Monday, 27 April 2015

Getting down to business..

Did you miss the Conservatives' #longtermeconomicplan? Expect to hear a lot about it today now 5,000 small business owners have thrown their weight behind the party, warning in a letter to the Telegraph that "a change now would be far too risky and would undo all the good work of the last five years". You can read their letter - which we have splashed on - in full here (and see who signed it). 

David Cameron, looking personally fired up after what some have called the Tories' wobbly weekendis preparing to make the most of this emphatic endorsement, using the launch of the Conservative small business manifesto to say he leads the party of "grafters and the roofers and the retailers and the plumbers". This echoes his declaration two weeks ago when unveiling his revamped right to buy scheme that "we are the true party of working people". 

After last week's escalating attacks by the Conservatives on any idea of Labour and the SNP working together, which polls suggest voters began to tire of hearing, the spotlight is firmly back on the economy. Ed Miliband will unveil plans to scrap stamp duty for most first-time buyers, which makes the front pages of the FT, Times ("Labour's sweetener to help buy first home") and Mirror ("Put your house on Ed"). The move, effectively Labour's right to buy counter-offer, is their attempt to fight the Conservatives for the "party of aspiration" title.

The choice though, according to David Cameron, is simple. He will say that Labour "sneer" at businesses, while the Tories cheer. Labour officials have reacted with fury to 5,000 small business owners endorsing the Conservatives, with a source close to shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna telling me the letter is "nothing more than an online petition" organised by Karren Brady, the Tory peer and star of The Apprentice - who has also written for us about why the businesses have signed the letter.

Labour is getting into another fight with business, after Ed Miliband and senior figures in his party earlier in April denounced the more than 100 company bosses who signed a letter to The Telegraph warning that a Labour government would "threaten jobs and deter investment" in the UK. However, small business owners are a different story. "Five years ago I dreaded the Conservatives getting in," wrote entrepreneur Frances Dickens on, "but on May 7 I will be voting Conservative for the first time because start-ups and SMEs including mine will be much safer under the Tories." 

Going after big business may allow Ed Miliband to claim that only Labour backs working people. However, Miliband will need to be more careful in how he responds to small business owners, as they're the aspirational audience he needs on side.



Boris Johnson has told Ed Miliband that he would do "more damage to this country than he did to his brother" in a bitter head-to-head confrontation. The Mayor of London, who recently said he would be "honoured" to be Tory leader, and the Labour leader appeared on the sofa together during the Andrew Marr show on BBC One. You can watch their clash hereJohnson was also asked about his recent comments that Miliband had "clearly stabbed his brother in the back", a reference to his defeat of his brother David in Labour leadership election.


People demanding "political excitement" should go to Greece while those who want more "theatre" should look to Hollywood, David Cameron has said as he made an impassioned defence of his party's focus on the economy, Steven Swinford reports. In a speech in Yeovil, Somerset, the Tory leader addressed criticism that the Conservative campaign has been lacking passion because of a relentless focus on the economy alongside attacks on Ed Miliband's credibility.


The parties may have moved off talking about the Scottish Nationalists to focus on the economy, but Peter Mandelson's advisory firm Global Counsel has noted that Labour "has left open the possibility" of an SNP deal and that this would push Labour towards higher public spending. In a briefing note, the consultancy's chief economist warns: "Labour may be wary of the SNP, because it knows an arrangement with the party could annoy some English voters, but it may have little choice if it is to form the next government".


Scotland is likely to win independence in the next few years, according to media tycoon Rupert Murdoch . "Scots may be crazy or not wanting self rule, but who can deny right of self determination?" Murdoch, 84, wrote on his Twitter feed."Feels inevitable over next few years." 


David Cameron risks losing the support of the Democratic Unionists in the next parliament after the party warned the Tories are in danger of "abusing" the House of Commons in their rhetoric about Scotland. In a blow to the prime minister, who is hoping to rely on the DUP in a hung parliament to keep him in Downing Street, the party's leader at Westminster, Nigel Dodds, used an article in the Guardian to warn of the dangers of fuelling "nationalist paranoia" in Scotland.


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 possible outcomes (taken from Betfair): Lab minority: 37.1% - Con minority: 14.3% - Con-Lib Dem coalition: 21.8% - Con majority: 8.3% - Lab-Lib Dem coalition: 9.1% - Any other government/coalition: 6.9% - Lab majority: 1.5% - Con-Ukip coalition: 1%.


A Conservative council candidate has apologised after referring to Ed Miliband as "the Jew", Jewish News reports. Gulzabeen Afsar, who is standing in Derby, made the remarks in a Facebook exchange, writing: "Just can't take Mr Ed Miiband seriously!! DC has what it takes to be the future PM." When another user suggested she should show some respect "for the future PM", Afsar replied: "Nah bro! never ever will I drop that low and support the al yahud [Arabic for Jew] lol.


The high-end property market has all but frozen ahead of the general election, temporarily paralysed by uncertainty and the vagaries of potential policies such as Labour's mansion tax, Anna White reportsEstate agents specialising in lavish homes in London's affluent core, typically unruffled by market forces, and bullish buyers who seek out the latest, prestigious addresses for their A-list clients, will admit through gritted teeth that the market for properties selling for millions of pounds has stagnated.


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 Saturday, April 25: Lab: 33.4%, Conservative: 33%, UKIP 13.3%, Lib Dem 8.5%, Green 5.5%. The data is from: YouGov, Populus, Opinium, ComRes, Survation, Ipsos MORI, ICM, TNS-BMRB. 


@HarryDCarr: Dear all British political parties: increasing demand through special offers will not help housing issue. Lack of demand is not the problem.


From The Telegraph

Boris Johnson - Miliband could savage our cities faster than any bomb

James Bartholomew - Why you should stop worrying and learn to love inequality

From elsewhere

Matthew D'Ancona - Cameron isn't wobbling. He knows victory is within reach

Dominic Lawson - If Ed has his way, people who rent will end up living in crowded slums


14:00 Home Secretary Theresa May, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, Norman Baker, Steven Woolfe and Simon Thomas take part in a BBC Daily Politics debate on home affairs 

17:00 Prime Minister David Cameron will be joining Emma Crosby live on 5 News for a presenter-led interview while also taking questions from viewers via email and social media.

19:30 Nicola Sturgeon is interviewed by Evan Davis for BBC One's 'The Leader Interviews' 

20:30 Statistician Nate Silver is asked to predict who will win the election on 'Panorama' on BBC One 

22:40 Nick Clegg joins ITV's Tom Bradby on The Agenda, with comedian Rory Bremner, broadcaster and columnist Mariella Frostrup and Times writer Rachel Sylvester.

Ed Miliband speaks about living standards in the North East in the morning

David Cameron speaking in London in the morning


No business