Cameron urges people not to put the recovery at risk by voting UKIP…

Farage Nigel Eating Cakes“The ‘Great British Revival’ is at stake in the general election a year today, David Cameron warned last night. … With a poll showing Ukip doing the Tories serious damage, the Prime Minister urged supporters to stick with the Government’s economic plans. … Otherwise, he said, the Labour Party would take charge and spend and borrow more.” – Daily Mail

  • “In controversial remarks made to a private meeting, Craig Oliver is said to have likened Ukip voters to men who wanted a “last chance to have a bit of fun” – before returning to vote Tory again at the general election.” – The Independent
  • “In Downing Street every policy and public utterance is parsed for its relevance to two straight political fights: the blue/purple skirmish with Ukip and the blue/red battle with Labour. ‘We’re not worried too much about the Lib Dems,’ says one Tory official. ‘Sure we want to win some seats off them in the South West and a few other places, but that isn’t our main preoccupation.'” – Financial Times
  • “The Government has been ‘underselling’ its policies which are aimed at women, David Cameron told his MPs last night.” – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Opposition to a Conservative-UKIP pact hits record high among Party members

…although a new poll suggests that UKIP voters will stick with the party next year…

“More than half of those voting Ukip in this month’s European elections also intend to support the anti-EU party in next year’s general election, according to a new survey. … The poll of 20,000 people by YouGov for the British Election Study suggests that the Ukip vote will prove much more resilient this time than in the last election cycle. It suggests Ukip could win up to 10 per cent at the general election.” – Financial Times

  • “The UK is a case in point. It is growing more quickly than most developed economies yet Ukip continues to rise; the grievances of its supporters seem too deeply ingrained to be dispelled by a few months of good economic news.” – Financial Times

…as Roger Helmer is confirmed as its candidate in Newark

Roger Helmer“UKIP has selected former Tory Roger Helmer as parliamentary candidate to fight the Newark byelection, despite him arguing date rape victims can bear some responsibility for being assaulted, coming out in favour of the death penalty and comparing gay marriage to allowing incest. … Roger Helmer, who was until two years ago Conservative MEP, will fight to win the Nottinghamshire seat vacated by the resignation of Patrick Mercer following a lobbying scandal.” – The Guardian

  • “Ukip’s candidate to win its first Westminster seat acknowledged yesterday that his opponents would mine a record of statements about homosexuality, but insisted that his personal views had become ‘more relaxed’.” – The Times (£)

With a year to go, Lord Ashcroft previews the next general election

ASHCROFT Krieg“All the parties have to contend with public weariness and cynicism – not just about the behaviour of politicians but over whether politics itself can do much to change things. … How should the parties react to this attitude? Like this: show a bit of humility, keep things in proportion and treat the voters as grown-ups. Don’t overclaim, either about what you have done or what you can do. … Talk to people about the things they care about, rather than repeating what you hope they can be made to care about.” – Lord Ashcroft, Daily Mail

  • “The gravest long-term threat to the Conservative Party is not the uneven constituency sizes, nor the split on the Centre-Right, nor yet the party’s weakness in Scotland and parts of northern England. Dwarfing these challenges is the Tories’ failure to win any meaningful measure of support from the fastest-growing section of the population, namely people from ethnic minorities.” – Daniel Hannan, Daily Telegraph
  • “The Tories can win next May 7th – by listening to their wives” – Sarah Vine, Daily Mail

The newspapers highlight various constituencies:

  • “To help you navigate the General Election 2015 rollercoaster, we have picked four marginal constituencies across the country to focus on and follow over the next 12 months. … All four are bellwether seats — bitter head-to-head contests between two of the parties that represent a different but crucial symbolic battle that will decide what happens on the national stage.” – The Sun (£)
  • “In looking at the Lib Dem prospects for 2015, it has to be remembered that they won in constituencies like Taunton despite the fact that the party nationally was very unlikely to be in Government.” – The Independent
  • “A year today, Britain will vote for a new government. Here are the key themes and 20 battleground seats.” – Daily Telegraph

And other stories:

