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Mehdi's Morning Memo: Tory Anger At Prisoner Votes

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** Votes For Prisoners ** BBC Scandal ** Debates Night ** Senate Candidate Rape Comments ** Darth Prezza ** ** Forces Of Conservatism **

VOTES FOR PRISONERS

Tory MPs are furious this morning over reports that the government is preparing a draft bill to give prisoners the vote. Richmond Park MP Zac Goldmith wrote: "MPs almost unanimously rejected votes for prisoners. If it happens all the same, does that mean the UK Parl officially no longer matters?"

The storm has erupted after The Guardian ran a story headlined: "Tories bow to Europe over prisoner voting rights."

But a cabinet source told the BBC's Norman Smith: "It is completely untrue. It's not happening. Its complete nonsesnse."

You can expect David Cameron to to asked to confirm the story is not true during prime minister's questions today. And Attorney General Dominic Grieve will no doubt be quizzed on it when he appears before the justice committee at 9.30am.

Asking Tory backbenchers to vote for giving prisoners the vote would be even worse than asking them to vote for, well, almost anything else.

Today's Memo is edited by Ned Simons as Mehdi is busy/asleep/not answering his phone.

BBC INDEPENDENCE

Culture secretary Maria Miller has written to the BBC warning that the Jimmy Savile scandal has raised "very real concerns are being raised about public trust and confidence in the BBC.”

Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC, replied: “I know that you will not want to give any impression that you are questioning the independence of the BBC.” Which can be roughly translated as: "Get lost".

Writing on The Huffington Post UK, Ben Bradshaw, the former Labour culture secretary who serves on the culture committee, said there were "serious questions" for Head of News, Helen Boaden, and her deputy, Steve Mitchell.

ERM, I'M BUSY THAT NIGHT

Now that the US presidential debates are over (and we don't have to stay up all night to watch) some thoughts have turned to the face-to-face contests planned for our election in 2015. Will we still get debates in 2015? The Guardian reported that the Tories are trying to get the number of debates reduced to just one.

But this will not go down well with the other parties, including Ukip who told HuffPost that if they came first or second in the European elections then they had to be allowed to take part.

GOD INTENDED

Speaking about the American elections. HuffPost's Michael MacAulliff reports on another Republican senate candidate saying something stupid about rape.

Indiana GOP U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock declared Tuesday night he opposes aborting pregnancies conceived in rape because "it is something that God intended to happen."

FORCES OF CONSERVATISM

So let's get this right. Ed Miliband is Disraeli and now Michael Gove is Tony Blair. In a speech yesterday the education secretary attacked the "forces of conservatism" that stopped him from doing all the radical things he wanted to - including the public accounts committee.

The chair of that committee, Margaret Hodge, told HuffPost that she was not going to back down from scrutinising public spending. "Innovation is hugely important, but ideological decisions taken in haste can lead to unacceptable waste of taxpayers' money and we will continue to hold the government to account on taxpayers' behalf," she said.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Barack Obama is HOLDING A REALLY CUTE BABY.

DARTH PREZZA

WATCH: In a galaxy far far away... well, in Hull, John Prescott became 'Darth Prezza', during a visit to the Yorkshire Kung Fu Championships on Sunday.

140 CHARACTERS OR LESS

@MPritchardMP Child benefit needs reform - but govt’s current plans are discriminatory, regressive, and unfair. The gov will need to find another way

@NadineDorriesMP Having said never again, went against my better judgment yesterday and gave an I v to respected leftie @mehdirhasan. #willineverlearn (watch this space).

@TimGattITV BREAK Oh. RT @BBCDanielS: Light snow in Moscow

900 WORDS OR MORE

Writing in the The Times Daniel Finkelstein says: "The outrageous campaigning of 1972 set the tone for partisan politics, which now hobbles every President."

YouGov's Peter Kellner on HuffPost: "What we can now be fairly sure of is that neither of the first two debates (a Romney triumph in the first one and an effective Obama fight-back in the second) made much of a difference."

In the Guardian Seumas Milne says: "Americans would also gain from scaling back the empire."

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