Breaking: The PM has just finished speaking. He appeared to concede that military action will be necessary to defeat Isil, and maintained the line that it is position that what is best for Britain is that it remains part of a "reformed EU". Good morning. Benefits frozen for two years. £25 billion of cuts still to come in the next Parliament. Was George Osborne's speech yesterdaybold - or just reckless? Last night, opinions were divided. "Was that...good?" one Tory asked me last night.
You bet it was, our leader says. "At last, a politician who dares to tell the truth" is our take. The parliamentary party is less sanguine. An MP in a marginal seat grimly ticked off a list of voters who, he said, were now lost to him. Another tells the Times that it's "the end" of the Tories' working-class vote. "He's blown it," is their verdict. The Chancellor's big bet is that the voters want honesty and clarity on when - and how - the books will be balanced, and that Labour has no stomach for that conversation. It underlines the surprisingly buoyant mood here in Birmingham. MPs and activists know that they have a fight ahead of them. They know that they are the underdogs, and many are uncertain of pulling it off next May. But they are, at least - dare I say it? - more intellectually self-confident that their opponents. SEND FOR THE DOCTOR, QUICK QUICK QUICK "Cameron promises seven-day GP cover" is our splash. The PM will outline plans to give everyone access to their family doctor by the end of the decade. "People need to be able to see their GP at a time that suits them and their family," Mr Cameron will say. But doctors say that they don't have enough staff to fulfil the demand and it will actually reduce patient choice. "If you move towards these 16-hour days, it will be less likely that your GP will be available at a time you can make," Dr Clare Gerada, head of the Royal College of GPs. QUITTERS, SPLITTERS AND KIPPERS
Boris Johnson recalled a mid-1990s meeting with Nigel Farage during a star turn to the ConHome rally last night. "As is traditional in these cases, he pushed across the caviar and vodka that Moscow Central always use when they are trying to woo potential defectors." No, the Mayor of London responded, join us and we can rule the Galaxy as father and son. Or: "It is only if the great conservative family unites and we stop Ed Miliband" that the ideals that Mr Farage and Mr Johnson both share can be put into practice. Steve Swinford and Chris Hope have the story. DISRUPTION ORDERS
On the Today programme, the PM likened the last Labour government's approach to paying Combat 18 to radicalise the National Front. "It's all not okay," Mr Cameron says. Theresa May will announce further powers to disrupt the activities of jihadists, including restricting their broadcast appearances, including similar sanctions as that imposed on the IRA during the Troubles. Holly Watt has the details. A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS
An extra runway at Gatwick will deliver flights from London’s airports to 440 destinations - significantly more than expansion at Heathrow. This extra capacity will enable the UK to fly to more destinations. Greater competition will mean a better service (at all airports) and cheaper fares for passengers. Gatwick will offer great connections across the UK, good transport links and a new airport designed for smooth and enjoyable journeys. "THIS WAS CAMERON'S BIG WAR"
The PM appeared to concede on the Today programme that intervention in Syria will be necessary if Isil is to be destroyed. General Sir David Richards' memoirs, Taking Command, begin their serialisation in the Times today. He recalls the PM's handling of the Libya conflict: "this was Cameron's big war. Understandably, he enjoyed the power and influence that came with it." At one point, the PM upbraided General Richards for a public statement about the legality of targeting Gaddafi personally. It was "along the lines of, 'You do the fighting, I'll do the talking." DO IT ALL AGAIN
Surprising poll of the day: 53% of Conservative voters would prefer a second Coalition with the Liberal Democrats in the event of a hung parliament, against just 37% who would favour going it alone, according to a Survation poll for the Huffington Post. (An eccentric 2% of Conservatives favour a coalition between Labour and the Liberals to government by their own side.) The Morning Briefing is written by Stephen Bush, who tweets as @stephenkb. Our cartoon is the work of Bob Moran; you can see his cartoons on his website. POLL OF POLLS
Poll of polls 23rd to 3oth September (Opinium-Populus-YouGov) LATEST POLLS
Rachel Sylvester - Two tribes struggle with toxic reputations (Times) AGENDA 1030 BIRMINGHAM: Theresa May speech to Conservative Party Conference, Boris Johnson to follow. 1430 BIRMINGHAM: Nicky Morgan speech to Conservative Party Conference, Jeremy Hunt to follow.
