Conservative Campaign

We take a look at the different ways the broadsheets present the change of emphasis in the Conservative campaign recently. The Telegraph leads with: “Tories: Over-75s to be guaranteed same-day access to GPs

Pensioners over the age of 75 will be guaranteed same-day access to a family doctor under Conservative plans for a “total revolution” of GP services in Britain. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said that the Tories will deliver better care for the elderly population by committing to a minimum of £8billion of extra funding for the NHS every year by 2020.

The money will pay for at least 5,000 new GPs to ensure that pensioners who require care will be able to see a doctor within hours. Britain must “face up” to the “demographic time-bomb” caused by a rapidly aging population by ensuring that fewer pensioners are going to A&E departments across the country, Mr Hunt said.

(Ed: Pure electioneering, desperately trying to claw back the older UKIP voter) The Guardian reports it as “Conservative party pledges extra £8bn a year for NHS

George Osborne has moved to address concerns that the Tories have abandoned compassionate Conservatism by pledging to protect the “precious” NHS with a guarantee of an £8bn increase in spending per year above inflation by 2020. In a week that has seen signs of a slip in Tory poll ratings and claims that the Conservative party is running a highly personalised campaign against the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, the chancellor has moved to issue an “absolute commitment” to deliver the resources required by the NHS.

Writing in the Guardian, the chancellor claims the Conservatives will pledge in their general election manifesto, to be launched next week, to meet a £30bn per year funding gap by the end of the decade identified by Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England. The Stevens plan says that the gap would be filled through £22bn in efficiency savings, requiring an extra £8bn in governmental spending a year by 2020 over and above increases in line with inflation. This will come on top of the extra £2bn announced in the autumn statement.

And the Independent has yet another approach with “Tories switch to campaign Plan B as they suffer in the polls

The Conservatives are revamping their election strategy after a torrid week in which the party has slid in the polls and been accused of resorting to counter-productive negative attacks on the Labour leader, Ed Miliband. In a sign of the new approach, David Cameron will announce a pledge to increase funding for the NHS by £8bn by 2020 and guarantee that all over-75s will get same-day access to a doctor. The party did not say how the pledge would be funded, but insisted its track record on the economy was proof it could deliver the extra money.

The commitment followed a promise to give workers three days’ paid leave for volunteering, which carried echoes of Mr Cameron’s vision of creating a Big Society. A senior cabinet minister told The Independent the moves were part of a plan to enter a “positive” phase in the campaign which will highlight the Conservatives’ vision for five more years in power.

Ed Miliband

The Telegraph’s Rupert Myers argues that these trivial personal attacks on Ed Miliband are only making him stronger

If Ed Miliband was the man his loudest critics accuse him of being, he’d be unmissable. A cold, ruthless leader with a string of glamourous ex-girlfriends, driven by steely determination to overcome even his own brother to the top table in British politics, Miliband would be a Netflix masterpiece. Those two kitchens? One is a meth lab, as the Daily Mail will exclusively reveal next week. Chuka Umuna is his sous-chef sidekick in crime, and Ed is the one who knocks.

This was supposed to be a relentless, dehumanising attack on Ed Miliband, and it’s failed spectacularly. He has gone from zero to antihero, Wallace to Frank Underwood – and all thanks to his meanest, loudest opponents. If you want a PM with the balls to go man to man with Putin? Vote for the guy who knifed his brother. Need a leader ready to charm the next President Clinton? Ed’s won over a string of attractive, intelligent, and successful women. Stuck with the politically toxic defence of non-dom tax status, the right’s narrative on Ed has been left to wander out of control and the worst thing that could happen right now is for the mud to stick.

The Mirror has a more positive story on him with: Ed Miliband hits back at panicking Tories’ election bribes

Ed Miliband mocked the “panic” in Tory HQ as David Cameron rushed out feeble election bribes. The Labour leader dismissed the Prime Minister’s “unfunded and unbelievable promises” on rail fares and community volunteers. “Desperation is becoming the hallmark of David Cameron and this Tory campaign,” he said. “Today, in further signs of panic, they are announcing billions of pounds of unfunded and unbelievable promises.”

Public support for Ed Miliband is growing, despite the vicious personal attacks organised by Tory HQ. And yesterday, in good news for Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, a poll in Scotland suggested Labour could hang on to 13 of their Scottish seats – far more than previous polls have suggested.

Liberal Democrats

At last, some mud being flung at LibLabCon by the Daily Mail: “Caught on camera: Married Lib Dem ‘feminist’ who is running for Parliament is filmed with stripper in drunken night of temptation

A would-be Lib Dem MP who describes himself as a feminist has been filmed repeatedly trying to touch a naked lap dancer. Married father-of-one Maajid Nawaz asked for two private sessions at a strip club in east London. Footage shows the prospective parliamentary candidate – who calls himself an advocate of women’s rights – attempting to touch her arms and thighs, which is against the venue’s policy.

