to ban Mr Cameron from the event." - Independent

Tory music taskforce announces schools' national music week

"The Conservative Party’s Music Taskforce has announced proposals for an annual national music week, aimed at improving music education in schools. Plans for the event, unveiled today by shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, include visits to schools by UK artists and the encouragement of local and regional school music competitions. The Tory party said the week would end with a televised national competition to find the “finest” school orchestra." - The Stage

Andrew Porter: The Tories should scrap PCSOs

"These ridiculous plastic policemen are an affront. They are a product of David Blunkett's weak-willed and politically correct tenure at the Home Office and Cameron and Grayling should have the courage to say so. So far the Tory leader has retreated into saying that they can offer a deterrent. Really? The PCSOs offer nothing but fluorescent-jacketed incompetence. A recent report found that a team of PCSOs - which has cost the taxpayer £10 million - has handed out just 15 fines. That means each fixed penalty notice cost more than £650,000 in public money. Brilliant. To watch these employees - I can't face calling them officers - trying to deal with anything on the streets of London and elsewhere has been a dispiriting experience in recent years.... Grayling should announce that an incoming Tory government would scrap the PCSOs." - The Telegraph's political editor Andrew Porter writing on the paper's Three Line Whip blog

Fight against terror "spells end of privacy"

"Privacy rights of innocent people will have to be sacrificed to give the security services access to a sweeping range of personal data, one of the architects of the government's national security strategy has warned. Sir David Omand, the former Whitehall security and intelligence co-ordinator, sets out a blueprint for the way the state will mine data - including travel information, phone records and emails - held by public and private bodies and admits: "Finding out other people's secrets is going to involve breaking everyday moral rules." - Guardian

Boris_thumbs_up Boris cleared of breaching code of conduct over "Greengate" - but warned his conduct was unwise

"Boris Johnson's role in the Damian Green affair was "extraordinary and unwise" but did not amount to an abuse of office, a new report has found. The independent report prepared for the London Assembly by solicitor Jonathan Goolden cleared the mayor of breaking its code of conduct." - BBC

> Yesterday's post on the news

Rail groups ordered to cut fares for commuters - Times

Army is fighting British jihadists in Afghanistan - Independent

Former Tory MP Jonathan Sayeed misled consumers over "PatientPak" kits - Times

London Underground MD resigns - Guardian

First Ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland meeting Brown today - BBC

President Obama vows that the US will emerge stronger than ever before from the economic crisis in first speech to Congress - BBC

Picture_3 And finally... You couldn't make it up: Pensioner given criminal record for hitting teenager with church minutes

"Alma Harding, a retired post-mistress, who gave a teenager a clip round the ear with the rolled-up minutes of a church council meeting to stop him vandalising a village green has been given a criminal record for battery. Mrs Harding, 63, described as a "pillar of the community", was found guilty by magistrates in a case she angrily criticised as a "waste of time and money". Mrs Harding had to spend £2,270 on a legal team to defend herself, and wept in the dock as she was convicted at Newton Abbot Magistrates Court in Devon. The court heard that the 4ft 11ins pensioner confronted a 13-year-old boy, who is three inches taller than her, after she saw him and two friends playing football near some flower beds and swinging from a chain around a war memorial in Kenton, near Exeter." - Daily Telegraph


Please use this thread to highlight other interesting news and commentary and visit for breaking political news and views throughout the day.

Conservative Intelligence