Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Wrecking Reckless..

The PM sounded a call to arms last night in a meeting with the parliamentary party. It's all hands to the pump if the Ukip bandwagon is to be halted in Rochester & Strood.  Every MP is under instruction to visit the constituency three times and each Cabinet minister five times. If the election is to be won in May, then Mark Reckless must be stopped on the 20th of November. (One MP, riffing off the "Vote Nigel, Get Ed" line, quipped that "You start with a beer and end up with a dull whine.") 
Can they pull it off? The seat is not natural Ukip territory, the 271st most Ukip-friendly seat compared to Clacton at N0. 1 and Heywood & Middleton at 148. Mr Reckless himself seems aware of Ukip's low appeal in the area, printing literature without any mention of Nigel Farage or his new party. That whichever candidate emerges from the party's postal primary will be a woman should maximise Nigel Farage's "woman problem", too.  But, as Oliver Wright notes in his despatch from the ground for the Indy, concerns about immigration and Europe seem just as acute in Rochester as in Clacton. (Although, as Raziye Akkoc's analysis of immigration levels in Ukip's targets notes, immigration is below the national average in both seats)
The polls - and the bookies - currently favour Ukip. But there's a way to go between now and the 20th of November, a healthy Labour in third place to be squeezed a la Newark, and, as I've said before, for all their recent successes, Ukip's ground machine is still something of a shambles, compared to the increasingly slick operation put together by CCHQ and Team 2015. It's a must-win contest for the PM - and you know, I think he might well pull it off. 
Labour have walked away from the cross-party talks on English votes for English laws - read Ben Riley-Smith's story here. William Hague's Cabinet committee is a "closed-shop stitch-up", Labour sources say, while Gordon Brown repeated his warning that "Evel" could bring about the end of the Union - at great length, as Michael Deacon details in his sketch. Conservative strategists plan to make the issue a key plank of their campaign against Labour next year. 
"Blair was 'terror target" is the Times' splash. The former PM was the potential target for an assassination by Islamist terrorists who also plotted an attack on a hotel in the so-called "secret trial". The court heard that Erol Incedal, 26, a law graduate, had acquired Mr Blair's home address and details of how to prepare a bomb. Read Victoria Ward's story here.

"Ban Smokng In Public Parks" is the Mail's splash. Dame Sally Davies, the government's Chief Medical Officer, has suggested that a ban will reduce smoking and discourage children from taking up the habit. The screening process at airports for Ebola has been branded a "joke", after immigration officials shook hands with passengers being screened for the deadly virus. Sorius Samara, a documentary maker, returning from 10 days filming in Liberia, said of one official: "He even shook our hands. That's something nobody does now in Liberia and infected countries, you have to learn not to." 
"Ban Smoking In Public Parks" is the Mail's splash. Dame Sally Davies, the government's Chief Medical Officer, has called the ban in order to discourage smoking, particularly among children. 67 children a day start smoking in London alone, researchers have found. The report, commissioned by Boris Johnson and written by Lord Darzi, a former surgeon and Labour health minister, says that the move would improve public health in the capital. Andy Burnham, the Shadow Health Secretary,is interviewed by Alice Thomson and Rachel Sylvester, and reiterates his support for plain packaging on cigarettes.
Frank Field has accused Labour of "p---ing while Rome burns" in an interview with the Guardian, saying the party is blind to the damage Ukip and immigration are doing to its hopes of a majority. "This is the third period I have been in the party where I think our position damages our electoral prospects," Mr Field says, "The first was with the Trots, the second was the era of Benn-foolery and now is the issue of immigration.” 

"Tories to cut inheritance tax before next election" is our splash. Middle-class people should not have to pay the tax, David Cameron told an audience of older workers and pensioners yesterday. The threshold on the tax could be raised to £1m in the budget next April, although the Coalition's junior partners may block the move. Read Dan Hyde and Steven Swinford's story here.
Ed Vaizey, the Culture Secretary, does not listen to BBC Radio 3 and instead prefers Classic FM's "lovely music", Alisdair Glennie reports in the Mail. It's time to move BBC 6 Music to Radio 3's FM slot, says Labour's Tom Watson, John Plunkett reports in the Guardian.
Ed Miliband's attempt to make small talk with Danny Dyer at Attitude's annual awards fell flat, Dan Wootton reveals in the Sun. Meeting the Eastenders star, Mr Miliband briefly dazzled Mr Dyer with his knowledge of casting trivia, telling him that the character of Martin Fowler had been played by three different actors. Mr Dyer asked if the Leader of the Opposition watched the show. "No, I don't have time any more but I've been doing a lot of research about it online," the Labour leader replied. "It was all a bit too heavy for me," Mr Dyer tells the Sun, "I had to sit the ---- down."
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
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.
Poll of polls 7th to 14th October (Opinium-Populus-ICM-Survation-YouGov)
Conservatives 31% Labour 34% Liberal Democrat 9% Ukip 16% Others 10%
YouGov: Conservatives 30%, Labour 34%, Liberal Democrats 8%, Ukip 18%
From the Telegraph

Mary Riddell - If Miliband is to survive, he must show less fear and more honesty

Robert Colvile - If Britain is booming, why is the deficit growing?
Raziye Akkoc  - Just how much immigration is there in Ukip's target seats?
From elsewhere 

Alice Thomson - Nigel's plan to turn the Tory shires purple (Times)
Rafael Behr - Ed Miliband won't be ousted, but his party remains uninspired (Guardian)
0930 LONDON: Education Secretary Nicky Morgan giving evidence to the education select committee on extremism in schools.
1015 COVENTRY: Home Secretary Theresa May to speak at College of Policing annual conference.
1030 LONDON: Chris Grayling gives evidence to Lords Constitution Committee. 
1145 LONDON: Senior police officers at Intelligence and Security Committee. 
1230 LONDON: Sustainable airports summit, with speech from shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh.
1530 LONDON: Yvette Cooper and Nick Clegg at Intelligence and Security Committee public hearings.
1635 LONDON: Commons Procedure Committee takes evidence on e-petitions.
1900 LONDON: Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson speech to Global Warming Policy Foundation