Morning Briefing – The Telegraph

Good morning.

Conservatives in crisis! The latest Populus has Labour ahead by 37% to 32%. But the new Ashcroft poll has that party on 28% to the Conservatives’ 34%. Polling industry in crisis!

The figures aren’t as strange as they seem. The continuing volatility of Lord Ashcroft’s poll means that Labour will probably be back on top by a similar margin next week, while the movement in the latest Populus poll is within the margin of error. As Lewis Baston puts it, “watch the share, not the gap”. It’s all about the average share of the parties and the overall trend. We know that the Conservative poll share remains becalmed on 31-33%, while Labour mostly flit between the 32-34%. We also know that the Opposition are falling in the polls while the Conservatives are flatlining. Today’s Poll of Polls sees the parties deadlocked on 33%. (Which, remember, would likely put Labour ahead in terms of seats if it were repeated at a general election.)

The important questions aren’t about what happens in the odd Populus poll or even the ongoing debate over the reliability of Lord Ashcroft’s figures. It’s this: what is Labour’s floor, and what is the Tory ceiling? At what point does the decline in Labour’s vote bottom out, and is there any room for growth in the Conservative share? If Labour hit 28% as some Conservative ministers believe it will, then 32% of the vote would carry David Cameron back into Downing Street. Equally, if the Conservatives can find a way to get back to the 34, 35% mark, then anything below 32% becomes disastrous for Labour.

What seems most likely is that neither side will make a breakthrough, and that May 2015 will look a great deal like the European elections: the Conservative vote holding up better than expected, Labour doing well in London but poorly across most of England, Ukip maximising their vote among that section of the population that is Farage-inclined, the Liberals in heavy retreat everywhere. The difference between disappointment and disaster for Labour in that election came from Scotland. It’s a reminder, if it were needed, that what Jim Murphy and Nicola Sturgeon do between now and May probably matters more than anything that happens south of the border.

A LOT OF IFS AND BUTS

The IFS’ Paul Johnson has written a column for the Times on the fiscal choices of David Cameron and Ed Miliband. He says that Labour’s plans could leave the national debt around £170 billion higher by the end of the 2020s than through a balanced budget. “Labour plan to borrow risks £170bn extra debt” is the Thunderer’s splash. The figures and the headline are based on a “ludicrous assumption” about Labour’s plans from 2020 onwards, Labour spinners say. Labour’s policy wonks think that they can close the deficit partly through boosting wages – their analysis shows that if wages grow in line with the average over the course of this Parliament, rather than the historical norm, it will deprive the Treasury of over £100 billion in revenue, Patrick Wintour reports in the Guardian.

LETHAL WEAPONISING

1992 had the War of Jennifer’s Ear. We’ve got the Skirmish of Miliband’s Mouth. The PM says Ed Miliband is”wriggling like an eel” over his alleged use of that word “weaponise” to describe his plans for the NHS. It reveals that he doesn’t much care about the state of the NHS, the PM says.

LET FREEDOM RING (AND WE’LL TAP THE CALL)

“PM wants new internet spying powers” is the Guardian’s splash. David Cameron wants British intelligence agencies to be given the power to break into the encrypted communications of suspected terrorists. Nick Clegg’s not impressed with the PM’s swift switch from rallying for free speech and quickly moving to increase surveillance. “The irony appears lost on some politicians,” Mr Clegg huffed.

ACTUALLY, YOUR MUM IS A CHICKEN!

It’s Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband who are scared of debates, the PM says. They’re worried about the Green party’s Natalie Bennett taking votes from the pair of them, he says. It’s not just the Green leader who wants in on the debates and could spell trouble for Ed Miliband: Nicola Sturgeon and Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood make their case for involvement in the Guardian.

CLOONEY AND MILIBAND

Ed Miliband dined with the barrister Amal Clooney and her actor husband George, Matt Holehouse reveals. As a result, he may throw his weight behind a group of cross-party backbenchers who want to do more to sanction corrupt officials in Vladimir Putin’s regime, although the Labour leader’s spokesman has played down his interest in the law.

