Live Blog

November 22, 2014, 4:31pm

Editor of the Sunday Herald Richard Walker has unveiled the details of the first Scottish daily newspaper to back independence to a crowd of 12,000 SNP supporters in Glasgow.

The National, which is set to be published on Monday by Newsquest, will only be published for five days and will cost 50p a copy.

A price tag of 45p had been suggested to reflect the percentage of people who voted for the Yes camp in Scotland's independence referendum.

Walker told the crowd the support for independence had and would continue to change:

We are no longer the 45. We are the 50-plus, and we will become the 60 and the 70.

Walker will edit the pro-independence daily, and said the paper's publishers needed to be convinced there was sufficient demand for such a newspaper.

Tim Blott, the Herald & Times Group managing director, commented:

It is the first time in many years that a new daily newspaper has been launched in Scotland. The National is an exciting opportunity to meet the needs of a very politically-engaged section of the Scottish population.

We recognise that launching a newspaper in 2014 is to some extent counter-intuitive but we consistently argue for the power of great journalism and informed opinion.

Earlier this month polling conducted by YouGov showed that Scots may vote Yes to independence if there was another referendum.

When “don’t know” answers are excluded, 52 per cent of those polled would vote Yes and 48 per cent No. With don’t knows, the percentages change to 49 for Yes and 45 for No.

November 22, 2014, 12:40pm

Police forces in England are reporting that the 101 non-emergency phone line is down thanks to system faults.

Furthermore, the NHS 111 non-emergency number is also down in some areas. Scots have been advised to contact the number 08454 24 24 24. 

However, the police emergency number of 999 is still working as normal. Some forces are advising the public to make their non-emergency reports via police websites. The problems are being addressed by engineers and the services affected are expected to be working by lunch time.

The problems began at 9:00am GMT.

Here is a list of the police forces are reporting problems:

Cheshire Constabulary
Cleveland Police
Durham Constabulary
Hertfordshire Constabulary
Hampshire Constabulary
Metropolitan Police
Northumbria Police
Sussex Police
West Mercia Police

There are still numbers that can be used for several forces:

Cambs Police: 01480 456111

Warwickshire Police: 0300 333 3000

Northumbria Police: 01661 872 555

Durham Constabulary: 0345 6060 365

Plymouth and Cornwall Police: 01752 721100

Devon Police: 01392 420320 

November 22, 2014, 12:15pm

Veteran Labour MP and former cabinet minister Tessa Jowell has thrown her hat in the ring for the race to succeed Boris Johnson as London Mayor in 2016.

The former culture secretary told the BBC she is "certainly planning to run" for mayor. However, she added that now "isn't time for a formal declaration".

Jowell  will stand down as MP for Dulwich and West Norwood so she can prepare for the race. Speaking to the Evening Standard, she said "I intend to bring a plan for London that will be bold, ambitious, and will meet the aspirations of all Londoners".

Dame Tessa is widely seen as the front runner for the Labour nomination. 

The only formally declared candidate so far is Tottenham MP David Lammy who told City A.M. back in September:

I see people with jobs who can’t get housing and Londoners without jobs too. In a sense this great city is in danger of missing the opportunities of the 21st century.

Every single employer that I’ve spoken to is raising this as their number one issue because they can’t attract the talent they need and keep that talent here in London.

Others touted to run for the Labour nomination include left wing MP and TV broadcaster Dianne Abbott and Ed Miliband ally Sadiq Khan.

November 22, 2014, 11:29am

Barely 24 hours after being sworn in as Ukip's second elected MP Marke Reckless is as already criticising his party leader Nigel Farage.

Speaking to the Times, Reckless said Ukip's immigration policy "changed on Wednesday, and I'm a bit sore about how I came out of that".

Speaking on Tuesday at a hustings event during the Rochester and Strood by-election Reckless said Ukip would have a "transitional" period in terms of immigration policy and that “people who are currently here to have a work permit at least for a fixed period”.

