Thursday, 18 December 2014

Let's do the time warp..

That there, in 10 minutes, was the entire general election campaign," is John Rentoul's verdict on the last PMQs of the year: "Wake me up on 7 May in time to go to the polls." 

"Cameron won the exchanges," declares James Forsyth in the Spectator, "But Labour clearly feels that this 1930s gambit is working for it." The OBR's line about a return to 1930s-levels of spending has certainly put a spring in Labour steps and Ed Miliband was in confident form in the Chamber yesterday. 

I thought that confidence was enough for Mr Miliband to get the better of the PM yesterday, but I'm not convinced that the 1930s line really works as well as some Labour MPs think. It would be interesting to find out which parts of the welfare state people think existed in 1929; my hunch is that most of us imagine a significantly larger state was in place than Labour strategists might like. It feels a little like George Osborne's fiendish "trap", the Charter for Budget Responsibility: a tactic for the bubble.
And there's the added dimension of setting up a Labour government - should one emerge - up for the mother of all betrayal narratives. As one Conservative MP observed recently: "Our problem is that we are seen as the party of cuts. Labour's is the opposite." When Ed Balls gets up to unveil his programme of spending retrenchment, people may feel entitled to be a little anger. Still, that's a problem for 2017. And as James Kirkup notes of the PM's similarly tricky pledge on tax rises, they "may well think of it as a very good problem to have". 


New figures reveal that Ukip spent almost as much as the Tories fighting the European election campaign earlier this year.  The party's growing financial muscle is thanks to a booming donor base, including a number of former Tory investors. Ben Riley-Smith reports.  


Mark Reckless is facing legal action from his former Conservative association over thousands of pounds spent on wasted campaign literature prior to his defection to Ukip.  Chris Hope has the story


The estimated number of migrants who have overstayed their visas and whose whereabouts are unknown has soared. The discovery of thousands of unopened files at the Home Office means there is little way of telling who exactly is in the country legally or the location of those who aren't. "UK has over 300,000 missing visa overstayers, lost papers show" is the Guardian's take.  


New Scottish Labour deputy leader Kezia Dugdale who will assume the responsibility of taking on Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister's Questions for the first time today, and will do until Jim Murphy can trade his Westminster seat for a berth in Holyrood. Paul Hutcheon runs down the options being considered to get Mr Murphy into the Scottish Parliament here.


Theresa May will unveil new restrictions on bail windows for criminal suspects today as part of an overhaul of sweeping police power. It will put an end to the practice of making a high profile arrest on little evidence before leaving the unfortunate subject twisting in the wind for years, often without charges being made at all.   "Saved by the Bail" is The Sun's take. 


Winston McKenzie has compared Nigel Farage to Jesus Christ. The outspoken former boxer and perennial parliamentary candidate known for his outrageous claims, told Chat Politics,"Jesus was one man, we're his army. Farage is one man, and we're his army and that's what it's all about." 

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.  




ICM: Con 28% Labour 33% Liberal Democrat 14% Green 5%

YouGov: Con 33% Lab 33% LD 8% Ukip 14% Green 7% 


@montie: I've always wanted a shorter word for pusillanimous. Now I have one: #Sony 


From the Telegraph 

Peter Oborne - This infatuation with Blair will damage Cameron's reputation

James Kirkup - David Cameron has a very good tax problem 

From elsewhere

George Eaton - In 2014, Labour and the Tories learned they could both lose (New Statesman)

Tim Montgomerie - The splintering of the left is the big Tory hope(The Times) 


1145 EDINBURGH: Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael in Amnesty event visit to school. Pupils are taking part in the Write for Rights Amnesty International campaign. 

1400 BRUSSELS: David Cameron at European Council summit. Schedule (UK times): 1400: Leaders' arrival 1500: Exchange of views with European Parliament President 1530: Family photo 1545: Working session (topic: investment/economy) 1900: Working dinner (topic: Russia/Ukraine) Followed by press conference by Jean Claude Juncker. 

1500 EDINBURGH: First meeting of Scottish Labour's new shadow cabinet. Recently elected Scottish leader Jim Murphy will chair the first meeting of his new frontbench team.



Energy and Climate Change Questions.

A statement on the future business of the House.

A select committee statement on the publication of the communities and local government committee report Operation of the National Planning Policy Framework.

A backbench business debate on matters to be raised before the forthcoming adjournment.

A short debate on jobseeker's allowance sanctions.

Westminster Hall 

1330: i) Business investment in outer city estates ii) Future of Carnforth Station.


In recess.

:: At the end of business, the House of Commons will rise for the Christmas recess and will next meet on Monday January 5