Thursday, 22 January 2015

Time is running out..

The PM makes his first post-referendum visit to Scotland today to mark the publication of the draft clauses relating to further powers for Scotland - further control over tax, spending and welfare will pass to Holyrood, while legislation will be passed to confirm the Scottish parliament as a permanent institution.  "The new United Kingdom" is the i's frontpage. 

It's the party that will be using those powers at Holyrood that takes the headlines elsewhere. Nicola Sturgeon has reversed the SNP's self-denying ordinance on "English only issues" at Westminster, raising the prospect of a Labour-SNP coalition or a confidence and supply arrangement.  "SNP plan to vote on English laws" is the splash to our Scottish edition, "SNP to vote on English laws" is the Times' take. 

In reality, the impact of the Barnett formula means that, even with significant devolution of Scottish revenue-raising to Holyrood, there are very few issues that can genuinely be described as "English only". But Ms Sturgeon's words are largely about defusing the Labour line of "vote SNP, get Tory". 

The latest IpsosMori suggests that the line may not be as potent as Labour hope in any case. The Nationalists are way ahead on 52% to 24%, with none of the minor movement picked up in the recent Panelbase and Survation polls. It's very probably an outlier, but it's a reminder of the scale of Labour's challenge north of the border. It's also worth noting that beneath the headlines, Labour still leads in Scotland as the party that people are "most inclined to vote for" (25% to the SNP's 10% in 2012, 20% to 14% now) suggesting that any talk of a permanent SNP majority is misplaced. 

But for all the arrival of Jim Murphy - "the best we've had since Donald Dewar" in the words of one Labour MP - has given the party a greater spring in its step the political, policy, not to mention organisational challenges to Scottish Labour will take time for reverse. The trouble for Labour is that time is running out. 


Tom Newton Dunn has got hold of a tape of Ukip's immigration spokesman, Steven Woolfe, badmouthing Nigel Farage and speculating that the Ukip leader might do a deal with the Conservatives in exchange for a peerage. Mr Woolfe says that he "naively believed" the rumours at the time but now thinks they are "complete and utter drivel". But the tape emerges as rumours abound around Tim Aker's defenestration as policy chief and of friction between Douglas Carswell and his leader. "Ukip don't seem quite the breath of fresh air some thought," the Sun chuckles in its leader


Beth Rigby reveals in the FT that defenestrated Vince Cable ally and ex-Liberal Democrat peer Matthew Oakeshott is giving hundreds of thousands of pounds to 30 Labour candidates in order to boost Ed Miliband's chances of becoming PM and scotch any possibility of an In-Out referendum. Lord Oakeshott, an ex-SDPer, has donated £600,000 across 46 marginal seats with £300,000 going to Labour candidates and the remainder going to Liberal Democrats and Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavillion. (George Eaton has a complete list.) 


Broadcasters are set to put a new proposal to the party leaders that would include Nicola Sturgeon and Natalie Bennet, John Plunkett and Tara Conlan report in the Guardian.  


There will be a pre-election vote to introduce plain packaging of cigarettes across the country, Peter Dominiczak reports. Strong cross-party support means it ishighly likely to pass the House, but the TPA's Jonathan Isaby isn't happy. It's "another victory for the nanny state" and is "likely to encourage counterfeiters to flood the black market and hit Treasury revenues".  


Ukip is a party led by "Neanderthal sexists", Harriet Harman says. Nigel Farage himself has admitted that the party can come off as a tad "blokeish". But, he asked, "What do you want me to do? Go sell flowers?" James Chapman has the story in the Mail


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.


Poll-of-Polls (Ashcroft-Populus-Opinium-ICM-Ipsos-YouGov) Conservatives 32% Labour 33% Liberal Democrat 8% Ukip 15% Greens 7% 


YouGov: Conservatives 33% Labour 34% Liberal Democrat 6% Ukip 14% Green 8%


@alexmassie: As was the case with Marilyn Monroe, it is exceptionally difficult to take a boring photograph of Ed Miliband. 


From the Telegraph

James Kirkup - Never mind Iraq. The real scandal is Britain's forgotten war in Afghanistan

From elsewhere

George Eaton - Labour and Tories aren't the same - so why do voters still think they are? (NS)


0900: Nick Clegg on LBC radio.

0930 LONDON: Philip Hammond hosts a meeting of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.

1000 EDINBURGH: Government to publish draft clauses to deliver more powers to Scotland. Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander will attend.

1130 BELFAST: Labour leader Ed Miliband in Belfast. 

1200 LONDON: Prime Minister's Questions. 

1700: Ed Balls on LBC radio.

1930 BELFAST: Ed Miliband to address a local business community in Belfast.



COMMONS - 0930: 

Transport Questions. 

Leader of the House and House of Commons Commission Questions. 

A statement on the future business of the House. 

A statement on the publication of draft Scotland clauses. 

A debate on a motion relating to the governance of the House of Commons. 

A short debate on the fire risk in timber-framed houses. 

Westminster Hall: 

1330: i) A debate on the third report from the Energy And Climate Change Committee: The Green Deal and ii) A debate on the first report from the Justice Committee session: Crime Reduction Policies. 

LORDS - 1000: 


A debate on improving investment in and planning for the UK's national infrastructure. 

A short debate on improving access to the criminal justice system and victim support for people with autism spectrum disorders. 

A debate on Local Government Finance Settlement and its implications for the future of local government.