Mehdi's Morning Memo: Ban The Van

Undated handout photo issued by the home office of one of the 'go home' vans which are to be used as part of a scheme to encourage illegal immigrants to leave the UK.
Undated handout photo issued by the home office of one of the 'go home' vans which are to be used as part of a scheme to encourage illegal immigrants to leave the UK.

The five things you need to know on Tuesday 9 October 2013...


Another blow for #racistvan. From the Huffington Post:

"The Home Office's controversial 'go home' immigration van campaign will have to be redesigned, the advertising watchdog has ordered.

"The government said it would comply with the Advertising Standards Authority, which said the billboard, aimed at illegal immigrants and towed around London, 'must not appear again in its current form'.

"This was because of the 'misleading' use of arrest statistics included on the posters.

"But the ASA also ruled that while the language used in the campaign was 'distasteful to some', it was not 'offensive or harmful'."

Norman Baker, new Lib Dem Home Office minister, over to you...


Tommy Robinson, we discovered yesterday, has quit the English Defence League and gone mainstream. From the Independent:

"English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson has announced his intention to set up a new anti-Islamist movement after he dramatically stepped down from the party he founded because it has become too extreme. The 30-year-old, who has become a familiar figure leading anti-Muslim protests around the country, said street protests were 'no longer effective' and that he 'acknowledged the dangers of far-right extremism'."

Robinson used a press conference in London yesterday to briefly apologise to any Muslims who had been intimidated or felt afraid as a result of EDL protests - but refused to renounce the EDL, disown his US far-right allies Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller or apologise for a long line of anti-Muslim remarks that he's made in recent months.

Should we give him a chance to prove he's changed? Of course. But only if he's honest, rather than evasive, about his clear record of anti-Muslim bigotry and far-right ties.


Well, that's what the Mail wants you to believe, with its splash headline: "MI5 Chief: Guardian has handed a gift to terrorists."

The Telegraph goes with: "MI5: leaks a gift for terrorists to attack us at will."

"Andrew Parker, the director general of the Security Service, said the exposing of intelligence techniques, by the Guardian newspaper, had given fanatics the ability to evade the spy agencies.

"It comes at a time when the UK is facing its gravest terror threat, including from 'several thousand' Islamist extremists who are living here and want to attack the country, Mr Parker said.

"He used his first public outing since taking over at MI5 to launch a scathing attack on the Snowden leaks.

Well, he kinda would, wouldn't he? And if the security services want journalists to stop exposing their dodgy activities, i.e. spying on large swathes of the population, then perhaps they should stop performing dodgy activities and stick to chasing terrorists...


Watch this video of a red panda freaking out over a pumpkin. Go on.


She's about to be appointed by Barack Obama - from the Huffington Post:

"President Barack Obama plans to announce his nomination of Federal Reserve Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen for the central bank's leading role, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday... "If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen would be the first woman to serve as chair of the Federal Reserve, and would take over when Bernanke's term ends in January."

The good news is - apart from a massive and welcome crack in the glass ceiling - is that Larry Summers, Obama's first choice and the architect of much of the disastrous financial regulation of the 1990s, isn't going to get the job. Phew.


Alan Sugar isn't a fan of Paul Dacre. From the Huffington Post:

"Speaking in the House of Lords on Tuesday evening, Lord Sugar tore into Paul Dacre in the wake of the row over his decision to go after the 'evil legacy' of Ed Miliband's father Ralph. He said the incident was 'further evidence why newspapers can't be trusted to regulate themselves'.

"'The attack is a kind of final straw where the tyrant Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail, has gone too far this time. And my Lords it is about time all parties join again and demand of shareholders and owners of the Daily Mail remove this nasty man. He is not fit or a proper person to be an editor of a national newspaper,' Lord Sugar said.

"'The culture he has created at the Daily Mail has attracted nastiest bunch of vindictive, arrogant and some would say racist people who call themselves journalists over the years. The Daily Mail has harassed members of all parties unfairly.'"

A nasty, vindictive, arrogant tyrant? Sugar isn't holding back. I wonder what some of his former 'apprentices' might say about him, though...


From the Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 39

Conservatives 33

Ukip 10

Lib Dems 10

That would give Labour a majority of 78.


Mary Riddell, writing in the Telegraph, says: "Ed Miliband could be the PM who leads us out of Europe."

Steve Richards, writing in the Guardian, says: "Blairites don't really exist."

Matthew Norman, writing in the Independent, says: "Want to know how Norman Baker got this job? I’ve got the answers."

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