How fixed-term Parliaments have changed politics

Tony Blair 1997

Fewer general elections

We know that the next election will be in May 2015, five years after the last one. But the average length of time between general elections since 1945 has been three years and 10 months. Now, as a result of fixed term parliaments we are going to get one every five years. That means over the next 100 years there could be six fewer general elections. Good news for political phobics (ie everybody outside Westminster). But what about democracy?

No more "zombie" governments

Zombies at Universal Studios

In the old days, when governments went into a fifth year you could almost smell the decay and desperation - the sense that the incumbents were just hanging on in the hope that something - anything - would turn up to transform their dismal electoral prospects. That does not happen any more. But some fear the paralysis in government will be just as bad - but for a different reason...

Very long election campaigns

David Cameron kissing baby 2010

Far from keeping campaigns to a tightly focused few weeks before polling day, which was the original idea, fixed-terms appear to have had the opposite effect. It is still possible for a general election to be held before the five years is up through a no confidence vote in the Commons. But that seems unlikely. What seems more likely is that we are in for 16 months of steadily escalating electioneering. Lucky us.

The media have lost one of their favourite games

The Sun front page

The tabloid press used to go to extraordinary lengths to get hold of the date of the next election. The Sun, in particular, used to pride itself on scooping the competition. Not any more.

More coalitions

Nick Clegg and David Cameron

Without a fixed-term Parliament the coalition may have broken up by now, or at least been buffeted by a frenzy of press speculation about snap elections. In fact many insiders reckon it is unlikely the Lib Dems and Conservatives could have got together in the first place without first agreeing to make fixed term parliaments a key policy.

Better planning

George Osborne visits construction site

Civil servants love stability - and knowing exactly when the general election is going to be held takes a lot of the uncertainty out of long-term planning. Single party governments with a decent majority are likely to gain the most, according to constitution expert Peter Riddell in a 2011 select committee inquiry.

Boring party conferences

Lady Thatcher at 1983 Tory conference

Without the tension created by an election that could happen at any time these annual shindigs seem to have become even more stale and stage-managed. Particularly in the mid-term period. It might just be coincidence, but where is the drama?

The incumbent loses a key advantage

Gordon Brown

The power to choose the date of the election is traditionally seen as handing a huge advantage to the party in power. But it can prove a curse as well as a blessing. Just ask Gordon Brown, whose last minute decision not to go to the country in 2007, after allowing speculation to grow that he would, probably cost him his best shot of winning a mandate of his own.

Ad men and pollsters out of pocket

Tony Blair 'demon eyes' Tory poster

Spending on election advertising actually went down at the 2010 general election to a total of £31.1m, thanks largely to a big drop in the amount Labour managed to raise under Gordon Brown. It is likely to go down further still when the parties no longer have to block book poster sites for weeks on end in preparation for a likely poll. And then there are the opinion pollsters. Election speculation is their bread and butter too.

Less accountability?

Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron

Fixed four-year terms are the norm in many countries around the world. They used to be the norm in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland too, but elections for the devolved assemblies are moving to five year terms to avoid clashes with Westminster elections. Some argue four year terms give voters more opportunity to hold politicians to account. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg pushed for a five year term, arguing it provided greater stability. And that is where we are, unless a future government decides to change it...

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  1.  
    12:39: Morgan abuse statement House of Commons Parliament

    Foreign Office questions has now come to an end. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is now making a statement about the serious case review into child sexual abuse in Oxford, saying what has emerged in the report is "sickening". She says child abuse had been a "scourge in many communities around the country".

     
  2.  
    12:36: Diplomatic language House of Commons Parliament

    Ever wondered how many UK diplomats speak Russian or Arabic? Tory MP John Baron is curious, suggesting that linguistic shortcomings may have contributed to the UK being "unsighted" over recent developments in Ukraine or the Middle East. Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood says there are 170 Arabic-speaking mandarins in his department and a similar number of Russian speakers.

     
  3.  
    12:35: National security Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Margaret Beckett

    Margaret Beckett, chair of parliament's national security strategy committee, is on the Daily Politics explaining why she and her fellow parliamentarians have released a report criticising the government for its limited interest in developing a strategy. "What there doesn't seem to us to be is the kind of coordinated approach that we'd hoped for," she says. More broadly, she says fears about defence cuts are a "legitimate anxiety". The government hasn't been able to make decisions, having stepped back to consider the bigger picture. "They identify high-priority risks but they don't necessarily link them to the spending decisions," she says.

     
  4.  
    12:30: Religious freedoms House of Commons Parliament

    Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander says a new job is needed in the Foreign Office: a global envoy for religious freedom, reporting to the foreign secretary, which he says a Labour government will create. Philip Hammond sounds unimpressed. "Our general approach is to try to get things done," he says, by using the tools already in place. "I don't think simply creating new posts delivers in quite the way the shadow foreign secretary thinks."

     
  5.  
    12:27: Benefit sanctions The Guardian
    Nick Boles

    Business minister Nick Boles has criticised the government's "inhuman" benefit sanctions regime, the Guardian reports. It quotes him telling constituents the current system does "need to be looked at".

