POLITICS

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Jean-Claude Juncker? He's My Best Mate

30/06/2014 09:09 BST | Updated 30/06/2014 09:59 BST
ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE - In this Tuesday, April 8, 2014 file photo, Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg's former prime minister, talks to the media before he boards a campaign bus in Brussels. European Union leaders at an EU summit on Friday, June 27, 2014 have proposed former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker to become the 28-nation bloc’s new chief executive. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe, File)

The five things you need to know on Monday 30 June 2014...

1) JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER? HE'S MY BEST MATE

Dave isn't going to accept defeat quietly. From the Telegraph:

"David Cameron declares today that he can 'do business' with Jean–Claude Juncker, insisting that Britain's drive for European Union reform remains on track. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, the Prime Minister says the nomination of Mr Juncker as the new head of the European Commission despite fierce British resistance has made him all the more determined to change the way the EU works. Mr Cameron was last week outvoted by other EU leaders over the choice of Mr Juncker, a former prime minister of Luxembourg and supporter of a federal Europe... the Prime Minister insists today that he can still agree important changes, adding: 'I am ready to move on and keep fighting for Britain's interests in Europe.' The new commission head will accept that Britain cannot be part of any move towards an 'evercloser' political union, the Prime Minister suggests."

2) GEORGE'S GRAND PLAN

The Times has this exclusive report on the next step in the Osborne agenda:

"Income tax and national insurance will be merged under plans being lined up as a key element of the next Conservative manifesto. George Osborne came 'within a whisker' of implementing the plan in the budget and is now looking again at the policy for the general election. The chancellor is being urged to offer the pledge by Tories who believe that the decision to roll together the opaque national insurance system with income tax will remind people of the scale of the tax contribution they make. The plan is being actively considered by Downing Street."

What are the pros and cons?

"With public finances expected to improve in the next parliament, tax cuts are likely to shoot up the agenda from next year. Supporters of the reform believe that it would increase popular pressure to bring taxes down. There are fears, however, that the move, which would involve merging two computer systems, could cause another Whitehall IT disaster and lead to problems similar to those that have beset universal credit."

3) ED'S GRAND(ISH) PLAN

The shadow chancellor will be announcing his own tax reform plans in a big speech today - from the FT:

"Labour will confirm today it will raise corporation tax if elected next year and is considering a tax break to equalise the treatment of debt and equity finance for companies... He will reiterate his party's intention to reverse government plans to cut corporation tax in April from 21 per cent to 20 per cent because it believes cutting and freezing business rates is a higher priority. But he will commit Labour to maintaining the most competitive corporation tax rate in the G7, a stance that could still leave the party room to raise the levy if it won the next election. The UK's corporation tax rates are much lower than other G7 countries after cuts by the government; Canada has the next lowest rate, at 26.3 per cent."

The Guardian splashes with "Labour offer's olive branch to business".

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Stephen Merchant has made an advert about Americans and it's very funny. Watch the video here.

4) PUBLIC, NOT SEMI

Was it wrong of the Sunday Times yesterday to publish a 'secret' recording of Jon Cruddas, the man in charge of the party's policy review, speaking at a meeting of the left-leaning Compass pressure group and slamming Labour's "dead hand" at the centre and "cynical nuggets of policy to chime with our focus groups and press strategy"?

As the Guardian reports:

"Senior Labour sources shrugged off the comments, saying they were just how Cruddas expresses himself on most topics. However, Neal Lawson, chairman of Compass, reacted with fury to the secret recording of his group's event, saying it was a violation and diminishing to political culture. Writing for the Guardian's Comment is free site, he said: 'Are there no spaces in which our politicians can test, discuss and get feedback on ideas with their friends and supporters? Are there no places where an audience can ask a question and hope to get a vaguely honest answer? Is nothing private? I've got images of Minority Report running through my mind and the notion of pre-crime. If the politicians think it, should we know it? Shall we bug their minds?'"

The problem for Lawson is that this was, as he himself admits, a 'semi-public' meeting, i.e. it had a public element. Thus, Cruddas has to be blamed for his loose lips, rather than blaming the reporter for seeing it advertised and turning up.

5) THE NEW CALIPHATE?

From the Telegraph:

"Fresh from its victories over the Iraqi army and on the first night of the holy month of Ramadan, the jihadist group Isis has declared its captive territories an 'Islamic Caliphate' and demanded all Muslims declare obedience to its leader... By making the statement, the group is laying claim to the mantle of the great Muslim empires of the past ruled by caliphs based in Baghdad, Damascus and Istanbul. The group has referred to its territories as a caliphate before, but this is a typical piece of aggrandising propaganda intended to attract young followers in particular. Many Arabs, seeing the economic and social decay of their countries, hark back to a golden age of Muslim unity and power... The announcement of the caliphate means that the group is abandoning its former name and territorial claim – over Iraq and al–Sham, or the Levant – in favour of a claim over all Muslims, as simply the 'Islamic State'."

Of course, according to even non-Muslim scholars and historians, the great caliphates of the past - Abbasid, Ottoman, etc, - were defined by great learning, tolerance, scientific progress, the protection of minorities and the rest (think Andalusia!). The current Isis-style 'caliphate' is defined by extreme violence and thuggery, as well as ignorance and intolerance.

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From yesterday's Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 37

Conservatives 33

Ukip 14

Lib Dems 8

That would give Labour a majority of 18.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Kevin Maguire, writing in the Mirror, says: "David Cameron couldn’t do a better job if he was deliberately trying to throw General Election."

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/david-cameron-couldnt-better-job-3784988#ixzz366eo9BDp

Follow us: @DailyMirror on Twitter | DailyMirror on Facebook

Trevor Kavanagh, writing in the Sun, says: "If UK abandons ship, EU will sink."

Owen Jones, writing in the Guardian, says: "Jon Cruddas is right: Labour must beware the dead hand."

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