YouGov poll finds Farage to be victor in first debate with Clegg

Screen shot 2014-03-27 at 05.34.53“A YouGov survey of 1,003 viewers found that 57 per cent thought the Ukip leader had performed better, with 36 per cent backing the Deputy Prime Minister. A tracker analysis of viewers’ and listeners’ responses by Blurrt, however, suggested the hour-long debate had been much closer. Mr Clegg was viewed positively by 24 per  cent and negatively by 32 per cent, Mr Farage positively by 25 per cent and negatively by  32 per cent. The pair will face each other in a second televised debate next Wednesday.” – Daily Mail

  • FARAGE big laughFarage claims that the EU has “blood on its hands” for provoking Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine – The Times (£)
  • Clegg says that leaving Union would cost jobs – The Independent
  • Farage: control EU immigration – Daily Express
  • Summary of what they said – Daily Telegraph
  • Mitchell spins for Tories – The Guardian
  • Both camps: Cameron and Miliband lost out – Financial Times
  • Remember: the vast majority of people didn’t watch it – Anthony Wells, YouGov
  • Who’d choose one of these jabbering maniacs to rule us? – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

> Today: Ten lessons from the Farage v Clegg debate

Clegg announces that rainbow flag will fly over Whitehall to mark first same-sex marriages

“Gay couples are able legally to tie the knot from Saturday, with some planning to do so as soon as the clocks tick past midnight. The deputy prime minister said the multi-coloured flag – adopted as a symbol of the gay community in 1970s San Francisco – would be flown above the Cabinet Office and Scotland Office from Friday. He encouraged the whole country to raise a glass to mark the occasion. As all the same-sex couples make their vows this weekend, they will be making history,” he said.” – The Guardian

  • Lib Dem councillor and magistrate poses for photograph with AK-47 assault rifle – Daily Mail

Germany proposes the expulsion of jobless EU migrants. Davis, Raab, Mills urge Cameron to act.

Screen shot 2014-03-27 at 07.20.08“Allies of the Prime Minister said the German plan showed that Mr Cameron was winning support in his attempt to overhaul rules allowing migrants to move freely throughout Europe. However, there were suggestions that the move could also revive Tory infighting over immigration. Some of the party’s MPs said that yesterday’s draft proposals from a German government panel, under which EU migrants would be removed if they failed to find work within three months, should be adopted by Britain.” – The Times (£)

  • May eyes visa sleight of hand to flatter immigration figures – Financial Times
  • Samantha Cameron’s personal trainer extends his fitness range at ARGOS – Daily Mail

> Yesterday: Sir Andrew Green on Comment: The deeply flawed prospectus of Conservatives for Managed Migration

> Today: Mark Field MP on Comment: Conservatives for Managed Migration want a sensible immigration policy, not an open door

Hunting Bill dropped. Cameron blames LibDems…

“The Prime Minister said opposition from the Liberal Democrats meant a compromise plan to make it easier for hill farmers to control foxes had been dropped. Mr Cameron said the decision was a matter of ‘regret’, and Downing Street insisted it remained committed to giving MPs a free vote on repealing the hunt ban ‘when time allows’.” – Daily Mail

  • Is the balance tipping Cameron’s way? – Daily Mail Editorial
  • Boris Johnson’s will-he-won’t-he show risks derailing his party – Paul Goodman, The Guardian

…As both main leaders claim victory over energy price freeze…

Gas ring“The jubilant Labour leader seized on the move by SSE as proof that his pledge to freeze energy prices was “workable” and already taking effect. But the Prime Minister insisted it was HIS decision to cut hated green levies – saving families an average £50 a year – that had forced SSE’s hand. The surprise move comes as the Big Six – which also includes British Gas, EDF, nPower, Scottish Power and E.On – come under massive pressure to slash costs.” – The Sun (£)

  • Energy’s big six embrace review as way to dispel mistrust – Financial Times
  • Price freeze will warm customers’ hearts – Daily Express Editorial
  • Brain freeze – The Sun
  • Price controls don’t work. It’s time to empower consumers – Allister Heath, City AM

> Today: The Deep End – George Osborne’s 35% strategy is even less inspiring than Ed Miliband’s 35% strategy

> Yesterday:

…And only 13 Labour MPs rebel over welfare cap. But IDS ratchets up the pressure on Miliband

“The Work and Pensions Secretary said the Labour leader’s decision to back the new long-term limit was a ‘scam’ unless he was prepared to say how he would fund the scrapping of the so-called bedroom tax. A group of 13 Labour MPs, including former frontbenchers Diane Abbott and Tom Watson, rebelled against their party’s backing for the Government’s plan.” – Daily Mail

Today: LeftWatch – Pinning Down Miliband: The EU

Yesterday: LeftWatch – Voters, donors and colleagues ruin Labour leader’s day

More socialist failure in Wales: now Labour MP whose husband died in a Cardiff hospital is blocked from giving evidence to the Assembly’s health committee