     
  6.  
    12:20: 'Hidden from view' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    The eye-catching move by the government to impose criminal sanctions on those who fail to ensure the children they're responsible for are protected from sexual exploitation is in line with rules already in place in the NHS, Cllr David Simmonds, from the Local Government Association, tells the Daily Politics. "It's absolutely clear this has been hidden from view - we need to make sure that mums and dads know the signs, that teachers know the signs when they pop up in the classroom."

     
  7.  
    12:21: Wrong question House of Commons Parliament

    A little light relief in the Commons as Labour's Mary Glindon realises she has asked the wrong question. She apologises and changes tack - pressing ministers on the use of the death penalty around the world.

     
  8.  
    12:19: 'Off the rails' House of Commons Parliament
    Philip Hammond

    Philip Hammond tells MPs that the European Union has "gone off the rails" over the past 20 years and substantial reforms are needed, "not just some backroom deal". He says the Conservatives' pledge of a referendum has "lit a fire" under the situation in Europe and claims that he has the backing of at least 23 other members for its position.

     
  9.  
    12:16: Child sexual exploitation: a national threat? Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor
    A child in Rotherham

    The thing that really stands out for me, Norman Smith tells the Daily Politics, is Mr Cameron's decision to categorise child exploitation as a "national threat". At one level that is to ensure police forces cooperate with each other in trying to tackle child sexual exploitation. At another it is an attempt to give a wake-up call to the nation. Mr Cameron's view is it is a national moment because he believes it is endemic, not confined to one or two towns.

     
  10.  
    12:11: Iranian diplomacy House of Commons Parliament

    Former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt says he's soon going to be welcoming the first delegation of Iranian parliamentarians to visit Britain in a very long time. This is good news, Human Rights Minister Tobias Ellwood believes. "It's through full and frank engagement we can get our message across," he says.

     
  11.  
    12:06: Now on your TV screens... Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Over on BBC2, the Daily Politics is now underway, with journalists Tim Montgomerie and Steve Richards offering their views at the start of the programme. You can watch by clicking on the 'live coverage' tab at the top of this page.

     
  12.  
    11:59: Russia sanctions House of Commons Parliament

    Labour backbencher Willie Bain calls for tougher sanctions against Russia, and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond agrees that they should be strengthened immediately. "We need to have that tool in place," he argues, in order to incentivise Russia into complying with the timetable set out in Minsk. "Our role has been, is, and will remain, to stiffen the resolve of all 28 EU members to be united and to be aligned with the United States in deploying what has been a very powerful weapon."

     
  13.  
    @Kevin_Maguire Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Daily Mirror

    tweets: Awful Oxfordshire sex abuse scandal in Cameron's backyard echoes Rotherham. Sack this council too?

     
  14.  
    11:56: Space-age Britain
    Virgin Galactic

    The government's search for a British spaceport has made some progress today, with the number of potential locations on the shortlist narrowed down to just six. These are:

    • Campbeltown Airport
    • Glasgow Prestwick Airport
    • Llanbedr Airfield
    • Newquay Cornwall Airport
    • RAF Leuchars
    • Stornoway Airport

    The next step, according to this morning's consultation response, is working out more clearly what exactly a spaceport actually is. "The government is developing a detailed technical specification of spaceport requirements to increase understanding of 'what is a spaceport' and the detailed technical requirements for spaceplane operations," it says. More in our story here.

     
  15.  
    11:50: Tony Blair's future House of Commons Parliament
    Foreign Office questions

    Angus Robertson. the SNP leader in Westminster, asks whether the UK government still has confidence in Tony Blair's efforts as a Middle East peace envoy. "Mr Blair has made large number of visits to the region, he continues to engage," Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says, before adding: "And I've no doubt his role will be kept under constant review."

     
  16.  
    @paulwaugh Paul Waugh, editor of Politics.Home.com

    tweets: This is Philip Hammond's final Foreign Office Questions before the election. Will it be his final ever FCO Qs as Foreign Sec?

     
  17.  
    @Steven_Swinford Steven Swinford, deputy political editor, the Telegraph.

    tweets: Sir Malcolm Rifkind returns to political arena after cash-for-access scandal to urge govt to help Libya become 'moderate secular force'

     
  18.  
    11:45: Rifkind returns House of Commons Parliament

    Sir Malcolm Rifkind gets a loud "hear hear" from Conservative MPs before asking his question about helping democratic forces in Libya to create a "decent country". Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond laments that it's not as simple as just getting behind a democratic authority - because it's not clear exactly where that democratic authority comes from. "It is vital to our security that there is a stable government in Libya," he agrees. Of course, Sir Malcolm was in the headlines last week over a cash for access sting.

     
  19.  
    11:43: Commons under way House of Commons Parliament

    The Commons' sitting day has now begun, with proceedings starting after prayers with Foreign Office questions. Also coming up over lunchtime are an urgent question on child sexual exploitation in Oxfordshire; a further urgent question from home affairs committee chairman Keith Vaz on Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre; a statement from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on the independent investigation into Maternity Services at Morecambe Bay; and then a further statement from Housing Minister Brandon Lewis on the proposed new garden city at Ebbsfleet.

