Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Brand New Politics..

The election campaign continues to surprise, with Ed Miliband sitting down to talk politics with Russell Brand, while David Cameron is now promising to outlaw tax rises for five years (which we feature on today's front page). 

Some newspapers have expressed bewilderment about the "MiliBrand" meeting on their front pages, with the Sun opting for the headline "Monster Raving Labour Party". The Star says the pair talked "total ballots", while the Daily Mail asks "Do you really want this clown ruling us? (And, no, we don't mean the one on the left)" - seemingly forgetting that they both can be said to be on the left. Former Labour staffer turned comedian Matt Forde jokingly described the chat as being between a "waffling blagger who doesn't speak normally and... you get the idea". 

So is the 35-minute chat, which is set to be cut to eight minutes and broadcast today online, a tactical misstep? Miliband isn't the first party leader to speak to Brand, Nick Clegg met with him last year to talk about drugs policy. The self-styled revolutionary has previously been critical of the Labour leader, saying voters "deserve better". But Brand has a massive audience of disaffected voters who could be swayed. His "Trews" series of videos have over one million subscribers on Youtube, and the "Milibrand" trailer has already been viewed over 197,000 times, while Labour's latest election broadcast has been seen less than 15,000 times. Miliband will hope voters will watch their discussion for the right reasons, out of interest in politicsrather than in watching a potential car-crash. 

Meanwhile, David Cameron is wooing voters with a new "tax lock", which will enshrine in law a pledge not to raise VAT, national insurance or income tax for five years. This would be a big step, potentially forcing the Tories to make big cuts to find the necessary savings as they would not be able to get more from these "locked" taxes, which together raise around 2/3 of Britain's tax reveue. The recovery still remains fragile, as the Tories warned after new figures out found growth had faltered, so how easily could this lock survive? 

Some may recall what happened to William Hague when he, as Tory leader, promised to cut taxes regardless of the state of the economy. He was forced to ditch his pledge, which critics saw as a hostage to fortune. John Major mocked the "mad" idea, adding: "How do you deliver that in a recession? You don't."

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has given another reminder about the lack of clarity across the political spectrum, warning that the big parties "seem to have a desire to raise tax revenue in vaguely-defined, opaque and apparently painless ways". As next Thursday, a.k.a. election day, nears, Cameron will hope that voters warm to his low-tax "lock".



Wondering who will win your constituency at the general election on May 7? Can't bear to wait until the polls close? Good news: you don't have to wait. We can tell you what will happen in every seat in England, Scotland and Wales -- or at least, offer you a very well-educated guess. Check out our excellent map, put together by Ashley Kirk, Eleanor Steafel and Sophie Jamieson.


Labour's tax plans have been strongly criticised by Britain's most respected economic forecaster amid warnings that its flagship policies will raise "very little money" and inhibit aspiration, Matthew Holehouse reports. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said that plans by Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, to bring back the 50p rate of tax could raise as little as £110million and may even end up costing Britain money. James Kirkup has found that under Labour's tax plans, according to the IFS, a £1,000 pay rise could cost you £10,000.


The regulatory body set up after the MPs' expenses scandal has been condemned for spending an estimated half a million pounds on a failed attempt to with-hold details of politicians' claims, David Barrett and Steven Swinford report. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) has fought – and lost – three separate court cases in a bid to avoid having to release copies of receipts and invoices submitted by MPs.


Nick Clegg's wife Miriam González Durantez does not suffer fools gladly (no jokes at the back about her husband being one). Bryony Gordon caught up with her on the campaign trail and discussed women in politics, whether she has her own political ambitions and what the Clegg family would do if he loses his Sheffield Hallam seat.


Keith Vaz's election team is being investigated over claims it illegally used a loud speaker while campaigning, the Leicester Mercury reports. One of the Labour Leicester East candidate's vehicles was filmed blaring out a message while in traffic on Loughborough Road in Belgrave.


Britain's navy, fighter jets and "stupid" nuclear weapons should all be scrapped to help modernise the country's defence capabilities, the Green Party defence spokesman has said. Parliamentary candidate Rebecca Johnson claimed most countries see Nato as a "security problem" that should be ended in its current form, Ben Riley-Smith reports.


