POLITICS

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Paedos In Westminster?

03/07/2014 08:34 BST | Updated 03/07/2014 08:59 BST

The five things you need to know on Thursday 3 July 2014...

1) PAEDOS IN WESTMINSTER?

Say it ain't so! From the Mail splash:

"A dossier detailing explosive claims of sex abuse by paedophiles within Westminster has gone missing. Given to Home Secretary Leon Brittan in 1983, the files allegedly exposed a vile network at Parliament and Whitehall. But there is no record of any subsequent criminal inquiry and the Home Office yesterday admitted the dossier is either lost or destroyed. Lord Brittan, 74, is now facing questions over his handling of the document and inconsistencies in his account of what he did with it. The Tory peer told journalists last year he had no recollection of being given the dossier. But in a statement yesterday morning, he changed his mind. He confirmed he was handed a ‘substantial bundle of papers’ by MP Geoffrey Dickens in November 1983 and passed them to his officials for further investigation."

If true, it'll be a rare case of a front-page Mail political story truly meriting the use of the word 'explosive'.

2) WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE

If you were Jon Cruddas, you'd be a bit paranoid by now. Right? First the Sunday Times splash on his 'dead hand' remarks, secretly recorded at the supposedly 'semi-private' Compass meeting. Now, some new remarks from Labour's policy chief, made at a Fabian Society event and, yes, secretly recorded, which could further undermine Labour leader Ed Miliband - the Telegraph has the details, on its front page:

"In a leaked recording passed to The Telegraph, Jon Cruddas, the Labour leader’s policy adviser, said 'a lot of things haven’t really been reconciled' and also warned that Mr Miliband was being 'gamed out' on a weekly basis

The recording, said to have been made at last week's Fabian conference is the second such warning to have been privately sounded by Mr Cruddas in recent weeks. Last month, he criticised 'the dead hand' of the Labour leader's office on policy development... In the new recording passed to the Telegraph, Mr Cruddas said that Mr Miliband was battling to unite 'different camps' within the party, and struggling to manage the news cycle. 'He’s actually trying to unpack it, he’s trying to unpack it,' said Mr Cruddas. 'But he just gets gamed out every day, every week because of the news cycle, the media, levels of intrusion, the party management side.'"

Cruddas can avoid further such 'scandals' by doing one of two things: (i) by avoiding giving talks at friendly thinktanks or (ii) by shutting his mouth. Either way, he needs to accept that there is (almost) always a tape recorder running.

Meanwhile, Miliband himself will hope tape recorders are covering his 'big' speech on the economy and infrastructure in London today - the BBC reports:

"Mr Miliband will say his vision for the country will not be achieved by 'big spending by government, but with reform - reform of the way governments work and reform of the way markets work'. He will reiterate his call for more competition in the banking and energy markets, insisting Labour is 'pro-competition', but will overhaul markets that are not working so they are 'better for the customer and better for businesses'."

3) TONY, THE GENERAL'S EMINENCE GRISE

Is it my imagination or is Tony Blair in the headlines almost every other day? And almost every time for something bad and/or embarrassing? From the Guardian front page:

"Tony Blair has agreed to advise the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who came to power in a military coup last year, as part of a programme funded by the United Arab Emirates that has promised to deliver huge "business opportunities" to those involved, the Guardian has learned."

Sisi, lest we forget, has the blood of thousands of peaceful protesters on his hands. His regime has also locked up tens of thousands of others, sentenced hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood activists to death and imprisoned Al Jazeera journalists. Blair doesn't seem to care.

"The former prime minister, now Middle East peace envoy, who supported the coup against Egypt's elected president Mohamed Morsi, is to give Sisi advice on 'economic reform' in collaboration with a UAE-financed taskforce in Cairo – a decision criticised by one former ally."

The Guardian quotes a former political associate of the ex-PM's:

"Tony Blair has become Sisi's éminence grise and is working on the economic plan that the UAE is paying for. For him, it combines both an existential battle against Islamism and mouth-watering business opportunities in return for the kind of persuasive advocacy he provided George Bush over Iraq."

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this funny video of a groom and his friends surprising the bride with an *epic* dance routine.

4) IT'S ALL A PLOT!

Nicolas Sarkozy isn't happy and he's blaming the left - from the Times:

"Nicolas Sarkozy last night accused leftwing judges of mounting a politically motivated crusade against him after the former French president was placed under formal investigation on charges of trying to gain information on inquiries into his campaign financing. Appearing on television, Mr Sarkozy broke two years of media silence following his election defeat in 2012 to stage a spirited counter-attack against a case that has jeopardised his hopes of a political comeback."

Meanwhile, the Independent reports that Sarko's son has come out fighting on his dad's behalf on - where else? - Twitter:

"Louis Sarkozy, the youngest son of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, has claimed the corruption investigation against his father is part of a plan to sabotage his political comeback and keep France 'in the sh*t'. In a series of tweets, the 17-year old expressed his outrage and defended his father, who was arrested for alleged influence peddling on Tuesday, suggesting the investigation is part of a 'relentless' plan 'to ensure that he doesn't return to politics'."

Daddy must be so proud...

5) GOODBYE DENNIS

From the Guardian:

"Dennis Skinner, the scourge of Tory prime ministers from Ted Heath to David Cameron who was dubbed the 'Beast of Bolsover', has been voted off Labour's governing national executive committee, prompting an outcry from across the party. Hours after the veteran MP for Bolsover had taunted the prime minister as a member of the Bullingdon Club responsible for wrecking the NHS, the party announced he had been unseated... The Labour party denied reports that Skinner had been unseated after irritating Miliband's office. A spokesperson said: 'There is absolutely no irritation from Ed or anyone in his office at Dennis. This was purely a matter for the parliamentary Labour party.'"

Either way, it's the end of an era...

QUOTE UNQUOTE

“Loving your country means wanting the best for it - and for Scotland that is staying in the UK.” - from a speech David Cameron plans to give in Scotland today, in which he will call on the “silent majority” who want Scotland to stay in the UK to speak out against the Nationalists.

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From the Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 37

Conservatives 35

Ukip 12

Lib Dems 8

That would give Labour a majority of 18.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Jenni Russell, writing in the Times, says: "Ed and his team would be a disaster at No 10."

Peter Oborne, writing in the Telegraph, says: "Labour’s much-maligned leader has a big decision to make."

Seumas Milne, writing in the Guardian, says: "Blair embodies corruption and war. He must be sacked."

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