Westminster Times

The Liberal Democrats hold their spring conference in York this weekend and, as usual, Nick Clegg will make many, many appearances.

But log on to the party's website to flick through the agenda and whose full-page picture immediately leaps off the screen? None other than Ukip's Nigel Farage.

The huge photograph is alongside a piece headed "Questions that Ukip don't want to answer".

You have to flick over to the next page to find a (tiny) photo of Clegg accompanied by a piece by himself explaining the benefits of staying in Europe.

Political parties are routinely warned that, no matter what the message about your opponent is, don't give them the boost of a huge picture reminding voters exactly who they are and why you clearly see them as a major threat – it only encourages them.

And the one thing Farage certainly isn't short of is media exposure.

State of Israel

Labour leader Ed Miliband likes to draw on his family history to explain his support for particular policies - although you can rule out Marxism.

So he received some very warm responses when he addressed the Jewish charity the Community Security Trust at its annual dinner the other night.

Miliband told the audience: "It is incredibly important to support the state of Israel.

"Israel provided sanctuary to my late grandmother and I will be forever grateful for the sanctuary that Israel provided and what it did for my family. That is why we should have zero tolerance of people who question the right of the state of Israel to exist and we must always be vigilant about this," he said.

"It is also, in my view, why we should have no truck with boycotts, because boycotts are part of the problem not part of the solution."

He also made clear his policy on so-called hate preachers visiting Britain saying there should be "no tolerance" of such individuals "who come to this country and try to preach antisemitism".

Urban fox
Foxhunting ban may be debated Reg McKenna

The Queen's short speech

As has been remarked here before, Britain is being run by what is in effect a "zombie government" with no new legislation of any note going before MPs as they ponder a 13 month general election campaign.

Anything of significance either falls to the Liberal Democrat veto or No 10 election strategist Lynton Crosby's "barnacles off the boat" veto.

So MPs are left wandering around the place like a scene from the Walking Dead.

And don't think the new session of parliament is going to be any better. It has been announced that the Queen's Speech, launching the next session, will be on 3 June.

The prime minister's spokesman insisted: "When you see the Queen's Speech, which the Cabinet discussed on Tuesday, you will see a comprehensive legislative programme that underpins the government's long-term economic plan." Groan.

"Obviously I cannot tell you what is in it but I think you will see a very comprehensive legislative programme which will be keenly debated in the House of Commons."

Really? And will any of it actually get on to the statute books before the election or will it just be stuff to keep MPs out of trouble?

One suggestion that has been hyped up after the prime minister repeated what has been long-standing government policy was a review of the ban on foxhunting.

Cameron simply said MPs would get a chance to debate it, which is what he has always said.

No one ever expected it would really happen because it would just bog down the entire parliamentary timetable for months in a meaningless, divisive squabble of little interest to the general public while squeezing out any more serious business... Oh, now I get it.

Labour is in need of a handout Reuters

Cash crunch

One of the consequences of Ed Miliband's party reforms has been the inevitable slashing of funds from the Unite union by £1.5m over the next five years.

No wonder the party seemed so enthusiastic about hints that former leader Tony Blair might be ready to throw a bit into the kitty.

Well he can certainly afford it. Apart from all his myriad business interests advising the world's political parties, speechifying and generally being a global celeb he has been able to claim £115,000 a year from the taxpayer to meet the costs of continuing to fulfil public duties associated with the role of a former prime minister. Nice.

He is not alone, of course. A ministerial answer has revealed that between 2011 and 2013 Gordon Brown was eligible to claim £215,313, Tony Blair £230,000, Sir John Major £229,998 and Baroness Thatcher £183,278.

Do you want to know where your money goes? Well they aren't telling.

Quote of the week

BBC's MP-tormentor-in-chief Andrew Neil got a sharp response from minister Eric Pickles when he said Pickles "indirectly" employed him.

"I'm happy to accept your resignation," said the minister.

Nice to see Pickles has been let out of his box after he made such a hash of his stand-in role as floods minister.

Now he is back to his more familiar territory of batting away questions about fortnightly rubbish collections.