  • “Civil servants are being pressed to provide information to ministers from one side of the coalition without informing the other in the run up to the general election in a threat to Whitehall’s impartiality, according to a new report.” – Financial Times

Help to Buy could be reined in, says Osborne…

help-to-buy-logo-jpg“The controversial scheme to make mortgages cheaper is expected to be reined in within months amid concerns that the housing market is in danger of overheating. … Chancellor George Osborne said the Bank of England was vigilant about the rising cost of property in many areas and would intervene if needed. … He was responding to an international report that Britain’s booming housing market was becoming a threat to economic recovery.” – Daily Mail

  • “More than 2,000 jobs and apprenticeships are to be created for jobless young Brits by some of the world’s top firms. … Chancellor George Osborne will today launch the Your Life campaign, aimed at boosting participation in science, technology, engineering and maths.” – The Sun (£)
  • “The European Union moved closer to a tax on financial transactions after 10 member states agreed to implement the levy by 1 January 2016, angering George Osborne who threatened a fresh legal challenge to the tax.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “Zero-hours jobseekers? Britain’s given up on employee rights” – Zoe Williams, The Guardian
  • “The stats and the markets concur: Europe is no longer an economic basket case” – Hamish McRae, The Independent
  • “A rise in self-employment poses both threats and dangers to Britain’s economic future” – Independent editorial

…as the OECD recommends just that

“The Bank of England should invoke new legal powers allowing it to rein in Britain’s booming housing market for the first time, an influential international think tank has said. … Would-be housebuyers should have to put down bigger deposits and George Osborne’s Help to Buy scheme should be cut back, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “OECD report suggests that the legacy of recession has been a greater willingness by people to help others” – Daily Telegraph

Grayling gets tough 1) In response to the Skull Cracker’s escape

GRAYLING Sunday Politics“Mr Grayling said he was ‘clearly not at all happy’ and wanted to know ‘exactly what happened’. … He added: ‘We’re midway through making big changes to the whole system of temporary licence. From later this year, you’ll be tagged with a new generation GPS tag if you are released from prison for the day. … You’ll also have to go and do something specific like go to work – you can’t just go out and wander around.'” – The Sun (£)

  • “The release on temporary licence scheme, which a violent fugitive known as Skull Cracker took advantage of to abscond from an open prison, has reached record usage over the past year, it has emerged.” – The Times (£)
  • “Cameras could broadcast live from criminal courts in Britain within the next five years, the ex-top prosecutor Keir Starmer has predicted.” – Daily Mail

Grayling gets tough 2) Vows to stop legal aid for the accusers of British forces

“Lawyers who accuse British troops of abuse in warzones will no longer be able to get millions of pounds in legal aid for their clients, the Justice Secretary said yesterday. … Chris Grayling vowed to take action after a group of Iraqis were accused of conspiring to claim  soldiers had executed prisoners. … Lawyers embroiled in the case have received a total of £10million in legal aid, MPs heard yesterday.” – Daily Mail

  • “The home secretary, Theresa May, is to ask the Commons on Wednesday to back her plan to deprive terror suspects of British citizenship, even if it leaves them stateless.” – The Guardian

Fox lays into Putin

FOX Liam blue background“Vladimir Putin has deployed the ‘bullying and thuggish’ tactics of a drug-dealer by exploiting the power of Russia’s gas reserves, a former cabinet minister will warn today. … Liam Fox, the former defence secretary, will also call on France to cancel a £1 billion warship deal with Russia in an attempt to increase the pressure on Moscow over its role in the crisis engulfing eastern Ukraine.” – The Times (£)

  • “Fracking will defeat Russia’s gas supply blackmail of Europe, the Energy Secretary has declared.” – The Sun (£)
  • “A split has emerged in the green movement over fracking, with two influential groups refusing to join a campaign to help landowners to block access to shale deposits under their property.” – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “Mr Putin is a post-fascist, an heir to Benito Mussolini rather than Stalin. For him, Europe is decadent, its political will sapped by feeble parliamentarianism and misguided tolerance.” – Roger Boyes, The Times (£)

