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Summary

  1. David Cameron outlines plans to tackle child sexual exploitation, but Labour says they don't go far enough
  2. Oxfordshire serious case review highlights extent of child sexual exploitation problem
  3. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sets out her economic strategy, with a focus on tackling inequality
  4. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt delivers a statement on maternity services at Morecambe Bay
  5. There are 65 days until the general election
  6. Rolling political news, including key moments from Today, Breakfast, Daily Politics and Newsnight

Live Reporting

By Matthew West and Angela Harrison

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Look back

A look back at Tuesday's main stories:

  • David Cameron set out proposals to tackle child sexual exploitation, saying he wanted to end a culture which allowed police and social services to "walk on by"
  • It followed revelations that as many as 370 children and teenagers might have been abused in Oxfordshire by men of mainly Pakistani origin
  • An independent investigation into care at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria found failures at almost every level at the maternity unit where eleven babies and a mother died
  • Turing's Law - Ed Miliband said there would be pardons for gay men with convictions for homosexual activity under historical indecency laws
  • That's all from the Politics Live Page for tonight. Join us tomorrow for the latest political news and comment - Goodnight.

Hacking at Mirror

, a court has heard. At the High Court, Counsel David Sherborne said the hacking was on an industrial scale and far larger than that which took place at the News of the World. He said journalists at the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the People hacked phones on a daily basis between 1999 and 2006. The hearing is for cases brought by eight high-profile figures.

Tomorrow's i

i
I

UKIP will not set arbitrary immigration target

Nigel Farage
AFP/Getty Images

The UK Independence Party (UKIP) will not set an "arbitrary immigration target" if it helps form the next government, Nigel Farage has said in an article for The Telegraph.

The UKIP leader also committed the party to setting up a new quango called the Migration Control Commission, tasked with bringing down net migration, if it holds the balance of power after May's general election.

Mr Farage is making a major speech on immigration policy tomorrow. He will say UKIP will seek to close the "open" border with Europe and try to attract doctors and skilled workers from Commonwealth countries.

Lammy on theft

BBC Newsnight

London Labour MP David Lammy has been saying a bit more about

his views on sentences given to thieves. He said it was not right that "impact" was not considered for what are seen as low-level crimes, such as thefts from small shops.

He explained: "Shop keepers were saying to me, 'If I am robbed day after day, it really harms me'".

'No witch-hunt'

House of Commons

Parliament

DJ and broadcaster Paul Gambaccini,
PA

The director of public prosecutions has denied conducting a "witch-hunt" against celebrities after broadcaster Paul Gambaccini claimed he and other showbiz figures were used as human "fly paper", to try to get more alleged victims of sex abuse to come forward.

Mr Gambaccini told the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee people were being "left out to dry" and that police and prosecutors "sat on" his case for 12 months before telling him he would not be charged over an allegation of historic sex abuse.

The DPP Alison Saunders told the committee: "We are not conducting a witch-hunt against anyone, be it journalists or celebrities. We do not make any distinction when we look at cases as to who it is we are looking at. What we look at is the evidence."

Tomorrow's Sun

The Sun
The Sun

Tom Newton Dunn, political editor The Sun

@tnewtondunn

tweets: EXCL: YouGov/Sun poll tonight - Tories maintain clear lead for 2nd day, 2% ahead. CON 36%, LAB 34%. Suggests movement Libs drop to 5%, a 25 year polling low.

Tomorrow's FT

#tomorrowspaperstoday

ft
FT

UK war on drugs has failed

Sir Richard Branson and Nick Clegg have said the UK should begin decriminalising the use and possession of almost all drugs, following the example of Portugal.

The Virgin founder and deputy prime minister will address a conference on fighting drug addiction on Wednesday,

and in a Guardian article they argue that the "war on drugs" has failed.

"As an investment, the war on drugs has failed to deliver any returns," they write. "If it were a business, it would have been shut down a long time ago. This is not what success looks like."

