Monday, 17 November 2014

A warning light that never goes out..

David Cameron takes to the pages of the Guardian this morning with a dire warning. "Red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy," the PM warns. A possible third recession in the Eurozone, slow down in the emerging market economies that have driven global growth over the past few years, conflict in the Middle East, Russia's incursion into Ukraine and the Ebola epidemic are all "adding a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty". 
The hope in 2010 was that by now, Britain would be back in the black and that "the proceeds of growth"  could be widely shared. The Autumn Statement on the 3rd December would, in an ideal world, be dominated by tax cuts and sunlit uplands. 
The reality is rather different. The recovery has seen a boom in the number of low-income jobs, leaving the Treasury facing an ever-tighter pinch on revenues and an ever-larger in-work welfare bill. Labour claims today that the Chancellor will have to fork out £25 billion more than planned from the social security budget.
All in all, the mission of getting Britain back into the black by 2015 has suffered something of a setback. If there is to be a big outlay in December it will likely be to head off a winter crisis in the NHS. "Softening up" was the line on the Today programme: the PM is out today in order to lay the ground for a grim message from George Osborne. It also gets the national conversation back onto the economy, the Government's best territory and the PM's best hope of stopping Labour next May. But there's a bigger point here: most people expect a rather better time after the election than they had before it. The reality is that ain't going to happen. That's better news for Nigel Farage and his party than whatever happens in Rochester on Thursday.
Ukip's formerly shambolic campaign operation has transformed itself from "Dad's Army" to a "ruthlessly organised insurgency", according to Matt Goodwin, who probably knows more about Ukip than anyone. Two new recruits - tireless doorknocker Douglas Carswell and Chris Bruni-Lowe, co-founder of the People's Pledge, a pro-referendum campaign - are behind the transformation from the rudderless outfit that went down to Newark to a machine that, Ukip sources predict, could win in Rochester & Strood by as much as 15 points. Reporting from the constituency, Tom Rowley finds that the mood in the constituency is "not of revolt but general disgruntlement".
Bonuses tied to corporate takeovers could be banned under a Labour government, Chuka Umunna has suggested in an interview with the Times, as it incentivises advisors to complete deals "even if it might not be in a company's best interests", Mr Umunna argues. There needs to be "more grit in the machine" making takeovers more difficult to complete as "at the moment there is a takeover bus that ionce it has started it is very hard to stop". Pfizer's takeover bus is likely to remain in the garage however - the American giant will be able to make take over plucky British-Swedish minnow AstraZeneca on the 26th of November, but the company has announced a $11 billion share buyback programme and is believed to be targeting less politically fraught deals. 
A new Survation poll finds that the Scots are still in favour of the Union - just. It's 53% No and 47% for Yes once you strip out the undecideds. But the Scottish electorate's love affair with the SNP shows little sign of dying down. Nicola Sturgeon, who took office as leader of the SNP and First Minister, has laid out further conditionsfor supporting a Labour government in office next year: an abandonment of the deficit reduction and the end of Britain's nuclear deterrent. Labour sources believe that Ms Sturgeon's game is to make impossible demands of Labour in order to walk away from Coalition negotiations. "It's in her interest to have a Tory government in Westminster and a left-wing government in Holyrood," they explain. 
Britain will pledge £600 million to a UN "green bank" intended to help developing countries prepare for the impact of climate change. Peter Bone tells the Sun's Steve Hawkes it will boost Ukip in Thursday's vote - "Tories See Red At Cam's Green Gift" is their headline. It all adds up to a miserable few days in the House for the PM, with Labour seeking to re-open the European Arrest Warrant argument on Wednesday and a Conservative revolt over the Barnett formula on the Thursday
Rowena Mason interviews Sadiq Khan - the head of Labour's anti-Green unit - as the Shadow Justice Secretary battles to prevent a Green surge that could put pay to Ed Miliband's hopes next May. It's all about broadcasting that Ed Miliband's outfit isn't the same as Tony Blair's, Mr Khan believes. But it's his comments about the next election - "squeaky bum time", "neck and neck"- that are widely reported. The phrase originates in the 2002-3 season, when an Arsenal team that had lead for long periods faltered at the last to a resurgent Manchester United. 
Polling company ComRes turned casting consultancy for the Indy on Sunday and the Mirror this weekend. Rowan Atkinson is the runaway favourite to play both Ed Miliband and Nigel Farage among voters (27% and 21% respectively), while Hugh Grant is the preferred choice for the PM (18%) and his deputy (17%). Ukip supporters have a rather different view of their man than the public at large: they think that Sean Bean would be a better fit for that man Mr Farage.  

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 is available here.  
Conservatives 32% Labour 33% Liberal Democrats 8% Ukip 15% Green 6%  (Ashcroft-ICM-IpsosMori-Opinium-Populus-YouGov, 07.11.2014-14.11.2014)
ComRes: Conservatives 30% Labour 34% Liberal Democrat 8% Ukip 19% Green 3%
Populus: Conservatives 33% Labour 35% Liberal Democrat 8% Ukip 13% Green 3%
YouGov: Conservatives 31%, Labour 33%, Liberal Democrats 7%, Ukip 18% Green 5%
@jimw1Re: Rochester by-election. As radical anti-Westminster ideas go not sure how far along the scale of daring voting for your sitting MP stands
From the Telegraph
Con Coughlin - We need to focus on fighting Isil, rather than ourselves
Matthew Goodwin - Ukip's days of amateur campaigning are over
From elsewhere
Ian Birrell - Ukip feasts on anti-politics mood (i)
Jamie Reed - Why Vote Ukip: a study in paranoia (Progress)
1030 LONDON: Libel actions involving former Government chief whip Andrew Mitchell. Mr Mitchell is suing News Group Newspapers over a September 2012 article in The Sun about the "Plebgate" incident which concerned a verbal exchange at the gate in Downing Street between the MP and PC Toby Rowland. Mr Mitchell is himself being sued by PC Rowland in respect of statements he made from December 2012 onwards.
1345 LONDON: General Synod.
2235: Ed Miliband and the Telegraph's Allison Pearson among the guests on ITV's The Agenda.
Home Office Questions.
Childcare Payments Bill - report stage and third reading.
A short debate on mental health services and the homicide investigation report on the death of Christina Edkins.

Modern Slavery Bill - Second reading.