Migration 1) European Commission set to reject Cameron’s jobs requirement

ARREST WARRANT European“David Cameron is to be warned by the European commission that a central demand in his renegotiation of Britain’s EU membership terms is likely to be rejected as unacceptable on the grounds that it risks infringing the founding principle of the EU on the free movement of people. As the prime minister prepares to explain his plans to curb EU migration to the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, in London on Wednesday, the commission is set to tell No 10 that it cannot demand EU citizens have a job offer before they travel to the UK.” – The Guardian

>Today: Peter Franklin in the Deep End: The two women fighting over the future of Europe

Migration 2) But May’s new deportation regime survives judicial scrutiny

“Judges have finally agreed to the deportation of violent foreign criminals before they have exhausted their appeals in the British courts. Overseas convicts had lodged a series of judicial reviews against a new ‘deport first, appeal later’ regime brought in by Home Secretary Theresa May last year. But, in a string of test cases, human rights judges found there was no bar to making the immigrants lodge their claims back home – where they are no burden on the UK taxpayer.” – Daily Mail

  • More than 300 foreign thugs booted out under new rules – The Sun (£)

Migration 3) Home Secretary warns against spiralling numbers of foreign students

MAY Warhol“The Home Secretary has warned that 600,000 foreign students will come to the UK by the 2020s. Theresa May disclosed the figure as she defended plans to expel non-EU graduates at the end of their courses. The warning was sounded after business figures, including Sir James Dyson, questioned government plans to force graduates to leave Britain at the end of their courses in order to apply for new visas.” – Daily Telegraph

Migration 4) May agrees to meet food industry over migrant contamination concerns

“Entire truck-loads of imported fruit and vegetables are being destroyed if a migrant is found inside a transportation vehicle, MPs heard – and this could lead to a supplies shortage. Home Secretary Theresa May has agreed to an urgent meeting with the ‘increasingly worried’ food industry to try to find ways of better protecting imported food from stowaways.” – Daily Mail

Peter Franklin: We should not treat animals as pieces of machinery

Burger“Spare a thought, though, for their real-life counterparts — the “farmyard” beasts who will never see a farmyard, a field or even the sun. For millions of meat and dairy animals, the rearing shed is not a temporary refuge from winter weather, but a prison from which there is only one exit.” – The Times (£)

Osborne opens fire on Labour spending plans…

“Labour was forced to backtrack over key public spending commitments yesterday as the Tories warned of a hidden tax and debt bombshell costing every working family £1,200 if Ed Miliband wins power. In an echo of the 1992 election campaign, Chancellor George Osborne, flanked by four senior Cabinet colleagues, unveiled Treasury figures suggesting that Labour has already made almost £21billion of unfunded spending pledges.” – Daily Mail

  • Chancellor sets his sights on Labour spending plans – Financial Times
  • Osborne leads ministerial quintet in “Tories’ first salvo of the election” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • The parties set out their stalls – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Trust and doubt swing the spending battle in Osborne’s favour

>Yesterday: Watch: Osborne says Labour’s fiscal plans lack discipline and competence

…and claims Cameron will oversee the recovery for years to come

CAMERON POINTING“David Cameron will lead the economic recovery for the ‘coming years’ if the Tories win May’s general election, his most senior Cabinet ally has said. George Osborne, the Chancellor, heaped praise on the Prime Minister and Conservative leader at the party’s first full press conference of the 2015 general election campaign.” – Daily Telegraph

Notes reveal ministers won’t rule out education cuts

“The Conservatives have refused to rule out slashing the schools budget after the general election according to private briefing notes which were photographed yesterday. Documents being held by William Hague during a press conference showed that Tory frontbenchers were told to dodge questions about whether the education budget would be cut.” – Daily Telegraph

Health Service 1) Data casts doubt on Burnham’s NHS privatisation claims

NHS_Logo“Meanwhile, his contention that hospitals are poised to pursue income from private patients, disadvantaging the NHS-funded sick, also jars with figures gleaned from hospital accounts by NHS Providers, the organisation that represents most of the nation’s flagship semi-independent hospitals.” – Financial Times

Health Service 2) Labour turns on BBC journalist who questions Miliband on the NHS

“A BBC reporter was heckled and jeered at Labour’s election campaign launch yesterday when he questioned whether Ed Miliband was guilty of exaggerating the Tory threat to the NHS. Supporters and activists reacted with fury to the question from the corporation’s assistant political editor, Norman Smith, with shouts that he was a ‘pillock’ who should ‘go back to London’.” – Daily Mail

