Saturday, 5 July 2014

Who won the week..

 There's an important poll out later today: Populus' weekly"Top Ten Most Noticed" tracker, the list of the ten stories that broke out of the hubbub and left a mark, however brief, on the public consciousness. Important, because it's a useful reminder that, most of the time, when we ask "Who won the week?", the real answer is almost always "Luis Suarez", or, failing that, one of the Kardashians.
In the bubble, Labour have had a pretty bad week. Lord Sainsbury's warning that "neither the industry nor the voters feel they fully know how the Labour party views its relationship with industry" overshadows the coverage of an Ed Miliband speech intended to round off the party's pro-business week. Meanwhile, Andy Burnham's remarks at another conference that Mr Miliband has yet to overcome voter discontent on Europe and immigration are widely covered. (There's the added political difficulty for Ed that the pro-EU, pro-migration policies that have reassured the party's remaining friends in business are the same ones that are exercising Mr Burnham and the party's 'Blue Labour' tendency.) 
Outside the bubble, has anyone noticed? It's unlikely. The sun is shining. The World Cup and Wimbledon are on. Absent a big, attention-grabbing headline, the winner is whichever party is best served by the status quo. Gordon Brown's defenestrated spinner Damian McBride believes that party is Labour. I'm not convinced. Looking at ComRes' most recent survey of the marginals, the overall slippage in Labour's vote share can also be detected in the battlegrounds. The Conservatives have now moved into a narrow lead - 29% to 25% - in the seats they hold, although they are still miles behind - 24% to 36% - in the seats they need to take from Labour. 
Meanwhile, my colleague Will Heaven has taken a look at what people are saying on Twitter about the party leaders, and it's bad news for pretty much everyone. Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage are incidental, while much of the commentary on Dave and Ed is negative. (It's 43% negative for the PM and 57% for the Labour leader.) My instinct is, without a rush of good feeling towards the Opposition, voters tend to rally round the incumbent when the chips are down - look at 2005 and 1992. The bad news for the Tories is that the incumbent is a Con-Lib coalition. At present, the Conservative majority that they crave looks as remote a possibility as a victory for Ed Miliband in May next year. 

The PM delivered an emotive appeal to Scottish voters, saying that it would "break my heart" if the Yes campaign triumphs on the 18th of September - he also announced that £500 million will be put into a City Deals scheme to improve infrastructure and employment around the Glasgow area. Also gearing up for the fight are Ukip. Nigel Farage's party has been largely absent from the campaign to save the Union, as Better Together fears that Ukip's message will clash with their attempts to win over wavering Labour voters and Left-leaning Scots.RAILWAY TO NOWHERE
"State to bid for rail franchises under Labour" is the Guardian's splash. Patrick Wintour reports that Labour will subject future franchises to a competitive bid between the state and private sector, a halfway house between those Labour MPs and activists who want a commitment to gradually return the franchises to state control, and others - such as Ed Balls - who are sceptical about the benefits of the measure. "Pure speculation" is the line from the party - looks like someone is flying a kite.
Survation have fired back at Peter Kellner's criticisms of their methodology. The YouGov president says that Survation's use of 2011 past-vote weighting instead of the 2010 weighting favoured by YouGov means that they record a higher share of dyed-in-the-wool Nats and not enough "red Nats" - Labour voters lending support to the SNP in Holyrood elections who will return to the Unionist fold in September. Survation say that their approach has been validated by electoral results since 2011 -, and that, until the referendum, there is no reason to suppose that their figures are any more or less accurate than YouGov's. Storm in a teacup? Well, if YouGov are right the referendum campaign is over bar the shouting. If Survation are right, the Union is still very much up for grabs. LABOUR MEANS BUSINESS
Sir John Armitt's proposal - part of Labour's policy review, and announced yesterday during the party's pro-business jamboree - that infrastructure proposals be handed to a national infrastructure commission, to be voted on in one big gulp rather than having every single scheme - from HS2 to new airports - battled through Parliament painfully and slowly, has won the endorsement of Rene Lavanchy at Coffee House. It's an idea that George Osborne should consider stealing,he says.
Jean-Claude Juncker? He's not so bad, Ken Clarke told a European radio station. Mr Clarke looks all-but-certain to depart the Cabinet at the reshuffle - and he certainly seems to be increasingly demob happy.
George Osborne refused to answer a simple question about multiplication as a panel of children quizzed him on his maths, his music, and how he spent his pocket money (you can watch the video here. Samuel Raddings, aged 7, asked the Chancellor what 7x8 was. Mr Osborne responded that he made it a "rule in life not to answer a load of maths questions". Ann Treneman is unimpressed, wondering if he uses the same device to avoid awkward questions from Danny Alexander. The interview is the first of a series in which children quiz politicians - is it just me who thinks that sounds like a recipe for disaster for the politicians? A WHOLE LOT OF MONEY FOR FORTY-LOVE
A Russian banker has paid £160,000 for a game of tennis with David Cameron and Boris Johnson. The auction winner, Lubov Chernukhin, is the wife of Vladimir Chernukhin, a former finance minister in Vladmir Putin's government. The odds must favour Boris and Dave - the PM, I'm reminded by Mandrake today, is coached from time-to-time by the former England No.1, Andrew Castle. Also up for grabs, the Sun reveals, was a jar of honey made by Hugo Swire, which went for £15k to a bear of very little brain. WICHITA TALKING ABOUT, CHUKA?
While touring regional radio promoting Labour's drive for greater regional devolution, Chuka Umunna mangled the name of the key marginal Worcester, pronouncing it "Wichita", the name of a Kansas town. "You're having a gaffe" is the Sun's take.
The Morning Briefing is written by Stephen Bush, who tweets as @stephenkb. Our cartoon is the work of the Telegraph's excellent cartoonist Christian Adams. You can view sketches and recent Telegraph cartoons on his Instagram
Just £7, too:
@JeremyCorbyn: Astronauts - great play about housing and hopes of young people by Islington Community Theatre; two more shows at Platform Theatre. Great!
Poll of polls 27th June to 4th July (ComRes-Populus-Survation-YouGov) Labour lead by four points
In the Telegraph

Fraser Nelson - Google has become the victim of digital censors

Isabel Hardman -
Shashank Joshi - Why violence in Yemen means longer queues at airports
James Kirkup - Now that our forces have stopped being killed, we've lost interest
Best of the Rest
Padraig Reidy - A message for politicians: don't complain why reporters report

Philip Collins - Power to the regions! We mean it, honest...
AGENDA1000 LONDON: Sentencing of Andy Coulson and others for phone hacking.