Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Image as Burden..

The wheels have fallen off Labour's tax avoidance bandwagon. The cautious thumbs up from the business community that Ed Miliband's latest intervention on business and tax has been drowned out by the Labour leader's slap down of the Shadow Chancellor's comments on receipts - the main issue is "hedge funds, not hedge cutters", Mr Miliband quips - and the news that Ed Balls may not have been quite as exacting in asking for receipts as he claimed.

"Balls counts the the cost as receipt claim is shredded" is the Times' splash. "Balls claims expenses for odd jobs (no receipts)" is our page one lead, which details the various no receipt claims that members of the Shadow Cabinet made under the old expenses system. The Mail, meanwhile, has tracked down the man who cleans the windows in Mr Balls' constituency home. "I've cleaned Ed Balls's windows for 17 years and he's never asked me to give him a receipt" is the headline. (But not, one imagines, for 18 years.) 

And if any of yesterday's news has escaped the bubble it is that Times2 interview with comedy duo Ant and Dec. Dec and/or Ant say that while they are disillusioned with the current government, they "don't know what [Labour's] philosophy is any more", while Ant and/or Dec adds "I'm not sure I could picture [Ed Miliband] as prime minister". "Red Ed Ant & Decked" is the Sun's splash, and they've thoughtfully mocked up Wallace as Ed outside Number 10 to assist the former SMTV Live stars with their predicament. 

It's another disastrous day in the office for the Opposition...which does make one wonder, why aren't the Conservatives winning? Yes, we know that people still have yet to focus on the election campaign, and most MPs, regardless of party, assume that when the crunch comes Mr Miliband's toxic personal ratings will cause a shift to the Tories. 

But bluntly, should the Conservative offer be so unappealing that its best hope is a late rally caused by the prospect of Red Ed in Downing Street? Remember, too, that two-thirds of Labour voters thought that it was time for a change of government in 2010 but that familiar fear about the Tories - the "Nasty Party" - was enough to persuade them to stick with Gordon Brown. 

One man who certainly thinks that the Tory party would benefit from a little less rancour is Tim Montgomerie, who has a new project, the Good Right, that launches today with a 12-point programme - you can also follow it on Twitter if that's your thing - that steals many of Mr Miliband's best tunes on housing and inequality while displaying rather more rigour on the deficit. The hope for Labour is that it's launched a little too late.



Unemployed 18-21 year olds will have to carry out community service from day one of their benefit claims, David Cameron will announce in a speech later today. JSA will be abolished for under 21s and replaced with a Youth Allowance, time-limited to six months. "Tory purge on benefits for jobless teenagers" is our splash. 


Ed Miliband has pledged that Labour will create an extra 80,000 high-quality apprenticeships a year in England, Patrick Wintour reports in the Guardian, while large firms will have to create an apprenticeship for every high-skilled worker from outside the EU they hire. 


Sex education should be compulsory at primary school, a report by the Education Select Committee has reccomended, saying that it will allow schools to better tackle STIs, teenage pregnancies and cyber-bullying. "Pupils tell PM: we want more sex education" is the i's frontpage, while "Tories condemned for snubbing sex education" is the Indy's take. Ben Riley-Smith has the story.


Lord Rose's highly critical report into how the NHS management is being kept under report by ministers, Sarah Neville and Elizabeth Rigby report in the FT.  One person who has seen the report says that Lord Rose, who as Stuart Rose restored the fortunes of M&S, has found much of the Health Service's management to be "totally shocking". 


The Huffington Post's Asa Bennett has discovered footage of a young Conservative MP by the name of George Osborne advising the Daily Politics audience on the best way to minimise their tax, causing embarrassment to the Chancellor. "I probably shouldn't be advocating this on television," Mr Osborne said, wisely. 


Stuart Wheeler, the millionaire donor who has been instrumentla in recruiting Conservative defectors, has gone back on his threat to cut off funding to Ukip, Kiran Stacey reports in the FT. However, Mr Wheeler's money will be heavily hypothecated.


Ivan Lewis, a supporter of oligarch-backed Manchester City, tells first-time voters: "People ask me if I have a problem with money in football. I used to have a problem with money in football." 

You can get in touch with me by pressing "reply" or or on Twitter. Our cartoon is the work of Christian Adams, who is also on Twitter. A gallery of his work can be viewed here.  


Labour 34% Conservatives 33% Ukip 14% Liberal Democrat 7% Ukip 14% Greens 7% (Ashcroft-IpsosMori-Opinium-Populus-YouGov) 


Ashcroft: Labour 31% Conservatives 30% Ukip 16% Liberal Democrat 9% Green 8%

ICM: Conservatives 36% Labour 32% Ukip 14% Liberal Democrat 8% Green 6%

Populus: Labour 33% Conservatives 31% Ukip 15% Liberal Democrat 10% Green 5%

YouGov: Labour 32% Conservatives 32% Ukip 16% Green 8% Liberal Democrat 6%


@AdamBienkov: We're Britain We're Better Than This. Hardworking Britain Better Off. A Better Plan for Britain's Prosperity. They'll get there eventually.


From the Telegraph

Iain Martin - Ant and Dec knocking Ed Miliband is bad news for Labour

Bryony Gordon - Let's stop this sadistic hounding of the obese

Dan Hodges - Ed Balls' receipts are a disaster for Ed Miliband

From elsewhere

Steve Richards - Ed Miliband is at ease only as an insurgent (Independent)

Janan Ganesh - Ed Miliband's no insurgent (FT)

Rachel Sylvester - The nasty party is back and on YouTube (Times)


0930 LONDON: Launch of the Warwick Commission on Cultural Value. The Tate's Nicholas Serota is among the figures who have compiled the report.

1000 LONDON: The Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race. MPs, Lords, political correspondents and members of the media compete in the fundraiser organised by the Rehab disability charity to support the its work with disabled people. 

1045 SOUTH EAST: David Cameron on regional visit. 

1130 LINCOLN: Ed Miliband People's Question Time. 

1300 LONDON: Speech by the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter, on the future of the Army, to Chatham House. 

1900 LONDON: Theresa May speech to Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. 


In recess until 23rd February