Monday, 18 November 2013

UKIP hit the jackpot..

Good Monday morning. The return of Paul Sykes is a headache for Dave. The Yorkshire millionaire (he's worth more than £600m) is dismissed by some as a political gadfly, another of those quixotic rich blokes who make a lot of noise but ultimately have little effect on electoral outcomes. His record certainly suggests as much. A decade or so ago he caused endless PR problems for Mr Cameron's predecessors, then disappeared from the scene. It is far from clear whether his money and his mouth made a big difference back then. But this time he's offering to underwrite Ukip with as much money as it needs to win next year in the Euro elections. The windfall is a boon to Nigel Farage and will put some fresh momentum into his party's efforts. Mr Sykes gave Ukip £1.5m in 2004. He says he's not a Ukip member but wants to help. His interview with Philip Johnston will be read with despair by many Tories who fear that their drift in the polls, and Mr Cameron's failure to capitalise on a growing economy, is down to his failure to adopt a sufficiently robust message on Europe. They complain particularly at his apparent inability to do anything to prevent large numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians from coming to Britain when restrictions on their movement are lifted in January.
But is Mr Sykes really to be feared? The prospect that Ukip might beat the Tories next year is already priced into the market, so Mr Sykes is in some ways just turning up for the victory lap. Also, he is a maverick: it is by no means certain that the message discipline of a campaign, or the imperative of constant unity with Nigel Farage, will suit him over the next six months. His interview with Today showed as much: Mr Sykes said that he has "no idea" how much money he's got or is prepared to spend. What Tories really worry about is Ukip in 2015, specifically the prospect that the party could take enough votes in marginal seats to give Labour or the Lib Dems the edge, as we note. What chance Mr Sykes will conclude that if he really wants to stir things up, that's where he should put his efforts?
The Coalition is scrapping to claim ownership of the rise in the personal allowance. Nick Clegg yesterday said he wants to increase the threshold to £10,500 before the next election - going further than set out in the Lib Dem manifesto - and George Osborne is keen on the idea. The battle is over who gets the credit: both the Conservatives and Lib Dems want to make raising the personal allowance a central plank of their election campaigns. James Kirkup says that it's smart opposition politics from Mr Clegg.
And there's plenty of other tax rows too. The Free Enterprise Group don't think that the Chancellor is doing enough to help those on middle incomes, and calls on him to scrap stamp duty on homes under £500,000 to help first-time buyers and increase the threshold before people pay tax at the 40 per cent rate. One member of the group, Dominic Raab, writes in The Times that "To cut taxes responsibly, we need to further rein in spending. We should halve the number of Whitehall departments, strictly enforce public sector pay limits and introduce a three-year cash freeze on non-pension benefits. This would save £13 billion."
The Mail reckons it could be all gain and no pain in the Autumn Statement, and George Osborne now has £20 billion to play with. Given that government debt will increase more in this Parliament's than in Labour's 13 years, the Chancellor will take a rather different view.
Boris is never shy of aligning himself with unpopular causes. He proves it again today, saying that millionaries should be hailed as Tax Heroes on account of how much they contribute to the Exchequer. The Mayor of London writes: "The top one per cent of earners now pay 29.8 per cent of all the income tax and National Insurance received by the Treasury. In 1979 – when Labour had a top marginal rate of 83 per cent tax after Denis Healey had earlier vowed to squeeze the rich until the pips squeaked – the top one per cent paid only 11 per cent of income tax. Now, the top 0.1 per cent – about 29,000 people – pay an amazing 14.1 per cent of all taxes."

It could almost be Blair-Brown all over again. After seeing an email from Ed Balls' press spokesman, Alex Belardinelli, a senior Ed Miliband aide, Torsten Henricson-Bell, wrote "As an example of why we’re having problems on EB messaging — this is his current three part argument: Cost of living, recovery built to last, economy works for working people." He signed off with "Nightmare." The e-mails were accidentally sent to Conservative MP James Morris instead of a Labour pollster of the same name. All a bit Thick Of It, but it's a reminder that the Balls-Miliband tension isn't an illusion. The Mail on Sunday had a timeline of a decade of Ed-Ed fallouts.
Meanwhile, there's a fascinating interview with Michael Dugher in the Indy about making Labous' election strategy fit for the digital age. "Mr Dugher’s task is to transform it for the digital age and turn Tony Blair’s "command and control" party upside down so that it is based on "bottom up" community campaigns. In the Blair era, the number of Labour officials at HQ outnumbered those in the regions by 2:1. Today’s 350 staff are evenly split between the two." But it doesn't look like he'll be gettingRoger Daltrey's vote: The Who frontman says that Labour's immigration policies "destroyed the jobs of my mates".
If you haven't seen it yet, The Sunday Times released Unite's full report defending itself over Falkirk, including allegations of forced signatures and coercion into signing direct debit forms. But Dan Hodges writes that the most significant part of the report is the words: “It is worth noting here that the Labour leadership was well aware of Unite’s political strategy activities in Falkirk, and approved it.” Is this Ed Milibands's "new politics"?
The Conservatives could move towards supporting parents making a profit in their next manifesto. Steve Baker, a member of a Conservative Party commission drawing up public services policies for the next election, says that profit could be a "legitimate" way to offer people an incentive to set up their new schools. But a source said that Mr Gove would be unlikely to support the idea.
Norman Baker will this week tell "booze Britain" to stop its "irresponsible promotions" and "embarrassing" binge-drinking culture. Mr Baker wants to go much further than Theresa May in attacking cut-price booze deals; it's the first real row Mr Baker has had with the Home Secretary since his appointment. It could be a long 18 months for Mrs May.
Justine Greening is under pressure for her "flat-footed" response to the typhoon in the Philippines, according to the Mail. A source said: "It’s all been so empty and soulless. When she’s talking to the media about our response it sounds like she doesn’t care." Mrs Greening has sometimes not seemed the most enthusiastic International Development Secretary.
Lord Falconer, the ex-lord chancellor, has defended the Guardian's reporting of the Edward Snowden files and said that "I am sceptical that the revelations about the broad picture have necessarily done the damage that is being asserted."
Three thousand construction workers have bene offered between £1,000 and £100,000 in compensation for being on a secret industry "blacklist", the FT reports. As Downing Street announces a review into accusations against Unite from Ineos, Vince Cable has called for a "proportionate and rational" review of industrial disputes looking at tactics by "both unions and employers".
The Morning Briefing email is edited by Tim Wigmore. Follow Tim on Twitter


The PM celebrates Google's block on child porn:
@David_Cameron: Our pressure on search engines to help stop child abuse imagery and extreme pornography online has delivered

In the Telegraph 

Boris Johnson - We should be humbly thanking the super-rich, not bashing them
0900 London: Far right protesters expected to gather outside the Old Bailey ahead of a court hearing for two men accused of murdering soldier Lee Rigby. The British National Party has invited various groups including the English Defence League to congregate from 9am. The Old Bailey
1130 London: Nick Clegg press conference. Dover House (Scotland Office), 66 Whitehall
1515 London: Public Accounts Committee on maternity services in England. Witnesses include Una O'Brien, permanent secretary at the Department of Health, and Sir David Nicholson, chief executive of NHS England. Room 15, Palace of Westminster

1615 London: David Willetts at Science and Technology Committee. The Universities and Science Minister will give evidence on the retention of women in academic careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. Thatcher Room, Portcullis House.