04/10/2013 05:06 BST

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Miliband Waits For Dacre's Apology

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband gestures as he speaks during the final day of the Labour party conference in Brighton, Sussex, south England on September 25, 2013. Britain's opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband positioned himself as the champion of hard-pressed working families, using a speech to his party's annual conference to promise a freeze on energy prices and higher wages. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

The five things you need to know on Friday 4 October 2013...


The Mili-Mail war ramps up - Miliband yesterday wrote to Lord Rothermere, chair of the Mail's publisher, to demand an apology for the Mail on Sunday's gatecrashing of a family memorial service - and got one from both Rothermere himself and from Mail on Sunday editor Geordie Grieg.

The Times splashes with 'Mail Apologises To Miliband':

"Ed Miliband won an apology from the owner of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday last night after the bitter feud between the newspapers and the Labour leader reached new heights.

"Lord Rothermere wrote personally to express his regret after Mr Miliband revealed that a reporter from the Sunday title had turned up uninvited to a private family memorial."

But still no apology from Paul Dacre, editor of the Mail, who has yet to speak on the subject in public. He sent Quentin Letts, his sketchwriter, onto Question Time to defend the Mail's coverage of Ralph Miliband - Letts called the latter a "useful idiot" - and then sent Alex Brummer, the Mail's economics expert, onto the Today programme this morning to defend the paper's practises.

'Where's Dacre?' has become a bit of a 'Where's Wally?' game in media land. Labour supporters are starting to dub Dacre their party's 'best spin doctor' for years.

On a side note, you can watch my brief 'takedown' of the Mail, from last night's Question Time, here. I wonder if it'll earn me a hatchet job ('Mad Muslim Mehdi Hasan Hates Britain') at the hands of the Mail's Geoffrey Levy... #gulp


From the Guardian:

"Prisoners convicted of raping a child or of terrorism offences will no longer qualify for automatic release after serving half their sentence, the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has announced .

"In addition, the introduction of tougher prison terms will also mean criminals who are given extended determinate sentences, for violence or sexual crimes, will no longer be freed automatically two-thirds of the way through their jail time.

"The changes will require parliamentary legislation. They are expected to result in as many as 600 inmates a year serving lengthier sentences but will not affect those already in jail."

The report adds:

"Longer sentences will increase the prison population, which currently stands at around 84,500 in England and Wales. Over the past year that number has fallen by around 2,000."


David Cameron has staked his reputation on securing a new deal with Europe come 2017 - but what if Europe doesn't want to play ball?

From the Daily Mail:

"David Cameron’s plan to claw back powers from Brussels is ‘doomed to failure’, the president of the European Commission has claimed.

"In a provocative intervention Jose Manuel Barroso rubbished Mr Cameron’s plan to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Europe, saying it was ‘unreasonable’ to expect other member states to agree to fundamental changes."

The paper adds:

"Mr Barroso said there would be ‘others, many, who oppose’ Mr Cameron’s call for treaty change - and suggested British proposals would be vetoed."


Watch this video of a beagle that sounds like a dinosaur.


As the US continues its descent into failed state status, a stark warning from the French head of the International Monetary Fund - from the Guardian:

"Christine Lagarde, the IMF's managing director, urged America's politicians to settle their differences before the dispute harmed the entire global economy.

"Speaking ahead of the fund's annual meeting in Washington next week, Lagarde said it was 'mission critical' that Democrats and Republicans raise the US debt ceiling before the 17 October deadline. Lagarde said the dispute was a fresh setback for a global economy that would take at least a decade to recover from the slump of 2008-09.

"'I have said many times before that the US needs to "slow down and hurry up" – by that I mean less fiscal adjustment today and more tomorrow," Lagarde said. She added that the world's biggest economy needed to put its finances in order, but favoured back-loaded measures to raise revenues and limit entitlement spending such as medicare that did not jeopardise short-term growth.'"

On a side note, the Times reports:

"Washington went into lockdown yesterday after a woman, who had a one-year-old child in her car, tried to breach a White House security perimeter, triggering a chase and leading to gunfire outside the US Capitol. The episode ended with the woman, who last night was being named as Miriam Carey, 34, of Connecticut, being shot dead by police yards away from where members of Congress had just minutes earlier been debating how to end the US Government shutdown that began on Tuesday."


In recent months, Labour-types have taken to quoting Lord Ashcroft, the former Tory donor and ex-deputy chair of the Conservative Party, on how the Opposition has a better chance of winning the next election than Cameron's Cameroons.

Don't panic, Dave! Ashcroft has taken to the pages of the Mirror to say the Tories could still win:

"Most voters, including two fifths of those who would vote Labour, fear the party would spend and borrow more than the country can afford, and has not learned the right lessons from its time in government."

Hmm. He says: "In fact only a quarter of Conservative defectors say they will vote UKIP..."

Before adding:

"...though that is little comfort to Tory MPs with tiny majorities."



From the latest Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 38

Conservatives 35

Ukip 10

Lib Dems 9

That would give Labour a majority of 32.


@campbellclaret Will this be the day Rothermere finds a spine? #coward

@SJacksonMP I think we've had enough @campbellclaret on the BBC re. Miligate. Its like watching real time Stockholm Syndrome #abusiverelationship

@kenanmalik Daily Mail article on Ralph Miliband was obnoxious. But it is not, and should not be turned into, an argument for greater press regulation.


Philip Collins, writing in the Times, says: "Cameron cannot speak to the North, Miliband relies on his core vote. Only Clegg can bridge the gap."

Fraser Nelson, writing in the Telegraph, says: "The fury of Ed Miliband and other maligned politicans should not be allowed to kill off ailing newspapers."

Alistair Darling, writing in the Guardian, says: "The chancellor claims he'll balance the books and avoid tax rises. But his record so far is of failure."

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