Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Win some, lose some..

European matters dominate the papers today but it makes rather more congenial reading for the PM than yesterday. "EU benefit tourists face being sent home" is our splash. "The End For Benefit Tourism" cheers the Mirror. "Migrants face crackdown on benefits" is the i's take. 
The German government has won its case in the European Court of Justice to deny a Romanian immigrant access to non-contributory benefits as well as those benefits which are only paid to people who have paid into the tax system, in a boost for David Cameron's reform agenda. If the PM does pull it off in May he'll face a task just as difficult, of securing a new deal between Britain and the UK. 
Elsewhere, however, is an enduring reminder of the ability of European intrigue to frustrate the PM. Lord Ashcroft's poll of Rochester & Strood sees the same pattern we've seen elsewhere, of Conservative defeat and Ukip victory. (The numbers, in case you haven't seen them, are Ukip 44% Conservatives 32% and Labour 17%) Chris Hope and Ben Riley-Smith report that senior Tory backbenchers want a face-to-face apology for the farce on Monday. 
The good news for the PM is that the mini-recess will hopefully cool tempers, while the defeat in Rochester is now priced in, while we've been reminded that much of his agenda for EU reform has willing allies on the Continent. (The ongoing row over Jean-Claude Juncker's links to Luxembourgeois tax havens has also raised the opinion of the PM's judgement in some corners of Europe) As Rafael Behr notes in the Guardian this morning, we know now that "Labour's capacity to cause trouble for the Prime Minister has become wholly contingent on the Tories' willingness to destabilise their own leader". The bad news for the PM is that willingness can never be entirely discounted. 
Mehdi Hasan sits down with London Mayoral hopeful David Lammy in the Huffington Post. He talks about a desire to give something back to his city - "most or all that I've been given has been given to me from London: London teachers, youth workers, what London gave my parents when they arrived here" - and the rise of the likes of Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and the SNP. It's his verdict on the next election that will raise eyebrows: his view at the last election was that we are "in for a decade of either minority or coalition government. There's very little that's shifted since then." As for Team Ed, they have "a lot to do between now and the general election. A lot to do!". Elsewhere, Democratic Audit's Lewis Baston has a bleak view of Labour's prospects: "an unworkable, small majority and a nightmarishly hard slog in the years ahead. And that, regrettably, is the relatively optimistic scenario."
Airlines and business could start to "marginalise" Britain within five years if the next Government continues to duck decisions on where to build a new runway, the UK's airports tsar, Sir Howard Davies, has warned. Gatwick would be the cheapest option at just £9.3 billion compared to £18.6 billion, according to Sir Howard's estimates. Heathrow is expected to deliver a bigger boost to the UK economy, however. Jim Pickard reports in the FT that the Conservatives are contemplating a U-turn on their opposition to a third runway at Heathrow. The politics are tricky, as expansion to Heathrow is bitterly opposed in the constituencies of Philip Hammond, Justine Greening, Theresa May and Vince Cable. 
The Wanless review into the Home Office's handling of child abuse allegations in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s has found that it is "not possible" to ascertain whether or not there was a cover-up, David Barrett reports. The search is still on for a replacement to Fiona Woolf at the head of the ongoing inquiry into child sexual abuse. 
The NHS requires an emergency injection of £1.5 billion in next month's Autumn Statement, Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health minister, warns. Demographic pressures, institutional change and the changing of the seasons are all putting the Health Service under greater pressure, and it "can't afford to wait" until after the election, Mr Lamb says. It's "the first we have heard of it", sources close to the Health Secretary says. It will almost certainly trigger the start of increasingly public negotiations about the scope of the Autumn Statement in the coming weeks. Chris Hope has the story
Just two in five voters now believe that further fiscal retrenchment will be needed in the five years after the election, according to a Populus poll for the FT, while just a third of respondents accept that any government will have to implement savings that have a direct impact on people. How Labour manages the deficit and reduces the size of the welfare bill were among the topics when I interviewed Rachel Reeves at a Progress event yesterday, the audio of which is available here
Jean-Claude Juncker's position as President of the European Commission will be debated by MEPs today, Bruno Waterfield reports. There is growing concern that M Juncker's position atop the Commission, which regulates competition within the EU, creates a conflict of interest due to his former role as Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Luxembourg, while he is under continuing pressure to explain his role in the scandal over the Grand Duchy's tax arrangements. 
The Barnett formula may have resulted in England and Wales bearing a greater share of the cuts than Scotland and Northern Ireland according to an IFS report. A mistake in the calculation of the value of devolving business rates has resulted in a £600 million benefit for Scotland and a £200 million benefit for Northern Ireland since the Coalition took office
How Labour manages the deficit and gets the welfare bill down were among the topics as I interviewed Rachel Reeves in Westminster last night as part of Progress' "In Conversation" series. You can listen to the audio here, my colleague Mary Riddell with Ed Balls here, and David Aaronovitch with Tristram Hunt here
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 31% Labour 33% Liberal Democrats 8% Ukip 16% Green 5%  (Ashcroft-ICM-Opinium-Populus-Survation-YouGov, 05.11.2014-12.11.2014)
YouGov: Conservatives 33%, Labour 34%, Liberal Democrats 7%, Ukip 15% Green 6%
@BDStanleyMisspelling 'Gandhi' seems to be a prerequisite to citing him inappropriately in support of your argument.
From the Telegraph
James Kirkup - Ukip's success in Rochester won't surprise the Tories. But it should terrify them 
Mary Riddell -Labour agitators bear the stink of failure, not Ed Miliband 
From elsewhere
Alice Thomson - We all profit if beauty comes before pylons (Times)
0930: Latest unemployment figures published by Office for National Statistics. 
1030 LONDON: Bank of England publishes its quarterly forecasts on growth and inflation. Followed by Q&A with governor Mark Carney.  
1035 MANCHESTER: Energy Secretary Ed Davey speech to Renewable UK conference. 
1800 LONDON: Is social media changing elections? Elizabeth Linder, Ryan Shorthouse, Richard Angell, Fran O'Leary and Michael Sani discuss the impact of social media on the next election at Demos.