Friday, 31 October 2014
No nation Labour..
We knew yesterday that the Opposition had a fight for its hands in Scotland. Two polls reveal the scale of the challenge. An Ipsos Mori poll for STV finds 52% of Scots planning to vote for the SNP, with just 23% planning to vote for Ed Miliband's party: from 41 seats to just 4. A YouGov survey for the Times is a little bit better, with Nicola Sturgeon's outfit on 43% and Labour on 27%, with Labour holding on to 10 seats north of the border. "Wipeout for Labour looming in Scotland" is their splash.
Of course, it's worth noting that a uniform swing is, frankly, highly unlikely. Many of Labour's MPs are pretty well dug in. Equally, the political situation at present could hardly be better for the Nationalists, with Ms Sturgeon's triumphant tour through the nation and Scottish Labour leaderless and fractious. But it also looks highly unlikely that Labour will be able to hold on to more than 30 seats north of the border. The chances of Ed Miliband leading the largest party, let alone winning a majority, are receding rapidly.
That said, there's little to celebrate for the Conservatives either. The despairing note struck by Thomas Docherty, a Labour frontbencher, on the World at One, carries a warning for the PM, too: "the SNP win again, the Tories win again...[and] another referendum". The Opposition's woes in its heartlands may be good for the Conservative and Unionist Party if it allows the PM back into office despite the Ukip factor. It is less good for conservative or Unionist principles if the price of victory is a further weakening of the United Kingdom.
THE HUNTING OF THE WOOLF
Fiona Woolf, the judge at the head of the child abuse inquiry, is under further pressure to resign after it emerged that her letter to Theresa May was rewritten to play down her links with Lord Brittan, the Conservative peer at the centre of the scandal, David Barrett reports. "Woolf At The Exit Door" is the Mirror's splash. Reclusive MP Keith Vaz warns: "The lessons of the Butler-Sloss appointment and resignation have not been learned."
Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour's deputy leader, has announced that he will resign his post once a leader is found, allowing that party to refresh its leadership entirely (and, in the event of a Jim Murphy victory, avoiding a top team drawn entirely from the Commons). It still looks likely that Mr Sarwar, the MP for Glasgow Central, will be moved into the Shadow Cabinet as Scottish Secretary, with Margaret Curran taking up post at Shadow Dfid. However, I'm told that move will be very badly received by development NGOs, who have been dissatisfied with Jim Murphy's performance at Dfid and are uneasy at Ed Milband's use of the post as a consolation. It may be smarter to promote Shadow Finance Secretary Catherine McKinnell or Alison McGovern, the junior frontbencher for Dfid, both of whom are liked and respected in the development sector as part of a wider-ranging reshuffle.
MERLIN'S MAGIC FADES
Further trouble for the Conservative campaign in Rochester & Strood.Laura Pitel reports that the campaign has been hit by glitches in the software designed to target voters, the much-maligned "Merlin" system. One Conservative staffer quips that "Source Merlin" turned out to be a front for Soviet intelligence in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and that the IT system "does the same for Ed Miliband". Merlin is being gradually replaced by VoteSource, a superior system.
"IT MIGHT BE WORTH LISTENING TO ME"
Tony Blair has warned Labour against "chasing after" anti-immigration policies in an interview with Progress, Ben-Riley Smith reports. Labour should "not end up chasing after the policies of a party like Ukip, who you don't agree with, whose policies would take this country backwards economically, politically, in every conceivable way", Mr Blair says. The full interview is available here.
HELPING THE POWERFUL, OR THE POOR?
UK foreign aid is helping to fund corruption overseas, according to the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI). "Confirmed: Our Foreign Aid Fuels Corruption" is the Mail's splash. Not enough is being done to fight corruption and it is violating Dfid's "do no harm" doctrine. "This is a gap in Dfid's programming that needs to be filled," Graham Ward, ICAI supremo says. LOW LOW LOW
David Cameron would prefer interest rates to stay low as it allows families to "buy the homes they can afford". But the PM added: "It would be disastrous if I could tell them [the Bank of England] what to do, because politicians interfering in interest rates is not a good thing." Matt Holehouse reports from the PM's Q&A in Runcorn. .
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY
Every new policy will face a "family friendly" test to make sure they encourage support for families in general and marriage in particular, Iain Duncan Smith says in the Mail. The guidance has been drawn up with the help of Relate, which estimates that familial breakdown costs the UK £46 billion a year.
WHY ALWAYS HIM?
Guy Opperman caused a flurry of excitement after tweeting that Liverpool's misfiring forward, Mario Balotelli, had "popped in to Commons Gallery to watch the Drug Policy debate". It turns out that it was in fact a 55-year-old dancer, Ken Hinds, who says he "gets it all the time". Mario Balotelli is 24. See the uncanny resemblance for yourself here.
You can get in touch with me by pressing "reply" or on Twitter. Our cartoon is the work of Christian Adams - a gallery of his work isavailable here.
HOW HAVE THE POLLS MOVED IN THE LAST MONTH?
POLL OF POLLS
Conservatives 32% Labour 33% Liberal Democrats 8% Ukip 17% (ComRes-Opinium-Populus-YouGov, 24.10.2014-31.10.2014)
YouGov: Conservatives 33%, Labour 32%, Liberal Democrats 7%, Ukip 15%, Greens 7%
TOO MANY TWEETS...
@patrick_kidd: After this poll there may be a stampede of Labour MPs seeking the leadership in Scotland. Got to keep a job somehow.
From the Telegraph
Fraser Nelson - Leaving the EU won't solve immigration problem
Isabel Hardman - Tory malcontents are whipping up a storm
Alan Cochrane - Jim Murphy could be Labour's only hope
David Blair - Does British aid to Africa help the powerful more than the poor?
Aditya Chakrabortty - I'm Bengali and I'm black, in the same way that my parents were (Guardian)Tim Montgomerie - Austerity is over; and that's a big mistake (Times)
1900 DUMFRIES: Nicola Sturgeon rally.