Health Service 3) ‘Chaos in casualty’ blamed on Labour’s GP contracts

Labour holes“NHS figures published later today are expected to show the past two weeks have been exceptionally busy in A&E with tens of thousands waiting more than four hours. The crisis has been caused by the long-running problem of more and more patients going to casualty as they cannot get a GP appointment. Labour’s changes to the GP contract in 2004, which meant family doctors no longer had responsibility for out-of-hours care, has resulted in millions more patients using A&E – a level Mr Hunt described as ‘unsustainable’. – Daily Mail

  • NHS failing to meet targets, claims Lib Dem health minister – The Guardian


Miliband warns of “Tory EU chaos”

“But Mr Miliband’s campaign also includes a strong pitch to Britain’s business community, saying that Labour would not risk the economic “chaos” associated with David Cameron’s promise of a “risky, irresponsible” EU referendum. Speaking in Salford, he said: “If you want to know what chaos and a threat to prosperity looks like, just imagine a Tory government riven apart after the next election on Europe,” Mr Miliband.” – Financial Times

Labour says there is no new money for public sector pay…

money“Labour was forced to reveal yesterday that there would be no new Treasury money for public-sector pay rises if it won power. The party has frequently criticised curbs on public-sector pay and the move will disappoint supporters and union backers. This admission came after the Conservatives published a document, prepared with the help of Whitehall officials, which suggested a £21 billion black hole in the first year of the next parliament if Labour was elected. – The Times (£)

  • Labour will not commit to ending public sector pay squeeze – The Guardian
  • Balls admits Labour could cut £5bn in their first year in office – Daily Telegraph
  • Claims of hole in party’s spending plans ‘made up’, Labour claims – Financial Times
  • Tories would cut spending to the ‘bare bones’, warns Miliband – The Independent
  • Local government funding gaps means higher bills for poorer families – The Times (£)

…as Miliband woos youth vote with promise to cut tuition fees

“Labour intends to cut thousands of pounds a year from the cost of tuition fees in an attempt to secure the student vote, Ed Miliband indicated yesterday. The Labour leader used his first speech of this year’s election campaign to vow that his party would combat voter cynicism by holding four million “doorstep conversations” across Britain.” – The Times (£)

  • Doorstep pledge makes virtue of necessity – The Guardian
  • Labour policies: what Miliband claims his government would do – The Independent
  • Labour needs to learn to love spending again – Peter Hain, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Left Watch: Dossier hypocrisy from Labour. What they say today. And what they published exactly five years ago

Dan Hodges: Miliband still can’t make eye contact with the public

Miliband Odd and Red“They’re getting characteristic obfuscation and confusion and contradiction. As I write, Labour’s line appears to be: “We will spend a lot more money than the Tories. But when the Tories say we will spend a lot more money than them, they are lying”. It’s a line that may provide some false reassurance to the Labour Party. But again, it will not reassure the country.” – Daily Telegraph

Miliband the elder refuses to rule out a return to politics

“David Miliband has not ruled out a return to British politics but has refused to be drawn on his brother’s performance insisting he did not want to “play into the narrative” of May’s general election. Asked if he could envisage a return to frontline politics in Britain, the former Foreign Secretary would only say: “I don’t know”. It is the second time in the last three weeks that he refused to rule it out.” – The Independent

Scotland: Miliband’s nuclear position opens the way for a “scrap Trident” deal with the SNP…

snplogo“Labour could try to cut the cost of the Trident nuclear deterrent to save money, Ed Miliband said yesterday – opening the way for a deal with the SNP. He declared that he wanted to have the ‘least cost nuclear deterrent we can have’. His comment raises the prospect of a coalition with the SNP, which has insisted it will not support any party that favours replacing the Trident nuclear missiles.” – Daily Mail

…as Labour’s Gray claims Nationalist free school meals plan only helps the wealthy…

“He said that families earning at least £218,000 per year – the same as Ms Sturgeon and her husband – would save £330 a year “at the expense of those most in need”. This is because the poorest children already received free school meals, he argued, while the cost of extending this benefit to everyone could only be met by cuts and increased charges for other council services.” – Daily Telegraph

…and Murphy pledges to bleed the South East to outbid the SNP on nurses pledge

LABOUR dead rose“Jim Murphy, the Scottish Labour leader, revealed that Ed Miliband’s controversial mansion tax on properties worth more than £2 million will be used to fund 1,000 extra nurses in Scotland. He said most of the money would come from homes in London and the South East of England, adding that the SNP will not be able to match the promise as there are too few “mansions” in Scotland.” – Daily Telegraph

Most moronic spending pledge yet – Guido Fawkes

Balls brands Brand a “pound shop Ben Elton”

“Ed Balls has labelled the comedian Russell Brand a “pound-shop Ben Elton” and mocked his political views in an escalation of a bizarre war of words between the pair. The shadow chancellor hit back after Brand launched a foul-mouth tirade about Mr Balls during a festive television quiz show, calling him a “clicky-wristed … snidey c***”.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Robinson calls Brand out over the value of elections – Daily Mail

