Category Archives: Ed Miliband

Tory attacks on Ed Miliband are failing, says pollster Ashcroft

Labour leader has shown ‘a good deal of resilience in the face of some rather unseemly attacks’, Conservative peer claims

Conservative attacks on Ed Miliband are failing to turn wavering voters against the Labour leader, the former Tory treasurer and influential pollster Lord Ashcroft has said.

There has been too much emphasis from the Tories on the opposing leader’s weaknesses

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Related posts:

  1. Martin Rowson on Nicola Sturgeon’s offer to Ed Miliband – cartoon
  2. Ed Miliband issues call to moderate Tories: I’ll be your champion
  3. Election 2015 live: Miliband sets out Labour’s five point immigration vision
Posted in Conservatives, David Cameron, Ed Miliband, General election 2015, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Lord Ashcroft, Opinion polls, Politics, UK news, World news | Comments Off

British politics – the calm before the constitutional storm?

Where is the passion, the protests, the General Election fever? Mute demonstrations seem to reflect the mood of the 2015 campaign

The demonstrators outside Chatham House were not, it turned out, making the point that Nicola Sturgeon was jaundiced. I checked. The yellow masks of the First Minister were a rotten print job. The six quiet souls with a small budget and obvious placards – “Dance to my Tune Ed” – were there to save the union.

Shouldn’t St James’s Square have been packed with demonstrators, with tulips trampled and police horses holding back the crowds? Where were the banners and loud speakers? Something big is happening here. A kingdom is at stake.

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Related posts:

  1. Election 2015 live: Miliband sets out Labour’s five point immigration vision
  2. Election 2015 live: Cameron ducks Miliband’s renewed offer of head-to-head debate
  3. Martin Rowson on Nicola Sturgeon’s offer to Ed Miliband – cartoon
Posted in Conservatives, David Cameron, Ed Miliband, General election 2015, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, Nicola Sturgeon, Nigel Farage, Politics, Scottish National party (SNP), UK Independence party (Ukip), UK news, World news, Yvette Cooper | Comments Off

Election 2015 live: HSBC threat to leave UK shows danger of Tory re-election, says Labour

1.49pm BST

Anyone who reads my speech would see that that is very, very wide of the mark. The only people trying to whip up a big storm about this are the Conservative Party.

I am making a very important point, I believe, about post-conflict planning in Libya. The international community as a whole, including our government, bears some responsibility for the crisis we see in Libya. I think that is undeniable.

David Cameron has presided over the biggest loss of influence for our country in a generation. And that has happened because the government he leads has stepped away from the world, rather than confidently towards it. It is an approach that has shrunk our influence and weakened Britain. And the evidence for that is all around us.

Take the situation of Russia and Ukraine. Was there ever a more apt symbol of Britain’s isolation and waning influence than when David Cameron was absent as the leaders of Germany and France tried to negotiate peace with President Putin?

What he is announcing today is firstly a direct breach of the Smith Commission proposals … I’ve made clear on a number of occasions that if there are matters that are genuinely English only, that have no impact in Scotland, I think there’s a strong case for Scottish MPs not voting on them. The problem is there’s a lot of issues characterised as English-only issues that are anything but – matters relating to the English health service for example. Decisions taken on that have a direct impact on Scotland’s budget. I would vote against anything that prevented Scottish MPs standing up for Scotland’s interests.

There are considerable uncertainties surrounding the revenues that can be raised from sales of expensive properties, the costs of right to buy discounts and the cost of replacing sold properties. These reflect both genuine difficulties in predicting the effect of the policies and a lack of detail in the Conservative Party’s announcement.

Given this uncertainty, and the coalition’s less-than-impressive record in delivering replacement social housing under the existing right to buy, there is a risk that these policies will lead to a further depletion of the social housing stock – something the proposal explicitly seeks to avoid.

1.49pm BST

Leanne Wood, the Plaid Cymru leader, has called for the creation of a Youth Parliament for Wales and votes at 16 for the Welsh Assembly.

I witnessed at first hand the democratic revolution that occurred in Scotland last year when people there of all ages, of all backgrounds, seized back the democratic process for themselves from the establishment. I know that young people here in Wales have the same yearning to shake up the system as they had there. To young people in Wales I implore you, make your voices heard.

One way of giving these voices a platform would be the creation of a Youth Parliament for Wales – something which Plaid Cymru wholeheartedly supports.

1.43pm BST

Populus has released a new poll giving Labour a 3-point lead.

Latest Populus VI: Lab 35 (+1), Con 32 (-), LD 8 (-1), UKIP 14 (-1), Greens 5 (+1), Others 6 (-). Tables here:

1.21pm BST

1.12pm BST

Robert Oxley from Business for Britain, the Eurosceptic business group, is sceptical about the claim from HSBC that it might leave the UK because of the threat of Britain leaving the EU.

Convinient for HSBC to say considering leaving for supposed ‘brexit’ fears when the real reason is tax (at at time when deeply unpopular)

12.55pm BST

In his speech Ed Miliband said the HSBC announcement showed how Conservative European policy was posing “a grave risk” to Britain’s position in the world.

By far the most important cause of our loss of influence is the position of this government, I believe, in regard to the European Union.

The threat of an in-out referendum on an arbitrary timetable with no clear goals for their proposed European renegotiation, no strategy for achieving it and a governing party riven with internal divisions over our future in the EU – including a foreign secretary who has openly advocated leaving the European Union.

12.45pm BST

Here is the full exchange when David Cameron was questioned about HSBC during the Q&A after his speech.

Q: HSBC says they’re actively considering moving headquarters out of UK. Are you concerned about this? What does this mean about London’s future as a financial centre?

Cameron: London is the world’s leading financial centre, has improved as a financial centre not least by changing the way we regulate banks so that we wouldn’t have to bail them out with taxpayers’ money in future as the last Labour government had to do. But it is an important reminder of how vital it is that we keep a pro-enterprise, pro-business, pro-employment policy in our country. We need to keep taxes low, make this an attractive place to invest. All the time I have been prime minister that is what we have been doing, record levels of invard investment coming here.

12.43pm BST

Here are the key points from David Cameron and William Hague’s speeches and Q&A.

Today we are making clear that our commitment to fairness for the voters of England will have very rapid effect.

