Labour

The Telegraph leads with an item: “Ed Miliband’s government will be ‘relatively unsuccessful’, donor warns”. Why? Read on:

Ed Miliband has just a 25 per cent chance of winning the next election outright and a future Labour government is likely to be “relatively unsuccessful”, one of the party’s biggest donors has said. John Mills, the entrepreneur who has given millions to Labour, warned that even if Mr Miliband wins the next election he will face “growing Euroscepticism” which could lead to the return of a Conservative government.

He said that Labour could be forced to hold a referendum “at a time that doesn’t suit them” because there is a “reasonable chance” of a significant transfer of powers from Britain to Brussels by 2020. He warned that if Mr Miliband fails to follow through with his pledge to hold an in/out referendum the public’s faith in politicians will “crack”.

Notice: no mention of UKIP, anywhere in the whole article. In his column in the same paper, Dan Hodges lays into Labour as well with: “For shambolic Labour, incompetence is infectious”:

“They don’t have anything positive to offer the country and so they will resort to a dirty and negative campaign.” The words of Ed Miliband in a Daily Mirror interview last December…. Labour has no positive policies. And it has become so drunk on its own self-righteousness it thinks it can hurl any slur at its opponents, and it will resonate.

The Mirror even lays into the party with this: “Labour’s economic policy will rack up huge debts after our hard won recovery” in a column written by Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke.

Tax and Bank Accounts

The Telegraph also covers Cameron’s threat to voters and taxpayers: Taxes will rise unless we can raid bank accounts.

Taxes will have to rise unless officials are given new powers to raid people’s bank accounts, David Cameron has said. The Treasury select committee warned that allowing HM Revenue and Customs to remove cash from bank accounts without court orders is “very concerning” because of its history of mistakes. The committee said that taxpayers could suffer “serious detriment” if officials are able, either by mistake or through an “abuse” of power, to take money from people who have done no wrong.

Mr Cameron yesterday claimed that the alternative was to “put up taxes”. He told Sky News: “We have a choice here. If we don’t collect taxes properly and make sure people pay their taxes properly we look at the problems of having to raise tax rates. I don’t want to do that, so I support the changes the Chancellor set out in the Budget which is to really say that not paying your taxes is not acceptable.

The comments section is hostile, Sapporo summing the mood up: “Surely, the final nail in the coffin for any libertarian conservative voter. Please, do not vote for LibLabCon.

Conservative MP Douglas Carswell adds fuel to the fire with his column: “Allowing HMRC to take money from bank accounts is disgraceful and un-Conservative

We are told that money will only be taken from people’s bank accounts if they fail to respond to multiple demands for payment. I wonder if that applies to constituent of mine who has regularly – and incorrectly –been sent demands for thousands of pounds he is supposed to owe in VAT. He has never run any sort of business in his life.

Given that HMRC freely admits that millions of people are routinely charged the wrong amount of tax, surely  it would be insane to give them the power of what they call “direct recovery”.

Why doesn’t Douglas defect to UKIP? Unlikely, he’s just a Tory shill.

NHS

The Guardian leads with “Hospitals need thousands of extra nurses ‘or patients’ safety will be at risk’”:

Responding to concerns about standards of patient care in the aftermath of the Mid Staffs scandal, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) will warn that registered nurses’ workloads should not exceed that number (8) because patients’ safety could be put at risk.

The regulator’s intervention will intensify the pressure on hospitals, growing numbers of which are in financial difficulty, to hire more staff to tackle shortages even though many have little spare money. Campaigners on the subject believe at least 20,000 extra nurses are urgently needed at a cost of about £700m.

Or there are too many people in the country and the NHS is overwhelmed?

Education

The Guardian also covers this story: “Half of new primary free schools fail to fill all their places

Half of the primary free schools scheduled to open this autumn still have unfilled places, despite high national demand for places in reception classes. An analysis of the 26 free schools due to open in September 2014 by the Department for Education shows 13 primaries still had places available – reflecting concerns in some localities about Michael Gove’s controversial educational initiative.

Other free schools that had been due to launch have struggled to reach the starting line with seven more pushing back their launch for a year, because they failed to secure sites, because they withdrew or delayed opening, and in one case because the DfE abruptly cancelled its permission to open.

On a different tack, The Independent report that “Lib Dems accuse Tories of leaking free school meals emails

Senior Tories were accused of running a campaign to “maliciously leak” Whitehall documents to damage their coalition partners in the run-up to this month’s local elections. Government emails surfaced today suggesting Nick Clegg was ready to make schools spend less on teaching to “subsidise” his plan to give free school meals to all pupils aged four to seven.

Local Elections

The Guardian also has an analysis of the forthcoming local elections, which includes this picture of a vandalised UKIP billboard in Nottingham:

A vandalised Ukip election billboard in Nottingham

Labour is expecting a night of solid gains in the 22 May local elections, and in a symbol of its local government recovery, to retake the helm of the Local Government Association for the first time in 10 years. But key tests will be whether its progress comes at the expense of the Conservatives, and whether its council seat gains are in key marginals rather than being over-concentrated in London.

