Tuesday, 1 October 2013

PM supports Boris running in 2015..

Ben Brogan's morning briefing.. 

Breaking news: David Cameron has been speaking on the Today programme.
The Prime Minister was asked about Boris Johnson, and described him as "a brilliant Mayor of London." Mr Cameron said that Boris could "absolutely" run for Parliament in 2015 while remaining Mayor of London.
Mr Cameron spoke about Ed Miliband's decision to reply to the Mail's criticism of his father, saying "If anyone had a go at my father I would want to respond pretty vigorously." He said "I've not read the original article, I've not read the reply."
On Syria, the PM defended his reaction to losing the vote in the Commons: "I don't think I was petulant at all, I accepted the will of the Commons and I think I did it with reasonable grace."  
Mr Cameron said the Government's measures were aimed at helping those who most needed it: "It's right to help young people who want to buy a house and can afford payments to get a perfectly responsible mortgage."
"We need to recognise that hard-working people need more of their own money in their pockets to spend as they choose." 
Mr Cameron also said that he was "quite convinced we will find the money to freeze petrol duty because this is a real priority."   
But we may be hearing much more of Mr Cameron's earlier interview with LBC radio. The PM was asked if he knew the price of a loaf of “value” bread in a major supermarket. He replied: “I don’t buy the value stuff. I have a breadmaker at home.” When pressed to name the price, Mr Cameron said: “It’s going to cost you north of a pound.” The loaf would actually cost 49 pence. 
Good morning. George Osborne's speech lacked a game-changing announcement - the freeze in fuel duty, welcomed by many MPs, was the closest. That was all very deliberate: the emphasis is on portraying Mr Osborne as a man with a plan, and one that is working.  As I write in my column, the hope is that the public will appreciate a "grown-up" approach with no time for short-term wheezes. The aim to create a budget surplus by 2020 is ambitious, and its short-term significance lies in making tax cuts less likely before the election. Indeed, the feeling is that tax cuts - even of the symbolic rather than substantive nature - may be impossible. That's why the Conservatives are attempting to take more ownership of the rise in the personal allowance. Similarly, the announcements of tax breaks for married couples is being presented less as a device to encourage marriage, and more as a cost of living measure for the families that need the most help. The appointment of Karren Brady as the Tories' "small business ambassador" could also be a shrewd move against Labour's claims to be the party of small business. But if Mr Osborne's economics - based on dull seriousness and credibility, as Janan Ganesh writes - are all grown up, his hair does not seem to be. More than one person was overheard comparing the Chancellor's hair to Liam Gallagher's at the Telegraph's party last night.
The sight of Tory members queueing for an hour or more for Boris Johnson's speech on London was a reminder of his star power. Few will be convinced by Boris's claims in an interview with Bloomberg on his leadership ambitions: “I have no such plans,” Johnson said, “Ever, now, whenever.” If we can take Boris's words at face value (excuse my cynicism), then the party's membership will be very disappointed: a new YouGov poll found that 38 per cent would vote for Johnson as their first preference for Tory leader. Theresa May is second with 18 per cent, and she gave another well-received speech yesterday with her pledge that the party's next manifesto would promise to scrap the Human Rights Act particularly well-received.
It remains clear that Ed Miliband's populist promise of an energy freeze policy has left the Tories not quite sure how to respond. Philip Hammond told a fringe meeting yesterday that the policy has "hit a nerve" and the Conservatives "really address the challenge of domestic energy bills". A Tory MP in a marginal seat described Mr Miliband's plan as "economically stupid but politically genius". One suggestion is that the party seeks a conservative solution - like cutting the VAT on energy bills - and present it as a long-term solution rather than short-term gimmick. 
Iain Duncan Smith will use his conference speech today to announce that claimants will be told to spend 35 hours a week in jobcentres demonstrating that they are seeking work. Those who pass through the Work Programme without getting a job will be required to attend a jobcentre every morning and sign in for the day. A particular target are those whom officials suspect of working on the black economy while claiming benefits. Underpinning the measure is the Conservative belief of the potency of the "welfare party" attacks on Labour.
Nigel Farage revelled in being persona non grata at conference: it was never going to be a good plan. With typical theatre, he arrived 15 minutes late and then, as Michael Deacon described: "Into Manchester Town Hall swaggered Nigel Farage, practically squelching with glee, and sporting that mischievous bug-eyed smirk that makes him look like a toad plotting a practical joke." But the confrontation that followed with Bill Cash was worth the wait. Cash said Ukip was "not acting in the national interest" and told them to "lay off our marginal seats!" Farage retorted that Cash was a "hopelessly out of date tribal politician" and had put party before country by not ousting John Major. At this point Anne Main had had enough and stormed out. But maybe there's still hope for a Tory-Ukip alliance, as Douglas Carswell writes.
Ed Miliband has responded to the Mail's depiction of his father as "The man who hated Britain". Mr Miliband highlights his father's service in the Royal Navy, and writes that "Fierce debate about politics does not justify character assassination of my father, questioning the patriotism of a man who risked his life for our country in World War II, or publishing a picture of his gravestone with a tasteless pun about him being a ‘grave socialist’." But, on the same page as Mr Miliband's reply, the Mailpublishes a new piece - "We repeat: This man did hate Britain". Their editorial isn't backing down: "An evil legacy and why we won't apologise."
What can be done about Dave's women problem, which polling suggests could cost him the next election? Cathy Newman has some advice: "Perhaps the "Dave" Cameron Sam knows eludes him in the macho environment of Westminster and a government of - by and large - blokes. Would he have more luck with women voters if he put his inner feminist on parade?" 
Douglas Carswell allows himself to dream:
@DouglasCarswell: With colleagues in Manchester, they've left me in charge of SW1. I've decided to repeal the HRA and abolish CGT. Hope they won't mind...
In the Telegraph 
Best of the rest
Rachel Sylvester in the Times - Tories must balance the tough with the tender
Ed Miliband in the Daily Mail - Why my father loved Britain
Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times - The Tories will fight populism with dull seriousness
Conservative conference day three:
9.15am-10am 'Helping People to Get On', a panel discussion led by the Culture Secretary Maria Miller at Tory Conference. 
10.30am Boris Johnson's speech to conference. 
11am 'Delivering for less': speeches by Francis Maude and Eric Pickles.
11.45am IDS's speech. 
2.30pm-4pm Education and Health: speeches by Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt. 
Fringe events:

10am-1130am: Ministers and Mandarins: How Politicians and Civil Servants Can Work Better Together with Francis Maude, Nick Herbert and Paul Goodman. ConservativeHome Marquee