Recovery 1) Cameron pledges full employment

FULL employment‘David Cameron will promise “full employment” for Britain, as he announces a series of manifesto commitments designed to reduce unemployment to the lowest among the G7 countries. As well as committing to control immigration, the Prime Minister will promise to lower the benefit cap, as he insists that Britain is “coming out the other side.” The Prime Minister will insist the Conservatives are the party of small businesses, as he reaches out to traditional Labour voters.’ – Daily Telegraph

Recovery 2) Cost of living turnaround: Wages set to surge ahead of prices

‘Households will see a ‘substantial boost to their spending power’ this year, a major report reveals today. Wages are set to surge ahead of prices as workers feel the benefit of the growing economy. The predictions by economists at influential think tank Item Club undermine Labour’s campaign on the cost of living.’ – Daily Mail

  • Falling petrol prices give motorists a boost – The Times (£)
  • Labour’s fox is shot – Daily Mail Leader
  • The parties must be honest that the cuts aren’t over – The Times Leader (£)
  • Harman attacks Obama for backing OLTEP – Daily Mail
  • And she back-pedals on clearing the deficit – The Sun (£)

One Nation 1) Pickles urges mosques to fight extremism

PICKLES Eric 2009‘The Government has taken the unprecedented step of writing to every mosque in the country to tell Muslim leaders that they must do more to root out the “men of hate” who are preaching extremism. Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, has written to 1,100 imams and Islamic leaders urging them to publicly condemn the Al Qaeda terrorists behind the Paris massacres.’ – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: We should say no – but not never – to new surveillance proposals

One Nation 2) May: Wipe out anti-semitism

‘Many Jewish people are afraid to remain in the UK following the terror attacks in Paris, the Home Secretary said yesterday. Theresa May said Britain must redouble its efforts to ‘wipe out anti-Semitism’ amid fears in the Jewish community that they could be the next victims of a murderous attack by Islamist fanatics.’ – Daily Mail

One Nation 3) Bright Blue claim most Tories support immigration

Border‘Most Tories are actually in favour of immigration according to a new report by Bright Blue, a left of centre Conservative thinktank, with voters wanting a well-managed immigration system rather than barring migrants from the UK altogether. It warned that pursuing aggressive policies towards migrants coming to the UK risked putting off ethnic minority Tories who “will be an important part of the Conservative Party’s support base in the years ahead”.’ – Daily Telegraph


Ed Miliband burned my carpet

‘In a fresh blow for “Mili No Mates”, he was blasted by a former mayor of Doncaster who put up the Labour leader at his home for 66 days in 2005. Martin Winter, who helped Red Ed become an MP in the South Yorkshire town, claimed he set fire to a carpet — then bought a £25 Muslim prayer mat to cover it up.’ – The Sun (£)

EU cracks 1) Juncker publicly mulls the possibility of Brexit

EU Exit‘Jean-Claude Juncker publicly floated the idea of a British exit for the first time, and warned David Cameron that he will not be ‘grovelling’ for the UK to stay during future negotiations. In Paris this weekend, Mr Juncker said: ‘People shouldn’t stay together if conditions aren’t the same as when things started. It’s easy to fall in love and more difficult to stay together.’’ – Daily Mail

EU cracks 2) Greek ‘kingmaker’ warns Brussels

‘Europe must be ready to cut Greece a new financial deal and help to ease five years of crippling austerity, according to the man in pole position to become kingmaker in this weekend’s elections. Stavros Theodorakis, leader and founder of the fast-rising centre-left To Potami party, said that Brussels had to listen to Greek voters fed up with meeting its demands at all costs.’ – The Times (£)

EU cracks 3) BIS official accused of pro-Brussels bias

Whitehall‘A senior official at the Department for Business has been accused of breaching civil service neutrality by giving tips to pro-European lobbyists on how to counter Eurosceptic arguments. Correspondence obtained by The Times under the Freedom of Information Act reveals that senior civil servants gave advice and a contact to Business for New Europe, the lobby group expected to play an important role in arguing the case for Britain staying in the EU.’ – The Times (£)

Monteith: Swinney drops the ball again

‘If it was not clear before that John Swinney is not as safe a pair of hands as his admirers insist, then this week will show beyond any reasonable doubt that as finance secretary he is out of his depth. As if the shambles that was the Scottish Government’s white paper was not enough, with its failure to close down the currency issue and its fag-packet budgeting on proposals such as childcare, there is also the fantasy oil figures.’ – Brian Monteith, The Scotsman