We can do that because such fairness will not require legislation. It will need changes to the standing orders of the House of Commons, and today we are publishing the changes to the parliamentary procedures that would make English Votes for English Laws a reality.

The real threat to our constitution, the real threat to the UK, comes from those who will not engage with this agenda, because it is vital that English voters feel that they are getting a fair deal.

Let me be clear about what Ed Miliband has said this morning. I’ve learnt as prime minister that it is so important in a dangerous and uncertain world that you show clarity, consistency and strength on these foreign policy issues. And I think frankly people will look at these ill-judged remarks and they will reach their own conclusions …

The people responsible for tragedy in the Mediterranean are the criminal gangs and the traffickers who are plying this evil trade.

I have never known in that time the Labour party set out a different policy towards Libya, or to the Arab world in general. And so I would say [to Miliband] that he cannot lecture anybody about Britain’s influence in the world when the last Labour government closed more than 30 of our embassies, never had a foreign secretary visit Australia in 13 years, withdrew from Latin America, closed the language school of the Foreign Office, all things we have had to put right under this govenrment. And he cannot come to foreign policy with some ill-judged and opportunistics remarks after five years of saying very little at all.

12.22pm BST

Nick Clegg appears to have sided with the Tories over Ed Miliband and his comments about Libya. He told Radio 5 Live:

[It is] pretty distasteful to reduce this total human tragedy, hundreds of people dying in the Mediterranean, to a political point-scoring blame game. Particularly as we are now bringing politics into this, from the party that of course brought us into an illegal invasion of Iraq for which there was no planning at all for the aftermath Labour supported the invasion. It is very easy to be wise with hindsight.

12.16pm BST

Q: How could post-war planning have been better?

Miliband says he would reconvene the Friends of Libya group.

12.14pm BST

Q: Would you have a different policy on arms sales?

Miliband says international obligations on restrictions on arms sales are very important.

12.13pm BST

Q: Do you hold Cameron personally responsible for the migrant deaths?

Miliband says the people traffickers are to blame for the deaths in the Mediterranean.

12.10pm BST

Ed Miliband, at his Q&A, is now taking questions from the press. The previous questions came from Chatham House members.

12.06pm BST

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, has also commented on the HSBC announcement. He said it showed a Tory government was “a risk we cannot afford to take”.

HSBC is just the latest in a long line of companies warning of the dangers of a re-elected Tory government taking Britain out of the European Union.

The big risk to our economy over the next few years is EU exit if the Tories win the election. It would have a disastrous impact on jobs, trade and investment in Britain. It’s a risk we cannot afford to take.

12.05pm BST

Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, has also put out a statement about the HSBC announcement.

Today’s HSBC announcement confirms fears that businesses have over a swing to the right and the prospect of a ‘Blukip’ coalition pulling us out Europe.

David Cameron, held hostage by UKIP partners and the right wing of his party, would drive the country further towards a ‘Brexit’ – which would hit both jobs and business.

11.57am BST

Back to Ed Miliband.

Q: What would you do to bring about a two-state solution in Palestine?

11.52am BST

Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary, has put out a statement saying the HSBC announcement about possibly moving its HQ from London says that Conservative proposals are already having a damaging impact.

David Cameron’s arbitrary timescale for a referendum on EU membership has sent a wave of uncertainty across boardrooms in Britain.

As the comments from HSBC’s chairman this morning confirm, business leaders are speaking up about the risk of uncertainty that UK exit from Europe brings. David Cameron can no longer claim that this isn’t already having an impact on companies’ decisions around jobs and investment in this country.

11.46am BST

Q: What is the difference between Libya and Syria? You supported the Libyan intervention, but opposed intervention in Syria.

But ‘something must be done’ is not a sufficient guide to foreign policy.

11.42am BST

Q: Would you do a confidence and supply arrangement with the SNP?

Miliband says he will put forward a Labour Queen’s Speech. It will be for other parties to decide how they vote on it.

11.39am BST

Ed Miliband has just finished his speech on foreign policy. He is now taking questions.

Q: You have said the Tory plans for an EU referendum could cause instablity. But Labour is also committed to a referendum in the event of a transfer of power to Brussels. Doesn’t that stop integration?

The last thing our country needs is two years of internal debate about whether we should leave the European Union or not … What is worrying is that the centre of gravity of the Conservative party is moving towards exit.

11.34am BST

Miliband told his audience at Chatham House that under David Cameron’s leadership Britain had “stepped away from the world rather than confidently towards it”.

He says in two weeks the country faces a choice between different ideas. Labour believes UK is stronger when it looks outward – a policy he calls “hard-headed multilateralism”.

UK has “stepped away from the world rather than confidently towards it” – Ed Miliband #GE2015

11.19am BST

Q: Isn’t there a danger that you will deepen division? Nicola Sturgeon said this morning you were doing everything you could to reduce the power of Scotland in the UK?

Cameron says the greatest danger to the UK is having an unbalanced constitutional settlement.

11.16am BST

Meanwhile in an unusual broadcasting clash of leaders’ events, Ed Miliband is making his foreign policy speech at Chatham House.

He says the UK needs a strong voice on the world stage, as problems in countries across north Africa and the Middle East cannot be tackled by one state alone.

Miliband says risks of leaving EU on Britain’s position in the world “we’ve seen confirmed by HSBC today” #GE2015

11.15am BST

Q: Are you worried about the HSBC announcement?

Cameron says London is the world’s leading banking centre.

11.14am BST

Asked again about Libya, Cameron says the people traffickers are responsible for the deaths in the Mediterranean. Miliband’s comments are ill-judged, he says.

11.14am BST

Q: What is you response to the briefing note issued by Labour about your failure on Libya.

Cameron says the loss of life has been appalling. It was right for the EU to act. At the EU summit yesterday he pledged a Royal Navy ship. Britain always plays a role.

People will look at these ill-judged remarks and draw their own conclusions.

‘We are solving one of the great conundrums of our time’ says @David_Cameron of English votes, English laws #ge2015

11.08am BST

David Cameron is now taking questions.

Q: You say this is not about English nationalism. But aren’t you playing a dangerous game with the unity of the UK?

11.05am BST

Turning back to the HSBC story for a moment, Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary, has described the HSBC threat to leave the UK as “a big snub” to David Cameron.

