Labour lead over Tories drops to only one point in ComRes poll

Labour holes“Labour’s lead over the Conservatives has dropped to just one point amid signs that the Tories are making headway in the crucial political battle over living standards, according to an opinion poll for The Independent…The survey puts Labour on 33 per cent (down four points on last month) and the Conservatives on 32 per cent (unchanged), giving Labour its smallest lead in a ComRes poll for The Independent since December 2011, when two parties were level on 38 per cent. The UK Independence Party is now on 14 per cent (up four points on last month), while the Liberal Democrats are unchanged on 9 per cent” – Independent

  • Labour lead falls to only two points in YouGov poll – Sun (£)

>Today: Tory Diary – The Polls with a Pinch of Salt

Cameron accused of complacency on Romanian immigration

“David Cameron was accused of complacency over immigration from Romania and Bulgaria last night after claiming it was running at a ‘reasonable level’. The Prime Minister – who is facing a major Commons rebellion over EU immigration this week – said he ‘shares the frustrations’ of those who want tighter border controls. But he suggested there was little sign of the influx of Romanian and Bulgarian workers predicted by some when transitional controls were lifted at the beginning of this month” – Daily Mail

Paterson attacked for not meeting flood victims

PATERSON floods“A visit by the Environment Secretary to flood-hit Somerset ended in acrimony when he refused to meet those directly affected. Owen Paterson managed to keep his smart city shoes dry when he arrived at a pumping station on the edge of the Somerset Levels, large parts of which have been under water for nearly a month. Farmers and local residents who had been waiting to see Mr Paterson were left disappointed when he got into his ministerial car and drove off again without speaking to them” – The Times (£)

  • Snow, ice, torrential rain and floods set to hit Britain – Daily Express

Ken Clarke blasts Eurosceptic red tape “mythology”

“Eurosceptic Tories were today blasted by Ken Clarke for blaming Brussels for a mountain of red tape in Britain. The veteran minister said the claim was complete “mythology” and challenged backbenchers to find one example of a rule that was forced on London. He said ‘single-issue lobbyists’ and other parliamentarians were the ones to blame for the barmy rules and regulations governing everyday life” – Sun (£)

  • Loss of trust in European project holds great dangers – Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister, Guardian

Fallon: Scots referendum curbs North Sea investment

Scottish flag“Michael Fallon, the energy minister, said on Monday that uncertainty over the Scottish independence referendum result would slow down investment in the North Sea oil industry. ‘My fear is that it will pause investment’ in North Sea oil and gas, he told an oil conference at Chatham House in London. ‘That’s a very big worry’” – Financial Times

  • Salmond faces fight to win over women voters – Glasgow Herald
  • Scotland and England need each other – Martin Woollacott, Guardian 

Cable attacks Osborne’s plan for cuts

“The business secretary, Vince Cable, on Monday evening infuriated his Conservative coalition colleagues when he chose the eve of the publication of the latest GDP figures to warn that Britain was experiencing the wrong sort of economic recovery and said his party was not wedded to the pace and scale of deficit cuts after 2015 set out by George Osborne. He said: “There are different ways of finishing the job … they could allow public spending to stabilise or grow in the next parliament, whilst still getting the debt burden down” – Guardian

  • Economy growing at fastest pace since financial crisis – Daily Telegraph
  • Queen’s household should undergo austerity too, say MPs – Guardian
  • Johnson attacked for calling in Royal Mail Group planning application – Independent
  • Campaigners warn against record number of London skyscrapers – Financial Times 

Miliband aide has no work permit

MILIBAND Red Ed“One of Ed Miliband’s key aides is being paid by Labour without having a work permit. US expert Arnie Graf was invited to Britain to help mastermind Labour’s 2015 election campaign. But under strict Home Office rules, he was only granted a business visa — which bars him from working here for a salary. Labour last night denied paying wages to Mr Graf, but admitted giving him money to ‘reimburse him for lost earnings and expenses’” – Sun (£)

Letts: Miliband and Balls have a cynical core vote strategy

“Ed Miliband is running his 2015 election campaign on a cynical basis of ‘get out the core vote’. He knows that, thanks to gerrymandered constituency boundaries (which Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has refused to update), Labour needs only to scrape just over 35 per cent of the vote to win a majority next May. He can probably do that by tacking hard towards the public-sector vote and the denizens of Benefits Street. Mr Balls is simply doing Mr Miliband’s bidding” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

  • Labour have dropped One Nation and gone for bitterness and spite – Dan Hodges, Daily Telegraph
  • Labour accused of wrecking Welsh schools – Wales Online

Ganesh: Labour confirms its critics’ worst suspicions

“The problem is not that Labour is divided over 50p. The problem is that it is not. Here is a party of increasingly homogenous worldview, so denuded of an influential rightwing that a tax rise which would once have been laughed out of the room now arouses desk-banging rapture, with no one of note around to file a minority report” – Janan Ganesh, Financial Times

  • Poll finds 60 per cent of people agree with raising top rate of income tax – Financial Times
  • RBS reveals fresh £8 billion loss – Financial Times

Carswell: Leave Tony Blair alone

“Last week a barman tried to arrest Tony Blair for ‘crimes against peace’…I find the idea of Blair being arrested, prosecuted or harassed in this way deeply disturbing. Why? Not because of what it might say about Tony Blair, but because of what it says about us and our attitude towards democracy. Love him or hate him, Tony Blair was our duly elected prime minister” – Douglas Carswell, Daily Telegraph

Farage: wrong kind of people are in UKIP

Nigel Farage“Nigel Farage has lashed out at the ‘Walter Mittys’ damaging UKIP as he warned the party’s candidates that they must show more discipline before a series of crucial tests at the ballot box. In an interview with The Times, the UKIP leader admitted that the party had ‘got it wrong in the past’ and allowed in some people who had proved to be ‘disappointments’” – The Times (£)

>Today: The ConHome survey – Would You Support a Pact with UKIP?

News in brief

  • “Judgment day” as Ukraine teeters on brink of chaos – The Times (£)
  • Jilted Trierweiler seeks solace in Mumbai slums – The Times (£)
  • Dieudonné greeted with wild enthusiasm in Bordeaux – Independent
  • Car boss falls to death after row with wife – Daily Telegraph
  • Jude Law did not know family member sold story to News of the World – Independent
  • Baby dies of rickets from vegetarian mother – Daily Telegraph
  • Genome sequenced for Plague of Justinian – Guardian