Friday, 30 May 2014

What earthquake..

BREAKING: Sir John Major has just finished speaking. He said that Ukip would fade away and rebuffed suggestions that David Cameron's renegotiation would fail; highlighting his own success in negotiating opt-outs of the Social Chapter and Mr Cameron's earlier victories in Europe. He said it was "a pity" that the papers concerning Tony Blair and George W. Bush's correspondence will be restricted to a gist. He said it will keep a lingering sense of suspicion around the war and will embarrass Mr Blair as the architect of Freedom of Information, but it remains outside the powers of the current government. His suggestion that the last Labour government - or Mr Blair himself - could intervene to publish the papers in more detail will doubtless cause ructions. 

Good morning. Nick Clegg will be staying on as leader of the Liberal Democrats. Ed Miliband will be Labour's standard-bearer in 2015. Meanwhile, David Cameron continues on with the mission of renegotiation ahead of a referendum in 2017.

Nigel Farage's earthquake seems remarkably short on aftershocks. After the results, politicians of all stripes tramped into the television studios and told us all that they would listen - and learn.  The Mail and the Sun report that Theresa May has suggested that freedom of movement "needs to be looked at" - but there is opposition within the Cabinet. Meanwhile, Ed Miliband believes that the cost of living crisis explains why people are voting for Ukip. None of these stories feel particularly driven by the events of last Thursday.

This looks very much like a political class is that neither listening nor learning. That a Labour MP, Alex Cunningham, is in hot waterfor calling Gillian Duffy a "bigoted woman", adds to the sense that nothing much has been changed by the Ukip spring. It may be that, for all the sound and fury around Ukip's success in the local and European elections, the circus - or the steel band - has already packed up and moved on. They may have a chance for an encorenext Thursday in Newark (although today's Survation poll for the Sun, which has numbers of Cons 36%, Ukip 28% and Lab 27%, suggests that this is unlikely). Mr Farage's impact on political affairs may be more fleeting than he will have hoped. 

ALL BUILD AND NO BUBBLEThe second phase of Help to Buy is boosting sales in the regions; not as feared, stoking a bubble in London. The findings from the Nationwide Building Society, coupled with Treasury analysis, are in the Times, FT and the Telegraph. Sir Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor of the Bank of England, warned that housing prices were the "brightest light" on the Bank's risk dashboard. But Help to Buy completions account for loans of just over three times salary; compared to those outside of the scheme, which come to 3.2% and 3.8% inside the capital. Just 385 Help to Buy completions have occured inside London, where the housing boom is developing, while the North West, North East and Yorkshire & Humberside account for 2029, where prices are still below their pre-crisis peak. It's a shot in the arm for a scheme that is politically popular but has come under fire from some politicians, including the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, and a number of his predecessors. Szu Ping Chan has the full figures.
Ed Miliband's claim not to read the newspapers or to watch television is widely discussed. Somewhat surprisingly, it's the usually supportive Mirror that is particularly scathing. "Mr Miliband needs to catch up with the news if he expects people to listen to his views," says the editorial, while Tory MP Charlie Elphicke, showing a keen eye for his audience, says that he "always enjoys reading the Daily Mirror", before adding: "No wonder he is so out of touch if he doesn't read newspapers". Mr Miliband's BuzzFeed interview also revealed that the Labour leader believes that his reputation for weirdness is a concoction of a hostile media. He might reflect that his tendency to give interviews in which he reveals a distaste for the habits of ordinary people and boasts about his intellectual self-confidence are at least a small part of the problem.

Senior Liberal Democrats are calling for Vince Cable to be stripped off his role as the Liberal Democrats' economic spokesman, James Kirkup and Georgia Graham report. The effective demotion would mean that the Business Secretary would have a reduced role in the Liberal Democrats' election campaign and that Dr Cable may lose out in the event of a second coalition. Meanwhile Liberal activists are frustrated by the latest line being spun by Cowley Street. The "if we work, we win" line upset many Liberals who felt that the leadership was turning a blind eye to the damage wrought by the years of coalition. Sam Coates in the Times has more.

Chris Leslie will today tell the Institute for Chartered Accountants that a future Labour government will not be able to undo the Coalition's cuts - because there is no money left.  The shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury will say that "more limited pot of money will have to be spent on a smaller number of priorities".

More than most, Nick Clegg will greet the end of the week with relief. Lord Rennard has resurfaced with a belated apology to his alleged victims. But that it's come so late has left three out of the four women demanding that Mr Clegg expel Lord Rennard from the party. The DPM felt too weak to move Lord Rennard even before the Liberal Democrat wipeout on Thursday and the re-emergence of the scandal will do Mr Clegg's team no favours.

A full account of Tony Blair's conversations will not be included in the Chilcot report, with the conversations summarised and the former President's views kept secret. John McDonnell's description of the whole thing as a "whitewash" dominates the coverage."Chilcot inquiry accused of whitewash" say the Guardian. "Blair & Bush inquiry whitewash" says the Mirror. The Mail goes further:"This shabby whitewash" is their splash. For all the sound and fury, the inquiry is unlikely to make waves: Labour has largely moved on, and can there really be a great number of people in the country who are waiting for the report to come to a fixed opinion of Mr Blair and his administration? 

The NHS must stop closing cottage hospitals and return to treating more patients in their local communities, says Simon Stevens, the Blair adviser turned NHS chief, has said in his first interview since taking post. Mr Stevens also suggests that employers could be encouraged to help their workers keep healthy. You can read the full interview with Laura Donnelly here.
The Morning Briefing is edited by Stephen Bush. You can follow him on Twitter here. 

Another crisis of public confidence in the BBC:
@StuartAndrewMP: BBC Question Time has become a joke

YouGov latest:
Con 31%, Lab 38%, LD 7%, UKIP 16%

In the Telegraph
Iain Martin - Vince Cable: from leader in waiting to loser
Isabel Hardman -  The mysterious Mr Lansley will hardly set Brussels alight

Rob Colville -
Dan Hodges - The war games are over - and it's the Tories who are smiling
Telegraph View - Spreading enterprise will spread wealth

Best of the Rest
Philip Collins - The crushed Lib Dems have a bright future
Richard McGregor - Hilary Clinton: permanent campaigner
Gaby Hinsliff - Morals in the City: don't put your money on it
George Eaton - Fighting back by turning blue

1030 BELFAST: First press conference for the Police Service of Northern Ireland's next chief constable, George Hamilton.