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Mehdi's Morning Memo: "F***ing plebs"

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** "F***ing plebs" ** Top Tory embraces tax avoidance ** Eds slapped down ** King Mervyn pardons Gideon ** Who'll replace Nick Clegg? **

"F***ING PLEBS"

We're starting to get a glimpse into how Andrew "Thrasher" Mitchell acquired his much-discussed reputation as a disciplinarian. The Sun splashes on claims that the new chief whip, who wanted to pedal his bike out of Downing Street,

"...exploded with fury when armed police guarding No10 refused to open the street’s famous gates.

The PC targeted by the tirade reported to his superiors that Mitchell told him: “Best you learn your f***ing place. You don’t run this f***ing government.

“You’re f***ing plebs.”

An eyewitness said Mr Mitchell, 56, also branded them “morons”."

Learn your place? Plebs? I guess Mitchell's lucky that the Tories don't have a reputation for being out-of-touch toffs that they're trying to shake off.

Confronted by the Sun, he denied using the words attributed to him but accepted that he "did not treat the police with the respect they deserve".

His timing couldn't be worse. As the paper notes: "The cycling Tory’s outburst came the day after two women PCs were shot dead."

Nice.

TOP TORY EMBRACES TAX AVOIDANCE

Move over Andrew Mitchell. The Guardian splashes on a call from Conservative Party treasurer Lord Fink for the UK to become "more like a tax haven".

Fink, who has been described as "godfather" of the UK hedge fund industry and has donated more than £2.5 million to the Tories, says in an interview that he lobbied George Osborne "for a cut in taxes on invisible earnings so that he and other hedge funders no longer feel obliged to set up companies in places such as the Cayman Islands".

Obliged? Again, lucky the Tories don't have a reputation for being the political wing of the tax-dodging super-rich. Otherwise these comments would really harm them.

TORY RETOXIFICATION EFFORTS ROUND-UP

Elsewhere, Lord Young, the Tory peer and adviser on enterprise to David Cameron, who was sacked two years ago for suggesting Britons "never had it so good" before being reappointed by the prime minister, has questioned whether Britain is really in recession.

And Tory backbencher Damian Collins has been accused of telling young unemployed people to busk for money - a charge he denies.

EDS SLAPPED DOWN

Stop the flirting! Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman has told the Independent that "there will be no cosying up to the Lib Dems. No nods and winks. No political games. No hidden agenda aiming for a future coalition."

The paper says her "intervention will be seen as a rebuke" to shadow chancellor Ed Balls, who has called for talks with Vince Cable, and her boss Ed Miliband, who has admitted to exchanging texts with the Lib Dem business secretary. Naughty boys...

KING MERVYN PARDONS GIDEON

Soon-to-be-departed Bank of England governor George Osborne has done an interview with Channel 4 News which will put a smile on George Osborne's face this morning.

From the Telegraph front page:

Sir Mervyn King last night paved the way for the Chancellor to abandon a key pledge to reduce the national debt within five years.

The Bank of England's governor said that the slowdown in the world economy meant that George Osborne could break a "golden" fiscal rule that he set for the public finances two years ago.

What is it with British chancellors breaking self-imposed golden rules? Perhaps, as the Spectator's Fraser Nelson has argued on more than one occasion, Osborne does model himself on Gordon Brown. Oh, apart from the fact that Brown (and Alistair Darling left us with a growing economy; Osborne, with King's help and approval, has given us a contracting one.

ARE WE LAUGHING AT OR WITH NICK CLEGG?

You knew it'd happen, didn't you? The moment you watched the Lib Dem leader's YouTube mea culpa on tuition fees you must have known it'd be re-mixed, mashed-up, "autotuned" and the rest. If you haven't yet watched the 'Nick Clegg Sings Sorry (The Autotune Remix)' YouTube video put together by The Poke, you must. Right now.

Under the headline "Top of the Flops", the Mirror says the video is "humiliating" for the deputy prime minister. The Times, however, reports that "[a]ides to the Deputy Prime Minister insisted that there were upsides to the musical spoof of Mr Clegg's apology, suggesting that the 'silver lining' was that maybe 'more people in the pub might talk about it'". The HuffPost's Chris Wimpress agrees.

