Tories offer a rail fare freeze

money‘Rail fares will be frozen in real terms over the next five years under Conservative plans to prevent more than 250,000 commuters being ripped off at the ticket office. David Cameron will announce today that regulated tickets will be kept in line with inflation until 2020, saving passengers an average of £400 each. Train companies will also be banned from using flexible pricing policies to put some fares up by as much as 5 per cent. The move comes as three polls last night showed Labour pulling ahead.’ – The Times (£)

The first Prime Minister since Attlee to oversee no rise in rates

‘David Cameron has become the first UK prime minister since Clement Attlee in the 1940s and 1950s to serve a whole term in parliament without a change in interest rates. While many recent British leaders including James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher and John Major were thrown off course by rate rises, Mr Cameron has basked in the cheapest borrowing for over 300 years.’ – FT

Cameron pledges workers will get three days of paid volunteering a year

CAMERON broadcast sombre‘Fifteen million workers will be given three days’ annual paid leave to volunteer under a Conservative government, David Cameron has announced. The move would apply to both the private and public sector working employers of at least 250 staff. An estimated 10 million in the private sector and five million in the public sector. The Working Time regulations will be amended to make clear people are entitled to 28 days’ paid holiday and three days’ paid volunteering.’ – The Times (£)

  • 16,000 new apprenticeships announced – Daily Mail

Defence 1) The Conservative manifesto will not pledge to hit the 2 per cent NATO spending target

‘British defence chiefs have been furiously lobbying the Tories to make the commitment amid fears for Britain’s military capability and status as a global power. Barack Obama and the head of the US Army have also urged David Cameron to commit to the spending target amid concerns that failing to so do so could set a damaging example to other European countries. The Telegraph now understands that the Conservatives will not make the commitment when they unveil their election manifesto on Tuesday.’ – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Majority Conservatism: Manifesto Ideas 3) Commit a Conservative Government to the NATO defence spending target

Defence 2) Survey finds dozens of Labour candidates oppose Trident

Labour holes‘The future of Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent sparked a bitter war of words yesterday. Tories claimed Russian leader Vladimir Putin would be happy with Ed Miliband as prime minister because he cannot be trusted to keep our Trident submarines…CND’s survey of Labour candidates suggested as many as three-quarters opposed the replacement of Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent.’ – Daily Mail


>Today: Iain Dale’s Friday Diary: Michael Fallon is a grown-up. The Conservatives should use him more often.

>Yesterday: WATCH: Fallon: Don’t trust Miliband with our national security

Harman leaves the door open for tax hikes on fuel, flights and pints

‘Motorists face a possible fuel duty hike if Labour wins the Election, Harriet Harman admitted. The party’s Deputy Leader refused to rule out an increase in petrol duty when challenged in a Women’s Leaders debate on LBC radio. She said: “We rule out increasing VAT, the higher rate of tax, the top rate of tax, we will not put up National Insurance.For all the others, air passenger duties, alcohol or petrol we will lay that out in the Budget.”’ – The Sun (£)

  • Co-Op vote could end Labour donations – FT
  • Miliband ‘guarantees’ neighbourhood policing – Daily Telegraph

Tristram Hunt plans raid on university bursary fund

BARRIE CHARACTER EDUCATION‘Labour will raid a fund that helps universities to recruit children from poor families so it can spend £50 million on face-to-face careers advice in school. Vice-chancellors reacted with dismay at the announcement yesterday as Ed Miliband, Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, and Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary, set out their manifesto for education.’ – The Times (£)

  • Their education manifesto contains a grammatical error – The Sun (£)
  • Prescott may be set to return as a minister… – The Sun (£)
  • …which proves you can recycle anything – The Sun Says (£)

>Today: Local Government: Labour’s mixed messages on free schools

Polling 1) Labour slightly ahead

‘The Populus/Hanover Election Outcome Predictor shows the race to become the largest party after the next election is still close. The central seat projections – reflecting a new round of polling from Michael Ashcroft in Conservative-Labour marginal seats and 5 out of the last 9 polls putting Labour ahead of the Tories – have moved slightly in Labour’s favour. It now has 278 seats, up three on last week, the Conservatives have 270 seats, down four.’ – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: Is there a problem with the Tory ground war in the marginals? And if so, how big is it?