     
  20.  
    @BBCJamesCook James Cook, Scotland correspondent for BBC News

    tweets: First Minister @NicolaSturgeon confirms the SNP no longer wants a blanket 3% reduction in corporation tax, instead favouring targeted cuts.

     
  21.  
    @DeHavilland DeHavilland, political research organisation

    tweets: Speaker Bercow said in his #Speaker2015 lecture last night he'd granted 211 UQs. 2 more 2day takes that total to 213! Predecessor granted 2.

     
  22.  
    11:24: Government plans

    Theresa May's statement announces the following:

    • a new independent taskforce, which will work in local authorities where child abuse is a concern
    • a new centre of professional expertise to develop better approaches to tackling sexual abuse
    • a £1m campaign to raise awareness and give advice to anyone worried about a child
    • a national whistleblowing helpline for anyone concerned about failures to protect children
    • a new inspection system to ensure local agencies are working effectively
     
  23.  
    11:20: Theresa May statement

    This is the home secretary's written ministerial statement, published this morning, on the issue of child sexual abuse. We'll take a look at it in more detail shortly.

     
  24.  
    11:15: Abuse report

    The full case review can be read here.

     
  25.  
    11:14: 'Never be put right'

    Jim Leivers, Oxfordshire County Council's director for children, education and families, said the council "made many mistakes and missed opportunities to stop the abuse". The report "shows very clearly that the girls were badly let down by the people and organisations that could - and should - have protected them", he continued. "The dreadful experiences faced by these young women can never be put right. But the safeguarding board is now in a much better position to prevent, disrupt and detect these crimes."

     
  26.  
    11:13: Police apologise

    Chief Constable Sara Thornton, of Thames Valley Police, said: "We are ashamed of the shortcomings identified in this report and we are determined to do all we can to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again."

     
  27.  
    @LisaSkyNews Lisa Dowd, Sky News correspondent

    tweets: Report: victims white girls, perpetrators mainly Asian men. Recommends more research at national level into this issue.

     
  28.  
    11:10: 'Unacceptable delays' BBC News Channel

    Independent chair of the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board Maggie Blyth is outlining a catalogue of failures. Parents weren't listened to, children were treated as though they had consented to the abuse. While there was "no disregard of clear warnings" at a top level, there were "unacceptable delays" in reacting to what was going on that allowed perpetrators to get away with their crimes, she goes on.

     
  29.  
    @sandralaville Sandra Laville, senior correspondent for the Guardian

    tweets: There was a professional tolerance of children having sex with older men

     
  30.  
    11:05: 'Indescribably awful'

    Alan Bedford, the author of the independent review, wrote: "What happened to the child victims of the sexual exploitation in Oxfordshire was indescribably awful.

    "The child victims and their families feel very let down. Their accounts of how they perceived professional work are disturbing and chastening."

     
  31.  
    11:04:

    As many as 373 girls might have suffered abuse in Oxfordshire, the report has found.

     
  32.  
    @LisaSkyNews Lisa Dowd, Sky News correspondent

    tweets: Serious case review finds no evidence of 'wilful professional neglect' despite girls being trafficked & raped for a decade

     
  33.  
    11:02: Child sex abuse

    The report into child sexual abuse in Oxfordshire has just been released and a news conference on its findings is about to begin.

     
  34.  
    11:01: More on Turing's Law

    Labour say they will introduce legislation to allow the family and friends of deceased men to apply to the Home Office to quash convictions made under the historic gross indecency law. The Protection of Freedom Act (2012) currently allows individuals still alive to apply to have their convictions quashed, but at present, no such redress is available for the relatives of those now dead.

     
  35.  
    @BBCNormanS Norman Smith, assistant political editor

    tweets: Ed Miliband pledges to introduce "Turing's Law" - posthumous pardons for gay men convicted under historic indecency laws

     
  36.  
    10:54: 'Stain on society'

    Ed Miliband has told Gay Times Magazine he would fight to obtain pardons for all men convicted as criminals for being gay under the UK's now repealed gross indecency law. It follows the pardon for WW2 codebreaker Alan Turing. "I think it's a stain on our society, frankly," he told the magazine. "I think it's right what's been done in relation to Alan Turing and his family, but there are also other families that will have had relatives who were convicted... simply because of the person they love... I think we owe it to the LGBT community to make this move."

     
  37.  
    @labourwhips Labour whips

    tweets: 2 UQs today: A Smith to Home Sec re Child Sexual Exploitation in Oxfordshire & K Vaz to Home Sec re Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre

     
  38.  
    10:48: 'Half-way house' BBC News Channel

    Liz Dux, a lawyer at Slater and Gordon who represents victims, wants the government to introduce mandatory reporting of child abuse allegations. She says: "What concerns me about today is that it'll be a half-way house. The burden of proof for wilful neglect is very high. The burden would be on the prosecutors to show that a member of staff had knowledge and deliberately didn't pass it on.

    "We don't want people prosecuted for this, we want to stop the paedophiles. No-one wants to see a raft of litigation against social services - what we want to do is change the culture. So something is reported to you and you automatically know, you have no choice, you have to pass it on."

