The five things you need to know on Friday October 9, 2015...
Today' Waugh Zone is edited by Ned Simons and he is 'mad keen'. Paul is away.
1) BETTER OUT THAN IN
A cross-party campaign to leave the European Union launches this morning. It is a lovely present for David Cameron, who celebrates his birthday today by hosting Angela Merkel at Chequers. The Vote Leave group is backed by Tory, Labour and Ukip donors and counts Labour MP Kate Hoey, former Tory environment secretary Owen Paterson and Ukip MP Douglas Carswell as members.
Carswell's decision to join the group exposes the split within Ukip over the referendum campaign as Nigel Farage has signed the party up to the rival Leave.EU organisation. Given that Aaron Banks, the Ukip donor behind Leave.EU recently described Carswell as “borderline autistic with mental illness wrapped in", it is not surprising that the MP is doing his own thing.
As well as Cameron's birthday, today marks another auspicious occasion. As my colleague Owen Bennett tweeted, Carswell became Ukip's first elected MP exactly a year ago. How nicely everything is timed.
The process of wooing supporters is well underway. As The Guardian reports this morning, both the 'In' and 'Out' campaigns are also trying to persuade Boris Johnson to join their side. Peter Mandelson, one ally of the London mayor told the paper, is "mad keen" to get him on board with the pro-EU camp.
2) TOO MANY TWEETS
But, seriously everyone, get off Twitter. Tristram Hunt will tell Labour activists shut down TweetDeck today and go for a walk. In a speech in Sheffield, the former shadow education secretary will say the party needs to reconnect with what actual voters think. "If social media were politicising the many as well as radicalising the few; were it significantly growing the number of people engaged in politics in the first place, rather than confirming pre-held bias, then Ed Miliband might now be sitting in 10 Downing Street."
Hunt, a centrist Labour MP who said his allies in the party were left feeling like the "inside of a pigs head" by Jeremy Corbyn's victory, will say the party must focus on getting back into power rather than "protesting about the decisions of the powerful within".
It is an echo of what Cameron said in his conference speech, when he made the point that "Britain and Twitter are not the same thing". The prime minister was not wrong, what is being said on Twitter is usually only reflective of what is being said on Twitter rather than in the country as a whole. However as Robert Shrimsley in the Financial Times notes today, 11.3 million people may have voted Tory, but Twitter has 15 million UK users.
3) STILL THE NASTY PARTY?
Yesterday morning we brought you polling that suggested one-third of voters agree that Jeremy Corbyn has a "security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating" ideology. The second part of The Huffington Post/Survation survey looked at whether David Cameron has been successful in transforming the image of his party. Just 29% of those asked on Wednesday evening agreed the prime minister has "changed" the party since his first keynote conference speech in 2005. Some 40% disagreed and 31% didn't know.
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4) DOUBLE TROUBLE
Gordon Brown has accused Cameron of a "double betrayal" in Scotland that could "blow the Union apart". The former Labour prime minister used a speech at Glasgow University to warn the government it must give Scotland the right to top up welfare benefits or risk bringing Union to point of destruction. He said: "The Conservatives have to come to terms with the reality that we are moving from an old United Kingdom based on an over-centralisation of power in London to a more diverse, decentralised UK more in tune with the desires of people outside London."
5) DC INTRIGUE
Things are all a bit weird over in the United States this morning. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) abruptly withdrew his candidacy to be the next speaker of the House yesterday. As The Huffington Post reports, the Republican senator was sent an email from a conservative activist threatening to expose an alleged affair with a colleague in the hours before he announced the decision.
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