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Local Government results complete. Euro-election results tonight.  And the two main parties wrestle with the question: how should we deal with UKIP?

Labour 1) The party’s lead falls to one point in Observer poll, even with UKIP on 19 per cent

MILIBAND party broadcast“The poll confirms the recent overall trend, which has seen Labour’s lead over the Tories cut markedly since early in the year. The one-point lead is the equal lowest Opinium has recorded in its series with the Observer, which began in 2012. While the Tories will be pleased by the narrowing of the gap with Labour, the party’s inability to push its own tally up higher to a point where it could entertain the prospect of an overall Commons majority will be a worry, particularly after a rush of good economic news.” – Observer

Labour 2)  Infighting rages on: insiders brief against the leader while backbenchers speak out

“If Labour wants to win back the traditional supporters who voted in frighteningly large numbers for UKIP in time for next year’s General Election, there is one simple thing it can do right now. Stop treating UKIP voters as though they have some kind of unmentionable medical condition.” – Simon Danczuk MP, Mail on Sunday

Matthew D’Ancona: Teflon Farage has rained on Ed Miliband’s parade

“These elections ought to have been Miliband’s moment, his opportunity to make up lost ground in this respect. But, from the cloud on which he now goofily reclines, Farage has rained on Ed’s parade. This is a problem that will not be solved by senior Labour sources briefing against Douglas Alexander… There were indeed rows behind the scenes about how far Labour should attack Ukip. But the way forward for Miliband is not a brutal inquest; it is for him to find a Labour answer to the questions posed by the Ukip insurgency.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • If racism means ‘threatened by difference’, then we are all guilty – Archie Bland, Independent on Sunday
  • UKIP are forcing the Westminster elite to confront the flaws in our democracy – Lord Glasman, Mail on Sunday
  • Behind the loyal bleats, Ed’s party concede he’s a liability – Adam Boulton, Sunday Times (£)
  • Miliband is ‘damaged goods’, claims Shadow Minister – Independent on Sunday
  • The three ghosts ‘weird’ Ed must exorcise to reach Downing Street – Peter Kellner, Sunday Times (£)
  • Don’t underestimate Ed – Peter Hain, Observer

Conservatives 1) Osborne leads fightback at ConservativeHome Conference…

Screen shot 2014-05-25 at 09.17.39“Mr Osborne also used his speech to give Ukip voters a stark warning that they risk gifting Mr Miliband, the Labour leader, the general election if they do not vote for the Conservatives. A vote for anyone other than the Conservatives is a vote for Miliband,” he said….There’s no free hit in a general election. You and your family live with the consequences for years afterwards.” – Sunday Telegraph

Conservatives 2) But  Ashcroft marginal mega-poll shows Labour ahead in the marginals

ASHCROFT large“A new survey by former Tory vice-chairman Lord Ashcroft last night claimed Labour was still on course for a clear General Election win. The survey of key marginal seats put Labour at 41 per cent – way ahead of the Tories on 29. The poll found there was an average 6.5 per cent swing to Labour – enough to oust up to 83 Tory MPs and secure what some observers said could be a Labour majority of 70. UKIP was on 18 per cent with the Lib Dems scoring just eight per cent, based on 1,000 voters in each of the areas.” – Mail on Sunday

  • Ashcroft warns Tories not to fight today’s campaign on yesterday’s issues – Sunday Telegraph
  • Osborne rallies the faithful with vow to make Tories ‘the real alternative’ in the North – Sunday Express
  • Rallings and Thasher: A UKIP surge next May could leave Miliband five seats short – Sunday Times (£)
  • How voting UKIP will make Ed Miliband Prime Minister – Sun on Sunday (£)

> Yesterday:

Conservatives 3) Cameron to revive Wharton Bill

Cameron Fightback“Stunned David Cameron is to drive through a law to impose an in-out EU referendum on whoever wins the next election. The PM aims to force the hands of Labour leader Ed Miliband and Lib Dem chief Nick Clegg in a bid to guarantee the people a vote. He will revive a private member’s bill aimed at forcing the next government to hold a national vote, and challenge the rival leaders to back it or block it.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

