Economy

The Telegraph leads with: “George Osborne warns City to prepare for turmoil over Russia sanctions and interest rate rises.”

The City must brace itself for a new wave of market volatility amid looming interest rate rises and the possibility of harsher Russian sanctions, the Chancellor has said, as he insisted that the Treasury was prepared “for any eventuality” on the Ukrainian crisis.

George Osborne said the gradual tapering of US asset purchases, which triggered a major emerging market sell-off last year, showed it was important that policymakers provided clear communication to the market about future policy actions.

“We all need to be ready for an increased level of volatility in line with historic trends,” Mr Osborne said on Friday. It is something we need to be communicating more so that it is priced in and people expect this return of normal volatility and it’s not a surprise when it happens.”

On a different tack, but still involving Osborne, The Guardian says “George Osborne plans to strengthen criminal law on tax dodging

George Osborne is planning to make it easier to impose jail terms or heavy fines on British residents using offshore tax havens to cheat the exchequer out of billions in revenue. The chancellor, who is in Washington at the International Monetary Fund’s spring meeting, has drafted a criminal offence of failing to declare offshore income as he steps up a long-running campaign to crack down on tax dodging.

At present, HMRC has to prove a British resident has deliberately sent funds abroad to dodge tax. The need to prove intent has undermined several prosecutions and allowed those under investigation to escape with only light fines, Treasury officials said. HMRC estimates £5bn a year is lost to the exchequer from tax evasion by wealthy individuals, out of a £35bn overall loss to evasion and non-payment.

The Independent also covers this topic. However, the Daily Express just has a ra-ra for Osborne’s claims on the economy with: “Britain’s best days lie ahead says George Osborne

Justice

Dan Hodges, who is an ex-Labour member and is writing more and more incisive leaders in the Telegraph, has a piece based on the Nigel Evans case: “The police and CPS have to stop dragging innocent people through the dirt

The police have done it again. They’ve tried, and failed, to nail a senior politician. Yesterday, Nigel Evans was acquitted of a shopping list of sexual offences brought to court by Lancashire Police and the CPS. The former deputy speaker was charged with 10 separate offences, including rape, sexual assault and indecent assault…

…For some reason, when it came to the Nigel Evans case, the police and Crown Prosecution Service decided to take these basic principles of justice, rip them up, and scatter them to the winds.

Let’s take that first important concept, the victim. As the case unfolded, it became clear that there were problems with the prosecution’s case. Quite a fundamental problem, actually. Three of the alleged “victims” said that they weren’t victims at all.

The Guardian has an article on it too: “Attorney general demands answers from CPS over failed sex offence cases

Some Tories calling for a higher threshold of evidence after acquittals of Nigel Evans, Michael Le Vell and Bill Roache

The Independent also covers the fallout from this case.

EU

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is another Telegraph who does not stick to Conservative Central Office orders, and uses his own economic brain to think through issues in detail. He leads with: “Europe has subjected the Greek people to a cruel experiment

Greece’s triumphant sale of five-year bonds to hedge funds (1/3) and global in investors – half based in London – tells us a great deal about the mental and emotional state of investors. It tells us very little about the state of the Greek economy or Greek society. It is certainly not evidence that Greece is safely out of the woods. It is even less a vindication of EU/IMF Troika policies, an epic failure that will be studied years hence by scholars.

Normally when a country emerges from the trauma of an IMF austerity regime it has at least a tolerable level of debt, and if need be a devalued currency to restore competitiveness. Tough reforms matched by condign relief. The country is put on a viable path towards recovery.

This has not happened in Greece. Public debt is still 178pc of GDP, despite a haircut of private creditors near 70pc in effective terms, and despite (or because of) serial EU-IMF loan packages – the “occupation loans” as they are known in Greece. This level remains untenable for a country without a sovereign central bank and currency.

Opinion Polls

The Polling Observatory has a Telegraph article on the polls, headed: “The Conservatives are slowly gaining despite UKIP

The whole analysis is based on this graphic:

Polls 1 Apr 2014

“There is certainly evidence of a narrowing in the gap between the top two parties: our estimate puts Labour on 36.2%, down 0.8 percentage points on last month, and their lowest share since the end of 2010.  The Conservatives are up on 33.0%, up 0.9 points on last month and their highest share since early 2012…

…Our main chart suggests this is the product both of rising Conservative support and falling Labour support, and also suggests that this is happening despite no decline in support for Ukip, who many argue are the main cause of recent Conservative weakness.”

Of course, this all neatly ignores the fact that the methodology of most of the pollsters produces an inaccurate, not fully taking account of the true level of UKIP support.

Liberal Democrats

The Guardian bases an article on utterances from Jeremy Browne: “Liberal Democrats are pointless, says sacked former minister

A Liberal Democrat former minister has suggested that his party has become pointless. In a fresh attack on the direction the Lib Dems are being taken in, Jeremy Browne said there was a lot of “conservatism” in the party and raised concerns that it “protects the state and the status quo”.

It comes after earlier criticism of “political procrastination” and claims that the Lib Dems have become the “brake on the government rather than being an accelerator”. In an interview with The Times, Mr Browne said: “Every political party and every politician has to be able to answer the question: if you didn’t exist why would it be necessary to invent you?

The Independent also covers the same assertations.

However, the Daily Mail hauls up skeletons from the past with: “Monstrous cover-up: How the Liberal party, police and MI5 concealed MP Cyril Smith’s industrial-scale child abuse” also linked with this scary article which outlines how the pro-paedophilia Left (the National Council of Civil Liberties – NCCL) helped him evade justice.

UKIP

The Daily Express does us proud today with: “Cries for David Cameron to face Farage in a live TV debate

Nigel Farage must be allowed to take part in party leaders’ TV debates before next year’s election, according to grassroots Tory party members. They want David Cameron to go head-to- head with the UKIP leader in front of millions of viewers.  Failure to include Mr Farage will seem “cowardly” to the public, handing him a moral victory, they insist.

A ComRes poll commissioned by party volunteer group Conservative Grassroots reveals today that half of the public back their bid to bring Mr Farage into the TV debates.  Labour leader Ed Miliband has already bottled out of a four-way battle, insisting that he does not want to share the podium with the popular UKIP leader.

Oh dear, on the negative side of the balance sheet we have another member who the press have caught out, and once again with quotes from the now effectively closed forum. The Independent claims “UKIP backs councillor candidate who labelled gay people ‘abnormal’ and ‘sodomites’

A local branch chairman for UKIP has defended a councillor candidate who called gay people “abnormal” and said he wished “they stop trying to ram it down my throat”, all while discussing whether the word “sodomite” should be used.

UKIP candidate Douglas Denny, 66, who is set to run for councillor in Portsmouth City Council’s elections next month, was initially caught out by The Sunday Mirror making anti-gay comments on a private UKIP forum last year.

Local UKIP Portsmouth Chairman Stuart Potter …told The Independent: “I’m backing him because he’s not a homophobe. The words that the press have used have been twisted. They have taken content from the forums and made what they want out of them. They’re doing it to slur the name of UKIP and Doug Denny as well.”

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