     
  39.  
    10:41: Charity 'sorry' for Blair award BBC Radio 4

    Earlier on Today, the chief executive of Save the Children apologised for giving Tony Blair a global legacy award. Justin Forsyth said he was "very sorry" to the supporters and volunteers who were "upset" by the honour, given Mr Blair's involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Admitting the row had "in part" damaged the charity, he added: "This has been really an unnecessary distraction." This was our original story about the award.

     
  40.  
    10:33: MPs question Mark Carney

    In Parliament, Bank of England governor Mark Carney is answering questions from the Treasury select committee on its monitoring of the foreign exchange industry. The Bank has accepted that recent misconduct allegations in financial markets have increased the need to strengthen its oversight regime.

     
  41.  
    @alantravis40 Alan Travis, Guardian home affairs editor

    tweets: Theresa May's decision to make child sex abuse part of the strategic policing requirement puts it on par with terrorism & organised crime

     
  42.  
    10:27: 'I would do it differently' Buzzfeed

    Nicky Morgan, who also serves as equalities minister in addition to her job as education secretary, has given an interview to BuzzFeed about her views on homosexuality. She infamously voted against gay marriage in February 2013 but says her experience in the job has changed her mind. "Doing this role as equalities minister means you learn a lot," Mrs Morgan says. "You speak to a lot of people and yeah, hence very much I think if the vote was held now I would do it differently."

     
  43.  
    @YvetteCooperMP Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary

    tweets: Theresa May says her failed net migration target will be in Tory manifesto. Again. No ifs, no buts. Who does she think she is kidding?

     
  44.  
    10:20: Two Davids
    David Cameron and David Walliams

    "Her favourite David is David Walliams" - that's what the PM has told a Downing Street party about his wife, Samantha. According to the Daily Mail, Mr Cameron told a St David's Day reception: "She sat next to him at a charity function and said he was the funniest man she'd ever met so I'm going to have to learn to live with that."

     
  45.  
    10:17: 'Key pillars'

    Today's strategy, Nicola Sturgeon continues, is "based on the key pillars of investment, innovation, inclusive growth and internationalisation".

     
  46.  
    10:16: 'Equality and competitiveness'
    Nicola Sturgeon

    Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland's economy has made progress since 2007 but it can still be improved. Today's economic strategy will promote "equality and competitiveness together as two sides of the same coin", she says. The Scottish government will pursue fair work and a living wage, encourage more women and disabled people into the labour market, and make key investments in health and educational attainment.

     
  47.  
    10:11: Nicola Sturgeon speech BBC News Channel

    Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is now on her feet launching her economic strategy for Scotland in Linlithgow. You can watch her on the News Channel by clicking on the tabs above.

     
  48.  
    10:10: 'Time for hand-wringing long gone'
    Abuse victim

    "The depressing list of abuse scandals in recent years has left the nation shocked and stunned," says the NSPCC's chief executive Peter Wanless. "But now we must have positive action to make sure children are properly protected and, hopefully, today's government announcements will start to swing the odds in favour of the victims, not the offenders. When we have children just out of primary school being targeted and groomed by predatory gangs of men, we know the time for hand-wringing has long gone. There have been enough warnings that we are not doing enough to keep children safe. Now it's time to act."

     
  49.  
    10:01: '100% wrong' LBC

    Ask Boris concludes with the most passionate answer of the last 60 minutes from the London mayor, who is questioned about the role of the security services in radicalising Islamic State fighter Mohammed Emwazi. Human rights group Cage has produced a tape of Emwazi claiming MI5 threatened him and tried to "put words into my mouth". Its research director, Asim Qureshi, tells Mr Johnson there is "direct causality" between this and his subsequent actions as the radicalised 'Jihadi John'.

    Mr Johnson tells Mr Qureshi he has "got this 100% the wrong way up". He adds: "You need to see this thing differently. The security services are trying to keep us safe. They cannot conceivably be blamed for their actions in trying to prevent people trying to commit sick atrocities against the British people and indeed against people in Syria and Iraq. If you're a human rights group you should be sticking up for the human rights of those who are being beheaded in Syria and Iraq, that should be the focus of your concern." And with that Ask Boris wraps up. Our full story on the Emwazi tape can be read here.

     
  50.  
    09:57: 'Strict disciplinarian' The Daily Telegraph

    A very funny sketch in the Telegraph today by Michael Deacon. "It must be tough, being David Cameron's children. By modern standards of parenting, he's a pretty strict disciplinarian... 'I want my children,' he declared sternly, 'to be able to walk from Liverpool to Leeds through green belt protected land.' What an extraordinary announcement. The distance from Liverpool to Leeds is 72 miles." Mr Deacon wonders how Nancy, Elwen and Florence will manage the arduous journey - and what they will do in Leeds when they get there. "Are they to spend the night in the city? Just the three of them? Mr Cameron made no mention of accompanying them on their gruelling trek."

