The five things you need to know on Friday 4 July 2014...
1) 'I'M READY TO NAME NAMES'
"There must be a full inquiry" into claims of a Westminster paedophile ring, the former Tory children's minister Tim Loughton declares today. Writing in the Daily Mail, Loughton says he is ready to 'name names' if an inquiry doesn't happen:
"How long it will take before the Government is dragged, kicking and screaming, to agree to an inquiry, I don’t know... There will be those who will want to know why I and my colleagues do not use Parliamentary privilege to name and shame suspected paedophiles in the Commons. I call it the nuclear option, and it might come to that."
Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports, on its front page:
"A senior Tory politician said to be part of a child sex ring was allegedly stopped by a customs officer with child pornography videos but got off scot-free, police have been told... He passed the material on to his superiors, but the MP was never arrested or charged. And, like a dossier of evidence compiled by the late Geoffrey Dickens MP, the videotapes and paperwork relating to the seizure have since gone missing. The latest disclosure will increase accusations of a cover-up, as no action was taken against the MP at the time the videos were seized. The same MP is understood to have been named in the Dickens dossier, which was handed to the then Home Secretary Lord Brittan but has since been lost or destroyed."
2) RENATIONALISING THE RAILWAYS?
From the Guardian's splash:
"Labour is to raise the prospect of further parts of the rail network being taken back into public ownership when it announces plans to subject franchises to a competitive bid between the state and private sector as they come up for renewal. But Ed Miliband will anger rail unions and some Labour MPs in the announcement next week by ruling out proposals that all expired franchises under a Labour government be returned automatically to the public sector – which would amount to a form of staggered renationalisation. Senior shadow cabinet figures have agreed that a pragmatic choice between the state and private sector based on price, reliability and quality of service will provide a solution that allays commuter frustration, provides a fair deal for the taxpayer and does not amount to a return to British Rail."
It's classic Labour under Miliband - a radical move but not as radical as it could be. The Labour leader wants to be all things to all people...
3) MILI'S 'BIG HURDLE' ON EUROPE
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls may have said this week that it would be "silly" for Labour to match the Tories' pledge to hold an in–out referendum on the UK's membership of the EU but not all of his shadow cabinet colleagues think Labour is in the right place on this issue. From the Telegraph front page:
"Voters do not have 'confidence' that Labour has a 'clear position' on the issues of Europe and immigration, which will prove a 'big hurdle', Andy Burnham has said. The shadow health secretary suggested that Ed Miliband and his senior team need to 'give people in the party a simple sense of confidence' that Labour has strong immigration policies. His comments, made last month, come amid growing criticism of Mr Miliband's leadership style."
Meanwhile, loyal Milibandite Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice secretary, will say in a speech today that there will be a leadership contest next May... but it won't be in the Labour Party.
"There WILL be a Leadership election after the general election," he will tell Unison. "But you’ll only get to vote if you are a Tory or a Lib Dem. When we unceremoniously boot them out of office after just one term, the Tories and Lib Dems will dump their failed leaders and look for new ones."
Khan, who ran Miliband's leadership campaign in 2010, will call the Labour leader "a winner" in his speech.
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...
Watch this week's #mehdisminute video, my semi-serious take on the week's big political stories, which sees me go up against the 'dead hand' of Miliband.
4) WORCESTER, NOT WICHITA
Chuka Umunna is taking a battering in the (Tory) papers for a simple mispronounciation - from the Express:
"Smoothie would-be Labour leader Chuka Umunna enlivened a dull radio interview - and turned himself into a laughing stock - with his comic failure to pronounce the word Worcester this week. Talking on the local BBC station about regional funding the shadow business secretary referred to 'Hereford and Wichita' - leaving listeners baffled as to why he was confusing the city with a place in Kansas 4,000 miles away."
5) FORGET ANDY MURRAY...
A Tory donor has forked out £160,000 for a game of tennis with Tory leadership rivals David Cameron and Boris Johnson. The Sun has the details:
"The match, auctioned at a summer fundraiser, will see the PM and London Mayor play doubles with the mystery donor. Mr Cameron seized the chance to tease an absent BoJo when he introduced the lot. He said: 'Boris bends the rules, makes dodgy line calls and is renowned for his ability to psyche out opponents.' Referring to their regular run-ins he added: 'I'm really glad I'm on his side in this game.'"
PUBLIC OPINION WATCH
From the Sun/YouGov poll:
Lib Dems 8
That would give Labour a majority of 8.
900 WORDS OR MORE
Polly Toynbee, writing in the Guardian, says: "Dennis Skinner is no model, yet he has a lesson for Labour."
Simon Kelner, writing in the Independent, says: "For just 50p we can rebuild a little confidence in the political system."
Philip Collins, writing in the Times, says: "Britain is grotesquely lopsided because of London’s dominance, but we shy away from the remedy."
Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ned Simons (email@example.com) or Asa Bennett (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons, @asabenn and @huffpostukpolSuggest a correction