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Tories set for nine gains in Wales

[With apologies that this is the first General Election Brief since Monday. The Brief was a casualty of a jam-packed few days.]

More progress for Welsh Tories. A YouGov poll last night for ITV Wales had the Tories on 32% and Labour on 35%. That would mean nine more Tory MPs from Wales if translated into a uniform swing on election day. UK Polling Report has more.

Labour plan five new pledges for the General Election campaign. Brown is drafting five reasons to vote Labour and five reasons to reject the Conservatives. Conservatives don't necessarily need a pledge card but we need to sharpen our doorstep message a little.

Screen shot 2010-01-15 at 08.22.30 Cut, cut, cut, cut. Overnight, there were newspaper stories of immediate cuts from the Conservatives, cuts in the arts budget, cuts in the aid budget, cuts in middle class welfare, cuts in defence. [See today's ConHome front page]. But The Economist still wasn't satisfied: "The squeezes [George Osborne] identified amounted to £7 billion ($11.4 billion) a year. In 2009-10 the deficit is £178 billion."

Cameron underperforming at PMQs. The Evening Standard doesn't think Cameron has really won a PMQs for two or three months. I can't disagree but I don't think it really matters. He normally provides enough of a strong soundbite for the news bulletins but it's not helping rock bottom morale in the parliamentary party.

Lookalikes Does Grant Shapps run on Duracell? His hit rate in the media is extraordinary. He had a big splash in yesterday's Sun (and other newspapers) which showed that government spending on propaganda advertising was soaring in this election run-up. Labour ministers, said Mr Shapps, "should not be raiding the taxpayers' pockets to try to keep their own seats."

Nasty Nick. The Liberal Democrat leader told Attitude, a gay lifestyle magazine, that David Cameron was "someone who is “very difficult to trust” on the issue of gay rights". I wonder if he'll play as dirty in the debates?

Watching the media, watching us. One of the most important roles that the blogosphere can play in the election campaign is to keep an eye out for media bias. I knocked The Telegraph yesterday evening for a story that The Mirror would have been proud of (in fact, it was written by an ex-Mirror journalist now working for the Barclay Bros). Iain Dale has a bigger target today. He's got the BBC's One Show in his cross-hairs for an appalling piece of anti-Tory bias last night.

Hat tip to the Left for the mydavidcameron thing. Naughty, but funny, it's got coverage everywhere - online and in print. My favourite is below:

Plebs1 Tim Montgomerie

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