A unusually sharp Institute for Fiscal Studies note on Tory plans to fund extra job training places by saving around £600m from moving people off incapacity benefit:
These savings seem odd given the Government has set out plans to implement the same policy. The Conservative Party has argued that these additional savings are credible because it does not believe that the Government would actually make savings from this reform, but the Government has set out a clear plan for moving recipients of incapacity benefits onto ESA, and announced how much it expects to save from this reform. Read more
Imagine for just a second that the Lib Dem bounce is transient, and their poll support slips back down to the low 20s over the next fortnight. It’s not unlikely; especially with two more TV debates to come. (Much of their current support is coming from people who are still unsure how exactly they will vote). Read more
Six days on from the first debate and the Conservatives have still to work out how to handle Nick Clegg’s meteoric rise. They had hoped the Lib Dem surge would prove to be a shooting star; as time passes they fret that, after all those false dawns, this time the Mr Clegg’s party might actually succeed in smashing the political mould.
A recent visitor to the inner sanctum of Tory campaign HQ tells me that “rabbits” and “headlights” were the two words that sprang to mind as he listened to the internal argument about how to react. Read more
This should worry the Lib Dems. Howard Dean is offering Clegg private advice on keeping his feet on the ground. A sign that we’re reaching the top of the Clegg market? Dean doesn’t think so:
“He’s a real threat right now,” Dean said. “If he gets through this debate and stands up to the attacks . . . and can show he can be prime minister, then I think he will be.”
Remember the Swift Boat Veterans who helped destroy John Kerry’s presidential bid? They were a group of guys who rubbished his war record turning his time in ‘nam against him even though he was running against George W Bush who wriggled out of going altogether. The great thing about the veterans is that they were at arms length and George Bush had deniability over their output.
Well look at this from ConservativeHome. It’s a pretty effective attack video rubbishing Nick Clegg’s record’s on expenses and it is being tweeted out by sympathisers. Read more
The Greens are now racing ahead of all others in the betting on Brighton Pavilion. With party head Caroline Lucas standing for the south coast seat hopes are running high that the party will claim its first Westminster seat. During the Labour conference last autumn I spoke to many locals and there was a clear pro-Green mood in the air (the party also did well in the European and local elections). Read more
Given the astonishing Cleggmania sweeping the country, I wanted to avoid placing my first bet on the Lib Dems.
But the nice chaps at William Hill have offered up some unmissable odds on a Lib Dem victory in Cardiff South & Penarth: 40-1. Read more
As part of the FT’s expert election panel, our three contributors will occasionally be giving their thoughts on the big election news story of the day.
Today, we asked how do the Tories and Labour need to change their tactics and strategy mid-campaign. How do the parties cope with pressure for changes of tactics and how do you balance the need for a different tack with a need not to panic?
Miranda Green, former press secretary to Paddy Ashdown:
So far the Conservative attempt to eschew the nastiness that brands them as “the same old Tories” (their most vulnerable spot, say the focus groups) has left them with not much to say except to warn of the dangers of the current electoral system delivering perverse outcomes – the system that they alone now defend as suited to modern political needs. Read more
This photograph on the Lib Dem website implies that the party’s Parliamentary candidates are from a very wide ethnic background.
This is not necessarily the case in winnable seats. In fact, even if the Lib Dems get up to 110 seats in Parliament (as current polls would indicate) they are likely to have only two MPs from BME (British Minority Ethic) background.
The two are Zuffar Haq, candidate for Harborough, and Parmjit Gill, candidate for Leicester South.
At present all of the Lib Dems’ 63 MPs are white
By contrast, nine of the 165 Tory candidates with the highest prospects are from ethnic minorities, and 8 out of 46 of Labour’s most fancied. Read more
In last night’s episode:
Gordon declared his love for Nick; but Nick doesn’t love Gordon and remembers that when he did love Gordon, Gordon didn’t love him. But Nick is quietly flirting with David Miliband and Alan Johnson, who’ve always liked him a bit more, while trying not to make it too obvious what he is up to in case all the people who like him at the moment stop liking him once they find out what he is up to. Also we’re not really that sure that Gordon does love Nick; we think he doesn’t really. Read more
Despite a suggestion in this Guardian article. Read more
Gideon Rachman, the FT’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, returned on Monday to London after an ash-induced exile. He has written on his blog about the recent rise in attention on Nick Clegg.
I have returned to Britain to find the place in the grip of Clegg-mania. In some polls, the Lib Dems are now actually ahead. The Sunday Times has claimed that Clegg is now more popular than Churchill. Today’s Guardian compared him to Barack Obama. Now I know Nick Clegg, Nick Clegg is a friend of mine – and Nick Clegg is no Barack Obama. (That is a subtle reference to the Lloyd Bentsen-Dan Quayle debate, not an outrageous name-drop.) Mind you, I think even Barack Obama isn’t Barack Obama, if you know what I mean. Read more