“It is a big snub to the Prime Minister and his European policy,” says @ChukaUmunna on HSBC’s #Brexit warning.

11.02am BST

David Cameron has finished his speech on English votes for English laws (Evel). In terms of what he had to announce, he did not go any further than what is set out in Patrick Wintour’s story, but it was interesting to see how he stressed that his plans would strengthen the union, not weaken it.

Here is the key passage.

Let me end on this very important point.

English votes for English laws is not about fragmenting the UK.

10.47am BST

David Cameron has just started his speech at the launch of his English manifesto.

He is in Lincoln, and he was introduced by Karl McCartney, who is standing for re-election.

10.35am BST

I won’t be covering the PM’s speech minute by minute, but I will cover the Q&A and post a summary and analysis afterwards.

If you want to follow Cameron’s speech, you can watch our Reuters live stream below, or click here for the URL.

10.27am BST

The BBC’s Andrew Neil is sceptical about the HSBC announcement.

HSBC says it’s worried that UK might leave EU. So threatens to move HQ to Asia. Can anyone explain logic of that?

10.18am BST

Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary, says HSBC statement shows how “irresponsible” Conservative policy on Europe has been.

HSBC’s statement today serves to illustrate how irresponsible it is to play fast and loose with the UK’s membership of the EU

It would be a disaster for our financial services sector and business in general if the UK left the EU. Better to stay in and lead reform

10.10am BST

According to @PoliticalPics, a political photographer who posts anonymously, those coming out of Tory HQ this morning looked a bit grim.

Tory HQ this morning it’s just like the grim reaper had visited never seen so many miserable people ! 13 days to go

9.58am BST

The Guardian’s City editor Jill Treanor has filed this first take on Douglas Flint’s speech this morning. Here’s the top line:

HSBC, Britain’s biggest bank, has issued a stark warning about the economic risk of the UK pulling out of the European Union as it revealed it was considering moving its headquarters out of London.

The surprise announcement of a “strategic review” into where the bank should base its operations will stun politicians on the general election campaign trail.

9.55am BST

The HSBC story is not the first bit of bad news from business for the Conservatives today. The Financial Times (subscrition) is splashing on a story saying pro-Tory business leaders are unhappy with the party’s campaign.

Business leaders have become frustrated at the tactics and tone of the Conservative election campaign, amid concern in British boardrooms that Ed Miliband is mounting a stiffer challenge for Number 10 than expected.

Twenty FTSE 100 and other business leaders have told the Financial Times they are anxious that — despite presiding over an economic recovery — David Cameron has not opened a lead over Labour.

FINANCIAL TIMES LEAD: Business jitters #tomorrowspaperstoday

9.48am BST

The HSBC announcement will, privately at least, be warmly welcomed by Labour. It reinforces what is easily their strongest argument for being said to be a pro-business argument.

Yesterday, in an interview and a media briefing operation, George Osborne claimed that international investors were worried about the prospect of a Labour government, particularly a minority Labour government dependent on the SNP. He was right to say to say the markets have their concerns, as these quotes show.

9.39am BST

HSBC has announced that it is considering moving its HQ out of the UK – and at the same time it is worried about the possibility of Britain leaving the EU.

The board has therefore now asked management to commence work to look at where the best place is for HSBC to be headquartered in this new environment …

As we look forward, it is impossible not to reflect on the very broad range of uncertainties and challenges to be addressed in 2015 and beyond. Many of these are outside our control, particularly against a backdrop of patchy economic recovery and limited monetary and fiscal policy ammunition. They include:

• unexpected outcomes arising from current geopolitical tensions;

• eurozone membership uncertainties;

9.31am BST

And here is the story CCHQ seems to be trying to knock off the bulletins (see 9.20am)Ed Miliband saying Labour would protect defence more than the Tories.

I want to be absolutely clear that amongst the reasons we reject the extreme spending cuts that the Conservative party propose is that they would be truly catastrophic for the future of our armed forces.

The IFS set out yesterday that they would mean at least 18% budget reductions for departments like the Ministry of Defence – significantly more than the cuts it has had over the course of the last parliament. Conservative assurances to protect specific parts of the defence budget are meaningless in that world; they simply will not be delivered, they will be broken promises.

9.26am BST

My colleague Libby Brooks is with Nicola Sturgeon in Glagow, from where she has filed this report:

At a visit to a ceramics cafe in Glasgow’s southside, Nicola Sturgeon donned an apron and painted an SNP logo on a plate so expertly that one was left pondering whether she actually does all those badges herself.

The first minister and SNP leader described the plans for an English-only income tax as a “direct breach of the Smith commission”. (In fairness to Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, he spotted this line in the Tory manifesto last week and immediately denounced it as a “brutal betrayal” of Scotland).

9.20am BST

Is the Miliband/Cameron migrant death row real or confected? Let’s have a look at the facts.

Yesterday Labour sent out their note about Ed Miliband’s speech. You can decide for yourself whether the three-paragraph passage about Libya, buried in the middle, amounted to a tasteless personal attack on the prime minister. (See 9.01am.) But, interestingly, most of the papers did not take this view. The Sun, the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph have a large number of journalists who are rather brilliant at identifying stories that can be construed in a way that reflects badly on Miliband. But, in the morning editions I’ve seen, they did not write up the “tasteless attack” story.

In a bold bid to claim traditional Conservative territory in the general election battle, Ed Miliband will claim that Labour is now the party best placed to maintain the security of the UK, because of Tory plans for cuts which would “undermine” the armed forces.

In a speech to foreign policy think-tank Chatham House, the Labour leader will accuse David Cameron of pursuing a foreign policy of “small-minded isolationism” that has put party interest first and led to the “biggest loss of influence for our country in a generation”.

9.09am BST

Over the past 24 hours four polls have been published. Two had the Conservatives ahead by four points. While the other two had Labour leading by two and three points respectively.

Although these figures may give the impression of a confusing picture, the differences and movements are minor and within a margin of error.

9.01am BST

Last night Labour sent out a briefing note about Ed Miliband’s foreign policy speech, embargoed until midnight. This is quite routine. Sometimes these advance notes contain only a brief taster of what is going to be said, two or three paragraphs, but sometimes they contain considerable detail. This one was about as extensive as they get. It ran to four pages (in small type).

The headline was: “Miliband: It’s time to reject the Tories’ small-minded isolationism that has led to the biggest loss of British influence in a generation.”

[Miliband] will say the refugee crisis and tragic scenes this week in the Mediterranean are in part a direct result of the failure of post conflict planning for Libya.

“In Libya, Labour supported military action to avoid the slaughter Qaddafi threatened in Benghazi. But since the action, the failure of post conflict planning has become obvious. David Cameron was wrong to assume that Libya’s political culture and institutions could be left to evolve and transform on their own.

8.46am BST

Here are today’s YouGov GB polling figures. They give Labour a 2-point lead.

Update: Lab lead at 2 – Latest YouGov / The Sun results 23rd Apr – Con 33%, Lab 35%, LD 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%; APP -13

New poll for @itvnews & @DailyMailUK has 4pt Con lead -continuing trend Con: 36% Lab: 32% LD: 8% UKIP: 10% Green: 5%

NEW: Survation/@DailyMirror (chg vs 17/04) CON 33% (-1); LAB 29% (-4); UKIP 18% (+1); LD 10% (+3); SNP 4% (NC); GRE 4% (+1); AP 1% (-1)

Voting Intention for @DailyMirror since November, including the most recent poll where fieldwork finished today:

8.35am BST

And here is more from what Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary, said on the Today programme earlier (see 7.52am) about how the Conservative complaints about Ed Miliband’s speech amounted to a “manufactured row”.

Let me tell you what the speech actually says. The speech rightly highlights the loss of British influence that David Cameron has overseen and also highlights the very widely accepted failures on Libya where the international community, rightly I believe, took action to prevent Benghazi being turned into a slaughter house but then has abjectly failed to engage in effective post conflict planning. I think that is widely understood and widely recognised.

I do think David Cameron waded in and then walked away. What we have seen since 2011 is five different Libyan governments. I think there was an opportunity with the establishment of the National Transitional Council for the international community to get around the National Transitional Council and provide better support. We are now in a situation where we have got two rival governments, one in Tripoli, one in Tobruk, and in the first democratic elections, remember back in July 2012, the Islamists only actually won in 19 out of 80 seats. This was not inevitable …

8.22am BST

Good morning. I’m taking over now from Peter.

It is absolutely offensive that Ed Miliband should be suggesting that David Cameron is directly responsible for those deaths which is what he appears to be suggesting in his speech.

I understand that what he is saying in the speech is more direct than that. I think that’s offensive in the course of an election campaign to use that type of terminology … To bring this into an election campaign is outrageous and disgraceful. Actually accusing the prime minister of causing those deaths, whether directly or indirectly, I think is wrong of Ed Miliband to bring that in. I absolutely think he should withdraw it …

My fear is Ed Miliband feels like he’s losing the argument and he’s lashing out and accusing the prime minister, essentially, of causing deaths, rather than addressing the issues in this campaign.

8.04am BST

As Labour and the Tories bicker, the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon is getting down to work, notes my colleague in Scotland, Libby Brooks.

The most dangerous woman in Britain gets her apron on to paint pots in Glasgow’s south side #GE2015

7.55am BST

Nick Robinson, the BBC’s political editor, who is gradually returning to work after surgery for cancer, suggests the row over Miliband’s speech might be more prompted by Labour’s briefing notes for journalists about the speech as by the speech itself.

Is EdM accusing PM of having blood on hands? Not in speech extracts but implied in Labour party briefing note 1/2

“He will say…tragic scenes this week…are in part a direct result of the failure of post conflict planning for Libya” – by Cameron 2/2

7.52am BST

Douglas Alexander, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, has just been on the Today programme dismissing the Conservative complaints about Ed Miliband’s foreign policy speech as “a manufactured row”.

It is a failure of post-conflict planning for which the international community bears responsibility. That’s not a matter of dispute, it’s a matter of fact.

7.44am BST

My colleague Jessica Elgot has filed this on good news for the Ukip leader:

Nigel Farage has pulled away from his rivals to be the favourite to win Thanet South, according to a new poll.

Previous polls had suggested the Ukip leader would have to redouble his efforts to win a seat in parliament, with one survey by Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft in November showing him behind the Tories by five points.

New polling 1,057 residents of the South Thanet constituency polled yesterday:

7.25am BST

Liz Truss, until the election the Conservatives’ environment secretary, has just been on the Today programme, She was first asked about Ed Miliband’s comments about Libya and migrants (see below), calling them “outrageous and disgraceful”. She said:

Actually accusing the prime minister of causing these deaths – whether directly or indirectly – I think is wrong.

It is a hybrid solution – we’re not proposing an English parliament with completely separate decision making.

7.13am BST

A row is brewing over Ed Miliband’s upcoming speech on foreign policy: the Conservatives are angry at passages in which he criticises the coalition’s policy on Libya, and says the chaos in that country has helped cause the current wave of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean. Miliband will say:

The tragedy is that this could have been anticipated. It should have been avoided. And Britain could have played its part in ensuring the international community stood by the people of Libya in practice rather than standing behind the unfounded hopes of potential progress only in principle.

Tory sources: Miliband blaming Cam for Med migrant deaths is ‘deeply provocative + shameful..takes Labour’s negative campaigning to new low’

Tory source on Med deaths “Few bad polls and Miliband accuses PM of murder. We can see who’s running desperate, negative, personal campaign”

Labour insist not laying blame for deaths in Mmediterranean at Mr Cameorn’s door.

7.00am BST

Good morning once again. It’s less than a fortnight to the election, and we’re here once more with all the latest news. I’m Peter Walker, getting things rolling before your regular host, Andrew Sparrow, takes over later this morning. We’ll be watching your comments below with interest, or else you can take to what people used to once call “the micro-blogging social media platform” that is Twitter. I’m @peterwalker99, he’s @andrewsparrow.

Cameron’s repeated warnings to the English of the dangers of the Scottish National party holding the balance of power at Westminster has been directed primarily at the same Ukip vote, and Conservative strategists insist it is working on the doorstep.