     
  51.  
    @Number10gov David Cameron, PM

    tweets: Sir John Major to represent UK at Boris #Nemtsov's memorial, over 20 years after they met here in Nizhny Novgorod

    Sir John Major and Boris Nemtsov
     
  52.  
    @PippaCrerar Pippa Crerar, Evening Standard reporter

    tweets: Watch out BBC! Boris is on warpath. Says it's imp to support quality b'casting but "do you need to support the whole machine?" #AskBoris

     
  53.  
    09:49: 'Plainly anachronistic' LBC

    Boris Johnson backs a cut in the BBC's licence fee, saying he disagrees with the Commons committee that has backed prolonging the licence fee for a further 10 years, suggesting that's "too long". He says the BBC is "deeply anti-competitive" and the licence fee is "plainly anachronistic", but accepts that it's important to protect high-quality broadcasting. "I think there is a case for having a very high standard of public broadcasting. Do we need the full whack of the licence fee, all that money? I somehow doubt [it]. There is going to have to be a change. We are moving in that direction."

     
  54.  
    09:46: 'Prime ministerial timber' LBC

    Len, a UKIP voter, tells Boris Johnson he would like to support the Conservatives but only if the London mayor would be the prime minister. Mr Johnson replies: "In the end, David Cameron is doing a fantastic job, he's cut out to be a prime minister, he's plainly made from prime ministerial timber, unlike Ed Miliband, and ultimately Len, you may think you want Nigel Farage, but in the end you vote for him you're going to get Ed Miliband, and that would be an absolute shocker for our country."

     
  55.  
    09:40: 'Like a tigress' LBC

    Some more tough questions for Boris Johnson on LBC, who is attempting to explain why he is so keen on Uxbridge, where he is standing as an MP. "It's a glorious part of London," he says, before appearing stumped when invited to name a pub on the high street. Mr Johnson eventually replies: "It would be wrong and invidious of me to single out one pub when there are many fine hostelries." Would he prefer to stand in Kensington, where Sir Malcolm Rifkind is standing down? Inviting the London mayor to pick his favourite parts of the capital, Mr Johnson replies, is "like asking a tigress to choose between her cubs".

     
  56.  
    @steve_hawkes Steve Hawkes, deputy political editor of the Sun

    tweets: Challenged to name a pub in Uxbridge, Boris tells LBC it's like asking a tigress to choose between her cubs.. That's how to fudge it

     
  57.  
    @georgeeaton George Eaton, political editor, New Statesman

    tweets: There will be a large anti-austerity, anti-Trident faction in Labour that could ally with SNP. Read more.

     
  58.  
    09:32: 'Absurd thing to say' LBC
    Boris Johnson on LBC

    Boris Johnson is asked about David Lammy's claim that the seriousness of shoplifting should be based not on value but the impact on the victim - see 07:06 and 07:16 entries earlier for the Labour MP's comments on the Today programme. "That's an absurd thing to say," Mr Johnson says. "If he is seriously saying we should discount or minimise shoplifting from swish posh shops then that is totally wrong because it is a crime wherever it is committed." He says residential burglary has fallen by 13%.

     
  59.  
    09:25: 'I can't remember' LBC

    Ask Boris descends into acrimony as presenter Nick Ferrari asks the London mayor if he knows what TPIMS - the watered-down version of control orders - stands for. "I can't remember," Mr Johnson admits, before complaining about being asked "silly smart-alec questions" (the answer, by the way, is Terrorist Prevention and Investigation Measures). He says he supports a return to the control order regime which restricts the movement of terror suspects. "Most people will say that where you have people who need to be dislocated from their support networks, who are at risk of committing serious terrorist crimes against the public, I think you should go back to control orders," he says.

     
  60.  
    09:24: Bad behaviour

    Labour has proposed a sin bin for MPs who behave badly in the Commons. As the Press Association explains, the Speaker can only discipline MPs for grossly disorderly conduct, and only two people have been ejected from the chamber for this reason since the 2010 election. In the Australian House of Representatives, the Speaker can eject any member for "disorderly" conduct for one hour on their first offence, rising to exclusion for three sessions on their second offence.

     
  61.  
    @timloughton Tim Loughton, Conservative MP and former children's minister

    tweets: Need child protection professionals 2 work together on child abuse not against each other fearful of blame culture under mandatory reporting

     
  62.  
    09:12: 'Make cyclists safe' LBC

    Vincent, a lorry driver, tells Boris Johnson he wants cyclists to take a road traffic exam. The London Mayor rejects that. "What we can't do is try to drive cyclists off the road," he says. "What we need to do is put in the infrastructure to make cyclists safe."

     
  63.  
    09:10: Boris Johnson phone-in LBC
    Boris Johnson on LBC

    London Mayor Boris Johnson is now taking questions in his regular Ask Boris slot on LBC. The first question is from Vincent, a heavy goods vehicle driver who killed a cyclist in a crash last year but was cleared of any wrongdoing. "I understand the tragedy as much for Vincent as for the poor person who died," Mr Johnson - a keen champion of cycling in the capital - says. He then suggests women cyclists have more problems on the road than men. "It's very often female cyclists who seem to be the victims of these types of terrible accidents... it may be because women are naturally more cautious or hang back more, I can't explain it. What you need to do is get in front of Vincent and his lorry, indicate."

     
  64.  
    09:09: 'Existential challenge' Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    The language David Cameron is using - describing child sexual exploitation as a national threat - is of the sort normally reserved for existential challenges like terrorism. I think Mr Cameron wants to shock people. He wants to make clear this is a problem which seems to be endemic in our society, and there has been a failure across the board, so far, to deal with it.

