"Ukip may hand keys of N0 10 to Miliband" is our front page lead. Team Ed's strategists have calculated that their man will become PM if Ukip get more than 9% of the vote at the next election. The question of whether or not Nigel Farage's mob are useful idiots or an existential threat is a long-running divide within the Labour Party. Are Ed's people right? The experts are divided. Ian Warren, the elections analyst, thinks that a purple wave can carry Ed into Downing Street, but, he adds, they'll be saving up a world of trouble in their heartland seats (not least Doncaster North, home of one Mr E. Miliband) in elections to come. Marcus Roberts, one of Labour's foremost electoral strategists and a veteran of Ed's leadership campaign, thinks that they'll be lucky to get that far: "Red voters going purple can help blues win. This is particularly true of working-class communities and coastal seats where the UKIP-Labour switch is truly potent. To counter this threat, Labour must be a party of strength and responsibility as well as compassion and fairness." Who's right? Well, it's impossible to call until the votes are cast in May 2015. It's worth noting, though, that it narrows Labour's margin for error next May. If the Ukip surge is here to stay, you can scratch off a fair number of seats from Labour's target list. It means that they're squarely aiming not for a majority but to be the largest party next year. Now as Dave can attest, that's not so bad, after all. But Dave wasn't aiming to be the largest party. What happens if Ed misses his target, too? FRACK OFF "National parks to be saved from fracking" is our splash this morning. National parks and other valued areas of countryside will be protected from fracking, ministers will announce today. (Is there an election going on?) Fracking will only be allowed in areas of natural beauty in "exceptional circumstances", Peter Dominiczak explains. Don't celebrate so quickly, warns the Guardian. "New strings attached to fracking push" is their splash, but Rowena Mason says, there are still questions as to what "exceptional circumstances" will mean in practice. Communities will face a "fracking postcode lottery," Louise Hutchins of Greenpeace says. Our leader fears that the new guidelines are just a sop to rural communities before the election. WILL THE LAST PERSON TO LEAVE SCOTLAND PLEASE TURN OUT THE LIGHTS?
One in six Scots would consider emigrating from Scotland if the Yes campaign prevails in September, Lindsay McIntosh reports in the Times. (On the plus side, Sean Connery might come back.) In contrast, just 5% of adults would consider leaving in the event of a "No" vote. Stewart Maxwell, an SNP MP, points out that 700,000 people - the same number as would think about leaving in the event of a "No" vote - have already left Scotland in the last decade. Only a Yes vote can "reverse this exodus". Well, yes. Because an independent Scotland wouldn't have the right to free movement that comes with EU membership. I WARN YOU: DO NOT GET SICK "Millions shut out of doctors' surgeries" is the Times' splash. "Critical"screams the Sun's frontpage. GPs are unable to cope with record numbers of people, and as a result, pressure is growing on A&E units as patients crowd into hospitals in order to get treatment quickly. The Sun has an exclusive series of YouGov polls, showing that the NHS has got worse in the past year, with waiting times for GPs the biggest running sore. It's all the result of lack of money is the Conservative line, and without reform, things would be even worse. Labour say the reorganisation has wasted money, noting that the overall planned cost of £1.1 billion has been exceeded by the cost of redundancies alone, which now top over £3 billion. KEN CLARKE, UNMUZZLED AND ON TOUR
"I don’t often give newspaper interviews, and I won’t often give them in the future," Ken Clarke tells the Indy today. Uh, Ken? Today's Indy interview comes the day after Mr Clarke sat down with James Kirkup and Tim Ross for the Sunday Telegraph. The headlines from that one: he criticised the reported use of opinion polls to decide thee fate of ministers, a warning that "running a campaign on Europe and immigration is a way of losing what should be safe Conservative seats". The government has "not got much policy at the moment", and that the future of the Union was being "gambled on an opinion poll". In today's interview: Geoffrey Dickens' reported dossier is a nonsense story, and there's a nice historical anecdote about the meeting where he told Margaret Thatcher her time was up: "She accused me of being defeatist; I remember that I replied that she had been defeated." LET OFF WITH AN APOLOGY
Thousands of domestic abusers have been let off with a "community resolution" instead of a prosecution, more than doubling under the Coalition, figures show. The figures will form part of a speech by Yvette Cooper later today; in addition, she will call for domestic violence to be made a specific criminal offence. DAVE'S IN ROUBLE
The Mail's campaign to halt Dave and Boris' tennis match is still going on. "Now widow of poisoned spy calls for Cameron to hand back cash" is the headline. Marina Litvinenko, widow of Alexander Litvenko who died of polonium poisoning in 2006, wants dave to hand back the £160,00 donation. The Russia question is turning into a good old-fashioned Coalition squabble: Nick Clegg wants to relocate the World Cup in the wake of the MH17 disaster, but Dave's not convinced. He's got an unlikely ally in the form of the Indy: "leave the World Cup out of it", they say in their leader.CHALLENGE ED
Ed Miliband's call for a People's Question Time is widely reported. The Mail has a right old go at his appearance and his decision to seek the advice of an "autism expert" to help him empathise with voters, while Lord Bell, Baroness Thatcher's PR guru, describes Ed's decision to draw attention to his own flaws as "madness". "As is often the case, Mr Miliband’s diagnosis is correct, but his cure is problematic," our leadersighs. The Morning Briefing is written by Stephen Bush, who tweets as@stephenkb. Our cartoon is the work of Christian Adams; you can see his cartoons on Instagram. POLL OF POLLS
Poll of polls 21st to 28th July, Labour lead of three points (Populus-YouGov) TWEETS & TWITS
When you tweet into the abyss, etc: @SimonDanczuk: Feeling philosophical! Friedrich Nietzsche said: I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you. COMMENT From the Telegraph
Boris Johnson - Wallace's probelm is that he's wearing the wrong trousers
Stephen Bush - If politicians were nicer about each other, we wouldn't hate politicians so much
Ben Riley-Smith - Scots are utterly disillusioned with the independence referendum debateBrendan O'Neill - Is the Left anti-Semitic? Sadly, it is heading that wayBest of the Rest
Tim Teeman - The Ugly Truth About Ugly Politicians (Daily Beast)Steve Richards - Cameron will lose the battle of ideas firing 1979's bullets (Guardian)AGENDA 0930 LONDON: First estimate of UK GDP for the second quarter is published by the Office for National Statistics. 1000 LONDON: The Mayor of London visits the West End Impact Zone. 1130 ERDINGTON: Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper speech on law and order. Ms Cooper will also launch Labour's campaign for the West Midlands police and crime commissioner by-election.