Conservative Conference 1) Osborne to scrap the pension “death tax”

timesdeath“George Osborne will scrap “punitive” levies on pensions today as he puts workers and savers at the heart of the Conservatives’ tax-cutting election campaign. The chancellor will aim to steady the Tories with a string of promises to do more to reward employment after a disastrous start to the party’s annual conference in Birmingham….Mr Osborne will point to an unashamedly tax-cutting campaign in the month ahead with a reduction to 20 per cent of the 55 per cent tax rate on some pension pots after death. The change extends reforms that freed defined contribution pensioners from having to buy an annuity and make it easier to pass on savings to children and grandchildren.” – The Times(£)

  • “Inheritors will now only pay the marginal income tax rate, or no tax at all if the deceased was under 75 and the pension is left untouched. The Treasury predicts the new policy will cost approximately £150m per year.” – BBC
  • “Those who suffer a death in the family before next April will be able to defer drawing from the pension until then so that they too can benefit from the end of this unfair and punitive tax – a comfort both to those in their 70s and their families and an incentive to savers.” – Daily Express

Conservative Conference 2) Labour set for “comfortable” majority warns Lord Ashcroft

“Labour are on course to win a “comfortable” majority, according to polling carried out by Lord Ashcroft, with the Conservatives facing a “very uphill struggle”. The Tory peer sounded the alarm in the opening hours of the annual party conference in Birmingham, warning activists that his polling from marginal seats showed that the Conservatives were going to lose 24 critical seats. The Tories only need to lose 22 seats to be behind Labour and also face a serious challenge from the UK Independence Party.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment: A lesson from the yellow-blue marginals. Incumbency is not enough

Conservative Conference 3) Cameron uses 1922 Committee/Conservative Home event to hit back at Reckless

RECKLESS Mark“David Cameron has launched a highly personal attack on the Tory MPs who have defected to Ukip, warning them “we are coming for you”. In an impassioned address to party activists, the Prime Minister said that Mark Reckless, the MP who at the weekend quit the Conservatives for UKIP, had lied to his former party “over and over and over again” about his loyalty. Mr Cameron vowed to “throw everything we can” at the forthcoming by-election in Mr Reckless’s seat of Rochester and Strood.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “THE Tories will gain nothing from spending this week whining about UKIP defectors. They sound as pathetic as a jilted lover.” – The Sun Says(£)
  • Defection is “senseless” – BBC
  • Furious Shapps tears into Reckless – Daily Mail
  • Chris Bruni-Lowe named as “sleeper” who organised defections – The Times(£)
  • Walkabout abandoned after Rochester voters show fury at defection – The Independent

>Yesterday: MPsETC: Has Reckless done Cameron a favour?

Conservative Conference 4) Hague gives farewell speech

HAGUE William looking right“Almost four decades ago, a young, long-haired William Hague took to the Conservative party conference platform, and berated its elder statesman and ageing activists for not moving with the times. ‘It’s all right for you,’ be beamed. ‘You won’t be here in 30 or 40 years’ time.’ Today, some 37 years later, he bid a final farewell to the Tory conference, reflecting that as first leader, and then Foreign Secretary, he had ‘been, gone, come back and given it another decade, and am now going again’.” – Daily Mail

Conservative Conference 5) PM warns UK would have to leave EU if negotiations fail

“DAVID Cameron has toughened up his negotiation stance over Britain’s membership of the European Union. The PM suggested that he would not recommend the UK stay in the EU if he fails to get the reforms he wants. But he stopped short of saying he would campaign for a No vote in the referendum he has pencilled in for the end of 2017. Eurosceptics have called on him to make that pledge as a way of showing the rest of Europe he means business. Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Cameron said: “I have said this all my political life – I’ve said if I thought that it wasn’t in Britain’s interests to be in the EU I wouldn’t argue for us to be in it.” – The Sun(£)

  • Conservatives need to take the fight to UKIP – Dan Hodges, Daily Telegraph

>Today: Damian Green MP on Comment: As all true Conservatives believe, we must stay in the EU

