What the papers say…

Brown sees off the plotters…just – The Daily Telegraph, 7.1.10

“Gordon Brown was forced to rely on lukewarm backing from senior Cabinet colleagues last night to see off an attempt to oust him as Prime Minister.

“By last night, the attempted coup, which had begun at lunchtime, appeared to have failed as no senior figures were prepared to back it. But while every senior minister issued a statement condemning the letter, few voiced strong support for Mr Brown.”

MPs could be in line for £15,000 pay rise – Daily Mail, 6.1.10

“MPs could receive a big pay rise to compensate them for the loss of their generous expenses, it emerged last night.

“This could see pay for a backbencher go up from £65000 a year to over £80000.”

Built…by bankers – Daily Mirror, 6.1.10

“City fatcats and their firms gave the Tories £5.9 million in just the first nine months of the year – amid a financial crisis which has seen millions of workers pay the price of bankers’ recklessness.

“With donations like these the Tories are set to outgun Labour’s election spending by three to one. And the figures – which do not include millions from the secretive backer Lord Ashcroft – make a mockery of the Tory leaders claim that he would cut reliance on wealthy donors.”

Tories promises on NHS vanish from manifesto – Times, 5.1.10

“Tory health policy was left in confusion last night after the Conservatives’ draft manifesto on the NHS appeared to downgrade, change and omit several key promises.

“The content of the five-page document appeared to confirm warnings by a senior Tory insider that the document was drawn up in haste after an unexpected tightening of the polls last year.”

Bankruptcy cloud hangs over Labour campaign – Times, 5.1.10

“An impoverished Labour party will be unable to return fire against the Conservatives’ pre-election advertising blitz for months, amid fears that it could emerge from the campaign bankrupt.

“David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary and Chairman of Labour’s election development board, said the party was going into an election at a greater financial disadvantage than any time since 1983, when it suffered a landslide defeat.

“Cost cutting measures have forced Labour to operate with about half the staff it had in 2005.”

50p tax rate will last for five years – Daily Mail, 5.1.10

“Labour’s 50p tax rate will remain for five more years, breaking a pledge that the £2 billion a year raid on earnings would be temporary.

“Chancellor Alistair Darling went back on a promise to axe the tax yesterday, warning that he will keep milking high earners until 2015 – a clear sign that Labour will continue with its ‘class war’ on the better off.

“The decision to reveal now that the 50p rate will remain for the duration of the [next] parliament will pile pressure on the Tories to firm up their own position.”

Cameron launches Blair-style poster – Daily Express, 5.1.10

“Tory leader David Cameron signalled his intention to put himself at the centre of a presidential-style election campaign yesterday when he unveiled a poster dominated by a sleek photo dominated by his own face.

“Yet the strategy could fuel criticism that the Tories are a one-man outfit with few substantial figures in the Shadow Cabinet rather than a government in waiting that is packed with talent.”

Insults and spin the election battle starts – Independent, 5.1.10

“The Conservatives accused Labour of telling ‘lies’ about David Cameron’s policies yesterday during bitter skirmishes at the start of a marathon four-month election campaign.

Mr Cameron allowed Labour to emerge with a draw…when, in a BBC interview, he sowed confusion over whether his plans to reward marriage in the tax system were a solid promise or merely an aspiration.

“Vince Cable said: ‘The Tory sums simply do not stack up. It is irresponsible and highly misleading for George Osborne to continue to pretend that they do.’”

Thousands ‘will miss out on university’ – Daily Telegraph, 4.1.10

“Thousands of school leavers could be denied university places because of government funding cuts, Britain’s most senior higher education representative has claimed.

“Steve Smith, the president of Universities UK, said the cuts would force academic institution to take ‘drastic’ measures, slashing the numbers of courses, students and staff.

“He said they would cause long term damage, stripping Britain of its ‘competitive edge’ as fewer people graduated with the skills to succeed in business.”

Splits occur in Tory election strategy team – Independent, 4.1.10

“Splits have emerged within David Cameron’s top team over the influence of an advisor on the party’s direction. Some shadow ministers are known to resent the casual style of Steve Hilton, the Tory leader’s trusted strategy director, who is fond of sending them emails advising them ‘how to think’.