Boris lays into Blair

“People who believe Tony Blair should be imprisoned over the Iraq war have their hearts in the right place, Boris Johnson has said as he called for the immediate publication of the Chilcot report into the war. … Speaking on his LBC phone-in, he spoke of the ‘catastrophic consequences’ of the Iraq invasion but described the former prime minister as an ‘eel-like customer’ who would use his legal skills to avoid prosecution.” – The Guardian

  • “Further strikes are set to threaten the London Underground for years after Boris Johnson vowed yesterday to press ahead with a plan for driverless trains.” – The Times (£)

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Next Tory leader: Boris holds his advantage over Theresa May

Cable admits that ministers are powerless to prevent the Pfizer deal

CABLE Dr Evil“Ministers are ultimately  powerless to block a controversial takeover deal by US drugs giant Pfizer, Vince Cable said last night. … Current legislation was ‘too narrow’ to prevent the £63billion bid for British firm AstraZeneca, the Business Secretary admitted. … The Liberal Democrat said the Government was now considering other options in order to toughen commitments by the pharmaceutical firm about protecting jobs and investment in the UK if the mega-merger goes ahead.” – Daily Mail

  • “US drugs giant Pfizer took £67million more from the UK Government than it paid in tax over a three-year period.” – Daily Mail
  • “David Cameron’s pollster lobbied on behalf of Pfizer, the US pharmaceuticals giant attempting to take over the British company AstraZeneca.” – The Times (£)
  • “Royal Mail has scrapped plans to increase its chief executive, Moya Greene’s pay, after business secretary Vince Cable put pressure on the board over the proposed rise.” – The Guardian
  • “Almost two-thirds of voters, including half of Conservative supporters, want the next government to be tougher with big business, amid widespread concern over high executive pay and ethics, according to a survey.” – Financial Times
  • “Payday lenders have been accused of causing ‘enormous customer detriment’ by pursuing a business model that requires repeat borrowing to generate profits.” – Financial Times

And comment:

  • “Let Pfizer buy Astra, there is no room for nationalism in business” – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph
  • “Why we must defend AstraZeneca from the £63bn takeover bid by Pfizer” – Ruth Sunderland, Daily Mail
  • “The sight of politicians indulging in a spot of economic nationalism is an unedifying one” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “The government should establish an independent body to assess bids from buyers, whether foreign or domestic, that might damage the UK’s science base.” – Financial Times editorial
  • “Pfizer has much to do to convince shareholders that its intent to take over AstraZeneca will benefit the UK” – Times editorial (£)

Miliband: I’ve got more self-belief than Cameron

Ed Miliband stare“Ed Miliband yesterday boasted about being a bigger intellectual power than David Cameron – as the one year countdown to the next election begins. … The Labour boss used the eve of today’s landmark date to launch his most personal attack yet on the PM. … Mr Miliband insisted: ‘What’s interesting is that of the two leaders who could be Prime Minister, I feel I am the one with much more intellectual self-confidence, actually.'” – The Sun (£)

  • “Miliband’s firm beliefs have led him to be repeatedly wrong on major issues, in and out of power.” –  Sun editorial (£)

The Labour leader also promises to crack down on “ghost homes”

“Ed Miliband has promised to impose council tax premiums on ‘ghost homes’ hoarded by wealthy investors and other absentee owners across England. … The Labour leader said he would also close loopholes that allow absentee owners to avoid the council tax premium on empty homes by putting in a few items of furniture. He said developers would also be required to sell flats in domestic markets at the same time as offering them to foreigners.” – The Guardian

  • “Homes, health and fairer taxes could put Ed Miliband in No 10” – Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph
  • “Wipe out rentiers with cheap money” – Martin Wolf, Financial Times
  • “My contender for the stupid socialist award” – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

> Today: Garvan Walshe’s column – Piketty’s challenge is real. Here’s how to outflank him

