The Conservatives week has started badly. The Guardian highlights another “butter-fingered operation of the calculator” as the Tories get their sums wrong again. A Conservative party attack document, ‘Labour’s Two Nations’, claimed – three times – that women under 18 are “three times more likely to fall pregnant in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas. In the most deprived areas 54% are likely to fall pregnant before the age of 18, compared to just 19% in the least deprived areas.” The figure was out by a factor of ten and is coming down. Meanwhile, the Telegraph outlines that shadow school secretary, Michael Gove, admitted that there was “rumbling and grumbling” about David Cameron’s modernization while a ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday found that 56 per cent of voters distrusted Mr Cameron, agreeing that he was a “slick salesmen”. And the woman at the centre of the storm over the candidacy of David Cameron’s friend, Joanne Cash, has insisted – according to the Times – that she and her supporters are not “dinosaurs,” a reference to remarks posted on Ms Cash’s twitter feed.
The Tories have also briefed a series of policies. The Financial Times reports that, “The private sector would be handed a far bigger slice of the £3.2bn prisons and probation market” with companies running after-prison welfare programmes being “paid by results” for keeping an individual out of jail for fixed periods such as six months, a year or two years. The Telegraph reports comments made by David Cameron to the Politics Show Scotland that he will “hand Scotland more powers during the first term of a Conservative government to the make the UK “a happier family”.” On the Today programme, George Osborne announced a “radical power shift” to allow public sector workers to form cooperatives.
The Times front page contains a shocking picture of its journalist being physically removed from a BNP meeting, “hit in the back and had my face squashed.” The reporter, Dominic Kennedy, was initially invited into the meeting in East London where the BNP announced a change to their membership rules but removed after it emerged he wrote for the Times. Nick Griffin was later quoted saying, “[The Times] lies and it lies and it lies about this party.” The Telegraph has a straight report of the meeting under the headline, “BNP votes to allow non-white members.”
The Guardian reports that Nick Clegg is “planning to rule out forming a coalition government with either the Conservatives or Labour” in the event of a hung parliament. Instead, the party will appeal for a “shopping list” of four policies: Investing extra funds in education through a pupil premium for disadvantaged children; tax reform, taking 4 million out of tax and raising taxes on the rich by requiring capital gains and income to be taxed at the same rate; rebalancing of the economy to put less emphasis on centralised banking and more on a new greener economy; and political reforms, including changes to the voting system and a democratically elected Lords, that go further than proposed by Labour.
The Times reports that Ministers are urging Gordon Brown to adopt a ‘masochism strategy’ to brave the “wrath of voters in person during the general election campaign to prove that he understands their concerns.” After last night’s personal interview on ITV, a separate story speculates that, “aides are now discussing whether the chat with Piers Morgan should be the exception or, in the run-up to polling day, the new rule.” The paper quotes Paul Staines, founder of the Guido Fawkes blog: “He came over as pretty sympathetic … It’s the best I’ve seen him do, though whether it will be remembered next week is a different thing altogether.” Michael White in the Guardian is more acerbic: “Voters may feel sorry for him, but in the wrong way.”
As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.
We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.