Monday, 12 January 2015

Back to the grind..

The morning's papers focus on yesterday's Unity March in Paris. "Liberty, equality, fraternity: France defies the terrorists" is our splash, while the Indy also goes for "Liberté, égalité, fraternité". "Magnifique" sighs the Mirror. "United we stand" says the Times frontpage - "Je Suis 4 Million" roars the Sun. "A nation united against terror" is the Guardian's take, while "Foreign leaders join 3.7m French in show of defiance over terror killings" is the FT's. 

But elsewhere the mood is turning back to the election campaign. Later today, the PM will set out the big themes for the Conservative manifesto: balancing the books, cutting taxes, boosting jobs, increasing home ownership, reforming education and bribing the baby boomers. (Or "providing security in retirement".) Ed Miliband is meeting the public in Stevenage and pressuring the Government to vote for Labour's motion on Wednesday to give Ofgem the power to cut energy bills

Both men are coming in for their fair share of carping. That there is no mention of immigration in David Cameron's little list has left the Sun in an irritable mood. "You have to wonder if he really wants to win," their leader says. Meanwhile, the Labour leader is under pressure to admit that he used the word "weaponise" to describe his strategy for the NHS during the election campaign - Steven Swinford reveals that he briefed up to 15 BBC executives on his plans. (Here's one from the archives: Damian McBride on the W word) 

In reality, both men are being accused of running an election campaign. Mr Cameron doesn't want to talk about immigration because Downing Street regards it as an invitation to vote for Nigel Farage. Whether or not Mr Miliband actually used the aesthetically and politically ugly word "weaponise" is besides the point: we all know that he wants the Health Service to be at the front of people's minds on the 7th of May. But the two rows highlight one of the truths of this long, long campaign: the PM can't ever quite forget Ukip and their Old Man of Sea effect on the Conservative poll share, while Labour have lost none of their capacity for acts of self-harm. 




David Cameron will tell Britain's intelligence chiefs that the Data Communications Bill will be introduced after a Conservative election victory, Nick Watt reports in the Guardian. Absent a majority, they'll have to get past Paddy Ashdown first. Writing in the Indy, Lord Ashdown argues: "Almost every recent generation has had to respond to these kind of phenomenon. And almost every generation has managed to do so without fundamentally undermining our freedoms or setting our societies at war with themselves." 


"There is a special burden on Muslim communities [to tackle terrorism], because whether we like it or not, these terrorists call themselves Muslims," Sajid Javid argued yesterday. "You can't get away from the fact that these people are using it as a tool to carry our their activities," Mr Javid said. 


Ed Miliband would be willing to go ahead with a debate with Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage and an empty chair if the PM won't take part, the Labour leader told Andrew Marr yesterday. Hang on Mr Miliband, says James Kirkup in his column today, why won't you sign up for the Telegraph's team-up with the Guardian and YouTube, and debate the PM, Mr Farage, Mr Clegg and the Greens online? The Mirror follows up Lord Tebbit's remarks to the Observer yesterday that David Cameron risks looking "frit" if he doesn't participate in the debate. "Tebbit: Cam Is Chicken" is their headline.


In the Guardian, Helen Pidd goes on the campaign trail with Nick Clegg, who is facing an increasingly difficult battle to hold his Sheffield Hallam seat against Labour's Oliver Coppard. One voter is deserting Mr Clegg for Nigel Farage: "I think he will be in coalition instead of you next time," the 53-year-old quantity surveyor says. The DPM says he is "confident but not complacent" of holding his seat. 


Boris Johnson spent a night sleeping rough this weekend to raise awareness of the Indy's Homeless Veterans campaign, in the company of that newspaper's owner, Evgeny Lebedev.

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 33% Labour 34% Liberal Democrat 7% Ukip 14% Greens 7%

Populus: Conservatives 33% Labour 34% Liberal Democrat 8% Ukip 14% Green 4%

YouGov:  Conservatives 32% Labour 32% Liberal Democrat 7% Ukip 18% Green 6%


@JamieRoss7: I hope Nick Clegg calls David Cameron "David Cameron" every time they speak. "Can you pass the stapler, David Cameron?"


From the Telegraph 

James Kirkup - General election debates: will David Cameron and Ed Miliband turn up? 

Boris Johnson - The Islamists want war, but it would be fatal if we fell for it

From elsewhere

Chris Deerin - Darkness on a Saturday afternoon: the case of Ched Evans (Scottish Daily Mail)

Matthew D'Ancona - For Cameron and Miliband, Paris is act one of the UK general election (Guardian)


1100 STEVENAGE: Ed Miliband visiting Stevenage.

1120 EAST MIDLANDS: David Cameron speech.

1400 LONDON: Network Rail publish report into Christmas engineering overrruns. 

1400 LONDON: Nine-year-old boy appears before the Commons HS2 Committee to make petition.

1600 LONDON: Theresa May and Chris Grayling at European Scrutiny Committee.



Defence Questions.

Stamp Duty Land Tax Bill - Committee of the whole House and remaining stages.

Consumer Rights Bill - Consideration of Lords amendments.

A motion to approve a carry-over extension on the Consumer Rights Bill.

A short debate on Corby fire services.

LORDS: 1430

Introduction of Baroness Wolf of Dulwich.


Pension Schemes Bill - Committee of the whole House (Day 2).

A short debate on encouraging elderly people to prepare living wills and powers of attorney