Tory manifesto proposal: give social housing to low-paid workers

HOMES Manifesto“Millions of houses would be ‘given away’ to low-paid workers under Tory plans to reward people who come off benefits. Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, is pushing for a pledge to ‘gift’ tenants their council home after a year in work to be included in the Tory manifesto. Such tenants would cease to be eligible for housing benefit and would have to pay 35 per cent of the sale proceeds in tax if they sold their property within three years…All money raised would be ploughed back into the housing market” – The Times (£)

  • Free trade deals could turbo-charge the economy – Grant Shapps, City A.M.

Conservatives ready to maul Lib Dems in southwest

“The Conservatives could capture 11 of 15 Liberal Democrat seats in the southwest, according to analysis by a leading pollster, as David Cameron seeks to capitalise on the weakness of his coalition partners…Analysis of the polls in January found that Nick Clegg’s party could retain as few as three of their 15 seats in the southwest. The study by Peter Kellner, president of YouGov, shows that support for the Lib Dems in their heartland has plummeted from 35 per cent in 2010 to only 16 per cent in January in Yougov polls” – The Times (£)


Fink threatens to sue Miliband

Miliband coffee“Lord Fink, the former Tory party treasurer and veteran of the London hedge fund industry, has challenged Mr Miliband to repeat his accusation on “dodgy” Tory donors outside the Commons…Lord Fink said: “If Mr Miliband wants to imply I did anything improper in my relationship with HSBC, I would like him to say that outside parliament where he isn’t hiding behind parliamentary privilege, at which point I will sue him for libel” – Financial Times

  • Whistleblower “sent HSBC tax files to Britain seven years ago” – The Times (£)
  • Private banks must be more than laundries – John Gapper, Financial Times
  • Demonised by Labour simply for being wealthy – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • MPs slam tax authorities for prosecuting only one person on Swiss bank list – Daily Mail
  • HSBC files reveal how UK non-dom tax concession is being exploited – Guardian
  • Cameron says Miliband is “personally horrid” because losing – Daily Mail
  • Why did the Tories hold a party with such spivs? – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • Miliband vows to cut school class sizes – The Times (£)


Montgomerie: austerity is going out of fashion

Nicola Sturgeon“The seven year period when the centre right and a commitment to austerity dominated politics might be drawing to a close. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, certainly thinks so. In an important speech yesterday she called for public spending to start to rise again. It will be music to the ears of many Labour-inclined voters. Nearly four times as many people who are open to voting Labour would prefer Ed Miliband to spend more on the NHS and other services than to cut the deficit” – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

  • Sturgeon calls for £180 billion of extra UK spending – Financial Times
  • Critics accuse Sturgeon of trying to “bankrupt Britain” – Herald
  • Labour MPs threaten to resign if Miliband does deal with SNP – The Sun (£)
  • Academics say “the Vow” made no difference to referendum result – Herald

Heath: Tories pay the price for lack of grand vision

“David Cameron’s party, which seems stuck at 33-34 per cent in the opinion polls and has been unable to reach out to new groups of voters, is paying the price for its lack of ambition. There has been no grand vision, no effort to ensure that the electorate learnt to love capitalism, no genuine attempt at kick-starting an ownership society. With less than three months before the election, it is now too late for a change of course. Yet the rot set in in 2005, when Mr Cameron became Tory leader” – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

Farage takes aim at corporatism

FARAGE eating“We believe that the backbone of this country – small business owners, families and indeed the legal migrants who come here to better their lives – know that we no longer have a capitalism that works for all. Instead, we have corporatism, lavishing attention on big corporations while ignoring the little man. Only UKIP will address and tackle this imbalance” – Nigel Farage, Daily Telegraph

UK warned on reduced defence capability

“The UK’s military combat capability has been reduced by up to 30 per cent while Russia and China have been rapidly increasing their spending on defence, according to a leading think-tank. Britain has cut defence spending by 8 per cent in real terms during the current parliament, leading to a 20-30 per cent reduction in military combat capabilities, says the International Institute for Strategic Studies in its annual assessment of international defence” – Financial Times

  • Here’s an election idea – why not “weaponise” defence? – Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon, Andrew Roberts and Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham, The Spectator

Greek bailout talks with Europe break down

EU FLag“Eurozone finance ministers’ first attempt to grapple with the bailout demands made by the new Greek government broke down in recriminations after the two sides failed even to agree a way to take negotiations forward after six hours of talks in Brussels. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who chairs the committee of his 18 colleagues, said that while he had hoped a blueprint for future talks could have been agreed at the session, no negotiations were scheduled ahead of a self-imposed deadline to reach agreement on a bailout extension by Monday” – Financial Times

  • Cameron to meet Greek PM, as Greeks threaten to turn to Russia – Daily Mail
  • Germany faces impossible choice as Greek revolt spreads – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph
  • If the Greek olive branch is rejected, Europe may fall – Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, Guardian

Ukraine crisis: reports of ceasefire deal in Minsk

“The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France appeared set to announce an agreement on Thursday morning aimed at achieving a ceasefire within 48 hours in the Donbass region following all-night talks on resolving the Ukrainian conflict. Details began to emerge after more than 12 hours of peace talks in the Minsk, the capital of Belarus, with one source saying there was hope agreement could be reached and another saying a document would be signed, according to news agencies” – Guardian

News in brief

  • Costa Concordia captain sentenced to 16 years in jail – The Times (£)
  • Westminster child abuse inquiry could last four years, judge warns – Daily Mail
  • Hillary Clinton asks Boris Johnson if he is running for President – Daily Mail
  • Dominique Strauss-Kahn says his sex life should not be on trial – Independent
  • Fifty Shades of Grey film opens in Berlin – Daily Express