“Senior party sources acknowledged there was some discontent over Mr Hilton’s access to the Tory leader.”

PM paves way for deal with Lib Dems in hung parliament – Independent, 4.1.10

“Gordon Brown made an unprecedented overture to the Liberal Democrats yesterday amid growing expectation that Nick Clegg’s party could hold the balance of power after the General Election.

“There is an agreement of ideas and of course the Liberals, I think, are closer to us on tax and public services” he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr show.

“The apparent olive branches came after Mr Cameron also tried to woo the Lib Dems by insisting there was ‘a lot less disagreement than there used to be ‘ between their party and the Tories.”

Brown in ‘fantasy land over plans’ to reduce the deficit – Daily Telegraph, 4.1.10

Gordon Brown was accused on engaging in ‘fantasy economics’ last night for failing to accept the reality of Britain’s dire situation and for claiming that tax rises would pay off the deficit.

Vince Cable…said: ‘This is a rather unconvincing attempt to draw an artificial dividing line. It’s simple fantasy to imagine painful spending decisions can be avoided in public spending.’

Tories cry foul over costings as Darling finds ‘£50bn black hole’ – The Times, 4.1.10

“Alistair Darling will accuse George Osborne of a £50 billion black hole in the Conservative manifesto provoking fury by using costings prepared by his own civil servants.

“Labour will release a 100 page dossier that attempts to undermine the credibility of Shadow Chancellor by claiming that he has failed to keep control of spending pledges.

“The Conservatives are furious that publicly funded officials have been diverted from battling the recession to try and undermine their policy platform.”

Labour hints at Lib-Dem pact – Sunday Times, 3.1.01

“Labour is ready to enter a post-election pact with the Liberal Democrats in an attempt to hold on to office, a cabinet minister suggested last night. Lord Adonis, the transport secretary, lavished praise on Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, describing him as “very capable.”

“In an interview with the Sunday Times, Adonis went on to claim that there were ‘no ideological divide’ between new Labour and the Liberal Democrats, and suggested they could forge a “progressive coalition”. The remarks will anger Labour traditionalists who regard the third party as an implacable foe.”

One in 3 mandarins has a £1m pension – Daily Mail, 1.1.10

“Nearly a third of top civil servants have a pension pot worth more than £1 million, research reveals today. The findings expose the gold-plated retirements which the ‘millionaire mandarins’ will enjoy at the expense of tax payers.

“To add insult to injury, the average civil servant retires at 58, an age when many private sector workers faced another decade at work.

“The figures, buried in Government documents and uncovered by Liberal Democrat research, highlight the pensions apartheid between the public and the private sector.

“There are nearly 60 top civil servants whose pension pot is worth a six-figure sum. With a £1 million pot, they can look forward to a pension worth about £50,000 a year, double the average salary.

“Lord Oakshott, Lib Dem Treasury and Pensions spokesman, said civil servants pensions are like some out of ‘cloud cuckoo land.’ He said: Mandarins with their millionaire pension pots are like landowners last century driving round in gas-guzzling Rolls-Royces. It’s unaffordable for the peasants who pay the bill.”

Cameron’s plan to pan the NHS – Daily Mirror, 1.1.10

“Dodgy Dave Cameron’s claim to be the saviour of the NHS is fake. He has held secret talks with medics who want to abolish the health service as we know it. Nurses For Reform spent an hour with the Tory leader pushing their agenda for privatisation and dismantling of pay agreements.

“Having branded the NHS a ‘Soviet-style calamity’, this shadowy group wants to end public ownership and management of hospitals, and smash national bargaining for nurses and health workers, and allow hospitals to go bust. Their ideas would bring chaos to the health service, to the detriment of patients and professionals alike, yet Cameron obviously thinks it worthwhile listening to such swivel-eyed nonsense. “

Rob Dobson is Constituency Organiser for Dover Liberal Democrats and is standing in for Philip Young, currently on an overland drive to the Congo.

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