The implication being that many European immigrants already in the UK could face deportation. However, Ukip was quick to clarify and row back from the comments with a spokesman saying:

It is absolutely not our policy to round up EU migrants and put them on a boat at Dover and send them back to wherever they came from.

Reckless argued that Ukip policy, until it was changed by Farage on Wednesday, was to have a transitional period until a newer more permanent arrangement could be made as part of negotiations with the EU.

He went on to say he didn't agree with the original Ukip policy saying he was in favour of letting people who had already moved to the UK stay because it was "right thing for our party in terms of how we want to look to the country".

Ukip won the Rochester and Strood by-election by a comfortable margin beating the Tories by almost 3,000 votes.

November 22, 2014, 10:00am

Embattled Labour leader Ed Miliband has come out fighting to persuade the nation Labour is still the party of Britain's working class.

In an article for the Daily Mirror, Miliband attempted to counter the perception the Labour party is run by a metropolitan London based middle-class elite.

The piece comes in the wake of a disastrous tweet by former shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry on the Rochester campaign trail that was widely seen as a display of snobbery.

Thornberry tweeted a picture of a house with several England flags and a white van parked in the driveway with the caption "Image from #Rochester". She subsequently resigned on the night of the Rochester by-election after a barrage of criticism on social media, the press and even from Labour colleagues.

Miliband was reported to be furious at Thornberry's Twitter blunder and writes today:

Respect is the basic rule of politics, and there is nothing unusual or odd about having England flags in your window.

The answer to the feeling of loss of important aspects of Britain's past, Miliband argues:

Is not to return to a more unequal, more unjust past" but "to go out and fight for what we believe in.

He went on to attack Ukip's stance on the NHS and pledged to challenge Nigel Farage's party at the general election. Thornberry faces stinging criticism from fellow Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who told the Daily Mail:

I think she was being derogatory and dismissive of the people. We all know what she was trying to imply.

I’ve talked about this previously. It’s like the Labour party has been hijacked by the north London liberal elite, and it’s comments like that which reinforce that view.

Ukip won the Rochester and Strood by-election by a comfortable margin but not by as much as had been forecast by pollsters. The Tories came second around 3,000 votes behind Ukip while Labour finished third. 

November 22, 2014, 8:54am

The world's biggest search engine could soon find its European operations under threat from the EU parliament thanks to antitrust regulations.

A non-binding resolution is being assembled to break up Google's European operations, according to documents seen by Reuters. The measures are being prepared by EU politicians to counter the alleged power and dominance of Google in the search market.

Although Google is not specifically mentioned in the motion but since Google accounts for 90 per cent of the European market there is little doubt about who the measure is targeted at.

The Parliament's motion seen by Reuters "calls on the Commission to consider proposals with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial services as one potential long-term solution".

However, even if the proposal is passed it will be up to the Commission whether to take any action against Google. The tech giant has faced a wave of criticism over the "right to be forgotten" and a host of tax issues. The measures to tackle Google are being backed by rival firm Microsoft.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said she would take on board the views of all the parties involved including the industry itself.

Google will be hoping to protect its European business from a potential break up and replicate its victory last year in the US, where regulators were convinced that the search engine had not been manipulating search results which would've hit the companies competitors. 

November 21, 2014, 5:11pm
1. Ukip got its second member of parliament. Mark Reckless retook the seat he'd held as a Conservative. But that was really the side show to accusations of snobbish tweets and comments around immigration that were so inflamatory Ukip distanced itself from them.
2. Bird flu returned to the UK. It's unlikely to pose a threat to humans, but it might ruin Christmas for everyone.
3. Royal Bank of Scotland overstated its ability to cope with another financial crisis. Having happily shown off its common equity tier one ratio as being 6.7 per cent – turns out it was 5.7 per cent. Oops.
4. We learned that on the same day we found out that bankers aren't dishonest. It's just the culture that makes them that way. The people who proved this are now recommending a financial industry version of the Hippocratic oath. 
5. Lots of things happened at Quindell, most of which were very confusing, but the end result is that three directors, including the chairman, are leaving.
6.  London could house as many as 100,000 new homes if the government gave up unused departmental land. That figure climbs to two million if you look at the whole of the UK. 
8. This Christmas you can buy an oyster for less than 50p a go. Lidl is really looking to show the traditional retailers how to do it, by selling six oysters for £2.79, to go with its £5.99 lobster and £9.99 champagne. 
9. You can now listen to your Spotify playlist while taking an Uber. Those drivers are going to end up hearing a lot more Kate Bush, One Direction and Minnie Riperton in future. 
Triumphant trader
November 21, 2014, 4:44pm

