The ten things you need to know on Monday 8 July 2013...
1) ED VERSUS LEN
Tomorrow, Ed Miliband will be giving a speech in which he tries to slap down Unite boss Len McCluskey and outline proposals for a new relationship between Labour and the unions. Some of the details have leaked out...
From the Guardian's Patrick Wintour:
"Open selection primaries, direct access to trade union levy payers by the party, and caps on spending by candidates seeking Labour nominations. These are among the changes Ed Miliband is considering in an attempt to mend, rather than end, the union-party link following alleged malpractice by the Unite union.
"Miliband will be canvassing party opinion before a speech this week setting out how the relationship can be reformed following alleged abuse of party rules by Unite supporters in Falkirk... Miliband's advisers said he favoured a cap on all spending in Labour contests for parliamentary selections, possibly including European elections. At present candidates for parliamentary seats cannot issue more than three leaflets, but there is no limit on spending by the candidate or third parties. The Labour leader is also to rewrite a code of conduct for candidates."
The big change could be a switch from union levy-payers 'opting out', if they don't want their affiliation fees to go to Labour, to actively 'opting in'.
The Times' Michael Savage says: "Mr Miliband has been plunged into the greatest crisis of his three-year leadership by the confrontation with Unite, which began with allegations that the union effectively rigged the contest to select a candidate in Falkirk. Labour has referred allegations to the police."
This is the worst possible moment for a Labour Party 'crisis'. As the Independent's Andrew Grice reports:
"The Independent's weighted average of the June polls by ComRes, ICM, Ipsos MORI and YouGov confirms that Labour's lead has narrowed after Tory attacks over the economy, welfare and Europe. Labour is on 37 per cent, the Tories 31 per cent, Ukip 13 per cent, the Liberal Democrats 11 per cent and others eight per cent... Mr Miliband's net performance rating, the difference between the percentage of people thinking he is doing well or badly, has dropped to minus 33, his worst since April 2012. David Cameron's rating, which has improved over the same period, is now at minus 17."
2) VOTE DAVE? I PREFER NIGEL
It isn't all good news for Cameron and co. The BBC's James Landale has seen a new YouGov poll of Tory Party members, carried for academics at Queen Mary and the University of London, which reveals that "19% - almost one in five - of Conservative members are seriously considering voting for UKIP.
"More than half - 53% - feel they are not respected by the Tory leadership.
"They are growing less active, with 44% saying they spend no time on party activity in an average month.
"And they are pessimistic about the future, with only 19% believing the party will win an overall majority at the election."
3) THE FIRST SHOTS IN AN EGYPTIAN CIVIL WAR?
And so it begins - from the BBC:
"At least 15 people have been killed in a shooting incident in Cairo, amid continuing unrest over the removal of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
"The Muslim Brotherhood says its members were fired on while holding a sit-in at a Presidential Guard barracks. It put the death toll at more than 30.
"But the army said a 'terrorist group' had tried to storm the barracks."
Yesterday, Tony Blair defended the military coup in Egypt in an article for the Observer; this morning, he popped up on the Today programme to tell John Humphrys that this "is a situation that is really unique. 17 million [people] out on the street...a huge manifestation of dissatifaction by the government...The government was not functioning as a government..."
For Blair, as ever, it's all black and white, good vs evil. For western governments, our own included, it is difficult to endorse the removal of a democratically-elected president by an unelected military - no matter how much we may fear or dislike that president and his (Islamist) party.
4) BALLS VS THE BANKERS
Remember how Ed Balls is always accused by lefties (and Tories!) of being soft on the banks? From the Sun:
"The Government has failed to come up with measures to ensure bungling bankers face jail, Labour’s Ed Balls has claimed.
"The shadow chancellor hit out as his party vowed to change the law so those who lead their banks to the brink of oblivion face criminal charges.
"David Cameron has already vowed to use the Banking Bill going through the Commons to introduce the change.
But Labour accused the PM and Chancellor George Osborne of dragging their heels — and is introducing its own amendments today.
"Mr Balls said: 'For all the tough talk, David Cameron and George Osborne have failed. The Conservatives are ducking the radical reforms we need.'"
5) GOVE, FRACTIONS AND EVOUTION
It's Monday morning. Must be time for another Michael Gove announcement. From the BBC:
"A revised national curriculum for schools in England is to be published later, with the aim of catching up with the world's best education systems.
"Prime Minister David Cameron says this 'revolution in education' is vital for the country's economic prosperity.
"The changes will include fractions for five year olds and teaching evolution in primary schools.
"Labour said the curriculum should be written by experts and not depend on ministers' 'personal prejudices'.
"Teachers' unions have warned that the timetable for implementing the changes in autumn 2014 is 'completely unrealistic'.
