Conservative Diary

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Tories turn up the volume on immigration

Today's General Election Brief covers Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

It has been done carefully but the Tories are talking about immigration again. The volume is a fraction of that which immigration received under Michael Howard but there is definitely more attitude from the Tories on the topic. Yesterday we had Chris Grayling's announcement of a battery of measures that would deal with the weakest link in the current immigration system; the student visa system. Today David Cameron told Andrew Marr that he wanted to cut immigration to "tens of thousands". In the graph below from Fraser Nelson we can see the significance of that pledge if it was honoured:

2_fullsize The Tories have announced three other policies in recent days that should encourage the Tory base. On Friday there was the pledge to give headteachers more powers to sack failing teachers. Overnight there was the well-received commitment to provide scholarships to the children of servicemen killed in action. This morning Cameron announced measures to help small businesses.

The events in Northern Ireland may be good for the Tories if the General Election is close. The troubles of Peter Robinson and the Democratic Unionist Party could benefit the Northern Ireland alliance of the UUP and Conservatives. I wrote about this earlier. Ten seats is the upper limit of possibilities but five or six seats is now very possible (potentially giving Cameron more MPs in NI than in Scotland).

Another bad weekend for "Shambles" Brown. Congratulations to Iain Dale for publishing Peter Watt's insidery account of the "shambles" of Brown's Downing Street operation and of the aborted £1.5 million plan for a honeymoon election in 2007. Watch the Sky News report.

Screen shot 2010-01-09 at 07.53.53 Alistair Darling spoke the truth about public spending. David Cameron told Andrew Marr that the Chancellor's interview for the Saturday Times was an important moment and it was. Darling warned that "The next spending review will be the toughest we have had for 20 years." He told the truth and the fact that he said it shows he's no longer under Brown's thumb.

No big movement in the polls following the SnowStorm plot. It's only one poll but ICM's survey for The Sunday Telegraph suggested the Tory lead is stable at about 10%. The ICM numbers are unusually almost identical to the ConHome Poll of Polls; 40/30/17.4.

Tim Montgomerie

> Thursday's General Election Brief.


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