Ken Clarke calls Tory Party too right-wing

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Ken Clarke, the former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, has said in an interview with the New Statesman that “we’ve got a very good recovery at the moment” but that this “could be swept away if we start doing silly things”.

Clarke also said that:

“No one seems to be able to win elections nowadays. I belong to the Conservative party that usually won elections! Before 1992, the Conservative party had been the national governing party of the country for most of my lifetime. And most elections I fought the Conservative party had won. And now we haven’t been able to win an election for 23 years”.

When asked why this was Clarke replied that:

“[The Conservative Party] has become much too right-wing. Which I hope David will continue to seek to redress in coming times”.

Richard Desmond gives £1 million to UKIP

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Richard Desmond, the owner of the Daily Express and Sunday Express, has donated £1 million to UKIP. Desmond, a former donor to the Labour Party, also donated £300,000 to UKIP in 2014.

In a statement Desmond said:

“They are struggling to have a voice. They do not have a massive party machine or highly paid public relations people. They are human; they are not perfect and they do not pretend to be. But what they believe in is the best for the British people. They are the sort of people who will stand up for people who are struggling”.

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, said:

“I know there are a lot more people out there who agree in private but I hope this public gesture encourages others to follow his example”.

Sir Simon Fraser departs the Foreign Office

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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have confirmed the departure of Sir Simon Fraser, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary since 2010.

Sir Simon said:

“It has been a tremendous honour to lead the Foreign and Commonwealth Office over five exciting and demanding years. I feel that this is the right time to stand down and to allow someone else to guide the organisation through the coming phase under the next Government. I pay tribute to the dedicated and skilled staff of the FCO who give such outstanding service to our country every day in all corners of the world. I am also pleased to have been able to contribute to the wider leadership of the Civil Service in my time at BIS and the FCO”.

A successor will be appointed after the General Election.

Chamali Fernando criticised for mental health comments

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Chamali Fernando, the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Cambridge, has been criticised following comments she made about mental health at a hustings in the city.

The barrister said that:

“Maybe it’s something as simple as there are certain conditions which are more common, where people can wear a wristband to identify they have that condition, so that then we can perhaps, not diagnose, but spot it earlier and ensure that we deal with it”.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said:

“Silly ideas like making people suffering from mental health issues wear wristbands would only increase the discrimination and stigma around mental health, rather than end it”.

Richard Taylor, a political blogger, posted on Twitter during the event:

“She …. says those with certain mental health issues ought wear wristbands to identify their conditions”.

In response to the press reaction Fernando said:

“Richard Taylor is distorting commentary for his self publicity purposes”.

Seven Party Leaders to Take Part in Debate

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Later today seven party leaders will take part in a live two hour debate answering questions from the host and then later on also from members of the 200 strong audience.

David Cameron (Conservatives), Ed Miliband (Labour), Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats), Nicola Sturgeon (SNP), Natalie Bennett (Greens), Nigel Farage (UKIP) and Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) will feature in the debate taking place in Salford which is being organised by ITV News and presented by Julie Etchingham.

Government Confirms UK military attacks in Iraq

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Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, has confirmed that air operations have taken place to assist the Iraqi Government.

In a statement Fallon confirmed:

“Royal Air Force aircraft have conducted further successful strikes on terrorist targets in northern and western Iraq. Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri conducted an armed reconnaissance mission on Friday 27 March in the Mosul area, in the course of which they identified an excavator being used by ISIL to construct defensive positions against continuing Iraqi and Kurdish offensives to liberate the local population from oppression by the terrorists. A Brimstone missile made a direct hit on the vehicle, destroying it. Another Tornado patrol, on Sunday 29 March, provided close air support to Iraqi forces near Tikrit, and the accuracy of the Brimstone missile system allowed a successful attack to be conducted on a terrorist armoured personnel carrier positioned under a road bridge.

RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft have also continued their work to provide overwatch to Iraqi forces, and on Tuesday 31 March, a Reaper supported Iraqi army operations in Anbar province. As well as providing invaluable surveillance coverage, the aircraft was able to assist the Iraqi ground forces with a Hellfire missile strike on a terrorist position that was directing small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire onto an advancing army unit.

As well as providing air support to the Iraqi ground forces, the international coalition is also helping train and equip them. Having helped provide extensive infantry training to the Kurdish peshmerga, British military personnel are now leading the development of a specific coalition programme to improve the ability of the Iraqi and Kurdish troops to deal effectively with the significant threat posed by improvised explosive devices left behind by ISIL as they are forced onto the defensive by successful government offensives”.