Tomorrow's Guardian

#tomorrowspaperstoday

Guardian
Guardian

Pure as the driven... Snow

Jon Snow
Getty Images

Later tonight Channel 4 road tests one particular strain of cannabis to see how strong it really is - and in so doing tests the case for legalising the drug or not. How? Well, it decided it would get its very own news anchor Jon Snow to take super-strength skunk along with The Times' Matthew Paris among others. One suspects Hadley Freedman in the Guardian sums up the views of many a parent:

Matthew Parris and Jon Snow on skunk? That'll put kids off drugs.

Although in case that were too subtle for you she continues: "Another drugs TV show is happening, people. Channel 4, obviously. And we all know what that means, don't we? That's right: we get to watch some celebrities get off their nut on TV in the name of showing what drugs do to all of our brains - or, at least what they do to celebrities' brains."

Tomorrow's Telegraph

#tomorrowspaperstoday

Telegraph
Telegraph

Cigarette packaging

cigarettes
BBC

The Republic of Ireland has become the first country in Europe to pass legislation requiring

. Tobacco products will be in a standard dark wrapper with large health warnings and images of disease. Ireland is the second country in the world after Australia to pass plain packaging laws.

Save the Children apology

Tony Blair
Getty Images

Save the Children has apologised to those who were upset by its decision to give Tony Blair a "global legacy award" last year. The Charity says the prize was bestowed solely for the former British prime minister's work in Africa and was not intended as a celebration of his "wider legacy".

The Guardian says Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children UK and a former aide to Blair, admitted the move had damaged the international charity.

Your comments - Oxford abuse

Gillian Schonrock, Poole writes: "If teachers and social workers have the threat of criminal proceedings hanging over them, they will behave differently. While that may have the effect of preventing the Rochdale situation from happening again, it will also cause a lot of unnecessary referrals to social services, and investigations."

Emma, County Durham comments: "This isn't anything new. Any person in care could tell you that. I left care in 1993. It was prevalent then, social workers weren't interested nor were the police - after all, you were in care."

Gareth Hillary, Stockport says: "As someone who works in the social sector, I read plenty of abuse cases and Serious Case Reviews. These proposals are terrible. Social workers have enough on their plates as it is with case loads of up to 50 children, depending on the local authority. .. There is no culture of denial, there is a culture of blame."

John, Bootle comments: "Am I completely out of touch here? Where is the role of parents in all this? We are talking about children. If they are being led astray under the noses of their own parents or guardians, why are these carers not castigated and punished with up to five years in prison?"

Rob Miles, Poole says: "Every year, at least 200 children vanish from school registers without trace. For centuries, child abuse was ignored by the law, so we have no systematic approach to keeping records of where children are meant to be and who is meant to be looking after them."

Newsnight

@BBCNewsnight

Newsnight
BBC

tweets: So it was meme of the day, but #WeaselPecker Newsnight playout will never get broadcast. One for the net.
Good call?

Gove on Boles

LBC

On LBC Radio Mr Gove said he disagreed with Mr Boles' reported criticism of the benefit sanctions regime but suggested his colleague had made a "verbal slip". He acknowledged that the use of the term "inhuman" was "provocative" but told LBC "I don't think Nick's intention was to provoke and I think all of us can, from time to time, occasionally as we reach for the right word in order to show that we don't necessarily approve or support every aspect of a particular policy, we can sometimes make a verbal slip."

Lamps 4 London?

LBC

Frank Lampard
European Photopress Agency

Tory Chief Whip Michael Gove has said he would welcome a bid from ex-England footballer Sol Campbell to become the mayor of London. "I wouldn't mind if he threw his hat in the ring," Mr Gove told LBC Radio. "I don't know him though. My son, I think, would probably prefer if Frank Lampard threw his hat in the ring - my son, I'm afraid, is a Chelsea fan." West London v North London anyone? How about Regent's Park as a venue, it's almost half way between the two? We'll bring the jumpers for goalposts.

