The ten things you need to know on Tuesday 4th December 2012...
1) HOW EVERYTHING RELATES TO THE BABY
That sound you hear? It's political reporters desperately crowbarring royal baby analogies into as many stories about the deficit or the Autumn Statement as possible in order to make sure people actually bother to read them, because, BABY!
As word reached the Commons yesterday while MPs debated the Leveson report, Labour's Tom Watson was the first to think up a way to shoehorn the baby into the exchanges (thanks Tom). The phone hacking campaigner stood to ask that the press "give the couple the privacy that they deserve in the early days of the pregnancy".
His expert rhetorical move did not receive the response he probably imagined it would. Fellow Labour MP Jim Dowd responded that he was "taken aback by the sheer irrelevance of the question". Which seems a bit unfair considering the behaviour of the press towards the royal couple will be one of the first post-Leveson tests.
Over in the colonies president Obama congratulated William and Kate on the news. Presumably this means the US is prepared to install the new royal as their monarch the second it is born.
In Canada, the Harper government expressed hope that legislation allowing a first-born female to reign, even if she has a younger brother "could be passed quickly".
Today's Memo is edited by Ned Simons as staunch royalist Mehdi Hasan is too excited about OMG BABY to concentrate on political news.
2) EDITORIAL MEETING
Editors will make the perp walk past the broadcast media today as they attend a summit in Downing Street to make their case for resisting the legally-backed press regulation called for by the Leveson Report. They will meet David Cameron and culture secretary Maria Millar, who yesterday warned that any failure to unite behind a sufficiently tough and independent self-regulatory body could leave the government no choice but to legislate.
According to the Daily Mail Cameron plans to scupper Labour’s attempts to introduce a ‘Leveson law’ by attaching it to the Communications Bill. "That Bill is the only thing on which Labour might be able to hang some sort of Leveson clause, and it is going into very long grass," a source told the paper.
3) MANSION TAX
An exclusive report in The Times today claims thousands of offshore companies are exploiting a loophole which allows them to buy up some of Britain’s most expensive homes and avoid paying taxes on them. "In a disclosure that uncovers the extent of the practice, 2,837 overseas companies have bought mansions worth £2 million or more in the London boroughs of City of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea during the past decade," the paper reports.
4) HOW DO YOU LOSE A PONY?
The Ministry of Defence is really good at losing stuff (other than wars, zing) and having things stolen. MPs know this and like to table parliamentary questions forcing the Armed Forces to own up every time they misplace a frigate or two. As the Mail Online reports the latest list of items to be thieved includes a £500 pony. No news yet as to whether David Cameron ever rode it.
5) MIDDLE EAST TENSION (WITH LONDON)
Yesterday the Israeli ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Office for a dressing down over the expansion of settlements. William Hague is likely to face questions about what further action, if any, the UK will take when he faces MPs at Foreign Office questions in the Commons at 11.30.
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...
Photobombing Husky Livens Up An Otherwise Drab Dog Picture
6) IF FINDING VAT LOOPHOLES WAS AN OLYMPIC SPORT...
The UK is losing over £1.6bn a year in VAT on digital services bought by British consumers from suppliers such as Amazon which are based overseas, the Guardian reports today. According to the paper this is enough to fund an Olympic Games. "Greenwich Consulting estimates the UK will lose £10bn between 2008 and 2014. Ministers say the London Games cost taxpayers £9bn," the paper notes.
7) SYRIA CHEMICAL WEAPONS WARNING
The US has reiterated concerns over the Syrian regime using chemical weapons saying any such move would cross a "red line" and prompt action. Obama has warned Syria's Assad that the use of chemical weapons would be unacceptable and that there will be consequences" if used, reported Reuters. US secretary of state Hillary Clinton echoed Obama, issuing "a very strong warning" to the Assad regime.
8) BREAKING: IRAN CAPTURES US DRONE
Iran says it has captured an unmanned American drone in its airspace over the Gulf. The BBC reports that the Revolutionary Guards said they had brought down a ScanEagle aircraft - one of the smaller, less sophisticated drones employed by the US.
9) THINKING OF EWE
David Cameron drew a doodle of a sheep and wrote 'thinking of ewe' under it. It was for charity. Famous people were asked to draw something they had a memorable experience of. No. We can't work out the significance of the sheep either. Probably something to do with the royal baby.
10) THAT'S NO MOON
Americans are petitioning the White House to go where it has never gone before -- to construct a "Death Star" by 2016 to "strengthen our national defense." Presumably this would replace the moon should the US decide to press ahead with that plan to blow it up to intimidate the Russians.
Andy Haldane, the Bank of England's executive director for financial stability has a warning about the economic situation: “In terms of the loss of incomes and outputs, this is as bad as a world war,” he told BBC Radio 4's World at One yesterday. “It would be astonishing if people weren’t asking big questions about where finance has gone wrong.
PUBLIC OPINION WATCH
Comres for BBC R5 Live: 30% of those age 55+, but 50% of 18-24s, support ban on all medical experiments on animals.
140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
@theresecoffey Tearoom crisis this morning as no newspapers have been delivered. Fleet St revenge for yesterday's debate?
@jreedmp Yo Dave! Glad to see you and the Chipping Norton Massive have been keeping it real with Dre in Number 10. Really, you're beyond parody now.
@stefanstern Surely it's not true that the cabinet room has been renamed "the last chance saloon" today?
900 WORDS OR MORE
Polly Toynbee in the Guardian: "Tories at half-time: cruel and inept, with worse to come. The autumn statement falls on an inauspicious day – Cameron's halfway mark – and is likely to unleash yet more chaos."
Ben Brogan in the Daily Telegraph: "Making hard calls on major issues – the Tory strategy for re-election."
Peter Hoskin on ConservativeHome: "Ten things to look out for in the Autumn Statement."
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