The five things you need to know on Friday 7 June 2013...
1) MPs WILL GET A VOTE
From the Independent's splash:
"MPs have been promised a vote over any move to arm the Syrian opposition forces, with David Cameron facing growing Tory hostility to intervention in the civil war.
"They were given the pledge after Downing Street received a demand from more than 80 Conservative backbenchers for an opportunity to block the supply of weapons.
"... Andrew Lansley, the Commons leader, reassured MPs that any decision to supply British-made arms 'would be the subject of debate and an opportunity for a vote in this House'... [I]t is likely that ministers would be expected to endorse the policy, while backbenchers from the Coalition parties could be granted a free vote.
"Labour, the Liberal Democrats and up to half of Tory backbenchers could oppose arming Syrian rebels."
2) THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY
From the Guardian:
"Privatised rail has meant higher fares, older trains and a greater bill for the taxpayer, with train companies diverting profits to shareholders with barely any investment, a report has found.
"... The TUC-commissioned report, by the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change at the University of Manchester, says private train companies depend heavily on public subsidy to run services. It claims that the halving of track access charges for companies since privatisation has resulted in a hidden, indirect subsidy from the taxpayer."
"Researchers said the five largest private train companies received almost £3bn in taxpayer support between 2007 and 2011. This allowed them to make operating profits of £504m, over 90% of which was paid out in dividends to shareholders, the TUC said. In contrast, they argue that the east coast mainline, which is currently state-run, is reinvesting profits into the railway."
Will Labour's 'blank sheet' policy review be bold enough to consider rail renationalisation? Polls show it has the overwhelming support of the British public...
3) LABOUR'S TAX DODGE?
From the Sun:
"George Osborne has demanded Ed Miliband pay back £1.5million in tax that Labour’s biggest donor has been accused of avoiding by giving the party shares in his company.
"John Mills gave Labour £1.65million worth of stock earlier this year.
"In a stunning admission, the owner of shopping channel JML said he came up with the 'tax efficient' idea after talks with Labour officials... Mr Miliband yesterday insisted Labour had done nothing wrong."
A couple of points are worth considering here: 1) Is it really appropriate for the chancellor to be intervening here, with personalised letters? Isn't this something for Grant Shapps or another lower-level Tory official to get excited about? 2) Shouldn't Labour's response be to turn the tables on the Tories? Point out that the Conservatives are alleged to have made similar suggestions to their donors in the past?
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...
Watch this video of a cat versus a printer.
4) 'SUPERFICIAL AND INCOMPLETE'
From the BBC:
"Government cuts to council funding mean it should make plans to cope with 'multiple' financial collapses, MPs have warned.
"The Public Accounts Committee said authorities were facing 'very different levels' of savings, with those in the poorest areas suffering most.
"Analysis of how services such as social care would fare had been 'superficial and incomplete', it added in a report.
"... The central government grant to local authorities is being cut by £7.6bn - or 26% - in real terms between 2011 and 2015, as part of the effort to reduce the budget deficit."
5) WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Researchers at the University of Chicago have been busy - from the Daily Mail:
"The name you choose for your baby gives away your political affiliation, new research has revealed.
"Conservatives tend to choose more masculine-sounding names for their children with lots of K’s and B’s.
"They are also fond of choosing names with lots of D’s and T’s because they sound tough.
"The study showed that people with more left wing views do the opposite and tend to include a lot of feminine words.
"These include L sounds and soft-A endings such as Sophia.
"The findings may give a clue into how the likes of David Cameron really think - he chose Nancy, Florence, Arthur and Ivan for his kids suggesting that he is really more liberal than conservative."
PUBLIC OPINION WATCH
From today's Sun/YouGov poll:
Lib Dems 10
That would give Labour a majority of 86.
140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
@DMiliband Kenya victims came to see me as Foreign Secretary in February 2010. Dreadful case. Definitely right decision to do right by them.
@Mike_Fabricant Having been in business many years ago, it's great news that firms with under 50 employees will now be exempt from burdensome regulations.
@afneil Daily Mail:"Educ. Sec Michael Gove, asked how he handles BBC TV’s terrier-in-chief, Andrew Neil, says: ‘Oh, I just imagine him naked.’"
900 WORDS OR MORE
Philip Collins, writing in the Times, says: "This slow march will get Miliband nowhere."
Mark Steel, writing in the Independent, says: "Miliband makes his play: do everything the same."
Charles Glass, writing in the Guardian, says: "What are your chances if you're a Syrian citizen now?"
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