On St George’s Day, Conservatives prepare to unveil the first manifesto for England

England flag“The Tories will tomorrow inflame the row over a potential Labour-SNP power-sharing deal by unveiling the party’s first ‘manifesto for England’. The Prime Minister and the outgoing Leader of the Commons William Hague will launch the English document, which follows traditional Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish manifestos. Its centrepiece will be a pledge to introduce a system of ‘English votes for English laws’ – giving English MPs an effective veto over legislation applying only to their constituents.” – Daily Mail

  • Brown accuses Cameron of “whipping up English nationalism” – The Independent
  • UKIP calls for St George’s Day bank holiday – Daily Telegraph

>Today: David Skelton in Comment: Raise a glass of ale today to England, Englishness – and St George

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Five reasons Labour can’t be trusted with the future of England

Osborne warns that families will be £350 a year worse off under Lab-Nat pact

“Every working family in Britain will be £350 worse off under a Labour government propped up by the SNP, an official analysis has warned. An independent Treasury analysis highlighted by George Osborne in an interview with The Telegraph has disclosed that the SNP would add £6billion to Britain’s debt interest bill, equivalent to £358 for every household. It came as the Chancellor warned that a Labour-SNP administration would lead to lost jobs, higher taxes and would put the UK on the brink of a return to recession.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Interview with the Chancellor: Labour and SNP are ‘double trouble’ for the economy – Daily Telegraph
  • Prime Minister and Mayor warn of ‘constitutional crisis’ if SNP hold the balance – Daily Mail
  • Nationalist tax cuts could be mirrored by London – Financial Times
  • Cameron compares Salmond to a pickpocket – Daily Telegraph
  • Tory leader counsels Scottish Tories against voting tactically to block the SNP – Daily Telegraph
  • How the referendum has shaped this campaign – The Independent
  • Cameron pressured over DUP pact in BBC ‘ambush’ interview – Daily Telegraph


Paul Goodman: The Conservatives’ Duke of Wellington Campaign – “Let’s see who will pound the longest”.

Paul Goodman portrait“None the less, it holds the key to this attritional, grinding Tory election campaign. For New Zealand’s Labour Party, substitute Ed Miliband. For its minor parties, bring on the Greens, Ukip – and especially the SNP. David Cameron, Osborne and Lynton Crosby – the trio at the head of the Conservative campaign – are set on portraying the opposition parties as being, literally, in the same boat. But there is a British twist to the tactic that they have borrowed from Key. Or is it better described as an English one?” – The Independent


Voters tell Cameron to toughen up on migration

“Voters want the Tories to be far tougher on mass immigration, a major survey revealed last night. Barely one in ten Britons say they are satisfied with David Cameron’s border policies. The poll by Ipsos MORI suggests this unhappiness may explain why large numbers of Conservatives are switching to Ukip. The findings will heap pressure on the Prime Minister to end his silence on immigration during the election campaign. He has not mentioned his party’s manifesto pledges to curb EU free movement, deport more illegals and tag foreign criminals.” – Daily Mail

  • Prime Minister prepared to send warship to tackle people smuggling – The Sun (£)
  • Report reveals how EU border rules leave UK exposed to people smugglers – Daily Mail
  • Anti-immigrant mood weighs on EU politicians – Financial Times
  • How parties are playing the numbers game on migration – The Independent


>Today: Graeme Archer’s column: Ship of fools

Boris admits he wants to be Tory leader… later

BORIS blue and red“Boris Johnson admitted last night he hopes to be considered to lead the Conservative Party after David Cameron. The London Mayor, pressed on his leadership ambitions by Sky News anchor Kay Burley, insisted the position would not become vacant for five years. But in his most candid remarks to date, he finally conceded: ‘It would be a wonderful thing to be thought to be in a position to be considered for such an honour.’” – Daily Mail

  • It was time to unleash the “BoJo magic” – The Sun (£)
  • Mayor peps up the Tory campaign – Financial Times
  • Johnson claims he’d make a ‘wonderful’ leader – The Times (£)
  • Dave and Boris spend nine minutes on a puzzle aimed at toddlers – Daily Mail
  • Mayor calls for second opinion on Lord Janner – The Sun (£)



  • It’s the woad to recovery! Boris joins the Cameron campaign – Daily Mail
  • Dynamic duo in joint appearance, but it’s a bit secret – Ann Treneman, The Times (£)
  • The real puzzle… why wasn’t Boris deployed sooner? – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Local Government: Boris has shown that Council Tax can be cut