George Osborne is up to bat today with a brief to woo pensioners and settle nerves. The policy? A reduction in the 55% tax rate on pension pots to 20%. The line? It's the economy that will decide the next election, not Nigel Farage. "Osborne scraps the 'death tax" is our splash. "Osborne hopes tax pledge will steady Tory nerves" is the Times' take,"Osborne bets on pensions vow to quell Tory panic over Ukip" is the Guardian's. ("Osborne offers pension pot palliative as Tories reel from new Ukip defection" is the FT's. Try saying that three times fast.) It's yet more red meat for pensioners - the group most likely to vote and most sympathetic to Ukip - but it may take something altogether greater to calm the party's mood. The latest figures from Lord Ashcroft showing Ed Miliband on course for a majority next May have everyone rattled, while the party leadership is terrified that there are more defections to come. Likely names are being heavily briefed in a bid to smoke out the defectors, although, Nadine Dorries pointed out yesterday morning, anyone planning to defect will be perfectly willing to lie about it. Added to all that, the modernisers are striking back, warning both in public and private against trying to out-Ukip Ukip. Elections "are won on the centre ground", Sarah Wollaston told the Today programme this morning, while Damian Green warned at a fringe yesterday trying to be"Ukip-lite". A conference intended as a pre-election rally could yet turn into a battle for the party's soul. I CAN LIVE WITHOUT EU, DAVE SAYS
David Cameron would campaign for a European exit if renegotiation didn't result in a transfer of powers back to Britain, the PM said on the Andrew Marr show yesterday. The PM is expected to use his speech later this week to announce tighter border controls and plans to secure tighter control over migration within the EU. ED VS THE QUEEN
The Queen would face an annual tax bill of £1 million under Labour's planned mansion tax, the Sun reports. WAR AGAINST ISIL COULD LAST "FOR EVER" "Build an army of 100,000 or war 'could last forever" says General Lord Richards, former head of the army, in the Times. Without a well-trained army of Iraqi troops, Kurdish forces and moderate Syrian forces, US-led airstrikes will struggle to find and destroy Isil's command centres. A MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSORS
Gatwick's vision is of two world-class airports in London helping to connect the country to the rest of the world. We want to see Gatwick grow, and Heathrow improve. As connections to emerging markets become more important, and the UK's core European markets continue to grow, we need a network of airports, enabling London to function as a true global city and our economy and tourism to thrive as a result. EU LIED TO ME!
Tory defector Mark Reckless "lied, lied and lied again", Grant Shapps told delegates yesterday. Anger is running high at Mr Reckless' duplicity; and the PM was on the offensive as well, telling Mr Reckless that "we are coming for you" ahead of a battle to hold onto to the seat of Rochester and Strood. The Tories wil win nothing by crying, the Sun says. "They sound as pathetic as a jilted lover." WE NEED A TWELFTH MAN HERE...
Seeking an edge against their opponents, a team made of Conservative MPs fielded an extra man during their clash with the Lobby XI, Andy McSmith reports in the Indy. The Tories were trounced 7-2 by the journalists. The Morning Briefing is written by Stephen Bush, who tweets as @stephenkb. Our cartoon is the work of Bob Moran; you can see his cartoons on his website. POLL OF POLLS
Poll of polls 22nd to 29th September (ComRes-Opinium-Populus-YouGov) LATEST POLLS
On Friday, Nigel Farage put his tanks on Ed Miliband's lawn. On Saturday, the defection of Mark Reckless set off a thermonuclear device over David Cameron's porch. "Tory Crisis" is our splash. The question being asked in Westminster - and here in Birmingham, where the Conservatives are gathering for their annual conference - is this: are there more on the way? That it was Mark Reckless who was the subject of a well-publicised lunch with Michael Gove has highlighted the powerlessness of the Conservative leadership to stop the bleeding. Meanwhile, to make matters worse for the PM, Brooks Newmark, the minister for civil society, has resigned following a sting by the Sunday Mirror. "Sex scandal and defector stun Tories" is the Sunday Times' headline. "Ukip defection and 'sexting' scandal cause Tory chaos" is the Observer's take. "Minister forced To Quit Over Internet Sex Shame" is the Mail's line. What does it mean? Among other things, it means the party that William Hague in an interview with Tim Ross calls "the weakest opposition front bench in my 26 years in Parliament" is on course to form the next government. The PM's task this week was to find a way to broaden his appeal to secure a majority without losing more votes to Ukip. But it looks a far trickier assignment this morning than it did when Ed Miliband finished speaking on Tuesday. BOOTS ON THE GROUND? "We're in. How do we get out?" is the Sindy's splash this morning. British participation in the US-led coalition against Isil has barely begun and already minds are turning to a second vote in Westminster. Few expect that operations within Iraq alone will be sufficient to destroy or even significantly cripple Isil, as Lord Dannatt, former Chief of the General Staff, outlines in today's Sunday Telegraph. Westminster's doves are determined not to be outnumbered next time, and they're already on the march. Lord Prescott uses his column in the Sunday Mirror to warn against repeating the mistakes of history. LET SUNSHINE WIN THE DAY?