"Head teachers have also asked whether politicians should be so directly involved in deciding what is taught in the classroom."
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...
Watch this amusing video of a monkey really, really winding up a dog.
6) GOODBYE ECHR?
From the Sun:
"Britain may have to leave the European Court of Human Rights to stop another Abu Qatada shambles, David Cameron and Theresa May declared last night.
"The PM said he will not stand for a repeat of the eight years of legal wrangling it took to get rid of Qatada.
"Mr Cameron pledged: 'I will do whatever is necessary to stop this happening again.'
"Home Secretary Mrs May said Britain must be able to deport threats to our security much more quickly. And she said we should take 'a fundamental look' at our relationship with the ECHR."
7) GET WELL SOON
From the Telegraph:
"Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of US secretary of state John kerry, has been rushed to a top Boston hospital from the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, with an unspecified medical condition.
"Glen Johnson, a State Department official who serves as Mr Kerry's personal spokesman, announced her illness but did not give details.
"The 74-year-old philanthropist and heiress was in critical but stable condition, a Boston newspaper reported."
8) 'CURSE OF CAMERON' VS 'LUCKY' NUMBER SEVEN
Andy Murray's victory yesterday was also a victory for David Cameron - from the Daily Mail:
"Some feared Andy Murray would be scuppered by the 'curse of Cameron' - but it may have been lucky number seven that sent him into seventh heaven.
"For superstitious tennis fans were quick to observe that his victory in the men's final at Wimbledon came 77 years after a Briton last secured the title, with Fred Perry's success in 1936. Yesterday was of course the seventh day of the seventh month. And keen observers will have noted that Murray broke Novak Djokovic's serve in the seventh game of every set... Belief that seven is a lucky number goes back centuries - while the 'curse of Cameron' had only gained credence in recent months."
"The Prime Minister had been accused of being a bad omen after his hopes of victory heralded failure for sports stars including female tennis player Laura Robson, cyclist Mark Cavendish and diver Tom Daley... But Mr Cameron defied those begging him to stay away from this year's final by sitting in the Royal Box at Centre Court and clapping enthusiastically at every point Murray won... Murray had defended Mr Cameron's good luck messages and seemed unperturbed by the 'Jonah' Premier being present."
9) SALMOND'S SALTIRE SILLINESS
Oh Alex, what were you thinking?
From the Telegraph:
"Alex Salmond provoked controversy yesterday when he waved the Scottish flag in the royal box while celebrating Andy Murray's victory, in an apparent breach of Wimbledon rules.
"The Scottish First Minister and his wife, Moira, held aloft a large Saltire behind David Cameron after the Scot defeated Novak Djovokic in straight sets.
|Wimbledon spectators are banned from bringing flags larger than 2ft by 2ft or objects bearing "political statements" on to the grounds."
"... Tom Harris, the Labour MP for Glasgow South, said on Twitter, in response to the criticism: 'Let's keep this in perspective, folks: Salmond waving a St Andrew's flag at Wimbledon wasn't an outrage – it was just a bit, well, naff.'"
Meanwhile, the Mail adds:
"[Murray] has not indicated which way he will vote in next year's referendum on Scottish independence, but he warned his countrymen not to let their heart rule their head. In an interview with Scotland on Sunday earlier this year, he said: 'I want to read more about the issue. I don't think you should judge the thing on emotion, but on what is best economically for Scotland.'"
10) HELLO KETTLE? THIS IS POT. YOU'RE BLACK.
"Lib Dem Equalities minister Jo Swinson champions the role of more women in the boardroom.
''Women are vital to Britain's economic recovery and we need to ensure we are making full use of their talents,' she says.
"'That's why the Government is focused on removing the barriers that prevent women from getting ahead and achieving their full potential.' Tell that to Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who has yet to appoint a woman to the Cabinet."
"I am in no doubt that the leader of Unite wants to impose an ideological direction on the Labour party that would lead us into political oblivion, as it did in the 1970s and 1980s." - Lord Reid, the former Labour home secretary, speaking on the BBC yesterday.
PUBLIC OPINION WATCH
From yesterday's Sunday Times/YouGov poll:
Lib Dems 11
That would give Labour a majority of 78.
140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
@David_Cameron It was a privilege to watch @Andy_Murray making history at #Wimbledon, and making Britain proud.
@Ed_Miliband Congratulations Andy Murray. A historic and amazing moment for him and for the whole country.
@MatthewdAncona Alex Salmond is usually a consummate politician. But today he was a grade-one wally #wimbledon
900 WORDS OR MORE
Boris Johnson, writing in the Telegraph says: "As Britain dithers, the world gets things done."
Tim Montgomerie, writing in the Times, says: "Who wants a PM who has no fight in him?"
Owen Jones, writing in the Independent, says: "This attack on Labour’s union links must not succeed."
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