Staff said Nawaz had been pestering the girl all night and his actions had been ‘outrageous’. In the film, Nawaz – a convicted former extremist – can be seen repeatedly trying to make contact with the girl as she dances naked for him in a private room during two £20 lap dances.

Manager Jay Shah, who witnessed Nawaz’s behaviour, said he was ‘very drunk’ and bouncers threatened to throw him out several times. ‘He was asking her to touch him and he was touching her,’ he said. ‘In general he was quite persistent with her, asking to take her out and for her number.’   A rising star of the Liberal Democrats, 37-year-old Nawaz is also a leading figure in the Muslim community and head of anti-extremism charity the Quilliam Foundation, which he set up.

The Mirror has a go at them in a different way: “‘Methodical’ Nick Clegg upstaged by feisty Lib Dem veteran Dame Shirley Williams

Nick Clegg’s heart may not be in his campaign – “I think it’s going methodically,” was the best spin he could put on it – but his party’s grand old matriarch Shirley Williams is adamant that the Lib Dems remain the most attractive singleton on the block. “Think about the alternatives – does Labour shack up with the SNP, when there’s a battleground in Scotland, or do the Tories shack with Ukip, when they’re being challenged by Ukip everywhere?” asks the doughty Baroness.

“Almost all the other parties could work with either of the two big parties, but not both. I think we’re unique in being the only one that can work with both.” Williams believes another coalition is “inevitable,” but her preference this time around is a deal with Labour. “I’ve never been a Tory and never will be.”

Labour and SNP

The Express predicts that Labour-SNP pact ‘would not last a year’

A POST-election pact between Labour and the SNP could “very ­possibly” last less than 12 months, according to a new report. And it is “inconceivable” that the pound will not weaken by up to 15 per cent against the dollar as a Labour minority supported by the SNP is “priced in”, the document says.

Detailed analysis also shows that even if two parties join forces to give David Cameron or Ed Miliband a vote of confidence as prime minister, this would not create stability.

The SNP pledge to vote no confidence in a Tory government will not guarantee that it would then vote to install Labour in Downing Street. The Nationalists have set out demands for action in areas such as public spending, maximum devolution and removal of Trident. And if concessions were not gained, the SNP could also vote no confidence in a Labour government, triggering another general election in July.

Markets

The Guardian reports that Sterling hits five-year low against dollar as election fears spook investors

Growing City jitters about the prospect of a hung parliament and signs of weakness in the key manufacturing sector prompted sterling to hit a five-year low against the dollar in foreign exchange markets on Friday. Sterling fell to $1.4558 on Friday morning – the lowest level since the uncertain days that followed the 2010 general election. It later recovered some ground but still closed down 0.51% on the day at $1.4637. Against the euro, it was flat at €1.379.

Investors are struggling to assess the tax and spending implications of a range of possible electoral outcomes, from a minority Labour government to another Conservative-led coalition. Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, an online trading business, said: “The pound has started to come under some pressure in recent days as the prospect of political gridlock in a few weeks’ time starts to become a real possibility, at a time when some of the economic data is starting to show some signs of weakness.”

Immigration and Education

The Daily Mail reports that Baby boom and high immigration means 20,000 children ‘won’t get into any chosen primary school’

Thousands of children face missing out on all their chosen primary schools next week amid a snowballing crisis over places. Councils are struggling to cater for rising pupil numbers, fuelled by a baby boom and high immigration. As a result more than 20,000 youngsters could be denied a place at all of the schools listed on their applications this year.

It will mean ‘significant numbers’ forced to travel long distances to schools in other areas, experts have warned. Many local authorities have had to create classrooms in disused buildings, build extensions to schools and add ‘bulge’ classes to cope with the extra demand. More than 600,000 children are set to receive their primary places for September on national offers day this Thursday.

English Patriotism

Breitbart reports that a Labour candidate called people who fly England flags ‘Simpletons and Racists

A Labour Party parliamentary candidate called people who fly England flags “simpletons” and “casual racists” and called for their cars to be damaged. Huw Thomas, who is standing in Ceredigion in Wales, made the comments in a blog post about the World Cup while he was a student in 2006.

“I agree that it’s completely sickening how many England flags are to be seen around Wales. It truly shows the degree our society has been infiltrated by incomers who are not ready to integrate.”

UKIP and Russell Brand

The Independent has a quirky interview with one of our Bette Noirs: “Russell Brand ‘can understand why some people might vote for Ukip’

Russell Brand has declared that he can understand why some people would vote for Ukip. It was not so long in the distant past when Brand faced off with Nigel Farage on an episode of Question Time, which resulted in him calling the Ukip leader a ‘poundshop Enoch Powell’.

Considering Brand also spearheaded a campaign for political reform following an interview explaining why he abstained from voting, his statement is something of a surprise. But the comedian-turned-activist says he understands why the group could appeal to disconnected voters because of his own background.

