Thursday, 26 June 2014

Jean-Claude is winning..

Defeat with honour? That's what David Cameron is hoping for in the next two days will bring. Dave travels to Ypres today to meet with European leaders as the battle to block Jean-Claude Juncker enters its final stages.
He believed that the "reform quad" of himself, Mark Rutte, Angela Merkel and Frederik Reinfeldt would be able to secure an alternative to M Juncker - it didn't. He thought that Matteo Renzi would come out against the Luxembourger - he hasn't. The PM's last hope - that he would be able to use the Luxembourg Compromise to call off the vote citing "national interests" - now appears to have been ruled out, with the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, warning against the use of the so-called "L-Bomb" (although considering developments elsewhere today he may feel it wise to seek a second opinion).
The plan now is to leave the summit having salvaged a PR victory from the rout. The PM will bring the matter to a vote, a vote where he will be joined only by Viktor Orban of Hungary. He reasons that being seen to stand up to Brussels is worth the ire of the Eurocrats, who are already making grumpy noises - "Why give a gift to the one who is blocking?" is the question asked by a European diplomat in today's FT. Not all is rosy back home, however. Vince Cable is in a troublesome mood - must be a day of the week with a 'y' at the end - saying that Dave's tactics are bad for Britain.
While copping flack from the Opposition won't cause sleepless nights in Downing Street, Douglas Alexander's warning that this is all taste of failures to come will echo what many Tories - even those sympathetic to the renegotiation mission - are thinking. Then there's the suggestion that it may not be playing as well domestically as Dave hopes. That man Dominic Cummings has commissioned a series of focus groups - and takes a swipe at the PM's professed Eurosceptic credentials in the Times this morning - that suggest that neither Dave (or Ed Miliband for that matter) are trusted to deliver in Europe as far as welfare and immigration are concerned. ("We don't trust either of EU 2" is the Sun's groaner.) 
That focus groups commissioned by a vocal critic of Dave are producing news that he doesn't want to hear might be filed alongside the religion of the Pope and the defecatory habits of bears; but that not all of his ultras are willing to stay quiet until after the election doesn't bode well for the PM. 
One definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. At PMQs yesterday, Ed Miliband used all six of his questions on Andy Coulson. It went so badly for Ed that Dave was able to adopt the argot of a teenaged girl -  "I totally disproved him," he said - and still come out the winner.  Remember that yesterday saw Vince Cable moving to restrict zero hour contracts, further uncertainty in Iraq, and looming defeat for Downing Street on the European stage, so it was ripe with opportunity for Ed Miliband. Instead he fluffed it, and went from Red Ed to Redfaced Ed when Dave reminded him that the Labour leader isn't adverse to the odd bout of Sun-pleasing populism himself. Meanwhile the Labour leader still lags on personal ratings and economic competence, while the fight for OBR approval of Labour's manifesto was lost without a mention from the Labour leader himself.  The moment when he claimed that "the whole country" was on tenterhooks was a particular low - but it did at least inspire a brilliant sketch from Michael Deacon, which you can read here.   
Teachers must stop "reinventing the wheel" and must instead return to teaching from the text book, Elizabeth Truss says today - read her article here - citing an OECD report that shows that teachers in Britain spendmore time planning lessons and filling out worksheets than their more successful international counterparts. The study showed that British teachers work for eight hours longer than the international average - they are exceeded only by Japan, Singapore and the Canadian province of Alberta - but much of that time is spent outside of the classroom.
"PM's judgement in the dock" is the Guardian's splash. Mr Justice Saunders - the judge in the phone hacking trial - has criticised Dave for making a public statement attacking Andy Coulson while the jury was still considering its verdicts. Ken Clarke was in a helpful mood, saying that the legal problems probably never "crossed David's mind", as the PM has no legal training. Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, is unlikely to be sending Mr Clarke a Christmas card any time soon. 
The No campaign is dominated by "grumpy old men" despite the fact that many of the undecided voters are women, Baroness Vadera, a Labour peer has said. The man in her sights is Alistair Darling, who clashed with the Baroness when she was an adviser to Gordon Brown during his premiership, refusing to have her as part of his Treasury team. (Matt Holehouse has the story). 
The right to buy your council house has been scrapped in Scotland in a bid to maintain Scotland's vanishing supply of social housing, Simon Johnson reports. Our Scottish editor, Alan Cochrane, is throughly unimpressed
Theresa May's speech in Mansion House on MI5's snooping powers was the subject of last-minute alterations between the draft released to reporters and the one delivered, raising further questions about the oversight of the nation's spooks. Peter Dominiczak has the story
Michael Gove may have picked one fight too many this time. Admiral Lord West of Spithead, a Labour peer and former security minister, has taken umbrage at Mr Gove's suggestion that socialists are unpatriotic, and has invited him to discuss the matter further in a boxing ring. Lord West concedes that Mr Gove's remarks may have been "reported wrongly". Read the full story here and keep an eye peeled for the inevitable "Gove vs West" liveblog. 
The Morning Briefing is written by Stephen Bush. You can follow him on Twitter or Instagram.
Amusingly the lift company's latest tweet asks: "Is this the scariest lift ever?"  
@joswinson: Looking forward to introducing @titangroupuk engineer to my baby when he finally gets here to release us from 1hr+ stuck in lift
Poll of polls 19th to 25th June (Populus-Opinium-YouGov) Labour lead by five points
In the Telegraph

Peter Oborne - Cameron and his gang haven't learnt their lesson
Sue Cameron - Taxmen turn a blind eye to Magna Carta
Shashank Joshi - Why an Isis caliphate is no more than a pipe dream
Dan Hodges - Boko Haram didn't Bring back Our Girls. So what are we going to do now?
Iain Martin - Juncker's appointment is a grand historical disaster which makes Brexit very likely
Best of the Rest
David Aaronovitch - Archduke Ferdinand - father of today's EU

George Eaton - The Tories are obsessed with Miliband's "weakness". They'd do better to reflect on their own
Dominic Cummings - Cameron's empty Euroscepticism fools no one
0900: Call Clegg on LBC 97.3 

1000 LONDON: Health and Social Care Information Centre briefing on the care of older people. 
1030 LONDON: Bank of England publishes financial stability report followed by press conference. 
1345 EDINBURGH: Ed Balls visit to Scotland. 
1500 GLASGOW: Referendum voters aged 16-22 meet Alistair Carmichael. Forty young voters have been given the chance to question the Scottish Secretary
1600 YPRES: European Council leaders, including David Cameron, visit to Menin Gate to mark centenary of the start of First World War. 
1800 BIRMINGHAM: A public meeting to discuss Trojan Horse's impact on the community. A meeting entitled Putting Birmingham School Kids First convened by the former Respect party leader and city councillor Salma Yaqoob is being held. 
1800 EDINBURGH: Public panel discussion on the economic impact of independence to take place.
1900 LONDON: Andrew Mitchell speech. The former Secretary of State for International Development, will deliver the sixth bi-annual lecture of the Durham Global Security Institute Royal United Services Institute