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Election 1) Prime Minister promises to slash welfare cap

Cameron1“David Cameron said yesterday that the Conservatives would slash the welfare cap to £23,000 as their first priority if re-elected in May. The prime minister said that the reduction from £26,000 in the maximum level of welfare that a couple can claim in a year, a policy announced last October, would be the first act of law his party passes. The move would lead to lower incomes for a further 40,000 households and save £135 million for taxpayers.” – The Times (£)

Election 2) Tories take five-point lead in leader comparison poll

“The Tories have opened up a clear lead over Labour when voters are forced to choose between the two parties, a new poll shows. Some 41 per cent of voters would prefer a Conservative government led by David Cameron, while only 36 per cent favour Ed Miliband leading a Labour administration. With 101 days until the election, pollsters say ‘many voters have lost faith in Labour’ but they have not yet been convinced by the Tories, with 42 per cent believing they are still the ‘nasty party’.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday:

Election 3) Coalition goes on spending spree

money“Ministers were accused of effectively trying to bribe voters last night after showering cash on marginal seats. The accusation came as they fanned out across the country to promote details of a new £36million investment in coastal areas. Of the 28 identifiable constituencies receiving money, almost two-thirds are in marginal constituencies. Some 23 of the 28 seats are held by Coalition parties.” – Daily Mail

Cameron seeks to include Ulster parties in TV debates

“David Cameron has called for Northern Ireland’s political parties to be included in the TV election debates in his latest attempt to block them from going ahead. The prime minister welcomed the new proposals put forward by broadcasters for two of three debates to involve seven party leaders, including those of the Green party, SNP and Plaid Cymru. The plans removed his main objection to a four-way debate between the three main Westminster parties and Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader.” – The Times (£)

  • Prime Minister pushes for the DUP’s inclusion – The Guardian
  • Brace for eleven-way debates as Labour say NI parties should join – Daily Mail
  • May’s election spells the end of the two-party system – George Parker, Financial Times

>Today:

UKIP could support Cameron for the right price, claims Carswell

CARSWELL Douglas Marr“Ukip may, however, support a government through what is known as “confidence and supply”. It means that Ukip MPs could be counted on to vote with a government on major issues but only if would-be ministers agreed to deliver on specific things. First, we would insist on a free and fair referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the EU.” – Douglas Carswell, The Times (£)

Tory-friendly Sun manifesto calls for stricter deficit reduction, more free schools and private sector-led NHS reform

“Today, 100 days to the General Election, The Sun is launching our own manifesto. We haven’t yet decided which party we will support before the vote in May. But whichever one can get closest to making our manifesto a reality will get our backing.” – The Sun (£)

Bercow suggests online voting in 2020

Culture shield“People should be offered the opportunity to cast their vote online in the 2020 general election, a commission set up by House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, has said. The Digital Democracy Commission also recommends that MPs could be questioned through an internet forum to enable the public to take part in Commons debates. The report also recommends that MPs who are unwell or have childcare responsibilities should be able to vote in the Commons electronically, without having to go into the chamber.” – The Guardian

Stuart calls for more transparency on academy performance

“Graham Stuart, a Conservative MP and chair of the committee, said that in future, the Department for Education (DfE) should provide more detail on its academies programme, “producing a range of clearer and deeper information about the performance of academy schools, chains and sponsors”.” – Financial Times

  • MPs question merit in turning primary schools into academies – The Independent
  • Sums don’t add up in school’s finances enquiry – The Guardian

Pickles bars council tax snoopers

PICKLES Eric 2009“Council tax inspectors will be stripped of their right to barge into your home, under new laws published today. Thousands of officials from the Valuation Office Agency, part of HMRC, have the automatic right to enter homes and businesses to value them for council tax and business rates. But the law will be changed within weeks to force inspectors to go before a judge if they want to force their way in.” – Daily Mail

>Today: Cllr David Burbage in Local Government: Windsor and Maidenhead cut council tax again

Grayling under pressure to scrap Saudi prison contract

“Chris Grayling is under pressure to abandon a Government bid to advise Saudi Arabia on running its jail system amid mounting protests about human rights abuse of prisoners in the kingdom. Amnesty International protested tonight to the Justice Secretary over the move, warning that it risked giving a “British stamp of approval” to degrading practices in Saudi jails.” – The Independent

>Today: The Deep End: After the ISIS takeover of northern Iraq, how can we be sure that Saudi Arabia is safe?

