Friday, 16 May 2014

The Prime Minister's Scottish mission..

Good morning. Dave's Scottish sortie continues today. His promise of more powers for the Scottish Parliament has generated a few headlines in England - "Vote No and we'll give Scotland more power" is the p4 story in the Mail, "Scotland offered more powers" is the FT's p2 lead - but is having a rather bigger impact in Scotland. The pledge leads the frontpage of our Scottish edition and is the Scotsman's splash.
The visit carries plenty of risks for Mr Cameron. As the Scotsman leader observes, the PM is "damned if he does and damned if he doesn't". Some Labour figures within Better Together have suggested that Dave stay out entirely; Karl Turner, a Labour MP, was at it again on Twitter last night.
But it is vital for the Union that Mr Cameron's visit is a success. I said yesterday on the Telegram podcast that I would put my money on Dave remaining in Number 10 after the next election. Today's YouGov poll, with Labour on 36% to the Conservatives' 34%, has done nothing to change my mind. That means that the Scottish Labour line - that Conservativism is an English disease and Ed Miliband is the cure - is a perilous, not to mention disingenuous, line to take. The task must now be for Mr Cameron to convince Scots there is a future for the Union that includes a Tory government. 
The Electoral Commission's figures - released yesterday - have the papers aflutter."Tories use secret club as front for donations" is the arresting frontpage of this morning's Indy. The story itself - that donations are being funnelled through the United and Cecil Club, an organisation that is the Conservatives' seventh largest donor - feels like small beer in comparison. The Club has acted within the rules laid down by the Electoral Commission and without an attached scandal, the story is unlikely to catch fire. Still, it's allowed Labour's Michael Dugher to attack the Tories for their "shadowy donors". What Labour would give for donors, shadowy or otherwise. The party's fundraising is anaemic - they took £4.4m to the Conservatives' £6.6m - and the figure gets worse when you factor out trade union donations; without their backers in the unions they would have raised less cash than the Liberal Democrats. (Matt Holehouse has the story.)
Is the Sun shining on  Ed Miliband? The Sun's page 2 story  is a 'Tale of Two Britains' - something which will cheer Mr Miliband. But don't celebrate just yet, Ed; his interview with "the Sun Cabbie" is a rough affair, with the Labour leader being given a good going over on everything from his vanishing lead to immigration. He can expect a still tougher time on the World at One today, as he returns to the scene of his disastrous interview with Martha Kearney.

Dominic Cumming's latest blogpost is proving eeerily prophetic. "You have become a Manchurian candidate," Mr Cummings tells Nick Clegg. Today's story that the DPM tried to get the former Gove SpAd arrested is likely to do further harm to Mr Clegg. Has the whole affair driven Mr Clegg loopy, wonders James Forsyth while Fraser Nelson writes that the whole affair is putting him off coalition altogether. Mr Clegg is being made to look a ninny by Mr Gove and those running his briefing operation. Dom Cummings warns that unless he backs off on education there will be more leaks. The question though is one for Mr Cameron: who does he support? His friend Mr Gove in a political battle? Or the DPM on a more fundamental question of the proper running of government. Leaks and attacks don't do the Coalition much good. And while Mr Gove may hate it, the free schools meal thing was agreed by Mr Cameron.

The Telegraph's team-up with the Guardian and YouTube has rebooted the debate about debates, as I blogged yesterday. That the debate - viewable anywhere by anyone - would be free of broadcast regulations adds another intriguing dimension. For different reasons, both Dave's team and Ed Miliband's people favour a one-on-one debate. That could now be on the cards. You can read more about it all here.

The Morning Briefing is edited by Stephen Bush. You can follow Stephen on Twitter.

Latest YouGov poll:

Con 34%, Lab 36%, LD 8%, UKIP 13%


Last day before the recess and Kerry McCarthy is checking her favourites. Who says MPs don't know how to party?

@KerryMP: Just looking back through my Twitter 'favourites'. They're awesome,


In the Telegraph

Peter Oborne - British politics is broken - and only Nigel Farage is profiting

Allison Pearson - Girls everywhere need protecting from Islamists

Telegraph View -Glory in defeat

Best of the Rest

James Forsyth - War on Gove

David Aaronovitch - Free speech must trump the right to privacy


1300 LONDON: Ed Miliband on the World at One.