Mehdi's Morning Memo: Mission To Mumbai

The five things you need to know on Monday 18 February 2013...


David Cameron voiced his determination today to make it easier for Indian businessmen and students to work, study and invest in the UK as he arrived in Mumbai at the head of the largest trade mission ever to travel overseas with a prime minister.

But Cameron made clear that in return, he wanted India to tear down outdated barriers to investment to help UK-based companies in areas like insurance and banking to establish a foothold in the fast-growing economy.

Speaking on the first day of his second visit to India as PM, Cameron revealed he was talking to the government in Delhi about the prospects for a new corridor of development between Mumbai and Bangalore, featuring new towns and infrastructure, which could provide opportunities for British planners, architects, construction firms and finance specialists.

Today's Memo is edited by Ned Simons as, much like parliament, Mehdi Hasan is in recess.


David Cameron will try and get the EU to change its rules to stop benefits being paid to arriving immigrants. The Sun reports Iain Duncan Smith sa saying: “We have one big battle here. It’s all to do with the European Union. The prime minister’s very strong on this one. People shouldn’t use the free movement rules just to travel around looking for the best benefit that they can get."

According to IDS the changes may not be as difficult as they would seem at first glance, as Cameron has the support of Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries.

But Ed Miliband, who is on his own mini-foreign tour this week, has warned against raising false expectations. He told told BBC Radio 5Live's Pienaar's Politics: "I think that the way you should always approach these issues is talk about what you can do, don't start floating things unless you know that they are actually possible to be done.

"We said around the issue of Romania and Bulgaria of course we should look at the benefits issue and access to benefits. All of those issues should be looked at but let's look at what can be done because I think it's very, very important that you don't raise people's expectations and then find that you can't actually make a difference.


The Daily Telegraph's James Kirkup, traveling with the prime minister, reports that Cameron has admitted he still needs to appoint more women to his cabinet. "There aren't enough women around the Cabinet table,” the prime minister said. "It isn't enough to open up and say you will treat everyone equally. You have to actively go out and encourage women to get involved."

There are four women around the cabinet table, which, is not that many. And there are just 47 female Conservative MPs out of 303. Of course if the Tories win the Eastleigh by-election that number will go up to 48. Small steps.


According to The Times Liberal Democrat activists have challenged Nick Clegg to propose a series of new taxes on the rich as part of a tougher assault on wealth in the party’s 2015 manifesto.

The paper reports: "Vince Cable distanced the leadership yesterday from some of the proposals, such as including second homes in the party’s mansion tax and also taxing assets such as jewellery. The Business Secretary said that some of the ideas in an internal policy paper for taxing wealth were 'a bit wacky' and impractical. But the consultation document, which details proposals for a supertax on property portfolios worth more than £2 million and suggests the French-style wealth tariff, reveals how wide the party is casting its net for ideas before the next general election on how to raise revenue from the rich."

In a speech today Clegg will say raising income tax allowances is "literally twice as good" as bringing back a 10p rate, Nick Clegg will say today as he seeks to counter Labour's challenge on help for squeezed workers.

The deputy prime minister will dismiss Ed Miliband's backing of a "mansion tax" on £2 million properties to pay for a return of the lower rate scrapped by Gordon Brown as a "pale imitation" of his party's policies.



In one of his first acts upon taking office in January 2009, president Obama, flanked by admirals and generals, directed the military to close the prison camp here within a year.

Today, however, as The Huffington Post's Ryan J Reilly reports from Cuba, the detention center at Guantanamo appears less likely than ever to close. There are 166 people currently imprisoned, down from a high of 684 in 2003. But those who remain are likely to do so indefinitely. Effectively banned from the continental U.S. by Congress, disowned by their home countries and unwelcome pretty much everywhere else, they have no place to go.


@joshspero Most of my timeline worried no Today = nuclear war, as we were always told. Oh look, a mushroom cloud over the Barbican...

@crackintheradio Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Californication" as a background music of Afghan National Army's advertisement on the local tv channels. #Kabul


In The Times, Tim Montgomerie: "All good Tories should support a mansion tax. The job of a pro-free market party should not be unquestioningly to defend the interests of the super-rich."

Boris Johnson in the Daily Telegraph: "Labour shows its true colours with this spiteful tax on homes. If the two Eds get their way, an Englishman’s home will not be a castle, but a leaky ruin."

Owen Jones in The Independent: "The Left should learn about plain speaking from George Galloway. The right is better at communicating because it uses stories so much."

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (mehdi.hasan@huffingtonpost.com) or Ned Simons (ned.simons@huffingtonpost.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol