Telegraph Morning Briefing: The Lib Dems’ curious optimism, 04/03/2015

wed 4march









This political briefing was sent as an email to Telegraph readers, March 4, 2015

Good morning. The latest YouGov poll is miserable for the Liberal Democrats. The party faces the prospect of losing hundreds of deposits across the UK. A YouGov poll for the Sun shows their support has dropped to its lowest in 25 years.

The YouGov numbers are: Conservatives 36%, Labour 34%, Liberal Democrats 5%, Ukip 14%, Green 6%.

For a party that, since 2010 has now lost three quarters of their support, the Liberal Democrats seem remarkably calm. There are reasons for this. They know that a hung parliament could give them real power again after May . And, according to YouGov’s Peter Kellner, despite the abysmal polling, there are two factors that may help them save more of their seats than those headline figures suggest. First, the party usually gains support nationally during election campaigns. The party benefits from TV exposure – although they no longer have the advantage of being a protest party unaffected by the rigours of government, it is likely their exposure by the main broadcasters will still be an aid. Second, Liberal Democrat MPs often have a strong personal following. Where Lib Dems are seeking re-election, their chances are often better than the national polls suggest; the party is deliberately playing to this strength, fighting lots of local campaigns instead of a national one.

With all the talk about Ukip and the Greens, the Lib Dems are sometimes forgotten. But don’t rule them out. They may prove more resilient than many expect, and thus play a pivotal role in the messy events that follow the election.


Average household incomes have returned to pre-recession levels as the economic recovery takes hold, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has suggested. Steven Swinford reports that, the IFS analysis shows household incomes “finally strengthening”, after the slowest recovery following a recession in history. The analysis, moreover, shows the gap between the richest and the poorest fell as wages were squeezed. Unsurprisingly, George Osborne seized on the figures as evidence the economic recovery is feeding through to millions of people. The Chancellor said: “This confirmation from the independent IFS that incomes are back to their pre-crisis levels is another major milestone in our recovery from Labour’s Great Recession, and another sign that our long-term economic plan is working.”


Health officials have announced a review of all maternity care, following shocking failures in the NHS which allowed women and babies to die, and the failings to be covered up. This follows the appalling findings of the Morecambe Bay inquiry that unearthed “a second Mid Staffs”. “’Musketeer midwives’ blamed for deaths of 11 babies” is our splash. Combined with the findings of yesterday’s report into paedophile gangs in Oxfordshire, serious questions should be raised about the transparency of our state bodies. Culturally, Britain prides itself on its transparency and openness. Yet there is now a litany of charges against taxpayer-funded bureaucracies, and those who are meant to keep the most vulnerable safe seem incapable of owning up to these failings across the board. This culture of denial is unforgiveable.


Nigel Farage is out in full swing today on immigration after he missed a golden opportunity last week, in order to instead talk to a few Tea Party activists in the US. He is late to the party, but this doesn’t stop him pouncing on David Cameron’s “no ifs, no buts” immigration policy disaster. Today he will make a big speech on the issue and he also has a column in today’s Daily Telegraph outlining his immigration vision. He said he would not set an “arbitrary immigration target” if Ukip helps form the next government. He also commits the party to setting up a new quango called with Migration Control Commission, tasked with bringing down net migration.


Ed Balls is planning another crackdown on wealthy “non-doms” who use their tax status to avoid paying British taxes on foreign income, the Times reports. It is a move most likely designed to bring disillusioned Labour voters back into the fold – whether from the Greens or elsewhere, and is part of what Tories see as Ed Miliband’s continuing lurch to the left. Labour has already vowed to put the top rate of income tax back up to 50p and introduce an annual “mansion tax” on homes worth more than £2 million.


Ed Miliband was last night forced to reiterate his support for Britain’s nuclear deterrent, after a survey showed three quarters of all wannabe Labour MPs would scrap Britain’s Trident nuclear missiles. Lucy Fisher of the Times has the story.


The European Union has gone “off the rails” according to the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. He told the House of Commons that Britain will only stay in the European Union if there is “significant change” in Brussels. Peter Dominiczak has the story.


In a boost for drinkers, George Osborne has signalled he will repeat the duty cuts of the last two years to bring down the price of a pint again, the Sun reports. Anyone would think there was an election on.


@ChukaUmunna: The House of Commons is currently debating “endangered species” – it has been tabled by a Lib Dem MP (Norman Baker). Hmmm…..


