Poll puts Scotland’s Yes campaign in the lead

Scottish flag“Scotland is on course to vote for independence, according to a shock new poll that today puts Alex Salmond’s ‘yes’ campaign in the lead for the first time. … The YouGov survey for The Sunday Times shows that the nationalists have taken a two-point lead and are poised to triumph in the referendum on September 18. … The poll puts the ‘yes’ campaign on 51%, with the unionists on 49% — overturning a 22-point lead for the Better Together campaign in the space of a month. … The new poll last night sent shockwaves through Westminster as Tory MPs warned that David Cameron would have to resign as prime minister if Scotland voted to go it alone.” – Sunday Times (£)

  • “The ‘integrity’ of the electoral register in Scotland has been called into question ahead of this month’s historic referendum vote after it emerged yesterday that children as young as three have been registered to vote and received polling cards.” – Scotland on Sunday
  • “The Queen has ‘a great deal of concern’ that Scotland will vote for independence and is receiving daily updates on the situation, The Sunday Times can reveal.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “Mr Stewart, who represents Penrith and the Border, is the most senior Westminster figure to express publicly concerns held by many senior politicians that the Scottish referendum is slipping away from them.” – Independent on Sunday
  • “For Jim McColl, one of Scotland’s richest men, there is little risk in Scotland voting to leave the union next week.” – Independent on Sunday
  • “Ed Miliband today issues the stark threat that manned border posts could be introduced if Scotland backs independence in next week’s historic vote.” – Mail on Sunday
  • …although the Labour press team has denied the story.
  • “Football stars including Alan Hansen, Ally McCoist and David Moyes have been targeted by their own supporters after coming out in favour of the union.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “An anti-English racist group linked to Scotland’s Yes campaign is behind some of the organised intimidation which drove a prominent No supporter off the streets.” – Sunday Telegraph

And (lots of) comment:

  • Newspaper mastheads“Sometimes it is necessary to get very close to the lip of the abyss, and to look over it, to realise just how deep and dangerous it is.” – Mail on Sunday editorial
  • “The referendum campaign reminds us how far mainstream politicians have fallen in public esteem.” – Sunday Times editorial (£)
  • “It is understandable that passions should run high in the Scottish independence debate, but violent confrontation is inexcusable” – Sunday Telegraph editorial
  • “What is Salmond’s position on IS?” – Scotland on Sunday editorial
  • “You can tell how much danger the United Kingdom is in by the things political parties are prepared to do to try to save it.” – James Forsyth, Mail on Sunday
  • “There is only one way now to stop the independence bandwagon. Westminster’s party leaders must offer a fully federal Britain that would benefit everyone” – Will Hutton, The Observer
  • “This is the hardest campaign I have ever had to call” – Andrew Rawnsley, The Observer
  • “The SNP will be safe in Nicola Sturgeon’s hands” – Kevin McKenna, The Observer
  • “Polls show how over-60s vote will be vital in Scottish referendum” – Mike Smithson, The Observer
  • “Put politics on the curriculum if you want young people to vote” – Sophie Grubb, The Observer
  • “This is the first poll asking the straight referendum question that has ever shown the ‘Yes’ campaign to be in the lead.” – John Rentoul, Independent on Sunday
  • “Along with the rest of Britain, MPs at Westminster are only now waking up to what a 10-on-the-Richter-scale shock it would be.” – Adam Boulton, Sunday Times (£)
  • “A yes vote will usher in a ‘banana republic of tax rises and turmoil’” – David Smith, Sunday Times (£)
  • “A ‘yes’ for Scotland will mean ‘no’ to Miliband’s hopes of No 10” – Peter Kellner, Sunday Times (£)
  • “Get ready, friends, for Salmond’s low-tax, right-wing Scotland” – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times (£)
  • “The final push for Alex Salmond’s land of fantasy” – Iain Martin, Sunday Telegraph
  • “Vote with the next 25 years in mind” – Andrew Wilson, Scotland on Sunday
  • “New era will leave radical left in shadows” – Euan McColm, Scotland on Sunday

> Today:

> Yesterday: Alistair Burt MP on Comment – The clinching pro-Union argument. The more Tory MPs Scotland has, the better its football does

