Tories pledge more apprenticeships

Published: Tuesday 28th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Tories will pledge to use £200 million in bank fines to create 50,000 apprenticeships in a bid to press home an economy-led pitch to voters.

With opinion polls still deadlocked – the latest gives the Tories a one-point lead over Labour – David Cameron will sustain a newly energetic tone, pledging to fight “with every ounce of energy in my body”.

But Ed Miliband will hit back by challenging the Prime Minister to match 10 “clear, credible and concrete” measures to tackle immigration – accusing the Tories of “abandoning” the issue to Ukip.

Just 10 days before the country goes to the ballot box on May 7, a YouGov poll for the Sun showed the main parties continuing to swap the lead, Conservatives up two points to 35% and Labour still on 34%.

In his latest salvo about the consequences of a Labour government reliant on SNP support, Mr Cameron told the Times the electorate had “10 days to save the United Kingdom”.

“There’s 10 days to go, it’s a bloody important election and I’m determined to get across the line,” he said – the latest in more “passionate” statements after criticisms of a lacklustre campaign.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon accused opponents of resorting to “scare tactics” as the nationalists remained on course for huge gains – polling 51% in a Survation poll for the Daily Record.

That would give her party 55 of Scotland’s 59 seats which campaign director Angus Robertson hailed as as fresh evidence ” we can lock David Cameron out of Downing Street”.

Unveiling the apprenticeships plan on a visit to a North London business, Mr Cameron will say it will take funds from those who represented “Labour’s failed past” to help the next generation of workers.

Under existing Conservative policy, 18-21-year-olds who have been unemployed for six months will have to choose between an apprenticeship or doing daily community work.

The latest scheme will create an extra 50,000 apprenticeships – on top of the three million the Tories are already committed to generating – over the next three years.

They are to be specifically targeted at 22-24-year-olds who have been out of work for six months.

“We’re going to take the fines from the banks who tried to rig markets – and we’re going to use it to train young people and get them off the dole and into work,” he is expected to say.

“This is about taking money off those who represent Labour’s failed past, and giving to those who through their hard work and endeavour can represent a brighter Conservative future.”

Mr Miliband will take his vote-push to Wales where he will set out plans to include legislation on immigration in the first Queen’s Speech of a new Labour administration.

Early action would include 1,000 extra borders staff, barring serious crimes from entry, full exit checks, stronger enforcement of pay rules to stop wages being undercut and a two-year benefit ban for new arrivals,

“Immigration is too important an issue for our country to be abandoned by the Prime Minister so it can be exploited by Nigel Farage,” he said – as both parties fight to minimise the numbers of votes being lost to Ukip in key areas.

“We are setting out sensible and practical changes to this system. Today, I challenge the Conservative Party to match our offer, show you are serious on immigration without making false promises or playing the politics of fear.”

Nick Clegg – who yesterday made real-terms education funding protection the Liberal Democrats’ first formal coalition demand – is expected to set out more details of economic policy.

The Deputy Prime Minister will set out further deal breakers in coming days as he positions his party as a potential partner for either Mr Cameron or Mr Miliband in the event of a hung parliament.

He ridiculed Mr Cameron over his weekend football gaffe – picturing the PM in a West Ham kit under the headline Big Cam For West Ham in a mocked-up front page for ITV’s The Agenda.

“This is the only way he can be sure of staying in the premiership,” he quipped about his former coalition partner, who embarrassingly mixed up which team he supported.

The Lib Dems gained a point to 9% in the YouGov poll, with Ukip dropping two to 12% and the Greens unchanged on 5%.

Green leader Natalie Bennett – who had to cancel a campaign event yesterday after losing her voice – is expected to launch the party’s campaign bus in Bristol.

The vehicle has been adapted to run on used chip fat.

Published: Tuesday 28th April 2015 by The News Editor

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