Conservative Diary

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All the weekend's big election developments

The weekend's General Election Brief.

ElectionBrief The Conservatives remain solidly ahead. Two polls over the weekend suggested the Tories remain on course for victory. YouGov had the Tories 9% in front of Labour and ComRes had the Tories 13% ahead. The lead is much bigger among men. We're 20% up among men but just 6% ahead among women.

A little more volume on immigration could seal the deal for the Conservatives. So suggests a YouGov poll for MigrationWatch UK. Nine times as many voters in marginal seats are likely to vote for David Cameron as vote against him if he emphasises his promise to cap immigration to about 50,000pa.

Nick Clegg struggles with non-policy questions. The Liberal Democrat leader did well enough on Marr this morning, adding to my concern that he'll be far from a pushover in the election debates. But he slipped up when The Mirror's Kevin Maguire asked if he'd donated to Haiti. Not yet, he flustered. He famously also slipped up when asked about the value of the basic state pension (he said it was just £30!) and when asked about the number of his lovers(he answered the question).

UKIP took a swing to the intolerant Right with a pledge to ban the burkha. The move designed to stop leakage of UKIP votes to the BNP provoked strong criticism from both The Times and Tory MEPs. They called UKIP "un-British".

Fraser Nelson highlights the scale of likely Tory defence cuts. In his News of the World column the Editor of The Spectator warns that Cameron's "staggering" and "puzzling" pledges on NHS and international aid will mean 20% defence cuts if they are not reversed. Ridley Grove blames Liam Fox for not winning a better deal for the armed forces.

Balls-large Ed Balls attacks David Cameron's marriage policy. Ed Balls has temporarily lost out to Peter Mandelson in the internal Labour debate as to whether Brown should emphasise a class-based appeal to core Labour voters or a Blairite appeal to aspiration. With Harriet Harman, however, he continues to bash the Tories for wanting to recognise marriage in the tax system. Philip Hammond hit back for the Tories, noting that Labour's Britain was almost unique in not recognising marriage.

Tomorrow David Cameron and Michael Gove launch the families and education chapter of the Conservative draft manifesto. There'll be full coverage on ConHome but the Conservative leader gave a taste of his 'we'll-help-families-who-do-the-right-thing' message in this morning's Mail on Sunday.

Tim Montgomerie

> Previous General Election Brief


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