Backbench disquiet 1) Rees-Mogg joins those calling for a pact with UKIP

FARAGE eating“About two-thirds of Ukip supporters are former Conservatives. Thus the split in the Tory family – demonstrated by Douglas Carswell’s defection last month – makes it difficult for the Coalition to win an Election, potentially paving the way for Ed Miliband to win despite having little more than one-third of the vote. … The obvious answer is for the Tories and Ukip to do a pre-Election deal. … Nigel Farage would be a much preferable Deputy Prime Minister to any true Conservative than Nick Clegg, while replacing Vince Cable with someone from Ukip would have a pleasant irony.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “With Ukip’s Douglas Carswell predicted to romp home in next month’s Clacton by-election – triggered by his bombshell defection from the Conservatives – rebel Tory Eurosceptics want a formal pact with Ukip which would offer both Mr Farage and Mr Carswell the chance of ministerial office.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “Nigel Farage has had a ‘good chat’ with Rupert Murdoch about the defection of Tory MPs to the anti-EU party, the Ukip leader has disclosed, in a development set to cause concern for the prime minister.” – The Observer
  • “David Cameron can breathe a sigh of relief about the Conservative Party conference in three weeks: there is little chance that it will be hijacked again by Nigel Farage.” – Sunday Telegraph
  • “Tories have baffled residents of the Essex town of Clacton-on-Sea by asking them about their local Tube services – even though the nearest London Underground station is 60 miles away.” – Mail on Sunday

And further comment:

  • “The self-destructive discontent in a Tory party that has lost its way” – Anne McElvoy, The Observer
  • “Labour MP Simon Danczuk is denying speculation that he is about to defect to Ukip.” – Guido Fawkes, Sun on Sunday (£)

> Yesterday:

Backbench disquiet 2) Tories defy Cameron over Europe…

CAMERON Marr Europe“David Cameron is facing a fresh revolt on Europe with Tory MPs set to call immediately after the next election for the UK to quit the EU. … Twenty MPs met last week and agreed to defy Cameron’s calls to renegotiate on a referendum to combat the Ukip threat. They will tell voters the prime minister should immediately invoke article 50 of the Lisbon treaty to trigger the start of a British withdrawal from the EU. Under the terms of the treaty this would give the UK two years to negotiate a British exit.” – Sunday Times (£)

  • “The Treasury is to clash with the European Union in a last-ditch effort to overturn a draconian cap on bankers’ bonuses, arguing in Europe’s top court that rules limiting rewards are an unjustified intrusion.” – Sunday Telegraph

And comment:

Backbench disquiet 3) … and over immigration

Border“David Cameron has been given a humiliating dressing-down by his own MPs over the ‘failure’ to get a grip on immigration. … The Prime Minister was ‘puce-faced’ as Tory MPs queued up to challenge his record on reducing the flow of immigrants into the UK and demand answers to what he was going to do about it. … He was openly contradicted after praising Home Secretary Theresa May for doing a ‘good job’ on the controversial issue.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “Ministers will offer to send the security fences used to protect world leaders at last week’s Nato summit to Calais to help the French authorities stop illegal immigrants trying to reach Britain.” – Sunday Telegraph
  • “A casualty unit that David Cameron personally promised would stay open is due to be closed, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “Lawrence Dallaglio will hold talks with David Cameron on Wednesday to demand millions of pounds more for advanced radiotherapy” – Sunday Times (£)

And comment:

  • “Migrant anarchy at Calais hurts everyone” – Sunday Telegraph editorial

Backbench disquiet 3) The plot to oust Bercow

John Bercow“A secret plot to boot John Bercow out of the Commons is being drawn up by senior Tory MPs. … They are planning to eject the Speaker from his Buckingham constituency at the next General Election by fielding a ‘proper’ Tory candidate against him. … The move would drive a coach and horses through the convention at Westminster that sitting Commons Speakers are never challenged at General Elections by candidates from the three main political parties.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “UKIP is planning to target the parliamentary seat of John Bercow if MPs topple him with a vote of no confidence.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “The increasingly personal row over Commons speaker John Bercow’s choice of a new clerk of the House could lead to a hike in the cost of a planned £4bn renovation of Westminster Palace, senior parliamentary sources have claimed.” – The Observer

Osborne pledges to spend to defeat the Islamic State…

Osborne-Headshot3“George Osborne has vowed to spend whatever it takes to crush brutal Islamic State jihadists – and keep Britain safe from terrorism. … In an exclusive interview with The Sun on Sunday, the Chancellor said he was ready to pay for a military campaign against ‘barbaric’ fanatics rampaging through Iraq and Syria. … He branded the Islamist militants a ‘direct threat’ to Britain which must be defeated and pledged: ‘Our national security comes first. Anything that requires financing, we will finance.'” – Sun on Sunday (£)

