The five things you need to know on Friday 27 September 2013...
1) CLIMATE CHANGE EVIDENCE IS 'ROCK SOLID'
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will today announce the findings of its fifth assessment report on the state of climate science in Stockholm. The Guardian reports:
"Global warming is likely to surpass the previously recognised danger threshold of a 2C average increase in temperature, according to the world-leading climate scientists meeting in Sweden this week... The scientists also agreed they were certain that global warming was caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases, but on a range of other topics the discussions – fundamental to inform the policy response of governments around the world – were expected to continue up to the 8am Friday morning deadline."
Sir Mark Walport, the government's chief scientist, appeared on the Today programme this morning to describe the report's publication as an "extremely important moment". "The evidence is rock solid," he told Today's Jim Naughtie.
Nonetheless, the climate change deniers (or 'sceptics', as they style themselves) are bent on putting as negative a spin as possible on this landmark report:
"The world's hardly got any hotter in the past 15 years!" screams the Daily Mail
"Climate change will make Britain cooler, UN predicts," declares the Telegraph.
Even the IPCC's supporters aren't happy with the way it has handled itself - the Times reports:
"The UN body that will today announce its verdict on climate change is 'ponderous, heavy and bland' according to one of its most influential supporters.
Lord Stern of Brentford, author of the Stern review on the economics of climate change, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should be reformed as its reports took too long and were subject to too much 'filtering and haggling'."
He's got a point - in the face of growing denialism, climate scientists need to up their game, in terms of messaging and rebuttals. My own column on climate change denial - "Denying Climate Change Is Worse Than Spreading the Usual Kind of Conspiracy Theory - It Costs Lives" - can be read here.
2) THE WAR ON WELFARE, PART 243
Ed Miliband gave us some left-populism in Brighton, with his energy prize freeze. David Cameron plans to give us some right-populism at the Tory conference in Manchester, which kicks off this weekend.
Where better to focus than on benefits, eh? Kick those scroungers and shirkers and kick 'em hard. The Mail splashes on:
"Now work for your benefits"
The paper reports:
"The long-term unemployed are to be told they must do an unpaid full-time job or be stripped of their benefits.
"A dramatic extension of the conditions attached to unemployment handouts will be unveiled at the Conservative party conference next week, according to well-placed sources.
"Ministers are convinced a new US-style ‘work for the dole’ scheme will help to reduce Britain’s vast benefits bill and curb the something-for-nothing culture."
The truth is that the government's own Work Programme has failed to find jobs for unemployed people, who want to find work but can't - but never let facts get in the way of a good headline.
3) AM I A FEMINIST? ER, NOT SURE, SAYS THE PM
David Cameron has done a pre-party conference interview with middle-market women's magazine, Red, but got caught up by a rather important question from the interviewer - from the Daily Mail:
"Happy to be away from such tricky topics as the EU and the economy, he chatted away... until he was tripped up by one particularly thorny question: Would he call himself a feminist? Mr Cameron seemed unsure how to answer and stared out of the window for 'rather a long time', according to the article in Red. He finally replied, hesitatingly: 'Umm... I... I don't know what I'd call myself... it's up to others to attach labels. But I believe men and women should be treated equally.'"
From an electoral point of view, the PM really must do better. The Mail report notes:
"A recent report by Mumsnet and Ipsos Mori found the Conservatives lagging behind Labour among female voters. And in 2011 Mr Cameron was accused of having a 'patronising and outdated attitude to women' when he told Labour MP Angela Eagle to 'calm down dear' during a Commons debate.
"Mumsnet chief executive Justine Roberts said: 'It's a shame David Cameron seems wary of calling himself a feminist when all it really means is advocating equal rights and opportunities for women.'"
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...
Watch this video of a crib of baby pandas. You know you want to.
4) NO CHARGES FOR RENNARD
From the Guardian:
"A police inquiry into sexual harassment allegations against the former Lib Dem chief executive Lord Rennard has been dropped due to insufficient evidence, Scotland Yard said on Thursday. The decision will reignite an internal party inquiry which was suspended in March following multiple claims that the peer had behaved improperly towards female members. Rennard, 53, who held several senior posts in the party until 2009 when he resigned due to 'health issues', has strenuously denied allegations of improper behaviour."
The Times adds:
"Lord Rennard said last night that he was not surprised by the police decision not to charge him. 'The last eight months have been harrowing and deeply unpleasant for me, my wife Ann, my family and friends,' he said. 'I am enormously thankful for the unfailing support I have received from people across the political spectrum, but especially those within the Liberal Democrats who have stood by me throughout.'"
5) 'MAYOR BORISSH'
That's the headline in the Sun, which reports:
"London Mayor Boris Johnson was so tipsy as he staggered from a boozy bash that he could not cycle home.
"Bleary-eyed BoJo, 49, instead tumbled into a taxi and dumped his bike in the boot.
"And the mayor was so merry after his posh champagne bash that he even SANG and DANCED with a Mexican street band — as fellow revellers clapped and laughed at his high-spirited antics.
"Cabbie Steve Butoy, 41, who picked him up, said yesterday: 'Boris was absolutely steaming and in a state. No way was he riding home. His helmet was falling over his face, his eyes were bloodshot, he was slurring and his clothes looked scruffy.'"
Oh dear. Meanwhile, the mayor has given an interview to the FT Weekend magazine which will worry his old chum Dave - he says:
“During the whole Syria thing, for the first time in years I wished I was in parliament...I have to admit that I watched that and I thought . . . I wished. I wished.”
The FT reports:
"Updating his rugby metaphor on his leadership ambitions - that 'if the ball came loose from the back of the scrum' he might try to grab it - Mr Johnson said his role at next week's conference was to be part of the pack. 'I'll tell you exactly where the ball is: the ball is currently at the feet of the scrum,' he said. 'I am bound into the pack and we are surging towards the line for a pushover try. That's my role: bound in, driving for the line.'"
PUBLIC OPINION WATCH
From the Sun/YouGov poll:
Lib Dems 9
That would give Labour a majority of 86.
900 WORDS OR MORE
Polly Toynbee, writing in the Guardian, says: "David Cameron's least favourite question: whose side are you on?"
Philip Collins, writing in the Times, says: "Ed can win from here. But he can’t govern."
Fraser Nelson, writing in the Telegraph, says: "The scale of Ed’s ambition is both breathtaking and terrifying."
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