Here are the five things you need to know on Tuesday 27 May 2014...
1) GOODBYE NICK?
"The face of a leader at bay" screams the splash headline on the front of the Mail, underneath a picture of Nick Clegg in which the Lib Dem leader looks like he is about to burst into a tears. The Guardian splashes with "Clegg taking Lib Dems to wipeout". The paper reports:
"The electoral oblivion apparently confronting the Liberal Democrats as led by Nick Clegg was underscored on Monday by leaked opinion polls in four seats showing that the party will be wiped out. Commissioned by a Lib Dem supporter from ICM and subsequently passed to the Guardian, the polling indicates that the Lib Dem leader would forfeit his own Sheffield Hallam constituency at the next election. The party would also lose its seats in Cambridge, Redcar and Wells, costing MPs Julian Huppert, Ian Swales and Tessa Munt Westminster seats... The damning verdict comes after a crestfallen and visibly exhausted Clegg said in the early afternoon that he would not buckle in the face of woeful European election results which cost the party 10 of its 11 MEPs and left it in fifth place."
The Mail reports:
"Following a catastrophic night, which cost him all but one of his MEPs, he was forced to admit he had lost the argument over Europe. In an emotional interview, in which his eyes appeared bloodshot, the Deputy Prime Minister said being beaten into fifth place by the Greens had been ‘gutting and heartbreaking’."
Will the Lib Dems chuck out Clegg before the general election? They have form when it comes to knifing leaders - ask Charles Kennedy or Menzies Campbell. But, as the ICM poll shows, neither Vince Cable nor Danny Alexander would really boost their electoral prospects in 2015. So what to do? Perhaps it's just too late for the Lib Dems...
2) TONY'S ADVICE TO ED
I don't normally say this - but I agree with Tony. Blair has been on the Today programme and issued the following piece of advice to his successor-but-one as Labour leader:
"I’d advise him to stay firm... It’s not as if yielding to that pressure from Ukip has actually done the Conservatives any good at the present time and for the Labour party if it tries to follow either Ukip on its anti-European platform or, even worse frankly, on its anti-immigrant platform, all that will happen is it will confuse its own supporters and it won't actually draw any greater support... The way to deal with Ukip is to stand up and take them on."
Meanwhile, writing in the Times, former Blairite Cabinet ministers Alan Milburn and Lord Hutton tell Miliband to "have the courage of his convictions and come out fighting" with a positive case for "managed migration".
Not everyone is convinced. "Elitist Ed is heading for disaster: Labour MPs says party leaders have their head in the sand over 'terrible' European elections result," is the headline in the Mail. Lots of unnamed and unhappy Labour MPs...
3) NO MORE VAGUENESS, PLEASE
There's advice for Dave too - from the Telegraph:
"Party leaders must respond to the rise of the UK Independence Party by setting out detailed plans to renegotiate the relationship with the European Union, business figures say today. In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, business leaders including some of the Conservative Party's biggest donors, warn David Cameron that 'vague promises' will drive more voters to Ukip... The Prime Minister has said he will reform Britain's relationship with the EU before holding an in–out referendum in 2017. However, Mr Cameron faces pressure from within his Cabinet to say more about the powers he hopes to win back from Brussels. The letter organised by the Business for Britain advisory board states: 'We urge political leaders in both Westminster and Brussels to listen and respond to the message of change that the voters have made clear they want now, not later.' Signatories include Sir Michael Hintze, who has given millions to the Tories, and Sir Rocco Forte, the luxury hotel owner."
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...
'Oh f**king hell' - watch this video of Sky's Jon Craig blundering in a pre-record that was put out on air.
4) LEAVE PIKETTY ALONE
Bloomberg News (!) has launched a spirited defence of left-wing superstar economist Thomas Piketty, author of the recent best-selling, anti-equality tome, 'Capital', after a blistering critique of the French thinker and his use of statistics by the FT's Chris Giles:
"After correcting for the alleged errors, two of the book’s 'central findings -- that wealth inequality has begun to rise over the past 30 years and that the U.S. obviously has a more unequal distribution of wealth than Europe -- no longer seem to hold,' according to Giles. Economists disputed that assertion. Scott Winship, a fellow at the New York-based Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, said the newspaper’s allegations aren’t “significant for the fundamental question of whether Piketty’s thesis is right or not.' James Hamilton, an economics professor at the University of California, San Diego, said there’s “abundant evidence” of widening inequality 'from a good many sources besides Piketty.'... Giles also cited discrepancies between Piketty’s source materials and the figures cited in his book, such as the data for the wealth held by the richest 10 percent and 1 percent of people in Sweden in 1920. 'I am sure that such errors happen all the time,' Dani Rodrik, an economics professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, said in a e-mail. 'Most of the time they are ‘honest mistakes’ that do not change the basic conclusions. The assumptions that go into generating consistent data series are different. They are and should be debated.' Economists praised Piketty’s decision to post his data on his website for review by other scholars."
5) NIGEL LOVES DAD'S ARMY
As a party leader, you know you've made it when your wife gets interviewed by a broadsheet newspaper - Mrs Farage makes her first public appearance in today's Telegraph:
"Nigel Farage's wife has voiced her fears about his pub–loving lifestyle, saying the UK Independence Party leader 'drinks and smokes too much'. Kirsten Farage, who was born in Germany, said she was worried that his 'hectic' lifestyle, in which he skips meals and lives on adrenalin, will take its toll on him. In her first ever interview, Mrs Farage lifted the lid on life with the Ukip leader, who this week led his party to victory in the European Parliament elections... She said that in contrast to his public image as an extrovert politician with a pint in his hand, Mr Farage was a dutiful family man who liked to put his feet up. She said: 'When he is out and about, he is noisy and extrovert and all this. And [when] you come home you have to put your feet up, and cut the grass and put the bins out. He loves fishing, he loves walking. We honestly don't watch a lot of telly but he loves Dad's Army, he loves all the Seventies stuff.'"
900 WORDS OR MORE
Max Hastings, writing in the Daily Mail, says: "Over half the country opposes Red Ed, but he could still end up in No 10."
Rachel Sylvester, wriitng in the Times, says: "Power would annihilate the people’s army."
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