POLITICS

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Jowell Warns Labour Against Left-Wing Turn

06/02/2014 08:19 GMT | Updated 06/02/2014 08:59 GMT
PAUL ELLIS via Getty Images
Shadow Secretary of State for London and the Olympics Tessa Jowell gestures as she speaks during a retrospective look at the 2012 Olympics on the third day of the annual Labour Party Conference in Manchester, north-west England, on October 2, 2012. Speaking at the opposition Labour party's conference former Conservative MP and London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe called for cross-party unity to ensure longer term benefits gained from the success of the London 2012 Olympics. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/GettyImages)

Here are the five things you need to know on Thursday 6 February 2014...

1) JOWELL WARNS LABOUR AGAINST LEFT-WING TURN

The veteran Labour MP, former cabinet minister and card-carrying Blairite Dame Tessa Jowell has issued a pretty stark warning to Ed Miliband in an interview with me for the HuffPost UK:

"Labour must not make the mistake of believing British voters have moved to the left in the wake of the banking crash, former Labour cabinet minister Tessa Jowell has said. The comments, made in an interview with The Huffington Post UK, may be seen as a warning to Ed Miliband not to abandon the centre ground ahead of the 2015 general election. 'I think one of the areas of debate about the differences between New Labour and One Nation Labour is that there are those who subscribe to One Nation Labour who would say that the country has moved to the left. I don’t think that’s true,' she said."

She rejected Miliband's claims that New Labour didn't do enough to tackle income inequality and said she also worried about the tone and content of the current immigration debate. She said:

"I’m not on the apologizing side of this. Because I was there throughout and what I don’t accept is that these were decisions that were taken recklessly."

She also strongly rejected the accusation, frequently made by the coalition, that Labour spent too much money while it was in office. "I don’t accept we overspent," she told me.

You can read my full interview with Tessa Jowell, on the London mayoral race, the return of Tony Blair and Ed Miliband's chances, here.

2) CLASSROOM WARS

To think that David Laws and Michael Gove used to be such good pals, eh? From the Independent's splash:

"David Laws, the Schools minister, has called for Ofsted to be given greater powers to investigate the performance of the Conservatives’ academy schools, opening a new rift with Michael Gove, the Education Secretary. In an interview with The Independent, the Liberal Democrat minister has demanded reform of the system for making key public appointments to prevent cabinet ministers installing political allies. Mr Laws was incensed by Mr Gove’s decision to dismiss Baroness [Sally] Morgan, a Labour peer, as chair of Ofsted, and is demanding that lessons be learnt. He wants all-party select committees to be given the power to veto major public service appointments to prevent cronyism. Mr Laws made clear he intends to stop Mr Gove imposing Theodore Agnew, a Tory donor whose Inspiration Trust runs seven academies and free schools, as Lady Morgan’s successor."

3) 'MILI AND HIS FILLIES'

That's the headline in the Sun, above contrasting pictures of the Tory and Labour frontbenches:

"Six women line up on Ed Miliband's front bench yesterday as David Cameron is ambushed over his male-dominated Tory Party. With the PM flanked by only men, the Labour leader sniped: 'I guess they didn't let women into the Bullingdon Club either. In your Cabinet, there are as many men who went to Eton or Westminster as there are women.' Mr Cameron admitted he needs to recruit more females. He has four in his Cabinet. The PM insisted: 'We're making progress.'"

Nick Clegg isn't. The Lib Dems have no female cabinet ministers at all. The Guardian also reports on the story:

"David Cameron has been accused of running the country like an old boys' network after he turned up to prime minister's questions with an entirely male frontbench. He was taunted about the Conservatives' 'women problem' by Ed Miliband in the same week it emerged several prominent women have recently been sacked from government jobs and Anne McIntosh, a high-profile female Tory MP, was deselected by her local association."

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this video of a mother-son epic wedding dance medley.

4) BYE BYE BURLEY

It was the Nazi uniform that did it. From the Guardian:

"The Tory MP at the centre of a row over a Nazi-themed stag party will quit parliament at the 2015 general election. Aidan Burley, the MP for Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, was sacked as a ministerial aide when reports of the episode emerged in 2011. An internal party inquiry last month found he was "stupid and offensive" to have organised the stag event. The groom, Mark Fournier, was fined €1,500 (£1,250) by a French court for wearing an SS uniform and insignia supplied by the MP. Burley said: 'After a difficult time I have decided to announce I will stand down at the next general election.'"

5) 'I DID NOT HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH THAT PRESIDENT'

That's the headline on the front of the Mirror; the headline writers in general have had fun with this story this morning. The Mirror reports:

Liz Hurley thanked fans for standing by her last night as claims she had an affair with Bill Clinton while he was US President were exposed as a pack of lies. Earlier the British-born actress had been forced to issue a strenuous denial following a series of extraordinary allegations in a taped conversation by [Tom] Sizemore, who claims to have dated Hurley for four years. Taking to Twitter she said: “It’s been a tough couple of months in many ways- thanks to all my friends & family for your unwavering support & kindness." Earlier she’d wrote: “Thank you very much for your (mostly) very nice comments on what has been a pretty gruesome day x”. It came as her ex lover Sizemore issued a grovelling apology to the British actress. Last night he appeared on a live video interview with the Huffington Post admitting it was him on the tape. He explained the audio came from an old video tape when he was battling to overcome his drug addiction. Sizemore said he had fabricated the story."

Bizarre stuff...

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From the Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 39

Conservatives 35

Ukip 10

Lib Dems 9

That would give Labour a majority of 20.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Tim Montgomerie, writing in the Times, says: "Three cheers for Tory rebels, the real loyalists."

Seumas Milne, writing in the Guardian, says: "We need a counterweight to City and corporate power."

George Eaton, writing in the New Statesman, says: "Can Labour defuse the 'borrowing bombshell'?"

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