Tory Peers 1) Lord King defends attempt to reintroduce the ‘Snoopers Charter’

LORDS logoKing, backed by a former Labour security minister, a former Liberal Democrat counter-terror laws watchdog and two former Metropolitan police commissioners, told the House of Lords that there remained a gap in the surveillance abilities of the police and security services. “We could easily see a Paris or a Belgium here and so far, with the exception of the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, have not been exposed in the same way,” he argued.” – The Guardian

Tory Peers 2) Tebbit savages BBC for refusing to call Paris murderers terrorists

“Tarik Kafala, head of BBC Arabic, said the term terrorist was too ‘loaded’ and ‘value-laden’ to describe the fanatics who murdered 12 people at the French satirical magazine. The BBC backed his comments but faced a storm of criticism. Lord Tebbit said the only things ‘loaded’ were the killers’ weapons.” – Daily Mail

Tories seize on far-left victory to justify cuts…

MANIFESTO money“David Cameron and George Osborne have seized on Syriza’s victory in Greece to bolster their claim that British voters should adopt a safety-first approach and stick with the Conservatives at the next election. The prime minister tweeted that the Greek election would “increase uncertainty across Europe”, adding: “That’s why the UK must stick to our plan, delivering security at home.”” – Financial Times

  • Cameron claims Syriza victory is a warning sign – The Sun (£)
  • New report claims poorer families hit hardest by austerity – The Independent

…as Miliband urged to lurch left after Syriza carry the Greek election

“Ed Miliband today came under pressure from his own MPs to lurch left in the wake of the victory for an anti-austerity party in Greece. Senior Labour politicians hailed the ‘exciting’ victory for the left and demanded an end to ‘savage cuts’, piling pressure on Ed Miliband to oppose more spending cuts. And Green MEPs said the win by the left-wing Syriza party result ‘marks the beginnings of ordinary people standing up to a discredited economic model’.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday:

Labour put the brakes on fracking to fend off Green threat

Fracking“Hopes for a new gas boom in Britain were dealt a blow yesterday as MPs voted through a raft of tough regulations on fracking. Labour forced ministers to agree 12 new restrictions on shale drilling last night, which critics say will further hold up the industry for months or even years. David Cameron and George Osborne have called for the UK to go ‘all out for fracking’ as soon as possible, as it could bring down energy bills and create thousands of jobs. But Labour frontbenchers have hardened their opposition to the idea, for fear of losing voters to the Greens.” – Daily Mail

Philip Johnston: Stop this madness over fracking or the lights really will go out

“Yesterday in the Commons, there was an attempt to impose a moratorium on fracking through amendments to the Infrastructure Bill, which is intended to facilitate the planning process and make the exploration of shale reserves commercially viable. Fortunately it failed – but only after concessions were made to assuage MPs worried that their seats might be at risk to a Green insurgency.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Lord Borwick on Comment: Shale gas offers a chance to boost the economy and reduce air pollution

Public warn Miliband not to play politics with Trident

Miliband and Salmond“Ed Miliband today receives a warning not to make Trident a bargaining chip with the SNP as an opinion poll shows voters want to replace Britain’s nuclear deterrent by more than two to one. Nicola Sturgeon, the new SNP leader, has made scrapping Trident a condition of sharing power with Labour in the event the party holds the balance of power after May’s election. – The Times (£)

  • Mandelson claims Miliband should prepare for coalition with Clegg, not Sturgeon – Daily Mail
  • Cameron calls SNP-Labour coalition “genuinely frightening” – Daily Telegraph

Labour leader struggling to find the money for tuition fee cut

“Labour is yet to come up with a way to pay for its plans to cut tuition fees by £3,000 a year, it emerged last night. Ed Miliband is expected to launch the policy during the election campaign in an effort to woo former Lib Dem voters and students. But Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has not yet worked out how to fund the reduction of a third, which is expected to cost £2.5billion a year.” – Daily Mail