From The Telegraph

Nigel Farage – My immigration policy is built on fairness

Mary Riddell – The voters are crying out for a political leader who thinks big

From elsewhere

Matthew Norman – £3bn to repair Parliament? Knock it into flats and send MPs up North

Daniel Finkelstein – Muslims must flush out killers in their midst


1200 PMQs

1500 Jack Straw, Andrew Lansley and Sir George Young will give evidence to the procedure committee

Nigel Farage is to launch Ukip’s immigration policy

Clydesdale Bank will issue Britain’s first plastic banknotes

1900 Jeremy Hunt will take part in an LBC phone-in



Main Chamber

1130 Oral Questions: Foreign and Commonwealth Office, including Topical Questions

Urgent Question: The serious case review into child sexual exploitation in Oxfordshire – Mr Andrew Smith

Urgent Question: Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre – Keith Vaz

Statement: Independent investigation into maternity services at Morecambe Bay – Mr Jeremy Hunt

Statement: Ebbsfleet – Brandon Lewis

Ten Minute Rule Motion: Housing Ombudsman (Power to Settle Disputes Between Neighbours and Tenants) – Nick de Bois

Debate: Estimates Day (3rd allotted day) – (i) Support for housing costs in the reformed welfare system (Work and Pensions Committee fourth report session 2013-14: HC 720 2013-14) (ii) Children’s and adolescents’ mental health and CAMHS (Health Committee third report session 2014-15: HC 342 2014-15, and the Government response: HC 1036 2014-15) (iii) Department for Communities and Local Government (iv) Ministry of Defence; Supplementary Estimates 2015-16; Estimates Excesses 2013-14; Supplementary Estimates 2014-15; Vote on Account 2015-16

Adjournment: International endangered species – Norman Baker

Select Committee

0930 High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill: High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill. Witness(es): Yarlet School, Roger and Gillian Broadbent, David Cook, Steven Smith, Andrew Wilkinson, Duncan Mackenzie, Jeremy Lefroy MP , Jeremy Lefroy MP and Russell and Jane Maingay, Bill Murray and Dr Dan Mitchell and Denis Howroyd. Location: Room 5

0930 Welsh Affairs: Dairy Farming in Wales. Witness(es): David Handley, Chairman, Farmers For Action, Hazel Wright, Senior Policy Officer, Farmers’ Union of Wales and Aled Jones, Dairy Board Chair, NFU Cymru; George Eustice, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment and Mark Filley Sustainable and Competitive Farming Strategy Team, DEFRA. Location: Room 15, Palace of Westminster

1000 Treasury: Bank of England Foreign Exchange Market Investigation. Witness(es): Dr Mark Carney, Governor, Bank of England and Anthony Habgood, Chairman of the Court of the Bank of England. Location: The Wilson Room, Portcullis House

1000 International Development: DFID’s work in Nepal. Witness(es): Rt Hon Desmond Swayne MP, Minister of State, Department for International Development, Saul Walker, Head of Asia, Caribbean and Overseas Territories Directorate, Department for International Development and Mark Smith, Deputy Head, DFID Nepal. Location: The Grimond Room, Portcullis House

1300 Backbench Business: Proposals for backbench debates. Witness(es): Members of Parliament. Location: Room 15, Palace of Westminster

1400 High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill: High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill. Witness(es): As for morning session, unless already heard. Location: Room 5, Palace of Westminster

1445 Political and Constitutional Reform: The future of devolution after the referendum. Witness(es): Rt Hon. Greg Clark MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities, Cabinet Office, Rt Hon. David Mundell MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland and Baroness Randerson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales. Location: Room 8, Palace of Westminster

1445 Home Affairs: Police Bail. Witness(es): Paul Gambaccini, Radio presenter and Kate Goold, Bindmans LLP; Chief Constable Chris Eyre QPM, Nottinghamshire Police, National Lead on Criminal Justice; Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions. Location: The Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House


Main Chamber

1430 Royal Assent

Oral Questions

Findings of the YouGov survey on cycling safety commissioned by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

Advice issued to individual academy schools regarding the £2.5 billion held in reserves

Complaints against police forces in England and Wales as reported by the Independent Police Complaints Commission

Areas with underperforming electoral registration officers

Statement: Child exploitation in Oxfordshire

Statement: Yarl’s Wood detention centre

Legislation: Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill – Report stage – Baroness Neville-Rolfe

Statement: Ebbsfleet

Statement: Maternity services in Morecombe Bay

Short Debate: access to treatment for patients with rare diseases

1000 Estimated Rising Time

Select Committee

1515 Communications: Private meeting. Committee Room 2, Palace of Westminster

1530 Economic Affairs: Private meeting. Committee Room 1, Palace of Westminster


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