The ten things you need to know on Monday 1 July 2013...
1) WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER, PART 254
Who says Ipsa has it in for MPs? From the Telegraph front page:
"The Prime Minister has warned it is 'unthinkable' that MPs could enjoy an increase in their pay package worth £10,000, which is expected to be recommended by an official review this week.
"David Cameron indicated last night that the public would not accept such a generous rise for MPs unless it was accompanied by corresponding reductions in pensions and other perks.
"His remarks put him on a collision course with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) which was charged with taking the final decision on MPs' pay out of their hands following the expenses scandal.
"Ministers yesterday admitted they are powerless to stop any rise ordered by Ipsa, and party leaders may have to shame their MPs to turn down any inflation–busting pay increase."
Indeed they did - here's Francis Maude speaking on Sky News: "It's not in my control, it's in the control of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. It isn't even in the control of MPs themselves. What we do control, which is ministers' pay, we are controlling rigorously and we are controlling and we are cutting back on the cost of running the government."
Nonetheless, this could be a moment for Ed Miliband to strike a populist pose, and undermine the PM in the process - according to yesterday's Mail on Sunday: "A pay rise of £10,000 a year for MPs will be scrapped if Ed Miliband wins the next Election, Labour signalled last night... Mr Miliband says MPs will have to accept a 1 per cent wage rise, like all other public sector workers, and not the 15 per cent award they are thought to be in line for."
Personally, I think there probably is an evidence-based case for a pay rise for MPs but it is sheer madness to think now is the time to even try and make it, in the wake of the expenses scandal and the worst recession in living memory...
2) BACK TO (TAHRIR) SQUARE ONE
From the BBC:
"Huge protests across Egypt calling for the resignation of President Mohammed Morsi have taken place through the night, with some outbreaks of violence.
"In the capital, Cairo, tens of thousands of people massed in Tahrir Square and outside the presidential palace in the biggest demonstration there since the 2011 revolution.
"At least one person was killed in clashes at Cairo's headquarters of Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement... Millions of protesters across the country accuse the country's first Islamist president of failing to tackle economic and security problems since taking power a year ago."
Morsi, however, should take heart from the Times editorial which, having described Egypt's president as a "grievous disappointment in his first year in power, then adds: "[H]e deserves credit on three counts. He was legally elected. He has allowed a raucous opposition to grow where once it would have been crushed, and he has asked with some Justification to be Judged at the ballot box, not in the street."
3) HERE COMES THE MARRIAGE TAX BREAK
Swivel-eyed loons rejoice! From the Guardian:
"David Cameron has moved to head off a backbench revolt over tax incentives for married couples by announcing that the government will bring forward legislation by the end of the year.
"As a backbench Tory campaign for an immediate vote gathers pace, No 10 confirmed the government would finally introduce the legislation in the autumn, paving the way for a coalition battle between Cameron, who passionately believes in strengthening marriage through the tax system, and Nick Clegg, who regards the move as antiquated. George Osborne, one of the most socially liberal Tory MPs, has little personal enthusiasm for the idea.
"Under the coalition agreement, Cameron is entitled to introduce the measure in government legislation. This should be passed because the Liberal Democrats agreed in 2010 to abstain in any parliamentary vote on the issue.
"But the Lib Dems are likely to strike a hard bargain because the measure could be costly and would have to be introduced in a finance bill that would be subject to agreement by the 'quad' of senior ministers. Clegg will push for concessions, possibly an acknowledgement of an even speedier move towards reaching the Lib Dem ambition of raising the tax-free personal allowance to £12,000."
4) ST MARK STARTS WORK
From the Times:
"Mark Carney needs to bring a 'Tony Blair moment' to the Bank of England by reducing formality, a former official said. Mr Carney takes over as Governor today with high expectations of his five-year term and a formidable list of challenges, from a weak economy to continued battles over bank capital.
"Erik Britton, an economist at Fathom Consulting, said that the Bank's top brass should take a more "open-shirt and informal" approach akin to that of the former Prime Minister.
"Staff should be encouraged to challenge senior figures more than under the departing Governor, Sir Mervyn King, he argued, saying: 'You need to make more use of talent by being less hierarchical.'
"The new Governor, who was yesterday attending the Bank's annual sports day, is expected to send staff a message by intranet this week laying out his priorities."
The Independent reports: "Carney may spring a surprise as soon as Thursday with a statement on recent market turmoil, although the MPC is expected to hold interest rates at their record low of 0.5 per cent."
But the Times leader puts it best: "The new Governor of the Bank of England has had his share of good fortune in a career that has seen him sail through Harvard, Oxford, Goldman Sachs and the Canadian central bank before reaching Threadneedle Street, where he starts today. He must hope his luck is not about to run out."
5) OUR KAZAKH PALS
Do you remember how, a few weeks ago, David Cameron mocked George Galloway in the Commons for being a friend and admirer of dictators?
From the Mirror:
"Oil-rich Kazakhstan's brutal rulers gushed about David Cameron and flew him round on their private jet yesterday during his official visit there.
"Foreign minister Erlan Idrissov said he 'cherished' the Tory leader's support and lavished praise on Tony Blair, who helped pave the way for the trip in return for a reported £16million.
"He said: 'We are very honoured and privileged to have such attention on the part of two prime ministers [towards] Kazakhstan.'"
The paper adds:
"Amnesty challenged the PM to confront Kazakhstan about its appalling human-rights record.
"Critics of president Nursultan Nazarbayev are gagged and jailed, police are accused of using torture and union rights are denied.
