Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Party's over..

Crisis over? The latest YouGov has Labour back in the lead with 34% to the Conservatives on 32%. Well, the same caveats that applied to the Conservative lead in previous days also apply to today's. It could be that Labour are reasserting their poll lead - or it could be that the momentum is still with David Cameron.
In any case, the fears stirred up over the last few days will not be dispelled by the expected win in Heywood and Middleton or a recovery in the Labour lead. Even the loyalists are out in force, demanding a change in course for Ed Miliband, with a former adviser telling the Times that the Labour leader must make "big changes" if he is to prevail next weekend. Elsewhere, former National Executive member and longtime supporter of Ed Miliband, Luke Akehurst, has rounded on the leadership for its timidity and drift. That party's line that they are not in contention in Rochester & Strood has riled Mr Akehurst. "Our mentality this close to General Election ought to be that we are an unstoppable force, not a party too scared of Nigel Farage to take him on in a seat we held until the last election," he says. 
Here in Glasgow, all eyes are on another leader whose best days may well be behind him. A brave intervention on mental health - Nick Clegg will pledge an extra £120m in cash and will call for a cultural change so "a young dad chatting at school gates will feel as comfortable discussing anxiety, stress, depression, as the mum who is explaining she sprained her ankle" - is overshadowed by dark mutterings about the party's future. As I said on Monday, for all the bonhomie among activists and parliamentarians, at the top of the party, senior MPs are braced for a wipe-out. They know all too well, as the pollsterPeter Kellner suggested at a fringe yesterday, that the party's longterm future could well be shares of the vote below 10% and just 20 to 30 MPs.
 There's an irony that the two men's struggles are the last comfort of their opposite numbers. Ed Miliband's closest advisers still believe that the collapse in the Liberal vote will allow their man to sneak into office despite everything - while senior Liberal Democrats reassure themselves that they will win back votes from Labour due to Mr Miliband's poor personal ratings and the inadequacy of Team Ed. They can't both be right - and there's the risk, as outlined by Mary Riddell in her column today, that both parties could end the next election in the wilderness, not just for the moment but for the forseeable future. 
The city of Kobane - a Syrian city near the Turkish border - "will fall" to Isil despite US-led airstrikes, Turkish premier Recepp Erdogan has said, and that the West must use ground troops if they are to prevent the forward march of Isil, Robert Tait reports from the Turkish-Syrian border. At home, British intelligence has foiled the first Isil plot on British soil, arresting four men in a series of armed raids. The men are believed to have been plotting a "significant" attack.
Labour's planned mansion tax could force pensioners to move out of their homes or hand their relatives a £300,000 bill from the taxman after they die, Steven Swinford and Ben Riley-Smith reveal. A former Labour minister tells the Telegraph: "[The] mansion tax is catastrophic and...will hit voters in parts of the country where we need to make an impact."
Ed Davey has accused Eric Pickles of deliberating slowing down the opening of new onshore wind farms, while Vince Cable told a British Wind reception that behind Conservative opposition to the farms was a "really irrational phobia". In a further bid to win over Tory hearts, Mr Cable later suggested that golf courses should be build over in order to solve the country's housing crisis, Chris Hope reports.
Nigel Farage concedes that his "blokeish" image and Ukip's "rugby club on a day out"are off-putting to women. Mr Farage hopes that a new generation of talented women Ukippers will put paid to the problem.
Ed Miliband will be "gone by Christmas" if Ukip triumph in the Heywood & Middleton by-election, Nigel Farage says in the Sun. (Labour insiders on the ground are confident of defeating Ukip's John Bickley) Nigel Farage himself will be in office until at least 2018 after being re-elected unopposed, Chris Hope reports.
Douglas Carswell is a vain "traitor" who has cost the people of Clacton more than £200,000, Mick Page, the Conservative leader of Tendring District Council, tells Matt Holehouse. "What a waste of money. All for one man's vanity." Mr Carswell, who is on course to win tomorrow's by-election, insists that his decision to force a by-election was "the only honourable thing to do".
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
Expansion at Gatwick is the right choice for Britain’s economy. It will deliver around £90 billion of economic benefit and create around 120,000 jobs across the UK. Building the country’s new airport capacity Gatwick will deliver balanced growth for London - and South London in particular - rather than simply overheat one part of the Capital.
@dats: A debate between members in the exhibition centre: "I wish this wasn't the font for the Lib Dems. No, it's not Helvetica!"
Poll of polls 31st September to 8th 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
Mary Riddell - The death of the Left in British politics cannot be ruled out
From elsewhere 

Rafael Behr  - Liberalism has triumphed but the Liberal Democrats cannot capitalise (Guardian)
1300: Nick Clegg speech