POLITICS
14/05/2014 08:17 BST | Updated 14/05/2014 08:59 BST

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Ukip Is Racist.. Says Asian Ukip Activist

REX Features

Here are the five things you need to know on Wednesday 14 May 2014...

1) UKIP IS RACIST.. SAYS ASIAN UKIP ACTIVIST

For the past few weeks, a debate has raged in Westminster and in the press over whether or not Ukip should be deemed a "racist" party. Nigel Farage is adamant it isn't and has pointed to the number of non-white Ukip candidates and activists. Well, one of them disagrees with him - from the Huffington Post UK:

"The British-born Indian poster girl of Ukip's youth wing sensationally quit on Tuesday, accusing Nigel Farage's party of 'racist' cynicism. Sanya-Jeet Thandi, a 20-year-old LSE student, joined the party when she was 18 and became one of the faces of the party's youth organisation. Writing in The Guardian.. she said the party had changed beyond recognition from when she joined. 'This anti-immigrant campaign undermines Ukip's claim not to be a racist party. They are turning the election into a game of 'us' and 'them'. Well, I am with 'them',' she said. 'The direction in which the party is going is terrifying: Ukip has descended into a form of racist populism that I cannot bring myself to vote for.'"

Perhaps the most damning quote from Thandi's piece is this one: "Ukip is exploiting the stupidity of ignorant anti-immigrant voters for electoral gain."

The Independent reports: "Back in November 2011, Ukip posted a video on YouTube in which Nigel Farage tried to knock on the head the notion that Ukip was a 'whites only' party - propagated, he said, by The Independent and The Guardian - which was peopled by 'very angry old men.' As evidence, he produced an 18-year old named Sanya-Jeet Thandi, who had taken that autumn's Ukip conference by storm. 'A rising star of the party,' he called her."

I wonder how Nigel's referring to her this morning.

On a side note, the Sun reports that the Ukip leader "is prepared to form a government with David Cameron after the next General Election, The Sun can reveal.. He added amid opinion polls suggesting Mr Cameron faces an uphill task to secure an overall Tory majority next year: 'It's not a coalition that interests me — but doing deals to achieve outcomes does. If David Cameron came to me and said, 'Nigel, could you help me to form a government so we can have a referendum?', of course I'd do it. Would I put the interests of the country above the interests of Ukip? Of course I would.'"

2) DID BRITISH TROOPS COMMIT WAR CRIMES?

Well, we were warned it might happen, and it has. From the Independent front page:

"Some of Britain’s most senior military and political figures came a step closer to facing a war crimes inquiry today, as the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it would make a 'preliminary examination' into claims of 'systemic' abuse by British forces in Iraq. The ground-breaking decision by Fatou Bensouda, prosecutor of the ICC, comes in response to a detailed dossier presented to the ICC in January. New evidence presented in the dossier, revealed exclusively in the Independent on Sunday earlier this year, included allegations of electrocution, mock executions, beatings, and sexual assault. General Sir Peter Wall, the head of the British Army, former defence secretary Geoff Hoon, and former defence minister Adam Ingram, are among those named in the evidence submitted by Public Interest Lawyers (Pil) and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)."

The Attorney General Dominic Grieve said last night that the British government "completely rejects" claims that the UK armed forces in Iraq were responsible for systemic abuse. As the Mail points out, this is "the first time the ICC, which usually prosecutes dictators who systematically maim and kill civilians, has investigated Britain for alleged war crimes".

The Guardian's Ian Cobain writes: "British defence officials are confident that the ICC will not move to the next stage and announce a formal investigation, largely because the UK has the capacity to investigate the allegations itself. However, the announcement is a blow to the prestige of the armed forces as the UK is the only western state that has faced a preliminary investigation at the ICC. The court's decision places the UK in the company of countries such as the Central African Republic, Colombia and Afghanistan."

Oh dear.

3) CLEGG V GOVE, PART 17

The 'coalition clash' between the Deputy Prime Minister and the Education Secretary continues - and it now looks like a proper, genuine, full-blown row, rather than the confected versions which we've seen in recent months as part of the Lib Dems' 'differentiation' strategy. The Guardian reports:

"Nick Clegg's £1bn plan to give free school meals to infants has been rated "red" on the Whitehall risk register that warns when a project is in danger of failing, government sources have said. The revelation suggests David Cameron has not been successful at calming down the bitter coalition clash over education policy by calling a halt to a series of anonymous briefings and leaks over the last few weeks. At the heart of the row, some Conservatives are arguing that Clegg's free school meals policy is much too expensive and badly executed, while senior Liberal Democrats have started attacking the education secretary, Michael Gove, for allowing spending on free schools to spiral out of control."

Can Dave negotiate a truce between two of the most important and influential members of his cabinet?

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

In case you haven't seen it, do watch the TMZ video of Jay Z being attacked in a lift by Beyonce's sister Solange. Just bizarre.

4) STOP WASHING YOUR HANDS, GEORGE

Ed Balls has been speaking to the FT and he's worried about a premature rise in interest rates - from the paper:

"Chancellor George Osborne is endangering the recovery by 'washing his hands' of responsibility for rising house prices and passing the buck to a Bank of England still coming to terms with new regulatory powers, Labour has claimed. Ed Balls, shadow chancellor, said Mr Osborne needed to rein in the Help to Buy scheme in London and put fresh effort into building new towns and more social housing to boost supply. 'You can't as chancellor wash your hands of responsibility for balancing the housing market,' Mr Balls said, adding that Labour would also use fiscal powers such as a tax on homes worth more than £2m to damp price rises."

Expect the issue to be raised at the Bank of England governor Mark Carney's press conference later this morning.

5) BRAIN DEAD REPUBLICANS ATTACK 'BRAIN DAMAGED' HILLARY

How low will the Republicans go and could it backfire on them? From the Daily Mail:

"Hillary Clinton may be suffering from brain damage as a result of a fall she suffered in 2012, a Republican strategist has alleged. Karl Rove raised the issue of the probable 2016 Democratic presidential contender's health at a conference in Los Angeles. His comments left the audience stunned, according to the New York Post... A spokesman for Mrs Clinton... said: 'She is 100 per cent. Period.' Mr Rove later back-tracked, saying he never said Mrs Clinton had brain damage. But he added that it was apparent Mrs Clinton had suffered 'a serious health episode'."

QUOTE UNQUOTE

"I don't think Labour will win the next election as an antibusiness party." - shadow chancellor Ed Balls, speaking to the FT.

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From today's Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 34

Conservatives 34

Ukip 15

Lib Dems 8

That would make Labour the largest single party in a hung parliament, 5 seats short of a majority.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Simon Jenkins, writing in the Guardian, says: "Ed Miliband must give up his love of state intervention."

Mary Riddell, writing in the Telegraph, says: "As Labour stalls, it’s time to bring on the new Balls."

Dominic Sandbrook, writing in the Daily Mail, says: "Sorry Dave, unless you find the common touch.. a lead in the polls isn’t enough."

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (mehdi.hasan@huffingtonpost.com), Ned Simons (ned.simons@huffingtonpost.com) or Asa Bennett (asa.bennett@huffingtonpost.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons, @asabenn and @huffpostukpol