07/10/2013 04:31 BST | Updated 07/10/2013 04:32 BST

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Is The Reshuffle Kicking Off?

Tory leader David Cameron is pictured in his Westminster office this afternoon with Chloe Smith the new Conservative MP for Norwich North.
Tory leader David Cameron is pictured in his Westminster office this afternoon with Chloe Smith the new Conservative MP for Norwich North.

The five things you need to know on Monday 7 October 2013...


From the Times:

"Two Conservative ministers resigned last night before a reshuffle that David Cameron will use to craft a more Northern and female-friendly team.

"John Randall, the Deputy Chief Whip, and Chloë Smith, a Cabinet Office minister, both said that they were leaving to pursue other interests.

"Their departure offers the Prime Minister room for manoeuvre as he looks to promote more MPs from the regions and ethnic minority backgrounds, and more women."

Chloe Smith, of course, came to national prominence after she was savaged by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight, over her failure to defend the government's fuel duty policy, in the summer of 2012.


The disgraced ex-cabinet minister Chris Huhne has a rather interesting and fascinating comment piece in today's Guardian, which the paper splashes on:

"Cabinet ministers and members of the national security council were told nothing about the existence and scale of the vast data-gathering programmes run by British and American intelligence agencies, a former member of the government has revealed."

"Chris Huhne, who was in the cabinet for two years until 2012, said ministers were in 'utter ignorance' of the two biggest covert operations, Prism and Tempora. The former Liberal Democrat MP admitted he was shocked and mystified by the surveillance capabilities disclosed by the Guardian from files leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

"'The revelations put a giant question mark into the middle of our surveillance state,' he said. 'The state should not feel itself entitled to know, see and memorise everything that the private citizen communicates. The state is our servant.'"


From the Independent:

"Lobbyists employed directly by the energy companies should be reined in and their dealings with the Government made more open, Ed Miliband has said.

"In an interview with The Independent, the Labour leader accused ministers of being too close to the Big Six energy companies. Analysis reveals that ministers from the Department of Energy and Climate Change have met representatives from the energy giants on 128 occasions since the Coalition was formed in 2010, yet have held talks with the main groups representing energy consumers only 26 times during the same period.

"Labour will table amendments to the Lobbying Bill, which returns to the Commons tomorrow, that would force all lobbyists to join the register proposed by the Government, including in-house lobbyists employed by the energy companies."


Watch this clash between the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald and the BBC's Kirsty Wark on Newsnight last week.


Egypt continues its descent into hell - from the Huffington Post:

"Clashes erupted on Sunday across much of Egypt between security forces and supporters of the ousted president, leaving 44 killed, as rival crowds of supporters of the military and backers of the Islamist Mohammed Morsi it deposed poured into streets around the country to mark 40 years since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

"The capital, Cairo, saw multiple scenes of mayhem as street battles raged for hours in some neighbourhoods, with Morsi supporters throwing firebombs at police who responded with gunshots and tear gas."


Documents released today by the Thatcher archive suggest Margaret Thatcher had a fair few admirers - the Daily Mail reports:

"John Nott wrote a letter paying tribute to Margaret Thatcher and her 'good looks' when he resigned as defence secretary.

"He wrote: 'It is inexcusable to say so nowadays, but I actually admire you as a woman - your good looks, charm and bearing have always attracted me, as a man. I'm sorry, but what is wrong with that! I think your emotional, instinctive and unpragmatic approach to most issues - so very unmasculine - is the secret of your success in the male-dominated world of politics.'

Nott, notes the Mail, "did not receive a reply" from the Iron Lady.

But it wasn't just Nott - the FT reports: "François Mitterrand, former French president, is said to have remarked that she had 'the eyes of Caligula and the mouth of Marilyn Monroe'."

The paper also reports:

"The Thatcher papers also note her despair over the fall from grace of Cecil Parkinson... whom she appeared to be grooming as her heir and had earmarked as her next foreign secretary. He resigned after news emerged that his former secretary, Sara Keays, was pregnant with his child."

Oh dear.


From yesterday's Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 38

Conservatives 33

Ukip 13

Lib Dems 11

That would give Labour a majority of 58.


@timloughton UKIP 2 dim 2 realise early referendum might actually vote 2 stay in if re-run of 75-then no renegotiation option but Adam [Afriyie] should know better

@georgeeaton Chloe Smith faces very strong Labour candidate @Jessica_Asato, not surprised she's focused on defending her seat.

@rupertmurdoch BBC massive taxpayer funded mouthpiece for tiny circulation leftist Guardian. Meanwhile print media about to be gagged to protect toffs.


Andy Burnham, writing in the Mirror, says: "Jeremy Hunt’s smears and spin part of systematic attempt to run down NHS and its staff."

Owen Jones, writing in the Independent, says: "Ed Miliband isn’t offering socialism – but the Tories are still terrified."

Tim Montgomerie, writing in the Times, says: "The era of big government really is over."

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