POLITICS

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Labour's 'Primary Colours'

01/04/2014 08:38 BST | Updated 01/04/2014 08:59 BST
Yui Mok/PA Wire
Shadow Minister without Portfolio and Deputy Party Chair Jon Trickett outside the Houses of Parliament, central London.

Here are the five things you need to know on Tuesday 1 April 2014...

1) LABOUR'S 'PRIMARY COLOURS'

First, Labour backbencher Simon Danczuk said "our communication has to be much stronger". Then, former cabinet minister Hazel Blears said Labour had to start "talking in normal human language". Now, shadow minister Jon Trickett says the party needs to use "direct language" in order to connect with voters.

In an interview with me for the Huffington Post UK, the shadow minister without portfolio and Labour's deputy chair says the party needs to "communicate in the most direct language we possibly can and in primary colours".

He adds: "Labour needs to speak with all the accents and dialects and different rhythms of speech which the English and the British speak with."

Asked whether the party's campaigns co-ordinator Douglas Alexander is the right person to mastermind Labour's general election campaign, Trickett will only say: "Douglas has got a dazzling mind."

The full interview with Trickett, one of Ed Miliband's closest allies, will be published on HuffPost UK later this week...

2) ROYAL MESS

Don't say you weren't warned - from the Independent front page:

"The full scale of how City banks short-changed taxpayers in the £3.3bn flotation of Royal Mail was laid bare last night as it emerged that big investors who were offered extra shares in a 'gentleman’s agreement' to stay in for the long term sold them almost instantly at a vast profit. In a damning verdict on the handling of the sale, the National Audit Office (NAO) painted a picture of the Government – and taxpayers – being fleeced by a sophisticated City operation. Twelve 'priority investors' sold all or some of their holdings within the first few weeks of trading – despite informal agreements to hold on to the stock. Their identities have still not been disclosed. Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, is today expected to face demands to make a Commons statement on the sale. Shares in the Royal Mail rocketed 38 per cent on their first day of trading and have been 72 per cent higher than they were sold for, representing a value loss to the taxpayer of around £1bn."

No wonder we've got 'no money left' when the coalition make catastrophically-expensive decisions like this one...

3) PROUD NIGEL

Nigel Farage was speaking at Chatham House on Monday and my colleague Ned Simons went along to hear him respond to Baroness Warsi's claims. The Tory minister told me in an interview over the weekend that Farage's party was "racist" and relied on far-right votes. Farage didn't so much hit back as, er, own up. Ned reports:

"Nigel Farage has said he is 'quite proud' that he has successfully persuaded former British National Party voters to switch their support to Ukip. Speaking at the Chatham House think-tank on Monday afternoon, Farage acknowledged that some of his party's support came from the far-right but stressed Ukip had 'no truck' with the BNP... I would think we have probably taken a third of the BNP vote directly from them, I don't think anyone has done more, apart from Nick Griffin on Question Time, to damage the BNP than Ukip and I am quite proud of that."

Farage also doubled-down in his backing of Vladimir Putin, saying the Russian autocrat did a much better job of running foreign policy than "the kids" who are in charge of it in the UK. Expect Nick Clegg to mention the Farage/Putin love-in on Wednesday, during the second Europe debate on the BBC.

In the meantime, my colleague Chris York has put together this rather funny list of 7 things that Farage could learn from Putin...

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this video of a cat trying to play table tennis.

4) FRANCE'S HEIR TO BLAIR

From the Guardian:

"The French prime minister resigned on Monday after President François Hollande and his Socialist government suffered a crushing defeat in local elections. Jean-Marc Ayrault, who had led the French cabinet since the left came to power in 2012, announced he would go after a day of feverish speculation over a ministerial reshuffle. The announcement, confirmed by Ayrault's office at Matignon, came two hours before Hollande was due to make a televised announcement.

Hollande replaced Ayrault as prime minister with interior minister Manuel Valls - the Guardian notes:

"Valls' blunt speaking and naked ambition have led to him being compared to former president Nicolas Sarkozy. Known as France's premier flic (top cop) for his tough stance on crime and security issues, his appointment risks splitting the government, threatening to alienate those on the left of the Socialist party and ministers from the Europe Ecologie Les Verts (Green and Ecology party), which holds two posts... In the past he has described himself as a 'Blairiste' (after Tony Blair) and a Clintonien' (after Bill Clinton). Unlike colleagues who talk of social solidarity and collectivity, Valls talks of 'economic realism' and 'individual responsibility'."

Does he have any plans to illegally invade any Middle East countries, I wonder?

5) PIERS JOINS LIB DEMS

He professes not to like Alastair Campbell but is Piers Morgan set to become the Lib Dems' very own Alastair Campbell? The HuffPost UK has this exclusive:

"Piers Morgan is to take up a media-consulting role for the Liberal Democrats ahead of the next general election, according to a senior party figure. In a surprise appointment, Nick Clegg has recruited the former CNN host to help communicate the Lib Dem message in the run up to the 2015 vote. "He’s a disrupter," the Lib Dem insider told HuffPost. 'Adding the biggest name in British media to the election team is a huge coup for Nick'... Not only is Morgan expected to use his extensive Fleet Street and TV connections to secure Clegg favourable coverage, sources at ITV indicate the former Mirror editor host has already sounded out Simon Cowell to see if the deputy PM can be a guest judge on next year's Britain's Got Talent."

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From the Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 37

Conservatives 34

Ukip 13

Lib Dems 11

That would give Labour a majority of 30.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Rachel Sylvester, writing in the Times, says: "When migrants have a name, they’re welcome."

Polly Toynbee, writing in the Guardian, says: "Why won't George Osborne collect fair tax? His heart isn't in it."

Ben Chu, writing in the Independent, says: "Choose your targets carefully, George, or you’ll end up with egg on your face."

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