  • “David Cameron is preparing a diplomatic charm offensive to build widespread Arab support for Western military action against Islamic State (IS) in both Iraq and Syria.” – Independent on Sunday
  • “Britain should encourage jihadis fighting in Syria and Iraq to ‘come home’, the former global counter-terrorism director of MI6 has said.” – The Observer
  • “Friends of the British hostage facing brutal murder by Islamic State fanatics last night said the British Government was ‘letting an innocent man die’ by refusing to pay a ransom for his release. … While his wife told the Mail she is defiantly refusing to give up hope that David Haines will be rescued, close friends of the couple said his fate has been sealed by the UK’s refusal to negotiate with terrorists.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “Dithering by Barack Obama was alleged last night to have doomed a last-ditch attempt to rescue British hostage David Haines and US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.” – Mail on Sunday
  • “Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state, has urged President Barack Obama to ‘launch an all-out attack’ on the terrorist group Isis in Syria and Iraq” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “Britain has only 36 Challenger battle tanks ready to go into combat after five years of cuts to the army’s frontline forces” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “Almost two thirds of the public would support some form of British military action against jihadist fighters in Iraq, an exclusive poll for The Telegraph suggests.” – Sunday Telegraph

And comment:

  • “…the extra money needed to make sure already overstretched forces can cope shows just how wrong it was to cut the defence budget in the first place.” – Sun on Sunday editorial (£)
  • “Anti-war Ed Miliband will have to confront Isil if he wins” – Matthew d’Ancona, Sunday Telegraph
  • “Without American leadership, freedom is in peril” – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph
  • “Cam’s ‘Islam’ wars mustn’t demonise our true Muslims” – Louise Mensch, Sun on Sunday (£)
  • “Isis will not be beaten by a kneejerk reaction from the west” – Jane Kinnimont, The Observer

…and moves to cap rail fare increases

high-speed rail“Rail fares will be capped to stop commuters getting hit by inflation-busting hikes, The Sun on Sunday can reveal. … Train passengers were braced for eye-watering annual rises in January of up to 5.5 per cent. … But George Osborne is stepping in with a £100million package to limit the pain for hard-pressed families. … It means regulated fares — including season tickets, ‘anytime’ singles in cities and off-peak intercity returns — will only go up by 2.5 per cent.” – Sun on Sunday (£)

  • “On a tour of leading firms in the Midlands with The Sun on Sunday, Mr Osborne hailed the exporting examples of Weetabix and Rolls-Royce.” – Sun on Sunday (£)
  • “The cost of cleaning up Britain’s toxic nuclear sites has shot up by £6bn, with the Government and regulators accused this weekend of ‘incompetence’ in their efforts to manage the country’s legacy of radioactive waste.” – Independent on Sunday

May could get the power to sack failing police commissioners

MAY Theresa menacing“Failing crime tsars could be sacked by the Home Secretary under radical plans to rescue the Conservatives’ tarnished law and order policy. … Police and Crime Commissioners can currently only be removed at the ballot box every four years, but a series of scandals has prompted a rethink. … Now a senior group of elected crime tsars is drawing up ideas to improve their own accountability between elections. … The proposals, to be submitted to the Home Office by the end of the year, will prove controversial as they would dilute the independence of the role.” – Mail on Sunday

  • “Many gay and lesbian police officers still fear the consequences of revealing their sexuality as they rise through the ranks, according to new research.” – Independent on Sunday

Questions surround the new head of the child abuse inquiry

“Fiona Woolf, the Lord Mayor of London, was appointed to carry out the important role of investigating claims of an Establishment cover-up of VIP paedophile rings on Friday, two months after the original chairman was forced to step down over conflicts of interest. … But this newspaper has found that the top corporate lawyer is also closely linked to Lord Brittan – who is likely to give evidence to her inquiry. … Last night Labour MP Simon Danczuk – who has led calls for a public inquiry into historic child sex abuse in the wake of revelations about high-profile figures such as Sir Jimmy Savile – questioned Mrs Woolf’s appointment.” – Mail on Sunday

Gibb rules out a manifesto commitment to streaming in schools

School“The Conservatives have ruled out including a commitment in their election manifesto to force schools to adopt setting, the Schools Reform minister said yesterday. … Speaking at the researchED conference in London, Nick Gibb said he favoured the use of ‘setting’, in which pupils are put in different groups depending on their ability in individual subjects. … ‘My view is that it is the best way of raising standards,’ he added. ‘Ultimately, though, these issues have to be left to individual schools.'” – Independent on Sunday

Barker joins up with Paul McCartney

“David Cameron’s green adviser has teamed up with Sir Paul McCartney to launch a celebrity-backed campaign urging people to give up meat for one day a week to help combat climate change. … Greg Barker, the former climate change minister, will launch the campaign, saying the reduction of a person’s carbon footprint is the same as them not driving for a month. … Among the celebrities backing the move are the model Lily Cole, the actor Mark Ruffalo and the designer Stella McCartney.” – Sunday Times (£)

Claims that Crosby did a spot of lobbying shortly before entering No.10

“The Convervative party’s election guru Lynton Crosby lobbied a minister against the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes days before it was announced the London-based Australian lobbyist was to become campaign director for the Tories. … Crosby made the case against plain packaging to Lord Marland, then parliamentary undersecretary for intellectual property and a former Conservative party treasurer.” – The Observer