Conservative Conference 6) Hayes urges councillors to rejects transparency

HAYES John“John Hayes left the meeting by urging councillors to reject transparency and accessibility in politics, saying the “best things in life” are often opaque and hard to reach. “Just think before I go, let this float on the air for further consideration. Don’t accept the case for greater transparency. All the best things in life are opaque. Love is deeply opaque. Don’t accept the case for inclusiveness, because everything you want is exclusive. Every club I’ve ever wanted to belong to is an exclusive club. Don’t accept the case for accessibility, because all the best things in life you have to travel a journey to get to. They have to be inaccessible, and then gradually become accessible. Things that are easily accessed, blimey, that’s no fun, is it?” – Daily Telegraph

  • It’s “hair shirted nonsense” that MPs are overpaid – The Independent

Conservative Conference 7) Cameron defends his background

“FIRED up David Cameron has declared he is proud of his rich but loving stockbroker Dad – and will no longer try to hide his posh background. The PM hit back at critics to tackle abuse over his elite upbringing head on for the first time. The 47-year-old Tory leader’s smart family and Eton schooling is seen as his weakest card with voters. He has previously shied away from confronting the class war attacks. But in a marked change of tack, the Premier used a Tory conference interview with The Sun to try to defeat them once and for all. Angered by the Labour leader’s ferocious assault on him personally this week, Mr Cameron thundered: “You can’t change who you are, and I am not going to change who I am. I can’t change the school I went to, or the upbringing I had, or the parents I have – and nor would I want to.” – The Sun(£)

Goodman:  Cameron should remember: “Dance with the One That Brung Ya”

goodman“Stephen Harper in Canada, the Australian Tony Abbott, and New Zealand’s John Key have all been careful to take their parties and core support with them. Too often – on overseas aid, wind farms, same sex marriage, the EU – Mr Cameron has not. Ronald Reagan had a phrase for keeping the faithful happy: “Dance with the One That Brung Ya.” All too often, Tory MPs feel that Mr Cameron has left them lonely on the dance floor and that his attempts to sweet-talk them back lack sincerity.” – Paul Goodman Daily Telegraph

Boris: Labour will lose the next election

BORIS open mouth“Labour are puttering at 35 per cent in the polls; they should be miles ahead to have any chance of winning. To put it another way, I was much further behind Labour in London in 2007, and went on to win the mayoralty in 2008. Tories tend to close the gap in the last few months as people look harder at what is being offered, and I believe in the next few months and years the news about this country and its prospects are going to get better and better – if we can keep Labour out. If you really want to let this country sleepwalk into a Labour government, then that is your prerogative. You can close your eyes and let it happen. You kip if you want to; the rest of us are going to fight and win.” Boris Johnson Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Come to the ConservativeHome “Rally for Victory” with Boris

Pritchard challenges Sunday Mirror’s sting operation

“An MP is to make a formal complaint against the Sunday Mirror over a story that led to the resignation of a government minister. Conservative Mark Pritchard said “questionable techniques” were involved in the paper’s report that Brooks Newmark sent explicit pictures of himself to an undercover journalist. Mr Newmark resigned after the sting, saying he had been a “complete fool”. The Sunday Mirror said that the story was in the public interest.” – BBC

Morgan plans online app to tackle school bullies

nickymorgan“An online app could be developed for children to safely report bullying in schools, under plans being considered by the education secretary, Nicky Morgan. Another phone app could be used to allow parents to sign permission slips for children’s school trips under the proposals, which Morgan said could make a “big difference for mums across the country”. Morgan also indicated that teachers and parents should be given support to help keep children safe online, and encouraged the use of breakfast clubs and after-school activities to help maximise the use of school buildings.” – The Guardian

Labour rebellion over Mansion Tax grows

“Senior Labour MPs are joining a backlash against Ed Miliband’s flagship “mansion tax” proposal, as it emerged that the Queen faces
paying £1 million a year from the charge. Nick Raynsford, the former local government minister, attacked the plans to impose a tax on properties worth more than £2 million as “good politics but bad policy”. Margaret Hodge, who chairs the public accounts committee, has also come out in opposition to the charge, warning that it could be seen as a “punishment tax” for those in London whose properties have grown in value.” – The Times(£)

News in brief

  • Democracy protestors block Hong Kong streets – BBC
  • Farage kills off WAG tax policy – The Times(£)