Cameron is heckled by pensioners…

CAMERON POINTING‘David Cameron was heckled by pensioners over the NHS yesterday amid growing doubts inside the Tory party about how it is confronting Labour’s top election issue. The prime minister faced mocking laughter, jeering and cries of “rubbish” while defending levels of health spending at a conference organised by Age UK, the charity for older people.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: WATCH: Cameron heckled by pensioners at Age UK rally

…and by Tory backbenchers over his succession comments…

‘David Cameron was accused of seeking to anoint George Osborne as his successor yesterday as allies struggled to contain the fallout from his decision to rule out a third term…Influential Tory backbenchers were dismissive of that, however, saying that Mr Cameron would “lose the right” to decide his own departure if the party didn’t win the election. “If he wins an overall majority he can decide the time and the manner of his departure — and possibly his successor. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t,” said one senior Tory MP.’ – The Times (£)




…but Osborne has good news: inflation is down to zero…

OSBORNE non-broken sword‘George Osborne has hailed the record zero inflation rate as more good news for Britain’s recovery, insisting “prices are frozen” – and people will feel the cash in their back pocket stretch further. The Chancellor said the fall in the consumer prices index – forcing prices to their lowest since 1989 – is “a first for the British economy”.’ – The Sun (£)


…as does IDS: There are 600,000 fewer workless households than in 2010

‘The number of homes in which no one has a job has fallen by more than 600,000 since 2010. Official figures out yesterday also show a decline in families living wholly off state handouts. Along with a report last week showing record numbers in work, the figures provide fresh evidence that Iain Duncan Smith’s reforms are nudging more welfare claimants into jobs.’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: To The Point: Poverty statistics: going down the rabbit hole

On Monday, ConHome suggested that Cameron be prepared to offer Salmond a deal.  Now Salmond gives his answer: he won’t accept one…

Scottish Independence‘There has been discussion in recent days among Conservatives about whether Cameron should be prepared to negotiate with the SNP. The editor of the ConservativeHome website, Paul Goodman, suggested that Cameron could utilise “his First Mover Advantage as the serving prime minister . . . by coming to an arrangement with as many of the minor parties as he can, under which they agree not to bring down his minority government. This, in turn, would mean striving to come to one with Alex Salmond”. But this is a non-starter. Salmond tells me that the SNP would not negotiate with the Tories, nor would it seek any compromise with them: instead, the SNP would act to bring down a Cameron minority government by voting against a Queen’s Speech.’ – New Statesman

>Today: ToryDiary: Cameron and Miliband: paralysed by Salmond, like rabbits at the approach of a weasel

…and in the polls, the Tories and Labour are neck-and-neck as UKIP is squeezed

‘The Conservatives and Labour have drawn neck and neck in the polls as Ukip’s support continues to fall. Nigel Farage’s party is being squeezed as election day approaches and is now on just 10 per cent, its lowest showing since 2013, according to a new ComRes survey for the Daily Mail and ITV News. Labour and the Conservatives have both advanced since last month and are level at 35 per cent. It is the best Tory showing since November 2012.’ – Daily Mail

  • Why are the Conservatives losing the support of young women? – The Times Leader (£)
  • UKIP candidate quits over MEP’s ‘racist abuse’ – Daily Mail
  • Two purple MEPs channel thousands to their partners – The Times (£)
  • What would happen if we had PR? – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: The General Election will make McCluskey and the unions even more powerful

Cable lays into Farron

LibDemDead‘A bitter power struggle has erupted in the Lib Dems between two rivals to succeed Nick Clegg as party leader. Veteran Business Secretary Vince Cable said bookies’ favourite Tim Farron “would not be seen as very credible” in the role if he took over from Mr Clegg after the election.’ – The Sun (£)

Miliband only appears on 1 in 8 Labour leaflets

‘Ed Miliband faced fresh humiliation last night after it emerged the vast majority of Labour candidates are leaving him off their election leaflets. The beleaguered party leader’s name is only mentioned on 12 per cent – one in eight – pieces of literature being put through voters’ doors. And his picture is only printed on one in 10 of them.’ – The Sun (£)

Committees 1) MPs criticise BBC bias on the EU

EU FLag‘The BBC has a ‘deeply concerning’ pro-European bias and has ‘fallen down severely’ in its obligation to provide impartial coverage of the issue, MPs say today. The European Scrutiny Committee says the corporation does not give enough airtime to those who believe Britain should leave the European Union or that there should be a referendum on membership. The MPs also criticised the BBC’s director-general, Lord Hall, for failing in his role as the corporation’s editor-in-chief, after he turned down an invitation to give evidence to the committee in Parliament four times.’ – Daily Mail

Committees 2) Peers suggest cutting back HS2

‘The £50 billion HS2 rail project should be abandoned in its current form because the evidence used to justify the 250mph line is “out of date and unconvincing”, according to a cross-party review by the House of Lords economic affairs committee. Ministers should seriously consider big changes to the project to keep costs down, such as reducing the speed of trains by a fifth, replacing the planned line with a “conventional” railway, or ditching a proposed terminus at Euston station in London, it was claimed.’ – The Times (£)

A majority of every ethnic minority wants immigration cut

Border‘Voters in every ethnic group want the number of migrants coming to Britain to be cut, reveals a report out today. Overall, the survey found that 79 per cent of respondents thought immigration levels should be reduced with 59 per cent wanting a big drop. This support for stricter border controls was shared by people from all ethnic groups, according to analysis by campaign group Migration Watch.’ – Daily Mail


Defence cuts leave us vulnerable – in the Falklands and elsewhere

‘Defence cuts leave British interests vulnerable. If proof were needed it is on display 8,000 miles south of the Ministry of Defence, in the Falklands. For the past nine years the islands have been without troop-carrying helicopters because they were needed in Afghanistan. A new RAF base built after the Falklands war hosts just four Typhoon fighter jets. Argentina, meanwhile, is beefing up its air force.’ – The Times Leader (£)

News in brief

  • Northerners are the happiest people in Britain – Daily Telegraph Leader
  • 150 killed in plane crash in the French Alps – Daily Mail
  • Every MP to get an iPad after the election – The Times (£)
  • There are more female directors than ever – The Guardian
  • Jeremy Clarkson expected to be sacked today – Daily Telegraph
  • French socialists complain about British criticisms of their economic failure – The Times (£)
  • Cameron promises not to release letters from Prince Charles – The Sun (£)
  • TB rises by a third in Northern Ireland – Belfast Telegraph
  • GM ‘super spud’ on the way – The Independent