Mehdi's Morning Memo: Was Maggie Involved In Paedo Cover-up?

The five things you need to know on Sunday 13 July 2014...


From the Sunday People:

"Margaret Thatcher personally covered up child abuse allegations made against one of her senior ministers, according to explosive new claims. The Tory Prime Minister is said to have held a high-powered meeting with the rising star, who was being tipped for promotion, and told him: 'You have to clean up your sexual act.' It followed an allegation that the minister had sexually abused young boys at the home of one of his political allies in 1982. However the minister apparently ignored the warnings. It is claimed that four years later he was spotted by police seeking young boys for sex at Victoria railway station in London. But no action was taken. The extraordinary claims - made to the Sunday People by a source with inside knowledge of Scotland Yard in the early 1980s - are now expected to be put before the Westminster child abuse inquiry announced last week by the Prime Minister."


Is this what the Israelis mean by a 'targeted' air campaign against Gaza? From the Independent on Sunday:

"The residents of the Mobarat Felestin centre for the disabled had just finished suhoor, the early morning meal before a long day of fasting during Ramadan, when the first missile hit the roof. It may have been the standard warning issued by the Israeli military that a major attack was coming. But the people inside did not know that. And, with all but one of them suffering from mental and physical disability, it is highly unlikely they would have been able to escape in any event. The ensuing air strike..demolished a large part of the structure.. leaving two dead and four others horrifically injured from shrapnel and burns. As the victims were carried out of the ruined building in Beit Lahia, through the charred debris, twisted metal and shards of glass, the mood was one of despondency - and anger."

Meanwhile, the BBC this morning reports that "at least 159 Palestinians have died in the air strikes, Gaza officials say. They are said to include 17 members of one family who died in an Israeli missile strike on Saturday evening."

Is any western government going to demand a ceasefire? Put any pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu?


That's the rather loaded and offensive headline in the Sun on Sunday, which covers the latest chapter of the coalition's war on benefit claimants:

"Benefit claimants with anxiety and depression like TV's White Dee may be forced to get counselling or lose handouts. Ministers are considering the move due to the high numbers signed off sick with "treatable" conditions. Four pilot projects have been ordered to probe links between providing mental health support and getting people back to work.. Sources said around 260,000 on ESA — about half — who are meant to be preparing for work have mental health problems. They get handouts worth around £1.3billion a year."

Yet, as Dr Sarah Wollaston, former GP and Tory chair of the Commons health select committee, tweeted this morning: "Just imagining the increase in prescriptions for antidepressants to 'prove' compliance with treatment. Unethical, unworkable nonsense."


Watch this video of an awkward stand-off on the stairs between a dog and a cat.


It's a Christian obligation, apparently. The Archbishop of Canterbury told BBC1's Andrew Marr show this morning that the wealthiest members of our society had a “duty to make a proper contribution to society”.

“There have to be serious questions about some of these tax avoidance schemes,” said Justin Welby, before adding that it was the responsibility of governments to close the various tax loopholes that are exploited by (legal) tax avoiders.

He also criticised the "hysterical" coverage of British Muslims and the issue of extremism.


Those so-called "comfort letters", in which almost 200 IRA terrorism suspects were told they were not wanted by police, are now causing a bit of a problem for the former prime minister who oversaw their issuance. From the Sunday Telegraph:

"Tony Blair faces being summoned before Parliament to explain the secret deals he made with Sinn Fein to assure IRA suspects "on the run" that they were not wanted by the police, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose. The former prime minister has been accused of dodging a Commons select committee investigating the affair. MPs on the committee are to consider issuing a formal parliamentary order compelling Mr Blair to attend a hearing to give evidence — a highly embarrassing prospect for the former Labour leader."

Does anything, though, really embarrass Blair these days?


From today's Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 38

Conservatives 33

Ukip 12

Lib Dems 9

That would give Labour a majority of 58.


Matthew D'Ancona, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, says: "Ed Miliband still looks like a man trying to square a circle."

Joan Smith, writing in the Independent on Sunday, says: "Gordon Brown could have had a woman as deputy PM. He bottled it."

Dominic Lawson, writing in the Sunday Times, says: "In a sexual free-for-all such as ours, a paedo panic always lurks."

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