19/06/2014 03:45 BST | Updated 19/06/2014 03:59 BST

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Miliband, The 'Flatulent Dog In A Lift'

The four things you need to know on Thursday 19 June...


Unemployed young people should be stripped of state handouts unless they agree to training in vital skills, Ed Miliband is to say today. Bidding to neutralise Tory jibes that Labour is the "party of welfare", Miliband will call for 18 to 21-year-olds to be given a "youth allowance" rather than out-of-work benefits. But the money will be conditional on them signing up to learn key skills - and they will not get it if their parents are relatively well off.

The Labour leader will set out details in a speech at the IPPR think-tank in London today. But the headline of 'Labour tough on benefits' is surely all Miliband and his team is after. Your morning Memo is a a bit earlier than usual this morning to allow your Huffington Post reporter to make his way to the Miliband speech. So if anything important happens between now at the usual delivery time of 8.30am, then, our apologies, we were on the Tube.

Today's Memo is edited by Ned Simons as Mehdi Hasan has been called up by Roy Hodgson to play in tonight's crunch England World Cup game. At least that is what he told me.


Incase you hadn't noticed everyone mentioning it, last night was Jeremy Paxman's last as Newsnight presenter. The programme gave him a fitting send-off involving him hopping on a bike with Boris, reading the weather and featured a nice cameo from Michael Howard. Lord Mandelson also graced the BBC studio with his presence and gave an 'interview' to Paxman. However the inquisitor-in-chief was not really needed, as the Labour grandee didn't need prompting to have a go at Miliband.

Paxman introduced the segment by suggesting the Labour leader was as popular as a "flatulent dog in a lift". A theme Mandelson was more than keen to pick up on. "Having policies though without those being drawn together into a convincing vivid narrative, a story about yourself, who you are what you stand for and what you are going to do for people in the country, is really not enough," he said with a smile. But it was a Mandelson smile. Which isn't really a smile. It's a threat.

Lord Mandelson also offered his views on his old boss Tony Blair. "No I do not think he has gone a bit nuts," he told Paxo. Whether he thought Blair had gone completely rather than a "bit" nuts was not examined.


Iraq has asked the United States for air support in countering Sunni rebels, the top US general said on Wednesday, after the militants seized major cities in a lightning advance that has routed the Shi'ite-led government's army. The request came as the former commander of coalition forces in the country, general David Petraeus, warned that America should not become the air force for one side of a sectarian civil-war. As HuffPost UK reports, Obama's ex-CIA director told a London conference yesterday that if the United States did get involved "it has to be a fight of all of Iraq against extremists".

On this subject, also make sure to read Mehdi Hasan's column today: 'Blair's supporters should stage an intervention - and make him shut up about Iraq'.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR... Spain were dumped out of the World Cup last night because they weren't very good at football. But the highlight of yesterday's games was Australia's Tim Cahill doing this to Holland.


The Guardian reports this morning on David Cameron's speech at last night's Policy Exchange garden party. The prime minister gave his full backing to Michael Gove and the education secretary's analysis of extremism in the UK.

"There were some in the last government and before that who seemed to think it was ok to tolerate extremist language, extremist rhetoric and extremist mindsets as as long as you never tolerate violent extremism," the paper reports he said.

"It's almost like saying we're ok with the BNP, it's only Combat 18 (a neo-Nazi organisation) you have to worry about. We don't accept fascists in this country so we shouldn't accept that argument when it comes to Islamic extremism. I think it's absolutely vital to make this argument and win this argument as comprehensively as we have over the economy."

But Cameron is also reported to have taken a pop a Gove's former special adviser Dominic Cummings, who has been causing all sorts of trouble in recent days. The PM said Cummings had a good path from former SpAd to "career psychopath".

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