Lib Dems vs Home Office 1) Teather attacks Home Office for “warehousing” detained migrants

Libdem bird vs TORY“Amid mounting concern over the conditions endured by people detained by the Home Office, Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather is chairing a cross-party inquiry into immigration detention which will produce its report next month. In a statement, she said: “There can be no justification for locking people up for years and years for no other reason than administrative convenience.” – The Independent

Lib Dems vs Home Office 2) Clegg threatens to defeat counter-terrorism bill

“A fresh coalition row has broken out after Nick Clegg told the home secretary, Theresa May, that she will face a parliamentary defeat on the government’s counter-terrorism bill unless judges are given oversight of plans to impose temporary exclusion orders on some terrorist suspects returning to Britain. As MPs prepare to debate the counter-terrorism and security bill at its penultimate commons stage on Tuesday, the deputy prime minister has told the Home Office that the measure will have to be amended in the House of Lords to avoid a government defeat.” – The Guardian

Liberal Democrats kick off election year in fifth place…

Curse of Clegg 2“An exclusive first YouGov poll of 2015 for The Sun on Britain’s voting intention also gave Labour a three point lead, on 34%. It put the Tories on 31%, Ukip on 14% and the Greens in fourth place on 8%. The lowly 7% of support for Deputy PM Nick Clegg’s party is its second lowest rating this Parliament. And if repeated at the election, the vote would see all but 18 of the Lib Dems’ current 56 MPs wiped out – more than two thirds of their Commons strength.” – The Sun (£)

…as Clegg asks if we really have another five months of “mud-slinging”

“George Osborne led an unprecedented five senior Tory Cabinet ministers to claim Labour has committed to an extra £20billion in spending commitments for the first year of the next Parliament. Labour leader Ed Miliband hit back with a warning that the NHS is not safe in the Tories’ hands. But with 121 days until the election, weary Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg probably captured the mood best as he suggested voters will be asking: ‘Are we really going to have five more months of this?’” – Daily Mail

Janan Ganesh: We are all impoverished by negative politics

Lib Dems Recontaminating“Extreme negativity generally does not work, even on its own cynical electoral terms. The most it can achieve is the mobilisation of a party’s core supporters, and even this assumes that it does not simultaneously repel uncommitted voters. Worse, parties come to believe their own rhetoric, and this lulls them into intellectual laziness.” – Financial Times

Lib Dems pledge an extra £8bn of NHS spending

“Nick Clegg laid down the gauntlet to his rivals – by vowing to pump an extra £8billion a year into the NHS by 2021. The Lib Dems became the first of Britain’s big three political parties to commit to finding the cash requested by the head of NHS England. Mr Clegg said he wanted to ensure the NHS is “protected, cherished and supported now and long into the future”.” – The Sun (£)

Deputy PM will campaign against “breathtaking arrogance” of Salmond in Gordon

SALMOND on Marr “Nick Clegg has vowed to personally campaign against Alex Salmond in the seat of Gordon as he attacked the former First Minister of Scotland’s “breathtaking” arrogance in trying to win the seat. The Deputy Prime Minister accused Mr Salmond of undermining democracy by seeking to stage an “elected coronation” in the Liberal Democrat-held seat so he can “strut his stuff” in Westminster.” – Daily Telegraph

Clegg wants his wife to campaign by his side, despite “no publicity” claim

“Nick Clegg has said he will appear alongside his wife during the election campaign despite recently insisting he never used her for publicity stunts. The Deputy Prime Minister said it would be “fantastic” if Miriam joined him on the campaign trail and suggested it was no different to how any husband and wife would act.” – Daily Telegraph

Former UKIP PPC on trial for electoral fraud

UKIP glass“A former Ukip parliamentary candidate submitted electoral nomination forms with forged signatures in an attempt to boost the party’s performance in council elections, a court has heard. Matthew Smith, 27, the Norfolk County Council member for Gorleston St Andrews who had been selected to stand for parliament in Great Yarmouth at the next general election, is one of three men standing trial at Norwich Crown Court over the alleged electoral fraud.” – The Independent

News in Brief

  • Grexit fears send stocks tumbling and wipe £30bn off British firms – Daily Mail
  • Cornish pasty threatened by US competition if free trade deal goes through – Daily Telegraph
  • Market turmoil cuts cost of fuel and holidays – The Times (£)
  • Increased cancer survival rates threaten NHS crisis – The Independent
  • German protest against the far right – The Guardian
  • NHS England staff spend £7m public money on hotels, train and air tickets in one year – Daily Mail