Sneak preview of Labour's manifesto

Ed Miliband

So, manifesto week is upon us - a bit of a game of Tetris with six blocks. Whereas once manifestos were programmes for government, now they are one of a number of possible programmes for government.

We'll spend this week looking to see how they slot together ahead of coalition negotiations.

The Tory inheritance tax policy announced over the weekend is a classic example - the Lib Dems vetoed the policy last time. Except yesterday on Andrew Neil's programme Danny Alexander stopped short of saying the Lib Dems would block it. This time it's a little more "coalicious". The Lib Dems won't love the fact it benefits only 6% of households, but being funded as it is from capping pension relief, they also may not hate it.

But let's look forward to Labour's manifesto on its own merits. Much of what is milling about, I have heard before, but I'm told by people who have read it that it is a strong document. In fact, some of its biggest fans are Labour folk quite lukewarm on Ed Miliband.

Suddenly many of his critics are wondering if Miliband might win this election (largest party, probably nothing more). The strength of the manifesto is part of that renewed optimism.

Confirm or deny

Read full article Sneak preview of Labour's manifesto

Nigel Dodds sets out DUP's demands

Nigel Dodds
Nigel Dodds is the DUP's leader at Westminster

The Westminster leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party has said an Ed Miliband government would have to offer a European referendum in exchange for the support of DUP MPs in the event of a hung parliament.

He also indicated the DUP rules out any coalition involving the SNP.

Read full article Nigel Dodds sets out DUP's demands

Yo! Sushi founder Simon Woodroffe 'scared' by Labour approach

Simon Woodroffe

The founder of restaurant chain Yo! Sushi says the Labour Party's approach to business "scares" him.

Simon Woodroffe, who appeared in a 2004 Labour political broadcast, said he worried that the party had chosen a populist anti-business message.

Read full article Yo! Sushi founder Simon Woodroffe 'scared' by Labour approach

Lord Darzi: Labour wrong to rule out private NHS care

Lord Darzi

A former Labour health minister has told the BBC it is irrelevant whether NHS care is delivered by the private or the public sector.

Lord Darzi said the NHS should prefer providers who deliver the highest quality care - whether they are "public, private or not-for-profit".

Read full article Lord Darzi: Labour wrong to rule out private NHS care

Lib Dems push for early 2015 Budget to stop Tory 'giveaway'

George Osborne with Budget dispatch box
George Osborne normally announces his Budget in March

The Lib Dems want the 2015 Budget to be brought forward to stop the chancellor using it as a pre-general election giveaway, BBC Newsnight understands.

They will push for a February Budget, instead of one in March, in a bid to deny George Osborne a moment similar to Nigel Lawson's 1987 pre-election cut in the basic rate of tax, from 29% to 27%.

Read full article Lib Dems push for early 2015 Budget to stop Tory 'giveaway'

Lib Dems 'ignored chance to soften bedroom benefits cut impact'

Row of terraced houses
The policy is known as the "spare room subsidy" by supporters...

The Lib Dems were given the chance in March to soften the impact of benefit cuts for people judged to have too many bedrooms, BBC Newsnight has been told.

As Nick Clegg's party announces it will seek to change the policy in this coalition, or pledge to do so in its next manifesto, Newsnight understands there was an opportunity within government for the Lib Dems to amend the policy four months ago.

Read full article Lib Dems 'ignored chance to soften bedroom benefits cut impact'

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Lib Dems accused of 'hypocrisy' over bedroom benefit rules

The Lib Dems were given the chance in March to soften the impact of benefit cuts for people judged to have too many bedrooms, BBC Newsnight has been told. As Nick Clegg's party announces it will seek to change the policy in this coalition, or pledge to do so in its next manifesto, Newsnight understands there was an opportunity within government for the Lib Dems to amend the policy four months ago.

Read full article Lib Dems accused of 'hypocrisy' over bedroom benefit rules

Francis Maude attacks civil service over job document

Whitehall sign

The Cabinet Office minister has accused the civil service of drafting a job description for permanent secretaries without "constitutional propriety".

The document sets out the qualities for permanent secretaries, who are the UK's most powerful government officials.

Read full article Francis Maude attacks civil service over job document

Ministers warned of decrease in house building

Work on a new housing development
The PM said in January that new housing starts were up 16%

The government is exploring emergency measures to kick-start house-building, amid an expected decrease in new build this year, BBC Newsnight has learned.

In leaked documents, officials warn the last set of figures before the 2015 general election will reveal house building to have decreased by 4%.

Read full article Ministers warned of decrease in house building

A pregnant pause

  • 26 November 2013
  • From the section World

Newsnight's political editor is currently on maternity leave and this blog will not be updated for a while.

Read full article A pregnant pause