Nigel Farage

Trying a different approach the Telegraph’s headline is “Nigel Farage: The truth about my health – I am being treated in hospital twice a week

Nigel Farage has directly addressed rumours about his health – admitting that he is receiving hospital treatment and has been prescribed Temazepam for a serious back condition. However the UK Independence Party leader insists he is not seriously unwell and is fit to fight the rest of his general election campaign. Mr Farage made the admission after being dogged by speculation that he was severely ill and would be unable to take part in negotiations in the event of a hung parliament.

He says he has been forced to speak out after rumours surfaced about his health following a series of campaign appearances in which critics said he looking tired and unwell. Mr Farage told The Telegraph he has been in “horrible” pain following the recurrence of a serious spinal injury in recent weeks. The Ukip leader said he is receiving hospital treatment twice a week and has been prescribed strong sleeping pills to help him cope during the election campaign.

The Express puts a more positive spin on his condition. Also in The Guardian. They also have an article “Boozy Farage holds impromptu victory party after Thanet poll boost

Nigel Farage seems to believe his party’s faltering campaign has turned a corner – if his enthusiastic sing-song celebration in a restaurant in Ramsgate on Thursday night is anything to go by. A little before midnight, the well-wined Ukip leader stood on a chair in a small Italian eatery in the Kent town to bellow out a rendition of New York, New York to the delight of his dining companions.

That performance came after several renditions of Hi, Ho Silver Lining, with Farage hollering down the phone to whoever happened to be calling. A little unsteady on his feet, the Ukip leader then rounded off the night with The Wild Rover outside on the pavement, as aides persuaded him that moving on to a nightclub or revisiting his teenage days of skinny-dipping were not sensible for a party leader two weeks before the most important election of his life.

The immediate cause of Farage’s celebration was a Survation telephone poll commissioned by party donor Alan Bown that suggests the Ukip leader is nine points ahead in his target seat of South Thanet in Kent.

The Independent asks What on earth happened to Ukip? (The usual metropolitan elite warped view of UKIP)

As this Manuel election hobbles on with the polls swinging this way and that in super slo-mo, still we know nothing. Naaaaathing. And of the countless things we know we do not know, switching cultural references to the philosopher-poet Donald Rumsfeld, the most crucial is this: what will befall Ukip and its leader on 7 May?

Is it time to prepare the obituary for Nigel Farage’s career, or will the self-styled St George of the snug confound the mounting suspicion that the scaly reptile about to be lanced is the lounge lizard holding the pint mug and grinning like a mad person?

One thing we do know is that the oddest sub-plot of the campaign is the curious case of the bulldog that didn’t bark. One political certainty in all the confusion, so we thought, is that Ukip is reliably barking. Yet the party has kept the lid on the crazy, with not one candidate suspended for expenses-fiddling or expressing a visceral unease with “negroid features” for, oh, weeks.

Libya, Miliband and Cameron

The Guardian quote Ed Miliband: “Cameron ‘bears some responsibility’ for crisis in Libya

Ed Miliband’s claim that David Cameron failed to secure proper post-war planning in Libya was supported on Friday by leading diplomats including the prime minister’s envoy to the country, who agreed it was a mistake not to have kept a larger western presence there. Their intervention came after the Labour leader was forced to fend off claims that he laid the recent drownings of Mediterranean refugees at the door of the prime minister in a row that followed what had intended to be a serious foreign policy speech.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the former UK ambassador to the United Nations, said no British party had an unblemished record on post-war planning in the Middle East, but said: “I don’t think Europe and North America has been engaged enough in helping the Libyans. They have left it to the UN; we are supporting the UN in what they are trying to do now but the overall resources committed to it has not been enough. We should not go in with the military unless we have an idea of what the political outcome is going to be”.

Immigration

The Daily Mail reports that Germany leader Angela Merkel calls for UK to take even more immigrants in wake of refugee crisis in the Mediterranean

Angela Merkel threw down the gauntlet to David Cameron last night and said large countries should be prepared to accept more asylum seekers. The German Chancellor demanded a new European Union system that distributes asylum-seekers to member states based on their population and economic strength.

The call comes as Europe struggles with the growing refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, where hundreds have died in recent days trying to get from northern Africa to Italy.  David Cameron insisted at an emergency EU summit on Thursday that the UK would not take any of the refugees – because it was already doing its part by virtue of having the continent’s largest aid and defence budgets.

Mrs Merkel’s call would however mean that Britain, one of the most populous countries in the UK and one of its most economically successful, would be expected to take in more people.