"But the PM said: 'I have over 30 British businesses with me. We're hoping to sign over £700million of deals.'"
Priorities, priorities, eh?
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...
Watch this video of an over-affectionate emu cuddling up to a man.
6) A 'PARLIAMENTARY STUNT'?
From the Telegraph front page:
"David Cameron's pledge to guarantee a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU was in doubt last night after officials warned that proposed legislation would not be legally binding.
"An official House of Commons analysis says a series of further Parliamentary votes will be required in 2016 to enshrine a future referendum in law. It warns that the legislation being debated in Parliament this week – if passed – could have little legal relevance as it could be ignored by a future government... The Bill is being put forward by a Conservative backbencher – rather than the Government – although, in an unprecedented move, Mr Cameron has ordered all his MPs to back it in Parliament this Friday."
Meanwhile, the paper adds:
"Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, will today launch a campaign calling for Britain to remain in the EU, and Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, is to hold a press conference in which he is likely to criticise the Tory strategy. However, he will also stress that the Coalition has been successful in taking “big, difficult decisions” in the national interest.
"Yesterday, [Danny Alexander] dismissed the legislation as a 'Parliamentary stunt' and disclosed that his party’s MPs would not attend the debate. Labour is also expected to boycott the Parliamentary sitting."
7) PAYING THE PIPER, CALLING THE TUNE?
From the Times:
"Ed Miliband must rein in the 'crazy' trade unions or face defeat at the next election, a former Labour minister warned yesterday.
"Kim Howells, who served in Tony Blair's Government, urged the party leader to change the rules after a row over the influence of the unions in candidate selection.
"The former Foreign Office minister said that if Mr Miliband failed to curb union power he would Jeopardise the reputation of the party. He said: 'There are many people in the trade union movement who feel that if we pay the piper we are going to call the tune.'
"The party is in the middle of a bitter battle between Left and Right after its decision to take control of the selection process in Falkirk. The seat, which is being vacated by the MP Eric Joyce in 2015 after he admitting assaulting four people in a Commons bar, has been dogged by allegations of a 'stitch-up'.
"Activists have accused Unite, Mr Miliband's biggest financial backer, of recruiting supporters to the local party and paying for their membership."
The Guardian leader says: "As a matter of democratic principle it is extremely questionable whether unions (or anyone else) should be allowed to pay for people to join the Labour party at all, especially without their knowledge. If that is what has happened in Falkirk, those who joined in this way cannot in justice be allowed to remain."
8) GETTING AWAY WITH IT
How's that crackdown on Wonga and co going? From the Daily Mail:
"Leading companies have been summoned for talks in Whitehall with Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson today amid mounting concern that they are driving desperate families to financial ruin.
"In a toughly-worded intervention yesterday, Miss Swinson said she was determined to curb ‘irresponsible behaviour which exploits vulnerable consumers in financial strife’.
"But, to the dismay of campaigners, Miss Swinson confirmed payday loan firms such as Wonga will not be ordered to cut their interest rates."
9) CONFLICT OF INTEREST?
Welcome to government, Ian Livingstone. From the Independent splash:
"The outgoing boss of BT who will become a government trade minister later this year is facing questions about 'unprecedented' conflicts of interest over his multimillion-pound stake in the British telecoms giant... Mr Livingston is expected to hold close to £20m worth of shares in BT when he becomes a minister in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) which oversees the industry where the telecommunications giant competes.
The paper says Livingstone's wealth could "potentially be influenced by the policies and actions of the ministerial team of which he will be a member.
"City analysts who spoke to The Independent say the investment strategy put in place by Mr Livingston during his five years at the helm of BT, which includes £2.5bn on building a UK fibre-optic network and a further £1bn in the acquisition of television rights designed to challenge BSkyB’s lead role in subscription-TV, should see a substantial rise in BT’s fortunes, provided they are not challenged by any unexpected measures or restrictions designed to encourage new competitors into the telecoms industry."
10) DAVE'S VOLDERMORT MOMENT
From the Guardian:
"David Cameron has admitted he would like to be Harry Potter – but hinted that many Britons might view him as the evil Voldemort.
"... Asked which character in the JK Rowling books he would like to be, he said: 'My daughter is nine years old, she's just started to read all the Harry Potter books so I'm sort of rediscovering them all over again.
"'I can think of all sorts of characters you don't want to be and I suppose in the end you know if you've got any sense you want to be Harry Potter. That must be the correct answer. But I suspect people in Britain might want to paint me in a different role but I'll let them do that, I won't make the work easier for them.'"
“Ukip will come and Ukip will go, what matters is that Britain stays a full member of the European Union.” - Danny Alexander, speaking yesterday.
PUBLIC OPINION WATCH
From yesterday's Sunday Times/YouGov poll:
Lib Dems 11
That would give Labour a majority of 58.
140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
@nicholaswatt PM tells Kazakhstan president: honoured to be making long overdue visit to your 'extraordinary' capital Astana
@David_Cameron Sending best wishes to @laurarobson5 1st Brit woman in 4th round #Wimbledon for ages. Won't see match as overseas- but will be given updates
@MancBarrister Two thirds of MPs think that they should have an increase in their £66,000 salary (+expenses). Proposed rise is £10k. Are they mentally ill?
900 WORDS OR MORE
John Redwood, writing in the Times, says: "The Governor will need the Goldilocks touch."
Boris Johnson, writing in the Telegraph, says: "Miliband is taking his cue from loser Kinnock, not winner Blair."
Owen Jones, writing in the Independent, says: "What's killing Labour? A thousand failures to oppose the cuts."
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