Wednesday, 25 June 2014

A sincere apology..

"£100m phone-hacking trial ends in Brooks walking free" is the Telegraph's splash this morning. "Great Day for Red Tops" roars the Sun. Rebekah Brooks has been cleared of all charges in the phone-hacking trial but the PM is still in the dock.  
"Humiliation of Cameron" is the Mail's frontpage; "Coulson: the criminal who had Cameron's confidence" is the Guardian's. David Cameron's apology is everywhere - read the Telegraph's take and watch the video here - as are Ed Miliband's remarks says that the PM brought"a criminal into the heart of Downing Street".
The verdicts are "better for Rupert Murdoch than David Cameron" says John Gapper in the FT, and it means that PMQs later today could go badly for Dave, and with more still to come from the hacking trial, things could worse before they get better for Downing Street.
Does it really matter? As depressing as it is, it's the charges, not the verdict, that do the damage in a highly publicised trial. Any loss of support suffered by the PM happened in 2011, not today, and it seems highly unlikely that, come 2015, the appointment of Andy Coulson will sway any voters. Instead, the election will hinge on the questions of who people trust with their wallets, the launch codes, and, most of all, who looks best on television. Those are the fundamentals of the next election, and, today as yesterday, they very much favour David Cameron. 
Mark Carney was criticised by MPs yesterday after he played down suggestions of an imminent interest rate rise, having suggested in his Mansion House that a rate hike was likely to happen sooner than the markets expect. Now the Governor warns that wages and productivity are still low despite the return to growth. Pat McFadden told Mr Carneythat the Bank of England is "behaving like an unreliable boyfriend; one day hot, one day cold, and the people left on the other side of the message are left not really knowing where they stand". Mr Carney's vacillation appears to be hurting the value of the pound; sterling suffered its steepest fall in a month a the close of play yesterday, losing 0.3% against the Euro. (Read Szu Ping Chan's story here, and Camilla Turner's liveblog from yesterday here)
Danny Alexander was embarrassed when he fell short in a children's shopping challenge. Pupils at Cauldeen Primary School in Inverness were tasked with buying food for one person within a week on a £10 budget. They all succeeded, but when Mr Alexander's bill went through the checkout in the city's Asda, his bill came in at £11.16. His constituency assistant, Jamie Mackie, took the blame, saying he had misread the price of tinned tomatoes while helping to fill the basket. Read Simon Johnson's story here
Jean-Claude Juncker has taken a pop at Dave.  M Juncker says he will become President of the European Commission by the end of the week"if common sense prevails". The good news for Dave is that, according to a Populus poll for the FT, the voters back his tough stance on M Juncker, even if it ends in defeat. 43% of respondents say that the PM is "right in any case" to try to block the Luxembourger, with just 14% saying he is right only if he succeeds. Also from the FT: doubts are growing about M Juncker's management style.  "He's a bad organiser, he's a bad manager, he's too political" is the glowing reference from a senior lawyer from Luxembourg's namesake capital. 
Stronger powers on cyber-surveillance are needed to counter the terror threat from British jihadists in Syria, Theresa May said last night at the Lord Mayor's Defence and Security Lecture. The idea that intelligence agencies were "trawling at will" through people's private lives is "absurd", according to Mrs May. Rather than an all-hearing Leviathan, Mrs May says, British cyber-surveillance is too weak and needs to be strengthened. The plans are unlikely to escape the surveillance of her Coalition partners, however. 
After news yesterday that revenue raised from inheritance tax and stamp duty is now higher than so-called "sin taxes" on cigarettes and alcohol, Paul Johnson, the director of the IFS, has called for reforms to inheritance tax. Mr Johnson says that reducing exemptions and loopholes exploited by the wealthy would allow a reduction of the inheritance taxes levied on middle-class earners - read Matt Holehouse's story here
A new permanent body could be set up by Parliament to teach MPs the difference between right and wrong in the wake of the Maria Miller scandal. (Day One: Kantian ethics. Day Two: Claiming expenses and man's inhumanity to man) Geoffrey Cox, an MP on the Standards committee, suggests that stronger codification will prevent further ethics scandals amongst Parliamentarians. Christopher Hope has the story
Labour is forcing a vote today on allowing the Office for Budget Responsibility to audit their promises.  While they are certain to be defeated - and be unable to go into the election brandishing an OBR-approved clean bill of health, they reason that at the least the Conservatives can't say that Labour fears financial scrutiny. On the Today programme this morning, Ed Balls said that he believes that all parties should be able to seek the independent certification of the OBR. 
Lenny Henry has warned that the BBC risks driving black and minority ethnic talent to America because the corporation does not do enough to promote non-white talent. Even programmes with black leads tend to have unrealistically white casts, Mr Henry says: where are Luther's friends, he asks? (Has he seen Luther?) Lord Hall, the director-general, has pledged that 15% of on-air BBC staff will be non-white by 2017.  Georgia Graham has the story.
The Morning Briefing is written by Stephen Bush. You can follow him on Twitter or Instagram.
You're both wrong; it's Return of the Jedi: 
@stellacreasy: RT @johnmcternan: Is Rambo III the greatest three-quel ever? I think so.< I beg to differ sir when Toy Story 3 taken into account...
Poll of polls 18th to 24th June (Populus-Opinium-YouGov) Labour lead by four points
In the Telegraph

Telegraph View - Scandal that could not scupper press freedom
Mary Riddell - The shockwaves of terror must not bend the sacred rule of law
Jeremy Warner - Currency markets overshoot - get used to it
Martha Gill - The NHS works best as a socialist institution,  not a free market
Best of the Rest
Daniel Finkelstein - Cameron will pay a price for hiring Coulson
Rachel Sylvester - The NHS dog will not stay silent for long
LONDON: Business Secretary Vince Cable publishing the Small Business Bill.
0945 LONDON: The UK's highest court gives its decision in right-to-die cases. 
1000 LONDON: Nick Clegg and David Laws to attend the Pupil Premium award ceremony.
1000 PORTSMOUTH: Son of MP Mike Hancock to be sentenced for assaulting a photographer. 
1015 LONDON: Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger and deputy president Baroness Hale give evidence to Lords Constitution Committee. 
1200 LONDON: Prime Minister's Questions.