Thursday, 9 October 2014


A day of two by-elections: in Clacton, a day of all but certain victory for Ukip, and in Heywood & Middleton,  a similar walkover for Labour, although in Greater Manchester as in Essex, it's the fortunes of Nigel Farage's party that intrigue, as the People's Army underline their credentials as the second force in Labour's northern strongholds.
It's a "new dawn" declares Nigel Farage. "Clacton is a shift in the tectonic plates of British politics. And if we win in Heywood and Middleton, it will be Krakatoa." "Two smaller stories in a longer epic" is James Kirkup's phrase in his column today. In the 1951 election, Labour racked up 48.8% of the vote to the Conservatives' 48%. Our poll of polls today has the two parties on 35% and 33%. The Big Two's grip on the electorate has lessened, as votes flock to the Liberals, the Greens and Ukip. "Each by-election win for the insurgents causes another small crack in the earth beneath the two-party establishment" is James' conclusion.
With both results so certain, what's there to look out for? In Clacton, look for what happens to Labour's vote share - they polled 25% of the vote in 2010 and they held the seat until 2005. And in Heywood & Middleton, see if Ukip can get to 30% in second-place in a seat that is not natural territory for them. It's a test of their machine ahead of the much more difficult battle in Rochester & Strood. And it's a reminder that, for all the talk of Ukip having reached their zenith in the European elections, their story still has a little way left to run. 
"Why Won't UK Test Air Travellers For Ebola?" the Mail demands. The United States will introduce immediate screening of passengers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and Keith Vaz, keen to protect the public/appear in print, says that immediate screening is essential. “What we need to ensure is that the public feel there is confidence at our borders and that means, we need to put in screening at our borders in order to give the public that confidence," Mr Vaz announced. The rationale for not introducing the flights is that direct flights to the countries in question have already been suspended, meaning that all incoming travellers from European hubs would need to be screened, resulting in lengthy queues.  "While vigilance is necessary, we should avoid hysteria," our leader notes, "Ebola is not as easily transmittable as, say, influenza, and the NHS is good at managing unusual infectious diseases."
Labour's ruling National Executive Committee say that Ed Miliband is "afflicted with the curse of Gordon Brown". Like Mr Brown, sources within the NEC tell the Telegraph, he is popular with people he meets, but he "can't meet eight million people between now and May". Meanwhile, leading member of the NEC's left-wing bloc, Ann Black, criticises Ed Balls' plans to cap child benefit increases to 1% a year for two years : "Most think it is a bad idea. We should be putting children first." Meanwhile, another party donor has come out against the mansion tax. Assem Allam, the owner of Hull City FC, who has given £210,000 to the party since 2010, tells the Times: "The mansion tax is a very bad idea. It's a vote killer. He will lose more votes than he will get." 
Air strikes alone may not be enough to save the Syrian border town of Kobane, the Pentagon has said. Nor can the wider battle, Philip Hammond conceded on Newsnight yesterday: "Nobody has pretended that the battle against Isil can be won from the air alone."  The American-led air strikes are "a holding operation", Mr Hammond said. 
Lord Hill of Oareford has been confirmed by MEPs as the European Union's next financial services regulator, Bruno Waterfield reports. The good news keeps coming for David Cameron, as the European commission's review of accession talks suggests further transitional controls on new members of the EU. GENERATION Y (CAN'T I BUY A HOUSE?)
66% of renters are stuck in the "rent trap" and could end up renting forever, Emily Dugan reports in the Indy. Polling of private renters for Shelter found that 5 million people in the private rented sector were unable to save up towards a deposit. "The prospect of a stable home is becoming a distant dream for far too many young people," Campbell Robb, Shelter's Chief Executive, warned. 
Nick Clegg has dusted off "the condiment strategy" as the Liberal Democrats gear up for the next election. "Whatever party you're eating, add a soupçon of Liberal Democrat to improve the dish!" was the short version of his speech yesterday. It hasn't convinced much of the press:"Not a Clegg To Stand On" is the Sun's verdict.  Their leader nails the inconsistency at the heart of the DPM's argument: "He bemoans the failure of coalition while claiming it's vital the Lib Dems are part of another one next May." But for all it makes little sense at a national level, it allows the Liberals to campaign in one way in Labour seats and another in Conservative territory without seeming incoherent - and that tactic has worked before for Mr Clegg.
Our cartoon is the work of Christian Adams; you can see his work onInstagram.  You can get in touch with me by hitting "reply", and via Twitter
Gatwick can connect Britain to the future, faster. A new runway at Gatwick can be delivered by 2025, at no additional cost to the taxpayer. A third runway at Heathrow would cost more than twice as much, be part-funded by the British taxpayer, and involve tunneling the M25 and introducing a road congestion charge at the airport.
@stephentall: If I was Danny Alexander, I'm not sure I'd want to be known as "Nick's anointed successor".
Poll of polls 2nd to 9th October (Populus-YouGov)
Conservatives 33% Labour 35% Liberal Democrat 7% Ukip 14% Others 10%
YouGov: Conservatives 32%, Labour 34%, Liberal Democrat 8%, Ukip 15%
From the Telegraph

James Kirkup - Is this the day politics changes for ever?
Peter Oborne - The time has come for Britian to back a Palestinian state
Mark Almond - The Turks won't do the West's dirty work
From elsewhere 

Jenni Russell - Labour is losing its grip on its core voters  (Times)
James Forsyth - Why are the Lib Dems duffing up the Tories? To ensure another coalition (Spectator)
George Eaton - Labour fear that they no longer deserve to win(Statesman)
1300: Nick Clegg speech.