POLITICS

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Be Proud (But Don't Be Too Aggressive)

22/05/2013 08:39 BST | Updated 22/05/2013 08:42 BST
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Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (left) at Wandsworth Day Nursery in south London, as more than two million working families stand to gain through a major expansion of government support for childcare, ministers announced today.

Then ten things you need to know on Wednesday 22 May 2013...

1) 'BE PROUD' (BUT DON'T BE TOO AGGRESSIVE ABOUT IT)

Eyes are still a-swivelling on the anti-gay marriage Tory backbenches this morning after the other half of the party, eyes fixed firmly forward, helped David Cameron's bill pass the Commons 366 votes to 161 - a majority of 205.

Speaking on the Today programme this morning the prime minister said gay marriage was the "right thing to do" and that there were "young boys in schools today who are worried about being bulled" who can "stand a bit taller today".

As we report, Maria Miller said MPs should be "proud" but asked, hopefully, if everyone could now "move on". Yvette Cooper told Conservative MPs to stop being so "angry". David Burrowes accused David Lammy of "playing the race card". The Attorney General warned local tiddlywinks clubs may want to host weddings and someone else dropped in an obligatory polygamy reference. Oh and of course Norman Tebbit is one step closer to being able to marry his son.

At the moment it looks like the aggressive homosexuals are currently beating the aggressive heterosexuals. However as The Guardian notes, opponents of the bill are pinning their hopes of their Lordships, and their distaste for weddings with more than one bride, to kill the bill in the upper house.

And there would have been relief rather than celebration in Downing Street following the vote. The prime minister got his bill past third reading, but 133 Tories voted against the legislation and only 117 voted in favour. Cheekily, but perhaps understandably, Labour, who without which the bill would have died, are taking credit for the win.

Today's Memo is edited by Ned Simons as Mehdi Hasan is updating his Apps (see number five).

2) COALITION COMMITMENT

Speaking of same-sex partnerships and commitment. Ho ho. Nick Clegg will warn Lib Dems today they will not be able "pull the wool over people's eyes" and convince them to vote for the party by quitting the coalition six months early. In a speech in Westminster today the deputy prime minister will dismiss mischievous reporting of David Cameron's admission the Tories may have to adapt to "new circumstances" - the break-up of the coalition - before 2015.

Clegg will say: "The Liberal Democrats look forward to fighting the next election as a party of government, on our record in government, and with a distinct vision of our own for the next government - having seen this one through until the end."

However Ben Brogan at the Daily Telegraph reports that meetings have taken place in Downing Street to discuss the eventuality of a break-up of the coalition. He says the specific scenario being game planned is what happens if Clegg is ousted in a coup during the Lib Dem conference.

3) GOOGLE'S OODLES

Ed Miliband will be appearing along side Google chairman Eric Schmidt at the internet giant's 'Big Tent event' today. Writing for The Huffington Post UK the Labour leadergives a preview of what he will tell Schmidt.

"Google shouldn't be going to extraordinary lengths to avoid paying its taxes," he says. "Think about someone on benefits, who could work, but isn't doing so. If they were meeting their requirements to report to the job centre, but were only making the barest effort to look for work, we would condemn their behaviour. Well, similarly, companies have obligations that go beyond the law."

4) PM DEFENDS EU STRATEGY

David Cameron has insisted once again that viewing Tory party activists as "swivel-eyed loons" was "not what the people around me think". In an interview on the Today programme in the wake of a pretty awful week for the prime minister, he also defended his Europe strategy. "I am very confident we can get change," he said. "There is every prospect of a successful renegotiation."

The prime minister said he believed Britain "would be better off in a reformed EU" and "the public is going to get a choice about that".

Cameron also admitted "the Conservative Party managed to have a disagreement over the last couple of weeks on an issue we agree about."

5) SENATE ASKS APPLE IMPORTANT QUESTION

Over in Washington the US Senate has been grilling Apple executives over their tax affairs. And former presidential candidate John McCain had the killer question for chairman Tim Cook. "Why the hell do I have to keep updating my apps on my iPhone all the time and why you don't fix that?"

6) CAMERON CAMPAIGN

David Cameron will step up the campaign against tax evasion and "aggressive" tax avoidance as Apple joins multinational corporations in the spotlight.

A day after Ireland defended itself against claims that its corporate tax regime has helped Apple legitimately reduce its tax liability by billions, the prime minister is urging the rest of the EU to back global action against what he has described as "staggering" losses to national exchequers.

The issue is on the latest EU summit agenda at the request of the UK, France and Germany, and European progress would boost next month's G8 gathering in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, which host Mr Cameron will use to press the case against international tax secrecy and for an end to tax havens.

BECAUSE YOU READ THIS FAR: Just A Cat Saying 'Al Gore' (VIDEO)

7) IMMIGRATION IS GOOD

Around 600 Afghan interpreters are to be offered the chance to settle in Britain after an apparent coalition rethink, the Press Association reports.

About half the staff working with UK forces are expected to be granted visas in recognition of risks to their personal safety. The proposals could see all interpreters who have been in the job more than 12 months and put themselves in physical danger offered a resettlement package. They will need to have worked between December 2012 and December 2014, when troops are due to leave, to be eligible.

Things no one will say: "Afghan translators, coming here, living off the state and stealing our ... words."

8) NICHOLSON TO LEAVE NHS

From the Daily Telegraph: The NHS is still failing patients, its outgoing head Sir David Nicholson has admitted, as he announced his retirement. Sir David said it was a matter of profound regre that the health service was letting down many sick and elderly people, as he announced his departure with a £2million pension pot.

Sir David had been under pressure to resign over his part in the Mid Staffordshire Hospital Trust scandal, where up to 1,200 people died needlessly following appalling failings in care between 2005 and 2008. He was in charge of the health authority supervising Stafford hospital for two years before being appointed NHS chief executive in 2007.

9) OSBORNE AWAITS VERDICT

George Osborne is braced for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) verdict on Britain's economic prospects today amid speculation it will urge him to change course.In its annual healthcheck on UK plc, the IMF is expected to suggest that deficit reduction should be slowed amid weak growth.

Such a conclusion would be seized on by Labour's Ed Balls, who has consistently condemned the coalition for going "too far, too fast". The IMF was previously among the strongest backers of the Chancellor's economic strategy, but has gradually changed its tone in response to dwindling growth forecasts

10) CIVIL SERVICE 'CLOTHING ALLOWANCE'

And finally. Did you know the Ministry of Defence has an expenses account for evening dress? Since 2008 civilian staff working for the MoD have been able to charge almost £16,000 worth of formal-wear to the taxpayer.

140 CHARACTERS OR LESS

@markpack Looking forward to see how some peers try to argue that despite 366 elected MPs voting for something, it doesn't have a mandate

@robindbrant lib dem aides to clegg say tory party 'clearly going through a period of turmoil', add that DPM attempting to come to PM's aide...

@NadineDorriesMP So, we dropped to 27 points in tonight's polls. That gay marriage thing is really working for us

900 WORDS OR MORE

Simon Heffer in the Daily Mail: The ugly truth is a smug Tory elite has sneered at the party faithful for decades

Daniel Finkelstein in The Times: "Why I�m ducking out of the Scottish debate."

Sonia Purnell in The Independent: "Boris Johnson: The flawed Mayor of London."

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