Mehdi's Morning Memo: Independence Day

First Minister Alex Salmond addresses the SNP annual conference at Perth Concert Hall in Scotland.
First Minister Alex Salmond addresses the SNP annual conference at Perth Concert Hall in Scotland.
Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The five things you need to know on Tuesday 26 November 2013...


It's 295 days until the Scottish referendum on independence. And the SNP will publish its long-awaited blueprint for a new country today, with the promise it will answer hundreds of questions about the country's future.

The Scottish Government's official white paper will contain a comprehensive Q&A section and explain the "opportunities" of independence, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said. "The guide and the answers it provides will show clearly and simply the difference that we can make in Scotland if decisions on Scotland's future are taken by those who care most about Scotland - that is the people of Scotland," she said on the eve of the launch.

The answers, along with downloadable copies, will be available at www.scotreferendum.com and live coverage of the launch will be streamed online. An opinion poll published on Sunday suggested 38% support a Yes vote and 47% back a No vote, meaning a swing of just 5% could lead to Scotland leaving the UK.

Better Together chairman Alistair Darling, the former Labour chancellor, said: "The white paper will try to force Scots into a risky choice that we don't need to make. We can have the best things about being a successful country and the best things about being part of something bigger.

Today's Memo is edited by Ned Simons as Mehdi Hasan is revising for the surprise sports quiz we are going to subject him to later.


In perhaps the least surprising poll result of 2013, a majority of the British public believes that the Conservative Party only represents the interests of the rich. A week after Planning Minister Nick Bowles suggested the biggest problem facing the Conservative Party was its image, a ComRes survey for The Independent showed that 51% of respondents agreed with the statement "the Conservative Party only represents the interests of the rich," while 24% disagreed.


Minister for Sport Helen Grant was the latest politician to experience their own The Thick of It moment when she scored zero in a sporting quiz.

ITV Meridian asked the MP for Maidstone five sports questions after interviewing her in the Kent town over the weekend but she was unable to answer any of them. Questions included naming the current Wimbledon women's champion, knowing who won the FA Cup this year and naming the England rugby union captain. Can you beat her score?

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A growing number of Americans doubt President Barack Obama's ability to manage the nation, according to a CNN/ORC poll released on Monday that reflects the possible larger impact of his administration's fumbled rollout of its healthcare law. The Huffington Post reports the poll also found that 53 percent of those polled said Obama is not honest or trustworthy, marking the first time that the CNN/ORC polling found a clear majority questioning the president's integrity, CNN said.


Romanians and Bulgarians moving to Britain will help the economy, the European Commission claimed on Monday. The Daily Telegraph reports the commission also warned David Cameron over his plans to restrict European migrants’ access to benefits. According to the paper the Commission said in a report that immigrants to Britain from the EU countries paid far more in tax than they received in benefits, so were therefore an economic bonus.

Unsurprisingly Nigel Farage was is not impressed: "EU Commission claims that open doors to Bulgaria and Romania will help the British economy. Who do you think you are kidding, Mr. Barroso?" he said this morning.


@jameschappers Rights and wrongs of independence aside, Nicola Sturgeon more impressive no2 than any in Westminster parties. Ran rings around Naughtie.

@bbcnickrobinson Key 'fact' on "Independence Day" -King Arthur wasn't English after all. He was, in fact, Scottish says @dailyrecord. Going to be quite a day


Rachel Sylvester in The Times: Do voters want Bravehearts or cool heads?

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet in The Daily Telegraph: Sarkozy is back in play and calculating the odds

Steve Richards in The Independent: For the state to intervene in the free market would have been anathema to Osborne. How times change

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