Setting out plans for an English income tax, Cameron will begin by referring to changes in Scotland. “Soon the Scottish parliament will be voting to set its own levels of income tax – and rightly so – but that has clear implications. English MPs will be unable to vote on the income tax paid by people in Aberdeen and Edinburgh while Scottish MPs are able to vote on the tax you pay in Birmingham or Canterbury or Leeds. It is simply unfair.”

Not once have they heard you say that earning profit is a ‘good thing’. You can’t really suppress the sneer when you talk of putting up taxes for the likes of them.

THE TIMES FRONT PAGE: “Labour’s £1,000 tax on families” #skypapers

DAILY MAIL: Miliband will bring back uncontrolled migration #tomorrowspaperstoday #BBCPapers

In particular, they criticise the strident personal attacks on the opposition and the flurry of big-spending promises that jar with the party’s prudent fiscal record. “The negative campaign has been disastrous,” said one company chairman.

In a foreign policy speech, the Labour leader will say Britain’s capacity to navigate global turbulence is being undermined by a short-sighted and inward-looking foreign policy. He will say: “Cameron has presided over the biggest loss of influence for our country in a generation. And that has happened because the government he led has stepped away from the world, rather than confidently towards it, sidelined in crucial international events time after time under this government, just at the moment when we needed to engage.”

[T]here is another prospect if Labour and the Lib Dems fall short of the magic 323 seats required to form a government. They could come together and seek, in concert, the confidence and supply consent of the SNP. That would pose the SNP the choice of whether to be responsible or not while minimising its actual impact in government. This is how Labour muffles the SNP. Ed Miliband should, right now, be preparing a big, open and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats.

This can work if Nick Clegg retains his seat, as he probably will. Senior Labour people can work with Mr Clegg and he with them. Liberal Democrats would offer reassurance that Labour spending would be controlled and a bit of market sensibility into Ed Miliband’s tendency to command into being a capitalism of his own devising.

I’ve just witnessed an extraordinary moment on the campaign trail in Edinburgh. No, it’s not this, but a political party leader talking to a real voter.

This is Ruth Davidson, Tory leader, talking to a random voter in Edinburgh. I know he was a random voter because I ran after him to check. You never know, after all.

The film, The Socialist Car of State, shows a car marked “Trade and Employment” carrying the personification of England, John Bull, being skilfully piloted around various economic obstacles by the pipe-smoking Conservative prime minister, Stanley Baldwin.

Things begin to go wrong when, first, the car is struck by the “General Strike Charabanc” (allowing various sinister foreigners to steal its precious cargo of jobs and contracts), and, second, when John Bull takes advantage of a stop at the “General Election 1929 Garage” to change drivers. The new driver, the Labour MP Jimmy Thomas, is unable to get the car moving in the right direction and soon weighs the vehicle down with “Socialist Burdens” which, quite literally, cause the wheels to come off.

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  2. Election 2015 live: PM demeaning himself over SNP stance, says Miliband
Posted in Conservatives, David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Labour, Politics, William Hague, World news | Comments Off

Milifandom soars with Twitter backing for Labour leader Ed Miliband

Student tweets about admiration for Ed Miliband, prompting flood of followers

Ed Miliband has developed an unlikely fanbase of smitten teenage girls, after a 17-year-old student declared her admiration for the Labour leader on Twitter and prompted a flood of replies from other young women.

A student, known only as Abby, caused a Twitter storm after declaring herself leader of the #milifandom – a group of enthusiastic Ed Miliband admirers. Fandoms are usually reserved for the likes of Justin Bieber and One Direction, but the #milifandom hashtag has been trending, with scores of young females sharing their affection for the leader.

ed miliband flower crown edits

if I ever met ed miliband I could die happy tbh, he’s cool

The real question is, who isn’t a part of the #milifandom? #BaeMiliband

Thinking about ed miliband

me: has a strong unexplainable emotional connection to a 45 year old politician

feel like i should replace harry styles in the thumbnail of my new video with ed miliband tbh

David Cameron: *ignores young people* Young people: *start #milifandom campaign so ed will win* David Cameron: *regretting it*

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Election 2015 live: SNP would not ‘torture’ a minority Labour government, says Sturgeon

12.10pm BST

Q: The manifesto talks about full financial responsibility. In the past you said you wanted full fiscal autonomy. Is there any difference?

No, says Sturgeon. She is just using that term to make it clear Scotland would have responsibility for its own affairs.

12.09pm BST

Q: [From the Telegraph’s Alan Cochrane] There is a lot of talk about negotiations. Are you going to base yourself in London for the talks. I’ll put you up for membership of the Caledonian Club. Or will you do it from 400 miles away.

Sturgeon says she is leader of the SNP. She will be in charge of discussions.

12.07pm BST

Q: Would you like to see SNP MPs in the Scotland Office?

Sturgeon says she does not want a formal pact. Labour does not want that either. So she does not expect to see SNP MPs serving as ministers.

12.06pm BST

Q: Was Stewart Hosie correct to say on 28 March that the SNP would expect to be consulted on a Labour Queen’s Speech?

Sturgeon says she is not leading the SNP to obstruct, or block or bring down. She wants the SNP to be a constructive force.

12.04pm BST

Q: A bookmaker offered me good odds on a second referendum within five years. Should I take the bet?

12.03pm BST

Q: Will you insist on Scotland’s fishing minister taking the lead in EU talks on behalf of the UK?

Sturgeon says this is something the SNP has argued for for a long time.

12.01pm BST

Q: Do think the rest of the UK wants a more leftwing government than the one Ed Miliband offers?

11.58am BST

Q: Would you urge people in England to vote Labour?

Sturgeon says she is not telling people in England how to vote. All she would say is that they should vote for the most progressive candidate?

.@NicolaSturgeon steps back from urging English voters back Greens & Welsh Plaid Cymru: vote for Labour candidate if s/he most progressive

11.55am BST

Q: David Cameron is setting out what he calls “the Carlisle principle”. (See 11.28am.) What is your reaction to that?

Sturgeon says they are borne out of desperation and panic. They will be seen as an attempt to undermine the Edinburgh parliament. And it is a bit rich for a government that has racked up billions of pounds of debt to criticise a government that has always balanced the books.

11.52am BST

Q: If Ed Miliband made his budget an issue of confidence in him, would you support that budget?

11.51am BST

Q: If a minority government does not do what you want it to do, will you vote it out of power? Or will you just torture it for five years?