Yesterday, as the video went viral, The Poke website tweeted: "We'd love the @libdems to give us permission to release this as a single on iTunes. All profits to worthy education causes?" The Lib Dem leader replied: "Permission granted, but all proceeds to @SheffChildrens [the hospital] please."

Who says he doesn't have a sense of humour?


MING THE MERCIFUL

Meanwhile, former Lib Dem leader Ming Campbell has come to the rescue of the beleaguered Clegg in a column for today's Guardian: "When it comes to leadership, we can do no better than return to Ms Wynette: Stand By Your Man."

Talking of classic songs, check out the HuffPost's Spotify list of the top 10 'Sorry Songs' that the deputy prime minister could belt out at this weekend's Lib Dem conference in order to really ram his apology home.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this video of the West Wing cast, re-united, in character, to help promote the campaign of a Michigan state supreme court justice.

GIVE US OUR £57 MILLION BACK. NOW.

From the Telegraph:

"G4S is 'firmly and solely' to blame for the eleventh hour security fiasco that blighted the run-up to the Olympics and should give up its £57m [management] fee, according to a damning report by MPs."

I do hope the Home Affairs select committee, which published the report, will call the company's "global events specialist" back for another grilling. You just can't beat the name Ian Horseman-Sewell. You couldn't make it up, either.

MY ENEMY'S ENEMY IS MY FRIEND

The Express reports:

"UKIP leader Nigel Farage will today make a dramatic offer to David Cameron to form a pact with the Tories at the next General Election."

Lest we forget, Cameron once dismissed UKIP as a bunch of "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly".

QUOTE UNQUOTE

"This is absolute rubbish." - a Treasury spokesman responds to claims in today's Telegraph, made by sacked Lib Dem health minister Paul Burstow, that George Osborne’s department has “no sense of urgency” about the plight of pensioners who are forced to sell their homes to pay for care in old age.

PARTY LIKE IT'S 1972

Could Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan be the first presidential and vice-presidential candidates since 1972 to both lose their home states?

New polls, says the HuffPost's Andrea Stone, show "President Barack Obama widening his margin in Paul Ryan's home state of Wisconsin and Mitt Romney's stomping ground of Massachusetts sitting safely in the Democratic column".

WHO'LL REPLACE NICK CLEGG?

Given the Lib Dems are preparing for their party conference in Brighton this weekend, and given party president Tim Farron hasn't ruled out running for party leader ("I'm not saying I would never do it... I certainly wouldn't rule it out"), we thought it'd be fun to put together a list of the top ten candidates (some very serious, some not-so-very-serious) who could replace Nick Clegg as leader were the deputy prime minister be run over by the proverbial bus or, as is more likely, crash and burn at the polls in 2015.

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

"Ed is doing better than Hague and IDS but is behind Blair and Cameron,"
writes Mike Smithson, on politicalbetting.com.

140 CHARACTERS OR LESS

@Markfergusonuk Andrew Mitchell stuff is awful for the Tories. Posh minister in class based attack on police? Doesn’t get much worse

@davidschneider Downing Street swearing. Has anyone auto-tuned Andrew Mitchell's apology yet? #GateGate

@BorowitzReport As we go from Abraham Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt to Mitt Romney, I now understand why the Republicans don't believe in evolution.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Polly Toynbee, writing in the Guardian, says Clegg's 'sorry' video "ended with a string of the same weary non-truths, exaggerations and political boasting that make politicians so detested."

Tom Utley, writing in the Mail, issues a "profound apology to all my readers" for once praising Nick Clegg: "I hang my head in abject shame."

Fraser Nelson, writing in the Telegraph, says: "British voters have seldom had a greater appetite for good political ideas. To fill those conference halls again, our parties just need to supply some."

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (mehdi.hasan@huffingtonpost.com), Chris Wimpress (chris.wimpress@huffingtonpost.com) or Ned Simons (ned.simons@huffingtonpost.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @chriswimpress, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol