Politics Summary: Tuesday, April 13th

Two alternative visions for Britain are set out in today’s papers. The Guardian reports that Gordon Brown has “pledged to deepen Blairite reforms of the public services and drive through more democratic reform than at any time in the past century” while The Times calls it “a new era of Blairite reforms for schools, hospitals, communities and police forces.” The Financial Times describes the manifesto as “a curious hybrid of 1990s Blairism and a new brand of state-oriented Labour thinking, reflecting the party’s rediscovered belief in government intervention after the financial crisis.”

But Polly Toynbee who calls it “Good stuff, but not showy” demurs from Peter Mandelson’s description and says, “The public services agenda is definitely not Blair-plus”. The Telegraph claim that “VAT rise is a risk under Labour” after the party pledged to retain the exemption on certain goods but refused to rule out a post-election increase. The Independent calls the manifesto “rather vague and too late in the day to be very credible”.

The Times front page covers David Cameron’s pledge to “replace state control with social responsibility” as he launches the Tory manifesto titled, “Invitation to join the government of Britain.” The Times website refers readers back to 12 day old leader which says, “it is still not clear what Mr Cameron means when he says he intends ‘using the State to remake society’.” The Guardian outlines that the Tory leader will promise “California-style referendums on any local issue if residents can win the support of 5% of the population.” The Telegraph covers a 10p cut in fuel duty to be funded from “increased taxes the Government raises from other levies on oil companies when wholesale prices rise”. The Express reports that Cameron will pledge “to cut annual immigration into ­Britain by 80 per cent …  Party sources last night revealed that an annual cap will slash the net influx of newcomers to under 40,000 a year – a fifth of the current level.” The Daily Mail covers the same theme:”Cameron pledges to cut migrants and restore Britain’s ‘sense of national purpose’.”

Other election coverage includes a story in the Mirror that the director of Conservative Future, Adele Douglas, was “laughed at” for having attended a state school and “bullied” for working in the public sector in what the paper calls “anti-Northern racism” from Conservatives. The Guardian reports that “Solid Labour city Sunderland’s new seat is Cameron’s wild card” while John Harris says “David Cameron is a nobody in the north”. The Independent reports that the Information Commissioner’s office said it had called Labour officials to find out the facts about Labour’s targeted postcard on cancer policies. Meanwhile, in a story missed by the mainstream media a Tory candidate sent leaflets showing a blood drenched machete and a misleading statement: “Labour’s cuts: violent crime up 44% under Labour”.

As reported on Left Foot Forward last night, The Times details that “Europe’s centre-right politicians expect David Cameron to rejoin them if he wins the general election”. According to the paper, Mr López-Istúriz, the secretary general of the main centre-right grouping in the European Parliament, said “I do not understand how European affairs can be left to people like Dan Hannan. He was the character behind this exotic group they have built in the European Parliament. They have some disturbing ideas, not only about Europe but also gay rights. Even people like Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard were participating in our meetings with prime ministers.” Mr López-Istúriz pointed to the difficulties of Cameron’s ECR grouping after their Hungarian partners failed to win a single MP in the country’s weekend elections and the former Chairman of their Czech partners resigned after being filmed making disparaging remarks about “gay” and “Jew” colleagues.

President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit has opened in Washington DC. The New York Times reports that, “China Pledges to Work With U.S. on Iran Sanctions”. The FT says President Hu Jintao’s appearance “is seen as a US foreign policy success” and outlines that the two countries are keen to “stress cooperation”. The Guardian reports that, “Pakistan yesterday came under increased pressure over its nuclear arsenal when a Harvard study warned of “a very real possibility” that its warheads could be stolen by terrorists.” It also reveals that Ukraine became the latest country to volunteer to give up its stores of highly enriched uranium.

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