POLITICS

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Tory 'Odd Obsessions'

28/02/2014 08:35 GMT | Updated 28/02/2014 08:59 GMT
Anthony Devlin/PA Archive
Attorney General Dominic Grieve arrives for the Cabinet meeting at Downing Street, London.

Here are the five things you need to know on Friday 28 February 2014...

1) TORY 'ODD OBSESSIONS'

The Conservative Party is suffering from a "hemorrhage" of votes to Ukip the Attorney General has admitted, but Dominic Grieve has warned his party it would be "irrational" to try and outflank Nigel Farage on the right. The senior Tory, who attends cabinet, said Tory MPs also needed to ditch their "odd obsessions" and focus on ramming home the message that the coalition had rescued the economy if they wanted to win the 2015 general election.

Grieve made the comments, heard by The Huffington Post UK, while speaking to the University College London Conservative Society on Thursday evening.

He said: "One thing I am quite sure about is we are not going to get elected in May 2015 by trying to outflank Ukip by being more Ukip than Ukip. Because it can’t be done. It’s also irrational and you can see very quickly it's just pointless because they are a fantasy party when it comes to outcomes."

He also said it had been a "miracle" that the recession had not led to higher unemployment, that Alex Salmond was a fantasist who thinks the UK "owes Scotland a living" and that Britain should not leave the European Union.

2) HEWITT SAYS SORRY

Former Labour cabinet minister Patricia Hewitt has apologised for the links between the civil liberties organisation she headed and a paedophile rights campaign. Hewitt said the National Council for Civil Liberties had been "naive and wrong" about the Paedophile Information Exchange in the 1970s, and that as general secretary at the time, she took responsibility for the mistakes that had been made.

"I got it wrong on PIE and I apologise for having done so," she said in her first public comments since the current controversy broke last week in the Daily Mail.

3) NOT A PIECE OF GERMAN CAKE

Angela Merkel, The Guardian reports, "has taken the first tentative steps towards outlining a modest framework for negotiations to persuade British voters to remain within the EU, in an in-out referendum which David Cameron will call by the end of 2017 if he wins next year's general election.

"The German chancellor, who pleaded with Britain in a speech to a joint session of parliament on Thursday to remain a "strong voice" within the EU, declared in Downing Street that a deal was 'doable' though she warned that the negotiations would not be a 'piece of cake'."

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4) 'NAZI SPY NETWORK'

A vast network of Nazi sympathisers apparently working to undermine Britain's war effort against Germany was secretly controlled by MI5, according to newly-released documents.

Files released by the National Archives show that the motley array of traitors and "fifth columnists" active in Britain during the Second World War was totally penetrated by the Security Service. MI5 even drew up plans to issue them with special badges to be worn in the event of an invasion - supposedly to identify them as friends to the Germans, but in fact to enable them to be swiftly rounded up by the police.

The Independent reports the story on its front page today, alongside a picture of David Cameron and Angela Merkel.

5) TEA PARTY VOWS TO MOVE TO RIGHT

The largest group in the conservative US Tea Party movement celebrated its fifth anniversary on Thursday with a pledge to push Congress further to the right and capture the White House in 2016, The Huffington Post reports.

At a rally in a hotel ballroom two blocks from the Capitol, lawmakers allied with the Tea Party Patriots said their movement had matured from a raucous protest against the growth of government to one that would engage with the government's machinery to promote a stronger conservative agenda.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Simon Jenkins in The Guardian: Politics, not law, has become the master of British justice

Isabel Oakeshott in The House: The Prime Minister’s approach leaves many voters wondering who he really is – and that is a problem

Ed Miliband in the Daily Mirror: Voters need their voices to be heard - I'm asking Labour to open itself up to you

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