The benefits cap will be slashed by £3,000 to £23,000 if the Conservatives win the next election, David Cameron says in an interview with Tim Shipman in the Times. 16-21 year olds will be forced to do community work after six months of work. "Our ambition is to abolish youth employment and make it the case that it's simply not possibly any-more to finish school, leave home, sign on and get a flat through housing benefit," the PM says.TROJAN HORSE 2: TOWER HAMLETS DRIFT
Up to 12 schools in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets face investigation after claims they have fallen under the influence of Islamic fundamentalists, Sian Griffiths and Richard Kerbaj report in the Sunday Times. Whitehall is even more concerned about that London borough than matters in Birmingham, as they fear that Muslim extremists are more deeply embedded within local institutions than they are in Birmingham. Ofsted's reports from the lightning inspections that followed the Trojan Horse are expected to be published shortly. Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, warns in an interview with the Times that problems in Birmingham are "far from resolved". FOSTER CARERS KEPT IN THE DARK
Local authorities are withholding information about foster children in order to make them easier to place, Jonathan Owen reveals in the Sindy. In one instance, a family with six cats were not informed that a child who was placed with them had killed cats previously, while a household with a railway at the back of the garden were not informed that a child had talked of committing suicide by jumping in front of a train. The Fostering Network, a charity, wants a greater commitment to transparency from local government. A MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSORS
Gatwick's vision is of two world-class airports in London helping to connect the country to the rest of the world. We want to see Gatwick grow, and Heathrow improve. As connections to emerging markets become more important, and the UK's core European markets continue to grow, we need a network of airports, enabling London to function as a true global city and our economy and tourism to thrive as a result. "YOU DON'T TACKLE INEQUALITY UNLESS YOU TACKLE EDUCATION"
Nadhim Zahawi talks with Jane Merrick in the Sindy about how his father's bankruptcy, which forced the family into penury and forced Mr Zahawi to work as a cab driver instead of going to university has fired his support for the education reforms of Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan. Mr Zahawi, who eventually went to University College London to study electrical engineering, says that it was only his mother's education that brought them back for the brink: "My mother was a dentist. We had a half-decent education. We are able to sit down and work our way through this disaster...many of my left-leaning friends will say you can't tackle education until you tackle the challenge of poverty." "WE USED TO RUN ALL THESE CITIES"
Lord Heseltine is interviewed by Andrew Rawnsley and Toby Helm for the Observer. He warns the Conservative Party that, far from reversing the modernisation project, they must go further if they are to recover their fortunes in Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool and Sheffield, cities that were once Tory-run and have now been "rinsed of blues". And he strikes a note of qualified praise for Boris Johnson, say he has "charisma" and an "ability to communicate", but: "he has the luxury of not being in power in the sense that there's a national government to carry the flag. That's quite an advantage." Could the Mayor of London step up to being PM? "He's going to have to go through the return to parliament, the possible immersion in a Conservative government, so there's an unwritten couple of chapters before one answers that question." GEORGE OSBORNE, SOUS-CHEF
George Osborne talks life in Number 11 Downing Street with Geordie Greig and Simon Walters in the Mail on Sunday. The Chancellor reveals his fondness for Leon cookery books, as well as the work of Jamie Oliver, particularly the "beer-butt chicken". It's "a bit rude when you see the picture of it, but it's delicious," he says, "You roast - and put a can of beer up the backside of - the chicken." Mr Osborne also watches the Great British Bake-Off with his 11-year-old daughter Liberty and helps her out as she bakes in the kitchen. The Morning Briefing is written by Stephen Bush, who tweets as @stephenkb. Our cartoon is the work of Bob Moran; you can see his cartoons on his website. POLL OF POLLS
Poll of polls 21st to 28th September (ComRes-Opinium-Populus-YouGov) LATEST POLLS
ComRes: Conservatives 29% Labour 35% Liberal Democrats 7% Ukip 19%
Opinium: Conservatives 32% 34% Liberal Democrats 7% Ukip 17%
YouGov: Conservatives 31%, Labour 36%, Liberal Democrats 6%, Ukip 15% TOO MANY TWEETS @birdyword: First Dan Hannan's co-author defects to UKIP, now his best man does the same. Soon his kids will defect and be adopted by Nigel Farage. COMMENT From the Telegraph
Matthew d'Ancona - The reckless defection is a test of Cameron's nerve
Janet Daley - The Tories want an ethical society too From elsewhere
"Their tanks are digging up my lawn," Sarah Champion, Labour's MP for Rotherham, told the Today programme this morning. Ukip are in Doncaster today for their annual conference, with Labour firmly in their sights, and that party is beginning to worry. Forget the obvious symbolism of holding the event in Ed Miliband's backyard (although the venue itself is actually in the seat of Labour's Chief Whip, Rosie Winterton). Wiser heads within Labour have long said that Nigel Farage's party posed a threat to Ed Miliband as well as David Cameron. Now the word from the party's footsoldiers is beginning to filter through to the top brass. The party leadership believes they may have found the trick to beating the People's Army. You can't trust Ukip with the NHS - huh, deja vu - is their line. They're even more Conservative than David Cameron is the message that they want to drum home in their Northern heartlands. That's the background to Nigel Farage's planned overtures on keeping the NHS funded and reducing tuition fees on science degrees, trailed in today's FT. Will it work? Bluntly, Ukip's rise is not about policy. As James Kirkup wrote after Douglas Carswell's defection, "it's about trust, and it's absence". It's about the fact that, with the sound turned down, it's difficult to tell the difference between the attendees at Labour's gathering in Manchester and the Conservatives' get-together in Birmingham. It's about a political and a media class that is no longer trusted, liked, or respected. While that endures, no amount of movement towards Nigel Farage's party on Europe or immigration or attacks on that party's left flank will leave a mark on the People's Army. CRY HAVOC, AND LET SLIP THE DOGS OF WAR
