Mehdi's Morning Memo: George Osborne Vs Nick Clegg

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (left) and Chancellor George Osborne listen to Labour Leader Ed Miliband's response to the Chancellor's Budget in the House of Commons, London.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (left) and Chancellor George Osborne listen to Labour Leader Ed Miliband's response to the Chancellor's Budget in the House of Commons, London.
PA/PA Archive

Here are the five things you need to know on Monday 31 March 2014...


The deputy prime minister seems to be fighting wars on several fronts. Not content with preparing for round 2 of his clash with Ukip's Nigel Farage over Europe, he's taking pot shots at the chancellor of the exchequer over credit for the economic recovery. From the Telegraph front page:

"Britain is 'starting to walk tall in the world' again as the country reclaims its place as a global economic powerhouse, the Chancellor will declare today. George Osborne will take the credit for income tax cuts which come into force this week, saying they are making work pay. It comes as Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, accuses the Conservatives of trying to 'steal' Liberal Democrat tax policies in order to shed their reputation as the party of the rich. In comments timed to coincide with the Chancellor's speech, Mr Clegg will say that senior Tories are publicly claiming to support the tax cuts in order to improve their image, even though they privately opposed the changes. Despite claiming to want to help those on low and middle incomes, the Conservatives are 'preoccupied with the tax treatment of the few rather than the many', the Deputy Prime Minister said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph."

On a related note, is Osborne starting to get complacent? Will households in the 'squeezed hold' feel as if they're getting taller? Labour's Chris Leslie says the average household is £900 worse off a year as a result of tax and benefit changes announced by the chancellor since 2010.


Ukip leader Nigel Farage has been speaking to GQ magazine - specifically, GQ's new 'arch-interrogator', former Labour spinner Alastair Campbell. From the Guardian:

"Nigel Farage has named Vladimir Putin as the world leader he most admires, praising the Russian president's handling of the crisis in Syria. But the Ukip leader had less kind words for Angela Merkel, describing the German chancellor as 'incredibly cold'. He also said he saw little to choose between the leaders of Britain's three major parties, telling GQ magazine he does not give a damn whether David Cameron or Ed Miliband wins next year's general election. Farage's comments emerged just days after the Eurosceptic MEP said the European Union had 'blood on its hands' for encouraging rebellion in Ukraine, Syria and Libya. While stressing he did not approve of Putin's annexation of Crimea, he said EU leaders had been "weak and vain", adding: 'If you poke the Russian bear with a stick he will respond.'"


"A United Nations report raised the threat of climate change to a whole new level on Monday, warning of sweeping consequences to life and livelihood. The report from the UN's intergovernmental panel on climate change concluded that climate change was already having effects in real time – melting sea ice and thawing permafrost in the Arctic, killing off coral reefs in the oceans, and leading to heat waves, heavy rains and mega-disasters. And the worst was yet to come. Climate change posed a threat to global food stocks, and to human security, the blockbuster report said. 'Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,' said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC."

Well, nobody except Nigel Lawson. Obviously.


Watch this video of a dog that's scared of a leaf. You know you want to.


"The North and Midlands would be hit hardest by Britain quitting the European Union, according to an economic analysis which revealed that the number of jobs which are dependent on trade links with the bloc now exceeds 4 million. It calculates that exports to the European single market are worth £211bn – or £3,500 per head of population – and particularly boost employment levels in less-prosperous parts of the UK. In the light of the figures, hardline eurosceptics were accused of contemplating an 'act of madness' by calling for Britain to pull out of the EU. A previous estimate suggested that between 3 million and 3.5 million British jobs are linked to exports to the EU, the world’s largest trading group. But the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) has concluded that the figure has climbed by around a quarter to 4.2 million jobs, or more than 13 per cent of the national workforce. It comprises 3.1 million jobs directly supported by sales to EU markets as well as another 1.1 million which are indirectly supported."


The French have been voting this weekend - from the Telegraph:

"Paris last night elected its first female mayor, stealing a march on London as the ruling Socialists suffered a severe defeat elsewhere in the country and the far–Right celebrated strong gains. The Socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo, a 54–year old Spanish–born labour law expert, was on course to take the helm of the French capital in a tight contest... Electing a woman to run Paris was a symbolic step in a nation where only 27 per cent of MPs in the Assemblée Nationale and 22 per cent of representatives in the Sénate, the upper house, are female. While historic, the Parisian victory proved an electoral fig leaf for the ruling Socialist Party, which posted catastrophic losses in nationwide municipal elections that could lead to President François Hollande sacking his prime minister today... The elections also proved historic for the Front National, which was on course to take control of 14 to 15 towns of more than 9,000 inhabitants, according to Manuel Valls, the interior minister, who confirmed that the Socialists had been giving a historic drubbing, losing control of 155 towns of 9,000 or more people."


From yesterday's Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 40

Conservatives 33

Ukip 11

Lib Dems 9

That would give Labour a majority of 86.


Chris Huhne, writing in the Guardian, says: "Nigel Farage's vision of a better yesterday will fade in a brighter future."

Alan Cochrane, writing in the Telegraph, says: "The pro-Union side has had a torrid few days, but it may turn out to be a vital wake-up call."

Ian Birrell, writing in the Independent, says: "As gay people celebrate, the treatment of the disabled just gets worse."

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