Part of the Union 1) Ashcroft poll panics Labour

Scottish flag‘Panic was growing in Labour ranks last night as a poll suggested the party will face an electoral wipeout at the hands of the Scottish nationalists. Calls were growing for Labour’s Scottish MPs – including its election chief Douglas Alexander – to abandon Westminster and head north to try to save their seats…Lord Ashcroft’s polling suggested an average swing from Labour to the SNP of 25 per cent – a shift not seen in modern political history. That would mean the SNP snatching 35 of the 41 seats Labour won in 2010, leaving them humiliated in a traditional heartland. It also means the SNP is likely to hold the balance of power in a hung Parliament.’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment: My latest poll finds the SNP ahead in 13 out of 14 Labour-held Scottish seats

Part of the Union 2) Montgomerie: Hague has made an EVEL dog’s breakfast

‘More than 15 years after Scottish and Welsh devolution, arrangements should have been put in place to ensure that England also gets the government it wants — just as the other parts of the UK get the policies their citizens vote for. Unfortunately the Tories are dragging their feet almost as much as Labour. Far from delivering fairness for England, the new Tory policy set out by William Hague on Tuesday added up to a dog’s breakfast of complexity.’ – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Daniel Hannan MEP’s column: The best answer to the West Lothian Question is localism

Part of the Union 3) Cameron calls to end the North-South divide

CAMERON Marr Europe‘The Prime Minister and the Chancellor will call for the end of the “decades old divide between the North and South,” as they make a pitch to Northern voters. David Cameron and George Osborne will travel to Leeds to guarantee that the Conservatives will create 100,000 jobs in Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire by 2020.’ – Daily Telegraph

Disgraced Rotherham leadership resign as Government takes control

‘Leaders of a council which abandoned its own children resigned en masse yesterday after a devastating report revealed their abject response to the Rotherham abuse scandal. The government responded by denouncing the authority as “wholly dysfunctional” and ordering the replacement of its ruling Labour cabinet by a team of commissioners.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Local Government: Pickles sends in commissioners to take over Rotherham Council

Miliband loses the confidence of workers

Red Ed Miliband‘Ed Miliband’s attempts to become the champion of workers and consumers are faltering, a new poll has shown. The YouGov poll for The Times found that only 31 per cent believed that Labour’s “policies towards business” would be good for the employees of big companies, while 32 per cent thought they would be bad for those people…More voters believed that Conservative policies would help the employees of big companies. The poll found that 39 per cent believed the Tories’ policies would be good for workers, while 21 per cent thought they would be bad.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Andrew Gimson’s PMQs sketch: Miliband just got mauled – send for Major Jarvis

Are we doing enough to stop ISIS?

‘Britain’s ‘tiny’ role in the global fight against Islamic State terrorists will be condemned by MPs today. Just two days after the sickening video of a Jordanian pilot being burnt alive emerged, the Defence Select Committee will blast Britain’s contribution in the fight against the terror group as ‘unacceptable’ and ‘deeply concerning’. The UK has so far carried out only 6 per cent of the air strikes against Islamist jihadists – amounting to less than one a day, the committee’s report will reveal.’ – Daily Mail

CCHQ spends over £1 million a year on Facebook campaigning

Facebook‘Documents obtained by the BBC show the Conservatives are spending over £100,000 each month on Facebook and as much as £3,000 in individual constituency campaigns. Getting on Facebook costs nothing. Getting noticed can prove expensive. The scale of Conservative spending is revealed in invoices from the website.’ – BBC News

  • What would happen if more young people voted? – Daily Telegraph
  • Facebook will remind users to register to vote – The Independent
  • Big success for City fundraising drive – FT

>Today: Graeme Archer’s column: Not-working: class and politics

>Yesterday: WATCH: The ConHome Manifesto 12) Internet voting

Morgan secures funding for 50 more Free Schools

‘More than 50 new free schools are expected to be announced this month, paving the way for an unprecedented number of approvals over the coming year. Nicky Morgan is said to have secured funding for 54 new schools despite resistance from the Liberal Democrats and some civil servants.’ – Daily Mail

IFS: The future holds more taxes, more borrowing…or both

money‘All the main UK political parties are likely to raise taxes and borrow more than planned, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said on Wednesday, in a detailed analysis of the problems facing the next government. The IFS did not make explicit comments about each party’s plans, except to note that any new government wanting to avoid tax rises, more borrowing or deeper spending cuts, would have to attack some of the foundations of Britain’s welfare state.’ – FT

  • Nothing is inevitable – FT Leader
  • Clegg proposes new taxes – FT
  • Fiscal drag threatens three million taxpayers – Daily Mail
  • Which party will be honest with us? – Daily Mail Leader
  • Strong growth from the services sector – FT

ECB tightens its rules on Greek debt

‘The eurozone’s monetary policy makers have tightened Greek lenders’ access to their cheap liquidity, banning the use of the country’s debt as collateral for the European Central Bank’s cash weeks before a limit was expected to come into force. The ECB’s governing council, composed of the heads of the eurozone’s national central banks and the ECB’s top six officials that sit on its executive board, made the decision on Wednesday.’ – FT

>Today: Syed Kamall MEP’s column: In Brussels the Greek mess, the money mess and the VATMESS occupy minds

GPs to check for health tourists

NHS‘Family doctors will be asked to check patients’ immigration status under plans to crack down on health tourism. Patients registering with a new doctor will be asked to show a European health insurance card under pilot schemes to help the government to recover costs from other EU countries.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: Andrew Gimson interviews Jeremy Hunt: “I’m the first Health Secretary to speak out about poor care in the NHS”

Archbishop: Capitalism isn’t perfect, but it’s the best we’ve got

‘The Most Rev Justin Welby said there is “no such thing” as a fully free and fair market because people will always want to get ahead at the expense of others. He insisted that capitalism is the only viable economic system in which people can be free and that all alternatives tried had ended in “inhumanity and tyranny”.’ – Daily Telegraph

Cameron welcomes plans to protect journalists’ sources

Newspaper mastheads‘Police must seek judicial permission to access journalists’ phone and email records to identify reporters’ sources, the interception watchdog has said. Sir Anthony May, the interception of communication commissioner, found that more than 600 such applications were made by 19 forces in the past three years.’ – FT

News in Brief

  • Anti-semitic attacks in the UK double in a year – Daily Mail
  • Botanists risk mine-fields to bring back rare Cambodian orchid – The Independent
  • Argentine President makes racist joke about the Chinese…while visiting China – The Times (£)
  • The number of billionaires is at a record level – Daily Mail
  • Investigation into Tesco’s treatment of suppliers – The Guardian
  • Cornish Council in row over ‘Hitler’s Walk’ – The Times (£)
  • Arm Ukraine to stop the war – Wolfgang Ischinger, FT
  • Prince Charles replies to ‘ill-informed speculation’ about his reign – Daily Telegraph