     
  65.  
    09:04: Scottish student vote

    While Nicola Sturgeon focuses on inequality in her speech later, Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy is targeting the student vote - with a pledge to keep tuition completely free in Scotland. He'll tell students in Glasgow that Labour will spend £125m on helping working class children go to university. But the SNP have spoken out against his plans. MSP Stewart Maxwell says "this is perhaps the most hypocritical announcement from Jim Murphy yet", highlighting Mr Murphy's support for tuition fees in England.

     
  66.  
    09:02: 'Weakening control'

    Former home secretary Jacqui Smith has written about Mohammed Emwazi - or Jihadi John - as he has become known. She says her party is right to attack the government for "weakening the control order regime" which monitors terror suspects. She also defends MI5 for approaching him: "Does it not it seem completely appropriate that the security services would approach someone they could clearly see was radicalised and heading towards potential terrorist activities to warn him that they knew, to offer him a way out and potentially to recruit an important asset in their battle against other terrorists?"

     
  67.  
    08:54: Child sexual exploitation BBC News Channel
    Nicky Morgan

    Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, speaking ahead of a Downing Street summit on child sexual exploitation, has underlined the importance of changing attitudes to achieve real change. "It absolutely has to be about changing the culture in local authorities, police forces and in other organisations," she's told the BBC News Channel. "You can have all the rules you like, but at the end of the day you have to tackle this culture of denial." One way the government hopes to do this is by introducing tougher criminal sanctions for senior public sector workers who fail to protect children. Mrs Morgan says senior figures will want to keep a paper trail to protect themselves.

     
  68.  
    @JackofKent Jack of Kent, law and policy blogger

    tweets: "Let's criminalize politicians who make resource decisions" Oh, that is different, politicians would say, it is more complicated than that.

     
  69.  
    08:41: 'Sneak a surprise'
    Danny Alexander

    Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has been talking with the Western Morning News' about the Liberal Democrats' prospects in the south-west. Many commentators are focused on the Lib Dems' efforts to limit the number of seats they lose on 7 May, but Mr Alexander thinks the party might be able to make gains. "We are not complacent, but in the South West we have an incredibly strong story to tell," he said. "I think that will see us through, continuing the representation we have. And there are a few places where I think we will sneak a surprise."

     
  70.  
    08:34: Photoshop strikes again
    Spoof Conservative election poster featuring Ed Balls

    It was only a matter of time before the latest Conservative election poster was hijacked... hopefully this one hasn't made you choke on your cornflakes. Some scamp has inserted an Ed Balls-Miley Cyrus chimera into the image with disturbing results. The link, of course, being that Ms Cyrus swung about on her very own wrecking ball in the video for her song of the same name.

     
  71.  
    08:21: 'Deep reluctance' to investigate abuse The Daily Telegraph

    Prof Jay's concerns are reflected in a Telegraph story today which says local authorities are expending "considerable intellectual effort" on finding ways to avoid probes into their failures to protect children. The government's Serious Case Review Panel reported: "There is clearly a deep reluctance in some instances to conduct SCRs and the panel has on occasions found the logic tortuous." Children's Minister Edward Timpson, who received the panel's report, said he found its findings "troubling". It comes as David Cameron holds a summit in Downing Street outlining new measures to address the issue, which you can read more about here.

     
  72.  
    @jameschappers James Chapman, Daily Mail political editor

    tweets: Theresa May, arriving at Home Office in 2010, advised by perm sec to identify 2 key issues. "No. I'm going to focus on everything" @thetimes

     
  73.  
    08:11: Squeezing the Tories The Daily Telegraph
    David Cameron

    The SNP's polling surge in Scotland, which is posing a serious challenge to Labour's dominant position north of the border, has some troubling implications for the smaller parties - particularly the Scottish Conservatives. Alan Cochrane, writing for the Telegraph, suggests many staunch Unionists may be persuaded to vote tactically to stop Nicola Sturgeon's party from making sweeping gains: "Something is stirring in the Scottish political undergrowth and the big parties will have to come up with something better to say to the voters that answers their biggest fear, namely that if they don't vote tactically against the SNP, then they'll be faced by a avalanche of nationalist MPs."

     
  74.  
    08:03: Abuse 'under-reported' BBC Radio 4 Today

    Prof Alexis Jay - whose report looking found at least 1,400 young people in Rotherham had been abused - says a culture change across the country is essential. "There are issues around child sexual exploitation in virtually every community. There's a great deal of underreporting, as we know," she tells the Today programme. What's needed, Prof Jay argues, is an end to the "questionable attitudes" she found in Rotherham - including social workers describing the children as having made 'lifestyle choices'.

    But last month's report from Louise Casey, which found that Rotherham Council is still not fit for purpose, suggests the problem remains. "The most disappointing aspect was that having described the culture of denial that continued over 16 years, regrettably Ms Casey reported that was continuing even after the publication of my report," Prof Jay says. She agreed that was an "appalling" state of affairs.