Mansion tax fears mean more money for the Tories

House icon“High-end property developers, whose profits could be hit by a mansion tax, are bankrolling the Conservative Party to the tune of almost a million pounds, an investigation by The Independent on Sunday has found. … Electoral records show that in the past two years, property companies have begun donating to the Conservatives for the first time – contributing just under £800,000 to party coffers.” – Independent on Sunday

The Lib Dems are preparing a digital bill of rights

“The Liberal Democrats will pledge a crackdown on intimate images of people being posted online without their consent as part of the party’s pre-election manifesto tomorrow. … Julian Huppert, the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman, said a digital bill of rights was ‘even more necessary’ after nude photographs of many celebrities, including the Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence and the model Kelly Brook, were stolen and then published on the internet.” – Independent on Sunday

McCluskey warns Miliband against wooing Clegg

Miliband Labour Left“The leader of Britain’s biggest union warns that it could further slash financial support to the Labour party – and face internal pressure to disaffiliate – if Ed Miliband’s cash-strapped party forms a coalition with the Liberal Democrats after the next election. … In an interview with the Observer on the eve of the TUC Congress in Liverpool, Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, says he will demand that Labour govern alone if it wins the election but falls short of an overall majority.” – The Observer

  • “A secret document drawn up by the Unite union, Labour’s biggest paymaster, reveals its plans to intimidate dozens of Crossrail bosses by targeting their homes and those of their families and children.” – Sunday Times (£)
  • “Half of Britain’s workers believe that employers are holding back their pay rises despite profiting from the economic recovery, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by the Trades Union Congress.” – Independent on Sunday
  • “Inspired by the Jarrow Marchers – 200 men who stood up to the extreme poverty of Depression-era Britain – the protest has been led by a group of 24 Darlington mothers. Privatisation and cuts, they say, now pose the biggest threat to the NHS in its 66-year history.” – Independent on Sunday

MPs will get their pay rise, says expenses watchdog

“MPs’ pay will rise by 10 per cent next year, taking their salaries to £74,000, the new head of Parliament’s expenses watchdog has said, despite warnings from David Cameron that such an increase would be ‘simply unacceptable’. … Marcial Boo, the chief executive of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), said that MPs did an important job and should not be paid ‘a miserly amount’ for their services.” – Sunday Telegraph

Read the Sunday Telegraph’s interview with Marcial Boo in full.

Use the best ideas from Right and Left, politicians told

“…as MPs return to their parliamentary desks tomorrow, they will be bombarded with some slightly disturbing images of politicians from the polar opposite ends of the spectrum. … The images mark the start of a campaign to convince them to abandon the old divisions of left and right and take the best ideas from both by the Social Economy Alliance (SEA), which promotes community energy schemes, co-operative housing and other social enterprises.” – The Independent

Will Ukraine’s ceasefire hold?

Russian flag“Witnesses in the Ukrainian port of Mariupol reported sustained explosions outside the city and a volunteer battalion of Ukrainian fighters said that Grad rockets had been fired at its positions. … The reports late on Saturday came little more than a day after Ukraine and Russian-backed separatist rebels signed a ceasefire after more than four months of fighting in the country’s east. Witnesses in Mariupol told the Associated Press that sounds of heavy explosions were coming from the city’s eastern outskirts, where Ukrainian troops retain defensive lines against the rebels.” – The Observer

  • “Vladimir Putin’s ‘unacceptable’ action in Ukraine was predictable and provoked” – Christopher Booker, Sunday Telegraph

News in brief

  • Has the identity of Jack the Ripper been discovered? – Mail on Sunday
  • “We are determined that our nation will be secure.” Tony Abbott marks his first year in office – Mail on Sunday
  • Sierra Leone’s planned Ebola lockdown could “spread disease further” – The Observer
  • Ashya King prepares to travel to Prague – The Observer
  • Hawking: God particle could destroy universe – Sunday Times (£)

And finally 1) “Stop being mean to Blair!” says… Peter Hitchens

BLAIR Europe“No doubt, if Mr Blair had not gone off to spend more time with his money, he would be taking all the same wrong sides as Mr Cameron is taking now. But so are most of the people who now affect to despise Mr Blair. … It’s no good damning the  man, and continuing to support the policies.” – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday

  • “Call Blair poodle, liar, warmonger… but never do-gooder” – Tony Parsons, Sun on Sunday (£)

And finally 2) Aitken returns to prison… sort of

“What would Fletch say? Another old lag is to have his spell of porridge turned into a comedy series. … Jonathan Aitken, the former Tory cabinet minister who spent seven months in jail for perjury and perverting the course of justice, is the inspiration for a Channel 4 series.” – Sunday Times (£)