Party leaders’ debate

There are still some comments and analysis about this week’s debate between all seven party leaders.

Sky News reports that UKIP leader Nigel Farage has defended his remarks about HIV sufferers born abroad.

Nigel Farage has defended his controversial remarks about the treatment of foreign-born HIV sufferers, telling Sky News “it is a sensible Christian thing to look after your family and your own community first”.

The UKIP leader was accused of “scaremongering” in Thursday night’s leaders’ debate when he highlighted the issue of so-called health tourism.

Mr Farage claimed 7,000 people are diagnosed as HIV positive in the UK every year – and 60% of them are foreign nationals.

He said: “You can come into Britain, from anywhere in the world, get diagnosed with HIV and get the retro-viral drugs which cost up to £25,000 per year, per patient.

The Telegraph has a similar story.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said his criticism of ‘HIV tourists’ is not at odds with a Christian attitude and that Christians should put their countrymen before immigrants

Nigel Farage has said his comments about ‘HIV tourists’ are perfectly compatible with a religious outlook, claiming that it is “a sensible Christian thing to look after your family and your own community first”.

The UKIP leader spoke out on the topic of Christianity over the Easter weekend, after his criticism of foreign-born HIV patients receiving treatment under the NHS during the party leaders’ election debate was condemned as intolerant, xenophobic and lacking in basic human charity.

Mr Farage had claimed that 60 per of the 7,000 HIV annual diagnoses in the UK involved “health tourists” who travel to Britain to receive retroviral drug treatment at a cost up to £25,000-per-year.

His comments provoked widespread criticism, with Leanne Wood, the Plaid Cymru leader, accusing him of “dangerous scaremongering”. She was applauded by the studio audience after telling him during last Thursday’s party leaders’ debate: “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Sky News reports that Labour leader Ed Miliband’s debate notes have been leaked to the press.

How did the Labour leader’s preparation notes for the televised election debate end up in the hands of journalists at the Sun on Sunday?

They are not giving much away except to say they were left “lying around” in his studio dressing room.

An adviser will be kicking themselves, because there is nothing quite like a story that gives reporters a glimpse into a politician’s mind.

There are no damning revelations about Ed Miliband here, but plenty of embarrassing lines that together give the sense of a Thick Of It-esque lead up to the TV clash.

And the Telegraph pokes fun at Miliband for calling himself a “happy warrior”.

Ed Miliband used crib sheets calling himself a “happy warrior” with scripted jokes during the live television debate.

The 10 pages of notes contained a motivational pep talk to himself along with some of his off the cuff answers and put downs, according to The Sun.

One note read “Me V’s DC” with the words “decency, principle, values” underneath.

In a pep note to himself, he wrote: “Happy warrior. Calm never agitated. Negative – Positive”.

The paper claims the Labour leader left the notes in his dressing room following the two hour debate.

The phrase “happy warrior” is coined from William Wordsworth’s description of Admiral Nelson following his death in 1806.

It has been used by politicians since to described those fighting against the odds with a smile on thier face.

Another note reminded himself to talk to the camera to “use the people at home”.

He typed prerehearsed one-liners under subheadings, one read: “Cameron – deficit: Does that sound familiar? Well it should, because he said it five years ago.”

The SNP leader wants Conservatives to win the election

Sky News claims an investigation has been ordered into a leak of notes of a meeting between SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and the French ambassador.

An investigation will be carried out into how a controversial memo about a meeting between Nicola Sturgeon and the French ambassador was leaked.

A Daily Telegraph report claims a leaked UK government memorandum – likely from the Foreign Office – sets out an account of a meeting between the SNP leader and the French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann.

It claims she told the ambassador she would rather see David Cameron than Ed Miliband as PM after the election, a claim she strongly denies.

Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood has ordered a leak inquiry to see how the memo reached the newspaper.

Ms Sturgeon had earlier said: “The bigger question and one I am raising with the head of the civil service is who wrote this memo since the Foreign Office seem to be denying all knowledge of it.

This story is also reported in The Independent.

A leaked Government memo which claims the SNP leader wants the Conservatives to win the general election, has been described by Nicola Sturgeon as a “political dirty trick” manufactured in Whitehall.

The memo, purporting to be an account of a February meeting in Edinburgh between Ms Sturgeon and the French ambassador, Sylvie Bermann, threatens to dominate the remaining month of campaigning north of the border.

Scotland’s First Minister (FM) described the contents of the memo, which also included a dismissal of Ed Miliband as not “PM material”, as “categorically, 100 per cent not true”. Last night the head of the UK civil service, Sir Jeremy Heywood, agreed to an SNP demand and launched an inquiry into the circumstances of the leak.

The document, published in the Conservative-supporting Daily Telegraph, offered an account by a civil servant who had discussed the Bermann meeting with the French consul general in Edinburgh, Pierre-Alain Coffinier.

But the SNP leader is cross about the leak and has demanded an inquiry, says the Telegraph.

Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has ordered a leak inquiry into how a civil service account of Nicola Sturgeon’s private meeting with the French ambassador was obtained by the Telegraph.