Davis: Either we vote early on the EU or watch Farage crow

“UKIP’s expected romp to victory this evening will happen because a large number of British citizens believe their political elites have failed to deal with the great issues of the age. Most prominent among these has been immigration, the inability to control our borders. On election day, with orchestral precision, the government released the stunning figure of 201,000 immigrants from Europe last year, an increase of 43,000. The last government lost control of immigration, and the current one has failed to bring it back under control.” – Sunday Times (£)

Louise Mensch: There is no Tory deal with a party as racist, sexist and just plain stupid as UKIP under Nigel Farage

“It’s Farage himself who’s stopping UK eurosceptics rising – and uniting. I hope the party understands that real power is possible, with change at the top. My pick? Would-be MEP Patrick O’Flynn, a former journalist, or even the EU’s most hardline and brilliant Conservative, Dan Hannan MEP. I’d hate to lose Dan from the Tories but if he led Ukip – and unlike Farage, he’s been committed to leaving the EU since he was a teenager – he’d be somebody Cam and Osborne could really do deals with.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

Meanwhile, there are moves to oust Clegg in the wake of ‘disastrous’ election results

CURSE OF CLEGG one“The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, faces a showdown with Liberal Democrat MPs who are demanding that he consider his position as party leader in the wake of the disastrous European and local election results. A block of unnamed MPs are poised to demand his resignation, according to party sources, paving the way for the Business Secretary, Vince Cable… They would be adding their voices to a swelling number of parliamentary candidates, councillors, activists and former MPs who have signed a petition calling on the Deputy PM to step down.” – Independent on Sunday

  • MPs tell Clegg to quit over ‘suicide’ election strategy – Sunday Times (£)
  • Alexander warns against ‘pricking’ housing bubble – Sunday Times

LibDem founder: “I am sorry to report the political death of my disastrous leader”

“Nick Clegg, whose political prospects can today be pronounced dead, will most likely be remembered as a man of genuine talent and decent liberal instincts but catastrophically lacking in judgment at crucial moments. He should be assessed not by his performance as Deputy Prime Minister, a not especially demanding role, but as the leader of his party, and the custodian of its aspirations, and it is in this respect that history will decide he was a disaster.” – Mail on Sunday

> Today: The threat to Clegg is a threat to the Coalition

UKIP 1) Farage psych-ops: For my next trick, I will destroy the Conservatives

Farage as Santa1“Mr Farage rejects claims by David Cameron that UKIP’s challenge will fade away in next year’s General Election, and says today’s gains mark the beginning of the end of the Conservative Party. He aims to repeat the destruction two decades ago of Canada’s Conservative Party, when the rebel Right-wing Reform Party, compared by many to UKIP, sparked a political earthquake. In an interview with this newspaper earlier in the campaign, Mr Farage said a Canadian-style Tory meltdown ‘could happen’ here”. – Mail on Sunday

UKIP 2) It draws up a 20-seat Commons ‘hit list’

“In a move that will further unnerve the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats – all of which have suffered from the Ukip surge – senior party officials said the next move would be to identify specific, mainly marginal, seats, where it now has a strong base of councillors. It is imitating the tactics that established the Liberal Democrats as a strong parliamentary force in the 1990s.” – Observer

Sharpen up constable, or face another shock from ‘Taser May’

MAY Theresa menacing“Theresa May’s speech to the Police Federation last week was an electrifying moment in British politics. She has done what none of her predecessors dared to do: call time on the union’s closed shop. Only a year before a general election she has risked out-and-out confrontation with a force that was once Margaret Thatcher’s thin blue line.” – Camilla Cavendish, Sunday Times (£)

Lansley tipped for top EU post

“DAVID CAMERON has told ministers that he will send Andrew Lansley, the leader of the Commons, to Brussels as Britain’s next EU commissioner… Britain will give up the role of EU high representative for foreign affairs, the post held at present by Baroness Ashton, and will instead seek an economic portfolio in the new European Commission where Lansley will be expected to fight for deregulation and business-friendly changes to the single market.” – Sunday Times (£)

News in Brief

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