Web Only: the best of the blogs

Today's five must-read blogs, on David Cameron's NHS poster, inheritance tax and free speech

1. Darling, VAT and the general election

At Comment Central, Daniel Finkelstein notes that Alistair Darling did not rule out the possibility of hikes in VAT, thus removing a potential dividing line for the election.

2. The Express are wrong on housing benefit dependency

Over at Left Foot Forward, Graeme Cooke goes behind the figures in the Express to explain why housing benefit is set to soar by 15 per cent.

3. Is this approach too Dave-specific?

Mike Smithson at PoliticalBetting draws attention to that NHS poster and its personal pronoun -- "I'll cut the deficit", rather than "We'll". Is this a sign of things to come in the election campaign?

4. Vince: Tory sums do not stack up

Liberal Democrat Voice draws attention to Vince Cable's criticism of the Tories' sums on inheritance tax.

5. Islam4UK: free speech for bigots?

At Liberal Conspiracy, Dave Osler considers the problems posed for the left by the Islamist group's request to stage an anti-war march in Wootton Bassett.


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The NS Podcast #222: Queen's Speech Special

The New Statesman podcast.

Helen and Stephen discuss what was left out, watered down and generally squished around in the Queen's Speech - from prison reform to fox hunting - and what kind of stage it sets for the coming parliamentary term. Will Labour's stance on immigration have to change? And what Brexit deal could secure a parliamentary majority? Clue: it's a royal mess.

Quotes of the episode:

Helen on domestic violence: "The big lesson of the last couple of weeks is that the involvement of domestic violence in Terror has finally made (slightly more men) take it slightly more seriously. As actually now it becomes part of an anti-radicalisation process."

Stephen on Conservative strategy: "If you look at the back end of the Conservative government in the 90s: when your parliamentary situation is rocky, the best way of dealing with that is just for parliamentary not to sit all that much. Don't bring the pain."

Helen on Brexit: "There is an interesting complacency about the dominance and attractiveness of the British economy [...] whereas actually our economy has recovered quite badly and our productivity is still quite low. I wouldn't be that smug about the British economy."

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