Social media election

This election is likely to see the political parties making more - and more sophisticated - use of social media. A quick sample of what is on Twitter at the moment:

The Labour party (@UKLabour)

tweets: RETWEET: They call it the politics of envy. We call it standing up for working people

Labour promotion on Twitter
Twitter

While, for the Conservatives, housing minister Brandon Lewis (@BrandonLewis)

tweets: Building a Britain where everyone who works hard can have a home of their own

Conservative promo
Twitter

Over at the Liberal Democrats (@LibDems), this was a recent

tweet: Our @LibDemsTeam2015 volunteers are back at HQ. Find out more & how to join here http://buff.ly/1EdoPOM

lib dems promo
Twitter

Lofty matters

Guido Fawkes

Ed Miliband and Toby Perkins
Guido Fawkes

The political blogger Guido Fawkes

has published a blog post pointing out the relatively disparity in height between Labour leader Ed Miliband and Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield. The two are pictured together appearing to be the same height, in what one can only assume is a photo that will could be used in electoral campaign literature.

But Guido points out Toby Perkins is a towering 6 feet 6 inches, while Ed Miliband is a somewhat more diminutive 5 feet 10 inches.

Guido describes his work as "important investigative journalism" in an exchange of texts between himself and Toby Perkins.

Legal aid - Christian leaders

Caroline Wyatt

Religious affairs correspondent

Christian leaders have called on political parties to review recent changes and cuts to legal aid, expressing concern that the current situation risks a division in England and Wales between "those who can afford to buy justice and those who cannot."

In a foreword to a new report for the

Theos think tank , they write: "Christians must continually remind government that it has a "fundamental responsibility" to secure justice for all. They also call on Christians to help people themselves if they can.

Cost of drinking

Alcohol misuse is costing the Welsh NHS more than £109m a year, the Welsh Assembly has heard.

Deputy health minister Vaughan Gething says the latest figures showed 34,000 hospital admissions and 467 deaths related to alcohol in 2013.

NUT on child protection plans

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has criticised plans to make it a criminal offence not to raise the alarm over child protection concerns. The prime minister set out the plans after a damning report in to abuse of young girls in Oxfordshire. Teachers, councillors and social workers in England and Wales could face up to five years in jail if they fail to protect children.

The NUT's general secretary Christine Blower said such horrific cases showed systems in the agencies involved needed improving. But she cautioned: "Criminalisation of individual teachers, however, will not assist and will be counterproductive in prompting over-reporting so that identification of children at risk is actually more difficult."

Gove on LBC

LBC

Michael Gove
LBC

Chief Whip Michael Gove says the Tories are right to repeat the commitment to cutting net migration to the "tens of thousands".

Later, he spoke about the Oxfordshire abuse scandal, saying some police officers had seen the victims as girls who were "no better than they ought to be".

"These girls grew up in situations where the one thing they didn't receive from anyone was love," he said.

"They were then vulnerable to exploitative men who would shower them with affection and money and then alcohol and then drugs and then do the most horrendous things to them, having groomed them they would then treat them in the most inhuman fashion."

First Minister's Questions

First Minister Carwyn Jones took questions at the Welsh Assembly earlier. There's a full run-down of what he said

here.

BBC Trust

Rona Fairhead
BBC

BBC Trust boss Rona Fairhead is to be

questioned by MPs about her role at HSBC while the bank's Swiss arm helped wealthy clients evade tax. She will give evidence to the Public Accounts Committee alongside HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver next Monday.

Young voters

New Statesman

Is voting the best way

to influence politics?

Child exploitation laws

BBC Radio 4

anonymous girl
Getty Images

"It's very hard to prove wilful neglect," Anne Lawrence, a barrister who advises the campaign group Mandate Now tells PM, of today's government proposals to extend the legislation around child abuse.

She says the danger with current proposals is that "they will scapegoat a couple of people and it will leave the culture the same as it is now".

Mandatory reporting will require people in authority, such as teachers, to report concerns. Sociologist Frank Furedi, also on PM, warned mandatory reporting could create an environment of "institutional defensiveness".

Yarl's Wood

A second member of staff at the Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre has been suspended after guards were secretly filmed referring to inmates as "animals" and "beasties". An undercover report for

Channel Four News also raised concerns about self-harm among detainees. The facility is run by the private security firm, Serco, which says it has commissioned an independent review. The government says the claims are "deeply concerning".