The UK Independence party, by contrast, is hoping to secure as many as 80-100 councillors, mainly at the expense of the Tories. But the results will be patchy and only give leader Nigel Farage some clues as to where to direct resources for the general election.

The big rise in Ukip’s share of the vote is relatively recent. In the byelections it has contested since May 2013 it has secured an average 22% of the vote. It should do equally well this month, even though many cities do not yet look natural Ukip territory.

A record 2,150 Ukip candidates are standing, but Farage is still finding out if he can build a local base, something the Social Democratic party never achieved in the 80s. In London, for instance, he has only 21 candidates in Bexley, 30 in Havering, 16 in Redbridge and 21 in Barking.

Olympics 2016

According to The Independent:  “London 2016? Plans to move Rio Olympics to UK amid concerns over Brazil’s preparations

Olympic officials have secretly asked if London would be in a position to take over hosting the 2016 games from Rio de Janeiro amid major concerns with the city’s preparations.

“At a comparable planning stage in 2004 Athens had done 40 per cent of preparations on infrastructure, stadiums and so on. London had done 60 per cent. Brazil has done 10 per cent – and they have just two years left. So the IOC is thinking, ‘What’s our plan B?’

Director of event consultants Allium, Will Glendinning, who worked on the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Games said that there was “more than enough time” for London to prepare. But a spokeswoman for the IOC said the possibility of Rio 2016 being moved to London was a “non-starter and unfeasible”.

Cynically, it sounds like (with a denial like that) it’s almost a done deal, then, but who pays? The Mirror also covers the story.

FGM

The Independent also reports: “Woman arrested at Heathrow for conspiring to commit FGM

A 38-year-old woman has been arrested at Heathrow Airport on suspicion of conspiracy to commit female genital mutilation as a result of a police operation mounted at airports across the country during the past week, Scotland Yard announced today. The arrest took place at 6.30pm on Thursday, after officers had swooped on dozens of passengers arriving in London on flights from Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

In a statement, a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “The British national was held after arriving on a flight from Sierra Leone and taken to a west London police station where she remains in custody. A 13-year-old Sierra-Leonian girl travelling with the woman was taken into the care of social services.”

TV Debate: Cameron-Farage

The Express reports that: “David Cameron hints at showdown with Nigel Farage on TV

The Prime Minister indicated that he was prepared to take part in a live broadcast debate with smaller parties including UKIP and the Greens. Officials said that formal talks to pave the way for the crunch clashes will begin “later this year”. Mr Cameron’s hint appeared to confirm reports that Downing Street is planning three debates, featuring different politicians. I’m very keen to examine all the different formats we can have.

Refuse Collection

The fortnightly bin emptying saga rumbles on with an Express article reporting a private enterprise initiative in Harrogate: ‘Pay as you throw’ private service clears bins before councils.

FED-UP residents are forking out for a private “pay-as-you-throw” refuse service because fortnightly council collections leave their bins overflowing. For fees starting at £5.50 they can arrange collection on a day of their choice for up to three large bin bags. These can be taken for either disposal or recycling.

The scheme was launched by businessman Andrew Brown after mounting complaints about fortnightly collections in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. He said: “We’re totally supportive of the move away from landfill and incineration towards more recycling, but the simple fact is many households simply can’t cope with having their rubbish collected once a fortnight.”

Immigration

The Express also covers this story, which well buried away in the other papers: “EU migration outstrips influx from rest of world

BRITAIN’S immigration crisis continues to deepen as a direct result of EU membership. It is now being predicted that official figures to be released at the end of the month will show that immigration from EU member states has outstripped arrivals from the rest of the world combined.

Housing

The Mail often rattles on about housing, but this article is timely reminder of the price inflation happening in the property market: “All sold on just ONE day – the 33 houses which went for at least £1million as the property boom spreads throughout Britain

Gone are the days when million-pound properties were the preserve of the super-rich. With house prices booming, the Land Registry has revealed that, in January, 1,011 homes went for more than £1 million. Many were in London, but more and more provincial towns and suburbs have become millionaire hotspots.

Pfizer – AstraZeneca Takeover

The Mail also has two stories on this: “The corner of England betrayed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant three years ago: How Pfizer handed an army of brilliant British minds their P45s

Pfizer employed 2,500 research scientists in their plant in Sandwich, Kent. World-beating research was conducted in the south coast laboratory. Scientists worked on cures for a range of tropical diseases to erectile dysfunction.

And: “Cameron friend lobbying for Pfizer in takeover bid: PM and key figure in £63 billion deal went on holiday together

US drugs giant has made a £60billion+ bid for UK’s AstraZeneca. Ministers insist they are pushing in ‘hard-nosed way’ to protect jobs. Lobbyist received a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours List.

Should we be holding our noses on this one, the stench beginning to reach us?

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