Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Ef's triple trouble..

Labour's election campaign did not get off to the best of starts. Ed Miliband tried to woo business yesterday, and now faces trouble on three fronts: business leaders insisting they don't actually support himhis own MPs threatening to sabotage his cuts, and an increasingly controversial mug.

The business backlash will be especially galling for Miliband, as the party tried to show how business-friendly it can be at the start of its campaign by unveiling a "business manifesto". Labour took out an advert quoting numerous business leaders from companies like Kellogg's and Siemens on the importance of staying in the EU in a bid to back up their attack on the Tories' EU referendum pledge. But several business chiefs quoted have now expressed irritation about being used for an election ad. BAE Systems chair Sir Richard Olver, has written in today's Telegraph that businesses should "stick with the Tories". Our view is even blunter: "Mr Miliband may try to pretend to be a friend of the businesses that create the country's wealth and provide the jobs. He isn't."

Labour backbenchers are also threatening to rebel over their leader's cuts. John McDonnell, chair of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs and former leadership contender, told the New Statesman that as many as 40 MPs could rise up to rein in Miliband's planned austerity, insisting: "I think it will change, inevitably it will change". McDonnell's threat also raises the humiliating prospect of Labour rebels working with the Scottish Nationalists, a party Miliband has kept at arm's length, to stop his cuts. Some Conservatives struggling to hide their glee, as the threat feeds into their framing of the election as a "competence vs chaos" choice. 

Two shadow Cabinet ministers, Sadiq Khan and Chuka Umunna, have added to Miliband's woes by saying they would not buy one of Labour's new "controls on immigration" mugs. Miliband has been accused of "pandering to Ukip" with the controversial cups - bearing the party's slogan on immigration - which have been branded "an embarrassment". 

The Conservatives have also had a bumpy start after opening their campaign by accusing Labour of planning to hit families with a £3,000 tax rise. The Institute for Fiscal Studies quickly branded their claims "unhelpful and of little value". However, they are shrugging this off and trying to keep the focus on the economy, with David Cameron promising that a future Conservative government would create 2 million jobsin the next five years. This is a nice-sounding pledge, but one which may sound odd to some Conservatives. David Cameron used to mock the idea "that it's governments that create jobs", saying: "No, they don't – businesses do".

As the parties fight on for Day 2 of the campaign, Ben-Riley Smith will have the latest developments on our live-blog.


David Cameron has been handed a boost at Thursday's seven way television debate by being drawn to stand on the far right of the party leaders, Chris Hope reports. To the delight of Tory strategists, the Prime Minister will be far away from Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party and a strong performer in the format.


Nigel Farage has held secret talks about working with anti-European Union Conservative MPs in preparation for a hung parliament. The UK Independence Party leader disclosed the contact when he was unveiling the party's general election pledge card outside the London offices of the European Commission in London. Here are more details


Not sure who to vote for yet? The Telegraph has teamed up with Vote Match, the UK's biggest voting advice app, in order to help you find the party that best matches your views. The app is quick and easy to use, and the results may surprise you...


Party leaders have been offered a choice of podium ahead of Thursday's second televised election debate to ensure that height advantage does not unfairly advantage them. The seven party leaders have been told to email the producers of ITV's "Leaders Debate" with details of "their ideal podium height". Read more here.


Ruth Davidson has said she would prefer to see the Tories form a minority government, rather than enter another coalition, reports Auslan Cramb. The Scottish Conservative leader admitted as she launched her party's campaign north of the border that a majority in the general election "doesn't look like a dead cert, stick on right now".


The coalition's adviser on poverty has attacked both the Conservatives and Labour for keeping voters in the dark about the impact of their planned spending cuts until after polling day. Alan Milburn told the Independent's Andrew Grice that Labour and the Tories were stuck in their "comfort zones" and appealing to their core vote – on the NHS and the economy respectively. 


The partner of Martin Freeman, the Hobbit and Sherlock Holmes actor, has tweeted "f*** the Tories" after he appeared in an election broadcast for the Labour Party, Steven Swinford reports. Mr Freeman, who also starred in The Office, claimed that the Tories will take the country on a "rollercoaster of cuts" while Labour will ensure that the "economy works for all of us, not just the privileged few like me".


Tory candidate Nicola Blackwood has spoken up about being diagnosed with the rare debilitating condition Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which means she has very fragile skin, ligaments, blood vessels and organs, as well as loose joints. "I am very lucky; my type of EDS does not carry life-threatening risk," she wrote on Sun Nation, "there were times when I just felt like my body was falling apart on me". 


The Prime Minister has given an interview to Heat magazine in which he spoke about rats, spiders and chili peppers. He also revealed that he is terrible at multi-tasking, quipping: "I'm a man, I can't do two things at once". Emily Gosden has more


Nick Clegg has been touring the country in a yellow battle bus, the Conservatives have their blue one, and Labour has a red one. We've taken a look back at some 'Battle Buses' and past passengers who hoped to make Westminster their ultimate destination.


Average of polls as of Sunday, March 29: Lab: 33.7%, Conservative: 33.7%, UKIP 13.8%, Lib Dem 8%, Green 5.1%. The data is from: YouGov, Populus, Opinium, ComRes, Survation, Ipsos MORI, ICM, TNS-BMRB. 


@AllieRenison: Epic - @ChukaUmunna asked about the immigration controls mug: "You what?" #real


From The Telegraph

Philip Johnston - This boring election is almost guaranteed to leave you fuming

Martin Baxter Campaign Calculus: What happens if nobody wins?

From elsewhere

Zoe Williams - Seven signs that a general election is under way

Rachel Sylvester - Head or heart? It's a Wizard of Oz election


0730 Nick Clegg outlines Lib Dem NHS commitments in first campaign press conference. Clegg then goes on to visit Watford and then Cardiff..

0930 UK final growth figure for Q4 to be published by ONS. Last month's estimate was that the economy grew by 0.5 per cent in the quarter

1000 Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood and Hywel Williams launch the party's manifesto in Bangor 

1100 Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, Public Health Minister Dan Poulter (12:00) and Paul Burstow (12:30) speak at the London Nurse Show

25th anniversary of the poll tax riots in London

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls is expected to reveal details of Labour's prospective budget

Scotland Secretary Alistair Carmichael visits Aberdeenshire as part of the Liberal Democrat election campaign

Shadow consumer affairs minister Stella Creasy and Robin Walker speaks at the Centre for Responsible Credit annual conference in Birmingham

1915 Jon Cruddas speaks at a Centre for Social Justice event on compassion in British politics



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