New Tory election ad unveiled – but is it too safe?

Economy Road Poster‘If this poster is anything to go by, it’s going to be a long road to the next election. David Cameron’s opening advertising salvo of the campaign immediately ran into fire for being bland, ambiguous and, worse, for looking a little bit French. On the plus side, at least there were no pictures of politicians.’ – Daily Mail


Home ownership falls towards French levels

‘Home ownership in Britain is set to fall below France for the first time after the boom in buy-to-let lending in the last decade. More and more Britons have been pushed into the rental sector, allowing our continental neighbours to catch up, according to latest figures. The fall in UK home ownership was worsened by the 2008 financial crisis and has undone much of the work by Margaret Thatcher.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: Local Government: Would Labour scrap the New Homes Bonus?

Fraser Nelson: Repeal the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act

NELSON Fraser‘The British constitution is anachronistic, unwritten and illogical – but it is one of those wonderful things that works in practice, even if it does not work in theory. Britain is about to experience its most unpredictable election in living memory, and may well end up with a prime minister having to navigate his way through a hung parliament with a minority government. In which case, we don’t need a revamped constitution – we just need the old one back.’ – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

Labour 1) Balls launches attack on ‘risky’ Osborne plan

‘Osborne’s increasingly extreme and ideological approach goes far beyond the necessary task of deficit reduction. It is a risky second-term Conservative project to shrink the state – a lurch to the right which has left Labour as the centre-ground alternative. So the economic choice at the election is now stark and clear.’ – Ed Balls MP, The Guardian

Labour 2) Leading lefty attacks Blair for being too successful

Miliband Labour Left‘A leading figure on the left of the Labour party has launched an assault on Tony Blair accusing him of getting the “wrong people” to vote for him. Neal Lawson, the chairman of the Compass pressure group, claimed that the former prime minister’s landslide victory had left him with a majority in the Commons which was “too big”.’ – The Times (£)

Clampdown on visa scam

‘The so-called “Tier 2 visa system” is meant to encourage companies to take on highly-qualified staff from other countries. But a probe by immigration officials has revealed that many are being given posts which do not actually exist, just so they can move to the UK, or are fronts to get in workers to fill lower-paid roles. Immigration minister James Brokenshire said: “Our reforms are cracking down on abuse.’’ – The Sun (£)

UKIP’s plan to woo hedge funds

UKIP logo‘Nigel Farage, who has pledged to build a “people’s army” separate from vested interests, has identified hedge funds and their owners as crucial to Ukip’s financial future. A leaked internal report shows the party’s leader argued that “the key to money for us will be the hedge fund industry” as he addressed Ukip’s executive committee in 2012.’ – The Guardian

Fatherhood lessons to be launched

‘Iain Duncan Smith says today that radical steps are needed to reverse the collapse in the two-parent family, which means that a million children are growing up without the influence of a father. The Work and Pensions Secretary said the Government is planning to offer classes in parenting, tailored only for men, to rival the traditional ante-natal sessions attended by most pregnant women.’ – Daily Mail

New report finds the Welsh NHS is lagging behind England

NHS_Logo‘The Labour-run NHS in Wales is lagging behind England on almost every measure, according to a shocking new report. The first comparative study between the two healthcare regimes reveals that patients in Wales are waiting far longer for vital tests and life-saving treatment than those in England, where the NHS is run by the Coalition government.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: Andrew Bell on Comment: 15 hospitals whose fate could swing the next election

>Yesterday: Nick de Bois MP on Comment: A year to nail Labour’s lies about our record on the NHS

Clegg denies using his wife for PR stunts (but here’s her photoshoot)

‘Nick Clegg has denied wishing to use the popularity of his wife Miriam González Durántez to enhance the Liberal Democrats’ electoral fortunes in the couple’s first joint interview. In an article in Red magazine, the deputy prime minister acknowledged the Spanish lawyer’s connection with the public but added that he also has a “great fan base”.’ – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: Support rises among Party members for a second Coalition with the Liberal Democrats

Petrol prices head for less than £1 a litre

Petrol pump‘Petrol prices are heading to below £1 a litre for the first time since 2009 in a big pre-election boost for consumers. Plunging world oil prices coupled with a new supermarket price war is driving down pump prices, lowering inflation and leaving consumers with a cash windfall which is boosting economic growth.’ – The Times (£)

Thousands of children blacklisted for playground insults

‘Children as young as three are being branded racists, homophobes and bigots over playground taunts. Thousands of pupils are being reported for so-called hate crimes after using innocuous words such as ‘Chinese boy’, ‘Somalian’ or ‘gay’. Teachers also log insults like ‘doughnut’ and ‘fat bucket of KFC’.’ – Daily Mail

News in Brief

  • Was Back to the Future 2 right about 2015? – Daily Mail
  • Who to watch in 2015? – The Times (£)
  • Payday lender crackdown starts today – WalesOnline
  • The EU takes on the menace of, er, coffee machines – Daily Mail
  • Alexis Jay: Rotherham abuse victims still aren’t getting enough support – Yorkshire Post
  • The disgrace of Egypt’s repression of journalists – The Times Leader (£)
  • Largest ever hoard of Anglo-Saxon coins discovered – The Sun (£)
  • We must rediscover the spirit of Blake – Martin Kettle, The Guardian