The leadership of the European Union is open to treaty change if it helps convince Britain not to leave, Jean Claude Juncker has said, as he accused Britain of being "blind" to his support, Matthew Holehouse reports. The president of the European Commission said he wants a "fair deal" for Britain in Europe, and he does not rule out minor treaty change to achieve it.


Who's going to win the 2015 general election? What sort of coalition, if we get a hung parliament, will emerge? According to the betting markets, the chances of the various outcomes, as implied by the latest odds from Betfair, are as follows: Lab minority: 35.77% - Con minority: 13.4% - Con-Lib Dem coalition: 20.2% - Con majority: 9.9% - Lab-Lib Dem coalition: 10.1% - Any other government/coalition: 7.9% - Lab majority: 1.3% - Con-Ukip coalition: 1.4%.


Who needs Russell Brand when you've got Harriet Harman on board the 'lady bus'? Labour's pink bus has promised to reach the nine million British women who didn't vote in the last election. Radhika Sanghani spent a day on board with Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman - and found it didn't do exactly what it said on the tin.


If you're a David Bowie fan you're most likely to support the Labour party, while if you're a fan of Cheryl Fernandez-Versini you're more likely to be a Conservative supporter, according to data from Facebook, Rhiannon Williams reports. She has also shed light on what questions people have been asking Google about the general election


Since 2010, the BBC has spent over £44.5m on hotels and accommodation for guests and staff, a freedom of information request by's Shruti Tripathi Chopra has found. The corporation spent over £10.3m on booking accommodation in 2014, its highest bill in five years.


Lord Bell, the advertising guru who helped Margaret Thatcher to three election victories has given his verdict on the election campaign so far to Matthew Stadlen. He also suggests that David Cameron should have replaced Nick Clegg with Boris Johnson, arguing if he had done so, "we'd be 15 points ahead". 


The Scottish National Party is "openly racist" towards English people, says Nigel Farage. The leader of the UK Independence Party made the attack on the SNP and its supporters during a visit to Hartlepool in the north east of England. Chris Hope has more.


Nicola Sturgeon has said she would still vote for a disgraced SNP candidate who compared Scots who support the Union to Nazi collaborators, Simon Johnson reports. The First Minister said Neil Hay, her party's candidate in Edinburgh South, has learnt his lesson after he tweeted vile messages under a pseudonym comparing No voters to 'Quislings' and saying OAPs were too senile to vote.


Ukip have more Facebook likes than Labour and the Liberal Democrats put together, Michael Wilkinson has found. The 371,209 combined likes for Labour and the Liberal Democrats are eclipsed by Nigel Farage's party, 414,119 followers of its page.


Not sure who to vote for yet? The election is less than two weeks away, but you can use our quick and easy Vote Match app to help you find the party that best matches your views. The results may surprise you...


Average of polls as of Monday, April 27: Lab: 33.5%, Conservative: 34.1%, UKIP 13.1%, Lib Dem 8.3%, Green 5.3%. The data is from: YouGov, Populus, Opinium, ComRes, Survation, Ipsos MORI, ICM, TNS-BMRB. 


@FaisalIslam: Just bumped into @SuzanneEvans1 in Sky reception ... Obviously called her Diane. @krishgm


From The Telegraph

Professor Tim Bale - Confused about the general election? Don't worry, there are only two possible outcomes...

Dan Hodges - Meet Ed Miliband: Labour's leader and pound shop Russell Brand

From elsewhere

Joshua Bamfield/Howard Archer - Will the arrival of royal baby number two provide a boost to the British economy?

Daniel Finkelstein - Labour's hypocrisy has brought us to this crisis


08.30 Ed Miliband launches his attack on Tory plans to axe credits.

09.45 David Cameron speech in Warwickshire.

10.00 Nigel Farage addresses European Parliament on boat deaths. 

11.00 Nick and Miriam Clegg visit primary school in Chippenham, Wiltshire

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis is to publish its first estimate of GDP for the first quarter of 2015

14:00 Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, Care Minister Norman Lamb, Louise Bours and Jillian Creasy take part in a BBC Daily Politics debate on health policy

14:30 Tim Knox, Director of the Center for Policy Studies, on Share Radio about "Supreentrepreneurs" and how current policy is hindering them

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond chairs a Cobra meeting in London on the Nepalese eartquake

Gordon Brown is to be awarded an honorary degree by Glasgow University

Freedom House to release its 'Freedom of the Press 2015' report on media restrictions in countries across the world


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