Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Thornberry bounce..

Populus has Labour ahead on 36% to the Conservatives on 31%. The weekly Ashcroft has the Opposition in the lead as well by 32% to 27%. And today's YouGov has a four-point Labour lead, at 34% to 30%.  (It's put some daylight between the parties in our rolling poll too, with Labour ahead, 34% to 32%.
None of the three are different enough from recent polls for us to say with any certainty that it isn't just noise - it may the classic post-election bounce for Nigel Farage or it could be that the pattern - of Labour ahead by a whisker - remains unchanged on last week. Nevertheless, it's a reminder that for all Ed Miliband's much-advertised weaknesses - 59% of voters believe that David Cameron will still be PM this time next year - the Ukip factor remains very much in his favour. 
It's what hasn't changed as much that should prey on Labour minds. Considering the ongoing difficulty around replacing Emily Thornberry as Shadow Attorney General - Andy Slaughter, a Miliband loyalist and a barrister, would be a natural fit but is from "that London" - that her careless tweeting appears to have passed most people by makes the sacking look unwise. 
More important and more troubling, though, is the continuing buoyancy of the SNP. Populus have the Nationalists on 4%, YouGov has the combined score of the Plaids and the Nats at 5%, and Lord Ashcroft has the SNP at 5%. (Scotland's share of the UK population is around 8-9%.) The SNP haven't yet come down from the high to mid 40s showings that the more detailed Scotland-wide polls reported, while on the ground, one Scottish Labour organiser reports "the worst VoterID sheets I've ever seen". Nigel Farage may giveth, but Nicola Sturgeon can still taketh away. 
A Labour government could strip private schools of up to £150 million a year in valuable tax breaks, potentially adding £200 a year to the cost of school fees, Holly Watt reports. In order to avoid losing their tax breaks, schools will have to comply to a stringent set of new standards, including providing qualified teachers in specialist subjects to state schools, shared expertise to help state school students into top universities, joint extra-curricular programmes and sponsoring new academy schools. Tristram Hunt, himself a product of private school, will give a speech on education later today and outlines his thinking in the Guardian.
Harry Cole has a profile of the woman of the moment Theresa May in this month's Spectator Life.  Among the highlights: there are some in the traditional right who still haven't forgiven Mrs May for her "nasty party" speech, "no matter how many terrorists she sends back or tough-sounding speeches she gives". But it's the report that "she doesn't rate Cameron any more" that catches James Chapman's eye in the Mail: "May has given up on 'incompetent' No 10, say friends" is their take. (Oh, and if you haven't listened to it yet, Mrs May's Desert Island Discs can be heard here.) 
The DWP's flagship benefits reform will be rolled out to one in three JobCentres by the spring, Iain Duncan Smith will announce today. Mr Duncan Smith will also attack Labour for having their "heads in the sand" over welfare. The Secretary of State insisted Ben Riley-Smith has the story
Labour have unveiled the early results of their zero-based spending review. If elected, they will save £250m by quadrupling the cost of a gun licence from £50 to £200 and scrapping police and crime commissioners. Daniel Martin has the details in the Mail.
Lord Rennard has queried whether the Liberal Democrats can still be considered a "major party" after the party finished fifth with less than 1% of the vote in the Rochester & Strood by-election, Daniel Martin reports in the Mail. Lord Rennard, who was suspended following allegations of making unwanted sexual advances on a series of women, is believed to be angling for a return to a role in the election campaign. It's not as farfetched as it may sounds: the peer is still respected as an election organiser by sections of the Liberal parliamentary party and activist base although Nick Clegg is, I'm told, set against the move. 
The DPM has rounded on Emily Thornberry, calling her tweet "drippingly patronising". Maybe "that's what happens when you become the MP for Islington" spat man-of-the-streets Nick Clegg. It's come as something of a blow to Terry Stacy, the Liberal candidate hoping to overturn Ms Thornberry's 3,569 vote majority. "I don't know what's behind that comment," Mr Stacy told the Huffington Post. Georgia Graham 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, 18.11.2014-25.11.2014)
Ashcroft: Conservatives 30% Lab 33% LD 7% Ukpp 19% Green 4%
Populus: Conservatives 31% Labour 36% LD 9% Ukip 15% Green 4%
YouGov: Con 30% Lab 34% LD 6% Ukip 18% Green 5%
@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
James Kirkup  - Where have the proletarian politicians gone?
John McTernan - The threat is real: we need to listen to Theresa May
Philip Johnston - Can Theresa May get the right balance between liberty and security?
From elsewhere
Chris Deerin - Ms Sturgeon, tear down this wall! (Mail)
Rachel Sylvester - Ukip is cashing in on our obsession with class(Times)
Jonathan Todd - Liverpool must back Rodgers and Labour must back Miliband (Uncut)
0945 LONDON: Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt to make a speech on schools.
1000 LONDON: Bank of England governor Mark Carney appears before Commons Treasury Committee.
1030 LONDON: Combating modern slavery across Europe. A speech by Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, organised by the CSJ.
1630 LONDON: Commons committee takes evidence on governance of the House of Commons. 
1630 LONDON: Theresa May speech on violence against women and girls.
1830 LONDON: Jon Cruddas at Progress "in conversation" event with Philip Collins of the Times.
1030 LONDON: Owen Paterson speech on Britain and the EU.
1100 LONDON: A legal dispute over letters the Prince of Wales wrote to government ministers reaches the UK's highest court.
1100 LONDON: Theresa May speech on counter-terrorism.
1145 LONDON: Nick Clegg press conference.
1200 LONDON: Boris Johnson to join some of world's best wheelchair tennis players as they demonstrate their skills ahead of the forthcoming NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters.
1630 LONDON: Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie give evidence to Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee.
1800 LONDON: Margaret Hodge speech on reconnecting politics with communities.
2235 LONDON: Grant Shapps, Germaine Greer and the Telegraph's Emma Barnett among the guests on ITV's The Agenda. 
Health Questions.
A Ten Minute Rule Motion: Parliamentary and Constitutional Reform.
Pension Schemes Bill - Report stage and third reading.
A motion to approve resolutions relating to the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Bill, the Local Government (Review of Decisions) Bill, the Health and Social Care (Safety and Quality) Bill and the Control of Horses Bill.
A short debate on secondary breast cancer and data collection.
Westminster Hall
0930: Fracking.
1100: Bede Griffiths Trust and Southern India.
1430: Processing of Personal Independence Payment decisions.
1600: London transport zones and Croydon.
1630: Review of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.
National Insurance Contributions Bill - Second reading.
A debate on the UK's membership of the European Union.

A debate on working conditions in the care sector.