The House is expected to vote in favour of strikes against Isil later this evening, triggering a war that Michael Fallon says could last for years in an interview with the House Magazine. Adam Holloway, Conservative MP and a veteran of the first Gulf War, strikes a warning note in this morning's Guardian: "If your answer is to start bombing Isis in Iraq then what you are actually doing is bombing the tribes and the Ba’athists who are exactly the people you are going to need to get rid of Isis." ED MILIBAND'S WAGE...CUT? Ed Miliband's planned minimum wage rise to £8 by 2020 would actually be 6p lower than the one that is on course to be delivered by the Low Pay Commission Steve Hawkes writes in the Sun, while, Sam Dunn reports in the Mail, his mooted mansion tax would raise less than planned according to the estate agent Savills. They estimate that the mansion tax would hit revenues on stamp duty and inheritance tax as the cost of housing fell, wiping out any revenue increases made by the tax. EU TALK TOO MUCH, HAGUE WARNS EUROSCEPTICS William Hague has warned Conservative MPs not to be distracted by arguing over the In-Out referendum promised in a second Cameron term, and to focus on holding onto power in 2015, Steven Swinford reports. He's not yet sure what all of his retirement plans will be, but, he confirms, it will certainly include more books: “I will certainly write. I haven’t yet discussed with any publisher or agent what I will write, but I’m sure it will include history." You can read the full interview with Paul Waugh and Daniel Bond here. A NOTE FROM OUR SPONSORS Gatwick's vision is of two world-class airports in London helping to connect the country to the rest of the world. We want to see Gatwick grow, and Heathrow improve. As connections to emerging markets become more important, and the UK's core European markets continue to grow, we need a network of airports, enabling London to function as a true global city and our economy and tourism to thrive as a result. WHERE'S NIGEL? Local critics say that Nigel Farage has barely been seen in Thanet South since his selection, Laura Pitel reports in the Times. "No-one has seen him," says Bunny La Roche, who has set up the Thanet branch of a union-backed "Stand Up to Ukip" campaign. Mr Farage's roles as an MEP, leader of his party and most effective media asset are all obligations that may damage his own chances of being elected in May. TONY BLAIR, QUEEN OF THE DESERT Tony Blair has been recognised as one of the top "gay icons" of the past thirty years by Gay Times in its 30th anniversary special edition, for his role in lowering the age of homosexual consent, bringing it into line with that for straight couples, as well as the introduction of civil partnerships. PRIMARY COLOURS Labour is recruiting for a Party Reform Liaison Officer to help shepherd the tricky process of party reform, implemented after the Falkirk affair. Meanwhile, David Lammy has called for greater clarity on the Labour party's primary to select their Mayoral candidate. The timetable - and, indeed, the fee necessary to sign up for the primary - are still unclear. Mr Lammy believes a lower, £1 fee, would involve more people, as the French Socialists found in their primary to select a Presidential candidate in 2012. ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER PCC-mania is still some way off. Just one member of the public turned up to a public engagement event held by Devon and Cornwall's police and crime commissioner Tony Hogg. Gail Hickman, from Bideford, was there to complain about anti-social behaviour. 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 19th to 26th September (Populus-YouGov) LATEST POLLS
t wasn't only the Union that was saved last week - it was also the Labour party. For all there are still worries about Ed Miliband's personal popularity and the party's trust ratings over the economy, the overwhelming mood is of relief: that Labour, like the country is still here and in one piece.
Don't forget, too, that most of the party is exhausted. From the frontbench to the footsoldiers, most have come almost straight from knocking on doors in Scotland to Manchester. Those who, for one reason or another, had a peripheral role over the last few weeks spent most of the time holed up in Westminster eaten up with worry. But that's over now. Labour can regroup and return to its core message of economic reform, right?
"Miliband feels the heat as Cameron lobs English firecracker" is Patrick Wintour's analysis in the Guardian. The PM's pivot to "English Votes for English Laws" has rattled Labour. There's a feeling that Ed's line - a constitutional convention and a "national conversation" about political power in Britain - won't hold under heavy fire. It's not just the usual troublemakers, either, although two of those, Kate Hoey in the Sun and Frank Field in the Mail, are in the news today calling for Ed Miliband to back Home Rule.
Bluntly, the problem for Ed Miliband is that his position looks like what it is: a partisan attempt to keep Labour's Scottish advantage intact.
For all the PM has the advantage that his partisan attempt to eradicate Labour's Scottish advantage is a) broadly fair and more importantly b) popular in the polls, Ed Miliband's holding position might just prove adequate to the task. South of the border, constitutional issues don't yet stiffen the sinews or summon up the blood. But the flatfooted response highlights a bigger weakness for Labour this week: the party is relieved to be still here and one piece. But, understandably, just as the Opposition should be gearing up for the fight, its key performers, both front-of-house and back stage, are exhausted and depleted after the Scottish campaign. That battle fatigue could yet lead to an underwhelming and error-strewn conference.