EU and Juncker

The Express reports that EU’s top bureaucrat Juncker never uses his luxury office – despite £220k upgrade

A source said: “After all that money was spent on the brand new office, it turns out he’s never there anyway.” The out-of-touch Commission said the £220,000 spent on refurbishing Juncker’s office was “necessary”. But Robert Oxley, campaign director of Business for Britain, slammed the “stupendous waste of money”.

Mr Juncker has often been described as an absent European Commission president who treats the role as a part-time job. Some have complained about his tendency to pass his workload onto junior colleagues.

But new, independent analysis shows the chief diplomat – and a host of other senior policymakers – are routinely working two, three or four-day weeks, with the rest of their time spent “working from home”. Scrutiny of EU commissioners’ diaries revealed senior bureaucrats are regularly arriving back to work on Tuesday after a long weekend, with Mr Juncker enjoying an extended break at least once a month, on average.

Election Job Losses

The Telegraph observes on the Election bloodbath: as many as 145 MPs could lose seats

A 1997-style bloodbath of MPs is expected on May 7, after the expenses watchdog forecast as many as 145 MPs could lose their seats in a rout that will cost taxpayers £18m. Winding up deposed and retiring MPs’ offices will cost the taxpayer as much £18.4 million, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which regulates MPs’ costs, expects.

That is based on the announced retirement of 87 MPs and an assessment that expects as many as 145 could fail in their bid to be re-elected. If it came to pass, it would be the biggest eviction of sitting MPs since the 1997 landslide, when 160 sitting Tories lost their seats to Tony Blair. The numbers of MPs being ousted will be increased by the forecast collapse of Scottish Labour, which could see as many as 40 seats go to the SNP.

Lord Ashcroft and David Cameron

The Independent quotes Lord Ashcroft: “Cameron to blame for failing to lead Labour in polls

The influential Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft has blamed David Cameron for the party’s failure to open up an opinion poll lead over Labour, as the election heads for a draw that could put Ed Miliband in Downing Street.

The former Tory deputy chairman, who is now a pollster, asserts that some people who prefer Mr Cameron to Mr Miliband are deciding to vote Labour, as the Labour leader performs better than voters and the Tories expected. Writing in The Independenthe says: “Far from crumbling, Miliband has shown a good deal of resilience in the face of some rather unseemly attacks.”

His comments come as the Tories’ hopes of a breakthrough are dashed by the latest “poll of polls” for The Independent, which shows that the two biggest parties remain deadlocked. They are both on 33 per cent, with Ukip on 14 per cent, the Liberal Democrats on 8 per cent and the Greens on 5 per cent.

Cameron and the NHS

The Guardian talks to Dr Clive Peedell of the NHA Party: David Cameron dodges debate with candidate campaigning for NHS

After months of fruitless wrangling over the televised leaders’ debates, David Cameron has been accused of dodging a less obviously risky encounter: a church debate with a doctor who is mounting a long-shot challenge for his seat in Oxfordshire.

Dr Clive Peedell, a consultant oncologist from Middlesbrough who leads the National Health Action party, has been invited to every hustings in Witney during the campaign except one – the only event attended by the prime minister. Another excluded candidate who successfully applied for a ticket, Christopher Tompson , was turned away at the door after being told that his presence “might cause some unrest”.

Life under Labour

The Telegraph doom-mongers reserve their sharpest attacks for Labour:  There would be no good life under Labour

Yesterday, Lord Digby Jones took to the pages of this newspaper to ask Ed Miliband a few questions. The former Labour trade minister wrote that he had met a family who had taken risks, worked hard and built an enterprise that now employs some 40 people. Why then, Lord Jones asked, did Mr Miliband want to punish their success with excessive taxation? And why did the Labour leader never say that earning profit is a good thing? How would Britain succeed under a future Labour government that appeared to be opposed to wealth generation?

Call it wealth generation, call it capitalism – what it amounts to is people building something. And the effect of their industry is not just to help the individual but to create a thriving economy that benefits everyone. David Cameron has branded this “the good life”. And as the election draws closer, the Tories have to talk more about the threat that Labour poses to what could more simply be called “prosperity”.

Lord Janner

Not directly election news, but the Mail has a big splash on: The rape of justice: Damning new evidence of Labour peer Lord Janner’s child sex abuse covered up by police and social workers for over 20 years

The most damning evidence yet of how the Establishment hid Lord Janner’s alleged child abuse can be revealed today. Police and social workers were told more than 20 years ago that the peer took a vulnerable boy to Labour Party offices and Parliament before molesting him in his marital bed.