It comes after Nicola Sturgeon demanded a full-scale investigation into how a confidential document compiled by a senior civil servant that claimed she wanted David Cameron to remain Prime Minister was published by the Telegraph.

Scotland’s First Minister, who denies the claim, wrote to Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, asking for a leaks inquiry following the disclosure in this newspaper of a memorandum which detailed meetings between Ms Sturgeon, and two other Scottish ministers, and the French Ambassador to the UK at the Scottish Parliament on February 26.

Labour/SNP deal

The Observer has reiterated the SNP leader’s willingness to help Ed Miliband become Prime Minister.

Scottish National party leader Nicola Sturgeon has offered to help make Ed Miliband the next prime minister even if Labour wins fewer seats than the Tories on 7 May. Her appeal comes as she angrily rejects claims that she thinks he is not up to the job.

Writing in the Observer – as a furious row erupted over disparaging private remarks she allegedly made about the Labour leader – Sturgeon challenges Miliband to lead Labour into an anti-austerity alliance with the SNP whichever party is the largest in the House of Commons on 8 May.

In terms that will enrage many MPs, Sturgeon throws down the gauntlet to the Labour leader, saying: “If together our parties have the parliamentary numbers required after 7 May, and regardless of which is the biggest party, will he and Labour join with us in locking David Cameron out of Downing Street?”

After a momentous week, in which she was widely hailed as the winner of a seven-way televised leaders’ debate on ITV, Sturgeon says the election is “one like no other in modern times, and the power of the Westminster establishment is being challenged as never before”.

The SNP leader uses her article to deny that she said in private discussions with the French ambassador that Miliband was “not prime minister material” and that she would prefer Cameron to stay on in No 10.

Housing revolution

Sky News claims the Conservatives are planning a 1980s-Style Housing ‘Revolution’

A 1980s-style housing “revolution” doubling the number of first-time buyers by 2020 has been pledged by the Tories, if they are elected.

The plan would mean half a million people a year getting their feet on the housing ladder, George Osborne said.

Labour claims Britain’s chronic housing shortage is being fuelled by Coalition schemes such as Help to Buy and no action is being taken to boost supply.

Ed Miliband’s party unveiled plans on Saturday to take the new ISA scheme for first-time buyers announced in the Budget and use it to finance wide-scale house building.

But Mr Osborne told the Sunday Telegraph he was determined to push even harder to open home ownership to more people.

UKIP poster defaced

In an exclusive report, the Express claims a poster promoting UKIP outside the home of a war hero has been defaced.

A 90-YEAR-OLD war veteran who risked his life to fight the Nazis spoke of his fury last night after finding his property daubed with swastikas because he had put a Ukip poster in his front garden.

Frank Moody was only 20 when, as a member of the Royal Artillery, he took part in one of the Second World’s War most bitter battles, at Monte Cassino.

The savage series of assaults, aimed at breaking through German defences to liberate Rome from the Nazis, cost 55,000 Allied lives.

Mr Moody, a parish councillor for 36 years, woke on Friday to find the posters in his garden daubed with swastikas, while a picture of Ukip candidate Sandra James had been defaced with a Hitler moustache.

Speaking from his home in West Willow, Hampshire, the war veteran vented his fury saying: “I fought Hitler in the war against the Nazis, so it made me very angry to find swastikas outside my gate.

“This is supposed to be a democratic country.

“That’s what I fought for.

“Anyone should be allowed to put up any political posters they want and not be intimidated by yobbos like that.”

Mr Moody and his twin sister, Mary, both defected to Ukip five years ago after decades supporting the Conservatives.

Last night, Mary said: “My poor brother has been very shaken by what happened.

“People may not agree with his views, but they should respect him and his right to have them.”

Ms James, running against Conservative incumbent Caroline Nokes for the key marginal seat of Romsey and Southampton North in May, said: “One of the posters was 15ft high on a tree, so this must have been carefully planned. You’re not just going to be able to reach up and do that.

EU referendum

Nigel Farage has claimed that the only way we will definitely get a referendum on our membership of the EU is for UKIP to keep pushing David Cameron, says the Express.

SUCCESS for Ukip will ensure David Cameron’s “feet are held over the fire” on Tory EU referendum pledges, Nigel Farage said last night.

Speaking after Thursday’s leaders debate, the Ukip leader said: “We did extremely well.

“David Cameron began as the most popular leader but the poll of polls showed us just one point below him.

“That’s a big win.

“It has become very clear that there are three senior national politicians fighting in this election, and they do not include Nick Clegg.”

He said success for Ukip in May would be vital if the country was to have a “free and fair” EU referendum in 2017.

He said: “We’re in politics to achieve stuff, and especially a free, fair and properly organised referendum.

“The Tories keep repeating that they are the only party who is offering Britain a voice over Europe.

“But this is the party that, three years ago, were three-line whipping people against the referendum.

“It is only because of the rise of Ukip that they are having a referendum at all.

“Their heart’s not in it.

“Only a big vote for Ukip will mean that Cameron’s feet are held over the fire over this issue.”