FIVE MORE WARSTony Blair has warned that it will take boots on the ground to defeat Isil and not just airstrikes in an essay on his website. The PM will meet Barack Obama to discuss how to tackle the terrorist organisation at the UN tomorrow, and there's a real chance that Parliament could be recalled this week, possibly on Thursday. Here in Manchester, the top of the party is far more open to intervention than it was last summer - but the party's doves have yet to crank into gear. UDI, SNP? FFS!
The SNP could simply declare independence without a referendum, Alex Salmond told the BBC's Sunday Politics. There could come a time, the departing First Minister has said, when sufficient powers had been devolved to Holyrood that an SNP administration could simply declare independence from Westminster. Meanwhile, the race to replace Mr Salmond at the top of the SNP looks to be over before it's started. There's been a rallying of the clans to Nicola Sturgeon's standard, with finance minister John Swinney among her heavyweight endorsers. A poll for Survation suggests that the SNP is on course to be returned to power at Holyrood - with its parliamentary majority intact, while, Mure Dickie reports in the FT, the pro-independence parties are experiencing a post-referendum membership boost. A CLASS APART
Employers should monitor the social background of their workforce, Gloria de Piero, Labour's shadow minister for equalities, says. Ms de Piero warned that Britain is still not "class blind". It's made Kevin Maguire's day in the Mirror. Steven Swinford has the story. COPPING THE FLACK
Yvette Cooper would scrap PCCs if Labour is elected next May. Theresa May's "flagship policy" is a mess, Ms Cooper says. The Times reports that the Home Office is considering making deputy commissioners elected as well in order to avoid claims that the positions are filled by the cronies of PCCs. ED BALLS STICKS THE BOOT IN (1)
Ed Balls is up to bat today: proving Labour's fiscal responsibility is top of the To Do list. Child benefit will be frozen - a real terms cut - while ministers' pay will be reduced by 5% under a Labour government. "Cuts for parents with children and ministers," one wag remarked to me last night, "You can't say that austerity won't start at home for Ed Balls." ED BALLS STICKS THE BOOT IN (2)
Labour's charm offensive to the media took a turn for the worse yesterday. Rob Merrick of the Northern Echo needed stitches after a horror challenge from Ed Balls in the Journalists Vs Labour football match, Steven Swinford reports. Mr Balls' heroics weren't enough for Labour, however, who were beaten 3-1. "It wasn't a foul," the Shadow Chancellor protested on the Today programme, "The referee said it wasn't a foul."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 Conservatives 32% Labour 36% Liberal Democrats 8% Ukip 15% Others 9% Poll of polls 12th to 20th September LATEST POLLS: YouGov: Conservatives 31% Labour 36% Ukip 16% Liberal Democrats 7% Ukip 16% TWEETS & TWITS
Next week on Jeremy Kyle: Help! My Secretary of State Is In Love With Capita @timothy_stanley: Miliband doing his shouty microphone in the street thing. Like Jeremy Kyle berating an audience member for privatising the NHS COMMENT From the Telegraph
James Kirkup - What happens now?
Jenny Hjul - After a Yes vote, surely Alex Salmond has got to go?
Daniel Hannan - Thank god, my country is still intact From elsewhere
Philip Collins - Labour are the real losers of the referendum (Times)Helen Lewis - Devolution strikes back (Statesman) TELEGRAPH FESTIVAL OF BUSINESS
The Telegraph Festival of Business is taking place once again on the 11th November, at The Brewery, London. Confirmed speakers include: Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Group, Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Nigel Wilson,Chief Executive of Legal & General, Tim Steiner, CEO of Ocado and Roger Bootle, Founder of Capital Economics and former HM Treasury Advisor. To register for your free place at the event, click here. AGENDA 0845 MANCHESTER: Lisa Nandy among the attendees at "The Chemistry of Community" with the Fabian Society. 0930 MANCHESTER: Jim Murphy, Douglas Alexander Coaker speak to Labour conference as part of "Britain in the World" debate. 1100 MANCHESTER: Chuka Umunna speaks as part of "Work and Business" debate. 1200 MANCHESTER: Ed Balls speaks in "Stability and Prosperity" debate. 1400 MANCHESTER: Chuka Umunna in conversation withh Philip Collins, Derby Suite, Midland Hotel. 1415 MANCHESTER: Rachel Reeves speaks in "Work and Business" debate.
1600 MANCHESTER: Launch of Young Fabian pamphlet 'One Nationisms'. 1900 MANCHESTER: Sadiq Khan among the attendees to 'Generation Citzen' with Demos. 1915 MANCHESTER: Lord Glasman among the attendees at 'Ukip if you want to: How do we make immigration work for Britain?' with Progress.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – preserved!
The final number is N0 55%, Yes 45% - which, after the last few weeks, feels like a bigger win than it is. Separatism is defeated but not dead. The PM and his opposite number, meanwhile, have are left with much to ponder.
Just a few months after being humbled by one populist politician – Nigel Farage- in the European elections, David Cameron and Ed Miliband came perilously close to being permanently undone by another in the shape of Alex Salmond. Nor can they say with any honesty that they’ve worked out how to tackle the underlying problem; that is, a lack of faith in London’s politicians to get anything done. Instead, they had to dig a politician from another era out of the freezer.
