POLITICS

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Cameron 'F**ked It Up'

24/06/2014 08:22 BST | Updated 24/06/2014 08:59 BST
Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive
Prime Minister David Cameron makes a speech on Europe, in central London, where he promised an in/out referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union by the end of 2017, if the Conservatives win the next general election.

The five things you need to know on Tuesday 24 June 2014...

1) CAMERON 'F**KED IT UP'

Dave continues his desperate, one-man campaign to prevent arch-federalist Jean Claude Juncker becoming president of the EU commission but suffered another, pretty severe setback yesterday when, in the words of the Guardian, "an expletive-laden transcript of secretly taped conversations in which the Polish foreign minister of having 'fucked up' his handling of the EU" was published in the Polish press and exposed the "gulf between Britain and its key European allies". Now there's an understatement.

Radek Sikorsi, Poland's foreign minister and former Bullingdon Club boy, was recorded telling former Polish finance minister Jacek Rostowski that Cameron's plans to restrict freedom of movement were "either a very badly thought-through move or, not for the first time, a kind of incompetence in European affairs. Remember? He fucked up the fiscal pact. He fucked it up – simple as that. He is not interested. He does not get it. He believes in the stupid propaganda. He stupidly tries to play the system."

In another secretly taped conversation, the spokesman for the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, claims Tusk "fucked him [Cameron] up good" during a discussion with Dave over the latter's plans to restrict EU migrants' access to benefits in the UK.

Oh dear. Meanwhile, the Times reports on Dave's 'L-bomb' option:

"David Cameron is considering deploying a "nuclear option" in a last-ditch effort to block to the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission at a showdown summit later this week. The prime minister is assessing whether to invoke the so-called Luxembourg Compromise, known as the "L-bomb", claiming vital national interests are at risk if Mr Juncker is appointed, senior officials confirmed last night."

2) ISIS JOINS THE OIL BUSINESS

Some breaking news this morning, out of - where else? - Iraq. From the BBC:

"Sunni rebels in Iraq say they have fully captured the country's main oil refinery at Baiji, north of Baghdad. The refinery had been under siege for 10 days with the militant offensive being repulsed several times... Insurgents, spearheaded by Islamists, have overrun a swathe of territory in the north and west including the second-biggest city, Mosul. They are bearing down on a vital dam near Haditha and have captured all border crossings to Syria and Jordan. The Baiji refinery, in Salahuddin province, supplies a third of Iraq's refined fuel and the battle has already led to petrol rationing."

At this rate, it won't be long before Isis demand a seat at the Opec negotiating table...

3) 'A NATIONAL SCANDAL'

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, has called the extent of low pay in the UK a 'national scandal'. He also has a plan to tackle it. From the Independent:

"A blueprint to lift one million people out of low pay by 2020 is published today, and could adopted by Labour if it wins power at next year’s general election. A commission chaired by Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, calls on the Government to champion the gradual introduction of a living wage higher than the national minimum wage in sectors that could afford it. But it rejects the idea of imposing a higher wages floor by law. The living wage is currently £8.80 an hour in London and £7.65 an hour outside the capital. The minimum wage is £6.31 an hour."

Some will say it is an impractical idea because it'll hurt the private sector but there are two things bearing in mind: first, a huge swathe of low-paid workers are employed by the public sector. Second, as the Indy notes:

"Crucially, the Living Wage Commission includes business representatives as well as trade unions. Dr Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce and a commission member, said: 'Many thousands of companies already pay their employees a living wage, and many more have an aspiration to do so. As the recovery gathers pace, they should be supported and encouraged to make this happen without facing compulsion or regulation, which could lead to job losses and difficulties particularly for younger people entering the labour market.'"

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this six-second video of a 'Dachshund fire drill'. It's the silliest video you'll see today.

4) PUBLISH AND BE DAMNED

He may have only one non-white face in his full cabinet, but the PM, it seems, wants to take radical steps to 'force' companies to try and employ more employees from ethnic minorities - from the Sun:

"David Cameron is considering forcing companies to reveal how many black workers they employ — to shame them into hiring more. The PM admitted more needs to be done to level the playing field. Afro-Caribbean, Chinese, Indian and Bangladeshi pupils outperform white kids at school. But more than 55 per cent of black youngsters aged 16 to 24 are out of work — double the level of six years ago. Pushed by independent station Colourful Radio, the PM vowed to study whether making firms publish the racial make-up of their workforces would help. Mr Cameron said: 'We do need to do more to level the playing field. I'm interested in ideas of more transparency as that has made a difference in the past.'"

Will such moves help the Tories next year with ethnic minority voters, the vast majority of whom tend to vote Labour? It may be too little, too late...

5) LESS POPULAR THAN GORDO? REALLY?

Poor Ed - sticking with the Sun, the paper reports that the Labour leader " is seen as an even worse leader than No10 flop Gordon Brown":

"Three per cent of Brits think the Labour chief comes across well as a national leader from 21 post-war PMs and Opposition bosses, the YouGov poll found. Ed came 13th and David Cameron sixth with nine per cent. Winston Churchill topped the list with 51 per cent, with Margaret Thatcher second on 49 per cent. Tony Blair was third on 22 per cent and Mr Brown 11th on four per cent."

Some might say it's a bit unfair to compare a leader of the opposition, four years on the job, to iconic prime ministers such as Churchill and Thatcher. Some might also say that this is another reminder of why it was a mistake for Miliband to pose with the Sun - and then apologise for doing so.

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From the Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 36

Conservatives 32

Ukip 15

Lib Dems 9

That would give Labour a majority of 44.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Steve Richards, writing in the Independent, says: "David Blunkett and Ed Miliband could learn a lot from Dolly Parton."

Rachel Sylvester, writing in the Times, says: "The NHS dog will not stay silent for long."

Joanna Bourke, writing in the Guardian, says: "The British jihadis in Syria might be driven by more than just religion."

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