Only the threat from Ukip would force the Tories to remain honest on Europe, he said.

Bankrupt Britain

In an exclusive report, the Express claims Conservative chief whip Michael Gove has said that a post-election deal between Labour and the SNP would bankrupt the UK.

SCOTTISH nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon would put Britain “on the road to ruin” with her ransom demands for getting Labour into power, Tory chief whip Michael Gove has warned.

He spoke as Prime Minister David Cameron said an alliance of the Scottish Nationalist Party and Labour would be a “coalition of chaos” that would bankrupt Britain.

Mr Gove said the SNP would tear the country apart if it held the balance of power by calling for raised taxes, increased borrowing and unlimited welfare.

They would also demand the scrapping of Britain’s nuclear deterrent at a time when faced with threats from Russian president Vladmir Putin and Islamic State we need it the most.

Ms Sturgeon yesterday reiterated her stance on Trident, telling a CND rally in Glasgow: “I give you my cast-iron assurance SNP MPs will never support Trident and that is why we need as many SNP MPs as possible in the House of Commons.

“We must all of us seize the moment.

“Vote to scrap Trident, vote for peace and vote for a progressive future.”

Mr Gove said: “My concern is that if the SNP win the number of seats they are projected to, they could hold the balance of power and hold Labour leader Ed Miliband to ransom.

“The ransom note will be getting rid of our nuclear deterrent and also more taxes, more borrowing more spending and unlimited welfare.

“She would get rid of the welfare cap and I just don’t think we can afford financially, or in terms of our security, to do that.

“I don’t think with Putin running rampant in the Ukraine and the problems that we face with the Islamic state that now is the time to lower our guard.

“I honestly don’t think when we still have the deficit to eliminate and need to get our national debt down that her recipe for higher spending will do anything other than put us on the road to ruin.

“I absolutely believe Nicola Sturgeon is the most dangerous woman in Britain.”

Conservatives best for workers

The Sunday Times claims more workers back the Tory party than Labour, according to a poll.

THE Tories have seized the mantle of the “workers’ party” from Labour, according to a new poll that will give fresh momentum to the Conservatives.

A YouGov survey for The Sunday Times found voters think David Cameron will do more for employees at Britain’s biggest firms if he wins power on May 7 than Ed Miliband.

The result turns eight decades of assumptions about politics upside down and will boost the Tories’ argument that they deserve a second term because of record job numbers.

The poll puts the Conservatives on 34%, with Labour one point behind. A week ago Labour had a four-point lead.

Crucially the poll found by a margin of 56% to 12% that voters believe the Conservatives will be good for workers in large companies. By contrast Labour is seen as being good for employees by 28%, with 27% disagreeing.

Families are £1,000 worse off

The Mirror reports Conservative plans to cut tax for top rate earners, while other earners are more than a thousand pounds a year poorer.

George Osborne’s tax giveaway for millionaires has saved them an astonishing £85,000 each – while the average family has been left £1,100 a year worse off.

The out-of-touch Chancellor’s ­decision to slash the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p since 2013 means high-rollers on seven-figure salaries have seen their take-home pay swell.

But Labour analysis of figures from the HMRC shows changes in a series of areas since 2010 mean the average household in Britain is now almost £100 worse off every month.

From Monday the amount people can earn before paying tax rises from £10,000 to £10,600 – but the meagre boost for low-paid workers is a pittance compared to the benefits already dished out to the wealthiest.

Mr Osborne’s giveaway to the super-rich can be revealed amid speculation he is secretly plotting to slash higher rate tax for those earning £150,000 still further – from 45p down to 40p.

Writing in the Sunday Mirror, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls blasted him and fellow toff PM David Cameron for helping “millionaires at the expense of millions of hard-working families”.

He said: “The Tories ditched the idea that we are ‘all in this together’ and looked after their friends first.”

Rubbish!

Away from politics, the Mail reports that a Hampshire council won’t clear up roadside rubbish because it’s too dangerous.

Council chiefs were condemned last night after claiming it was too dangerous to collect the roadside litter blighting Britain.

Winchester Council in Hampshire said its annual clean-up of roads around the city had been hit by new Health and Safety Executive rules designed to protect litter-pickers from traffic.

But the HSE denied tightening rules – and said councils were ‘over-interpreting’ legislation.

Last night, former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, now president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, accused town hall bosses and the Highways Agency of ruining the countryside by failing to remove rubbish.

He said: ‘Every day, people tell us that they are disgusted, angry and ashamed of the state of England’s roads.

‘Nobody wants to drive through our beautiful countryside or approach a vibrant city, heralded only by discarded rubbish.’

Although laws to fine people who throw litter from vehicles were now in place, their implementation had been delayed by ‘shameful time-wasting’, Sir Andrew said.

‘Without funding to tackle the problem, I fear our roads will become corridors of waste,’ he added.

Highways England – the Government-owned company launched last week to replace the Highways Agency – is required to keep the motorway network clean, but responsibility for clearing A-roads and trunk routes is divided between the agency and councils.

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