Patten stands down as BBC Trust chairman

BBC“The outgoing head of the BBC Trust has warned David Cameron to protect the corporation and keep it at the ‘centre of our public realm’ as he stepped down from his position following heart surgery. … Lord Patten of Barnes described the BBC as a ‘precious and wonderful thing’, adding that he had ‘no reason to doubt’ the support of the main political parties.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Labour has warned the Conservatives against appointing a political ‘stooge’ to chair the BBC Trust after Lord Patten stepped down from the role following major heart surgery.” – Financial Times
  • “Jeremy Clarkson’s controversial ‘slope’ reference in an episode of BBC2’s Top Gear is to be investigated by the media regulator in a move that is likely to heap further pressure on the beleaguered presenter.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “Chris Patten was doomed by the poisoned BBC chalice” – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail

GPs to vote on charging for appointments

NHS“GPs are to hold a vote on charging for appointments. … The idea is to deter patients from missing consultations – a problem that costs £160million a year. The fees – possibly between £10 and £25 – would be the first since the NHS was founded in 1948. … One GP said an entire morning’s work was lost when 14 patients failed to turn up.” – Daily Mail

  • “A government policy intended to stop the NHS from becoming overwhelmed has been delayed after a confidential Whitehall review concluded it would not work as hoped.” – The Guardian
  • “Doctors, nurses and MPs from both sides of the Commons united yesterday to demand justice for NHS whistleblowers who were ousted from their jobs after raising the alarm over poor care.” – The Times (£)
  • “Patients are more fed up with A&E departments than at any point since the Coalition came to power, a report reveals today.” – The Sun (£)

And comment:

  • “Small is beautiful. The NHS needs to be broken up” – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian
  • “…dealing with what Mr Hunt called the ‘quiet crisis’ of ageing will involve a cultural upheaval, one best addressed by the state working to support families rather than supplant them.” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Better Care is essential to the long-term viability of the NHS. It should be given everything it needs to succeed.” – Guardian editorial
  • “In praise of whistleblowers” – Times editorial (£)

85 per cent of firms want Scotland to remain in the Union

Scottish flag“Most firms in England, Wales and Northern Ireland don’t want Scotland to quit the UK, according to a poll. … A total of 85 per cent say they are opposed to independence, the British Chambers of Commerce survey revealed. … It also found that just one-in-three firms would want Scotland to continue to share the Pound with the rest of the UK if it became independent.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Alex Salmond shares similarities with Nigel Farage because both use ‘anti-Westminster rhetoric’ to win votes, the Scottish Conservative leader has said.” – Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Police officers hunting for Madeleine McCann are to dig up Portuguese waste ground – Daily Mail
  • Benefits Street’s White Dee to avoid a probe into her finances after Magaluf holiday – Daily Mail
  • Pothole damage claims have risen by up to 750 per cent in some areas – Daily Telegraph
  • Stuart Hall admits indecent assault on a girl aged under 16 – The Sun (£)
  • Freddie Starr will not be charged over sex offence allegations – The Sun (£)
  • UK and US offer help in the hunt for the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls – The Guardian
  • Nick Griffin’s vision for BNP Britain revealed in 1990s police interviews – The Guardian
  • Labour MP storms out of committee meeting – The Times (£)
  • The Obama administration issues a warning about climate change – The Independent
  • Ukraine is on the brink of civil war, according to Germany’s Foreign Minister – The Independent

And finally 1) Brandology?

Russell Brand“Teenagers could study the language of Russell Brand and Dizzee Rascal under controversial plans for a new English A-level. … The proposals, by the OCR board, provoked a storm at the Department for Education, while one campaign group calls them ‘dumbed down’. … Senior sources said examiners must be ‘having a laugh’ if they believed the A-level would be allowed into schools.” – Daily Mail

> Yesterday: Chris Skidmore MP on Comment – We need to spot children struggling at school long before they become NEETs

And finally 2) Presumably, Putin would ban Brand’s works

“President Putin has signed a law which criminalises swearing in public performances, and restricts it in other cultural works, from July 1, following a similar law introduced last year that banned swearing in the media. Disputes over what counts as a swear word will be settled by a panel of experts.” – The Times (£)

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