Friday, 28 November 2014

Chasing polls, chastising Poles..

It's David Cameron's big day: one last major address on immigration before the focus turns to the economy next week with the Autumn Statement. Migrants will face a four-year wait for benefits - both social security and in-work benefits - and will be expelled if they do not have a job in six months. Benefit outflows to children living abroad and other family benefits will also be curtailed. 
It's a far cry from some of the more ambitious pledges on emergency brakes or moratoriums, neither of which would have been achievable while remaining within the European Union. It's a victory for the cautious heads around George Osborne, who were keen to avoid upsetting business - already jittery enough about the coming referendum as it is - although, as the PM will say, the exit door remains firmly ajar should things not go his way.
The odd thing is, it's hard to find many people who think that this speech will really change all that much. The PM seems to be giving a speech...because, well, that's what Prime Ministers do. While our European allies have been squared - a far cry from only a few weeks ago, when diplomats were privately despairing that Britain was on the verge of leaving - the speech doesn't, to my eyes, look to be enough to satisfy the hardline Outers within the Tory fold, let alone win back many Ukip voters.
It may be that the latter is impossible. In the Times, Lucy Fisher reports on research by the British Election Study showing that Nigel Farage's recruits are the most committed of all voters - just a quarter of its voters feel "not very strongly" committed to the party. 
We know, of course, that the PM can give a bravura performance from the podium when he has to. That speech in Manchester - which, yes, mentioned immigration in passing, but ranged freely into traditional Labour territory as well as bringing out the greatest hits of popular Conservatism - did lasting damage to the Opposition's standing in the polls. Those are the applause lines that the Tories have to get back to if they're to overhaul Labour. But the PM's best lines - opportunity "no matter who you are, no matter where you're from", the party "of the first pay cheque, the first chance, the first home" - look distinctly less convincing once you add the rider "but not for Poles". 
Adams cartoon November 28 
"My sister's no snob, says 'Red Van' Ben" is the splash of the Islington Tribune. Emily Thornberry's truck-driving builder brother Ben has come to his older sister's defence in an interview with her local paper.  The fuss says more about the people making it, Mr Thornberry, "rather than the person who took a pic of a house that looks like the one they grew up in". Elsewhere, a survey for LabourList reveals a clear majority of its readers believe that Ms Thornberry should have kept her job by 53% to 44%. 
The PM will push forward with his plans to introduce English votes for English laws, including the setting of English rates of income tax, in what Labour say is a breach of the deal struck by the Smith Commission. 
The latest round of Lord Ashcroft's seat-by-seat polling finds that Nigel Farage has a fight on his hands if he is to enter Parliament next may. The Conservatives lead Ukip by five points with 34% to 29%, Georgia Graham reports. As I noted back when the Conservatives selected Craig Mackinlay as the candidate in Thanet South, it takes time for a third party to chip away at a majority, and Mr Farage's delay in declaring his intentions may hurt him, just as his ill-conceived attempt to take on John Bercow flopped in 2010.  
Andrew Mitchell has lost his libel cases against the Sun and PC Toby Rowland, with Mr Justice Missing ruling that "on the balance of probabilities" that Mr Mitchell "did speak the words alleged or something so close to them as to amount to the same, including the politically toxic word pleb", Martin Evans reports"Right Said Pleb"is the Sun's splash.  
Tory figures are wooing Jeremy Paxman to keep hold of City Hall in 2016, Sam Coates reports in the Times. But CCHQ has yet to throw its weight behind the efforts to recruit Mr Paxman. 
Working grandparents should be allowed to use their children's parental leave allowance to care for grandchildren, Bright Blue, a think-tank aligned with Conservative modernisers, has suggested in a wider report into what Tory priorities on welfare should be. Chris Hope has the story and the full report is available here
Ed Balls sits down with Paul Waugh in the House Magazine. It's not the Autumn Statement, but his Grade 4 piano exam that's keeping the Shadow Chancellor up nights. And Mr Balls reveals something about how Labour - and he - are approaching the difficult task of cutting down. As far as departmental spending is concerned, it's "start from zero and justify every pound". His approach to his weight isn't quite as severe, but he reveals that he drew inspiration from a Telegraph diary item highlighting his, Ken Clarke and Eric Pickles' increased tums after the recess. "I've now lost over a stone on the Pickles diet, reading that diary story every day," Mr Balls says.
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 34% Liberal Democrats 8% Ukip 16% Green 5%  (Ashcroft-Opinium-Populus-YouGov, 20.11.2014-27.11.2014)
YouGov: Con 31% Lab 31% LD 8% Ukip 17% Green 6%
@JoeMurphyLondon: Andrew Mitchell should have talked to kids from Brixton - they know it's seldom worth challenging a police officer's word
From the Telegraph
James Kirkup - Let's try not to enjoy Andrew Mitchell's downfall too much
Con Coughlin - We must tackle the source of the jihadists' threat: Syria 
From elsewhere
Philip Collins - Beware the march of IDS and his gothic folly (Times)
Tim Bale - Suppose they gave a war and no-one came?
0930 WEST MIDLANDS: The Prime Minister will give speech on immigration.
1030 CANNOCK: UKIP's national day of action against road tolls.
Tenancies (Reform) Bill - second reading.
Low Pay Commission (National Minimum Wage) Bill - second reading.
Benefit Entitlement (Restriction) Bill - second reading.
Road Traffic Regulation (Temporary Closure for Filming) Bill - second reading (Day 2).
Illegal Immigrants (Criminal Sanctions) Bill - second reading (Day 2).
House of Lords (Maximum Membership) Bill - second reading.
Wild Animals in Circuses Bill - second reading.

A short debate on the compulsory purchase order in relation to Shepherds Bush Market and the surrounding small businesses.