Thursday, 16 October 2014

Rumble in Rochester..

David Cameron and a phalanx of MPs are on their way to Rochester, where they will begin their campaign to stop the People's Army in its tracks. Already in Rochester is our own Matt Holehouse, who has written an essential profile of Nigel Farage's latest recruit Mark Reckless. Today's campaign stop will followed by a 1,000 member blitzkrieg of the constituency, with CCHQ relying on its superior machine and financial capacity to outgun Ukip. 
The latest clutch of polls show why they must succeed.  Record showings for Survation (25%) and ICM (14%) are now followed by Ukip's highest ever showing for YouGov (16%) and IpsosMori (16%). It's hurting both parties - Labour are down to 34% in our rolling average while the Conservatives are down to 31% - but it's the Tories who have the most to lose from the Ukip surge. 
It may take something more than a superior ground game to see off Mr Reckless. The PM signalled his backbenchers that further red meat was on its way as far as European migration was concerned. Francis Elliot reports in the Times that Downing Street is considering demanding an "emergency brake" on migration, although Number 10 is divided about whether or not the PM should make his move before the by-election or after. Tom Newton Dunn has got the details for the Sun. The PM willmake control over Britain's borders a "red line" in his renegotiation with the European Union, and will back a British exit in the 2017 referendum if he doesn't get his way. 
The hope was to hold back the announcement until nearer the election, with the decision to adopt the plans made in the summer, but the policy will be unveiled sooner rather than later, in order to spike Mr Farage's guns. The danger, as Tom puts it, "with firing a big bazooka is that it then leaves the armoury empty - and you're left with only prayers that it works." 

Ed Miliband scored a surprise victory in the House yesterday thanks to Lord Freud's remarks at a Conservative Party fringe that some disabled people were "not worth" the minimum wage. "Labour have got their press operation in gear on this one," purr the team at Order-Order, who appreciate a good going-over when they see one. The Opposition have more Conference gaffes in the can, a Labour insider tells Steven Swinford
Mistakes in the NHS cost £2.5 billion a year, Jeremy Hunt will say today.  The most common costs of poor care include urinary tract infections, blood clots and bed sores. Laura Donnelly has the details.

Jacob Rees-Mogg has joined forces with Stuart Wheeler, the Ukip millionaire who has been instrumental in recruiting Conservative defectors, in order to block the European Arrest Warrant, Matt Holehouse and Chris Hope report. The EAW must be approved by the 1st of December; a further Euro-headache that the PM could really do without. 
TIP OF THE ICEBERG"Rotherham abuse scandal is tip of iceberg - police chief" is the Guardian's splash. Simon Bailey, the chief constable of the Norfolk police force, tells Randeep Ramesh that sex crimes involving children have "for too long been a hidden crime". 
Nicola Sturgeon has been confirmed as Alex Salmond's successor as leader of the SNP and First Minister after no other candidates came forward to challenge her for the leadership. Scotland will become an independent country "well within her lifetime", Ms Sturgeon says. Simon Johnson has the story.
Half of the housing stock in new developments will be reserved for "local" first-time buyers seeking to become owner-occupiers under a Labour government, the party has pledged. People will have to live in an area for two years to qualify as "local", the party explained.  

The PM will have the final say over new permanent secretaries, from a shortlist drawn up by the Civil Service, the FT reports. The move has been strongly resisted within Whitehall although the PM's victory has been greeted by approval from all three parties. 
Our cartoon is the work of Christian Adams; see a gallery of his workhere.  You can get in touch with me by hitting "reply", or on 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.
Poll of polls 9th to 16th October (Opinium-Populus-ICM-IpsosMori-Survation-YouGov)
Conservatives 31% Labour 34% Liberal Democrat 9% Ukip 16% Others 10%
IpsosMori: Conservatives 30%, Labour 33%, Liberal Democrats 8%, Ukip 16%
YouGov: Conservatives 30%, Labour 34%, Liberal Democrats 8%, Ukip 18%
@timothy_stanley: Wish there'd been a Soviet #TheApprentice - teams compete to falsify grain production statistics. No one gets fired.
From the Telegraph

Peter Oborne - Nigel Farage's fifth columnists help no-one but Miliband

James Kirkup - Our armed forces need some new enemies
Iain Martin - The Tories must pray that the economic news is positive between now and the general election
From elsewhere 

David Aaronovitch - Our politicians are so useless it makes me want to scream (Times)
George Eaton - Labour is not at war, but Ed Miliband desperately needs to inspire his supporters (Statesman)
Jane Merrick - I'm all for people stopping smoking. But banning it in parks is not the answer
0900: Call Clegg on LBC 97.3. 
1000 EDINBURGH: MSPs take evidence on the future of devolution. 
1030 LONDON: Theresa May at Intelligence and Security Committee.