Thursday, 15 January 2015

He ain't heavy, he's my brother..

David Cameron at the White House today for two days of talks with Barack Obama. On the agenda: security, particularly the surveillance of American social networking sites, and the troubling picture around the global economy. But the unspoken hope is that the warm glow of an unspoken endorsement from a man who is still more popular here in the UK than any of the party leaders trickles through to the PM.

That the two men's joint op-ed in today's Times echoes may of the core messages of the Conservative re-elect - "security and prosperity go hand in hand" they write - will put a spring in Tory steps this morning. The parallels between the two men are easy to draw - difficult economic inheritance, controversial healthcare law, an opponent who makes people say "there's something strange about that guy" - not to mention flattering to the PM and auguring well for the election in May. 

That Ed Balls is also stateside launching a new economic prospectus for the centre-left that has the fingerprints of Obama administration alumni all over it suggests that the unity between the two principals might not be as significant as the warm words suggest. (He'll also meet with Janet Yellen, the chair of the Federal Reserve, and the Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew.) But the reality for the Opposition is that to the extent that there is any real afterglow to these visits it comes from the photographs and the headlines, all of which put the conversation back to those Conservative sweetspots of security, leadership and the economy.



The poor are being "left behind and entire cities "cast aside", with the Christian values of solidarity replaced by a new creed of "every person for themselves", a volume of essays edited by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and with contributions from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. (Labour peer Andrew Adonis is also among the contributors.) "Entire cities cast aside by Coalition, say Archbishops" is our splash. 


The Mirror's chicken has the PM in his sights over the debates. "Cam Gets Roasting" is their headline. "David Cameron is fast coming to resemble a man invited to a dinner he does not wish to attend but which he finds embarrassing to turn down," our leader despairs, while the FT says that if the PM refuses to back down, the "only alternative" is for the debates to proceed without him.  But the Sun says it's a waste of energy. "They are a hopeless guide to which politician would best lead the country," their leader argues


BP is expected to announce the conclusion of a major jobs review in the wake of the collapse of oil prices, which is lead to job losses north of the border, Simon Johnson reports. Nicola Sturgeon has been criticised for "going missing" during the oil price crisis. 


Celebrities and campaigners including Bill Gates, Mat Damon and Malala Yousafzai will join forces to launch an international campaign, Action/2015, to persuade global leaders to make 2015 the defining year in the battle against poverty and climate change, Patrick Wintour reports in the Guardian. Ed Miliband will meet 15-year-old representatives of the campaign today and deliver his first speech on international development since becoming Labour leader today. He will commit a Labour government to bringing the number of people in living in extreme poverty down to zero by 2030. 


Membership of the Green Party will overtake Ukip within a week, new research predicts. The party's UK-wide membership is now at 40,789 to Ukip's 41,514. (The Liberal Democrats have 44,576.) Nigel Morris has the story in the Indy.


The comedian Al Murray's alter-ego, the Pub Landlord, will stand in Thanet South where Nigel Farage is aiming to become an MP. Thanet South's MP, Laura Sandys, isn't pleased. "There are enough comedians standing there already," Ms Sandys tells the Times' Laura Pitel


Slight snafu with the chart widget means that it's still yesterday's picture.. Today's figures see all the parties unchanged on yesterday regardless, fortunately. 

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 33% Liberal Democrat 8% Ukip 15% Greens 6%

YouGov:  Conservatives 32% Labour 34% Liberal Democrat 7% Ukip 15% Green 6%


@rafaelbehr: They should do debates without Cameron. Then Cameron should show up anyway. Maybe drunk. "Clegg, get yer coat. We're leaving."


James Kirkup - Running scared from the leaders' debates, the PM looks like Gordon Brown

Peter Oborne - The Tory machine is gearing up to back Boris Johnson

From elsewhere

David Aaronovitch - The weasels of 'free speech' need strangling(Times)

George Eaton - Cameron and Miliband are more servants than masters of their parties (NS)


1030 LONDON: Ed Miliband speech to the ONE campaign on international development and climate change.

1900 LONDON: The Lord Mayor of the City of London's annual London Government Dinner attended by mayor of London Boris Johnson. 


Commons: 0930

Culture, Media and Sport Questions.

Women and Equalities Questions.

A statement on the future business of the House.

Two backbench business debates: i) Contaminated blood ii) Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

A short debate on the future medical support for pancreatic cancer.

Westminster Hall:

1330: National commissioning of NHS specialised services.

Lords: 1000


A debate on the natural environment, green transport and protecting wildlife.

A short debate on the pressures facing accident and emergency services.

A debate on mental health care provision

A short debate on reducing maternal and neonatal mortality in the developing world.