Here are the five things you need to know on Thursday 6 March 2014...
1) VINCE VS THE HOME OFFICE
The Guardian reports on the latest outbreak of "open warfare" to have broken out between Vince Cable and Theresa May, "with the Liberal Democrat business secretary saying that every time he puts his head 'above the parapet' by talking positively about migrants he feels he needs 'a reinforced tin hat'. Cable, in a Mansion House speech to be delivered on Thursday night, is to attack the Tories' net migration target, claims of benefit tourism and concerns over EU migrants, saying: 'We just have to stop treating people coming to work here as if they are a problem. We need to kill off all the scare stories.'"
However, the paper reports, "in his first speech as the new immigration minister James Brokenshire will renew May's weekend rebuke to Cable for suggesting the rapid rise in net migration is good for Britain. He will go further than May in his language, and claim that those who benefit from immigration are either employers who want cheap labour or the "wealthy metropolitan elite" who want cheap tradesmen or services. He will insist immigration can cause displacement – keeping UK workers out of a job – despite claims that Downing Street is delaying publication of an official report showing such effects are overstated."
In fact, further evidence that Cable is telling the truth while Brokenshire and May are telling porkie pies is contained in the Independent's front page splash:
"An unpublished government-wide review has rebuffed repeated claims by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, that immigration has consigned large numbers of British workers to the dole queue. The potentially explosive report concludes that there is 'very little evidence' of such job displacement when the economy is growing. One Whitehall source told The Independent the review found immigration had a 'negligible' impact on British workers."
The coalition has form on such so-called 'cover-ups'. My HuffPost colleague Asa Bennett has put together a list of "7 Hugely Awkward Reports David Cameron Does Not Want You To See".
2) TO ENGAGE OR NOT TO ENGAGE?
No solution to the crisis in Crimea. Yet. From the Guardian's splash:
"The first western attempts to get Moscow to back down over its seizure of Crimea failed on Wednesday evening, putting pressure on the EU to resort to punitive action against the Kremlin at an emergency summit on Thursday. Negotiations in Paris between John Kerry, the US secretary of state, and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, broke up without agreement on Wednesday... Germany has led the push to get Russia to engage diplomatically, resisting calls from Washington to isolate the Kremlin... The transatlantic gulf opening up over how to respond to Putin appeared to be widening. One senior official from a G7 country... said Berlin, rather than Washington, should assume the lead in talks with Russia. 'I don’t think the US should necessarily be taking the lead on behalf of G7 countries.' Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has spoken to Putin six times in the past week and the Germans are keen to engage rather than isolate the Russians."
My HuffPost colleague Ned Simons has put together a list of quotes from current and former western leaders heaping praise on Putin in the not-too-distant past - my favourite is the then German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder calling the Russian president a "flawless democrat". (Schroeder now works for Russian gas giant Gazprom...)
Meanwhile, a poll for The Sun has found that a majority (52%) of British voters want to see sanctions imposed on Russia, though the figure drops to less than a third (27%) if those sanctions end up having a negative effect on the UK economy.
3) MILIBAND'S £10M GAMBLE
Ed Miliband has been praised for his bold, Clause IV-like reform of Labour Party rules and the role of the trade unions - but it could cost him in the long run. The Guardian reports:
"Britain's largest trade union on Wednesday flexed its muscles when it deprived Labour of around £1.5m a year after halving to 500,000 the number of its members affiliated to the party. In a sign of how Unite will use Ed Miliband's changes to Labour's trade union links to maximise its influence, the union's executive council announced that it would boost its own political fund by dramatically cutting its donations to Labour. Len McCluskey, the Unite general secretary, made the move after the Labour movement voted overwhelmingly at a special conference last weekend to ensure that trade union members will have to actively decide to affiliate to the Labour party... McCluskey said the changes would increase his power because the individual political levy – £3 of which will be handed to the Labour party for every affiliated member under the changes – will instead remain in the unions' political funds if a member refuses to affiliate to Labour... The move by Unite follows the decision by the GMB to cut its affiliation by £1m a year. This means that Labour stands to lose £10m over a five-year parliament."
Are the unions cutting too far, too fast? And how desperate will Labour be for that mooted loan from former leader Tony Blair? My HuffPost colleague Chris York has the details on where Blair gets his dosh from...
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...
Watch this video of a police officer dancing like a boss at the New Orleans Mardi Gras parade. You know you want to.
4) FATCAT BANKERS, PART 772
Forget the Lottery. Become a banker. From the Mirror's splash:
"While millions of Britons turn to the lottery in a bid to become fabulously wealthy, fatcat bankers clearly only need to wait for their bonuses. Barclays and Lloyds made more millionaires than Camelot last year – shelling out 508 mega-buck payments to swell the bulging accounts of bosses. A lucky 335 people won the lottery, raking in more than £682million between them. But Barclays lavished £1million bonuses on 481 senior staff, despite a 32% slump in profits, a warning to 7,000 ordinary workers they face the axe and the Libor rate-rigging and PPI mis-selling scandals still hanging over them. Lloyds paid 27 chiefs almost £1million extra. The move sparked anger among unions and bank floor staff, who earn an average of £20,000."
5) SHUT UP AND LISTEN
It isn't just Lib Dem Vince Cable whose on the warpath against his Tory colleagues. From the Times:
"The Energy Secretary has warned senior Conservative politicians to 'shut it' and stop questioning the scientific evidence that man-made emissions are causing global warming. Ed Davey said that Lord Lawson of Blaby, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer in Margaret Thatcher's government, and Peter Lilley, a Conservative MP and a former Cabinet minister, tried to undermine efforts to cut emissions 'every day, if they can'. He told EurActiv, a Brussels-based news website on EU news and policy: 'My recommendation to most politicians who want to talk about the climate is to listen to the scientists and listen to the evidence. Of course you can question it, but when there is overwhelming evidence you should tend to shut it.'"
PUBLIC OPINION WATCH
From the Sun/YouGov poll:
Lib Dems 10
That would give Labour a majority of 32.
900 WORDS OR MORE
Seumas Milne, writing in the Guardian, says: "The clash in Crimea is the fruit of western expansion."
Peter Oborne, writing in the Telegraph, says: "We appeased Putin before - why confront him now?"
Tim Montgomerie, writing in the Times, says: "The world economy is changing radically but the British state is largely unreformed, trapped in a different timezone."
Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ned Simons (email@example.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol