POLITICS

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Ed's Energy Extravaganza

28/03/2014 08:26 GMT | Updated 28/03/2014 08:59 GMT
Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Labour leader Ed Miliband during his speech at the Scottish Labour Party conference at the Perth Concert Hall in Perth.

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

1) ED'S ENERGY EXTRAVAGANZA

Ed Miliband plans to keep up pressure on the energy companies, reports the Guardian. And why shouldn't he? It has been his most popular policy so far - the prize freeze - and has put massive pressure on both the coalition and the companies.

From the Guardian's splash:

"Ed Miliband will propose fresh controls over energy prices, brushing aside angry claims by the big six companies that his call for a freeze on bills has prompted a wide-ranging competition inquiry that will chill investment for two years and possibly lead to the lights going out. The Labour leader will reject suggestions that the coalition has shot his fox by engineering a referral of the distrusted industry to competition authorities, and he plans to keep up the pressure by calling a Commons vote next week demanding an immediate price freeze for business and domestic customers. In a speech on friday he will also try to broaden popular support for the 20-month price freeze announced at the Labour conference by saying it is a business-friendly measure that could save small businesses over £5,500 a year. 'The profiteering of the big six has been at the expense of hardworking business people,' he will say."

The Mirror, meanwhile, splashes on Centrica boss Sam Laidlaw, under the headline: "The Blackout Blackmailer". The paper reports:

"Centrica’s scaremonger boss Sam Laidlaw today claimed an inquiry into rip-off energy prices could turn our lights out. The fatcat, whose firm runs British Gas, threatened the probe would delay investment in new power plants. Asked if the lights would go out, he said: 'There is an increasing risk.' It came as regulator Ofgem was blasted for taking too long to protect consumers after it emerged the new probe could take 18 months. Critics accused loaded Mr Laidlaw of 'holding a gun' to households’ heads by criticising the investigation, which could lead to cheaper energy bills for hard-up customers, but lower profits for the suppliers."

Could the hapless Laidlaw be Ed Miliband's best friend? A Labour sleeper agent within the 'Big Six'?

NOTE: There will be no Morning Memo this coming Sunday morning. Apologies. Normal service will resume on Monday morning.

2) GOOD OL' GERMANS

Has all of Dave' sucking up to Angie paid off? From the FT:

"David Cameron's bid to renegotiate Britain's relationship with Europe has been given a boost after Germany declared for the first time that the EU must ensure that the UK is legally protected from closer eurozone integration. In a joint article in the Financial Times today, George Osborne, chancellor, and Wolfgang Schäuble, his German counterpart, say that any treaty change must 'guarantee fairness' for EU countries that stay outside the eurozone... 'As the euro area continues to integrate, it is important that countries outside the euro area are not at a systematic disadvantage in the EU,' Mr Schäuble and Mr Osborne write. 'So future EU reform and treaty change must include reform of the governance framework to put euro area integration on a sound legal basis, and guarantee fairness for those EU countries inside the single market but outside the single currency.'"

So good news for Dave. But here's some bad news for Dave - and Ed. From the Sun:

"Ukip has moved to within two points of Ed Miliband's Labour in the Euro elections race, an exclusive Sun survey revealed last night. Nigel Farage's anti-EU party has also overtaken the Tories after his TV clash with Nick Clegg. The YouGov poll shows Labour on 28 per cent and Ukip on 26. The Tories are on 24 and the Lib Dems just 11."

3) HUBBLE BUBBLE

George Osborne continues to play down fears of an unsustainable house price bubble; the Bank of England's data continues to undermine him. From the Times splash:

"The number of borrowers being offered dangerously large mortgages is at an all-time high, the Bank of England has warned. About one in ten homebuyers are borrowing more than four times their income, the Bank said, stoking fears that the nation is in the grip of an unsustainable housing bubble. In London, almost one in five buyers are taking out 'high income-multiple' loans as the cost of the average property approaches £500,000. The proportion of home loans classified as “large” is greater now than at any time since records began in 2005, according to the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee."

Oh dear.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this video of a scene from the hit US sitcom 'Friends' - but without the laughter track on it. It's actually kinda creepy.

4) THE GOVE RAP

Whatever you think of Michael Gove, you've got to admire his guts - yesterday the education secretary was rapping in front of schoolkids and on camera. The Guardian has the details:

"After the education secretary's claim that he enjoys listening to rap, or a variant of it called chap-hop, a student asked Gove during a school visit for a taster of his favourite rap. While America has a fist-bumping president who duets with BB King, the UK has an education secretary who prefers to perform an early 80s 'vanilla rap' by Wham! 'Hey everybody, look at me, I've got street credibility,' intoned the education secretary. 'I may not have a job but I have a good time, with the boys that I meet down on the line,' he added, to laughter from the students."

You can watch the rap here.

5) TEARS FOR TONY

Yesterday, was Tony Benn's funeral and it was a solemn and sombre affair - the HuffPost UK reports:

"From the left, the far left and even the right they came, many with tears in their eyes. Politicians and activists of all shades came on a crisp cold, morning as Tony Benn departed Parliament for the last time. Hilary Benn, the shadow minister, could not hide his grief as he carried the coffin of his father on his shoulders into St Margaret's church in the shadow of Westminster Abbey. The night before, the coffin had rested in the Palace of Westminster's Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, in the building that Benn had sparred with so many political adversaries, the place he began his career as the youngest member, and ended as its oldest, the 'Father of the House'... Some threw petals, and small choruses sang 'The Red Flag' as the coffin passed. Almost all were wiping their eyes."

RIP Tony. You will be sorely missed...

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From the Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 36

Conservatives 35

Ukip 11

Lib Dems 10

That would give Labour a majority of 6.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Philip Collins, writing in the Times, says: "Children don’t earn their inheritance. Tax it."

Fraser Nelson, writing in the Telegraph, says: "Only one person is laughing at the Farage-Clegg EU pantomime."

Polly Toynbee, writing in the Guardian, says: "Farage's TV debate has lit the European touchpaper – are we in or out?"

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