     
  75.  
    @oflynnmep Patrick O'Flynn, UKIP MEP and economic spokesman

    tweets: Thanks so much Theresa May for keeping the migration promise so you can break it again if re-elected. We are all most grateful.

     
  76.  
    @BBCNormanS Norman Smith, BBC News assistant political editor

    tweets: Child sex exploitation is going on in "virtually every community" - Alexis Jay @bbcr4today

     
  77.  
    07:58: 'Not good enough' BBC Radio 4

    Prof Alexis Jay, who investigated child sexual abuse in Rotherham, says of David Cameron's plans to punish those who ignore evidence of wrongdoing: "It's not good enough to say, 'I knew nothing.'"

     
  78.  
    07:52: 'Keeping the target' The Times
    Home Secretary Theresa May

    Today's Times' splash covers Home Secretary Theresa May's pledge to hang on to the beleaguered bid to cut net migration to the tens of thousands. "I think we will keep the target," she says. "It is important because it is about not just dealing with those coming into the system but also about making sure that those people who shouldn't live here actually leave." The precise words of the pledge in the manifesto haven't been decided yet, Mrs May says, but they will be there - in spite of the fact Downing Street isn't going to go ahead with its plans to block migrants from some European countries.

     
  79.  
    07:46: Covering the parties

    All the parties are preoccupied by how much media coverage they're getting, so they'll all be paying attention to this Total Politics blog looking at analysis from the Media Standards Trust of online political stories from mainstream news providers in recent weeks. Of 1,691 articles featuring the parties set to appear in the seven main parties, here's how many each party appeared in during 16-22 February:

    • Conservatives - 73%
    • Labour - 56%
    • Liberal Democrats - 17%
    • UKIP - 17%
    • SNP - 8.4%
    • Greens - 5%
    • Plaid Cymru - less than 1%

    The blog's authors, Stephen Cushion and Gordon Neil Ramsay, conclude: "Far from the 2015 general campaign turning into a seven-horse race, the longstanding two-party dominance of Conservative and Labour remains firmly intact."

     
  80.  
    07:38: The young vote
    Tuition fee protest

    Labour's plan to give the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds might help the party win power, YouGov president Peter Kellner has suggested. He's written an article for the Independent suggesting this reform and online voting would, together, force the parties to pay more attention to young voters. More students voting could only help Labour given the party's policy of cutting the tuition fees cap to £6,000, Mr Kellner thinks. "Extra votes from them in key marginal seats and Ed Miliband's chances of toppling David Cameron would improve significantly," he adds.

     
  81.  
    @Mike_Fabricant Michael Fabricant, Conservative MP for Lichfield

    tweets: I do agree with #Bercow: Unless there r major works on the Palace of Westminster, it will become unusable. The Palace + Tower Bridge #icons

     
  82.  
    07:33: Child sexual exploitation: Labour responds Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    Labour say the government's planned changes to the law around child sex exploitation - including possible five-year jail sentences for public officials who fail to act on suspicions of abuse - do not go far enough.

    Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has called on the government to introduce a specific new offence of child exploitation. Labour are also calling for a new legal duty of "mandatory reporting" which would impose a legal duty to report child abuse. And the party wants compulsory sex and relationship classes in schools.

    They have also criticised the failure to tackle the growth in online child abuse. Up to 30,000 people are suspected of accessing online abuse, according to the National Crime Agency, but only 1,000 have been reported. Ms Cooper said: "We need a radical overhaul of our child protection system, but I fear this is a missed opportunity to get all the reforms we need."

     
  83.  
    @BBCNormanS Norman Smith, BBC News assistant political editor

    tweets: Labour attack PM's child exploitation summit as "missed opportunity"

     
  84.  
    07:23: 'Culture of denial' BBC Breakfast
    Anne Longfield

    Anne Longfield, who since Sunday is the new Children's Commissioner for England, says today's child sexual exploitation plans are important because a "culture of denial" has seen troubled young girls "ignored" needs to change. She's told BBC Breakfast the government's move to make CSE a crime of 'national priority' will send a clear message - but adds national strategies must filter down to those on the ground like social workers, the police and nurses in schools. "We want to see all local authorities and their partners making this the number one priority," she urges. "The firm message here is that professionals must respond."

     
  85.  
    07:16: 'Decriminalised' theft denied BBC Radio 4

    David Lammy's claim that the police are neglecting shoplifting and burglary was challenged by Matt Jukes, the Association of Chief Police Officers' national lead on acquisitive crime, on the Today programme. "We've been working hard to make property harder to steal and make stolen property harder to sell," he replies, citing the example of smart phones. Changing the technology, building in kill switches and tackling the market for stolen phones has resulted in 5,000 fewer victims in London alone last year, he says. But Mr Lammy, whose report on the issue for Policy Exchange is published today, insists the problem is bigger than it appears. "Neighbourhood policing across Britain has virtually collapsed, that's why there's so much under-reporting," he says.

