UKIP

The Telegraph’s Janet Daley has an excellent leader article with some excellent comments on it “A liberal elite wants to brush Ukip aside

What is most shocking is the level of personal animus – which goes way beyond the bounds of rational argument – towards anyone who defies what are now clearly taken to be the limits of acceptable debate. And contrary to what the exponents presumably believe about themselves, the imposition of these limits is peculiarly snobbish, socially divisive and self-serving. You would think, given the venom with which the anathematised opinions were being smeared that they were positively murderous in their intention: that, at the very least, lynching or armed vendetta was being urged against immigrant neighbours rather than simply a rejection of the political arrangement that appears to be disadvantaging some of the indigenous population. In fact, there has been more denunciation directed at what is an entirely law-abiding challenge to a policy that has serious consequences for vulnerable communities, than to more obviously dangerous kinds of antisocial behaviour such as the recruitment of Islamist terrorists.

The Observer has to admit the findings of it’s own Opinium poll which shows that “Nearly a third of voters prepared to support Ukip

The phenomenal rise in support for Ukip is underlined by a new Opinium/Observer poll which shows almost one-third of voters would be prepared to back Nigel Farage’s party if they believed it could win in their own constituency.

While the survey, which puts the Conservatives and Labour neck-and-neck on 33%, shows a substantial boost for the Tories (up five points on a fortnight ago), the rise of Ukip will be deeply alarming to the main parties.

With just over three weeks to go before a crucial byelection in the normally safe Tory seat of Rochester and Strood, which Ukip threatens to seize, the poll puts Ukip on 18% of the national vote, with the Lib Dems on 6% and the Greens on 4%.

(Remember the Opinium poll does NOT prompt for UKIP)

Terrorism

The Telegraph reports that “David Cameron urged to press Emir of Qatar on terror funds

David Cameron is under intense pressure to hold face-to-face talks with the Emir of Qatar this week to demand that the Gulf state cuts off the flow of funding to terrorists. The Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, will arrive in Britain amid a growing furore over his country’s alleged links to the financing of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) and al-Qaeda.

The Prime Minister will host the Qatari ruler and his entourage for lunch in No 10 as part of talks to attract billions of pounds of investment. However, Mr Cameron is facing demands to press Sheikh al-Thani to take stronger action against jihadi financiers in Qatar.

Labour and Scotland

The Telegraph further considers the impact of Johann Lamont quitting Labour: “Ed Miliband warned of ‘catastrophic’ damage to Labour

Johann Lamont quit late on Friday night, saying that Labour’s leadership in Westminster had undermined her, thwarted her attempts to reform the party and treated the Scottish Labour Party like a “branch office”.

Her departure, after weeks of sniping by some MPs, prompted a furious reaction yesterday from senior Labour figures north of the border over Mr Miliband’s role in her decision.

Henry McLeish, a former Labour first minister of Scotland, said the party was now facing a problem of “historic, epic proportions”. “Labour in Westminster, Labour in London has not a clue about the realities of Scottish politics,” he said. “If there’s any hiccup in the number of MPs we send to Westminster in 2015 this could be catastrophic for Ed Miliband’s effort to become prime minister.”

The Independent also reports on this.

Poverty

The Independent reports that “Millions face years on the breadline: Britain has more long-term low-paid workers than ever

A generation of Britons is destined to spend years languishing in low-paid jobs barely above the minimum wage, with the number in poorly paid work at a historic high, a major report will reveal this week.

More than five million workers are in low-paid work, with the proportion of people on low salaries rising from 21 to 22 per cent last year, according to the new research by the Resolution Foundation think-tank. It badly dents hopes of an economic recovery driven by consumer spending: millions are in jobs so poorly paid that they have little if anything left to spend after their basic needs have been met.

The report, Low Pay Britain 2014, reveals that 5.2 million workers earn less than £7.70 an hour, an increase of 250,000 on the previous year. The minimum wage is £6.50 an hour.

Isn’t this what UKIP has been saying for years about the effects of mass immigration and its impact on the most vulnerable in society?

Mayor of London

The Independent reports that “Russell Brand ‘wants Boris Johnson’s job’ and could stand for Mayor on ‘anti-politics’ ticket

Comedian Russell Brand has refused to comment on suggestions he could mount a bid to become Mayor of London. Brand, who previously described voting as a waste of time, has told close friends he wants to succeed Tory Boris Johnson in 2016, according to the Mail on Sunday.

He is apparently considering standing on an independent “anti-politics” ticket. A spokeswoman for the comic and actor said: “We are not commenting.” Brand’s new book, Revolution, includes some clues as to his platform, should he decide to be a candidate.

Liberal Democrats

The Independent reports that “Nick Clegg slams ‘misogynists and dinosaurs’ of the right-wing press

Nick Clegg last night criticised the “misogynists and dinosaurs” of the right-wing press for criticising his call for fathers to earn the same as mothers during parental leave.

