Leader’s speech 1) Cameron opens long election campaign on the economy…

Screen shot 2014-12-15 at 05.01.59“The prime minister will conjure images of homeowners worrying about their mortgage payments under Labour if there were a financial crisis or economic shock. His warning comes amid growing concerns about the eurozone and the plunging price of oil, which is close to a 5½-year low. Mr Cameron will point out that Labour’s plan does not involve ever reducing Britain’s debt pile, which stands at £1.5 trillion, and that this risks destabilising the country in the event of turmoil.” – The Times (£)

…And will bring forward housing discount scheme

“The discount will apply to those under 40 in England and was proposed as an election pledge at this year’s party conference. But Mr Cameron will announce that aspiring home owners will be able to register their interest in the Starter Homes initiative from January – six months earlier than planned.” – Daily Express

Leader’s Speech 2) Miliband to pledge making employers’ use of migrants to cut workers’ wages a criminal offence…

“The headline announcement is a pledge to pass a new law making it a criminal offence for employers to undercut workers’ wages and conditions by exploiting migrants. One strategist described it to me as a “uniquely Labour” approach to the issue with neither the Tories nor Ukip prepared to regulate the labour market in this manner.” – George Eaton, New Statesman

…But a Labour campaign document says: Don’t mention the I-word

Screen shot 2014-12-15 at 05.02.58“A private strategy document circulated by Labour HQ and seen by this newspaper warns that the bigger immigration becomes as a campaign issue the more votes the party will lose. MPs are told to focus on “moving the conversation on” if voters express concerns about border controls to topics Labour is stronger on such as healthcare or housing.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Humphrys: Sheltered, liberal BBC staff did not interrogate immigration for fear of appearing ‘racist’ – Daily Telegraph
  • David Rowland pays £45,000 for copy of Cameron immigration speech – Daily Mail
  • The Conservatives aren’t mentioning immigration either – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • Blame politicians, not migrants – Ian Birrell, The Independent
  • Byrne to commit Labour to limiting unpaid internships to a month – The Independent
  • Burham says his worries over the consequences of a Mid Staffs enquiry were well-founded – Daily Mail
  • Labour donor gift to Bercow re-election campaign – Daily Mail

May to announce that mentally ill young people must not be put in police cells

“On Thursday the home secretary will publish a review of sections of the Mental Health Act, under which police can section someone in mental distress and take them to a hospital or police station. It will conclude that children and young people should never be taken to police cells when suffering from a mental illness and that adults should only be detained by police when their behaviour is so extreme that it cannot be managed elsewhere.” – The Times (£)

  • Disturbed children need a doctor, not a night in the cells – Isabel Hardman, The Times (£)

Fallon: I fear that Putin’s war games will down an airliner

FALLON Send for“He blasted Kremlin bully Vladimir Putin for “intimidating”, “threatening” and “testing” Nato. And he revealed there were now so many incursions into UK airspace by Russian jets, he feared a “mid-air collision” with a jumbo. Mr Fallon said: “I don’t trust Putin at the moment and we have to prepare for the worst.” Aides played down his comments. But one said the minister was referring to an unthinkable “clash between Nato and Russian forces”.” – The Sun (£)

IDS revives plan to cap child benefit to two children only

“Asked about the idea on the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme, Duncan Smith said it could also “help behavioural change” in what appeared to be a suggestion that it could discourage people struggling with their finances from having more children. “I think it’s well worth looking at,” he said. “It’s something if we decide to do it we’ll announce out. But it does save significant money and also it helps behavioural change.” – The Guardian

Heaton-Harris and Fresh Start: You don’t need treaty change to change the treaties

HEATON-HARRIS Chris“Chris Heaton-Harris, co-founder of Fresh Start, said a “grand bargain” could be struck to secure the rights of the non-euro states in a treaty change to firm up the euro, but otherwise alternative methods could be used. Those included changes to EU directives, political declarations, and “inter-institutional agreements” committing Brussels bodies to better regulation and to steer clear of legislating in areas where member states were better placed to do so.” – Financial Times

Cooper backs torture inquiry on Labour’s behalf

‘As the clamour for a judge-led inquiry grew, Alan Johnson and Yvette Cooper called for the former prime minister to be quizzed on Britain’s role in the barbaric treatment of prisoners by the US. It comes as the Daily Mail publishes a letter from more than 40 prominent figures, including politicians and authors, calling for David Cameron to secure the release of a British father of four held for 13 years without trial in Guantanamo Bay.” – Daily Mail

Right-wing Liberal Democrats rally round. Last week, it was Danny Alexander attacking the Conservatives. Today, it’s David Laws

“David Laws, the education minister who has been drawing up the Lib Dem manifesto, warned that school funding, the pupil premium and free childcare for low income families were all at risk from the Conservatives’ plans to reduce the deficit. His intervention is notable because Mr Laws is at the heart of the coalition and one of the most aggressive public spending hawks among Lib Dems.” – The Times (£)

  • Cable accuses National Air Traffic Services of under-investment – Financial Times
  • Business Secretary warns of Conservative cuts and ring-fencing effects – Daily Telegraph

First, Hamilton withdraws from UKIP selection. Next, the man who wins it resigns after “poofters”, “peasant hunt” and “chinky bird” comments.

FARAGE Pinning Down full view“Kerry Smith, candidate for the party’s target seat of South Basildon & East Thurrock, quit the party after a 24-hour attempt, led by Nigel Farage, to stop him from being forced out. Mr Smith said in a statement: “I want the best for South Basildon and Thurrock and I want to see the real issues discussed that touch the lives of people. Therefore I have chosen to resign so that Ukip can win this seat next May.” – The Times (£)

Murphy leaf from Blair book: Scottish Labour’s constitution to be rewritten

“The new Scottish Labour leader will announce a fresh rewriting of Clause Four – the party’s statement of its aims and values – to “set in stone the total devolution of policy-making” from Westminster to Holyrood. The move evokes Tony’s Blair’s controversial rewriting of the clause nearly 20 years ago, which scrapped the party’s commitment to public ownership and backed the market economy, and was seen as the launch of “New Labour” by the former prime minister.” – Scotsman

  • Labour in Scotland could be “reduced to driftwood” – The Times (£)
  • “Scottish Labour has at last elected a bold and capable leader. He must rebuild his ramshackle party” – Times Editorial (£)

Boris Johnson: How typically British to mock rather than praise the Cereal Killers

borisfringe“We should be hailing anyone who starts a business in this country; we should acclaim them for overcoming all the obstacles that government puts in their path – the rates, the employment law, the health and safety. It is a great thing to want to open a place of work in one of the poorest boroughs in Britain. We don’t need taxpayer-funded journalists endlessly bashing the wealth-creators of this country, and sometimes we need to be a little less cynical and a bit more encouraging.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

  • Muslim extremist holds dozens of hostages at Sydney cafe – Daily Mail
  • Hamas anniversary parade sees militants display rockets and heavy weapons as they vow to destroy Israel – The Independent
  • Tebbit, Dorries attack BBC Book at Bedtime Thatcher Assassination story – Daily Telegraph
  • Reform says there’s as much red tape as ever – Financial Times
  • DUP want conscience clause in equality laws – Irish News
  • Birmingham now one of Britain’s easiest places to live without a car – Birmingham Mail
  • Elderly have never been more healthy – The Times (£)
  • Photograph of David Mellor getting into a taxi – Daily Mail
  • £84,000 probe into Cornish ‘beast’ 19 years ago found it was a 12 inch cat – The Sun (£)
  • Climate talks reach agreement – The Guardian
  • Siberian winds for Christmas – Daily Express

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