The Conservatives have been reminded that the PM’s tendency to govern by essay crisis will, sooner or later, be his undoing. The mood on the backbenches – and the frontbenches for that matter – is pretty unhappy. They feel that the PM sold the constitution down the river off the back of some bad polls. Who knows what effect a Ukip gain in Clacton – remember that? – will have on Tory morale.
As for Labour? We now know for sure that Labour’s wafer-thin lead is good for nothing this far out from the election. For all the cross-party sheen to Better Together, behind the scenes, it was a Labour operation from start to finish. The question they must be asking themselves is this: what happens when the British public start paying attention in the last weeks of April 2015? And who do they have who can have the same stabilising effect that Gordon Brown had?
All of these, however, are questions for another time. Yes, it’s some way from the thumping defeat for nationalism that Downing Street dreamed of, but as Winston Churchill said: one is enough. There are questions ahead about the Barnett formula and the West Lothian question, but for now: Scotland is still part of the United Kingdom. Forget the questions about how we got here and what happens next for a moment. Just congratulate our forces and rejoice at that news.
LET ENGLAND SHAKEThis morning the PM spoke of "a balanced settlement", with "a bigger say" for the voters of England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well. In addition to the constitutional arguments, it's important for Mr Cameron's position that he is seen to be taking the English question seriously. Later today, Tory whips will meet to discuss how to maintain party discipline over the coming weeks. The evidence is that they have a job of work ahead of them. Claire Perry, the rail minister, has warned against giving out"financial party bags" to Scotland which have to be paid for "by us south of the border". Meanwhile, Conservative backbencher James Gray has savaged the PM's pledge to maintain the Barnett formula in perpetuity: "Talk about feeding an addiction. The more you give them, the more they want.". Mr Gray's put to words what many of his colleagues are saying privately. It's not just the Conservatives who are calling for greater powers for England, either: John Denham was sounding the call on Newsnight yesterday, while Jim Murphy this morning conceded that the constitutional anomaly of Scottish MPs voting on English laws will have to change. LABOUR PAYS THE PRICE FOR MANSION TAX
Labour fears that their planned mansion tax could hit their voters in marginal London seats, Laura Pitel reports in the Times. A quarter of the seats that would hit by the tax are currently in Labour hands. YVETTE COOPER TALKS SENSE (1)
Restrictions on travel, similar to those that can be deployed to prevent forced marriage, must be introduced to protect women and girls at risk of female genital mutilation, Yvette Cooper tells the House Magazine. Holly Watt has the story.
YVETTE COOPER TALKS SENSE (2)
Doctor Who is "too unhappy" and Peter Capaldi's performance has "no joy", Yvette Cooper tells The House magazine. "I really like Peter Capaldi but I'm worried that he's really unhappy. It's not just that he's darker, it's like there's no joy at the moment." You can read the full interview here. OUR FRIENDS IN THE NORTH
What have you done for me lately? That's the joint call from local newspapers in Manchester, Newcastle, Yorkshire and Middlesborough today, while David Sparks, Chair of the Local Government Association, has called for further powers for local areas in England and Wales. TO THE WORKER HIS DUE
The chief executives of Kingfisher and Nomura are among the signatories to a letter from business leaders calling for the minimum wage to rise faster now that growth has returned to the economy. SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION
And so to Manchester for Labour Party Conference. You can liven up the Conference season by playing Demos' Fantasy Politics - collect points for front-pages, buzzwords and so forth. Speaking of Demos, I'll be in the chair for their panel on self-employment on Sunday, details are here. 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 Conservatives 33% Labour 36% Liberal Democrats 8% Ukip 15% Others 9% Poll of polls 12th to 19th September (Ipsos Mori-Opinium-Populus-YouGov) LATEST POLLS: YouGov: Con 33% Lab 35% LD 8% Ukip 14% TWEETS & TWITS @janemerrick23: It is not a new dawn, is it? COMMENT From the TelegraphJames Kirkup - What happens now? Jenny Hjul - After a Yes vote, surely Alex Salmond has got to go? Daniel Hannan - Thank god, my country is still intact From elsewhere
Philip Collins - Labour are the real losers of the referendum (Times)Helen Lewis - Devolution strikes back (Statesman) TELEGRAPH FESTIVAL OF BUSINESS
The Telegraph Festival of Business is taking place once again on the 11th November, at The Brewery, London. Confirmed speakers include: Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Group, Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Nigel Wilson,Chief Executive of Legal & General, Tim Steiner, CEO of Ocado and Roger Bootle, Founder of Capital Economics and former HM Treasury Advisor. To register for your free place at the event, click here.
Polls have been open for around an hour and a half and there's a mood of nervous anticipation. "Scotland's day of reckoning" says the Herald. "Day of Destiny," is the Scotsman's splash - as is the Guardian's. "Don't leave us this way" pleads the Mirror: "Vote No today & keep Britain truly GREAT". "The 307-year itch" quips the Independent. "We have never doubted that the Scots can be an independent people once again; and they will make a good fist of it if they decide to go it alone," our leader says this morning, "But together we have been stronger, more prosperous, and more secure; apart we would both be diminished."