Screen shot 2014-03-27 at 07.29.56“The Labour administration in Wales has been accused of “sticking their heads in the sand” after its members stopped a Labour MP giving evidence to the assembly’s health committee. Ann Clwyd, the MP for Cynon Valley, has been vociferous in the campaign to reform the Welsh NHS after the death of her husband in a Cardiff hospital two years ago. The vote to prevent her from taking her concerns to the Health and Social Care Committee is the latest in a series of confrontations with Welsh Labour as it fends off criticism of its health service.” – The Times (£)

  • Welsh patients are ‘fleeing’ across the border to England claim MPs – Wales Online

> Yesterday: Local Government – Nursery costs soaring in Wales

Hammond calls on Nato and European allies to ‘raise their game’ to boost defence spending

“In a speech in Washington, Philip Hammond said the West had been complacent to ignore threats from Vladimir Putin before the invasion of Crimea and called on Nato and European allies to ‘raise their game’ to boost defence spending. Mr Hammond told the Heritage Foundation think-tank: ‘It is important that we reassure our allies in deed as well as word – and that is why the UK has offered Typhoon jets to augment Nato’s Baltic Air Policing mission.” – Daily Mail

  • Defence Select Committee warns on cuts – Daily Telegraph
  • MPs demand Commons votes on war-making powers – BBC

Davis: Troops are the best way to deter Russia

David Davis“Nato should organise its permanent troop deployments and forward basing to give physical manifestation to Article 5, loudly proclaiming that an attack on one is an attack on all. The more American, British, French and German troops that are based close to the eastern borders the clearer this “tripwire” will be, reducing the likelihood of Russian aggression.” – The Times (£)

More than a quarter of Tory councils defy Pickles over council tax freeze

“Of the 22 Conservative-led county councils, 10 have increased tax by between 1.95 per cent and 1.99 per cent, including Oxfordshire, which is Mr Cameron’s local authority. Buckinghamshire and Worcestershire have put up council tax by 1.5 per cent and 1.94 per cent respectively…Despite the embarrassment over increases by Tory councils, Mr Pickles has hailed the figures, saying that they show that the average council tax bill in England has fallen in real-terms for the fourth year.” – Daily Telegraph

Wright: “The problem we have in prisons is not prisoners sitting around wondering where their next Jane Austen novel is going to come from.”

Screen shot 2014-03-27 at 07.37.31“Jeremy Wright said it was “simply not practical” to allow prisoners unrestricted access to books sent from outside. He said it was impossible to check every parcel being sent in from friends and family. He added: “If I believed for a moment that this policy was affecting illiteracy in prisons then I wouldn’t be in favour of it…The comments to the Justice Select Committee follow an outcry to the Government’s clampdown from celebrity authors and campaigners.” – The Sun (£)

Schools to be told to buy local British products, Eustice says

“George Eustice, the farming minister, said that the Department for Education is working on measures to ensure that schools across the country use British produce in their meals. Mr Eustice told MPs on the environment, food and rural affairs committee that from September, schools will be told by the Government that they should be buying local produce. He said that Michael Gove’s education department is working on a “school food plan” that will “encourage” the use of fresh, British products in children’s meals.” – Daily Telegraph

Hannan defends Erdogan alliance

Screen shot 2014-03-27 at 07.39.26“Last night, a Tory member of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists, as the Europe-wide party is known, said it was not considering expelling Mr Erdogan’s party, despite the apparent contradiction with his group’s stated commitment to “freedom of the individual”. Daniel Hannan, a Tory MEP, said that the alliance valued having a “positive relationship with Ankara”. Mr Erdogan, who assumed office in 2003, initially won praise for the stability he brought. More recently, however, he has steered Turkey away from its secularist foundations and cracked down on freedom of expression.” – The Times (£)

Richard Harrington criticises Gove over unqualified teachers

‘In a letter to Mr Gove published by the Times Educational Supplement, Mr Harrington acknowledged there could be cases of “outstanding” unqualified individuals being the best person for the job. However, he added that the teachers’ argument “did worry me”, saying: “Their argument is that instead of this being used as a tool to bring in experienced individuals in certain areas for the benefit of education, that it will be used as a tool to effectively ‘hire on the cheap’ and fill classrooms with unqualified teachers not because they have valuable experience but because they are lower cost.” – The Independent

  • The Education Secretary ” is thought by now to be used to his wife revealing embarrassing observations from private life of the Gove household” – Daily Telegraph

Peter Oborne: There’s a quiet rebellion under way against bossy government

Screen shot 2014-03-27 at 07.46.31“I believe something is changing in Britain. George Osborne’s Budget, with its tax cut for beer and bingo and permission for people to take charge of their own savings, has caught a wider mood of national rebellion against bossy government. I noticed that when Question Time debated smoking in cars a few weeks ago the biggest round of applause was against the anti-smokers. This new politics of personal maturity is a problem for Ed Miliband.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The State gets hysterical about paedophiles – then lets under-age girls stockpile morning-after pills – Kathy Gyngell, Daily Mail

 News in Brief