Cameron and Osborne pledge to freeze income tax, VAT and NI for five years

OSBORNE non-broken sword‘David Cameron and George Osborne issue a new vow not to put up the big three workers’ taxes if re-elected. The PM and his Chancellor have exclusively told The Sun they will not raise income tax, National Insurance contributions or VAT for the full five years of the next Parliament. The landmark triple pledge came in the first joint interview that Britain’s most powerful pair have ever done.’ – The Sun (£)


Business leaders warn Labour would harm the recovery

‘A Labour government would “threaten jobs and deter investment” in the UK, a coalition of more than 100 of the country’s most senior business figures warn. In a letter to The Telegraph, senior executives from companies employing more than half-a-million people hail Conservative economic policies which they say show that “the UK is open for business”. The letter, signed by 103 business leaders, praises David Cameron and George Osborne’s decision cut to Corporation Tax and warns that a “change in course” would “put the recovery at risk”.’ – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: WATCH: Balls disputes the definition of austerity

A flurry of good economic news

GROWTH Krieg‘On day two of the election campaign, the Conservatives were boosted by a string of economic indicators – crowned by Office for National Statistics figures showing Britain is enjoying its strongest growth since 2006. The UK is out-performing all other leading economies, including the United States, Japan, Canada, Germany and France.’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The growth data is there – now it falls to the Conservatives to convert it into votes

Finkelstein: Might there be a late swing to the Tories?

‘Over the last three weeks or so Populus has surveyed 10,000 people in five waves. The polls produced a very familiar voting intention result, with the Conservatives and Labour tied on 33 per cent. The poll reveals that there are a large number of voters in this tempting target group, the group the Tories need to squeeze. Those we might call the “Yes Yes Nos”. They represent 18 per cent of those likely to vote. – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

Fallon: We’ll protect soldiers from human rights laws and ambulance-chasers

Army‘British soldiers will be protected from ‘ambulance-chasing’ lawyers if the Conservatives win the General Election, the Defence Secretary pledged last night. Human rights laws will be ‘ripped up’ to ensure those who fight for their country can no longer be hounded in the courts, Michael Fallon said…‘This abuse has got to stop and the next Tory government will limit the reach of human rights cases to the UK so our forces overseas are not subject to persistent human rights claims.’’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Tom Tugendhat on Comment: The ECHR must no longer apply to our armed forces in wartime

New drive to correct quango political imbalance

‘Conservative party donors, departing Tory MPs and journalists close to David Cameron have all been called upon to serve as part of a rush of public appointments to quangos and arts bodies before the election. Key funding boards, which distribute government and lottery money, are now overseen by former Tory MPs while some of Britain’s finest museums have Tory donors on their boards.’ – The Times (£)

  • Public sector pensions still more generous than private sector – The Times (£)

Lord Ashcroft to leave the House of Lords

ASHCROFT blue shirt‘Former Conservative Party treasurer Lord Ashcroft says he is quitting the House of Lords…In his statement, Lord Ashcroft referred to comments by Lords Speaker Baroness D’Souza that “retirement at the right time should be seen as a condition of membership of the House of Lords – a duty as well as a right”. He said: “I agree with the Speaker, and have concluded that my other activities do not permit me to devote the time that membership of the Lords properly requires.”‘ – BBC News

  • I’ll focus on polling, and publishing through ConHome, Dods and Biteback – Lord Ashcroft

Plaid follow the SNP in pledging to block Tory government

‘Welsh nationalists say they will negotiate with Labour, the Scottish National and the Green parties to “end Tory rule” if May’s general election produces a hung parliament. Leanne Wood, the leader of Plaid Cymru, said the election result was likely to be inconclusive. “Should that happen, Plaid Cymru will seek a rebalancing of power and wealth in the UK.”’ – FT

  • Cameron would have the first go at forming a government – FT
  • Could Blair save Labour in Scotland? – The Sun (£)
  • Sturgeon demands end to the benefits cap – Daily Mail


Labour plan crackdown on zero hours contracts

Miliband Odd and Red‘Ed Miliband will announce plans on Wednesday in effect outlawing most zero-hours contracts, in a toughening of Labour policy that will further complicate the party’s relationship with business…John Cridland, director-general of the CBI employers’ group, said business would be “unhappy” with the Labour proposal. “The UK’s flexible jobs market has given us an employment rate that is the envy of other countries.’ – FT

Farage: Cut immigration so children can play in the streets again

‘Big cuts in immigration will allow the nation to return to a time when children played football in the streets, Nigel Farage said yesterday as he unveiled the party’s first billboard of the election campaign. The image of three escalators running up the white cliffs of Dover was launched during a visit by the Ukip leader to the famous scene. Mr Farage claimed that the level of migration over the past decade meant Britain was no longer “at ease” with itself.’ – The Times (£)

Paxman still safe: Why are you called the Liberal Demo-cats?, asks Joey Essex

Clegg Hands‘Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg today faced a grilling from TOWIE star Joey Essex, who seemed a little confused about the Liberal Democrats’ name, and what the election was all about. Mr Clegg had to patiently explain that the party was not called ‘Demo-cats’, after Essex wondered why it had such a ‘weird’ name.’ In tribute to the star’s blunder, the party changed the logo on its website from the yellow bird to a yellow cat.’ – Daily Mail

Lib Dems mull free press law

‘A right to protect journalism from state interference and an end to ministers appointing the heads of broadcasting regulators are set to be proposed by the Liberal Democrats in a new “first amendment”-style charter on press freedom to be outlined in the party’s manifesto. The Lib Dem policy document is expected to suggest there should be a new statutory recognition of journalism so that newspapers and other media are not required to rely solely on the freedom of expression rights as spelled out under article 10 of the European convention on human rights.’ – The Guardian

Headteachers ‘keeping quiet’ about teens who may be set to join ISIS

School‘Head teachers are not informing the police about pupils they have been told may try to join jihadists in Syria because they do not want them to be criminalised, a senior prosecutor has warned. Nazir Afzal said that the leaders of two London secondary schools had told him of more than a dozen teenagers, both boys and girls, whose parents believe they have been “groomed and seduced” by Islamic State. Police have not been told of the families’ concerns because the state schools, one in east London and the other in west London, do not want their pupils to be placed under investigation.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: Daniel Hannan MEP’s column: Islam needs an Enlightenment – not a Reformation

>Yesterday: Garvan Walshe’s column: Richelieu would be proud of America’s opening to Iran

April Fools in brief

  • Longleat starts bubble-wrapping cars to protect against monkeys – Daily Mail
  • Labour attacks inequality of reburials – The Times Leader (£)
  • Tesco fits trampolines in the aisles – Daily Express
  • Leicester University considers renaming itself “The University of Leicester, We Found Richard III” – The Independent
  • Simon Cowell’s face to appear on £5 notes – The Sun (£)
  • Clarkson supports our campaign against fossil fuels – The Guardian
  • New bookmark will shout at sleepy readers to wake them up – Daily Telegraph

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