POLITICS

Mehdi's Morning Memo: A Big Political 'Cover Up'?

07/07/2014 09:05 BST | Updated 07/07/2014 09:59 BST

The five things you need to know on Monday 7 July 2014...

1) A BIG POLITICAL 'COVER UP'?

This is starting to get stomach-churning. From the Times:

"The Home Office has been accused of sitting on evidence of child abuse involving political figures for up to 35 years.

Details of four undisclosed cases were quietly handed to police last year after languishing in the department since as long ago as 1979. The admission came as the former Tory cabinet minister Lord Tebbit said that there “may well have been” a cover-up of organised abuse by Westminster figures in the 1980s... Asked if he thought that there had been a “big political cover-up”, he told the Andrew Marr Show on BBC One: 'I think there may well have been.” He said: “It was almost unconscious. It was the thing that people did at that time.'"

The Independent splashes on:

"Fears over an establishment cover-up of an alleged Westminster paedophile ring in the 1980s deepened on Sunday night as it emerged that an “explosive” dossier of evidence lost by the Home Office was also handed to the Director of Public Prosecutions."

Oh dear. And the Mail splashes on the same story:

"Extraordinary new claims pointing to an Establishment cover-up of child sex abuse by senior politicians emerged last night. Home Secretary Theresa May faces questions from MPs over accusations that politicians, the police and even her own officials have suppressed allegations against powerful individuals for decades."

Be clear: this is neither an 'ancient' scandal nor a purely 'Tory' scandal. As the Mirror reports:

"A Labour politician suspected of abusing ­children with a convicted paedophile allegedly tried to help him foster two young brothers. The figure, later a minister in Tony Blair’s government, backed South London children’s home boss Michael John Carroll’s bid to take on the boys, a new witness claims."

2) A MARGARET HODGE IN EVERY TOWN

Ed Miliband, it seems, means business on local democracy and the devolution of power from the centre out to the regions. From the Guardian:

"Councils will be given fresh powers devolved from the centre, but in return they will have to answer to new local spending watchdogs under Labour plans being revealed on Monday by Ed Miliband. The Labour leader will require councils to introduce watchdogs based on parliament's public accounts committee as part of a package of major reforms to be introduced by a Labour government. In an article for the Guardian, Miliband outlines [how] he wants each authority to 'have its own Margaret Hodge', a reference to the combative chair of House of Commons public accounts committee, as well as local service league tables to ensure the money is spent properly."

Meanwhile, the paper also reports on the latest Blairite attack on the Labour leader from - who else - the Blairite Prince of Darkness:

"Labour will not win the next election if it buries its head in the sand and denies that it will be decided in the centre ground, Lord Mandelson says on Monday in an interview ahead of the 20th anniversary of Tony Blair's election as Labour leader... Mandelson, the Labour figure who, after Blair, is most closely associated with the New Labour project, says in an interview in Progress magazine that over the past two decades politics has moved further to the centre ground."

Mandelson says: "I get frustrated sometimes when people argue now that the country has moved to the left, therefore if we are more unambiguously leftwing and raise our ideological vigour, we are more likely to win the next election."

I wonder who on earth he could be referring to...

3) DON'T MESS WITH THE SNP

It's starting to get dirty north of the border. Well, allegedly. From the Telegraph front page:

"Business leaders have been threatened with “retribution” by the SNP if they speak out against Scottish independence, it will be claimed on Monday. Nineteen firms said they were aware of threats of “retribution down the track” for those who support the Union. The intimidation is alleged to have come from the highest levels of the SNP, including from the office of Alex Salmond, the First Minister. The disclosure by Channel 4’s Dispatches comes after the anti-independence campaign said it was increasingly confident that Scots will say no to independence in the referendum on Sept 18."

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this video of a dog that really wants to get on the bed.

4) SNOOPER'S CHARTER, THE SEQUEL

Is the 'snooper's charter' back from the dead? From the Guardian:

"Ministers are poised to pass emergency laws to require phone companies to log records of phone calls, texts and internet usage, but Labour and Liberal Democrats are warning that they will not allow any new law to become a backdoor route to reinstating a wider 'snooper's charter'... Any new 'snooper's charter' bill would require a vast extension of the communications data that the phone and internet companies are currently required to retain. It would mean the retention of all data tracking everyone's use of the internet and mobile phones, including every web page visited, and not just the bare details kept for billing purposes by the companies... Labour is likely to suggest that the new emergency laws should have some form of 'sunset clause' to review them after a set period... The government would need all-party support for the legislation to be passed through parliament quickly, giving Labour some leverage if it wants to ensure civil liberties are safeguarded."

5) 'UKIP OF THE LEFT'

More bad news for the Lib Dems in the Times:

"The Green party is building support in Liberal Democrat strongholds as it sucks up the protest vote and threatens to disrupt Nick Clegg's general election battle across the southwest. An analysis of the European election results shows the Green vote strengthening and consolidating in the southwest and parts of Scotland while Lib Dem votes drain away. Demographic groups who once supported Mr Clegg's party are becoming more favourable to the Greens."

On a related note, the paper also reports:

"Nigel Farage must decide whether to run against one of the founding members of Ukip after Craig Mackinlay was selected as the Tory candidate in a key parliamentary seat. Mr Mackinlay, who spent more than a decade at the heart of the anti-EU party before defecting to the Conservatives, will stand for the Tories in South Thanet in next year's general election."

Who says you can't out-Farage Farage? Well, the Tories are going to try...

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From yesterday's Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 36

Conservatives 34

Ukip 13

Lib Dems 8

That would give Labour a majority of 18.

From yesterday's Observer/Opinium poll:

Labour 35

Conservatives 29

Ukip 18

Lib Dems 7

That would give Labour a majority of 74.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Owen Jones, writing in the Guardian, says: "Celebrate the strikers this week – they are fighting for us all."

Yasmin Alibhai Brown, writing in the Independent, says: "There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories."

Norman Tebbit, writing in the Telegraph, says: "Purge those who’ve undermined democracy."

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