Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Think of the children..

The Tories want to talk to young families about the dangers of the internet. Nicky Morgan said last night that schoolchildren will now be taught a "curriculum for life" to give them the "emotional resilience" to cope with the modern internet age, in a departure from the party's core campaign message of the economy. 

Morgan delivered her speech, which we have splashed on today, to the Bright Blue think-tank, home of the last surviving Tory modernisers. The choice of audience is noteworthy as she ruffled feathers by telling another Bright Blue gathering last year that the Tories needed to avoid talking about "who we hated" and to offer a "positive" message to win the upcoming election. So, what is she up to? 

The education secretary has soared up the ministerial ranks, entering cabinet just four years after being elected MP in 2010. Her rise has left some "pale, male and stale" Tories feeling a bit grumpy about being passed up for promotion, while other colleagues have never forgiven her for not being Michael Gove. However, she has been keen to show off her modernising credentials, recently saying she would have backed gay marriage if she had another chance to vote on it. 

Morgan's latest intervention, coming as she agreed to be president of the "liberal conservative" think-tank, helps set out her stall in the party if the election leaves Tory MPs looking around for a new leader. The fact that her speech could have been delivered by David Cameron, who became leader on a "change to win" platform and frequently talks about the need to keep children safe online, shows why she is one to watch.


David Cameron has won valuable support in his fight with the broadcasters over the proposed election debates in the shape of Lord Grade, a former chairman of both the BBC and ITV, who accused them of "bullying" the prime minister with their threat to "empty chair" him. In a searing letter to the Times, the peer writes: "Who do the broadcasters think they are?" If the Tory leader fancies a different option, he could go for our own Digital Debate proposal....


The French government is attempting to block a €2 coin commemorating the Battle of Waterloo, claiming it is a "symbol that is negative" and would undermine the unity of the eurozone, Peter Dominiczak reports. Tory MPs have told the French to "grow up a bit". 


David Cameron has asked ministers to look into whether the intelligence agencies' budget could be counted as "defence spending", in a bid to head off US criticism of military spending, the FT has more details. This comes amid anxiety that Britain's defence budget will soon fall below Nato's target of 2 per cent of gross domestic product. Officials have already managed to boost the amount significantly this year by adding in war pensions. 


Scores of Tory MPs are set to vote against "unConservative" plans to force tobacco manufacturers to sell cigarettes in plain packets in the House of Commons. However they will be unable to stop the ban on advertising on cigarette packets coming into law without a debate by MPs in the Commons. Chris Hope has more


Ed Miliband's wife has said she fears he will be the victim of "really vicious" attacks from the Tories during the General Election campaign. Justine Thornton, a leading lawyer who is set to play an increasingly prominent role in the Labour campaign, insisted she is "up for this fight". Read more here


UKIP voters are more likely to believe the world as we know it will end in their lifetime than supporters of other parties, a survey by YouGov has found. More UKIP voters (10%) think they would survive for only a day after an apocalyptic disaster struck than Lib Dems (7%), Labour supporters (7%) and Conservatives (5%). Meanwhile, just as many Lib Dem supporters (12%) as UKIP voters say they have made preparations to survive a world-changing disaster. 


The Scottish National Party is "screwing" David Cameron and Nick Clegg out of more for Edinburgh than it deserves, Lib Dem Baroness Williams has told the Huffington Post UK, in a message that will do no harm to the SNP's appeal up in Scotland. She also said that a "quite nasty streak in parts of the SNP" was exposed during the referendum campaign.


Regular rail users will not be surprised - even bureaucrats find it difficult to buy the cheapest train tickets, according to the spending watchdog. Civil servants were also found to be still travelling first class for long journeys – despite the practice being banned by ministers when the Coalition was formed. Here are more details


Rachel Reeves, Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary who was infamously branded "boring snoring" by a BBC Newsnight producer, has called on students to "stay away" from weed, warning that the drug ruins lives. She was backed by shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, who warned of the dangers of "marijuana-induced psychosis". Buzzfeed has more


@GuidoFawkes: Says the wife of a man who stabbed his brother in the back and broke their mother's heart out of his greed for power...


From The Telegraph

Mary Riddell - Our politicians must stop rubbishing the Scots Nats, and start copying them

Stephen Booth - We can survive a Brexit, but banks would take a hit

From elsewhere

John O'Connell - How to save £50bn: Bold cuts to state spending will deliver prosperity for all

Matthew Norman - With a past like hers, Margaret Hodge might show a bit more humility 


0930 UK monthly industrial production figures to be published by ONS

1030 Pat McFadden, shadow Europe minister, speaks at Fabian Britain and Europe 2020 conference. (Lord Mandelson speaks to the same conference at 13.30)

1200 PMQs

1430 BBC director general Lord hall gives evidence to the Commons European scrutiny committee on the BBC's coverage of Europe 

House of Commons to vote, without a debate, on plain packaging for cigarettes

Greece to begin talks with the IMF, ECB and European Commission over its bailout programme

Ladies Day at the Cheltenham Festival




Northern Ireland Questions. 

Prime Minister's Questions. 

A Ten Minute Rule Motion: Horses and Ponies (Live Export). 

An Opposition Day Debate: i) Election television broadcast debates ii) Serious organised crime. 

A short debate on the effect of the Ark Pensions Scheme on a constituent. 


0930: Russian membership of the Council of Europe. 

1100: Right of abode for former British-Hong Kong servicemen. 

1430: Access to HIV treatment in low and middle-income countries. 

1600: Government policy on co-operative schools. 

1630: Transport management in Kent. 




Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Bill - Third reading. 

Specialist Printing Equipment and Materials (Offences) Bill - Third reading. 

Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill - Report stage (Day 3). 

A short debate on information gleaned from the EU balance of competences review.