Monday, 19 January 2015

Shooting Labour's fox..

Has Ed Miliband's fox been shot? Boris Johnson certainly seems to think so. "I remember a time when it was absolutely clear how Labour was going to fight the election," the Mayor of London writes in his column today. " They had a flagship policy, an idea that resonated across the country," Mr Johnson says of the energy price freeze - now the energy price cap - but now? "The flagship is holed below the waterline." Falling energy prices, the rise of discount supermarkets and the possibility of so-called "joyflation" all easing the pressure on wages has undermined the Opposition's "cost of living" offensive - or, at least, that's our leader's verdict

David Cameron will seek to keep up the pressure with a commitment to full employment and to make Britain the "jobs factory of Europe" in a speech later today, while George Osborne's celebration of falling fuel prices is today's Times' splash. ("Plunging fuel prices give boost to family spending" is their take.) The PM will hope to add to Labour's discomfort with further raids on their territory, saying that the Conseratives are the party of "retailers and roofers". But the economic picture isn't quite as rosy as the Government might hope. The Centre for Cities think tank finds that the last decade has seen growth concentrated in London and the South while the North stagnates.  "North-South divide gets a lot worse" wails the i's frontpage. "Divided UK: for every 12 jobs created in the South, one is lost in the North" is the Indy's splash. Elsewhere, John Bingham reports on a "drastic" deterioation in the living standards of single-earner households, who are no longer pulling in enough money to keep up a decent standard of living. 

Ed Miliband himself, however, is still in fine form. Privately, he still believes that Labour can take around 36-38% of the vote in May, while his team believe that the PM has erred by moving onto the territory of wage rises and living standards - they believe that he's conceded the argument. Others in Labour fear a re-run of the 1980s: stagnation and recession in the North, but enough growth - or the hope of it - in the right parts of the country to re-elect the Conservatives. But it may be that this time it's different. Our John Bingham reports on the decline in the purchasing power of single-earner households over the last five years. The governments of Margaret Thatcher presided over higher unemployment, but stronger wage growth too. It may be that the PM recieves a less fulsome reward at the ballot box for high employment and sluggish wage levels. 


Ed Miliband has committed a Labour government to reversing the cuts to children's mental health services as part of a greater focus on mental health. Labour believe that "smart investments" in child mental health can reduce the overall mental health spend - a third of all adult mental health cases begin in childhood but the area has just 6% of the overall health budget. Elsewhere, Nick Clegg will todaypledge to roll out a "zero suicides" target that has reduced suicides in target areas nationwide. 


The government will increase its efforts to tackle anti-Semitism, Theresa May has announced. It comes as a survey for the Jewish Chronicle found that 43% of Jewish people felt that life in Britain was getting worse and one in 10 have considered leaving the country altogether. Matt Holehouse has the story


Alistair Thompson, a right-wing campaigner with close links to Owen Paterson, has been removed from the Conservatives' approved candidates list, ostensibly due to his failure to campaign in Newark. But Mr Thompson says that friends in CCHQ have told him that his links to Mr Paterson are the real reason for his purge. Sam Coates has the story in the Times


The Government has written to every mosque in the country to tell Muslim faith leaders that they must do more to root out the "men of hate" who spread extremism, Matt Holehouse reveals. Whitehall is unable to defeat extremism alone and Muslim leaders have a "responsibility" to tackle the problem, the letter says. "Mosques ordered to root out extremists" is our splash.


Labour's plans for a tuition fee reduction are foundering due to an inability to find the cash to fund the reduction from a £9,000 fee to £6,000, Sam Coates writes in the Times. The Opposition planned to annouce a £3,000 reduction upfront and a process to gradually move to a full-blooded graduate tax, but costs may mean that the current policy survives a change of government. 


A Survation poll for the Conservative modernisers, Bright Blue, finds that less than one in six Conservatives believe than an ideal immigration system would reduce the overall number of immigrants, against one in four Ukip supporters. Bright Blue's director, Ryan Shorthouse, says that the findings show that there is little value in trying to "out-Ukip Ukip". Chris Hope has the story.. 

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 6%


ComRes:Conservatives 33% Labour 34%  Liberal Democrat 7% Ukip 18% Green 3%

Opinium: Conservatives 28% Labour 33% Liberal Democrat 7% Ukip 20% Green 6%

Populus: Conservatives 32% Labour 35% Liberal Democrat 9% Ukip 14% Green 6%

YouGov:  Conservatives 31% Labour 32% Liberal Democrat 7% Ukip 18% Green 7%


@mattholehouse: According to FCO guidance, Saudi prison conditions are "quite good" with air con cells. However, they may stone you or cut your hands off.


From the Telegraph

Iain Martin - What's the point of Davos? The Enlightenment must be defended - or we'll be sorry

Boris Johnson - Labour's energy freeze is dead and Ed has nothing else to offer

From elsewhere

Matthew D'Ancona - Rumours of Cameron's demise are greatly exaggerated (Guardian) 


1000 LONDON: Nick Clegg speech at mental health conference.

1015 EAST OF ENGLAND: David Cameron speech. 

1500 LONDON: Prime minister of New Zealand and culture secretary launching Gallipoli commemorations. Culture Secretary Sajid Javid and PM John Key are meeting to ask descendants of those who fought in the 1915 Gallipoli campaign to come forward and play a role in the commemorations on 25 April Anzac Day at the Cenotaph to mark the 100th anniversary. 

1800 LONDON: David Laws speech to Institute for Government on "effective government in 2015 and beyond".


Commons: 1430 

Education Questions. 

Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill - all stages. 

A short debate on the future of Millhouse Green Post Office.

Lords: 1430 


Recall of MPs Bill - Committee of the whole House (Day 2) 

A short debate on support given to individual artists, including visual artists, writers and composers.