Elphicke criticises Trussell Trust after fact check demolishes claim of one million food bank users

“The Trussell Trust had to admit that it did not record “unique users” – sparking a clarification by the BBC. The spat is the latest in a series of rows between the charity, Labour and the Government over the consequences of ‘austerity’. Charlie Elphicke, the Tory candidate for Dover, said: “It’s disappointing to see the Trussell Trust behaving in this way. Their use of unverified figures is irresponsible and borders on scaremongering.” – The Sun (£)

Wikipedia official who accused Shapps is a Liberal Democrat

SHAPPS Carla head“The Wikipedia official who accused Grant Shapps of doctoring his own online biography was exposed yesterday as a former Liberal Democrat member. The Tory party chairman had been accused this week of using an anonymous user ID to delete embarrassing facts about his past and add unflattering details about his political rivals. But yesterday it emerged that the senior Wikipedia administrator who investigated the allegations – following a tip-off from the left-wing Guardian – was a former Lib-Dem member.” – Daily Mail


  • There have always been charlatans in politics, but this lot really take the biscuit – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail

Allister Heath: Parties, like supermarkets, must reform or fail

“Neither party should appeal merely to a small rump – be it the class warriors, or older voters in the South. Both the Conservatives and Labour need to become mass-market, national parties once more. This doesn’t mean embracing a bland, uniform, ultra-centrist positioning: all successful brands differentiate themselves in business and must do the same in politics. Apart from their core purpose and value system (at its most basic level), everything else should be up for grabs: party names, slogans, structure, buildings, detailed policies, personnel and just about everything else. Tesco is moving its headquarters; its brand remains broadly appealing, however, unlike the Tory one, which continues to chase people away. All of the parties may need to set up new Scottish wings.” – Daily Telegraph

Labour 1) Miliband accuses Cameron of ‘grand deception’ over cuts

Miliband Odd and Red“Ed Miliband will accuse David Cameron of planning a “grand deception” on the voters because he intends to make the biggest spending cuts in the developed world after the election. The Labour leader will claim that a Conservative government would not mean “the good life” as Mr Cameron claims but “hard times” during three years of “extreme spending cuts.” The economy is about to take centre stage in the election campaign as the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies publishes its analysis of the parties’ tax and spending plans.” – The Independent

Labour 2) Leader hardens opposition to SNP pact after Salmond’s budget joke

“Ed Miliband hardened his opposition to working with the SNP yesterday as he suffered the ignominy of Alex Salmond boasting that he would write Labour’s budget. The Labour leader declared that his party would not strike an “agreement” with the Nationalists, rejecting for the first time the kind of post-election deal for which the SNP has been calling. The SNP said last month that it wanted a wide-ranging post-election agreement on further powers for Scotland, slowing austerity, reform of the House of Lords and the voting system, and foreign affairs.” – The Times (£)


  • Long read: the triumph of Nicola Sturgeon – Ian Jack, The Guardian


  • Labour needs to be prepared to work with the SNP – Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph
  • A strange mid-election disease is spreading, convincing suffers that Miliband will make it – Dan Hodges, Daily Telegraph


Labour 3) Party to divert cancer funds to medical equipment

NHS_Logo“Labour promised yesterday to divert cash from expensive cancer drugs to pay for an upgrade of ageing equipment used to treat the disease. Campaigners warned that patients would lose access to life-extending medication, while experts said more lives could be saved if money was spent on modern radiotherapy methods, which are more likely to cure cancer. As parties competed to promise more money for the health service, a survey found that three quarters of hospital chiefs believe that far more would be needed than the £8 billion requested by NHS leaders.” – The Times (£)

  • Experts warn that Tory funding pledges aren’t enough – The Independent
  • Let’s have a little honesty in the NHS debate – David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)

Labour 4) Hunt claims party could ditch GCSEs within a decade

“Labour could replace GCSEs within a decade with a single baccalaureate that would end the historic divide between academic and technical education, the shadow education secretary, Tristram Hunt, has told the Guardian. Hunt said he hoped the plan would end underachievement in English schools. “It is a big, hairy conversation that you have to begin early and then shape some of the discussion around,” he said. “I would hope by the end of a five-year parliament there was a consensus about creating a 14-19 curriculum and qualification framework, and I would not be surprised, or indeed saddened, if that meant in a decade’s time we were beginning to phase out GCSEs.”” – The Guardian

