Mehdi's Morning Memo: 'No Attack On Syria, No Matter What'

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SYRIA PROTEST LONDON
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The five things you need to know on Sunday 8 September 2013...

1) 'NO ATTACK ON SYRIA, NO MATTER WHAT, SAY VOTERS'

That's the splash headline on the front of the Sunday Telegraph, which reports on the hardening of anti-war opinion here in the UK:

"British voters oppose any military attack on Syria, even if it is proved beyond doubt that President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people, an opinion poll reveals today.

"The ICM survey for The Sunday Telegraph shows that the biggest proportion of voters would not want MPs to stage a second Commons vote on intervention if United Nations weapons inspectors confirmed that the August 24 attack on civilians involved chemicals.

"The poll also reveals that fewer than one in five voters believes Britain should join the United States in strikes on Syria, with almost half supporting action being restricted to providing humanitarian aid to refugees."

Foreign secretary William Hague told the Andrew Marr show this morning that the British government wasn't "gung ho" about military action and had learned the lessons of Iraq. Hmm.

Meanwhile, the Mail on Sunday splashes on the news - first broken by the Huffington Post UK - that:

"British companies sold chemicals to Syria that could have been used to produce the deadly nerve agent that killed 1,400 people... Between July 2004 and May 2010 the Government issued five export licences to two companies, allowing them to sell Syria sodium fluoride, which is used to make sarin. The Government last night admitted for the first time that the chemical was delivered to Syria - a clear breach of international protocol on the trade of dangerous substances that has been condemned as 'grossly irresponsible'."

Now there's the understatement of the week...

2) 'UTTERLY DESOLATE" TEATHER TO QUIT POLITICS

From the Observer:

The prominent Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather – who shot to fame when she became the youngest member of parliament a decade ago – has announced that she is to quit the House of Commons because she no longer feels that Nick Clegg's party fights sufficiently for social justice and liberal values on immigration.

In a blow to Clegg a week before his party gathers for its annual conference in Glasgow, Teather said his tougher approach to immigration – including a plan for some immigrants to pay a £1,000 deposit when applying for visas – left her feeling so "desolate" and "catastrophically depressed" that she was unable even to confront him over the issue. "It was an absolutely black moment. I couldn't even move from my seat when I read it. I was so depressed I couldn't even be angry. I was utterly desolate," she says.

Tory blogger turned radio presenter Iain Dale calls Teather "a rather sad, pathetic, hypocrite". Ouch. I don't think she'll be appearing on his LBC show anytime soon...

3) 'WE HAVE TO CHANGE'

Ed Miliband continues his mission to 'change' the Labour Party's relationship with the trade union - even if it bankrupts the party in the process!

From the Observer:

"Despite the high stakes, Miliband, who won the Labour leadership in a tight finish against his brother thanks to union votes, will tell the TUC that Labour and the unions must change their relationship as a way to boost activism.

"'We need to build a party truly rooted in the lives of all the working people of Britain once more,' he will tell the congress.

"'It is the right thing to do. We have to change. And I am absolutely determined to make this change happen. It is the only way to build a truly 'one nation' party and 'one nation country.'"

The paper also quotes a Labour source as saying that "there is no prospect of an apology" from Miliband to those suspended - and since cleared of any wrongdoing - from the party in the Falkirk row.

The Sunday Times claims:

"Ed Miliband’s attempts to draw a line under the row, by declaring there was no evidence of wrongdoing, backfired spectacularly as it was alleged that key witnesses had been pressured to withdraw damaging evidence from an inquiry.

"Evidence is mounting that the Unite union had scuppered a Labour party investigation into its attempts to stitch up safe seats. Unite had used similar heavy-handed tactics to those the party leader had insisted he was determined to consign to the past."

But Unite boss Len McCluskey told the Andrew Marr show that his union had been "vindicated" over Falkirk.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this video of animals on skateboards.

4) HERE COMES 'ALDI MUM'

From the Independent on Sunday:

"Everything Labour does between now and the 2015 election must be seen through the eyes of 'Aldi Mum', one of the party's leading women said yesterday.

"Caroline Flint, the Shadow Energy Secretary, said "Worcester Woman", the middle-class, aspirational, female swing voter who held the key to Tony Blair's landslide in 1997, was now feeling living standards squeezed and was just as likely to shop at discount supermarkets such as Aldi."

5) MINISTERS TO AXE BBC TRUST

From the Sunday Times:

"The BBC Trust is facing the axe after the outbreak of 'civil war' between its chairman, Lord Patten, and Mark Thompson, the former director-general, over excessive pay-offs to senior executives.

"Ministers are planning to hand regulation of the BBC to Ofcom, which oversees the rest of broadcasting, in a sign of the government’s exasperation with the scandal-prone corporation. A senior source at the culture, media and sport department said: 'It is clear that the trust, which is both a cheerleader for the BBC and its regulator, does not work. There are contradictions.'"

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From the Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 38
Conservatives 34
Ukip 12
Lib Dems 9

That would give Labour a majority of 44.

140 CHARACTERS OR LESS

@paulwaugh Ming Campbell on Broadcasting House re Teather: "Coalition is not for the faint hearted"

@sundersays 3 of 6 other LibDem women MPs defend smaller majority than Sarah Teather held. May well go backwards from 7/57 women

‏@jameskirkup BBC bulletin: "Hundreds of trade unionists are gathering at the TUC..." Hundreds, not thousands, note. How the over-mighty are fallen, etc.

900 WORDS OR MORE

John Kampfner, writing in the Sunday Times, says: "Miliband’s rushed fight with the unions has become a fiasco that can only leave him damaged."

John Rentoul, writing in the Independent on Sunday, says: "The Labour leader is resigned to fighting the next election with less cash than the other side."

Matthew D'Ancona, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, says: "Our political class is ignoring the great question of the post-9/11 globe: how to ensure the regions that spawned Islamic terror are stable and denied WMD."

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