The five things you need to know on Tuesday 8 July 2014...
1) UP TO 20 'ESTABLISHMENT' PAEDOPHILES? REALLY?
From the Daily Mail:
"Failure to report suspected child sex abuse could become a criminal offence, Theresa May revealed yesterday. The Home Secretary's announcement came as, bowing to growing pressure, she agreed to a sweeping inquiry into allegations of paedophilia in Establishment circles... Mrs May also announced that a separate inquiry, led by NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless, will review an investigation conducted last year into the Home Office's handling of historical child abuse allegations. It has been prompted by claims of a cover-up after it emerged that 114 files had been lost by Home Office officials."
The paper adds:
"There is evidence that at least 20 prominent paedophiles - including former MPs and ministers - abused children for decades, a former child protection manager told BBC Newsnight last night. The claim came from Peter McKelvie, the whistleblower whose claims prompted Operation Fernbridge, the Scotland Yard investigation into allegations of a paedophile network with links to Downing Street."
Meanwhile, the most senior civil servant at the Home Office, permanent secretary Mark Sedwill, is to appear before MPs on the Home Affairs select committee later today to answer questions about the department's handling of historic child abuse claims.
2) 'VERY DISAPPOINTED'
Forget Iraq for a moment, how's the Afghan war going? The Sun reveals:
"British troops are being pulled out of the Afghan badlands two months early. The vast majority of the 5,000-strong fighting force in Helmand will have been airlifted out by the end of October. But the agreed deadline for combat operations to end is not until December 31... The pullout leaves a skeleton force at Camp Bastion, big enough to defend itself but unable to take the fight to the Taliban. The MoD says it is possible because they are ahead of the plan and local forces are able to take on their own security. A senior source said: 'We're getting out early because we believe we can.' But ex-Chief of Defence Staff Lord Richards told The Sun: 'I am very disappointed. This is not what we committed ourselves to.'"
He may be disappointed, but the British public - which gave up on this pointless, self-defeating conflict a while ago - will be delighted.
3) EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION
Forget that now-notorious 'blank sheet of paper', the Labour leader unveils another - yes, another - policy today in a speech to the Sutton Trust charity. From the Telegraph:
"Top universities will be encouraged to offer vocational degrees alongside academic courses under a Labour government, Ed Miliband will announce today. The Labour leader will outline plans to urge universities, including the Russell Group of colleges, to offer technical degrees for people still in employment. The degree–level qualifications, based on certificates common in Germany, would be partly designed and run by employers. Courses would focus on industries such as construction and engineering. Mr Miliband will say that the qualifications will be the "priority" for Labour's higher education policy. Even the most traditional colleges will be encouraged to offer them."
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...
Watch this video of a cat using some sort of magic to get through a window.
4) DON'T RAISE RATES
From the BBC:
"The Bank of England should not make any 'hasty decisions' on raising interest rates, warns the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). In its quarterly survey it says an early rate rise "may mean more limited growth ambitions" among companies. The survey of 7,000 businesses showed that the growth rate had slowed in some industries between April and June."
5) GANDHI JOINS CHURCHILL
George Osborne is on a trip to India and he really knows how to impress his hosts - from the Telegraph:
"A statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian civil rights leader, will be erected opposite the Houses of Parliament, Cabinet ministers have announced. Gandhi, who studied in London, will join Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln when a new statue is unveiled in Parliament Square early next year. The new statue was announced by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, George Osborne, the Chancellor, and Sajid Javid, the Culture Secretary, on a visit to India. It will be in place in time for the centenary of Gandhi’s return to India to begin the non-violent struggle for self rule, as well as the seventieth anniversary of his death in 2018 and the 150th anniversary of his birth in 2019... Mr Osborne said: 'As the father of the largest democracy in the world, it’s time for Gandhi to take his place in front of the mother of Parliaments.'"
How times change. Remember when the then Tory prime minister Winston Churchill referred to the Mahatma as a "half-naked fakir"?
PUBLIC OPINION WATCH
From today's Sun/YouGov poll:
Lib Dems 9
That would give Labour a majority of 32.
900 WORDS OR MORE
David Mellor, writing in the Guardian, says: "There was no Home Office cover-up over Geoffrey Dickens' dossier."
Steve Richards, writing in the Independent, says: "I recall the rumours of child abuse in Westminster in the 1980s. They weren’t taken very seriously."
Rachel Sylvester, writing in the Times, says: "Our civil servants must not be the masters."
Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (email@example.com), Ned Simons (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Asa Bennett (email@example.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons, @asabenn and @huffpostukpol