Wednesday, 26 November 2014

it's a trap..

A day of trials for the Shadow Chancellor(Hi Ed!). Jim Murphy sprung a surprise on him yesterday (of, which, more below) and now George Osborne has set a trap for him, in the shape of a vote to enshrine the pledge to eliminate the headline deficit by 2017-18 into law.  
The Shadow Treasury team have set their faces to "not at all rattled, honestly". "We'll wait and see what George Osborne is proposing," is their line. The politics are tricky for Labour: vote against and they'll be branded profligate, vote for and they'll face a barracking from their own supporters. There may have to be a few arms twisted between now and the Autumn Statement, when the plan will be announced formally. 
But as fraught as the politics may be for the Opposition, they could spell trouble for the Coalition as well. Mr Osborne's calculation is that putting the focus on Labour's plans for more spending, more borrowing and more debt highlights the "giving the keys back to the guys who crashed the car" problem. But remember how poorly his admirably candid speech at Tory party conference went down. The reaction was so bad that parts of the PM's speech had to be leaked early to prevent a horrow show in the press.
We know, too, that plenty of Conservative MPs are prone to what David Gauke calls "fiscal Nimbyism": Let fiscal restraint happen, but not in my constituency. It's worth re-reading former Brown spinner Damian McBride's blog on  the danger posed to the Tory campaign should the scale of the cuts to come dominate public discussion.  He knows a thing or two about running the Treasury - and the death of governments, too. 
The Chancellor's calculation is that he'll be rewarded for his honesty and his rigour. I'm not so certain. This is a family e-mail so I won't channel Sid Vicious, but I'm not convinced that candour is as highly praised by the voters as some would like to think.Mr Osborne will have to tread very very carefully to make sure that the big hole in the ground he's just dug claims him and not Ed Balls.  
Scottish Labour must accept full devolution of income tax, Jim Murphy said yesterday. That was expected in London, but he also threw in a surprise for the Eds. As First Minister, Mr Murphy would introduce a 50p rate of tax for Scots earning over £150,000, Simon Johnson reports. The Eds could read about it "in the papers like everyone else" Mr Murphy said, in a hint of the more independent tone he'll strike should he become leader on the 13th. Ballots are now open and the winner will be announced on Saturday 13th December.  
Mark Beard, the headmaster of Tristram Hunt's old (private) school gives his former pupil's plans for the independent sector a very low mark indeed in an article for today's Telegraph. "Did you learn nothing from us, Tristram?" is the headline. "Isn't it time for Labour to come up with some helpful and forward-thinking initiatives, rather than espousing the old "them and us" propaganda?" Mr Beard sighs. The pasting continues in the Times: Mr Hunt is "playing the politics of division" is their leader's verdict"Offensive bigotry" is the Mail's headline. Privately, Mr Hunt will be delighted at the coverage. His stock is low at the moment not only with the party's left but also with his traditional Blairite supporters  and he will doubtless feel that a going-over in the press will be just what the doctor ordered.  
Universal Credit latest: the DWP is "still not getting it right" and is "throwing good money after bad" in an effort to fix the problem, according to the head of the Public Accounts Committee. It's "wasted money, wasted time [and] wasted talent," Rachel Reeves said. But Iain Duncan Smith, who yesterday said that one in three JobCentres will run the troubled scheme by the spring, insists that the rollout is the "best" way for "all government programmes" to be introduced.  Ben-Riley Smith has the story. 
The parliamentary report into the murder of Lee Rigby has blamed social media companies for not spotting or handing over information that could have prevented the death of Drummer Rigby, Holly Watt and Chris Hope report.  The Sun takes its inspiration from the Rigby family's verdict on it all: "Blood On Their Hands" is their splash. "Web firms accused over Rigby" is the Guardian's take. "Facebook Kept Quiet About Rigby Killer's Plotting" is the Mail's splash. But Sir Ming Campbell feels the report is being used to justify further powers for the security services: "It's a remarkable coincidence, some might say, that the Home Secretary should have chose to make public her further proposals on the eve of the publication of the report".
