The five things you need to know on Tuesday 15 July 2014...
1) 'MASSACRE OF THE MODERATES'
That's Labour's take on the David Cameron reshuffle, which kicked off last night, with the departure from government of a large group of Tory moderates and modernizers including William Hague, Ken Clarke, Andrew Lansley, Dominic Grieve, Damian Green and Alan Duncan, among others. Is this a Lynton Crosby-inspired shift to the right from Dave, in the run-up to the election campaign? Maybe not. Both Owen Paterson (environment) and David Jones (Wales) have been sacked from the cabinet, too, and they're both card-carrying eurosceptics who didn't back gay marriage.
The Hague resignation is the biggest (and most surprising!) news of the reshuffle so far - my colleague Ned Simons reports:
"Hague will replace Andrew Lansley as leader of the House of Commons until 2015 - when he will step down from parliament. Defence secretary Philip Hammond is expected to become the new foreign secretary. He would take over as Cameron looks to begin negotiating for Britain a looser relationship with the EU ahead of an in/out referendum in 2017. Hammond has previously said he would vote to leave the union if a referendum were held today as Brussels holds too many powers... [Hague] said he would 'finish in politics as I began – speaking in Parliament and campaigning among the voters'."
Meanwhile, the outgoing 'minister without portfolio' Ken Clarke has appeared on the Today programme to say "we need a lot more women in parliament" and that he would "be personally in favour of all-women shortlists" for the Tory Party. Clarke's departure is a major moment, too - he served under four different prime ministers. The HuffPost UK put together a list of his 11 best moments (did you know that Clarke takes credit for England winning the World Cup in 1966, too?).
As lots of talented Tory women prepare for promotion today, the papers take a pretty uniform stance on their front pages:
"Purge of the middle-aged men," proclaims the Mail.
"Cameron's massacre of the men in suits," is the Independent's take.
"Hague out in cull of middle-aged white men" is the Telegraph's splash.
Let's be clear and not get carried away: even after the new women join the cabinet - and it's being reported this morning that Liz Truss is heading for the environment department to replace Paterson - it'll still be a government dominated by middle-aged white men. Rich, middle-aged, white men...
2) ED CAN'T WIN
That's the view of Charles Clarke, the former Labour home secretary, who told me that he predicts an outright majority for the Tories come May 2015. Ouch. Clarke also stuck the knife into Ed Miliband personally when I asked him if the latter could be compared to Neil Kinnock:
"Neil has far, far more qualities than Ed Miliband as a leader.. Neil was a fantastic leader and brought Labour back towards victory."
Clarke also slammed Gordon Brown for not turning to to parliament, said Tony Blair had harmed his own reputation through his post-prime ministerial behaviour and claimed Labour had indeed overspent in office from 2006 onwards. Read my full interview with the Blairite big beast here.
3) TIME FOR A TRUCE?
From the BBC:
"Israel has accepted a Egyptian proposal for a truce in the conflict in Gaza. Hamas, which controls Gaza, has not formally responded. But its armed wing has rejected the plan as a 'surrender'. The proposal urges a ceasefire starting imminently, followed by a series of meetings in Cairo with high-level delegations from both sides. Palestinian officials say at least 192 people have been killed by Israeli air strikes launched eight days ago to stop militants firing rockets into Israel. The UN estimates that over three-quarters of these were civilians."
So what has Israel achieved over the past few weeks? Are civilians, including kids, dead? Yes. Is Hamas destroyed? No. Are we any closer to a peace deal and a resolution to the conflict? Not at all.
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...
Watch this video of a St Bernard dog making friends with a tiny kitten. You know you want to.
4) SLOSSED OUT
THe government's inquiry into historic child sex abuse cases currently has no chair. Oh dear. Is the home secretary to blame? From the Guardian:
"The home secretary, Theresa May, has no immediate replacement lined up to take over from Lady Butler-Sloss, who resigned as chair of the inquiry into historic child sex abuse only a week after her appointment. May came under strong pressure for failing to undertake 'due diligence' before appointing the former judge and sister of the 1980s attorney general Lord Havers to the role. Butler-Sloss, in announcing her resignation, said she 'did not sufficiently consider the difficulties' her family connections might cause for her role in conducting the inquiry. Under critical questioning of her judgment before the Commons home affairs committee, the home secretary said she had not taken into account before making the appointment allegations that Havers had tried to dissuade the late Geoffrey Dickens MP from 'naming names' of alleged Westminster paedophiles in the Commons in the early 1980s."
5) SURVEILLING THE SURVEILLANCE BILL
Meanwhile, the paper also reports:
"Government hopes of pushing through an emergency surveillance bill without disagreement between parties hit a setback on Monday when Labour tabled amendments requiring six-monthly reviews of the laws and a legal commitment to hold an independent overarching review of surveillance legislation by the end of 2016. The two amendments tabled by the shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, do not strike at the central powers contained in the planned emergency laws, but reflect anger at the way in which the potentially sweeping changes are being railroaded through parliament even though their interpretation remains in dispute between experts."
PUBLIC OPINION WATCH
From the Guardian/ICM poll:
Lib Dems 12
That would give us a hung parliament, with Labour 13 seats short of a majority.
900 WORDS OR MORE
Patrick Wintour, writing in the Guardian, says: "William Hague exit could be precursor to changing of guard in Tory party."
Fraser Nelson, writing in the Daily Telegraph, says: "William Hague, the brilliant Tory who lost his passion for politics."
Steve Richards, writing in the Independent, says: "After the reshuffle, the Tory front bench is about to become more feminine."
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