Friday, 16 January 2015

Green and Pleasant Land..

Yesterday it was predicted that the Green surge would take their membership past Ukip within a week - it appears to have taken them just a day. They look likely to have overtaken the Liberal Democrats by Monday - and they're level with Nick Clegg's party in today's Poll of Polls. The Green surge increasingly looks like the real deal.

Downing Street's calculation is that the more the PM talks about Natalie Bennett and the Green Party in general, the worse it is for Ed Miliband's hopes in May. It's certainly forcing the Labour leader away from the issues that he wants to fight the election on: the end of his four-year silence on development issues and his more vocal commitment the return to his pre-2010 patch of climate change are both reported as attempts to shore up his left flank.

For some Labour MPs it all looks worryingly similar to the failed anti-Ukip strategy - "Ukip are right. Don't vote for them." - pursued by the Conservatives in recent years. The trouble for the Opposition is that three years since that Ukip breakthrough in Eastleigh neither they nor the Conservatives have come up with a particular effective response to Mr Farage, and there is still little sign so far that they will be any more successful in curtailing the rise of Ms Bennett. 

But the big worry for Labour is what it suggests about the endurance of the Liberal Democrats. One of the reasons to remain relatively bullish about the Opposition's prospects in May is it looked likely that Nick Clegg's party will collapse outside of the seats they hold, to the benefit of Labour, but that sitting Liberal Democrats will keep their places in Conservative contests. If the Green surge and the fragmentation of the Liberal vote endures, as now looks increasingly likely, then the prospect for significant Tory gains, and a cushion against the Ukip factor, is no longer as remote as Labour might wish.   



The US and the UK will create a joint "cyber squad" of spies to tackle the growing threat of terrorists plotting online attacks on the West, Peter Dominiczak reports from Washington. But the Guardian's James Ball has got hold of a secret US report from 2009 showing that the encryption technologies that the PM is now keen to ban are vital to preventing cyber-attacks from Russia, China and criminal gangs.  


The immigration debate has descended into "jingoistic nonsense", John Sentamu has warned. "The whole nation - not just the politiciains - has got to have a mature debate," the Archbishop said. "At the moment it is one party telling another 'we are going to do it better than you are'." John Bingham has the story.  


"Whitehall's £1bn spree to spend foreign aid" is our splash. Civil servants spent £1 billion on humanitarian programmes in war-torn Syria and the earthquake-hit Philippines in the last two months of 2013 as Dfid's 0.7% budget allocation had not yet been spent. (Further cash also went to Bill Gates' foundation to tackle Aids, tuberculosis and malaria.) "This proves the folly of binding targets which set out how much you have to spend irrespective of need," Sir Peter Luff says. 


TV advertising for foods that were high in food and sugar would be banned until after the watershed under a Labour government, Andy Burnham has announced. In the Times, Lucy Fisher reports that Labour's health team were forced to tone down plans for minimum pricing on booze and restrictions to the visibility of alcohol in supermarkets under pressure from senior Labour MPs who feared the ban would look draconian and alienate business. 


George Osborne has signalled his support for Boris Johnson in the event of a leadership contest after Conservative MPs made it clear that they did not regard the Chancellor as a realistic contender to succeed David Cameron, Sam Coates reports in the Times


Ed Miliband will today brand the disappearance of almost a million people from the electoral roll a "scandal" and will launch a campaign to register young people to vote ahead of the 20th April deadline. "The missing million voters" is the Indy's splash, while the i opts for "Missing: 1 million voters"


Do you like politics and obscure references to mid-Noughties social trends? Then you'll enjoy this retelling of the Coalition years through the medium of lines from the hit comedy Peep Show. Have a lovely weekend.

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 33% Liberal Democrat 7% Ukip 15% Greens 7%

TNS-BMRB: Conservatives 28% Labour 35% Liberal Democrat 6% Ukip 18% Green 5%

IpsosMori: Conservatives 33% Labour 34% Liberal Democrat 8% Ukip 11% Green 8%

YouGov:  Conservatives 32% Labour 32% Liberal Democrat 6% Ukip 15% Green 8%


@DavidMills73: I think I'd be more likely to join ISIS than the Greens


Jeremy Warner - The Enlightenment must be defended - or we'll be sorry

Fraser Nelson - The Tories are treating their proudest boast as a dirty secret

From elsewhere

Gaby Hinsliff - A teacher has sex with a 16-year-old girl, and he is a victim? Please (Guardian)

Philip Stephens -  Fear of defence cuts and Brexit weaken Britain in America (FT)


1200 SHEFFIELD: Ed Miliband speech to students in Sheffield. 


Commons: 0930

Local Government (Religious etc. Observances) Bill - Report stage.

Control of Offshore Wind Turbines Bill - Second reading.

Asylum (Time Limit) Bill - Second reading.

Bat Habitats Regulation Bill - Second reading.

Employment Rights Bill - Second reading.

Energy (Buildings and Reduction of Fuel Use) Bill - Second reading.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (Energy Performance Certificates and Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards) Bill - Second reading.

International Trade Agreements (Scrutiny) Bill - Second reading.

Railways (Public Sector Operators) Bill - Second reading.

Low Pay Commission (National Minimum Wage) Bill - Second reading .

Sugar in Food and Drinks (Targets, Labelling and Advertising) Bill - Second reading.

A short debate on the effect of the adoption of sewers on the home improvement industry.

Lords: 1000

Assisted Dying Bill [HL] - Committee of the whole House (Day 2).