The five things you need to know on Friday 20 June 2014...
1) MILIBAND VS MCBRIDE
Six in ten voters don't think he's up to the job of prime minister but the Leader of the Opposition is defiant - from the Guardian:
"Ed Miliband has fended off a series of attacks from within Labour about his personal style, the need for more 'street-fighters' on his team and his plans to cut out-of-work benefits for under-21s. Casting himself as the underdog, the Labour leader said he would "relish" the fight over the next year and believes he can 'defy the odds' to win the election in 2015. Labour is about four points ahead of the Conservatives in the latest YouGov/Sun poll on 38%, putting Miliband on course to win a narrow overall majority... Damian McBride, Gordon Brown's former spin doctor, said the Labour leader needed more warriors among his advisers if he is to win the election. McBride, who resigned in 2009 over a plot to smear his opponents, said the Labour leader's closest advisers lacked an understanding of what was required to win and would rather be attending a symposium by the French economist Thomas Piketty."
Ouch. I don't have an issue with attending events with Piketty - in fact, I was at one myself on Monday, hosted by Stewart Wood, one of Miliband's shrewdest aides! - but I agree with McBride that the Labour leader needs more street-fighters - on his team, on his shadow cabinet, on his backbenches. Both Blair and Brown had attack dogs - where are Miliband's?
2) FIGHTING IRAQ'S 'TERRORIST ARMY'
From the Telegraph splash:
"America should launch 'targeted' military attacks against an emerging 'terrorist army' in Iraq if the security of the West is jeopardised, the former head of coalition forces in the country said last night. David Petraeus, one of the most senior figures in the US military over the past decade, told The Daily Telegraph that he would support limited strikes against the leadership of Isis (the Islamic State of Iraq and al–Sham). Gen Petraeus's intervention came as Barack Obama, the US president, announced that America was sending 300 special forces advisers to Iraq to help support the fight against Isis. Mr Obama also said that the US was prepared for military strikes if future intelligence recommended such action. William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, ruled out British involvement in military intervention in Iraq."
On a related note, do watch Fox News's Megyn Kelly put Dick Cheney on the spot over his support for the Iraq invasion in 2003: "History has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir."
3) THE DISABILITY BENEFITS 'FIASCO'
Margaret Hodge's Public Accounts Committee has another 'devastating' report out today - from the Independent's splash:
"Thousands of vulnerable people have suffered pain, distress and penury because of blunders made by the Government during the launch of a key disability reform, a devastating report warns today. MPs denounced the introduction of the personal independence payment (PIP) as a 'fiasco' which had resulted in a huge backlog of claims and lengthy delays over decisions. Many people have had to wait six months for a decision on their claim, the MPs said, with even the terminally ill facing an average four-week delay. Some claimants were forced to turn to food banks, apply for loans or rely on charity handouts to survive, the committee said. They pinned the blame for the chaos on Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), accusing it of making basic mistakes ahead of last year’s launch."
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...
'There are no words for how much I loathe you': watch this video of Yasmin Alibhai Brown berating the awful Rod Liddle on Channel 4 News yesterday.
4) 'BRITISH VALUES', PART 23
From the Guardian splash:
"Community leaders have warned that some Muslims could be effectively barred from becoming trustees or governors of new academies and free schools under rules introduced by the education secretary, Michael Gove, in response to the 'Trojan horse' controversy. The Department for Education has inserted new clauses into the model funding agreement for academies stipulating that its governors should demonstrate 'fundamental British values', and giving the secretary of state powers to close schools if they do not comply. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said that the new rule would make it very difficult to become a school governor if conservative Muslim beliefs were deemed to be incompatible with 'British values', and that it put too much power in the secretary of state's hands to define those values."
5) NO PASSPORT? TRY A 'STAYCATION'
The Huffington Post UK sums up Helen Grant's interview with House magazine:
"Can't get your passport sorted because of the ongoing application backlog chaos? Are your holiday plans ruined? Your children crying because they can't get to Disneyland? Fear not! The tourism minister, currently enjoying the football World Cup in Brazil, has got the perfect solution to your woes - just stay in Britain. Helen Grant has risked the wrath of people caught up in the passports row by suggesting they consider changing their plans and holiday in the UK. Grant insisted she is 'confident' that a backlog of up to 30,000 applications would be cleared in time for families to go away. But, in a rather mixed message, she added that there was a 'lot to be said for the staycation'."
"You'd feel safe sitting them next to your mum at a wedding." - Damian McBride on Ed Miliband's advisers.
PUBLIC OPINION WATCH
From the Sun/YouGov poll:
Lib Dems 8
That would give Labour a majority of 44.
900 WORDS OR MORE
Rafael Behr, writing in the Guardian, says: "If it is to win, Labour must confront the 'Ed problem'."
Fraser Nelson, writing in the Daily Telegraph, says: "Ed Miliband’s welfare plan shows he’s not ready for high office."
Philip Collins, writing in the Times, says: "Wanted: new Paxmans to break the deadlock."
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