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Sunday, May 02, 2010

What's occurrin' - the final week!

On my way out to rejoin the campaign trail so here are a few gems from this morning's papers.

The Guardian reports that a high-flying prospective Conservative MP, credited with shaping many of the party's social policies, founded a church that tried to "cure" homosexuals by driving out their "demons" through prayer. What next?

Another problem for Cameron as he tries to reposition his party as modern and outward looking. Whatever happened to his talk about the 'Big Society'? Clearly, Tory society is not as big as he would like.

Meanwhile, the Mail on Sunday reports on the aftermath of 'bigotgate', carrying an exclusive interview with Gillian Duffy.

Mrs. Duffy has now decided that she will not be voting. She said: ‘I’m not “that woman”. It’s no way to talk of someone, that, is it? As if I’m to be brushed away. Why couldn’t he have said “that lady”?’

Nor was Mrs Duffy impressed when he came to her house, made a grovelling apology and invited her to No10 to visit him and his wife Sarah.

‘He asked, “Do you ever come down to London? If you ever come down you must come to No. 10 and meet me and Sarah,”’ Mrs Duffy revealed. ‘Well, I just looked at him. I didn’t like to say it, but all I could think was, “I don’t think you’ll be there.”’
Well, yes!

The Prime Minister continues to make headlines whilst out campaigning but not the ones he wanted. The Sunday Times tells us that a Labour rally in Sunderland went a bit awry when a heckler was bundled out after trying to put his point of view. Julian Borthwick made an interesting point about the Labour campaign:

Later, Borthwick, 38, said he was not a member of any opposition party, and had merely wanted to highlight that the prime minister was talking only to party activists rather than the general public.

“Real politicians are going around talking to real people and Mr Brown isn’t doing that,” he said. “Mr Brown needs to see real electors, not just hand-picked people.”

The problem is that when Gordon does get to meet real people like Gillian Duffy, he insults them.

The Observer has joined the Guardian (and apparently Scotland on Sunday) in coming out for the Liberal Democrats. They say that private polling has indicated that several seats not previously on the party's hit list are now within the Liberal Democrats' grasp. Examples include the Labour-held stronghold of Redcar in north Yorkshire, Labour-held Colne Valley in west Yorkshire and the Tory-held seat of Wells in Somerset.

Party strategists claimed their policy of "tax fairness" – under which the first £10,000 of earnings would be exempted from income tax – was swaying an increasing number of floating voters.

They go on to say that the Liberal Democrats are also poised to swing a number of key university seats:

A survey released last week by Opinionpanel showed that the percentage of students planning to vote Lib Dem had almost doubled over the course of the campaign to 50%.

Since Clegg's performance in the first televised leaders' debate, the party's national student organisation, Liberal Youth, has reported "tenfold" increases in volunteering and pledges of support.

Seats that the party could win off the back of student support include York Outer and Oxford East. Leicester South and City of Durham also now seem to be within Clegg's grasp.

You can add Swansea West to that list as well especially with the news in today's Sunday Times that students are facing rises of up to £1,000 a year in tuition fees under plans being drawn up by an official review that could eventually allow universities to charge the full cost of a degree.

Lord Browne, the former chief executive of BP, wants to remove the current £3,225 limit on fees. Leading research universities could charge students an estimated £7,000 a year while fees for science undergraduates could rise to £14,000.

The Liberal Democrats' policy to phase out tuition fees over six years has never been so relevant.
> Lord Browne, the former chief
>executive of BP
and author of the outsourcing policy which has led, in my opinion, to the Louisiana oil-rig explosion.
I would dearly love to see Colne Valley back in Liberal Democrat hands.
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