Mehdi's Morning Memo: So Close, Yet So Far

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius smiles prior to his meeting with Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite, unseen, in the President palace in Vilnius, Lithuania, Monday, Oct. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius smiles prior to his meeting with Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite, unseen, in the President palace in Vilnius, Lithuania, Monday, Oct. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

The five things you need to know on Sunday 10 November 2013...


The west and Iran were so close to reaching an agreement on the latter's nuclear energy programme yesterday - until, that is, the French annoyingly wrecked it for everyone.

From the Observer:

"Three gruelling days of high-level and high-stakes diplomacy came to an end in Geneva with no agreement on Iran's nuclear programme, after France blocked a stopgap deal aimed at defusing tensions and buying more time for negotiations. A six-nation group of major powers and Iran agreed only to meet again on 20 November, but on a lower level – senior diplomats rather than foreign ministers... Asked about the part France had played, Ashton said that all parties to the talks had played an important role... Privately, however, other diplomats at the talks were furious with the role of the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, whom they accused of breaking ranks by revealing details of the negotiations as soon as he arrived in Geneva on Saturday morning, and then breaking protocol again by declaring the results to the press before Ashton and Zarif had arrived at the final press conference."

WIlliam Hague, however, was still pretty upbeat when he appeared on the Andrew Marr show this morning: "A deal is on the table and can be done."

Fingers crossed...


Ed Miliband claims Britain's kids are "being targeted by payday lenders" - and pledges to ban adverts for payday loans during children's TV programmes such as Peppa Pig.

The Labour leader has a piece in the Sun on Sunday:

"Children's entertainment must not become an easy route for loan companies to exploit families — particularly those already struggling. We don't allow gambling firms to advertise during children's TV and we don't allow junk food to be advertised either... The next Labour government will ask the Advertising Standards Authority to prevent irresponsible advertising by payday lenders that targets or exploits children and young people... There is no justification for ever selling payday loans during children's TV. We will stop it."


Ed Miliband wants to crackdown on payday lenders; Theresa May wants to crackdown on 'terror suspects' (i.e. people who are technically innocent as they have never been charged, let alone prosecuted, for any crime). The Sunday Times reports:

"Terror suspects will be banned from certain mosques and forced to live away from friends under tougher security measures ordered by Theresa May, the home secretary.

"They will also be made to report to a police station up to three times a day and put under longer overnight curfews.

"The crackdown comes after Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed, a British citizen with alleged links to al-Qaeda, managed to give police the slip and went on the run in a burqa."


Watch this video of a cat who says 'yes' on command.


From the Observer:

"Contents of key conversations between Tony Blair and a bellicose George W Bush, who declares he is ready to 'kick ass', are thought to be among documents relating to the Iraq war that the government is withholding from publication.

"It emerged this week that the Cabinet Office is resisting requests from the Iraq inquiry, the body set up to draw lessons from the conflict, for 'more than 130 records of conversations' between Blair, his successor, Gordon Brown, and Bush to be made public. In a letter to David Cameron, published on the inquiry's website, the committee's chairman, Sir John Chilcot, disclosed that '25 notes from Mr Blair to President Bush' and 'some 200 cabinet-level discussions' were also being withheld."


Nadhim Zahawi is in a repentant mood - and so he should be. From the BBC:

"A Conservative MP has agreed to pay back money he wrongly claimed in Commons expenses for electricity.

"Nadhim Zahawi claimed for electricity bills on a stables and a mobile home, as well as his constituency home.

"The Stratford on Avon MP pledged to repay the cash and has contacted the expenses watchdog, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

"'I am mortified by this mistake and apologise unreservedly for it,' Mr Zahawi said."

The MPs' expenses story never goes away, does it?


From the Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 39

Conservatives 34

Ukip 11

Lib Dems 10

That would give Labour a majority of 60.


@julianborger Fabius has gone all out to break the rules at Geneva talks - ignoring taboo against discussing details, then unilaterally declares failure

@Paulflynnmp As nemesis of a General Election approaches Coalition tries to stifle criticism with Gagging Bill and attacks on Paxman.

@DanHannanMEP 'All goes wrong when, starved for lack of anything good in their own lives, men turn to public affairs'. Plato


Andrew Rawnsley, writing in the Observer, says: "Ed Miliband's momentum confronts Cameron with a sharp dilemma."

Bruce Anderson, writing in the Sunday Telegraph says: "Ed Miliband has no answer to IDS the dragon-slayer."

John Rentoul, writing in the Independent on Sunday, says: "Even a vote for Nick Clegg is better than not voting."

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