The five things you need to know on Wednesday 9 July 2014...
1) OPEN UP YOUR 'DIRT BOOKS'!
Will we see full disclosure? From the Times:
"Westminster’s main parties were last night forced to agree to review their whips’ 'dirt books' and disclose any evidence of child abuse. The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties all said that they would trawl disciplinary records of current and former MPs and pass any relevant material to a new inquiry into a possible institutional failure to protect children from paedophiles. That inquiry, set to be one of the largest ever held, will be carried out by Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former president of the family division of the high court, it was announced yesterday."
Speaking on the Today programme this morning, Peter Wanless, the chief executive of the NSPCC who is heading the separate review into the Home Office’s handling of documents relating to these alleged historic sex crimes, told the Today programme he believed that a person who is told about child abuse and "does nothing about it" should face prosecution.
Meanwhile, the Independent's veteran political correspondent Andy McSmith reminds us of the historical context:
"Thirty years ago last month, speculation about a paedophile ring inside the British political establishment went global – not for the first time. The Toronto Globe and Mail was one of the newspapers to report on it... In those days, it would seem that adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and the abuse of children were all lumped under one heading of things people really should not do, some of which were illegal."
2) GAZA UNDER FIRE
Gaza continues its descent into hell, with Israeli jets pounding the strip on Tuesday, killing at least 25 people and injuring more than 70. According to the BBC, "four women and three children were among the dead".
The Israelis say they're hitting back against Hamas, which has fired hundreds of rockets across the border over the past 24 hours. The Palestinians, however, point out that, in recent weeks, and since the kidnap and murder of the three Israeli teenagers, the Israeli military has been rounding up and detaining hundreds of Palestinians, killing Palestinian teenagers in the process, and blowing up Palestinian homes, too - oh, and lest we forget, the Israelis have also been blockading Gaza from land, air and sea for several years now.
So what is the point of Israel's latest military attack on Gaza? Did the moral and political failure of Operation Cast Lead teach the Israelis nothing? Bombing and besieging Gaza only increases the pain, suffering and, yes, anger of the Palestinians who continue to be penned inside the world's largest open-air prison.
Check out this quote from the parent of a wounded Gazan child, as reported in the Guardian:
"In a room a few doors down, Bashir Abu Tawliah was bending over his unconscious son Muhammad, 16, dabbing a dribble of blood from his son's broken nose. "He was with his friends in the street when the strike occurred. They were very close. They weren't involved in firing rockets. What did my son do? What do I want? I want it to escalate. I want them to feel the same pain as we do. Gaza is Hamas. They can't dismantle Hamas without dismantling Gaza."
3) HARRIET VS GORDO (AND DAMIAN!)
Has Harriet Harman completely undermined Ed Miliband's attempts to suggest David Cameron has a 'woman problem'? From the Guardian:
"The deputy Labour leader, Harriet Harman, has spoken of how she felt sidelined as a woman in Gordon Brown's government as she was passed over for the role of deputy prime minister and told her involvement in a G20 summit was to be limited to dinner with leaders' wives. In a speech at Westminster on Tuesday night about equality in politics, Harman revealed her experiences of sexism at the very top of government... Harman, deputy to both Brown and Ed Miliband, said: 'The truth is that even getting to the top of the political structures is no guarantee of equality. Imagine my surprise when having won a hard-fought election to succeed John Prescott as deputy leader of the Labour party, I discovered that I was not to succeed him as deputy prime minister. If one of the men had won the deputy leadership would that have happened? Would they have put up with it? I doubt it.'"
The paper adds:
"Her comments about the G20 summit were rejected by Damian McBride, a former spin doctor to Brown, who was involved at the time. He tweeted: 'It's utter bilge from Harriet, done to make her attack on Dave look non-partisan. And shameful timing given the work GB is doing in Nigeria.'"
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4) 'CASH FOR POLITICAL OFFICE'?
Tory Treasury minister Andrea Leadsom won't be best-pleased with this 'scoop' in the Guardian, just a week ahead of an expected ministerial reshuffle:
"An offshore financier who is the brother-in-law of financial services minister Andrea Leadsom has donated £816,000 to the Conservative party since she first successfully ran for parliament at the last election. Peter de Putron, a banker who lives in Guernsey and is married to Leadsom's sister Hayley, also made a further £1m of donations to a party-backed campaign and a rightwing thinktank. Leadsom herself said that she was unaware of the donations made by a member of her own family, but a Labour MP asked whether the payments in effect amounted to a 'cash for political office' arrangement."
5) '50 FEET APART'
A fascinating piece from the Times' Tom Coghlan on the ground in northern Iraq:
"Just 50 feet of paved road and a line of sandbags separate the fighters of the Kurdish peshmerga army from Isis fighters whose black flags flap above the canal bridge at Mullah Abdullah. The town is probably as close as it is possible for a Western reporter to get to the new “caliphate” declared by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Isis, whose jihadist fighters have taken Iraq and Syria by storm. Thirty kilometres south of the oil city of Kirkuk two would-be states — the caliphate and Kurdistan — confront each other within the borders of what might soon cease to be Iraq."
Meanwhile, Reuters reports on a potential 'rift' in the 'Sunni alliance' of anti-government militants:
"Sunni militants who overran the city of Mosul last month have rounded up between 25 and 60 senior ex-military officers and members of former dictator Saddam Hussein's banned Baath party, residents and relatives say. The crackdown potentially signals a rift in the Sunni alliance that helped secure Islamic State fighters swift victory when they rode in from the desert to capture Mosul last month."
As former Pentagon official Colin Kahl asked on Twitter last night: "When US forces rounded up ex-Baathists in Iraq, it caused an insurgency. Will ISIL's tactics produce the same result?"
"We've got God on our side." - Tory strategist Lynton Crosby, as quoted in the Telegraph's Mandrake diary column today.
PUBLIC OPINION WATCH
From today's Sun/YouGov poll:
Lib Dems 8
That would give Labour a majority of 84.
900 WORDS OR MORE
Daniel Finkelstein, writing in the Times, says: "How hysteria can cheat us all out of justice."
Zoe Williams, writing in the Guardian, says: "Welcome to London – the most toxic town on the planet."
Cathy Newman, writing in the Telegraph, says: "We need brave MPs to share their personal tales of woe."
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