Brand made his comments during an appearance on Channel 4’s Chatty Man, where he told his host Alan Carr: “What I’ve come to recognise is if you’re not connected to other people, if your life isn’t connected to doing things that don’t have any value, [you] feel empty and feel lost, so for me it’s important to feel connected to people and the stuff I’m doing is worthwhile. I understand people that start to think, ‘Oh, Ukip might be a good idea’ or whatever because I’m from those places where those ideas are attractive. I understand fear, loneliness, loss, but the answer at this time is for us to come together. This is a very important opportunity in our time for us to really make a change.”

UKIP and Sausage Rolls

The Independent reports on a case where a Ukip candidate faces police investigation after handing out sausage rolls to potential voters

A Ukip candidate faces a police investigation because he handed out sausage rolls and sandwiches to potential voters. Kim Rose passed round the snacks at a party event in which the snooker star Jimmy White played pool with local children. Mr Rose, who is standing in Southampton Itchen seat, has been told to report to police over an allegation of “treating” – trying to “corruptly influence” voters.

He said: “We laid on teas, coffees, sandwiches and some sausage rolls. Now I’ve been reported for allegations of treating. Maybe it’s a bit naïve, but all the intentions were good. It’s absolutely ridiculous. I’m sure people aren’t going to change their mind for a sausage roll.”

The Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, said: “It’s utter nonsense. There seems all sorts of cases in politics of people behaving badly and doing things wrong, abusing their positions. Having a few sausage rolls I don’t really think counts as one of those.”

Roads

The Express reports that a man was so angered by road damage he fixes potholes HIMSELF – and it costs just SEVEN POUNDS

A DRIVER was so annoyed with potholes on his street damaging his car he has fixed them HIMSELF at a cost of just £7. Martin Jones, 28 from Derby, was fed up of waiting for the council to act so took matters into his own hands. He bought up some cement for just a few pounds and repaired the pothole outside his home.

He then carried on to fix everyone hole in the street – all for the fraction of what it would have cost the local authority.  Mr Jones, a delivery driver by trade, said: “My bumper would constantly scrape the pavement. It was very annoying.

“There was one right outside my house so I went over it every day; I was constantly driving at a snail’s pace to get in and out. The council were taking no action so I decided to walk in the shop, buy the stuff and do it myself.

Defence

The Telegraph reports that “Dozens of warships join British war games off Scotland

Dozens of Royal Navy and NATO warships are joining Europe’s largest war games off the coast of Scotland this weekend, amid concern Russia has stepped up naval missions in the area. The Royal Navy will practise hunting enemy submarines months after a real Cold War-style alert when a suspected Russian sub was spotted in the area. Exercise Joint Warrior will feature 55 warships, 70 aircraft and 13,000 sailors, soldiers and airmen from 14 countries.

The fortnight-long, UK-led manoeuvres will see mock amphibious landings, mine clearing and attacks by small ships, while at the other end of the UK there will be an airborne landing around Salisbury Plain. While the MoD in London said the manoeuvres were not a response to any single nation, NATO commanders confirmed the massive exercise was partly a show of alliance strength to reassure members feeling threatened by Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.

The Left

The Guardian takes a look at Hard Left politics in “Is the left in Britain still alive and well?

Rosie Rogers, 28, and I are sitting in a tipi outside her office in Highbury, London. (She works for Greenpeace as a political adviser – of course they have a tipi.) I’m on a quest to find the British left, because it’s become apparent no one quite knows where it has gone, or what it looks like. Far from a beating heart, these days it is made up of many small organisations. “You know the Brownies,” Rogers asks. “You have all those patches? We have so many patches. You have your Reclaim the Power badge, your Focus E15 badge, your UK Feminista badge, your UK Uncut badge. It feels like ‘the left’ isn’t how people identify any more. We don’t say, ‘I’m a lefty, I’m a socialist, I’m a Marxist.’ Sometimes I’m a bit Women’s Institute, sometimes I’ll sign a 38 Degrees petition, sometimes I’ll go on a climate march.”

Rogers has been involved with UK Uncut since the start. Her brother has a disability and she can list benefit changes to the closest degree. She shares a house with eight others, even though she’s well paid comparted with her peers, because that’s what people do now. I know she would hate to be portrayed as a poster-girl of the new left: she doesn’t identify as left and she rejects the idea of anybody being more important than anybody else. But still I ask what drives her activism. “When you see Focus E15, they are talking with absolute passion, they’re fighting for their home. Labour robots are fighting for their party, but where is that passion? Maybe it was there 100 years ago. In these movements, we all shag each other, we all hang out. The only time I see my 12 closest friends is at meetings. We’re probably what the labour movement was like a long time ago, but this time it’s participatory, it’s consensus-based, it’s dynamic, it’s fun and it’s got baby change and fuck loads of hummus.”

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