Sturgeon says she will do neither of those things.

11.49am BST

Q: Why do you think the English are scared of you?

I don’t think they are, she says.

.@alextomo asks @NicolaSturgeon “why do you think the English are scared of you?” Answer: “I don’t” “we will play a constructive role”

11.47am BST

Q: You have had eight years in government to raise tax, but you have not done so. Can you name a single redistributive policy you have implemented in Scotland?

Sturgeon says she does not have those powers. All she can do is raise or lower the basic rate of income tax by 3p. People on the basic rate are not those with the “broadest shoulders”.

11.44am BST

Q: Full fiscal responsibility is on the second last page of the manifesto. Will you give us full costings?

Sturgeon says even if the SNP reach an agreement on this, it would take several years for this to be implemented. It is therefore “irrelevant” to use figures from one particular year to argue that it would not work.

11.40am BST

Q: David Cameron says it would be frightening for the SNP to have influence on the government of the UK. Could independence come about through the back door of English disquiet, not from the front door of SNP demands?

Strugeon says she has been told that Cameron would not sit on the sofa with her at the end of the Andrew Marr show yesterday.

11.37am BST

Q: Are you now encouraging other parts of the UK to seek independence?

No, says Sturgeon.

11.34am BST

Nicola Sturgeon is now taking questions.

11.28am BST

Sturgeon says the SNP will always support independence.

But this election is not about independence. It is about making Scotland stronger.

As we go further in devolving powers to Scotland, we need to make sure devolution works for all the other all parts of this country too …

Today I want to set out a new principle – you could call it the Carlisle Principle – that we will make sure that there are no unforeseen detrimental consequences to the rest of the country from Scottish devolution. For either England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

11.24am BST

Sturgeon says abolishing the bedroom tax would release the £35m that the Scottish government currently uses to mitigate the effect of that measure.

The SNP government in Scotland would use that money to address the food poverty problem that makes people reliant on food banks.

11.23am BST

Sturgeon says the SNP would press for 100,000 new affordable homes to be built each year.

And @theSNP will back 100,000 extra new homes & £8.70 min wage across the UK says @NicolaSturgeon, again throwing down gauntlet @UKLabour

11.20am BST

Sturgeon says Labour has failed to commit to the money England’s NHS needs. The Tories have committed to this, but not explained where the money could come from.

.@NicolaSturgeon ups ante on #NHS UK funding by pledging a £9.5bn above inflation annual rise in funding, totalling £24bn #GE2015 @theSNP

11.17am BST

Sturgeon says the SNP will vote for the £100bn due to be spent on Trident to be spend on education, the NHS and better childcare instead.

11.16am BST

Sturgeon says, under her plans, the deficit and national debt would still fall each year.

But they would fall more slowly, she says.

So @theSNP moves to box in @UKLabour by backing @Ed_Miliband‘s 50p tax rate; bankers bonus tax; mansion tax but rejects #Trident renewal

11.14am BST

Sturgeon says she holds out “a hand of friendship” to people in the rest of the UK.

The manifesto sets out policies for progressive change.

It is time to end the needless pain of Tory cuts.

When a policy is failing, it is time to change that policy.

11.12am BST

Sturgeon says the SNP will make Scotland’s voice be heard more loudly at Westminster than it has ever been heard before.

11.09am BST

Nicola Sturgeon is now speaking at the launch of the SNP manifesto.

11.08am BST

Sturgeon arrives at back of hall to thunderous music and near-hysterical cheering

11.06am BST

Here are some early highlights from the SNP manifesto.

No mention of independence in Sturgeon’s introduction. Emphasis on austerity, NHS spending, and Trident.

SNP manifesto parks independence and moves towards “full fiscal responsibility”.

This is the only mention of independence I can find in the #snpmanifesto.

The SNP would raise minimum wage to £8.70 by 2020. #snpmanifesto

Unusual design… A manifesto within a manifesto. #snp

There is a curious lack of Alex salmond in the snp manifesto – I can’t imagine why

11.01am BST

The SNP manifesto launch is just about to start.

So here it is: the LP sized #Westminster blueprint for @theSNP surge, with a non-MP @NicolaSturgeon on the cover

10.57am BST

Jim Murphy, the Scottish Labour leader, is planning to force through key parts of his manifesto from the opposition benches at Holyrood if Labour win the Westminster election, according to a report in the Herald this morning.

Murphy, whose Scottish Labour manifesto pledges on devolved areas include 1,000 extra nurses for the Scottish NHS and an additional 500 GPs, challenged first minister Nicola Sturgeon to “Vote against it if you dare.”

10.53am BST

The Green party has launched its youth manifesto today. The Young Greens have 17,700 members, making them the largest youth party in the UK, they say.

The Greens’ proposals include 2,000 new young people’s centres, spending £1.1bn on youth services, getting rid of tuition fees and reintroducing the educational maintenance allowance.

10.48am BST

Lord Mason, who as Roy Mason was a Labour defence secretary and Northern Ireland secretary in the 1970s, has died, the Yorkshire Post reports.

Death of Roy Mason leaves @LordHealey as last surviving member of Wilson’s 1964-70 Cabinet @LabourHistory

10.35am BST

Boris Johnson, the Conservative mayor of London, has compared Nicola Sturgeon to the baby-killer King Herod. Obviously, at one level it’s just hyperbole, but, still, even Johnson must have had second thoughts before hitting the keyboard with this one.

This is from his Telegraph column.

You wouldn’t get Herod to run a baby farm, would you? It would not normally occur to you to interview a convicted jewel thief for the post of custodian of the Tower of London.

You would not dream of asking a fox to look after the henhouse or a temperance campaigner to run a brewery or Attila the Hun to work as a doorkeeper for the Roman senate – and no one in their right mind would enter into a contract with a bunch of voracious weevils to protect the lovely old timbers in the tower of the local church. Would they?

It is therefore obvious to every serious political analyst that [Ed Miliband] would be in many ways the plaything of the SNP. Unless he has the support of that 40-plus bloc of Scottish secessionists, he will be stymied. If Miliband somehow manages to form a minority government, he will be peeping from Alec Salmond’s sporran like a baffled baby kangaroo. He would be the vacillating Macbeth, pushed hither and yon by Lady Macbeth, in the form of Nicola Sturgeon.

