The Telegraph‘s front page and Times reveal that at least 58 economists from around the world will argue that “David Cameron’s plan to axe £6 billion of government spending this year … could cost thousands of jobs and would risk the recovery.” The current draft of the letter – by experts including Lords Layard, Skidelsky, and Peston – states that Mr Cameron’s plan to make efficiency savings “will lead directly to job losses and indirectly to further falls in spending.”
News of the letter comes as the Times reports that, “Consumer confidence plunged last month at the sharpest rate since the beginning of the recession amid growing uncertainty over the election.” Meanwhile, the Financial Times‘s front page details that “Britain’s three main political parties all have a £30bn hole in their manifestos”. According to the paper, the Conservatives have the largest hole in their plans because “they are more ambitious about deficit reduction and have to find £6bn extra spending cuts to partially reverse Labour’s planned national insurance rise.”
The Independent‘s front page announces “Ninety minutes that could change Britain” and details that a ComRes survey found that 65 per cent of the adult public say they will watch the three debates – about 30 million people. The paper quotes senior Labour sources predicting that Mr Clegg would emerge as the winner because he is “new and unknown” and viewers would be surprised by him. Meanwhile, David Cameron is said to be “a bit tense”. The Guardian details a row over the format with David Cameron saying “I hope the public won’t feel short-changed”. But Sky anchor Adam Boulton said, “Cameron needs to be careful. The rules he is attacking are those insisted on by the party negotiators during their months of bargaining with the broadcasters.” Meanwhile, a Crosby/Texter poll of 100 marginal seats for the Telegraph shows the Conservatives on 43 per cent, Labour on 31 per cent, and Lib Dems on 20 per cent. The paper features a picture of Gordon Brown on its front page which was tweeted yesterday by the Conservative Head of Press, Henry Macrory.
The papers have a fairly universal view of the Lib Dem’s manifesto, praising their relative honesty on deficit reduction but criticising the wisdom and costing of their policies. The Times leader outlines that, “The Lib Dem manifesto dilutes the party’s distinctiveness [and] … lacks those two or three appeals to the single-issue voter.” But goes onto concede that, “They have done the best job of all the three main parties in providing a plan for cutting public spending and reducing the deficit.” The Telegraph leader identifies “tax rises, targeted at the better off … [and] tax cuts for those middle-income earners on whom the Lib Dems rely for support in their southern strongholds.” It goes on to call the manifesto “that typically Lib Dem combination of the idealistic and the opportunistic.” Stephanie Flanders at the BBC argues that the Lib Dems, “would raise a lot of money from the highest earners. But many of the poorest in UK society wouldn’t gain.”
The Guardian and Financial Times cover today’s launch of the Green party’s manifesto. The Guardian reports that the manifesto prioritises economic goals in its opening chapter. Green leader Caroline Lucas says: “The economy is at the forefront of the campaign because we believe people don’t know us so well for these issues. It’s not that we suddenly think the environment is less important.” The FT report that “Of all the minor parties hoping to tap into voter disillusion this year, polling analysts believe that the Greens have the most realistic chance of capturing a parliamentary seat.” The party is fielding 328 candidates but is targeting Brighton Pavilion, Lewisham Deptford and Norwich South
The Guardian reports that “Tory defectors claim Conservatives are duping on gay voters”. Labour yesterday presented two Tory defectors who said they had abandoned the Conservative party over its stance on gay rights following shadow home secretary Chris Grayling’s assertion that Christian B&B owners should be able to turn away gay couples. The Mail also covers the story detailing that “Chris Grayling’s gaffe over gays comes back to bite Tories as Labour unveils defectors”. Left Foot Forward broke the story yesterday afternoon.
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