1)PICK UP LITTER OR LOSE BENEFITS
George Osborne has defended plans to make the long-term jobless “work for the dole”, insisting that it is a “very compassionate” approach to people who have been abandoned by previous governments. Under tough new conditions attached to welfare payments, hundreds of thousands of claimants will be required to carry out community work such as collecting litter, cooking meals for the elderly or cleaning graffiti.
Announcing the US-style Help to Work scheme in his keynote speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester today, Osborne will say the change will end the “something-for-nothing culture”. Those who break the rules, for example by failing to turn up for duties without a good reason, could lose their benefit for four weeks. A second offence would see them lose out for three months.
Defending his policy on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Osborne was also forced to deny reports in a new book that he had called work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith “thick”. Did he say that? “No, I did not.”
The new welfare announcement fits in nicely under the party conference slogan of “For Hardworking People” – which is draped all over the Manchester conference centre. However one MP has admitted it is bit clunky and could be damaging as it “excludes too many people”.
2) MCBRIDE V CAMPBELL
Damian McBride has not gone away. In an interview with The Huffington Post UK, Gordon Brown’s former spin doctor has launched an outspoken attack on fellow former spin doctor Alastair Campbell’s “spin stuff” over the Iraq war and the late weapons inspector, Dr David Kelly. Speaking to Mehdi Hasan, McBride said: “the reason Alastair has got that [negative] reputation, for right or wrong, is because of the perception that he played a crucial role in taking the country into an illegal war and playing a personal role in the pressure that was put on David Kelly.”
The full interview will be published later today.
3) MILIBAND’S ANGER AT DAILY MAIL
Ed Miliband publicly hit out at the Daily Mail last night over an article it ran calling his father Ralph “the man who hated Britain”. The Labour leader said he was “not prepared to allow his good name to be denigrated in this way” after the two page article in Saturday’s edition of the newspaper. He took the unusual step of using Twitter to express his deep anger about the piece and reveal that the Daily Mail had agreed to publish a response from him in Tuesday’s edition. “My dad loved Britain, he served in the Royal Navy and I am not prepared to allow his good name to be denigrated in this way,” he wrote.
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4) FARAGE FLOATS TORY DEALS
Nigel Farage has suggested Ukip candidates could strike local deals with Tory MPs. Writing in The Times, the Ukip leader ruled out a formal electoral pact, but suggested he would not stand in the way of agreements made at constituency level. However the plan was quickly shot down by George Osborne when asked it it would be possible. “The short answer is no,” he said.
Today is Farage day at the Conservative Party conference – despite attempts by the Tory leadership to airbrush him out of existence. The Ukip leader will be speaking at three high profile fringe events in Manchester but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at the official listing of events. In an attempt to keep people away from Farage, the party deleted all mention of him.
5) HOW CAMERON COULD HAVE WON
David Cameron could have won an extra 500,000 votes and formed a majority government in 2010 if he had appealed to ethnic minority voters, according to new research published by Conservative Home and British Future. According to the report these voters would have won the Conservatives at least 24 more marginal seats from Labour. This would give David Cameron a clear overall majority of 12.
140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
@BBCr4today George Osborne: “There aren’t going to be any deals with UKIP, and there are not going to be Conservative-UKIP candidates locally.”
@JamesTapsfield Apparently earlier drafts of osbo speech had help to buy and marriage tax break announcements – but he’s ended up with IDS’s policy
900 WORDS OR MORE
Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun: Ukip’s Farage is haunting the Tories like a bad smell
Boris Johnson in the Daily Telegraph: Ed Miliband in power ‘like a turbine on a windless day’
Chris Huhne in The Guardian: If Britain wants to cut energy bills it must get tough with the United States