Tory poll lead increases pressure on Miliband…

Miliband coffee“Labour’s poll rating has fallen to a four year low, heaping yet more pressure on under fire Ed Miliband. An exclusive YouGov survey for The Sun put the party on 33% – its lowest score by our pollsters since it was leaderless way back in June 2010.For the third day in a row, the Tories also kept their new found lead, on 35%. And a second poll by billionaire pollster Lord Ashcroft also put the Conservatives two points ahead of Labour by 32% to 30%, revealing that David Cameron’s successful conference bounce appears to be lasting” – The Sun (£)

>Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft – The Conservatives are two points ahead in my weekly poll – plus, a new poll of Heywood & Middleton

…as Labour grandees attack their leader’s mansion tax plan

“Ed Miliband’s plan for a ‘crude’ mansion tax came under attack from Labour grandees yesterday as prominent figures from across the party piled into his election strategy…Mr Miliband’s idea for a mansion tax on properties worth more than £2 million was singled out by Labour’s biggest donor, the businessman John Mills. He warned that it would cause ‘all sorts of problems’ and risked pushing some people into negative equity. He was joined by Margaret Hodge, the chairwoman of the public accounts committee, who said that the policy was ‘too crude to work properly’” – The Times (£)

Clegg told not to agree “lightly” to EU referendum

CURSE OF CLEGG one“Nick Clegg has been warned by senior Liberal Democrats that he must not agree to a referendum on the European Union ‘lightly’, amid public divisions over the issue…Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury…indicated that he had cleared the way for a deal with the Tories…However, this triggered warnings from other Lib Dems that the party should not be signalling quite so openly that it was prepared to grant the Tory wish…Vince Cable, the business secretary, appeared to rule out a deal with the Tories on an in/out referendum” – The Times (£)

>Today: Columnists – Stephen Tall: Five thoughts from Lib Dem conference

Ganesh: Clegg has a good chance of staying in power

“If Mr Clegg’s lot in life can seem wretched and thankless, there is a consolation. He can now feel more confident of remaining in power beyond May than any party leader…it is plausible that a Conservative-
Liberal coalition that many doubted would see out the summer of 2010 will end up governing for a decade, with Mr Clegg somewhere near its helm. For a man everyone believes is half-clown, half-huckster, it is some feat” – Janan Ganesh, Financial Times

  • Unless the Lib Dems become more positive, they will remain invisible – Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)
  • Start telling the hard truth, Clegg: there is no free lunch – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
  • Cable gave a principled defence of immigration – Guardian Editorial

Miriam Durantez: who a woman has children with is crucial

Miriam Clegg“Miriam González Durántez, the wife of deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, has endorsed the view of Facebook boss Sheryl Sandberg that the most important decision a woman intending to have children can make is choosing a husband. Speaking to the BBC at the launch of Inspiring Women in Scotland, González said: “If you want to have children … if in a family you have children there is an issue if you want to work, as to how you are going to organise childcare. I think it was Sheryl Sandberg [Facebook chief operating officer] that said the most important decision in your life is who you have children with, so of course that is crucial”” – Guardian

  • Lib Dem minister says idea of men caring for small children is “anathema” to Tories – Daily Mail

Gove disconcerts mandarins by attending their meeting

“Michael Gove has broken with protocol by deciding to attend a weekly gathering of the most senior civil servants, dubbed ‘the real cabinet meeting’. The chief whip’s move, which has sent ripples through Whitehall, is part of a push by Downing Street to exercise more ministerial oversight of civil servants. Permanent secretaries are understood to have been disconcerted by Mr Gove’s attendance” – Financial Times

Cameron under pressure to protect journalists

Camerons thinking copy“David Cameron is under mounting pressure to back calls for journalists to be given complete protection when uncovering public scandals — as a formal probe into police snooping was launched. The PM was backed into a corner by his Lib Dem colleagues, who have blasted the use of anti-terror laws to spy on journalists’ phone calls. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said it was ‘wholly unacceptable’…It emerged last month that Met Police investigating the Plebgate affair used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to access Sun political editor Tom Newton Dunn’s phone records” – The Sun (£)

  • UK snooping powers are too weak, says crime agency boss – Guardian

Retirement age could rise by six months a year

“Older people will be encouraged to work longer under a Government plan to increase the average retirement age by six months every year. Ministers believe that the retirement age needs to increase dramatically to reflect Britain’s ageing population and to avoid a health care crisis…Steve Webb, the Liberal Democrat pensions minister, admitted that the target was ‘ambitious’ but said the retirement age had already been rising for women” – Daily Telegraph

NHS could start charging £75 a night for a hospital bed

NHS“The NHS may have to start charging patients for the ‘hotel costs’ of their hospital stay if the health service’s looming financial crisis is not addressed, senior health service managers have warned. Hospital bosses will need to ‘think the unthinkable’ if future NHS funding fails to keep up with patient demand, said Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which speaks on behalf of all health service commissioners and providers” – Independent

News in brief

  • ISIS militants enter Kobani on Syria’s border with Turkey – Guardian
  • Britain expresses “grave concerns” about Gibraltar incursion by Spanish ship – Daily Telegraph
  • Ebola reaches Europe as Spanish nurse is infected – The Times (£)
  • Hong Kong government due to hold talks with protesters – Guardian
  • Revenge porn could become a criminal office – The Sun (£)
  • Twenty-year study shows cannabis is harmful – Daily Mail
  • Shrien Dewani reveals he is bisexual – Guardian
  • Taxi driver killed by falling masonry in Bridlington – Daily Mail
  • Vaughan: better leadership could have averted this sad Pietersen saga – Daily Telegraph

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