>Today: LeftWatch: Five reasons Labour can’t be trusted with education

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Reasons to be Tory 3) Gove’s exam reforms

Labour 5) Competition with Lib Dems on public spending pledges

MANIFESTO money“Andy Burnham promised no real-terms pay cuts for NHS staff and Nick Clegg pledged the same for all public sector workers, as Labour and the Liberal Democrats battled for votes. The intervention by Labour’s health spokesman came as the party tired to refocus public attention on the NHS, the party’s strongest electoral suit, after days when speculation about the Scottish National party’s role in a future administration has dominated the poll campaign.” – Financial Times

  • Lib Dems would end public sector pay cuts, claims Clegg – The Guardian

Swinson and Hames may be less assiduously local than they would have has believe

“The Lib Dem husband and wife Duncan Hames and Jo Swinson, both battling to hold on to their Commons seats, like to boast about their local connections. Hames, who is defending Chippenham, Wiltshire, has attacked his Tory rival Michelle Donelan for standing in Yorkshire at the last election. Hames, who is Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s Parliamentary aide, must have forgotten the fact that in 2000 he was the Lib Dem candidate in the Tottenham by-election, and stood in Watford at the 2001 General Election.” – Daily Mail

Tim Montgomerie: Why I’d vote for Clegg… then worry

MONTGOMERIE purple background“Then there’s the most important constituency of all in this general election: Sheffield Hallam. If Nick Clegg loses — and high-ups in the Tory command fear he will — it’s hard to see the Lib Dems keeping Cameron in office. That would mean goodbye deficit reduction, goodbye welfare reform, goodbye schools reform. Clegg’s re-election might be the only thing between this country enjoying stable government and the Lib Dems entering a disastrous period of self-obsession in which they opted out from the hard choices they’ve so valiantly made since 2010. If I lived in Sheffield Hallam I’d definitely vote for Nick Clegg, but I would do so anxiously.” – The Times

New poll is fresh blow for UKIP as it trails in third place across ten seats

“Nigel Farage suffered a fresh blow today after a new poll showed Ukip trailing badly in a series of key seats. Across 10 constituencies targeted by Mr Farage’s party, Ukip has fallen 18 points behind the Tories and seven behind Labour. The revelation came as Mr Farage admitted that he had ‘made some mistakes’ during the campaign but insisted he was confident he could get it back on track.” – Daily Mail

  • Battle lines drawn for the People’s Army foot soldiers – The Times (£)
  • Farage plans to lead his party until 2030… – Daily Mail
  • …or even 2035 – Daily Telegraph
  • UKIP leader prefers Indians to Poles – The Times (£)
  • Farage admits he has been unwell – The Sun (£)

Greens accused of ignoring climate change in their campaign

Green Party poster“Scientists and campaigners have rounded on the Green Party by accusing it of turning its back on its main mission by largely ignoring the crucial issue of climate change in the run-up to the general election. Critics said that although the Green Party manifesto contains plenty of references to policies on global warming, the subject has gone largely unspoken in campaigning by the party and its leader, Natalie Bennett.” – The Independent

  • Bennett admits party has a problem with lack of candidate diversity – The Independent


News in Brief:

  • Trussell Trust admits its claim of a million food bank users was false – Daily Mail
  • Greeks face bankruptcy as cash runs out for wages and pensions – The Times (£)
  • Police investigate animal rights protestors over anti-Tory leaflets – The Guardian
  • Kirchner and Putin cosy up over oil and anti-British sentiment – Daily Telegraph
  • NHS to ration services to obese and smokers to save money – Daily Mail
  • Tesco to ditch a third of its products to staunch losses – The Times (£)

…and finally: E4 to shut down on May 7 to get young people to vote

“E4, the nation’s most popular digital channel for young people, is to switch off its regular schedule for the general election to encourage viewers to get off the sofa and vote. The Channel 4 digital sister station will cut its normal programmes from 7am on May 7 in a bid to convince young people they are better off going out and voting. Instead, anyone who tunes in will see an actor “in charge” of the E4 control room, pottering around in his office after pressing the “off” switch. The stunt is part of a new television campaign led by Channel 4 to encourage young people to use their vote effectively and get engaged with democracy.” – Daily Telegraph

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