Huffpost UK Politics uk

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Obama Introduces Beyonce

Posted: Updated:

The ten things you need to know on Tuesday 22 January 2013...

1) OBAMA: FORWARD TOGETHER

President Obama made a pretty good go of being the warm up act for Beyonce yesterday, as he urged Americans to move “forward together” during his second inaugural address.

Obama stumbled a little as he swore the oath of office. But seeing as the real swearing in actually took place on Sunday he won’t have to do the whole thing all over again like last time.

HuffPost’s White House correspondent Sam Stein: “The president, who has spent the first four years navigating Washington as much as shaping it, used his platform on Monday to announce that his next four years will be marked by a more assertive approach. The speech wasn't devoid of the classic, Obama-esque ideal that the country itself, and the two political parties in particular, must come together for the common good. But the appeal he made wasn’t so much to the good nature of each individual lawmaker as it was to the need to confront the severity of the issues at hand.”

The president put equality at the centre of his speech, calling for equal rights for women and gay people as well as focusing on climate change, gun control and income inequality.

Today's Memo is edited by Ned Simons as Mehdi Hasan is operating a delayed service due to heavy snow.

2) THIS SOUNDS FAMILIER

David Cameron’s warning of a “generational struggle” against terror in the Commons yesterday evoked memories of Tony Blair’s response to September 11 – leaving many observers to wonder the extent of Britain’s future involvement in Mali and North Afrida.

The Times reports this morning that the prime minister has committed the UK to a “fully-fledged battle” against al-Qaeda in the continent as troops begin to be withdrawn from Afghanistan.

“Units from the Army, Royal Navy and RAF are on ‘high readiness’ to deploy if requested in support of France, which is attempting to repel Islamist extremists from the north of the country,” the paper says.

Cameron will chair a meeting of the National Security Council to consider what additional surveillance and transport help can be provided to the assault on rebels in the neighbouring country on top of two RAF C17 transport aircraft despatched last week.

3) YOU AND WHOSE ARMY?

However any plans to increase Britain’s military commitment in Africa may not go down too well with defence chiefs, as the MoD announces a third round of redundancies later today.

About 5,000 jobs are expected to go as part of cuts already announced by ministers to reduce Army numbers from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2017.

4) ‘I’VE KILLED’

The papers are full of reports this morning about Prince Harry’s acknowledgement he has killed while serving in Afghanistan.

Now that the 28-year-old is bound for the UK after his second deployment to the war-torn country, it can be reported he took enemy fighters "out of the game" during his 20-week posting.

"Take a life to save a life," he says during a TV interview. "That's what we revolve around, I suppose. If there's people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we'll take them out of the game, I suppose."

5) ROYAL EQUALITY

Prince Harry also spokes about looking forward to being an uncle. And today MPs will debate changing the law to ensure if he has a niece she will become queen, even if his brother and sister-in-law subsequently have a son.

Given Obama's call for greater gender equality the reelected president will no doubt be pleased. Although. He probably isn't too keen on the whole monarchy thing - memories of 1776 and all that.

The Daily Telegraph reports Nick Clegg will tell MPs: “The other Commonwealth countries where Her Majesty The Queen is head of state have just given us the green light to change the law, and we are wasting no time.

“At the moment, if the first child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is a girl, any younger brothers she has will overtake her in line to the throne. We’re modernising these out of date rules so that men and women in line to the throne have equal rights.”

The proposed changes would also end the ban on royals marrying Catholics. “The reasons for this go back 300 years, to the days when Britain was worried about the threat from its Catholics neighbours, such as Louis XIV of France,” Clegg will say. “Times have changed, along with our attitudes towards each other. It is time for us to bring these arcane laws up to date.”

MPs are unlikely to adopt proposals from Labour’s Paul Flynn which would allow the adopted son or daughter of a gay king or queen to take the throne.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR: US Senator Chuck Schumer Photobombs The Oath Of Office (PHOTO)

6) FIVE POINTS DOWN

Labour's lead over the Conservatives has been cut to five points, according to a poll released today.

The ICM poll for The Guardian put Ed Miliband's party on 38% (down two points since a similar poll last month), David Cameron's Tories on 33% (up one), with Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats on 15% (up two) and the UK Independence Party on 6% (down one).

Labour's advantage is the narrowest recorded by ICM since August last year, and follows a period in which the party has consistently racked up double-digit leads over the Conservatives.

It is likely to spark speculation that Mr Cameron's standing has been boosted by his handling of the crises in Algeria and Mali and by reports he is planning to offer an in/out referendum on future British membership of the European Union.

7) THE LONDON SPEECH

David Cameron will deliver his long-awaited speech on the EU on Wednesday morning in a central London location. Suggestions include on the doorstop of Ukip HQ or inside the Dutch embassy. At least if it gets called off again the travelling political press won’t have such a difficult journey back to their offices – depending on how many snowflakes have fallen on the Victoria line of course.

8) BIBI’S BACK

Benjamin Netanyahu seems poised for re-election as Israel's prime minister in Tuesday's voting, the result of the failure of his opponents to unite behind a viable candidate against him – and the fact that most Israelis no longer seem to believe it's possible to reach a peace settlement with the Palestinians.

The widely held assumption of a victory by Netanyahu comes despite his grim record: there is no peace process, there is growing diplomatic isolation and a slowing economy, and his main ally has been forced to step down as foreign minister because of corruption allegations.

Even so, Netanyahu has managed to convince many Israelis that he offers a respectable choice by projecting experience, toughness and great powers of communication in both native Hebrew and flawless American English.

9) BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT

Labour has failed to block the coalitions plans to cap benefit rises at 1%, as the proposals passed through the Commons.

From the BBC: “The Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill, which will cap the benefit rises until 2016, passed by 305 votes to 246. Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said spending had to be brought ‘back under control’ or the ‘poorest in society will fare the worst’. Labour's Liam Byrne said ‘compassionate Conservatism’ was no longer believable.”

Labour was forced into a quick, clarification, last night, after Stephen Timms said it was Labour’s policy to increase benefits by the rate of inflation each year. “In our view uprating should be in line with inflation and it should be assessed as it always has been at the end of the proceeding year,” he said.

However the Labour leadership was quick to distance itself, insisting that in hindsight Timms was saying what Labour would do in office now, rather than setting out policy for the future.

10) THE PLANET HAS ITS BLINDS DRAWN

The global jobless total will rise to a record 202m this year, says the UN's jobs watchdog, the International Labour Organisation, The Guardian reports today.

Quoting from the report the newspaper adds: “Entering 2013, the crisis in the Euro area constitutes the single biggest risk to global employment trends for the year ahead. The financial crisis in the Euro area, brought on by a combination of banking sector distress and protracted financial and household deleveraging, coupled with high levels of sovereign debt and unsustainably high government bond yields in some countries, has emerged as a disruptive and destabilizing force not only in the Euro area itself, but also for the global economy as a whole.”

140 CHARACTERS OR LESS

@BarackObama "I want to look out one more time. I'll never see this again." http://OFA.BO/qWUrWy

@JBeattieMirror I'm guessing the MoD redundancies announced today will not include Capt Wales

900 WORDS OR MORE

Rachel Sylvester in The Times: "Algeria head good – Europe head bad. The EU is an old and damaging distraction for Mr Cameron. He looks stronger dealing with modern issues ."

Polly Toynbee in The Guardian: "These Tory backbenchers will bang on until they hit self-destruct. The Conservative right is pushing David Cameron ever further from the centre ground. Don't they see he's their biggest asset?"

Benedict Brogan in The Daily Telegraph: "Cameron’s message is Tory, but his enemies have drowned it out."

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