Polling 2) Lib Dems draw level with UKIP

Nigel Farage‘Ukip has failed to outpoll the Liberal Democrats for the first time since 2013 in a fresh blow to Nigel Farage’s faltering election campaign. An exclusive ComRes survey for the Daily Mail and ITV News shows the Lib Dems are up three points to 12 per cent, equal with Ukip. The poll is the latest bad news for Mr Farage, and undermines his claim yesterday that support for Ukip has ‘rallied’ after a lacklustre few weeks.’ – Daily Mail

  • MEP heaps praise on Putin – The Times (£)
  • UKIP candidate: I want Cameron to win – Daily Mail
  • Police investigate allegations UKIP gave away sausage rolls with Jimmy White – BBC News
  • Press conference set collapses on spinner – The Sun (£)
  • Euro judges’ ruling gives May a boost – Daily Mail
  • Greens to stand in 95 per cent of seats – The Times (£)


Polling 3) SNP hit record high

‘Labour is failing to win back support in Scotland as a new poll puts the SNP at their highest ever level of support. The first YouGov poll for The Times taken after Tuesday’s Scottish leaders’ debate showed SNP support climbing to 49 per cent, up 3 points in a week, while Labour was on 25 per cent, down 4 points.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: Peter Duncan on Comment: It’s a federal Britain – or bust.

Polling 4) Stop telling us about your wives, say voters

CAMERON Samantha Carla‘They have invited us into their kitchens and proudly shown off their families. But most of us are fed up with hearing about the wives and children of the party leaders, it seems. For 71 per cent of voters say they are choosing politicians and have no need to know about their spouses or offspring.’ – Daily Mail

Polling 5) 48 per cent of Anglicans will vote Tory

‘Of those who actively described themselves as Church of England, Anglican or Episcopalian and who intend to vote, 48 per cent backed the Conservatives with only 27 per cent supporting Labour. When those who identify with all Christian denominations are taken together the gap between the parties narrows markedly, although with Conservatives ahead on 38 per cent to 33 per cent for Labour.’ – Daily Telegraph

New export figures show the EU is less and less important to our economy

EU Exit‘In what could be a pivotal moment, Britain is now, over a sustained period, exporting more to the rest of the world than the EU. The figures demolish the claim made by Tony Blair – in his utterly disingenuous Europe speech only three days ago – that we are so reliant on the EU for trade that loosening ties with Brussels would be a catastrophe.’ - Daily Mail Leader

>Today: The Deep End: Heresy of the week: The free market case against TTIP

Home Counties oil strike has massive potential

‘UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG) said yesterday that there could be up to 100 billion barrels of oil under southern England. The North Sea has produced 45 billion barrels since 1975. The company, which based its claim on results from a single test well drilled at Horse Hill near the airport, estimated that there were 158 million barrels per square mile. It has licences covering 55 square miles.’ – The Times (£)

One in four British Muslims have ‘some sympathy’ for ISIS runaways

ISIS‘Four out of ten British Muslims partly blame MI5 and the police for radicalising British teenagers who then flee the country to join Isis. A survey of 1,001 British Muslims found that one in four of this cohort had some sympathy with those who decide to join terror organisations such as Isis. The figures show that among young and female Muslims, one third have sympathy for the Jihadi runaways despite the deplorable images of Isis atrocities posted on the internet. Eight per cent agreed they had ‘a lot of sympathy’ for the likes of Jihadi John. Six out of ten strongly condemned those, such as Jihadi John, who have joined Isis.’ – Daily Mail

  • Man arrested over terror attack was previously given £1 million compensation – The Sun (£)
  • We should never have paid him – The Sun Says (£)

>Yesterday: Mohammed Amin on Comment: The values that can defeat extremism aren’t British values only – they’re shared, human, universal values too

News in Brief

  • Le Pen family split deepens – Daily Mail
  • Rand Paul’s ideas could make it to the White House – Justin Webb, The Times (£)
  • Hillary Clinton set to launch her campaign – The Guardian
  • The obese are less likely to develop dementia – Daily Telegraph
  • President of Ecuador poses for photo with boy wearing “I’m with stupid” t-shirt – Daily Mail
  • Richie Benaud has died – The Times (£)
  • London threatened by ‘blood rain’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Shocking allegations about Galloway’s campaign against a Labour rival – The Independent

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