"Hunt: I've taken my kids to A&E rather than wait for GP" roars the i. The Health Secretary admitted in the House yesterday that he has taken his children to A&E at weekends because he feared the wait for a GP, against official NHS advice. It's "highly problematic", says his opposite number Andy Burnham. But Mr Hunt says that it makes his case for increasing GP opening hours stronger. Laura Donnelly has the story. 
Pope Francis delivered a stinging attack on the EU in a speech to the European Parliament, Bruno Waterfield reports. The continent is "less and less a protagonist" in world affairs, treats men and women as "mere cogs in a machine", and the callousness that has allowed the Mediterranean to become "a vast cemetery" for migrants attempting to cross over to Europe.  
Nick Clegg has given the green light to a Coalition crackdown on migrant benefits. He's written a column in today's FT. "Our aim must be to return freedom of movement to its original intention: a right to work". 
The Conservatives must win over young people who are "relaxed about drugs, sex and alcohol" former Conservative minister Damian Green will tell modernising think tank Bright Blue this evening, and will warn against aping Ukip's "appeal to the anxious and angry", saying that it will jeopardise the support of younger voters who "have decades of voting opportunities ahead of them". Chris Hope has the story. 
Labour's planned mansion tax could keep Hague bezzie Angelina Jolie from moving to the UK. "I'm quite responsible about money," the actress told Channel 4 News, who was reported to be considering a £25 million Marylebone penthouse, so the mansion tax "could put me off", Ms Jolie said. Keith Perry has the story
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 7% Ukip 16% Green 5%  (Ashcroft-Opinium-Populus-YouGov, 19.11.2014-26.11.2014)
YouGov: Con 32% Lab 33% LD 7% Ukip 16% Green 6%
@DPJHodges: Ukipper has just demanded I stop pretending to be a Tory and acknowledge I'm a Labour supporter. My political journey has come full circle.
From the Telegraph
Mary Riddell - Labour needs to bridge the gulf dividing it from its own voters
Dan Hodges - Ukip and the hard-Left are both blinded by hatred
James Kirkup - Two charts that explain why old people keep getting free stuff
From elsewhere
Rafael Behr - Anti-EU forces are battle ready: the fightback must start now (Guardian)
Daniel Finkelstein  - Honesty is the last thing Ukippers want (Times)
Garvan Walshe - How do you fight populism? Listen less and govern more (ConHome)
0930 LONDON: Ofsted further education and skills director Lorna Fitzjohn giving evidence on apprenticeships and traineeships to the Common education select committee.
0930 LONDON: Royal Mail chief executive gives evidence to Commons Business Committee inquiry into postal sector competition. 
0945 LONDON: Independent reviewer of counter-terror legislation David Anderson gives evidence to parliamentary Human Rights Committee.
1030 LONDON: Rachel Reeves speech on waste in welfare budgets.
1200 LONDON: Prime Minister's Questions.
1430 LONDON: Women's minister Nicky Morgan gives evidence to parliamentary Human Rights Committee on violence to women and girls. 
1500 LONDON: Environment Secretary Liz Truss gives evidence to the Commons Environment Committee. 
1600 LONDON: Civil Service chief executive John Manzoni gives evidence to Commons Public Accounts Committee. 
1800 LONDON: All-Party Parliamentary Group on tackling terrorism meeting on home-grown jihadis. 
1830: Green leader Natalie Bennett takes part in a Leaders Live show. 
1900 LONDON: Damian Green speech to Bright Blue thinktank on "true modernisation".
Scotland Questions.
Prime Minister's Questions.
A Ten Minute Rule Motion: Dogs (Registration).
An Opposition Day Debate.
A motion to approve a Statutory Instrument relating to terrorism.
A short debate on Stephen Jones and Unicom and mis-selling in the telecoms industry.
Consumer Rights Bill - Report stage (Day 3).

A short debate on the preservation of the Houses of Parliament as part of a World Heritage Site.