Times are good in the US. The S&P 500 kicked the morning off by leaping 0.8 per cent to 2,068.86 - its biggest intra-day climb ever.

Although it then dropped back slightly to 2,067.11, equity investors were clearly buoyed by something. Most likely, it's monetary easing in China, where interest rates were cut by 0.25 per cent earlier today.

Leading the risers were tech stocks: Yahoo jumped sharply to just over $52.17 as the market opened, while HP and Google also rose.

Although investors had been encouraged by news from abroad, at home the picture looks rosy as well. Yesterday Charles Schwab boss Kully Samra told City AM that the US is likely to make its first, much-anticipated, move to raise rates by the middle of the year.

That's against expectations of an autumn rate rise for the UK.

But labour and inflation figures in the US suggest the recovery will stay consistently strong throughout 2015.

Fat cat banker
November 21, 2014, 4:40pm
The financial industry encourages dishonest behaviour – but the individuals are not themselves inclined to lie – according to a new study of investment managers and traders. 
The experiment, tantalisingly conducted at an unnamed “major international bank”, has found that bankers are more likely to lie when they think about their jobs than otherwise. 
The team of economists at the University of Zurich claims this suggests it is the culture itself that encourages dishonest behaviour, rather than, as some banker-bashers would have it, a certain type of people being attracted to the industry.
The team enlisted the help of 128 employees from a “large international bank” and quizzed half of them about their jobs and the company, while the other half were asked about their favourite hobbies. 
Participants were then asked to toss a coin 10 times, unwatched by the researchers, and to report the outcome. If they flipped more heads than tails they were told they could earn money and if they reported all heads or all tails, they would receive $200. 
The first group, which was asked about work, reported a significantly high proportion of heads – 58.2 per cent – while those who talked about their hobbies reported a hit rate of 51.6 per cent. 
The study was tried out with other non-banking groups of people – students, for example – but did not find the same effect. This seems to suggest the banking sector has a particuarly strong sway over people's honesty levels. 
To help to combat dishonesty in banking, the team, co-led by Michel Maréchal, is recommending measures such as having bankers swear a professional oath to consider the impact of their work on society, along the lines of the Hippocratic oath taken by physicians — or stopping companies from rewarding employees who behave dishonestly.
The study was published in Nature. 
Green party
November 21, 2014, 4:20pm

While much of today's media coverage has been focused on Ukip's victory in the Rochester and Strood by-election the "peoples army" are not the only ones on the march.

The Green Party has been creeping up in the polls and is now posing to a  major threat to Ed Miliband's left flank in England. The party now regular poll is the region of six per cent.

Polling company YouGov's most recent survey on the Greens suggests they could see their popularity rise even further. Carried for the Times' Red Box, the poll asked participants "If candidates from the following parties were standing in your constituency and had a chance of winning, how likely would you be to vote for them?".

The Greens scored 26 per cent ahead of both Ukip and the Greens. However, the problem facing the party's leader Natalie Bennett is that while the Greens may be popular among a large section of the population people don't believe they are capable of winning in their constituency.

The Greens currently have one MP Caroline Lucas, who represents the Brighton and Hove constituency.  The Green party was furious at the decision of the country's biggest broadcasters to not invite Natalie Bennett to take part in the leaders debate during the general election campaign.

Ukip will take part in one of the debates, which will be produced and broadcast by ITV. The Greens have stuggled to get their message across thanks to their lack of media coverage relative to other parties.

That state of affairs may now be in decline but the Greens will still struggle to get a hearing if Ukip continues to win elections and maintain a strong position in the polls.