Miliband’s health lead over the Tories increases when economy is mentioned…

NHS_Logo“Voters agree with David Cameron that a strong economy is needed to fund a quality NHS, but the question increases Labour’s lead on the health service. The surprising poll finding helps to explain why, with 100 days to go to the general election, neither of Britain’s main two parties shows any signs of gathering a winning momentum despite their relentless focus on the issues on which they enjoy the largest leads.” – The Times (£)

  • Two leaders are neck-and-neck in fight for voter trust on the NHS – The Independent
  • More money pledged to terminally ill as Labour put NHS in the spotlight – Daily Telegraph
  • Labour leader claims NHS faces its most ‘perilous moment’ – The Sun (£)
  • Miliband claims the future of the health service rests on May result – The Guardian

…but history suggests his party will secure a lower election share than their current polling

“It shows what happened to the Labour poll number relative to the Conservative figure over the last 100 days of each election campaign since 1992. It also shows the actual election results, relative to that Labour rating. Overall, the chart shows something that might well be worrying Ed Miliband, given Labour’s wafer-thin lead over the Conservatives: in every one of those campaigns bar one, Labour ended up with an election result worse than its poll rating at the 100-day mark.” – James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph

  • Al Murray’s ‘Pub Landlord’ beats Miliband into third in leadership poll – The Sun (£)

Rachel Sylvester: Two tribes go to war over Labour’s future

Miliband Labour Left“One former cabinet minister sees the tension within the health team as symbolic of the wider splits within the party. “Sooner or later there’ll be a reckoning between old and new Labour and these two represent each of those directions, backwards or forwards,” he says. “Andy was once an über-Blairite but decided the wind was blowing in another direction in 2010. Win or lose this year, that wind will eventually find its way back to some variation of new Labour and then Andy will need to think again.”” – The Times (£)

Liberal Democrats 1) Farron now “unstoppable” as Clegg successor

“Nick Clegg has given up on the idea of stopping Tim Farron from taking charge of the Lib Dems if he is ousted as leader after the election. The Deputy Prime Minister and his supporters had hoped that a leading contender on the right of the party like Danny Alexander could mount a challenge. But allies of Mr Clegg have told MailOnline that left-winger Mr Farron is ‘unstoppable’, and could mount a challenge even if the Lib Dems are returned to government in a new coalition.” – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: The Deep End: Only a lame duck can save us from coalition chaos

Liberal Democrats 2) Teetotal migrants are closing pubs, claims Lib Dem communities minister

Pub Closures“Pubs are closing as a result of Somali immigrants arriving in Britain, a Government minister has said. Stephen Williams, the Liberal Democrat communities minister, told the House of Commons that new waves of immigration replacing the “white working class” had led to the pub trade evaporating in some parts of the country. His comments came as the Government unveiled new plans to protect pubs which are valuable to local communities.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: The ConHome Manifesto 6) A new deal on immigration

The seaside town serving as a test bed for UKIP

“On a side road off Great Yarmouth’s high street, Alan Grey, the UK Independence party candidate, is plotting his strategy for the final hundred days of the UK general election campaign. As he articulates it, his strategy is to have no particular strategy.” – Financial Times

  • Support for EU membership grows despite UKIP popularity – The Independent

Swinney blames Osborne for Scottish homes tax shortfall

HOMES Manifesto“The Deputy First Minister warned the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) – his replacement for Stamp Duty – may not generate what he thought in its first year thanks to the “behavioural response” from buyers wanting to keep their tax bill down. He blamed George Osborne’s decision to cut Stamp Duty in December, saying this had led to people bringing forward their property deals instead of waiting until LBTT replaces the levy in Scotland on April 1.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • BBC chief says the watershed’s days are numbered – Daily Mail
  • Abbott under pressure over plan to knight Prince Phillip – The Guardian
  • Greek left enters coalition with anti-migrant party – The Times (£)
  • Taxpayers face havoc from HMRC computer changes – Daily Telegraph
  • Rise of the second job as UK becomes a nation of grafters – Financial Times
  • Hershey’s angers customers by forcing British chocolate off US shelves – The Independent
  • First female bishop consecrated at York – The Guardian

36 comments for: Newslinks for Tuesday 27th January 2015

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