The five things you need to know on Thursday December 10, 2015…
1) CAM GOES TO THE POLES
David Cameron is in Poland on the latest leg of his EU renegotiation tour. And it looks like he’s trying his best to exploit/respond to (delete as appropriate) the Syrian migrant crisis dominating the real-world concerns of his fellow leaders.
The Telegraph splashes on the PM’s interview in the Spectator in which he warns “I think with both the eurozone crisis and the migration crisis, the short term impact is for people to think, ‘oh Christ, push Europe away from me, it’s bringing me problems’.” He adds (in a nod to ‘I’m A Celebrity’?): “The short term reaction can be get me out of here, the longer term reaction is we must find a better way of working with our partners because we share the same challenges.”
The Poles want us to stay, but aren’t happy about their nationals being discriminated on in-work benefits. The Times splashes on its report that Mr Cameron’s negotiating team prepared a compromise to his 4-year benefits ban in the run-up to next week’s meeting of all 28 EU leaders in Brussels. That compromise seems to include the controversial idea of hitting British new claimants. The deal was, however, taken off the table after a row over how it would be enforced.
Meanwhile, the tragedy of the crisis was brought home all too starkly overnight with reports that a Syrian woman died with seven of her children, as she tried to cross the Aegean.
2) TRUMP GLOWERS
The Donald ain’t too happy at the backlash in the UK over his Muslims remarks. After criticism from David Cameron and others, our New York correspondent reports that Trump’s office has overnight accused Brits of “political correctness”.
It was notable how Boris really went for it yesterday, cannily using his artistic licence as a non-government minister to say Trump was ‘unfit’ for the office of President (as well as being ‘out of his mind’). I’m still loving the photo mashup of Boris’s hair on Trump’s head: the spitting image of Owen Wilson.
Theresa May refused to get into the issue of banning Trump from the UK (that petition has soared above 380,000 this morning), but she did hit back hard at his claims that the Met police were scared of Islamic radicals in ‘no go zones’ in London. The Home Sec told our man Graeme Demianyk that Trump is "absolutely wrong”. "The police in London are not afraid”.
The bigger picture behind trump’s rise was exposed by new stats Stateside that show the ‘squeezed middle’ really is a thing. Their middle class is for the first time in decades no longer in a majority, while their upper and lower income bands have increased. The FT has splashed its front page on it.
Here’s another stat: there were more Americans shot by their dogs (6) than British police killed in terror attacks in the past five years (0). Here’s just one example: a dog in Florida injuring its owner.
3) WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?
Jeremy Corbyn’s on the road today and tomorrow but he will definitely be back in time for the Stop the War fundraiser on Friday evening. And the campaign remains in the news. Yesterday, it hit back at Hilary Benn’s ‘fascism’ comparison for ISIL, claiming “Bin Laden, Hussein, Gaddafi, Assad or ISIS are none of them Hitler.” But the Sun has a senior Labour source saying JC thinks StW is “a noble organisation, and its leadership have been his friends for 30 years. He will not turn his back on them.”
Mr Corbyn’s closeness to the group (not something he’s ever hidden, by the way) was also under scrutiny over his constituency office being listed at the same address as Stop the War’s headquarters in Durham Road, in Islington. A spokesman for the Labour leader told HuffPost the two “don’t share an office, they have different units in the same building that has several units.”
The Indy has splashed on quotes from Peter Tatchell, a big Corbyn supporter, claiming the group has ‘lost its moral compass’. Tatchell - along with Caroline Lucas - claims that Syrians who wanted action against Assad were not allowed to speak at a StW meeting recently. He claimed that the campaign’s opposition to US ‘imperialism’ sometimes meant it ignored horrendous crimes of despotic regimes like Russia and Iran. The group hit back on its website: “we oppose both terrorism and dictatorship but believe foreign intervention does nothing to deal with them”.
Sam Coates in the Times has some nice detail of Labour’s Xmas party. He says Momentum founder Jon Lansman arrived late but was “swiftly and discreetly escorted to a bar upstairs” “before a scene could develop”. At 11.15pm the Tony Blair tribute anthem, D:Ream’s Things Can Only Get Better, brought 30 to 40 Labour staff to the dance floor. Apparently, Mr Corbyn’s office all stayed seated.
Meanwhile, the Today programme reports that the Information Commissioner is to look at complaints about Momentum’s use of private data and email addresses. The Guardian reports Lord Lipsey accusing the leadership of ‘statistical junk’ in its Syria email survey recently. Oh, and a new group ‘Open Labour’ launches today - a kind of Robin Cookish soft-left organisation.
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR…
Watch Angela Eagle’s smile during PMQs.
4) BEATER BLOCKERS
The NHS is still facing huge pressures this winter. The Nuffield Trust has a new analysis revealing that 3.6% of patients took up more than a third of hospital beds during the winter months last year - largely due to a lack of care home beds.
And many hospitals are struggling to meet the four-hour A&E waiting target. The government has stopped publishing weekly NHS stats (only monthly) - part of a lack of transparency that the Mail splashes on today in defending the Freedom of Information Act - but the BBC has done some excellent number crunching. Cancer, ambulance and 111 targets are all being missed.
The Evening Standard yesterday had its own impressive collation of the problems in London. It found that only two out of 18 NHS trusts in the capital were hitting the A&E waiting time target.
5) HUNGER GAMES
Frank Field’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger has a new report urging the PM to tackle the ‘national emergency’ that is child hunger in the UK. Field, who drove the big tax credits U-turn, is canny enough to enlist the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who added that children are going for days without a substantial meal because of poverty.
The Feeding Britain report proposes a tax on fizzy drinks to fund food projects during school holidays. Field has a local scheme in his constituency which offers children a hot meal during the holidays. Read our HuffPost feature on it HERE.
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