23/09/2015 08:30 BST | Updated 23/09/2015 13:59 BST

The Waugh Zone September 23, 2015

The five things you need to know on Wednesday September 23, 2015...


European governments have agreed a deal that will see 120,000 refugees distributed among most EU members states. Although 'agree' is perhaps too strong a word. Unable to reach a unanimous decision, the quota was pushed though on a majority vote. Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary opposed the decision - and they are not happy.

Overriding individual member states on such an issue of national sovereignty is a departure for the EU. Britain, which has a legal opt out, is not obliged to take part. David Cameron will be in Brussels today to for a summit of European leaders called to address the refugee crisis.

Writing in the Daily Mirror, Yvette Cooper, says European leaders "still aren’t doing enough" and must substantially increase support for agencies running camps in Syria.

David Miliband, speaking to Newsnight from New York, gave his take on how Europe should respond to the refugee crisis. "It's not about hardball or softball," he explained. "It's about cleverball." Cleverball having been the working title for the fourth Bond film.

Despite the qualified majority vote by readers opposing it, this morning's Waugh Zone is edited by Ned Simons because I have an opt out. Paul is away.


What started as a story about various allegations and anecdotes about the prime minister, has now morphed into one about the personal battle between author and subject.

David Cameron's response to Lord Ashcroft's unauthorised biography comes to us via the BBC's James Landale. Speaking at a private Tory fundraiser on Monday evening, the prime minister told of how he was experiencing back problems and had been to hospital. A doctor, administering an injection told him: "This will just be a little prick, just a stab in the back." Cameron replied that this "rather summed up my day".

Ashcroft responded on Twitter that it was "good to see PM retains his sense of humour". Before quickly reminding his followers the PM had "reneged" on a promise to give him a government job. As Ashcroft writes in the preface to his book, after Cameron moved into No.10 in 2010, "I waited, as many do, for the telephone call." It never came.

In part three of the serialisation in the Daily Mail today, it is claimed George Osborne and Cameron handed £93million to Boris Johnson to fund policing in London in exchange for him keeping quiet during the Tory conference.

Fortunately our #JezWeCan necklaces have been delivered in time for Labour's conference in Brighton which begins this weekend. If you are in town please make sure you join Paul in conversation with Dan Jarvis at lunchtime on Monday. There will be snacks. And politics.

dan jarvis


Al Gore was in London yesterday to deliver a speech on climate change. The former vice president insisted he was not going to interfere in domestic British politics - before going on to smack his speaking podium in frustration and slap David Cameron around a bit for u-turning on several green policies.

Gore was personally invited to meet Cameron and his shadow cabinet before the 2010 election where he was given pledges and commitments that "inspired" him. Commitments that have now, he says, been undone. "The actions that have been taken here in the last few months are puzzling to me," he said. Does he feel betrayed? "I would be tempted to use that word," Gore said.

He added: "I have been partisan in my country. I have never dared to express a partisan view in this country, I have refrained, as I should, I am not a citizen of your country. But too much is at stake."

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Jon Cruddas is still sounding quite depressed about Labour's fortunes. The Dagenham MP who was Ed Miliband's policy coordinator, and is something of a thinker, gave a speech at Queen Mary University in East London last night. "In 2015 we woke to a country we could barely recognise," he said. "Labour is not in good shape in England. We collided with the electorate in May."

You can read the full speech online here, but the core of his message, delivered once again, is forthright. And not exactly in tune with the Corbyn agenda. "The Tories won because of austerity," he said. "Voters did not reject Labour because they saw it as austerity lite. They rejected Labour because they thought the Party was anti-austerity lite. The Tories message on the deficit was clear, Labour’s was not. The Tories were trusted to manage the country’s finances, Labour was not."

5) ROOM 101

Down in Bournemouth the Lib Dem conference enters its final day. Time flies when you're having f... Tim Farron will be up to deliver his leader's speech. He has said he believes the party could be back in power in 2020 - possibly once again with the Tories. Former leader Sir Ming Campbell has a less sunny outlook. He told the BBC: "My view, being entirely realistic, is that this is a 10 year journey." Such a downer, Sir Ming.

Prior to the election a senior Lib Dem told HuffPost that the ideal outcome would be actually be a "wafer-thin" Tory majority because Cameron would "shit it up something rotten". The argument was that the Tories would make such a right-wing hash of things voters would be begging to get the Lib Dems back into power. In this scenario however, the Lib Dem probably expected their party to have slightly more than 8 MPs with which to do battle. What the party does have though, is 101 members of the House of Lords. And Farron is going to weaponise them.

The Lib Dem leader argues because the Conservative Party only won 24% of the eligible voters, it does not have a "democratic mandate". He intends to use his voting weight in the Lords to try and prevent Cameron extending 'Right to Buy' to Housing Association tenants. The move is controversial, as by convention the Lords does not stand in the way of policies that were promised in a winning manifesto. This could be the first of many such manouvers.

Last night was Glee Club at the Lib Dem conference. MPs and activists get together and sing liberal themed songs. It caused a bit of controversy this year given lyrics about Charles Kennedy and his drinking. As one otherwise loyal former Lib Dem press officer observes, Glee Club "is one of the worst things I have ever seen with my eyes".

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Paul Waugh (paul.waugh@huffingtonpost.com), Ned Simons (ned.simons@huffingtonpost.com), Graeme Demianyk (graeme.demianyk@huffingtonpost.com) and Owen Bennett (owen.bennett@huffingtonpost.com)