The polls put the Unionists narrowly ahead - but there's still a feeling in Yes Scotland that their surge has a little way yet to run, and that the pollsters will have struggled to make contact with the lower-income and younger voters who they believe will carry them to victory. The mood within the No Camp is similarly optimistic. They too believe that they will outperform the polls. "We will win by six points," one senior Labour strategist predicted last night. The mood in that quarter is sufficiently rosy that already some minds are focussing on the battles to come, to take back Downing Street next year and Bute House thereafter. Who's right? Frankly it's impossible to tell - and in, any case, any speculation will be rendered redundant in pretty short order. David Cameron is waiting, Ed Miliband is waiting - as, for different reasons, are the pollsters and the bookmakers. Whatever happens, we will all of us - both here in Scotland and south of the border - be permanently changed. A nervous wait lies ahead.
FLASH GORDONSomething funny happens to Gordon Brown at the eleventh hour. In the last days of the 2010 election he gave the speech of his premiership and blunted the Liberal surge. Now he's given the speech of his life in defence of the Union - and quite possibly he's saved Better Together. (You can watch the video here) "The Word of Gord" roars the Sun. GLAMIS, CAWDOR AND FIRST MINISTER THEREAFTER?
Gordon Brown's barnstormer has kicked off a flurry of speculation that he might swap Westminster for Holyrood in the event of a No vote - and could be Labour's man to beat Alex Salmond in the 2016 elections. Privately, however, older heads in Scottish Labour, for all they concede Mr Brown's stabilising effect on the Unionist campaign, recoil from the prospect of working closely with the ex-PM again. A man who could very well make the switch from London to Edinburgh is Jim Murphy, who has transformed his standing within and without his party, and, I'm told, that efforts are already underway to construct a campaign for Labour's shadow Dfid lead. SLIM YOUR WAY TO A TAX CUT?
Firms that help to tackle obesity should be given tax breaks, Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, has suggested. Britain is sleepwalking into a "public health crisis", Mr Stevens warned. Laura Donnelly has the story. COMING OVER HERE, TAKING OUR DEGREES...
The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) has suggested that the government's plans to remove the cap on student numbers is "fuzzy", and could result in a substantial decline in the amount that universities spend on students. It's also expected to increase the number of students from the EU studying at UK universities, raising the prospect of a financial crisis for higher education, as tuition fee repayments are "notoriously difficult to collect" from graduates that live overseas. Graeme Paton has the details. INDEPENDENCE FOR...SHETLAND?
The oil-rich island of Shetland could opt to become a crown dependency rather than part of an independent Scotland, the island's MP - and Secretary of State for Scotland - Alistair Carmichael has suggested. Polls suggest that the island will vote heavily for the Union. WHERE UP YOU FOR LINLITHGOW?
Polls will close at 10pm and we can expect the first results from around midnight - Georgia Graham's guide to what will declare when is here - and the campaigns expect that by three o'clock tomorrow morning, they will be able to say with confidence which way the vote is going. Remember that there is no possibility for a country-wide recount, and that local returning officers can be asked to recount in the event of an irregularities, not a close vote. The woman at the centre of it all, chief counting officer Mary Pitcaithly, is profiled in the Daily Record.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 Conservatives 33% Labour 36% Liberal Democrats 8% Ukip 15% Others 9% Poll of polls 11th to 18th September (Ipsos Mori-Opinium-Populus-YouGov) LATEST POLLS: YouGov: Con 33% Lab 36% LD 8% Ukip 13% COMMENT From the Telegraph Niall Ferguson - Alone, Scotland will go back to being a failed state Peter Oborne - Sorry, Grandfather, you were wrong about leaving the Union From elsewhere David Aaronovitch - What have the Britons ever done for us? (Times) George Eaton - The decision on whether to intervene in Iraq now rests in Labour's hands (Statesman) TELEGRAPH FESTIVAL OF BUSINESS The Telegraph Festival of Business is taking place once again on the 11th November, at The Brewery, London. Confirmed speakers include: Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Group, Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Nigel Wilson,Chief Executive of Legal & General, Tim Steiner, CEO of Ocado and Roger Bootle, Founder of Capital Economics and former HM Treasury Advisor. To register for your free place at the event, click here. AGENDA 2200: Polls close in Scottish referendum.
