The five things you need to know on Monday January 25, 2016…
1) COUP DE GLACE
All this snow in the US reminds me of the infamous ‘snow plot’ hatched by Geoff Hoon and Pat Hewitt, way back in January 2010. It was a bit last-ditched and comical, and with a general election just months away Gordon Brown and his team crushed it like a tank rolling over a hapless snowman. All that could be seen by the end of it was the carrot nose and a couple of twigs in the mush.
Plotting against Jeremy Corbyn requires ice cool nerves and many are now playing it long. As I wrote here last week, several are planning for May 2017 as the time to strike, not least because Sadiq Khan winning in London this year would give Corbyn valuable breathing space, as would the EU referendum.
There’s certainly no agreement yet on when to strike. The Times reports one Labour figure saying: “Dugher could go for a shot after May on a suicide bomb mission.” Another leading Labour MP told the paper: “We’ve only got one shot at this and I don’t think that’s this year.” Lots of MPs want Alan Johnson to act as caretaker leader, but he’s resolutely opposed in public and private. Dan Jarvis has certainly had a higher profile in recent weeks, which has aroused the suspicions of the Corbyn camp. If anyone knows about tanks, ice and combat, it’s Jarvis.
The mini PLP fightback has begun with the removal of Steve Rotheram from the NEC (the PLP by-election for his replacement takes place on Wednesday). The expectations management game is well underway with the usual game of forecasting poor results. In years gone by, that was a game Labour played with the Tories, but these days it’s a game played between different Labour factions.
The NEC meets tomorrow with a vote on new ‘terms of reference’ that could give it more powers over appointments that would prove controversial. Bex Bailey, the Young Labour rep on the NEC, has already warned against staffing or policymaking centralisation. The FT reminds us it was 35 years today the SDP was created by the Limehouse Declaration, but there are few in Labour with an appetite for a new split.
2) EURO FUNNEL
Corbyn’s distinctive ‘street campaigner’ approach to the Labour leadership saw him visit two refugee camps in France this weekend. He wants the UK to follow Germany’s lead and take more refugees, declaring of the camps near Dunkirk and Calais: “We’re talking 3,000 people. It’s not very many.” (Note that Tim Farron however has got more political payback by realising Cameron was willing to take refugee children, and the campaign to get 3,000 more in the UK looks like it could be successful).
Frank Field warned Corbyn was in touch on ‘economic injustices’ but walking in the opposite direction on migration. On Radio 4’s Westminster Hour, shadow immigration minister Keir Starmer said he agreed with Corbyn there was ‘much to celebrate’ about immigration “but equally when other people are concerned around the country about the impact in their area, we have to listen, we can’t just say this is a no-go area”.
David Cameron’s nightmare is that the EU referendum becomes a vote not about Europe but about migration and borders. It’s a big worry for the In campaign too, which today focuses instead on the threat to jobs if the single market is lost to the UK. Lord Rose was on the Today prog pushing the case, and he has the backing of Britain’s Brompton bicycles boss too.
Rose told Today: “Migration is one of the great things happening in the world today. [I don’t think he meant ‘great’ as in wonderful’ but as in ‘big’].” The M&S boss got off to a bad start by refusing questions from the media at the In campaign launch, and he’s finding it’s tough being a politician.
The FT splashes on bosses of Big Pharma US firms Eli Lilly and Merck (as well as the UK’s GSK) warning that Brexit would be ‘a shame and a mistake’. But note that the Eli Lilly boss John Lechleiter also said ‘from a business point of view, we can live with it’. Meanwhile, the think-tank Open Europe is hosting ‘war games’ scenarios today to test possible outcomes of the UK's European renegotiation or a Brexit situation.
The paltry tax deal cooked up between HMRC and Google has had a kicking from many of all parties. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell plans to raise it again today (will Labour request an Urgent Question, I wonder?). George Osborne made what many felt was a political mistake on Saturday by tweeting his welcome for the £130m tax deal. Will Facebook be next to get a ‘sweetheart’ deal?
Prof Prem Sikka, of Essex University, estimated Google has avoided around £1.6billion in taxes, despite earning ten per cent of its global revenues here. “The smaller taxpayer who cannot afford to set up Google-style arrangements will be the loser. This deal is very damaging.”
But Osborne will be more irritated by the criticism from one particular quarter: Boris Johnson. In his Telegraph column, Bojo said the blame for the “derisory sums” (a phrase used by McDonnell) lay with the Government. He said it was wrong to attack the big corporations for seeking to duck tax: “You might as well blame a shark for eating seals.” Of course, Bojo was careful to add Osborne had ‘made progress’ and the Google payback was ‘a start’ but said “We now need to go further”.
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR…
Check out what fun this guy has been having snowboarding in New York City.
4) WELL-FAIR TARGETS?
There’s a few possible Government defeats in the Lords due today on a range of amendments to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill (which has its first day of Report Stage).
A crossparty amendment from the Bishop of Durham, Labour's Baroness Sherlock and the Crossbencher Lord Listowel would force ministers to make an annual report on child poverty. Another Crossbencher Lord Ramsbotham has an amendment on maternal nutrition and poverty.
There’s also an amendment requiring an annual report to Parliament on progress towards halving the disability employment gap. On Saturday the DWP played hardball, accusing charities of "scaremongering" about the cuts to Employment Support Allowance. Charities worried about the changes include Mencap, MacMillan Cancer Support, Parkinson’s UK, RNIB, the MS Society and Mind.
5) A TOWN CALLED DOPE
The BBC has a great exclusive with its report that Adidas plans to terminate its sponsorship deal with athletics' world governing body the IAAF because of the doping scandal engulfing the sport.
The Adidas deal could be worth a cool $30m, but guess what? The IAAF do not publish their accounts.
It’s not great for Seb Coe. Adidas has not commented, but the IAAF said it was "in close contact with all its sponsors and partners as we embark on our reform process".
David Cameron warned on HuffPost last year that the FIFA scandal underlined a wider fight to combat corruption at all levels across the globe. Is there any sport that’s immune…?
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