Did you see her the other night, telling him to man up, to screw his courage to the sticking place – to do what she told him to do because “you are not strong enough on your own”? The awful truth is that she is right. Without her help and her say-so, and without the support of Salmond and his troops in the Commons, there is not a single bill that Labour could get through.

10.17am BST

Here is the poster the SNP are launching to go with their manifesto. It is going to appear on 400 poster sites in Scotland, as well as being used extensively in SNP campaign literature.

“My vow is to make Scotland stronger at Westminster”: @NicolaSturgeon. Coming to a billboard near you! #GE15 #voteSNP

Nicola appearing on the poster reflects her exceptionally strong approval ratings – which the latest YouGov poll in Scotland showed are increasing. 71% of people think Nicola Sturgeon is doing well as first minister, compared to just 23% who think she is doing badly. The net approval rating of +48 is a significant increase on the already high +33 recorded last month.

A remarkable 71% of people who voted Labour in 2010 believe that she is doing well.

10.00am BST

Andrew George, who is seeking re-election as Lib Dem MP for St Ives, has said that another Conservative/Lib Dem coalition “is not going to happen”, my colleague Patrick Wintour reports. George told a public meeting:

We have had enough of it. The Tories would not want it and I am sure my party would not go for it.

9.51am BST

The Guardian’s data and interactives team has produced this incredibly fascinating map of the UK showing exactly which constituencies are likely to change hands, based on national polling projections.

As well as digging down into the specific race where you live, you can also see some general trends across the country, such as the dogfight the Lib Dems are in in south-west England, and Ukip’s expected gains in the east.

9.47am BST

In a speech this morning David Cameron will say that, of the 2m jobs that the Conservatives want to create over the next five years, 60% would be outside London and the south east. He will say:

I’ve always been clear, right from the start: it’s not just a bigger economy we want, it’s a balanced economy, where the success is felt from North, to South, to East, to West. I didn’t come into this to create some reckless, booming economy just within the M25. That’s what we had before …

No more. We will back business to create two million new jobs. And this is my goal – that more than 60% of these will be outside London and the South East. That is what we’ve done in the last parliament.

9.35am BST

Four prominent environmentalists, Jonathon Porritt, Tom Burke, Charles Secrett and Tony Juniper, have put out a joint statement backing Caroline Lucas, the Green candidate in Brighton Pavilion. They are all former directors of Friends of the Earth.

As four former directors of Friends of the Earth it would be inappropriate for us to urge everyone to vote for Green Party candidates in all constituencies around the country – though we would certainly like to refute the charge that a vote for the Green Party in any of those constituencies is a wasted vote. The Green Party’s new Election broadcast spells out the case for ‘voting true, not tactical’.

But there is one constituency where a vote for the Green Party is irrefutably not a wasted vote – and that’s Brighton Pavilion. Its MP, Caroline Lucas, is currently the only Green Party MP, and in our view it’s absolutely crucial that she is re-elected.

9.29am BST

The SNP are launching their manifesto at the Edinburgh climbing centre.

Coming up on @BBCNews now #ge15 #voteSNP

9.19am BST

Here is today’s Guardian seat projection.

9.16am BST

My colleague Roy Greenslade has written a good blog examining how the Tory press in London is demonising Nicola Sturgeon. (See 7.05am and 9.08am.) Here’s an extract.

The Mail is withering about the SNP’s leader. “Even by her own megalomaniac standards, Nicola Sturgeon’s language on the day of her manifesto launch is breathtaking in its arrogance”. (It does not say this in its Scottish edition, which carries a different, though avowedly unionist, editorial).

The Mail believes the SNP, a party representing less than 5% of the total electorate, is “intent on destroying the UK” and that the prospect of its ruling in company with Labour “should make anyone who believes in democracy shudder”.

9.08am BST

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, told Sky News this morning that the Conservatives were talking up the chances of a Labour/SNP pact because their own campaign was “flatlining”.

It suits [Nicola Sturgeon’s] interests and the Tories’ to talk up all these potential deals after May 7. I think it’s a bit disrespectful and will turn the public off from this election campaign.

They want to know what we are going to do – what’s Labour’s plan for the country, what’s Labour’s plan for the NHS – before they cast their vote. If we look like we are taking their vote for granted or presuming how they are going to vote on May 7, I think it will bring politics into even more disregard.

I don’t understand some of today’s Coalition Maths. SNP can only block defence spending if they are willing to vote with Cons & vice versa.

Talk of voting with ‘Labour rebels’ to change the budget is fraudulent. Would come to nothing without support from the official opposition.

@philipjcowley missing headline Tories to join SNP in holding Labour to ransom.

9.02am BST

What do the real voters think? We have 60 in five key seats giving their view throughout the campaign as part of our polling project with BritainThinks. They each have an app and are telling us what they think of stories as they crop up. Here are some of their general thoughts as the campaign ticks over its halfway point:

8.42am BST

Labour will today launch a manifesto for disabled people, the Press Association reports.

Labour will today launch a manifesto aimed at winning over the votes of 12m disabled people, suggesting they hold the key to election victory.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said high-profile Labour pledges such as scrapping the so-called bedroom tax – or spare room subsidy – will be packaged alongside promises to include disabled people in policy committees in government.

8.36am BST

Here is the Conservative response to the Labour NHS campaign launched today. (See 7.38am.) It’s from a party spokesman.

This marks a new low in Ed Miliband’s desperate attempts to weaponise the NHS. His credibility on health is in tatters because he refuses to fund the £8bn the NHS needs. By building a stronger economy, we have protected and improved the NHS with 9,500 more doctors, 6,900 more nurses, and 1.3 million more life-saving operations every year. There is only one threat to the future of our NHS and that is the economic chaos of an Ed Miliband-SNP government.

8.30am BST

Good morning. I’m taking over now from Peter.

Here are today’s YouGov GB polling figures.

Update: Lab lead at 1 – Latest YouGov / The Sun results 19th Apr – Con 34%, Lab 35%, LD 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%; APP -10

8.13am BST

Another reminder that it’s still – just – not too late to register to vote. And reasonably large numbers are still doing so.

124,000 people registered to vote yesterday. There’s still time – deadline midnight tonight.