'Inflexibility' in welfare sanctions

A Conservative minister has said there is an

"inhuman inflexibility" to the way some welfare sanctions are applied, according to
the Grantham Journal.

Business Minister Nick Boles said the sanctions "do need to be looked at" and suggested a change after the election, the paper said. Mr Boles later said he was a "strong advocate of benefit sanctions in principle and in practice".

Demos

@Demos

tweets: 3 million young people are undecided on who to vote for. Stat from our report #TuneInTurnOut in today's Independent http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/generalelection/getting-young-people-to-vote-from-voteselfish-to-bite-the-ballot-10081205.html …

Ed Balls on the EU

shadow chancellor Ed Balls
PA

Pulling Britain out of the European Union (EU) would be a "disaster" for London and is the biggest risk to prosperity the capital faces, Ed Balls has warned.

The shadow chancellor says severing ties with Brussels would cost jobs, investment and influence and jeopardise future success. He told business organisation London First earlier: "The whole of Britain benefits from London's growth and dynamism.

"We should have no truck with the argument that if the rest of the country is to get more jobs and investment then London needs to be less successful."

Patrick Wintour, Political editor, The Guardian

@patrickwintour

tweets: God no longer a red line for Clegg. "It's not something that's happened to me, it's not happened to me yet and I would embrace it."

IDS warns Tories over 'finger wagging' at the poor

Iain Duncan Smith
BBC

Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith will use a speech in Washington this evening to warn his Conservative colleagues that they still have to show they are not driven by a desire to "punish" people on benefits,

the Daily Mail reports.

Mr Duncan Smith will warn that for too long his party has addressed the poor with "fingers wagging", instead of offering them "hope".

He will say the Conservative pitch to voters has to be about more than tax, immigration and crime to show they are driven by "fairness, opportunity, and compassion".

No abuse change before election

Iain Watson

Political correspondent, BBC News

It's unlikely there will be legislation on "wilful neglect" before the general election, says BBC political correspondent Iain Watson. The prime minister's spokesman says the next step will be to consult and that the plan is to extend a law which says health workers can be prosecuted for neglecting patients.

Re-cap

A reminder of the main stories so far today:

  • A
    report reveals errors and misjudgements by social workers and police officers in Oxfordshire over 15 years, while more than 370 children and teenagers were abused
  • David Cameron says "It's important we take a step back and just recognise the horrific nature of what has happened in our country" and accuses people in authority of "walking on by"
  • The PM announces plans to make it a criminal offence for people such as teachers and social workers not to protect children if they spot signs of abuse
  • Labour says the plans don't go far enough and calls for a new offence of "child exploitation" and a new legal duty to report child abuse
  • A damning report has been published in to the deaths of mothers and babies at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria, identifying 20 cases of significant failures that led to the unnecessary deaths of eleven babies and one mother
  • Former prime minister John Major attends
    the funeral in Moscow of the Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, on behalf of the British government

Netanyahu speech to US Congress

Mr Netanyahu says the world should demand Iran stop its aggression towards its neighbours before any restrictions are lifted. He says: "For a year we've been told that no deal is better than a bad deal, well this is a bad deal. We're better off without it. Now we're being told the only alternative to this deal is war. That's not true. The alternative to this deal is a much better deal."

Netanyahu speech to US Congress

"The only difference between Iran and ISIS is that ISIS is armed with butcher's knives and captured weapons, while Iran is only a few steps away from having inter-continental ballistic nuclear weapons," Mr Netanyahu tells the US Congress. He says Iran and ISIS are fighting amongst themselves over who will be in charge of an Islamic state, adding in such circumstances that "my enemy's enemy is still my enemy".

Netanyahu speech to US Congress

Mr Netanyahu says any deal with Iran on its nuclear programme would include concessions that would leave it with a vast nuclear infrastructure that will allow it "a short breakout time" to construct a nuclear weapon. He says that Iran has proved time and again that it cannot be trusted.