A ten-page witness statement details the alleged victim’s harrowing ordeal at the hands of Janner. But all references to the politician were removed from the child’s social services file, according to legal papers obtained by the Mail. A children’s home manager told bosses she feared he was having sex with the child but her concerns were ‘swept under the carpet’. The scale of the cover-up helps explains how the former Labour MP repeatedly escaped justice.

SNP and England

The Mail reports that SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon says she plans to wield influence over Labour and admits: ‘I know why the English are worried

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon last night admitted she understands concerns of English voters about her party being involved in a coalition government. The Scottish First Minister said: ‘I understand how people south of the border think, “Oh my goodness how will it work? It’s a mess”.’ She also suggested that David Cameron had been ‘not unhelpful’ to the SNP by gaining the party greater publicity.

‘At every Westminster election I’ve fought until this one, the biggest challenge that we’ve had to overcome is being heard and being relevant. We don’t have this problem this time,’ she told The Times. The message it’s given to people in Scotland is – if this is the attention we get just from the SNP riding high in the polls, imagine how loud our voice would be if that was translated into seats. So in that respect I absolutely think it is not unhelpful.’

UKIP and Racism Accusations

The Mail quotes Nigel Farage with: Only middle-class white people think Ukip is racist, as Nigel Farage claims he gets a great reception in ‘black parts of London’

UKIP is only seen as racist by white people, Nigel Farage has claimed. The party leader said that he gets an ‘unbelievably’ positive welcome when he meets black people. But he said claims the party is racist have stopped many supporters – including internationally acclaimed rock stars and billionaires – from backing him publicly. Mr Farage said that when he goes into ‘black parts’ of London he gets a warm reception.

‘I stopped this morning to get some newspapers in a petrol station in Catford [south east London]. Everybody was black, getting petrol, buying newspapers,’ he said. ‘It’s unbelievable, they all wanted selfies and pictures. And the only people who think Ukip are racist are white people, middle class white people. Come with me to a black part of south London, walk down the street, and you will find black people going: ‘Hey man, good to see you‎”.’

Mr Farage said the idea that Ukip is racist is based on ‘no evidence whatsoever’.

The Mirror reports the same story.

SNP and Nuclear Deterrent

The Express reports that SNP is ‘living in fool’s paradise’: Former Nato chief blasts plan to scrap nuclear deterrent

Nicola Sturgeon says renewal of the Clyde-based nuclear deterrent is a red line for her support for any Labour-led minority government. But General Sir Richard Shirreff insists axing the fleet of submarines would send the wrong message to Britain’s allies and enemies. Sir Richard hit out at the SNP who, along with the Greens and Plaid Cymru, oppose Trident’s  renewal.

The general, who was Britain’s top commander to Nato until last year, said: “Right now is not the time to get rid of Trident and those who say it is are living in a fool’s paradise. I heard the opposition party leaders’ debate the other day when there was much talk about ‘you wouldn’t use Trident against Islamic State’. “It is absolutely infantile to be talking about that because the reality is it’s about projection of power.”

Couple the General’s remarks with this story, also in The Express: Putin ‘will use nuclear blackmail on Britain’ if Trident is scrapped, warns ex-ambassador.

A decision on whether to renew Britain’s existing Trident force of submarine-based nuclear deterrence is due by next year, with the issue becoming a key part of the current General Election campaign. Rival politicians are at loggerheads over whether to renew the system or divert the funds to other public services, with the Scottish National Party – who are likely to hold the balance of power in the House of Commons following May’s vote – determined to scrap the programme.

The debate reached new heights earlier this month when Nick Boles, a senior Tory, claimed Labour leader Ed Miliband would “stab the United Kingdom in the back” by ditching the system. Figures on how much it costs to maintain Trident remain unclear, with the Trident Commission at Westminster estimating costs of renewal at roughly £2.9 billion a year while the SNP discuss a £100 billion price tag.

Labour and Conservative

The Mirror has an Election 2015 update: Miliband’s nemesis is taking it easy and Cameronettes struggles to take off

Parliamentary candidates can normally count on the votes of their immediate families, so long as they live locally. Sadly not Rachel Gilmour, who is fighting Taunton Deane for the Lib Dems. Her father David has just put up a big David Cameron poster in the window of his home in the constituency.

“My elderly father has been a life-long Tory, whereas I have been a life-long Liberal Democrat,” Rachel tells the Heckler. “The great thing about living in a democracy is that people can, and do, have different views.”

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