Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Mr blue sky..

David Cameron will declare that the Conservatives are "the party of working people", in a direct challenge to Labour, as he uses his party's manifesto to build on Margaret Thatcher's dream of a "home-owning democracy" and announce that people on the minimum wage will not pay tax under a Tory government. Here's our "at a glance" guide of his key pledges.

The Prime Minister's manifesto launch is our splash ("We are the true party of working people"), and features on the front pages of the Independent ("Cameron banks on Thatcher's legacy"), i, Sun ("Bright to Buy"), Guardian, FT, Times, Mail, and Express. Spare a thought for the Greens, who decided that today would be a good day to get attention for their manifesto launch.

Cameron is dusting off his long term economic plan and asking voters not to "waste the past five years" by putting Ed Miliband in No 10, in a plea that echoes Harold Macmillan's campaign message in 1959 of  "Life is better with the Conservatives, don't let Labour ruin it". The Tory leader will try to offer voters some positive reasons to back him, like linking the minimum wage to the tax-free personal allowance, which he wants to increase to £12,500 by the end of the next Parliament, to save low-income workers from income tax. Such a pledge, being distinctly Lib Dem in origin, is a triumph of coalition politics, but Nick Clegg will be rather peeved at how adeptly the Tories pinched it when he launches his party's manifesto tomorrow. 

The upbeat message has Cameron going back to his modernising roots. Before entering No 10, the Tory leader liked to bound on stage at party conferences to tunes like ELO's Mr Blue Sky and tell the party faithful, as he did in 2008, that "there is a steep climb ahead [but] the view from the summit will be worth it." At this year's spring forum, he told activists that the "sunlit uplands" were now "in sight". Will voters think, as ELO's Jeff Lyne sang: "Hey there, Mr Blue/ We're so pleased to be with you/ Look around, see what you do/ Everybody smiles at you"? Cameron's hopes rest on it. 

The Conservatives have reason to feel cocky today after an ICM poll found they had opened up their largest poll lead over Labour in three years. However, this was quickly deflated by a Lord Ashcroft poll which put both parties at 33 per cent. Twyman's law is once again right: if a poll looks interesting, it is probably wrong. As Electoral Calculus' Martin Baxter writes, "Never believe a single poll. Take averages of polls, averages over pollsters and averages of polls". Our "poll of polls" shows that Labour is still - marginally - in the lead.

The Conservatives were in a muddle last week, unsure whether to depict Ed Miliband as too "weak" or "ruthless" for No 10. David Cameron will need to give the Tory troops a positive song to sing to get voters out to the polling booth on election day. 


Ed Balls has dealt a severe blow to Jim Murphy's general election strategy by contradicting his claim that a Labour Government would not implement spending cuts in Scotland, Simon Johnson reports. The Shadow Chancellor said Scotland would benefit from policies such as a Mansion Tax on properties worth more than £2 million. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank has warned that a Labour government propped up by the SNP will raise taxes, ease austerity and oversee a rise in interest rates.


Polish Prince John Zylinski has challenge Ukip leader Nigel Farage to a sword duel in Hyde park over his comments on immigration - failing that, he challenged Farage to a "duel of words" on a TV debate. You can watch him throwing down the gauntlet here. This comes as Farage had an awkward meeting with a Hungarian immigrant who could not speak English during a factory visit in Clacton.


Stephen Kinnock, the prospective Labour MP and son of former party leader Neil, once starred in a spectacularly naff Russian film as a rich American "eager to bring home a beautiful Russian wife". Buzzfeed's Emily Ashton uncovered Kinnock's star turn, which included a scene where he answers the phone while chilling out in a bubble bath. Read more details here.


Nick Robinson has taken what he described as his "next small step back to reporting" after having an operation to remove a carcinoid tumour. The BBC's political editor made a short appearance on tonight's Six O'Clock News to analyse Labour's election manifesto launch. You can watch his return to our screens here


David Cameron needs "a vision for Britain" on the lines of Ronald Reagan's "shining city on a hill" speech, according to David Davis, the Tory who fought him for the party leadership back in 2005. Speaking to HuffPostUK's Jessica Elgot, he also warned that negative campaigning would be a "disaster", as shown by the No campaign in the Scottish referendum. 


Gopichand Hinduja, one of Britain's richest men, isn't worried about the prospect of Ed Miliband becoming prime minister, praising him as "sensible" and "a person with depth". Speaking to Bloomberg, the billionaire said: "He may not look that visionary, but he has fire in his belly."


Labour is risking patient safety by failing to pledge an extra £8billion a year to fund the NHS, a leading think tank has warned, as Ed Miliband's attempts to repair his party's economic credibility were challenged by a series of experts. Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the NHS, said last year that the NHS the extra funding by 2020 to maintain standards of care, while making a further £22billion worth of efficiency savings. Steven Swinford has more.


The Prime Minister and Ed Miliband have been criticised for confining their campaign stops to heavily stage managed events but Cameron may have longed for the safety of a Tory-supporting crowd while mingling with voters in Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency. In the space of just 15 minutes the PM was serenaded by a man with a ukulele who sang that he should "f--- off back to Eton", and was told to be a "good boy" by a woman who criticised him for his personal attacks on the Labour leader, saying: "I don't like the name calling in politics". Robert Midgley has more


So far David Cameron has been grilled by the finest journalistic minds including the BBC's former grand inquisitor Jeremy Paxman on this general election campaign. But it took a question from a Year 7 called Reema, who is from Salford, Greater Manchester, on the BBC's children's television programme Newsround to leave the Prime Minister unable to find answer. The question was: "If you could pick one politician apart from yourself to win who would it be and why?" Chris Hope reports on how he answered.


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...


Average of polls as of Sunday, April 12: Lab: 33.9%, Conservative: 33.6%, UKIP 13.2%, Lib Dem 8.1%, Green 5.2%. The data is from: YouGov, Populus, Opinium, ComRes, Survation, Ipsos MORI, ICM, TNS-BMRB. 


@AndrewMarr9: When Miliband/Cameron etc keep saying 'let me be very very clear' then you know you're in trouble.


From The Telegraph

James Kirkup - The backbenchers will be calling the electoral shots

Allister Heath - Rarely has an election campaign seen so many economically silly ideas

From elsewhere

John Rentoul -  Labour manifesto: The important thing wasn't happening in Manchester at all. It was happening in Scotland

Ed Conway - Minority government could be good for us all


09:30 UK monthly inflation figures to be released by ONS. Last month's release showed that CPI inflation had fallen to 0.0 per cent in the year to February

0930 Shadow environment secretary Maria Eagle speaks at the launch of a Fabian Society report on green spaces 

Tory election manifesto to be published

1000 Green Party election manifesto to be published

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls participates in a Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council question and answer session in London

1800 Education Secretary Nicky Morgan attends an election question time event in Loughborough 

1800 Civil Justice and Legal Policy Minister Lord Faulks, Justice and Civil Liberties Minister Simon Hughes and shadow minister for justice Andy Slaughter speak at a JUSTICE event on manifesto commitments for the justice system

1900 Shadow employment minister Stephen Timms and Baroness Thomas participate in a Disability Benefits Consortium event on disabled people

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham speaks at the Unison health care conference in Liverpool



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