General Election

Sky News’ Joey Jones is travelling the country looking at the issues that matter to voters in some of the marginal constituencies.

He has identified 11 of the 150 seats that could play a deciding role in May’s General Election.

East Dunbartonshire

Sheffield Hallam

Glasgow Eat

Sutton & Cheam

Brighton Pavilion

Southampton Itchen

Hendon

Watford

Birmingham Edgbaston

Cardifff North

Taunton Deane

Exeter

Great Grimsby

The Guardian reports the latest opinion poll in which Labour extends is lead over Conservatives

Despite a barrage of criticism from business leaders over recent days, Labour has extended its narrow lead over the Conservatives to 2 points, according to the latest Opinium/Observer poll.

Labour stands on 34%, up 1 point on a fortnight ago, while the Tories are unchanged on 32%. Ukip, which is edging downwards, has dropped 3 points to 15%, while the Greens are up 2 points on 8%, ahead of the Lib Dems, who are also up 2 points, on 7%.

The results will provide some comfort to Ed Miliband and Labour after the party leader came under fire from some leading entrepreneurs for policies they regard as hostile to business and potentially damaging to the UK economy.

The poll suggests that while Labour’s lead remains wafer-thin, the opening shots of the election campaign are not causing further erosion of Labour support or any surge for the Conservatives.

While the Tories lag behind, David Cameron retains a clear lead over Miliband in the personal ratings.

The Independent has analysed voter types and asks voters to identify which type they belong to, and therefore how the major political parties will approach them to garner their votes.

Are you a Harassed Hipster or a Squeezed Semi? Perhaps you are Aldi Woman or Glass Ceiling Woman – or both. Or maybe you are a Settled Silver, living comfortably in old age, resented by the Neo-Greens who feel their generation has been hard done by.

While this general election is impossible to call, the people whose votes the political parties are hunting are becoming easier to identify by the day. As David Cameron courts older voters, Labour is publishing new research showing two key groups that are crucial to getting Ed Miliband into Downing Street. And this week, Nick Clegg is to appeal to women forced to choose between career and children.

To help voters pick their way through the demography, The Independent on Sunday has created a handy tongue-in-cheek guide.

Tony Blair

The Observer reports that the former Prime Minister has pledged whatever help Labour need to win the next General Election.

Tony Blair has moved to end talk of a rift with Ed Miliband as he pledged to offer whatever support the Labour leader wants in the runup to the 7 May election.

With Miliband under intense pressure after a succession of business leaders criticised his policies as bad for the country, the former prime minister made clear that he was ready to aid Miliband’s push to restore Labour to power.

The Observer understands that talks between Labour officials and Blair’s office have been going on for weeks about the role he might play in the election campaign.

Asked whether the three-time election-winning Labour leader was prepared to throw his support behind the campaign, Blair’s office said that regarding “his involvement in the party’s election campaign, he will do whatever the party wants”.

Health

The Telegraph reports Health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s promise to reform the NHS.

Jeremy Hunt has vowed to change the NHS culture, with a national review to prevent needless deaths and new safeguards for staff who blow the whistle on poor care

1,000 patients a month are dying needlessly in NHS hospitals because of staff blunders, the Health Secretary has warned as he announces sweeping reforms to bring an end to a “cover-up culture” which is risking lives.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Jeremy Hunt unveiled plans to drive down mortality rates, by annually reviewing a sample of 2,000 deaths at hospitals across the country.

He also pledged action to support whistleblowers who speak out about poor care, and said the policies would be his defining moment as Health Secretary, and his most important legacy.

Business

The Telegraph claims the PM says Labour leader Ed Miliband has a ‘sneering hatred of business’

David Cameron has hailed Britain’s growing economic recovery as the “Great Revival”, as former Labour donors express their frustration at Ed Miliband’s “half baked” plans for business.

Writing for The Telegraph, Mr Cameron launched his strongest attack to date on Mr Miliband’s economic policies, warning that the Labour leader’s “sneering hatred of business” would cost the country almost 100,000 jobs.

It came as some of Britain’s most successful industrialists, who have donated large sums to Labour in the past, joined the criticism of Mr Miliband’s “unnecessary” attacks on enterprise.

Lord Haskins, the former chairman of Northern Foods, who was an adviser to Tony Blair, said the stock market would take fright if Labour won the election in May on an anti-business platform. He described Labour’s plan to freeze energy prices as “half baked” and its proposed mansion tax as “nonsense”.

Labour’s corporation tax

The Express reports Labour plans a hike in corporation tax.

LABOUR was plunged into chaos last night as it was revealed that Ed Miliband’s plans to increase corporation tax could cost almost 100,000 jobs over the course of the next Parliament.

Analysis carried out by the Centre for Policy Studies reveals the impact of a gradual rise in Corporation Tax, which is the charge levied on profits, estimating that increasing it by one percentage point each year over the next five years would cost 96,400 jobs.

Last night Chancellor George Osborne said the plans would “risk economic chaos.” Miliband announced his intention to increase corporation tax from 20 to 21 per cent as part of his conference speech in 2013, saying he wanted to put the party on the side of small companies rather than large corporations and banks.

But under Labour rules, it has been claimed the tax could rise by a further 5.5 per cent over the course of the next Parliament because Ed Balls has promised only to keep it at the lowest level in the G7, which is now 26.5 per cent.

EU

The Sunday Times reports that No 10 is plotting an early Europe vote in 2016

THE prime minister’s in-out referendum on Europe could be held as early as May next year under plans mapped out by Downing Street officials.

