08/10/2013 08:32 BST

Mehdi's Morning Memo: 'Twilight Of The Blairites'?

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23: Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne addresses delagates at the Labour Party Conference on September 23, 2013 in Brighton, England. Day two of the opposition Labour Party's annual conference will address financial issues. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The five things you need to know on Tuesday 8 October 2013...


Liam Byrne and Stephen Twigg sacked from the shadow cabinet; Jim Murphy demoted from defence to international development. Is it any wonder then that the veteran Labour backbencher Paul Flynn tweeted only half-jokingly: "Twilight of the Blairites will lead to new dawn for socialism"?

Ed Miliband has been ruthless in his reshuffle - and also bold: the new shadow cabinet is 44% female, with 31% of it composed of MPs elected in 2010. He wants to stress diversity, change, youth, energy.

But it isn't all bad news for the so-called Blairites: Tony Blair's former justice secretary Lord Falconer comes in as a special adviser to Miliband on 'transition to government'; TV historian and Mandelson pal Tristram Hunt replaces Twigg at education and Brownite-turned-Blairite Douglas Alexander, who chaired David Miliband's (failed) leadership campaign, becomes the party's 2015 general election campaign chair.

Meanwhile, on the government side, the FT reports:

"David Cameron's aides had billed yesterday's ministerial makeover as a chance to promote women MPs and northerners; but the theme turned out to be the steady advance towards the cabinet table of allies of George Osborne.

"Two of the chancellor's acolytes - Sajid Javid and Matthew Hancock - were given beefed-up economic portfolios with a clear expectation that both could soon be sitting with Mr Osborne in cabinet; a more high-level reshuffle is expected next spring."

It adds:

"But Mr Cameron's much vaunted promotion of women and northerners fell short of expectations, as he added just two women to government ranks while only a handful of northern Tories, such as Kris Hopkins and Esther McVey, were promoted."

Then there were the Lib Dems. Lib Dem cabinet minister Michael Moore, the Scottish secretary, was replaced by former whip Alistair Carmichael, who once argued that the Scottish Office should be abolished. Awk-ward.

And another Lib Dem, Norman Baker, the MP who wrote a book claiming the scientist Dr David Kelly was assassinated by an Iraqi hit squad, and covered up by MI5, was appointed as a junior minister at the... wait for it... Home Office. Again: awk-ward.

Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, has just been speaking on the Today programme and struggled to make the case for Baker: "Norman's views are are well explained. I think he, er, er, um, er, wrote a book on it. I haven't read it."


Paul Dacre won't be pleased. From the BBC:

"Senior politicians have rejected the newspaper industry's version of a royal charter setting up a press regulator, the BBC's Newsnight has reported.

"A source said a sub-committee of the Privy Council, containing four Lib Dem and four Tory cabinet ministers, thought the proposals were 'flawed'.

"The full Privy Council is also looking at an alternative plan backed by politicians and campaigners.

"It is due to announce its decision later this month."

The report adds: "The decision looks set to increase confrontation between supporters of the rival plans."

Now there's an understatement. Newspapers are already reported to be considering legal action...


Given the AV disaster, do the pro-Europeans really want the deputy prime minister fronting a pro-EU referendum campaign? From the FT:

"Nick Clegg will today call on businesses and campaign groups to lead the nascent campaign to keep Britain in the EU as the Liberal Democrat leader seeks to make an asset of his pro-Europeanism.

"The deputy prime minister will urge pro-Europeans not to be shy in defending the union as Conservative backbenchers team up with Labour MPs to call for an early referendum.

"Mr Clegg will say in his speech: 'I am calling on businesses and organisations and individuals to show their support for continued British membership in a reformed EU. I am asking you to be part of a coalition for the national interest - standing up for Britain remaining in Europe; for a Britain that is richer, safer, greener and stronger in the world.'"

Come 2015, Europe could be one of those issues that provides the basis for an alternative governing coalition - between the Lib Dems and Labour, rather than the Lib Dems and Tories.


Watch this video of a thieving kitten. You know you want to.


From the FT's splash:

"The Help to Buy mortgage scheme threatens Britain's financial stability by rekindling a housing boom, an influential committee of MPs will warn today, even as George Osborne launches the government's flagship housing policy.

"Virgin Money is the latest lender to sign up to the programme, the chancellor will announce, as he pledges to deliver to many young people the "dream of owning their own home". The two lenders taking part in the scheme from the outset - the part-nationalised Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland - are preparing for a stampede in demand from homebuyers.

"But the Commons Treasury select committee will caution that the programme, which could underwrite up to £130bn of mortgages, is likely to 'raise house prices rather than stimulate new supply'."



From the Guardian:

Hamid Karzai has ruled out signing a security deal with the United States until disagreements over sovereignty are resolved. In angry remarks, the Afghan president condemned the Nato alliance for a military occupation that had caused "a lot of suffering, a lot of loss of life and no gains because the country is not secure".

No gains? Says Karzai? Wow. Strong stuff.


From the Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 39

Conservatives 35

Ukip 10

Lib Dems 9

That would give Labour a majority of 46.



Rachel Sylvester, writing in the Times, says: "Cameron can’t rely on promoting token women and northerners to win over wavering voters."

Polly Toynbee, writing in the Guardian, says: "After this shadow cabinet reshuffle, we know what's in Ed Miliband's mind."

Donald Macintyre, writing in the Independent, says: "At last, Clegg is making the case for Britain in the EU - just the corrective needed to Tory Europhobia."

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