     
  86.  
    @AndrewSparrow Andrew Sparrow, Guardian Politics Live blog

    tweets: Today's Guardian seat projection - Tories 275, Lab 271, SNP 51, LDs 27, Ukip 4, Greens 1

     
  87.  
    07:06: 'Decriminalised' theft BBC Radio 4 Today
    David Lammy

    Labour's David Lammy has claimed theft, burglary and shoplifting have been "de facto decriminalised". Interviewed on the Today programme after he penned a report on the topic for the think-tank Policy Exchange, the Tottenham MP said people had "stopped bothering going to the police" because of a belief they don't have the resources to tackle it. Ministers say crime has fallen by 20% under the coalition, but Mr Lammy said shoplifting was up by 5% last year. Our story's available here.

     
  88.  
    @YouGov YouGov, pollsters

    tweets: Update: Cons lead at 3 - Latest YouGov / Sun results 2nd Mar - Con 35%, Lab 32%, LD 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%; APP -18

     
  89.  
    06:56: Sturgeon on inequality

    Nicola Sturgeon will use a speech later to try and shift the Scottish debate onto social mobility issues. The Scottish first minister will claim that recent research from the OECD suggests a more equal society could have boosted Britain's GDP by nearly £100bn in 2010. "We want to see economic growth that is inclusive, innovative and fairly distributed," she's expected to say. Scottish Labour agree that inequality is a big issue, but insist they have a plan to tackle it. Here's the story.

     
  90.  
    06:54: Hull bound?

    On the subject of relocating Parliament, how about Hull? That's a suggestion BBC2's Daily Politics looked at on Monday.

     
  91.  
    06:53: Crumbling parliament
    Palace of Westminster

    The Palace of Westminster, which hasn't had a major renovation since its construction in the mid-19th century, will have to be "abandoned" if nothing's done, John Bercow warned last night. At a Hansard Society event in parliament, the Speaker said taxpayers would have to brace themselves for a £3bn bill - and MPs and peers might have to temporarily find somewhere else to hold their debates. "If we were to decant, should we consider all options including, almost certainly, a regional option?" Mr Bercow pondered. "We should." Our story on his comments is here.

     
  92.  
    @BarrySheerman Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield

    tweets: Will be interesting how media deals with child abuse revelations in Oxfordshire compared to Rotherham @BBCr4today

     
  93.  
    06:47: 'Girls let down'

    Today's summit coincides with what is expected to be a damning report on child sex abuse in Oxfordshire. Lead investigator into that case Det Ch Insp Simon Morton said has told the BBC police "completely let the girls down". Read more.

     
  94.  
    06:42: Analysis: child sex abuse Alison Holt Social Affairs Editor, BBC News

    David Cameron will talk about classifying child sexual abuse as a national threat. The idea is to push it up the agenda because one of the issues that comes up time and again is that other policing priorities have tended to be placed before protecting vulnerable teenagers.

    It's also about educating professionals because it appears that in the past they sometimes put what was happening to these girls down to lifestyle choice. These are teenagers who are difficult to communicate with, stroppy when someone asks if they need help, but point being made is that they are still children. They need the professionals to stick with them to get their trust.

     
  95.  
    06:40: A sin-bin for MPs

    Labour's focus today is about repairing politics as a whole, not just Parliament. Shadow leader of the House Angela Eagle is outlining plans for political reform which she says are essential if politicians are to "restore faith in our political process". Today's package includes previously advertised plans to give the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds, press ahead with devolution and replace the Lords with a Senate of the Nations and Regions. But it also includes new proposals to send rowdy MPs who are misbehaving in the Commons chamber into a rugby-style sin-bin. "Sometimes MPs take it too far and it turns the public off," Ms Eagle explains.

     
  96.  
    06:29: Front pages
  97.  
    06:24: Child sexual exploitation
    Rochdale skyline

    David Cameron is in Downing Street today with a raft of senior cabinet figures holding a summit on child sexual exploitation. Representatives from local areas like Rochdale, as well as victims and child protection experts, will size up the government's new package of measures, which includes:

    • Tougher penalties for senior public sector workers who fail to protect children
    • A new national whistleblowing helpline
    • The prioritisation of child sexual abuse by police chiefs

    "We owe it to our children, and to the children who survive horrific sexual abuse, to do better," Mr Cameron says. Here's the full story.

     
  98.  
    06:23: Control order row

    The issue of Syria - and specifically whether the government's decisions on counter-terrorism might have made it easier for would-be jihadists to travel there - was the subject of an urgent Commons question on Monday. Yvette Coooper, shadow home secretary, pressed her opposite number Theresa May on the issue, but Mrs May was adamant that she had taken the right decisions, including scrapping control orders, to keep the UK safe.

     
  99.  
    06:20: Round the houses

    Yesterday, housing was the big focus, with David Cameron announcing a plan for 200,000 new starter homes. For his part, Ed Miliband was unimpressed and said Labour would go further - he accused Mr Cameron of presiding over the slowest rate of house building since the 1920s.

     
  100.  
    06:13: Good morning

    Hello and welcome to a fresh Tuesday's political coverage. Victoria King and Alex Stevenson will bring you all the action, reaction and analysis in text and you'll be able to watch and listen to all the main BBC political programmes, from Today and Breakfast through to Newsnight and Today in Parliament. Don't forget you can get in touch by emailing politics@bbc.co.uk or via social media @bbcpolitics. Here's how Monday unfolded.

     

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