Mehdi's Morning Memo: Was There A Paedo 'Chum-ocracy'?

The five things you need to know on Friday 11 July 2014...


From the Sun:

"The Westminster elite 'protected their own' on child sex abuse for years, a Government whip declared yesterday. Claire Perry hit out amid growing fears a paedo ring has been stalking the corridors of power. She said: 'Part of the problem can be traced, in my view, to the 'chum-ocracy' that for too long has been at the heart of the so-called Establishment.' The junior member of the Government — promoted to assistant whip last year — said it meant 'too many people with the same interests and the same out-of-touch sense of entitlement coming together to protect their own'."


From the Times:

"Taxpayers have lost out on as much as £1 billion as a result of the botched privatisation of the Royal Mail, say MPs. In damning findings that will heap pressure on Vince Cable, the business secretary, a parliamentary inquiry into the sale of Royal Mail shares found that ministers were overly cautious in setting a price and were given poor advice. The cross-party business select committee said that taxpayers had lost 'significant value' after shares were sold for 330p each. The price shot up to 618p before falling to about 473p now. The findings come a day after Dr Cable, who oversaw the sale and has already faced calls for his resignation, announced a review of the way that the government handles privatisations. Critics described the move as a cynical attempt to limit the political damage caused by the Royal Mail row."


Meanwhile, Cable is trying to win friends on the left, it seems. From the Guardian:

"Hundreds of thousands of people joined rallies, picket lines and marches across England and Wales on Thursday as wealthy ministers were warned not to demonise the UK's lowest paid workers...The strike was part of the biggest round of industrial action in the UK for three years and prompted a bitter political row over Tory plans to tighten strike laws... Vince Cable, the business secretary, attacked David Cameron's plans to raise the threshold for strikes, which could only be legal if supported by a majority of a union's membership, not just those who vote. Cable said ministers were attempting to 'undermine basic workers' rights'. 'Trade unions should not need approval for a strike from half their members when MPs do not need to reach such a high threshold to get elected.'"


Watch this video of perhaps the greatest ever audience contribution on BBC1's Question Night - from last night's show in Scotland.


From the Telegraph:

"David Cameron's attempts to renegotiate Britain's relationship with the European Union will fail, forcing him to join the campaign for Britain to leave, according to Lord Lawson, a former Chancellor. The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that if he wins May's general election he will renegotiate the UK's relationship with the EU ahead of an in–out referendum on Britain's membership by 2017. However Lord Lawson – who was chancellor in Margaret Thatcher's administration and is a close ally of George Osborne – said he believed these attempts would fail and 'nothing of any significance' was negotiable. He told The House magazine: 'I am convinced that – I may be wrong, but from my knowledge of the European Union – that nothing of any significance is negotiable.'... Asked if he envisaged Mr Cameron consulting the Tory parliamentary party on the inout decision in 2017, he said: 'Whether he does it through formal consultation or informally, I think he will need to do that.'"


What do Stephen Fry, Grayson Perry, Sir Anish Kapoor and Sir Antony Gormley have in common? They've all been helping the Labour Party raise loadsamoney - and they're not bankers. From the Guardian:

"The Labour party believes it is on course to have raised up to £500,000 from its gala dinner on Wednesday night which saw one bidder pledge more than £100,000 for a sculpture by Sir Antony Gormley. Senior Labour figures believe that the gala dinner, organised by Dame Tessa Jowell, succeeded in raising large amounts to help fund the party's general election campaign. 'We had works of art and they all just had some rather flashy stuff,' one Labour source said of the contrast between its gala dinner at the Roundhouse and last week's Tory fundraiser at the riverside Hurlingham Club in Fulham, south west London."

Fry, who was compering, is reported to have told the gala that the Tory-led coalition government was "a rancid regime which looks after the rich and reprehensible".


From today's Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 37

Conservatives 34

Ukip 12

Lib Dems 8

That would give Labour a majority of 32.


Tom Watson, writing in the Guardian, says: "Forcing through the surveillance laws is a further erosion of political trust."

Francis Elliott, writing in the Times, says: "It’s Team Cameron that needs the reshuffle."

Fraser Nelson, writing in the Telegraph, says: "The public sector strike shows how much times have changed."

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