Labour’s election campaign did not get off to the best of starts. Ed Miliband tried to woo business yesterday, and now faces trouble on three fronts: business leaders insisting they don’t actually support him, his own MPs threatening to sabotage his cuts, and an increasingly controversial mug.
The business backlash will be especially galling for Miliband, as the party tried to show how business-friendly it can be at the start of its campaign by unveiling a “business manifesto”. Labour took out an advert quoting numerous business leaders from companies like Kellogg’s and Siemens on the importance of staying in the EU in a bid to back up their attack on the Tories’ EU referendum pledge. But several business chiefs quoted have now expressed irritation about being used for an election ad. BAE Systems chair Sir Richard Olver, has written in today’s Telegraph that businesses should “stick with the Tories”. Our view is even blunter: “Mr Miliband may try to pretend to be a friend of the businesses that create the country’s wealth and provide the jobs. He isn’t.”
Labour backbenchers are also threatening to rebel over their leader’s cuts. John McDonnell, chair of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs and former leadership contender, told the New Statesman that as many as 40 MPs could rise up to rein in Miliband’s planned austerity, insisting: “I think it will change, inevitably it will change”. McDonnell’s threat also raises the humiliating prospect of Labour rebels working with the Scottish Nationalists, a party Miliband has kept at arm’s length, to stop his cuts. Some Conservatives struggling to hide their glee, as the threat feeds into their framing of the election as a “competence vs chaos” choice.
Two shadow Cabinet ministers, Sadiq Khan and Chuka Umunna, have added to Miliband’s woes by saying they would not buy one of Labour’s new “controls on immigration” mugs. Miliband has been accused of “pandering to Ukip” with the controversial cups – bearing the party’s slogan on immigration – which have been branded “an embarrassment”.
The Conservatives have also had a bumpy start after opening their campaign by accusing Labour of planning to hit families with a £3,000 tax rise. The Institute for Fiscal Studies quickly branded their claims “unhelpful and of little value”. However, they are shrugging this off and trying to keep the focus on the economy, with David Cameron promising that a future Conservative government would create 2 million jobs in the next five years. This is a nice-sounding pledge, but one which may sound odd to some Conservatives. David Cameron used to mock the idea “that it’s governments that create jobs”, saying: “No, they don’t – businesses do”.
As the parties fight on for Day 2 of the campaign, Ben-Riley Smith will have the latest developments on our live-blog.
NIGEL DOESN’T GET HIS IDEAL NEIGHBOUR…
David Cameron has been handed a boost at Thursday’s seven way television debate by being drawn to stand on the far right of the party leaders, Chris Hope reports. To the delight of Tory strategists, the Prime Minister will be far away from Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party and a strong performer in the format.
…BUT HE HAS FRIENDS ON THE OTHER SIDE
Nigel Farage has held secret talks about working with anti-European Union Conservative MPs in preparation for a hung parliament. The UK Independence Party leader disclosed the contact when he was unveiling the party’s general election pledge card outside the London offices of the European Commission in London.
MAKING YOUR MIND UP
Not sure who to vote for yet? The Telegraph has teamed up with Vote Match, the UK’s biggest voting advice app, in order to help you find the party that best matches your views. The app is quick and easy to use, and the results may surprise you…
THE HEIGHT OF DEBATE
Party leaders have been offered a choice of podium ahead of Thursday’s second televised election debate to ensure that height advantage does not unfairly advantage them. The seven party leaders have been told to email the producers of ITV’s “Leaders Debate” with details of “their ideal podium height”.
GO OUR OWN WAY
Ruth Davidson has said she would prefer to see the Tories form a minority government, rather than enter another coalition, reports Auslan Cramb. The Scottish Conservative leader admitted as she launched her party’s campaign north of the border that a majority in the general election “doesn’t look like a dead cert, stick on right now”.
The coalition’s adviser on poverty has attacked both the Conservatives and Labour for keeping voters in the dark about the impact of their planned spending cuts until after polling day. Alan Milburn told the Independent’s Andrew Grice that Labour and the Tories were stuck in their “comfort zones” and appealing to their core vote – on the NHS and the economy respectively.
LABOUR BAGS BILBO
The partner of Martin Freeman, the Hobbit and Sherlock Holmes actor, has tweeted “f*** the Tories” after he appeared in an election broadcast for the Labour Party, Steven Swinford reports. Mr Freeman, who also starred in The Office, claimed that the Tories will take the country on a “rollercoaster of cuts” while Labour will ensure that the “economy works for all of us, not just the privileged few like me”.
LIVING WITH EDS
Tory candidate Nicola Blackwood has spoken up about being diagnosed with the rare debilitating condition Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which means she has very fragile skin, ligaments, blood vessels and organs, as well as loose joints. “I am very lucky; my type of EDS does not carry life-threatening risk,” she wrote on Sun Nation, “there were times when I just felt like my body was falling apart on me”.
The Prime Minister has given an interview to Heat magazine in which he spoke about rats, spiders and chili peppers. He also revealed that he is terrible at multi-tasking, quipping: “I’m a man, I can’t do two things at once”. Emily Gosden has more.
ON THE BUSES
Nick Clegg has been touring the country in a yellow battle bus, the Conservatives have their blue one, and Labour has a red one. We’ve taken a look back at some ‘Battle Buses’ and past passengers who hoped to make Westminster their ultimate destination.