8.06am BST

In their wisdom, someone at the Sun has decided that veteran political pundit Trevor Kavanagh’s latest column should feature arguably the most sexist illustration of the election campaign so far. And there’s been a fair bit of competition. I won’t show it directly here – it is still early on a Monday morning – but it features a heavily-cleavaged, mini-dressed Nicolas Sturgeon, Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett fawning over an 007-esque Ed Miliband.

In case you’d forgotten, this is the 2015 election, not 1974.

7.59am BST

Paul Mason, Channel 4 News’ economics editor, has used his regular Guardian column to flag up anoher element of the Trident debate: if the missile system is renewed, will it even be effective?

The unpalatable truth – for those who believe in nuclear deterrence – may be that four new submarines are not enough. All the things touted as alternatives to the current Trident system – cruise missiles, free-fall bombs and static silos – might be needed on top of it. Without a clear, public assessment of the new threat, nobody knows what the new minimum deterrent really is, or if it can deter at all.

For those who oppose nuclear deterrence as a concept, the challenge is to spell out an alternative doctrine to deal with the Russian threat.

7.43am BST

The election is over and the result is in: another coalition, with one of the main parties likely to need propping up by a smaller, vehemently anti-EU group. In Finland, that is.

7.41am BST

The Guardian’s Scotland correspondent, Severin Carrell, has some more on John Swinney’s interview on the Today programme:

Ending austerity has become the “sharp point” of the general election campaign and will be the primary focus for the SNP at Westminster, John Swinney, the Scottish deputy first minister, has told Radio 4’s Today programme.

Speaking before the Scottish National party publishes its 2015 manifesto near Edinburgh, Swinney said that fighting public spending cuts at UK level was the chief priority for the party.

7.38am BST

The Labour party has tweeted the poster which goes with its “NHS week” focus, being formally launched later this morning.

The NHS is on life support after five years of the Tories. Cameron is planning to double the pace of cuts next year.

7.36am BST

The media campaign group Hacked Off has commissioned a YouGov poll which found that more than half of people believe Ed Miliband receives negative coverage in the press. A mere 17% thought he was featured positively, against 36% who believed this of David Cameron. Read the full story here.

7.31am BST

John Swinney, Scotland’s deputy first minister, has just endured a somewhat testy interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in which James Naughtie repeatedly pressed him on whether the SNP would potentially bring down a Labour government over the issue of Trident. By my count Naughtie asked this specific question five times. On each occasion Swinney dodged it. “You’re really avoiding the question, again, and again and again,” sighed an exasperated Naughtie.

The sharp point to this election is that we have an opportunity to bring austerity to an end, and that will be the first priority of SNP MPs.

7.14am BST

Meanwhile, not everyone is seemingly gripped by the prospect of post-election governmental chaos.

Interesting article in #CSQuarterly about the future of driving:

7.12am BST

The Liberal Democrats have launched what they’re terming a “five-point plan for teachers and parents”, which is largely just a condensed version of their existing plans for education.

.@nick_clegg announces five point plan for teachers & parents #GE2015 #libdems

7.05am BST

Hello everyone, and welcome to another all-day chronicle of the latest election news, as we enter the second-last full week of campaigning, with all the polls still pointing towards some variant on a hung parliament. I’m Peter Walker, getting things going before Andrew Sparrow takes us through most of the day. Let us know your thoughts, whether in the comments below or via Twitter. I’m @peterwalker99, he’s @andrewsparrow.

With fixed-term parliaments, it gives parties in a minority-government situation – [where] hopefully the SNP will be in a position of influence – huge ability to change the direction of a government without bringing a government down.

There are very limited circumstances in that act where you can trigger a general election, but what you can do is build alliances to change the direction of a government on particular issues and that is what the SNP would seek to do.

THE TIMES: We will hold UK defence to ransom, SNP warns #tomorrowspaperstoday #BBCPapers

TELEGRAPH: SNP’s ransom note to Miliband #tomorrowspaperstoday #BBCPapers

MIRROR: Your country needs you….to vote! #tomorrowspaperstoday #BBCPapers

On present evidence the Scottish nationalists are more likely than the Lib Dems to hold the balance of power on May 8. The SNP is a separatist party on the cusp of national power, and is not afraid to say how it would use it.

It would back Labour on cutting tuition fees, scrapping the coalition’s welfare reforms and fixing energy prices. The signs are that at the same time it would hold the UK budget to ransom with line-item deliberations more familiar in Washington.

Like the more earnest characters in Star Wars, the leaders of minor parties who are angling for a pact always promise to bring balance to the Force. In almost all cases, this is wildly misleading. If you think coalition was bad – backroom deals, cut-and-paste policymaking, good ideas lost in the quicksand between the two parties – then try the looser varieties of alliance.

David Steel’s account of the Lib-Lab pact of 1977-78, A House Divided, should be required reading. “The House of Commons did enjoy a period when it actually controlled the executive,” writes Steel. “Unless the government could muster by argument a majority, its measures could not pass.” All of which is fine, as long as the constituent parties understand and accept this transfer of power and are prepared for five years of gruelling parliamentary negotiation over absolutely everything.

The share offer will raise billions of pounds, helping taxpayers to get back the money that the last Labour government put in, and reducing the national debt. This is another example of our long-term plan in action – cleaning up the mess we inherited, dealing with our debts, rewarding hard-working taxpayers and rebalancing the economy towards investment and saving.

What is clear is that the election is close and pollsters face a number of challenges in correctly reflecting voting intention in national opinion polls. There appear to be some differences when considering survey mode, at least when considering UKIP and the sheer number of parties involved present real challenges.

Any one of them being significantly out creates a potential problem. Finally, the age old problem of potential ‘shy Tory’ voters could rear its head again whilst turnout in Scotland could also have a significant impact in the eventual result too.

Labour are only set to win about as many seats as the Tories. So why do we think Miliband must be favoured to be the next PM? Because governments aren’t necessarily formed by the largest party; the next one will be formed by whomever can cobble together 323 seats…

According to our forecast, the ‘anti-Tory’ parties – Labour, the SNP, and smaller parties like the Greens, Plaid Cymru, SDLP and Respect – are going to win 337 MPs, 14 more than they need to ‘lock Cameron out’, as Alex Salmond put it to us last month.

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