Friday, 4 July 2014

Choose your battles..

The Tories are under pressure to reveal the details of their"secret trysts" with rich donors - Labour spinners say that they are the party of the rich. Meanwhile, the trade union Unite has voted to support an In/Out referendum, putting Ed Miliband in a tricky spot - the Conservatives say that Mr Miliband's lot are in the pay of the trade unions. At time of writing, I am still waiting for the Liberal Democrats to confirm the religion of the Pope. 
There is a serious point here. There certainly are a number of people who will not vote for David Cameron because of his party's close ties to the wealthy - but they were voting Labour anyway. In any case, with that party's own lavish Gala Dinner fast approaching, the attack is likely to fall flat. Meanwhile, trade unions are actually rather more popular than the Labour party - Ed Miliband's ratings are in the spotlight again in the Sun - and, in any case, the party is adamant that as far as an In-Out referendum is concerned, Unite can call for one as long as they like: absent a significant transfer of powers, it ain't gonna happen. If anything, these calls seem far more likely to alienate those Labour voters who aspire to make it rich - and those Tory voters who regard their own trade unions as vital allies at work. 
"My bunker's bigger than your bunker" seems to be the bet that both parties are making. That's one reason why Nick Clegg can still hope that his message - reiterated for the Telegraph today - of giving the Tories a little more heart and Labour a little more brain will pay dividends in 2015.  

David Cameron's hopes of securing greater controls on the flow of benefits recieved a boost after MPs in Angela Merkel's CDU endorsed proposals to prevent German state handouts being given to seasonal workers from Romania. The CDU's MPs are unwilling to pay £146 a month in child benefit to children who are still living in Romania - where the equivalent rate only comes to £7 a month. Here in Britain, the cost of migrants claiming benefits for children living overseas comes to about £30m a year. ("Merkel help for Cameron in battle over benefits" is the splash.) That Ms Merkel herself supports a Europe in which people move "to work, not to claim" was never in doubt - but that her party also supports the measure will reassure those who feared a repeat of her U-Turn over the matter of Jean-Claude Juncker.
CARELESS TALK COSTS LEADSJon Cruddas has been caught on tape again, this time by the Telegraph. In the recording, Labour's policy chief warns that the party's different camps have still yet to be reconciled, while the bold policy programme favoured by Mr Cruddas and others has been drowned out by the demands of the party's machinery, while the Labour leadership is failing to take in new ideas.. It's another distraction from Labour's policy programme - and suggests that Mr Cruddas still hasn't learnt to be careful with his public pronouncements.
Dave will urge the "silent majority" of Scots to speak out against Scottish independence. The PM is back in Scotland to make another personal intervention in the campaign, and will accuse the nationalist leaders of using "threats" to silence businessmen north of the border who oppose separation. His remarks are everywhere - you can read James Kirkup and Ben-Riley Smith's take here.
The Liberal Democrats will give a million carers a £250 bonus from the Government to allow them to take short respite breaks, under plans set out by the DPM. The money will go to people who care full-time for elderly or disabled relations, and would initially be worth £125 a year in 2015 before rising to £250 by 2020.IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH
On the Today programme this morning, Sarah Wollaston warned that the NHS is struggling to deal with long-term incurable conditions and the NHS will need further funds - as well as institutional change - to cope. Labour, meanwhile, are planning to make healthcare a new battleground over the summer, in a campaign that has been trailed in most of today's papers. The troubling dips in performance in the health service lately - whether from too much or too little reform - have Labour convinced that the NHS is headed for trouble, although the campaign will run alongside, not replace, Mr Miliband's cost-of-living crisis campaign.
Boris and Dave have made a secret deal to deploy the Mayor in marginals in London and the North, James Chapman reports in the Mail. The two men made peace over lunch at Chequers, and the Mayor will now take an active role in the Tory campaign - regardless of whether he chooses to seek a seat for himself, or not. ComRes polling in the marginals find that the Labour lead is somewhat larger than narrow four point lead in our poll of polls - but they also find that Boris is far and away the most popular politician in the crucial battlegrounds. I'M LEAVING, AND I WON'T BE COMING GASZCAK
The Lord Rennard affair continues to have a toll on the Liberal Democrats. Susan Gaszczak, one of the four female activists who spoke out against the peer, has written an open letter explaining that she and her family will be tearing up their membership cards after a disciplinary committee ruled that they would not censure Lord Rennard, citing insufficient evidence. The fallout is everywhere - LibDemVoice have a copy of the letterTHOU HAST SLAIN THE BEAST OF BOSOLVER, MY BEAMISH BOY!
"Skinner gets the boot" is the Sun's headline. Leftwing firebrand MP Dennis Skinner has been kicked off the party's poweful National Executive Committee and replaced by John Healey, who is considered a more loyalist figure. Rumours of a conspiracy abound, but Mr Healey is himself a popular figure amongst Labour's parliamentarians - if relatively low profile outside Westminster - as shown by his second-place finish in the party's Shadow Cabinet elections.
The Morning Briefing is written by Stephen Bush. You can follow him on Twitter or Instagram.
All the best people read the Telegraph:
SimonDanczuk: Video: Labour MP Simon Danczuk appalled at Home Office handling of paedophile claims.
Poll of polls 26th June to 3rd July (ComRes-Populus-Survation-YouGov) Labour lead by four points
In the Telegraph

Peter Oborne - Labour's much-maligned leader has a big decision to make

Rob Crilly - Afghanistan is not Iraq - for now
Dan Hodges - Labour's problem isn't that it hasn't got a story
Martha Gill - If Cameron wants to solve the antibiotics crisis, he needs cash
Best of the Rest
Jenni Russell - Ed and his team would be a disaster at N0 10

George Eaton - The real struggle in Labour isn't between factions, but between Red Ed and Moderate Miliband
AGENDALIVERPOOL: Biennial conference of the Unite union.
0830 LIVERPOOL: Business minister Matt Hancock speech to Federation of Small Businesses.
0900: Call Clegg on LBC 97.3.
1000 LONDON: Ed Miliband speech at the Policy Network conference.
1000: Hillary Clinton live interview on BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour.
1000 LONDON: The Electoral Commission gives evidence to the Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee.