Tory ministers heading onto the airwaves to dismiss Labour’s claims of fiscal responsibility might have a better hand if their Chancellor hadn’t just committed them to £8 billion in unfunded NHS spending. Osborne refused to answer where the money was coming from 18 times yesterday:
Whilst on the Daily Politics today, Brillo not unreasonably asked Sajid Javid: “where’s the magic money tree?”
The Tory message this week: our plan is working, don’t stray from the plan. But if you don’t believe us, have a few billion.
If their candidate’s website is anything to go by, the answer is yes. ‘I’m the only candidate at this by-election with a clear plan to secure our area’s future’ says Giles Watling, just six months out of date:
Eric Pickles cancelled a visit at the last minute last week – and UKIP sources report a complete lack of Tory presence trying to win back the seat. Guido hears that the results of a survey put out in the constituency by the Conservatives were so dire for the party that they decided to divert resources elsewhere…
Nigel Farage is in Clacton today visiting a hinge factory – insert your own jokes here – yet it’s clear there’s not going to be much of a swing back to the Tories in May. The same cannot be said of Rochester, however…
Coverage of Cameron’s calorie consuming, pie-tastic tour of Britain last week has gone global. John Oliver’s Daily Show spin-off Last Week Tonight is fascinated by the PM trolling Miliband over how to eat in public:
Sun readers will know the real secret behind Dave’s stump eating habits:
Normally conscious of his diet, Cameron has an unflattering cartoon of himself on his fridge at home to stop him snacking. But it’s not as easy on the road. Aware that he soon slips into a bad mood when his tummy starts to rumble, glamorous aide Gabby Bertin kept emergency snacks in her handbag. Is an expanding waistline a price worth paying to stop “Hangry” Dave doing a Clarkson before the election?
24 days to go…
Boo! There was a growing school of thought that Lord Ashcroft would bring forward publication of has ‘gak and all’ biography of Cameron to this side of the election. Especially after he resigned the Tory whip and his seat in the Lords. Yet it is not to be: Call Me Dave is out for conference.
It seems he’s pretty grumpy about the whole thing though, writing on ConservativeHome:
“I have made it clear that my book, a collaboration with former Sunday Times Political Editor Isabel Oakeshott, will be objective. Nonetheless Cameron is suspicious. It is no secret that he dislikes the prospect of what he dismissively labels “the Ashcroft book”. We have tried, and failed, to persuade him to talk. While Seldon has had full co-operation from Number 10 (I am told “everybody” – from Ed Llewellyn, Cameron’s chief of staff, down – has been encouraged to make time for the historian) the Prime Minister has shut the doors to us. Letters to relatives requesting interviews have gone unanswered, and senior aides know he does not want them to help. Some individuals who were willing to talk to us in principle but wanted Downing Street’s blessing were repeatedly stonewalled. Cameron’s strategy appears to be: put up the shutters, then rubbish the book on the basis that we have had no access.”
It’s going to be an expensive academic exercise if Dave is not the PM come September…
This is the rolling poll-of-polls average for the last month. See how the blue line moves in the opposite direction to the purple line? If the Tories can’t recover those lost UKIP voters this month… the socialist terror will begin on May 8…
Brilliant. The TUC have welcomed the Tory manifesto policy of forcing the public sector and businesses to give staff three days off to volunteer:
“Trade unions are the UK’s biggest voluntary groups. This new right will give every union member a guaranteed three days for time off to get involved with union activities.”
Having spent three years trying to stop the unions agitating on the taxpayer, the government will give them three days off to organise.
Unless of course political activity is excluded from the policy?
A question to which nobody has managed to give Guido a straight answer, yet…
A Conservative Party spokesman is adamant: ‘It definitely won’t include trade unions’.
Sources claims they can exclude union activity (which is not charitable) at a legislation writing level.
We shall see…
TUC hit back again. Frances O’Grady says:
“Confusion is growing by the minute about the Conservatives’ time off for volunteering pledge. First Eric Pickles can’t make up his mind whether it is a right at all, and now the Conservatives say that there will be an approved state list of volunteering opportunities which will not include trade union activity. One wonders whether they will go on to ban help at food banks, giving advice to workers on zero-hours contracts or community wind power projects.”
Dave’s Big Society redux will force firms to give their employees three extra days paid leave to do “volunteer work” to help “strengthen communities”. Which somewhat fails to grasp the definition of the word “volunteer”, someone who offers to do something for free. Business is less than impressed with what is effectively a compulsory extention of annual leave. The Institute of Directors warns:
“Passing a law to compel firms to pay their staff to volunteer for charity is hardly in keeping with the spirit of philanthropy. Businesses should support their staff if they want to volunteer, but the architects of this idea cannot pretend that forcing firms to give an additional three days of paid leave will do anything other than add costs. Time off for charity work and volunteering is a matter for managers and employees to discuss between themselves, not a target for heavy-handed government intervention.”
There’s a bit of a can’t win feel to all this. When the Tory campaign apparently ‘goes negative’, the media call it over the top, when it goes positive it’s wishy-washy statist interventionism. Though if Miliband had tried to force this through on the same day as further nationalisation of the railways, Fallon would be calling him a communist…
Well this is awkward for The People’s Party. Should Labour be the largest party in parliament, 25.51% of MPs are likely to be Oxbridge graduates. However, that number drops to 20.86% in a Conservative-led Parliament. According to research and analysis […]