  • SNP forced to rethink home purchase tax by Osborne – FT

Clegg keeps his coalition options open

CLEGG Bird‘The Lib Dem leader said he would add heart to the Tories or backbone to Labour, during a TV interview. Defying bleak opinion polls, he denied his party would be trounced at the election on May 7. But a forecast yesterday by influential pundit Iain Dale – who correctly predicted EU election results – suggests the party would keep just 24 of 56 seats.’ – Daily Mail

  • What gall – Daily Mail Leader
  • Lib Dems ditch their leader from leaflets – The Times (£)
  • Deputy Prime Minister lays out zero suicide goal – The Guardian
  • Repeat attack on snoopers’ charter – FT
  • Security services must have access to online messages – FT Leader


Candidate ‘purged for closeness to Paterson’

‘Mr Thompson told The Times that he was “stunned and hugely saddened” to be suspended from the list. “Someone I know in CCHQ…said I was purged because I was too close to Owen Paterson.”…An anonymous diary written by a candidate in a marginal seat, and published online by the ConservativeHome website on Thursday, recounts how “charmless” young CCHQ staff treat them with disdain…A Tory source rejected Mr Thompson’s claim…suspensions were handed out after each by-election and candidates who had not done the necessary work were taken off, the source added.’ – The Times (£)

Boris’ ‘deal’ with the Tory leadership claim

CAMERON & BORIS‘He isn’t even in Parliament yet, but bigwig Tory MPs are obliged to dine with wannabe Conservative leader Boris Johnson. We’re told the London Mayor will campaign hard for a Cameron victory in May if he’s allowed to schmooze MPs whose support he’ll need in a leadership election when Cameron eventually quits. Yesterday it was also reported that Boris last Wednesday enjoyed an evening with the Tory Whips.’ – Peter McKay, Daily Mail

Farage quietly launches his election campaign

‘Nigel Farage launched his election campaign in South Thanet at the weekend, as Ukip poured activists into the Kent constituency he has chosen to fight in an effort to avoid an embarrassing defeat for the party leader…But the event was not accompanied by the usual media fanfare, with Ukip aides deliberately trying to keep proceedings out of the news and Mr Farage refusing to do interviews.’ – FT

Health 1) 400,000 drop private cover and head for the NHS

NHS‘Almost 400,000 people have dropped their private health cover over the past five years, with experts claiming that the figure reflects a high level of patient satisfaction and confidence in the NHS. The number of people choosing to go private has yet to pick up after dropping sharply as the recession began. ‘ – The Times (£)

  • TB in England set to overtake the US – The Times (£)
  • Voters want drunks charged for A&E – The Sun (£)
  • No-one has the nerve to start a debate on charging – The Sun (£)

>Yesterday: George Freeman MP on Comment: How technology will transform care and debate about our NHS

Health 2) CQC ignored evidence that patients were happy with Hinchingbrooke

‘The watchdog which branded the first privately run NHS hospital as ‘inadequate’ ignored a large survey showing patients were very happy with the care they received. A damning report by the Care Quality Commission last week gave Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire the lowest ever score for standards of care. The report was particularly scathing of Hinchingbrooke’s A&E unit, with inspectors saying that 16 out of the 17 patients they had spoken to were unhappy with their treatment. But new evidence has emerged showing the watchdog ignored its own much larger survey of nearly 300 patients carried out eight months earlier and published only last month.’ – Daily Mail

Montgomerie: When will we protect ourselves and increase defence spending?

DEFENCE cuts‘The ability of Britain, or any other Nato nation, to play anything other than second fiddle to America depends in large part upon its own defence capabilities and the now looming cuts to ours should be of enormous concern. When he was still in opposition, Liam Fox warned that the whole of the British army would soon be able to be seated inside Wembley stadium. “The Royal Navy”, he complained, “will be smaller than the French navy. And the RAF Museum at Hendon will have more attack aircraft than the RAF does now.”’ – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

New call for devolution to northern cities

‘The north-south divide is becoming “increasingly entrenched”, according to an annual survey of the fortunes of British cities, despite political rhetoric about rebalancing the economy…Andrew Carter, acting chief executive at Centre for Cities, said that only drastic fiscal devolution could “reverse [the] trends”.’ – FT

News in brief