Choose your cliche: it's all to play for, down to the wire, on a knife edge and too close to call. Our poll with Opinium has the Union just ahead by 52% to 48% for separation. ICM have found the same in their poll for the Scotsman: "Poll has No in the lead by Yes closing the gap" is their splash. The Mail's Survation poll confirms the pattern: it's 52% to 48%. The overall trend still looks to be for separation - although with relatively few polls until these last weeks, it's difficult to say for certain. No one can know whether or not the higher-than-expected turnout will benefit one side disproportionately. My impression from the last few days is that those voters who usually stay at home will overwhelmingly opt for the exit - but that will be compensated for by a larger number of No voters than the polls are currently showing. Why do I think that there is a "shy No" effect in the polls? It's an important part of the background to yesterday's scenes in Edinburgh, where Ed Miliband was forced to abandon his walkabout after being mobbed by Yes campaigners. I was also in Edinburgh yesterday, where every Yes voter I talked to had a sticker in their window - and just one No voter felt comfortable doing so. There isn't a "shy No" because Better Together has been too negative, or because of glamorous nationalists like Irvine Welsh and Sean Connery, who, his brother has revealed, will be not be using up one of his tax-free days in the UK to campaign for independence. It's because people are frightened of the Yes campaign. Now every campaign has its fringe elements - but it is curious that the fringe elements in the Yes campaign seem so well-informed as to the movements of No-supporting politicians. Small wonder, too, that the grassroots campaign talks of "cowards" and "traitors" when at the top of Yes Scotland and SNP they speak of "Team Scotland", of an England with values diametrically opposed to that found north of the border. (Don't forget, for all the talk of a different political culture, Scotland has voted for the government in three out of the last four elections and 12 out of 18 since the war.) In the Guardian today, George Monbiot and Billy Bragg are arguing that the Yes campaign represents the a type of touchy-feely style of nationalism. There's little historical evidence that that type of nationalism has ever existed - and not much here in present-day Scotland, either.
THE BIEN-PENSANTS' REVOLTBack at the ranch, discontent is growing with Dave's efforts to keep Scotland in the Union. In the FT, Andrew Rosindell becomes the first Conservative MP to call openly for the PM's head if Scotland votes Yes tomorrow: "If it goes wrong, the Prime Minister will have to decide what the honourable thing it is to do.". Meanwhile, even usually supportive voices are threatening trouble for the PM unless a form of devolution for England takes place alongside the further powers promised to Scotland. The PM is in a bullish mood in his interview with the Times:"No regrets" is their splash(Our take is here). HAMMOND, HAMMERED
Philip Hammond has been criticised by Lord Dannatt, the former head of the Army, for "showing our hand" to Isil by revealing that British intelligence agencies have "don't know where" Alan Hemming, the British hostage, is being held. "I am quite surprised by him saying that," Lord Dannatt said. KNOWN DON'T KNOWS
Generation Yes, a splinter group for young voters supporting independence, has produced a guideline to winning over the over-60s - the most Yes-resistant group in Scotland - through a series of one-to-one conversations between children and grandparents, modelled partially on the letters sent by young Democrats to retirees in Florida in the 2008 election. 48 HOURS TO SAVE THE NHS The Passport Office should reduce the amount of money it charges to issue passport in order to reduce its profits, MPs have said. At present, each passport nets HMG a £15 profit after everything is settled. HEY THERE MR POSTMAN The second volume of Alan Johnson's memoirs, Please Mr Postman, covering his journey from delivering the Mail to the Post Office, is out tomorrow. He's interviewed in today's Times. He reveals that the sorting office contained "more lovers of literature than I've ever worked among since", but that for all is love of books, he "can't stomach political biography. I'd rather be reading fiction." He rules out a return to the frontline in Opposition: "They are doing very well without me. I really enjoy writing and I couldn't combine being an MP with having a frontbench role and being a writer." AL CAPTURES THE CASTLE "Salmond and the secret plans for £2m castle" is the Scots Mail's splash. Plans are being drawn up to move the First Minister's residence from Bute House to the rather grander surrounds of Governor's House, once Scotland's largest prison, Alan Roden reveals. IT'S THE SUN WOT SHRUGGED IT
"Britain's Got Talent v The Ecks Factor" is the Scottish Sun's splash. "Tomorrow you will make the biggest political decision of your lives," their leader says, "One that will affect you, your family, your neighbours, your country. Forever. The Scottish Sun has faith in you to make the right choice." 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 Conservatives 33% Labour 36% Liberal Democrats 8% Ukip 15% Others 9% Poll of polls 10th to 17th September, Labour lead of four points (Ipsos Mori-Opinium-Populus-YouGov) LATEST POLLS: YouGov: Con 34% Lab 37% LD 7% Ukip 12% TWEETS & TWITS @RafaelBehr: I have no evidence to support this but something tells me Alex Salmond would be quick to kneel before Zod. COMMENT From the Telegraph Steve Forbes - Scotland will never be a big player on the world stage Mary Riddell - Does Labour have the nerve for devo-max? From elsewhere Rafael Behr - Miliband's greatest strength? Anti-Toryism (Guardian) Ewan Morrison - Why I Joined Yes - And Then Changed To No (Mail) TELEGRAPH FESTIVAL OF BUSINESS
The Telegraph Festival of Business is taking place once again on the 11th November, at The Brewery, London. Confirmed speakers include: Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Group, Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Nigel Wilson,Chief Executive of Legal & General, Tim Steiner, CEO of Ocado and Roger Bootle, Founder of Capital Economics and former HM Treasury Advisor. To register for your free place at the event, click here. AGENDA
Nope, still nothing. Hopefully it should be fixed tomorrow.