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)
No new polls today
TOO MANY TWEETS
@davies_will: A Miliband government is as enticing as Christmas: imminent, marginally better than not-Christmas, predictably disappointing.
From the Telegraph
Paul Goodman - Dance with the one that brung ya, Mr Cameron
Boris Johnson - Jumping into the arms of Ukip only helps Ed Miliband
Tim Montgomerie - Dave needs a big message. He hasn't got long (Times)Zoe Williams - So Brooks Newmark sent some explicit pictures - why should he resign? (Guardian)