1) TURNING UP THE HEAT
Agree with it or not, it’s difficult to deny that the energy prize freeze unveiled by Ed Miliband in Brighton didn’t just dominate the party conference season – but continues to dominate parliamentary debate. From the Guardian:
From the Guardian:
“Nine in 10 people will not benefit from David Cameron’s promise to put people on the lowest energy tariffs, Ed Miliband has claimed, as he accused the prime minister of having no idea how to bring down fuel prices.
“Miliband mocked the prime minister for not knowing how to respond to Labour’s promise to freeze energy bills, suggesting Cameron was unable to decide whether it was a good idea or a communist plot.
“The two leaders clashed over energy bills during prime minister’s question time in the House of Commons on Wednesday.”
Note: I’m rushing off to do a paper review on television later this morning, which is why I’m sending out this Memo a bit early today. For the next few days, the excellent Ned Simons will be filling in for me on the Morning Memo.
2) SOFT ON IMMIGRATION? HUH?
Is public opinion on immigration and immigration rules softening? From the i newspaper:
“The public does not support tougher restrictions on foreign nationals coming to Britain, but wants existing immigration rules to be properly enforced, a survey has disclosed.
“The poll comes ahead of measures to be announced today by Theresa May to reduce the number of migrants coming to this country.
“The Home Secretary plans to limit access to the health service and housing – a move the Government hopes will be a strong deterrent message to foreign nationals heading to Britain.
“However, a YouGov survey suggests the public believes the problem lies not with the system itself, but with the poor enforcement of existing rules by immigration officers.
“It found that 60 per cent of people believed immigration rules were not properly applied, allowing too many illegal migrants to remain in Britain. By contrast, just 26 per cent said inadequate restrictions led to too many migrants settling legally.”
3) ‘THE GREAT ROYAL MAIL SALE’
That’s the splash headline on the front of the Guardian, which reports:
“More than 700,000 people have applied for shares in Royal Mail, the government has revealed, reviving privatisation fever last seen in the 1980s and intensifying fears that the postal service is being sold too cheaply.
“Vince Cable, the business secretary, said the public had placed orders for more than seven times the number of shares available to them. Small investors could have bought the entire company if 70% of the shares on sale had not been reserved for City investors and pension funds.”
The Telegraph, which also splashes on the story, reports:
“Mr Cable had said that the minimum application size for the public of £750–worth of shares was intended ‘to be sufficient to attract people of very modest means and ordinary households’.
“This, along with forecasts of instant profits, appeared to have led to the strongest demand since the big state privatisations of the late 1980s, when British Gas and other state industries were sold off. City experts calculated that the average retail investor applied for £5,000–worth of Royal Mail shares. Yet such was the demand that the number of shares on offer would leave them with an average of only £737–worth of stock each.
“Mr Cable defended his decision to price the shares at between £3 and £3.30, despite Labour claims that it was too low. He told MPs that officials had relied on a number of assessments from City experts ‘on what the proper price should be’. He said: ‘There was a lot of interest and that suggests we didn’t overprice it.'”
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR…
Watch this heartwarming animal video of the week – an elephant family reunion. Yep. You read that correctly.
4) ‘I AM NOT A PACIFIST’
From the Guardian:
“Chelsea Manning, the WikiLeaks source formerly known as Bradley Manning, has expressed intense unhappiness at the public profile that is being presented about her, warning that a false impression is being given to the outside world that she is an anti-war pacifist and conscientious objector.
“In a statement issued to the Guardian, Manning insists that she did not leak hundreds of thousands of US classified documents to WikiLeaks because she was explicitly motivated by pacifism. Rather, she sees herself as a ‘transparency advocate’ who is convinced that the American people needs to be better informed.”
5) MING THE MERCIFUL
Goodbye Sir Menzies! From the BBC:
Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell has announced he will stand down as an MP at the next general election, due in May 2015.
Sir Menzies, or Ming as he is widely known, said he had written to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to inform him of his decision.
He has served as MP for North East Fife since 1987 and was leader of the Lib Dems from 2006-07.
Ming is 80 and says he is leaving parliament because of his age. Famously, he is also believed to have been driven out from the Lib Dem leadership because of his age.
I’ll always remember him as a strong and articulate opponent of the Iraq war. I hope others do, too.
PUBLIC OPINION WATCH
From the Sun/YouGov poll:
Lib Dems 11
That would give Labour a majority of 76.
140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
@TomHarrisMP The SNP really are Scotland’s Ukip: “Everything can be solved by withdrawing from a bigger political union.” Dearie me.
@DanHannanMEP Remember the chap who made that great speech about not slicing & dicing red & blue states? Looked a bit like Obama? What happened to him?
@OborneTweets Benjamin Netanyahu says freedom means wearing jeans and playing Western music. Discuss.
900 WORDS OR MORE
David Aaronovitch, writing in the Times, says: “The threat to security services from tech-savvy young anti-government ‘libertarians’ looks to be serious.”
Steve Richards, writing in the Independent, says: “Newspapers are ignoring the reality. Our press will still be free.”
John Kampfner, writing in the Guardian, says: “MI5 chief Andrew Parker is right to enter the Prism debate. But why the cheerleading from the rightwing press?”
Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ned Simons (email@example.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol