The ten things you need to know on Tuesday 9 July 2013...
1) BIG DAY, BIG SPEECH, FOR ED MILIBAND
"Ed Miliband's speech today is most important by a Labour leader for some time. Bold, principled and correct. He deserves widespread support." That's what Miliband's PPS, the Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds, has just tweeted.
For several days now, the Labour leader has been challenged by his right-wing critics - both inside and outside the party, both in Westminster and in Fleet Street - to take on the big, bad unions - specifically, the biggest and baddest of them all, Unite and its 'hard left' leader Len McCluskey. Why? Because Unite, supposedly, has been mounting a takeover of the party's parliamentary selection process (though, as Channel 4's Michael Crick notes: "Of the 41 seats [allegedly targeted by Unite], 22 of them have now picked Labour candidates. And in 13 of the 22 seats, the Unite person... failed to get selected.")
At 11:30am, Miliband will attempt to get on the front foot and lay out plans to 'mend, not end' Labour's historic link with the unions. The Guardian reports:
"Ed Miliband will set out potentially the biggest changes to the Labour-union relationship since the party's formation in 1900 when he proposes on Tuesday that non-party members should be able to vote in party elections, and that its three million union political levy payers can only be involved in the party if they choose to.
"Responding to allegations of voting abuse in Falkirk by the party's largest union affiliate, Unite, the Labour leader will say that his reforms, due to be outlined in a speech, mean turning the party's back on unpopular 'machine politics'."
The Independent adds:
"Mr Miliband will also set out plans to hold more primaries to choose Labour candidates, beginning with its contender in the London Mayoral contest in 2016, and a new code of conduct for people bidding to represent the party."
The proposal to switch from 'opt out' funding by affiliated trade union members to 'opt in' funding will radically reduce the cash available to the Labour Party - and, according to a senior Unite source I spoke to, would requie a change in the law. "We are very sceptical about the 'opt in' proposal'," he told me, before adding: "We will never attack Ed personally. We like him. He is the candidate [in the labour leadership election] that we supported."
Writing in the Guardian, Unite's Len McCluskey says: "If Miliband wants to find ways to get more individual trade unionists active in the party, exercising their own judgment on policy and people, I would join with him."
McCluskey, however, reserves his ire for the Blairites: "The present uproar arises solely because Unite has started to have some success in pushing back against what the right wing has been doing unchallenged for years. It is time the spotlight was turned on the activities of Progress, largely funded by Lord Sainsbury, which has been sparing no expense to get its candidates adopted. The Sainsbury 'block vote' has been used to create a parliamentary Labour party that does not look like, or think like, the broader party."
Meanwhile, the Times - which splashes on 'Miliband challenges unions on funding' - reports:
"In a foretaste of how Labour's opponents intend to exploit the issue, Nick Clegg will offer Mr Miliband the Government's help today in making his reforms legally binding. But the Labour leader will reJect that, saying that it is in unions' own interests to agree to the changes voluntarily."
The problem, of course, as Miliband will now discover, is that the Tories and their outriders in the right-wing press will never be satisfied by any reform of the union relationship proposed by the Labour leader; they'll always exaggerate the power and influence of the unions and try and brand Miliband as 'Red Ed'.
As the Guardian's Patrick Wintour notes, in an 'analysis' piece, "For critics, the proposals will be judged purely by whether they terminate the union-party link, and anything falling short of this will be dismissed. Yet, as the former transport union leader Jack Jones said in the 1970s, no one can imagine divorce between the two wings of the movement – murder yes, divorce never."
2) CHAOS IN CAIRO
From the BBC:
"Egypt's interim leader has outlined his timetable for new elections, amid continuing unrest in the country.
"Adly Mansour's decree envisages changes to the Islamist-drafted constitution and a referendum, which would pave way the way for elections early next year.
"This comes as at least 51 people were killed in the capital Cairo.
"The Muslim Brotherhood says its members were fired on at a sit-in for ousted President Mohammad Morsi. The army says it responded to an armed provocation."
The problem for the army is that most eyewitnesses say it was the army that opened fire without any provocation from the Brotherhood protesters. Yesterday's incident is now being referred to as a 'massacre'.
The Independent's splash headline is: "Dozens dead. Hundreds injured. And a nation's hopes for peace and democracy lie bleeding in the streets."
3) 'THEY'VE GOT TO FIND MEN TO MARRY'
Another 'gaffe' from the Mayor of London? From the Huffington Post UK:
"Boris Johnson has suggested women enrol in university to find a husband, prompting a furious backlash against his sexist comments.
"The faux pas happened at the launch of the World Islamic Economic Forum last week, where the Mayor of London spoke alongside the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
"Razak recited a statistic he had been told by his officials - where 68% of the latest university intake in his country would be women - to which Boris quipped: 'They’ve got to find men to marry.'"
Labour's Kate Green is demanding an apology but an aide to Boris has said the remarks were light-hearted and misconstrued. Isn't that the standard disclaimer? Aren't they always, when it comes to Boris?
4) BIN LADEN'S SPEEDING TICKET
The Daily Mail reports on a leaked Pakistani government report obtained by Al Jazeera:
"Osama Bin Laden's car was stopped for speeding in Pakistan as long ago as 2002 - but he was allowed to go on his way by incompetent police.
"A scathing Pakistani government report has revealed the hunt for the Al Qaeda leader could have ended nine years earlier if officers had spotted him in the car. The bungle happened in 2002 or 2003, not long after he entered Pakistan. He, his family, and two couriers were pulled over by a policeman. Bin Laden's guard 'quickly settled the matter', but it is not clear if he paid a bribe or if the policeman simply did not notice the world's most wanted terrorist sitting in the vehicle.
"... The report lambasts the 'collective failure' of state military and intelligence authorities. It says Bin Laden was able to hide in plain sight and that there was possible cooperation with the Pakistani intelligence services."
5) STOPPING STOP AND SEARCH?
From the Daily Mail:
"More than a quarter of police stop and searches are unlawful and risk promoting 'major disorder', government inspectors have warned.
"Her Majesty's Chief Inspectorate of Constabulary said that in 27 per cent of cases police failed to show they had reasonable grounds for a search.
"That is the equivalent of 250,000 people every year being subjected to searches without the police sticking to the rules."
The paper reminds us:
"Last week Home Secretary Theresa May announced a public consultation and warned police could be wasting hundreds of thousands of hours by stopping innocent people. In 2012 police conducted 1.2million stop and searches but only 9 per cent, or 107,000, ended in arrest."
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...
Watch this video of a baby red panda being weighed in a tiny weighing scales.
6) WELCOME TO 'IPSO'
From the Times:
"A press regulator with the power to impose fines of up to £1 million could be established early next year after industry trade bodies published draft plans yesterday.
"Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, former president of the Supreme Court, is expected to start selecting an appointments panel, which would choose the board of the new regulator.
"The Independent Press Standards Organisation would have the power to hold investigations and compel newspapers to hand over documents in cases where a serious or systemic breach of the industry's code was suspected... The industry will still be able to prevent people hostile to the press from being appointed to the board of the regulator, but this power of veto has been weakened."
The paper reports:
"Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, said: 'We have been urging the newspaper industry for several months to set up a new self-regulator, and are glad that they seem to now be making progress.'"
Not everyone's happy:
"Hacked Off, which represents some of the victims of phone hacking, described the proposed creation of Ipso as a 'cynical rebranding exercise' that showed that the industry was 'determined to hold on to the power to bully the public without facing any consequences'."
7) DON'T BAN CIRCUS ZEBRAS!
For once, a report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee is grabbing the headlines. Yes, really.
From the Independent:
"Government proposals to ban all wild animals from travelling circuses should be watered down to allow zebras, camels, reindeer and snakes to stay on the road, MPs have recommended.
"The report argues that many wild circus animals should continue to ply their trade since they are domesticated in other countries or being employed quite happily in other walks of life – such as the Britain’s Got Talent TV show.
"But it agreed that big cats and elephants should be banned."
8) MEND, DON'T END, THE EUROPEAN ARREST WARRANT
Abu Qatada has gone so the home secretary now has the time and energy to focus on other battles - from the Guardian:
"Britain is to join forces with like-minded EU member states to try to reform the European arrest warrant after the coalition agreed after lengthy negotiations to maintain British involvement with the controversial measure.
"Theresa May, the home secretary, will announce in a statement to MPs on Tuesday that the arrest warrant will be among 35 EU criminal justice measures Britain will continue to back.
"Britain will remain part of Europol, the EU-wide intelligence sharing agency which co-ordinates police investigation, and Eurojust, which oversees judicial co-operation across the EU."
9) SIR ANDY?
The Prime Minister got very excited yesterday. From the Telegraph:
"Asked whether the Scottish sporting champion should become 'Sir Andy', Mr Cameron said: 'Honours are decided independently but, frankly, I can't think of anyone who deserves one more.'
"But Murray, 26, tried to calm speculation that he will be knighted in the next New Year Honours List, questioning whether he deserved the accolade.
"'I don't really know. I think it's a nice thing to have or be offered,' he said. 'I think just because everyone waited for such a long time for this, that's probably why it will be suggested, but I don't really know if it merits that.'"
The Times leader says:
"Honours should not be treated as a popularity contest or as automatic recognition of a sporting victory, however big. Awarding honours too freely risks debasing the coinage. The decision to award MBEs to the whole England cricket team that won the Ashes in 2005 meant Paul Collingwood was honoured for scoring Just 17 runs in his only Test of the series... Andy Murray may believe he will never top his achievement on Sunday. But the hope is that the 26-year-old will win many more grand slam titles to add to the two he has bagged so far. Giving him a knighthood now would suggest the best is over. It is simply too soon."
The Telegraph leader adds: "Let us suppose that Murray goes on to win a further two, perhaps three Wimbledon titles. What do we give him then? He might feel it a burden to stagger on to the Centre Court in 2017 as Lord Murray OM, CH, KBE..."
10) ED: JUSTINE THINKS I'M 'HOTTER' THAN DAVID
Ed Miliband has done a very, ahem, personal interview with Now magazine - from the Sun:
"Labour leader Ed Miliband has boasted that his wife thinks he’s 'hotter' than brother David.
"He also revealed that his staff buy his clothes, he and wife Justine call each other 'sweetie' — and that he likes pants from M&S.
"In a True Confessions-style interview, Mr Miliband, 43, said he was 'square and serious' in his teens. He said: 'I was a late developer. Girls came a bit later — university and after.'
"... When told people think his big brother David is 'hotter' than him, he said: 'I think my wife thinks I’m hotter. If she didn’t, I’d be worried.'"
"Mr Miliband confirmed both he and shadow chancellor Ed Balls dated BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders. But he stressed: 'There was a long time apart between me and Ed.'"
PUBLIC OPINION WATCH
From today's Sun/YouGov poll:
Lib Dems 10
That would give Labour a majority of 78.
140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
@Ed_Miliband We need to build a #betterpolitics for Britain. We will start with changes to the way our Party works. I’ll say more in London this morning.
@RoperCarl Whatever Ed Miliband announces tomorrow he'll realise that when it comes to unions you can never satisfy the the political right
@David_Cameron @Andy_Murray in the No10 garden telling me about what it feels like to be #Wimbledon champion
900 WORDS OR MORE
Rachel Sylvester, writing in the Times, says: "The barons are dead. Long live the rank and file!"
Aditya Chakrabortty, writing in the Guardian, says: "Looking for a party funding scandal? Try David Cameron's Conservatives."
Donald Macintyre, writing in the Independent, says: "The mess with Labour and the unions makes this the perfect time to let the state fund political parties."
Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ned Simons (email@example.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol
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