Mehdi's Morning Memo: Will Obama Intervene?

The five things you need to know on Wednesday 18 June...


From the Guardian:

"Iraqi government forces fought off jihadi rebel forces north of Baghdad on Tuesday amid signs from the US that the Obama administration is hesitating before being drawn into a new war. Heavy clashes were reported from Baquba after it was taken over by fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis), and in Baghdad eight people were killed by a suicide bomber. Iranian-backed militiamen were out in force in Shia areas of the capital in an attempt to assure residents that they have a highly volatile situation under control. As the fighting continued, there was no sign of imminent military moves by the US, with the White House warning of several days of further consultation before any intervention. Senior Democrats have expressed growing caution about the risks of being sucked back in to any conflict. In London David Cameron warned that Isis militants in Iraq and Syria were the 'biggest threat to national security that exists today', as Britain announced plans to reopen its Tehran embassy, closed since an attack in 2011. William Hague, the foreign secretary, said the UK and Iran shared an interest in stability in the region. He also described talk of joint military action in Iraq as 'far too ambitious and unrealistic'."


I'm not sure Alex Salmond will be too worried by the latest world leader to back to the 'Better Together' anti-independence campaign - from the Telegraph:

"China last night signalled its opposition to Scottish independence, with the country's premier saying that he wants to see a 'united United Kingdom'. In yet another boost for the No campaign ahead of September's referendum, Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier, said that he wanted a "strong" Union... Speaking alongside David Cameron in a press conference at the Foreign Office in London, Mr Li said that he wanted a 'strong, prosperous and united United Kingdom'. He said: 'I believe that the United Kingdom can stay at the forefront in leading the world's growth and development and also continue to play an important and even bigger role for regional stability and global peace.' However, Mr Li added: 'We certainly respect the choice you make.'"

So no suggestion of a Tibet-style invasion then...


Still trying to impress his Eurosceptic backbenchers, and do his best impression of Winston 'fight them on the beaches' Churchill, David Cameron isn't giving up in his battle to decide who'll be the next top bod in Brussels - from the Guardian:

David Cameron has pledged to fight the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as the next president of the European commission 'right up to the end'. As UK officials admitted that the prime minister faces a tough battle, Britain suffered a fresh setback when it was confirmed that Italy will demand a relaxation of European austerity policies in return for agreement on the appointment. Downing Street had hoped Matteo Renzi, who had questioned the "lead candidate" – or Spitzenkandidaten – system that has made Juncker the frontrunner, might oppose the former Luxembourg prime minister. But the Italian prime minister will indicate he is open to a deal in exchange for more time to tackle Italy's budget deficit. Cameron rejected any deals, saying... 'There is absolutely no question of changing my view.'"

We've heard that before...


Watch this video of Phil Neville commentating on 'Game Of Thrones'.


From the Times splash:

"Patients should be charged a £10 fee to see their GP, nurses will say today. The move would raise £1.2 billion a year and deter people from troubling the NHS with minor ailments, delegates at the Royal College of Nursing congress in Liverpool will be told. Fees would go against the health service's founding principle of free care at the point of use, but nurses are joining a growing number of voices who say that a cash crisis means desperate measures must be considered. They urged politicians to say how they plan to pay for a health service that faces a £30 billion funding black hole by the end of the decade. Patient leaders attacked the plan, saying that charges would deter the poor from seeking help, push people towards A&E and require cumbersome bureaucracy to collect."


It's a good thing Islamophobia is just a figment of our imagination, a made-up concept, right? Right? From the Huffington Post:

"How do American conservatives really feel about Muslims? The reaction of this panel - and the crowd - to a question posed by a young Muslim law student might offer a useful primer. Organised by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank based in Washington, the discussion focused on the death of four Americans.. who perished in the 2012 attack in Benghazi... However, when Saba Ahmed stood up to protest that her faith was not being accurately portrayed, the questioner found herself on the end of a berating, particularly from Brigitte Gabriel, a panellist of ACT for America.. 'We portray Islam and all Muslims as bad, but there are 1.8 billion followers of Islam,' said Ahmed. 'We have 8 million-plus Muslim Americans in this country and I don't see them represented here.' Gabriel responded: 'When you look throughout history, most Germans were peaceful, yet the Nazis drove the agenda and, as a result, 60 million died," she said.”Almost 14 million in concentration camps. The peaceful majority were irrelevant'.. Gabriel's rants drew a standing ovation from the crowd."

You can watch the video here.


From the Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 37

Conservatives 33

Ukip 13

Lib Dems 7

That would give Labour a majority of 44.

From the Guardian/ICM poll:

Labour 32

Conservatives 31

Ukip 16

Lib Dems 10

That would give us a hung parliament with Labour 5 seats short of a majority.


Zoe Williams, writing in the Guardian, say: "Wilshaw and Gove blame the feckless parents – as long as they're poor."

Daniel Finkelstein, writing in the Times, says: "Don’t shoot the adviser. Ed’s the one to blame."

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (mehdi.hasan@huffingtonpost.com), Ned Simons (ned.simons@huffingtonpost.com) or Asa Bennett (asa.bennett@huffingtonpost.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons, @asabenn and @huffpostukpol