17/11/2013 05:52 GMT | Updated 17/11/2013 05:53 GMT

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Dave Doesn't Consent

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COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - NOVEMBER 16: United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron attends the Heads of State meeting at Waters Edge on November 16, 2013 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The biannual Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is taking place from November 15-17, amid pressure from human rights groups urging leaders to boycott the summit until Sri Lanka further investigates charges of war crimes. Both the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper and Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Signh h

The five things you need to know on Sunday 17 November 2013...


After he went to war with his party activists over same-sex marriage, the PM now seems to be reasserting his social conservative credentials - from the Huffington Post UK:

"David Cameron has slapped down a public health expert who asked for a debate on lowering the age of consent.

"Professor John Ashton said the move would 'draw a line in the sand' against people having sex at 14 or younger.

"Ashton, the president of the Faculty of Public Health, told the Sunday Times that 'confused' messages were being sent to young people by society.

"But his comments drew a response from Downing Street, saying the minimum age was 16 'to protect children' and that there were no plans to lower it, the BBC reported."


Are Ed Miliband and Ed Balls having a falling out over Labour's message on the economy? Leaked emails from their aides seem to suggest so - especially a missive from Torsten Bell, a senior adviser to the Labour leader and former adviser to Alistair Darling, in the wake of this week's announcement from Bank of England governor Mark Carney that economic recovery had taken hold.

From the Mail on Sunday:

"In the terse email, which echoes reports that Mr Balls resents deferring to Mr Miliband, Mr Bellardinelli [Balls' chief adviser] wrote: ‘Could we get this out pls? cleared at this end [by Balls] and essentially the same script as we had on GDP day the other week.’

"Mr Balls’s 200-word statement began: ‘After three damaging years of flatlining . . .’ a phrase Mr Miliband now avoids. Mr Balls went on to complain about the ‘cost-of-living crisis’, called for a ‘recovery that’s built to last’ and an ‘economy that works for working people’. Less than 15 minutes later, Mr Bell forwarded the email to fellow Miliband loyalist, Greg Beales, the Labour leader’s head of strategy. In withering terms, Mr Bell wrote at the top of the email: ‘As an example of why we’re having problems on EB (EdBalls) messaging – this is his current three-part argument: Cost of living; Recovery built to last; Economy works for working people.’

"Mr Bell signed off with his own damning, one-word assessment of Mr Balls: ‘Nightmare’. He did not send the reply to Mr Balls’s office."



From the BBC:

"Nick Clegg has said the coalition government should raise the income tax threshold for a fifth time.

"The government has repeatedly raised the personal allowance - the amount people can earn before paying income tax - since the 2010 election.

"The threshold is due to reach £10,000 in 2014/15 - the level agreed when the coalition was formed - but Mr Clegg wants to make it £10,500 from 2015."

The Tories aren't pleased with the timing of this announcement from their junior coalition partners - especially as David Cameron is abroad, on his visit to Sri Lanka.

From the Mail on Sunday:

"Senior MP Charlie Elphicke said: ‘Conservatives are natural tax cutters, but for Clegg to pull this sort of ambush while the Prime Minister is away is pathetic.'"


Watch this video of the world's first Kim Jong Un impersonator.


The row over energy prices continues: Labour has made most of the running on this issue in recent weeks, but the coalition is hitting back hard. From the Independent on Sunday:

"More than a million households are poised to swap energy suppliers in a move of unprecedented magnitude in Britain.

"In a dramatic escalation of pressure by the Government on energy suppliers over their soaring prices, homes across London and in 77 local authority areas, helped by the Department for Energy and Climate Change, can change their fuel provider this Tuesday.

"Ed Davey, the Climate Change Secretary, said 'people are fed up with the Big Six' and that collective switching was a way for families, particularly the fuel-poor, to regain control over their energy bills."

This story ain't going away anytime soon...


Watch out Ed - they're going to be gunning for you. Personally. From the Observer:

"David Cameron is planning to use John Major's successful 1992 campaign victory against Neil Kinnock as a model for the next election, portraying himself as the underdog against high-tax and high-spending Labour.

"Speaking during a trip to the Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka, the prime minister said he was ready to roll back the years and 'dust down' some of Major's posters, which vilified Kinnock and helped prevent the then Labour leader entering No 10.

"Warnings by Major of a 'tax bombshell' and posters showing the former Labour leader as a boxer with gloves marked 'more taxes' and 'higher prices' were seen part of a highly effective scare campaign.

"Asked if he could learn some lessons from the 1992 win, Cameron, who worked for Major at the time, said: 'I believe there are some similarities. He faced a Labour politician who wanted to tax more, spend more and borrow more, and I am facing a politician who wants to tax more, spend more and borrow more.'"

The big question is, um, er, will we see Miliband's head inside a lightbulb on the front page of the Sun, come May 2015?


From the Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 39

Conservatives 33

Ukip 12

Lib Dems 10

That would give Labour a majority of 78.

From the Observer/Opinium poll:

Labour 37

Conservatives 28

Ukip 16

Lib Dems 9

That would give Labour a majority of 94.


Matthew D'Ancona, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, says: "Of course a privileged background matters, and it's not the politics of envy to say so."

Adam Boulton, writing in the Sunday Times, says: "It’s getting better; the Tories just can’t convince us."

Henry Porter, writing in the Observer, says: "No more evasion and prevarication – Britain's elite must be held to account."

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