One of David Cameron’s aides has warned campaigners on both sides of the debate that they should be prepared for the prospect of a nationwide vote next year.

Cameron signalled last month that he is open to bringing the referendum forward, saying he would be “delighted” if it happened before the end of 2017.

If the Tories keep the keys to Downing Street, one scenario being considered would see negotiations with EU governments continue this summer to get a new deal for Britain in Brussels.

The prime minister would outline his final demands at the Conservative party Conference in October and announce a referendum date, either in the spring or autumn next year, setting the clock ticking on final talks with the other 27 EU countries.

The Express reports a new poll which shows other member countries want the EU reformed.

THE European Union SHOULD be reformed say the majority of people in its biggest economies, a poll has revealed.

Around half of people in countries including Britain, Germany and France have backed David Cameron’s battle to introduce major reforms in the EU.

The Prime Minister has pledged to renegotiate the UK’s terms of membership in Brussels, before letting voters decided in an in/out referendum in 2017.

He is also seeking to change the rules regarding free movement of labour – which currently allows an unlimited number of EU citizens to live and work anywhere in the bloc – and to scrap a “EU red-tape” strangling small businesses.

The Prime Minister’s cries for change have been met with opposition from Paris and Berlin, notably German Chancellor Angela Merkel who has ruled-out rewriting any existing treaties.

However a growing number of ordinary citizens are clammering for a reform of the institution.

A ComRes survey carried out for think-tank New Direction found that a majority of people in France (58%) believe that the EU should either be reformed, reduced in size or even abolished.

Prince Charles

In the Mail, The Prince of Wales tells UK Muslims to abide by our values.

Prince Charles risked provoking a new political and religious storm yesterday when he said Muslims living in the UK should follow British values.

In a staunch defence of Britain’s ‘Christian standpoint,’ he denounced the radicalisation of young Britons by Islamic fanatics and said they should show more respect to ‘the values we hold dear’.

People who had ‘come here, were born here or go to school here’ should ‘abide by our values,’ he said. His comments were made as he started a six-day tour of the Middle East, seen as another stage in assuming more of the Queen’s international duties.

It is a clear response to critics who say he should not meddle in sensitive political matters. The Prince will also challenge Arab leaders head-on during the trip. The

Mail on Sunday can disclose that he is to tell new Saudi king Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud to his face that he should stop the 1,000 lashes handed down as punishment to Saudi blogger Raif Badawi for comments which the regime claimed were critical of Islam.

Prince Charles last night called for a halt to the persecution of Christians by Islamic State and other militant Islamic groups, telling them bluntly: ‘We were in the Middle East before you.’

TheTimes also reports the Prince of Wales’ alarm at the radicalisation of British Muslims.

THE Prince of Wales today reveals his worries about the “alarming” radicalisation of British-born Muslims who “you’d think… would abide” by British values.

In a broadcast interview he speaks of the radicalisation of young people, saying “the extent [to] which this is happening is the alarming part. And particularly in a country like ours where, you know, the values we hold dear.

“You’d think that the people who have come here, born here, go to school here, would abide by those values and outlooks. But the frightening part is that people can be so radicalised through the internet and the extraordinary amount of crazy stuff.”

Miliband

In theTimes, columnist Luke Johnson considers Labour Leader Ed Miliband’s relationship with big business.

A serial entrepreneur asked me recently if I had a bolthole. I didn’t know what he meant. He explained that he was considering buying a home in New Zealand as a refuge if Labour forms a government in May — and ruins the economy all over again.

His deep scepticism about Messrs Miliband and Balls echoes that of every British wealth creator I know. They are more worried about the outcome of this election than they have been for at least 20 years.

At a recent entrepreneur conference I attended, the host asked the 50-odd guests if any supported Labour. Not a single hand went up. Stefano Pessina, the boss of Boots, said last week it would be a “catastrophe” if Miliband became prime minister. I agree with him. And I’m a British voter and my companies are registered here.

Scotland

The Guardian claims that the Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that her MPs will vote on issues concerning only England.

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has dismissed William Hague’s plans for English laws for English people, and committed to vote on English-only issues at “each and every opportunity” when Scotland’s interests are affected.

In a move designed to undermine proposals unveiled by the leader of the Commons last week, the SNP leader said her MPs in Westminster would now vote on budgetary changes nominally focused on England if they felt there would be an impact in Scotland.

The nationalist party has previously had a policy of not voting on matters which purely affect England. Last month Sturgeon signalled that her party would in future vote on matters concerning the NHS in England, because it was felt that changes in policy would affect the Scottish health service.

Now, in the wake of the proposals produced by Hague on English votes for English laws under which MPs representing constituencies in England would have a veto, leaving Scottish MPs with a debating role, Sturgeon said her party needed to ensure that Scottish MPs continued to have an equal status in Westminster.

Health

The Guardian reports that an annual review of avoidable deaths will be held in all hospitals.

The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has ordered an annual review of “avoidable deaths” in hospitals, which he described as the “biggest scandal in global healthcare”.

The yearly study of about 2,000 patient case notes will see England become the first country in the world to monitor the extent of avoidable deaths, in the hope of cutting the rate.

Hunt said 1,000 patients were dying unnecessarily each month in NHS hospitals, and told the Sunday Telegraph his plans to improve the safety record in healthcare would be the “most profound change” during his time in charge.

“It is about changing behaviour and the way everyone works in the NHS,” he said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email