The first poll of voting intentions since the fall of Baghdad has given Labour a commanding lead over other parties, with 41 per cent, followed by the Conservatives on 29 per cent and the Liberal Democrats on 22 per cent, reports The Times(p1). The Populus poll for The Times, conducted between 10-12 April, shows that support for Labour has leapt 7 per cent since early March, while the Tories have slipped 5 per cent, and the Lib Dems are down 2 poer cent. The result, coming two and a half weeks before 1 May's elections, is attributed to a 'Baghdad bounce', comparable to a similar trend following the Falklands war in 1982, especially as many voters said that the Budget has made little difference to their voting intention.
Britain risks losing its top ten position in the world's most visited tourist destinations, because of a lack of investment and government support in the tourist industry, according to Stephen Dowd, chief executive of the British Incoming Tour Operators Association, reports The Independent (p12). Dowd said that Britain, currently the world's six largest recipient of overseas tourists, risks dropping out of the top ten altogether 'unless this Government tries to take tourism more seriously', and warned of a 15 per cent drop in tourism revenue this year.
A-LEVEL SYSTEM 'NEAR BREAKDOWN'
An investigation into A-level standards by the Commons education committee, due for release today, has found that the system is at 'near breakdown' point, reports The Guardian(p11). The report, commissioned after last summer's A-level result crisis, also concludes that pupils are facing 'unacceptable' pressure from the amount of testing they undergo, and warns against any rapid introduction of reform to the A-level system.
SCHOOLS FACE REDUNDANCIES OVER FUNDING SHORTFALL
Head teachers have warned that schools will be forced to sack staff to in an attempt to plug a funding shortfall of £600m, reports the Financial Times(p7). The warnings have been issued in the same week as the National Union of Teachers annual conference, while David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, has told the newspaper that the shortfall has been produced by an increase in both employers' national insurance contributions and the cost of teachers' pensions, as well as changes to the allocation of local government funds.
MAYOR'S INSISTENCE COULD BLOCK PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT OF DOME SITE
London Mayor Ken Livingstone will veto huge development plans for the Millennium Dome site and its surrounding Thameside Peninsula, according to the Daily Mail (p17), as he insists on more of the area being allocated to affordable housing than is currently envisaged. Under the proposals of developers Meridian Delta to be discussed this week, 35 per cent of new housing is to be slated as 'affordable', while Livingstone insists on half of new housing development being in this category.
BY REPORTER GARETH GARDINER-JONES