Mehdi's Morning Memo: Mili Vs Mandy

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Mili Vs Mandy
Business secretary Lord Mandelson speaks during a press conference Labour's plans for safer communities at the party HQ in Victoria Street, London.
Business secretary Lord Mandelson speaks during a press conference Labour's plans for safer communities at the party HQ in Victoria Street, London.

The five things you need to know on 26 September 2013...


The backlash against Ed Miliband’s announcement in Brighton, that a future Labour government will legislate to ensure energy prices will not go up for 20 months after an election victory in May 2015, continues.

The Prince of Darkness has now joined in - from the Times splash:

"Lord Mandelson, the architect of new Labour and one of the leading lights behind the party's three election victories, has warned Ed Miliband that he risks accusations of taking the party backwards.

... Energy companies lost billions of pounds yesterday as the market reacted to the announcement. And Lord Mandelson, who was Business Secretary under Gordon Brown and Trade and Industry Secretary under Tony Blair, said: 'As a result of the speech, I believe that perceptions of Labour policy are in danger of being taken backwards. At the Business Department I tried to move on from the conventional choice in industrial policy between state control and laissez faire. The industrial activism I developed showed that intervention in the economy, government doing some of the pump priming of important markets, sectors and technologies, was a sensible approach.'"

The paper's editorial describes Miliband's proposed price freeze as "a triumph of naive hope against all knowledge of how markets work and all experience of the history of price controls".

My colleague Asa Bennett debunks some of the myths surrounding price controls and energy prices, specifically in relation to California's disastrous experience, here.

And, writing in the New Statesman, Tom Burke, a former Tory special adviser to environment ministers, said Miliband's price plan deserves "cross-party support".

The Mirror makes a rather important political distinction in its lead editorial:

"Whose side you are on will define the election battle lines. Mr Miliband is siding with families and patients, the Conservatives with conglomerates and cuts. There will be only one winner."

Back to the Times report:

"Despite the criticism a poll revealed last night that Labour had received a boost in support as a result of its conference in Brighton. The YouGov poll gave the party a nine-point lead, with Labour on 41 per cent of the vote and the Conservatives on 32 per cent."

Onwards to Manchester for the Tory conference...


Bad news for the Green Party's sole MP - from the Guardian:

"The Green party MP, Caroline Lucas, defended her right to peacefully protest on Wednesday after it was announced she faced criminal charges over her part in an anti-fracking demonstration in Sussex.

"Lucas spoke after the Crown Prosecution Service said it had carefully examined the evidence and decided it was in the public interest to charge the MP for obstructing the highway and failing to comply with a police request to move.

"Officers arrested her last month during the protest against oil drilling by the energy firm Cuadrilla at Balcombe in West Sussex – a demonstration Lucas has attended several times. The police passed its evidence to prosecutors on Wednesday."

Lucas said:

"I firmly believe in the right to peaceful protest and remain deeply concerned about the impact of fracking on climate change and the wider environment. I have been advised by my lawyer to make no further comment at this stage."


The new president of Iran's charm offensive continues in New York - from the BBC:

"Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says he wants to reach a deal with world powers on Tehran's nuclear programme in three to six months.

"He told the Washington Post he saw a resolution of the issue as a 'beginning point' in easing US-Iran relations.

"Mr Rouhani said he was fully empowered by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, to negotiate on the issue.

"On Thursday, Iran will hold talks with the P5+1 group of world powers on Tehran's uranium enrichment programme.

"In a rare encounter between US and Iranian officials, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet US Secretary of State John Kerry as well as diplomats from the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany in New York."

Will we see a nuclear deal between the US and Iran? The world is holding its breath - but one country that isn't keen on any rapprochement with the regime in Tehran is... yep... you guessed it.. nuclear-armed Israel. Gloomy Israeli spokesman Mark Regev appeared on the Today programme this morning to accuse Iran of defying IAEA nuclear weapons inspectors and violating UN Security Council resolutions - two things, of course, that his country has long been guilty of...


Watch this video of Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake showing how foolish our overuse of hashtags is.


Margaret Hodge's powerful, headline-grabbing Public Accounts Committee has a new target - from the FT:

"The rollout of broadband to rural areas has been mismanaged by the government and left a 'quasi-monopolistic position' that has been exploited by BT, according to MPs.

"The report criticising the awarding of £1.2bn of public money to provide rural broadband will come at an awkward time for Ian Livingston, former boss of BT, who took up the post of trade minister this month.

"Margaret Hodge, who chairs the public accounts committee (PAC), which scrutinises government spending, accused BT of exploiting its position 'by restricting access to cost and rollout information'.

"She added that the programme had been mismanaged by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport."


Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, who has been responsible for Labour's tougher, more centre-right approach to immigration in recent years, delighted liberals in the party yesterday when she slammed the Tories' 'go home' illegal immigration van campaign and compared it to the National Front.

"Unlike the Tories, we won’t do ad vans sent to the areas with the highest black and minority ethnic British communities.

"Borrowing the language of the 1970s National Front.

"... Those ad vans weren’t about illegal immigration.

"I say enough of these divisive gimmicks they are an utter disgrace."

Hear, hear!


"When John Prescott got egged, he was massively angry and threw a punch. When Ed Miliband got egged, his immediate thought was 'Oh God - I really hope this is free range' That's just the kind of guy he is." - Harriet Harman jokes about her leader in a speech at the close of the Labour conference in Brighton yesterday.


From the Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 41

Conservatives 32

Ukip 11

Lib Dems 8

That would give Labour a majority of 98.


Tim Montgomerie, writing in the Times, says: "Miliband can win where Kinnock could not."

Dominic Sandbrook, writing in the Mail, says: "Miliband's Marxist father and the real reason he wants to drag us back to the nightmare 70s."

Peter Oborne, writing in the Telegraph, says: "Wake up, William Hague – change is in the air and we must respond."

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

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