In an article for Mumsnet, the Deputy Prime Minister said the reaction of the Daily Mail and Daily Express to his remarks last week were as if he had said: “Let’s bankrupt Britain’s businesses and, once we’re done, burn the buildings to the ground”.

The Liberal Democrat leader had announced that new fathers working in the civil service will now enjoy the same pay and benefits as mothers, and called for private companies to follow suit. An editorial in the Mail the next day described Mr Clegg as a “pipsqueak of the political class” who had come up with a “formula for plunging us back into recession”.

Jihadists

The Observer reports that “Isis threatens to kill British jihadis wanting to come home

British jihadi fighters desperate to return home from Syria and Iraq are being issued with death threats by the leadership of Islamic State (Isis), the Observer has learned.

A source with extensive contacts among Syrian rebel groups said senior Isis figures were threatening Britons who were attempting to travel home. He said: “There are Britons who upon wanting to leave have been threatened with death, either directly or indirectly.”

The news comes after it was revealed that another young Muslim from Portsmouth had been killed on the frontline in Syria, the fourth to die from a group of six men known as the “Pompey lads” who travelled together to fight for Isis.

EU, Germany and Britain

The Guardian tells us that “Angela Merkel opposes Cameron EU renegotiation plan

David Cameron’s hopes of an EU renegotiation over the free movement of workers have suffered a blow after Angela Merkel spelled out her opposition to fundamental change.  The prime minister has indicated he will make changes to the principle of freedom of movement within the union a “red line” in a mooted renegotiation of the UK’s membership terms.

He is thought to be preparing a manifesto pledge to bring in quotas for low-skilled migrants from the EU. Before the last general election Cameron promised to bring net annual immigration down to the “tens of thousands” but has failed to get anywhere near the target. But, speaking to the Sunday Times, the German chancellor appeared to dismiss the prospect of radical change.

The Mail on Sunday also reports on this.

Health and GPs

The Daily Mail reports on the GPs paid £100k… just to work at weekends: MPs’ fury over huge salaries for doctors who have to work only TWO DAYS each week

The cash-strapped NHS is paying GPs £100,000 a year for working only weekends, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. Doctors are earning ‘jaw-dropping’ pay packets for shifts that can involve simply answering the phone at the NHS’s non-emergency 111 helpline for a couple of days a week. Recruitment agencies are offering the cushy jobs to doctors to work in some of the most attractive parts of Britain, including Cornwall, Herefordshire and rural Kent.

Our revelations come days after new NHS chief executive Simon Stevens warned the health service needs another £8 billion a year by 2020 to keep afloat – even if it does everything possible to cut its costs. But we have discovered the sums paid to GP locums are, in the words of a leading MP, ‘spiralling out of control’.

Child Sex Abuse Inquiry

The Daily Mail asks “So was this ANOTHER party with Leon Brittan you forgot, Mrs Woolf?” Pressure grows on beleaguered sex abuse inquiry chief to resign… as MoS uncovers new link to ex-minister who ‘lost’ vital evidence

Fiona Woolf was under fresh pressure to resign from the Government’s child abuse inquiry last night after The Mail on Sunday uncovered new evidence suggesting undeclared links with Leon Brittan, a key figure at the centre of the scandal.

The under-fire inquiry chairman hosted a VIP drinks reception at which the Tory peer was a guest, official documents indicate, but she did not declare it in a list of possible conflicts of interest.

Last night, Mrs Woolf refused to comment on City of London papers that suggest she and Lord Brittan were among a handful of City dignitaries at an event to meet the French Prime Minister in 2011, held in a small reception room in one of London’s grandest buildings.

Devolution to Cities

The Express reports on “Giving power to our cities

DEVO Met is now top of the political agenda.

The response from cities, Government and Labour to the RSA City Growth Commission’s report published last week shows that momentum is now building fast for English devolution. The commission, led by economist Jim O’Neill, found that unleashing the potential of our great British cities could generate £79billion of extra growth.

Politicians have rushed to endorse the report and some recommendations could be implemented almost before the ink is dry. The Prime Minister and Chancellor have promised to back the emergence of a northern powerhouse and to improve notoriously poor East-West transport. Meanwhile, Labour has promised to give cities control over a further £30billion of public expenditure.

The Mirror has a column from John Prescott on similar devolution to the north:  “It’s time to have a Devolution Revolution

Ten years have passed since the North East turned down the chance to have its own elected regional assembly. But as Scotland has shown, people are now more passionate about power and resources being taken out of the hands of the Westminster elite and moved closer to home.

The Scots may have rejected full independence but they only did so because they were offered more control of their affairs. And as Westminster prepares to honour that “vow” of more devolution north of the border, it’s vital we get the same south of it.

The Tories believe the answer is City Regions like Greater Manchester and Liverpool, with more money and resources to deliver growth and stronger local government.  But for growth to spread across a region, you shouldn’t concentrate it in big cities that compete against each other for jobs and investment. Councils need to work together not against each other, especially when it comes to strategic planning and improving transport.

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