Story one is the news that UKIP is rebranding as ‘The Independence Party’ for May’s local elections (ConservativeHome predicted this last February). UKIP leader Nigel Farage has told The Telegraph that the party wants to broaden its agenda from EU exit and immigration to also include local independence, lower taxation and deregulation. Mr Farage said that these arguments had been "abandoned by David Cameron." Yesterday Liam Fox warned that "the person who would be happiest if people went out and voted Ukip would be the leader of the Labour Party."
The Telegraph also reports that the forty-strong group of socially-conservative and Eurosceptic Tory MPs – Cornerstone – are planning to publish their own "mini-manifesto". Cornerstone will make twelve submissions of 2,000 words each to the policy review process. The Cornerstone group’s Chairman, Edward Leigh, warned Mr Cameron that he could not take the party’s ‘core supporters’ for granted:
"We can see merit in David Cameron’s leadership style but it is important to understand and reflect the views of our natural supporters. The core Conservative vote cannot be overlooked in the necessary re-making of the Conservative Party."
The Telegraph notes that Conservative MPs believe that the Tory lead in the opinion polls is too modest given the extent of Labour’s troubles. In an article for today’s Platform, Mike Smithson of PoliticalBetting.com forecasts a hung parliament at the next General Election. Read his article here.