CAMERON GOES FOX-HUNTING

David Cameron has slapped down Steve Emerson, a self-described “terrorism expert” who told Fox News that the city of Birmingham was “totally Muslim” and that “non-Muslims simply don’t go in” to the city. (Just 21% of the city’s residents are Muslim.) “I choked on my porridge,” the PM said, “The guy is clearly a complete idiot.” Matt Holehouse has the story.

The Effects of Smoking on the Body

Rehabilitate Your Heart

THE EFFECTS OF
SMOKING ON THE BODY

No matter how you smoke it, tobacco is dangerous to your health and affects your entire body.

Image
Mood Stimulation
Poor Vision
Anxiety and Irritability
Another Cold, Another Flu
Lung Cancer
Constricted Blood Vessels
High Cholesterol
Heart Disease
Stained Teeth
Smelly Hair
Diabetes Complications
Erectile Dysfunction
Early Menopause
Problems with Pregnancy
Appetite Suppressant
Coughing
COPD
Bronchitis
Too Much Clotting
Blood Cancer
Yellow Fingers
Wrinkly Skin
Bad Teeth
Infertility
Cancer Connection
Cervical Cancer
Problems for Newborns

The Effects of Smoking on the Body

Tobacco smoke is enormously harmful to your health. There’s no safe way to smoke. Replacing your cigarette with a cigar, pipe, or hookah won’t help you avoid the health risks associated with tobacco products.

Cigarettes contain about 600 ingredients. When they burn, they generate more than 7,000 chemicals, according to the American Lung Association. Many of those chemicals are poisonous and…

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Frosty Fatwah: Saudi Arabian Cleric Declares Snowmen To Be Anti-Islamic

JONATHAN TURLEY

220px-Frosty_the_Snowman_GBVarious news sites are reporting a new pronouncement from a Muslim cleric that might be chilling for Muslims who have joined in a common winter practice in neighborhoods around the world. Sheikh Mohammed Saleh al-Munajjid told a follower on a website that snowmen are anti-Islamic and building them is a sin. It appears that sin has come to Saudi Arabia in the form of snow this year with the invitation for sin falling over upland areas of Tabuk province near Saudi Arabia’s border with Jordan.

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Guardian prints letter by anti-Zionist Jew blaming Zionist Jews for antisemitism

Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP) members were quite possibly among those who inspired Howard Jacobson’s award-winning novel, The Finkler Question, as they resemble UK Jews he refers to as “Ashamed Jews,” Jews who are proud to be ashamed of their Israel-supporting fellow Jews.

The group’s executive, an anti-Zionist Jew named Deborah Maccoby, published a letter in The Guardian on Jan. 12th (What Jews can learn from Muslims) in response to an op-ed by Jonathan Freedland about recent jihadist attacks in Paris (Charlie Hebdo: first they came for the cartoonists, then they came for the Jews).

Deborah Maccoby carries one of the JfJfP placards. Deborah Maccoby

Maccoby, in her Guardian letter, not only asserts that Jews need to learn from their Muslim counterparts’ putative condemnations of jihadist violence “and say loud and clear in response to Israeli atrocities ‘not in my name‘”, but suggests that Jews’ failure to distance themselves from Israeli “atrocities” renders…

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Islam? You Can Shove it

Thinking Out Loud

I no longer care about being called an Islamaphobe, thinking about it I cannot understand how I ever fell for such crude censorship at all. How can any woman who enjoys her freedom and hard won equality and who demands the same for all the young girls of today allow herself to be fooled into thinking anything less is allowed if some people want it?

Its not allowed! Anything that endangers liberty, free speech and the rights of women is not allowed in my world. I remember the days before Erin Pizzey opened the worlds first womens aid centre and changed the world for women. I remember the days when the police would refuse to go to what they dismissed as ‘a domestic’ and the Christian churches would send women back to men who regularly beat them. I remember the Magdalene Laundries and symphysiotomy in Ireland and other countries ruled…

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