Mehdi's Morning Memo: Were Tories 'Complicit' in Apartheid?

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Were Tories 'Complicit' in Apartheid?

The five things you need to know on Tuesday 10 December...


Don't mess with Peter Hain. Speaking in the Commons yesterday, during the MPs' tribute to Nelson Mandela, the former Labour cabinet minister and veteran anti-apartheid activist, slammed Tories who try to "rewrite" the history of their party's relationship with apartheid South Africa.

"I praise the Prime Minister for admitting his party's record, which I have to describe as craven indulgence to apartheid rulers," Hain said.

"And if Nelson Mandela can forgive his oppressors, who am I not to the same to our opponents the decades of the anti-apartheid struggle. But it really does stick in the craw, when Lord Tebbit, Charles Moore and others similar claim their complicity with apartheid, for that's what I think it was, somehow brought about its end."

He added: "I know that Nelson Mandela did not think so."

Ouch. Talking of forgiveness, and reconciliation, isn't it a fitting tribute to the unifying powers of Madiba that his memorial in South Africa later today will bring together historic enemies - in attendance will be President Barack Obama of the United States and presidents Raoul Castro and Hasan Rouhani of Iran. You don't see that everyday.

Meanwhile, the Mail reports:

"David Cameron.. hailed Nelson Mandela as a ‘towering figure’ as Parliament cleared its agenda for eight hours of tributes to the former South African president.

"But the Prime Minister’s moving homage to Mr Mandela’s ‘enduring place in history’ risked being undermined when he tweeted during the opening speeches.

"Just minutes after the Commons session began, Mr Cameron’s official account released a picture of himself, with ITV’s Little Ant and Dec admiring a reindeer."


IDS did his best impression of Shaggy yesterday. As my colleague Asa Bennett reports:

"Iain Duncan Smith has blamed Tory party headquarters, party chairman Grant Shapps, journalists from right-wing papers and Labour 'moaning' for causing 'fear and alarm' about his welfare reforms.

"In a tense grilling before the Work and Pensions committee, Duncan Smith rejected accusations that the coalition's abuse of statistics to misrepresent the welfare system caused 'fear and alarm'."

Basically: it wasn't me. Blame everyone else. Except me.

Meanwhile, as the Guardian's Patrick Wintour reports:

"The government has increased its initial write-off of a failed IT system for universal credit by £6m, to £40.1m, but acknowledged that a further £90m of software is likely to be written down in its value over the next five years.

"The precise loss to the taxpayer will depend on how much of the existing IT software is retained after it has been merged with a new IT system being developed by the Cabinet Office's Government Digital Service."

He adds:

"The latest statistics were given by the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, as he denied that the universal credit timetable was slipping or that it was losing control of its overall budget. Asked if further write-offs could be expected, he said: 'If anything goes wrong going further forward, that might be different.'"

Fingers crossed, eh?


Captain Mark Carney of the Starship Bank of England reporting for duty. From the Telegraph front page:

"The governor of the Bank of England has said he would act if needed to prevent the UK housing market growing at 'warp speed' but signalled that the Bank is unlikely to raise interest rates any time soon.

"Mark Carney said yesterday that the Bank was concerned about the 'potential' for a bubble in the UK real estate sector and that the Bank would consider tightening lending requirements if needed.

"'There is a history of things shifting in the UK and of the housing market moving from stall speed to warp speed and [of] underwriting standards slipping. We want to avoid that,' he said.

"The Bank has already scrapped its Funding for Lending scheme for mortgages and will pull other forms of support if it does not slow down sufficiently. 'The Bank [has] a broad range of additional tools if required,' Mr Carney said."


"Although he left the door open for the Bank to increase interest rates 'soon', he said it would be a mistake 'to rush to a more extreme response' when the UK economy remains patchy."


Watch this video of how NOT to move a car that's stuck in the snow.


On Sunday, the Mail on Sunday splashed on a video of Ukip councillor Victoria Ayling in which, referring to immigrants to the UK, she said she would like to "send the lot back". On Monday, her party leader Nigel Farage came to the rescue.

From the Guardian:

"The Ukip leader condemned the report, first published in the Mail on Sunday, saying that Ayling's words on immigration appeared to have been 'deliberately distorted and taken out of context'. She has said the remarks refer just to illegal immigrants, and claims she is the victim of a set-up by her ex-husband..'I am sure many of you are aware of the attack by the Mail on Sunday on a Ukip councillor this weekend,' Farage wrote. 'I firstly want to reassure you that I believe this attack on Victoria Ayling to be unwarranted, and have the utmost sympathy with her. Her words on immigration, it would appear, were deliberately distorted and taken out of context in order to paint a very nasty picture ... This indicates very clearly to me the sort of tactics our political opponents will use in the runup to the European elections next year.'"


It was Gordon Brown who famously said in a conference speech: "Some people have been asking why I haven't served my children up for spreads in the papers. And my answer is simple. My children aren't props; they're people."

Well, perhaps he should have a word with his successor as PM and his successor as Labour leader - both Cameron and Miliband have revealed their personalised Christmas cards for 2013 and, as the BBC reports (and shows), "David and Samantha Cameron have chosen a black and white portrait of the couple and their youngest daughter Florence for their 2013 Christmas card... For their festive offering, Labour leader Ed Miliband and his wife Justine have chosen an image of the couple walking along the Brighton seafront with their two sons Sam and Daniel."


From the Guardian/ICM poll:

Labour 37

Conservatives 32

Lib Dems 12

Ukip 9

That would give Labour a majority of 54.

From the Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 38

Conservatives 33

Ukip 13

Lib Dems 10

That would give Labour a majority of 58.


@Nigel_Farage He could at least have worn a jaunty santa hat or a tinsel bow tie....#cameronxmascard


Rachel Sylvester, writing in the Times, says: "The shambles over Universal Credit highlights a lack of accountability throughout the Civil Service."

Aditya Chakrabortty, writing in the Guardian, says: "Let's admit it: Britain is now a developing country."

Steve Richards, writing in the Independent, says: "If we truly value democratic politics, then we must say MPs deserve their pay rise."

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan ( or Ned Simons ( You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol

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