Wednesday, 9 July 2014

What is dead may never die..

Harriet Harman delivered a speech on sexism last night. She had two PMs in her sights: Dave's failure to promote enough women to the Cabinet and Gordon Brown for sidelining her in office.  Before she'd even started speaking, though, she'd been undermined by former Brown spinner Damian McBride, who angrily rebutted her claims that Mr Brown's decision to deny her the role of Deputy Prime Minister or cut her out of the G20 negotiations had anything to do with her gender.
"Cynical even by my own old standards" was Mr McBride's verdict: an attempt to make the attack on Dave look non-partisan by kicking poor old Mr Brown. Let's put to one side for a moment the question of whether Ms Harman has a point or not. What's more interesting is what Mr McBride's intervention tells us about British politics today.
When Tony Blair was in his pomp, special advisers and spinners who went to the wall might as well have been sent to the moon. An explosive memoir might have made for a week of bad headlines, but it was impossible for a Lance Price or a Charlie Whelan to disrupt the political agenda whenever they felt like it. (Hello, Dominic!). We live in the era of the political zombie, and, as Ms Harman discovered last night, you never know when one might strike.  
Better Together has amassed a war chest more than twice the size of the Nationalists, the Times reports. Better Together has now raised around £2.4 million, of which the largest single donor is JK Rowling. Her donation makes just over 40% of the Unionist campaign's haul.   Yes Scotland has raised roughly £1.2 million, 86% of which as been given by Chris and Colin Weir, the Ayshire lottery winners. Meanwhile, as trade unionists and bosses from the Scottish shipbuilding industry warn it would be "finished" in the event of a Yes vote, recent research by Labour's Jim Murphy reveals that less than 200 Scottish serviceman stationed overseas have been registered to vote in the coming referendum. WHO RUN DA WORLD? WHITE MEN
White male Eurosceptics are the big winners in parliamentary selections for safe Tory seats, analysis by Elizabeth Rigby in the FT reveals. Of the nine safe seats being vacated by men, just two (Wealden and South East Cambridgeshire) have selected women, Nusrat Ghani and Lucy Frazer respectively. In Tim Yeo's seat of South Suffolk, only white men have made it onto the shortlist. It's unlikely to help with the Tories' women problem, who, according to a Populus poll for the pink paper, are 17 points behind Labour among mothers. Conservative party sources point out that of their maarginal and target seats, nearly one in three have selected a female standard-bearer, while just under 10% are from ethnic minority backgrounds. More troubling for Downing Street is not the background of those selected, but their character: Cameroon loyalists are finding it ever harder to secure selections, while the Tory right continues to dominate.
A new report for the Institute for Government suggests that Number 10 needs to be beefed up and given a stronger "core offer" for incoming Prime Ministers so that their agenda isn't lost within the Whitehall machine, the FT reports. The Cabinet Office's capacity should be expanded to allow Prime Ministers to hit the ground running, rather than spend the first years in office struggling to make headway through administrative deadwood.
Britain will be able to repatriate powers before an In-Out referendum, Jean-Claude Juncker says. A leaked recording of Mr Juncker in conversation with MEPs has been passed to the Telegraph (Bruno Waterfield and Peter Dominiczak have the story), in which M Juncker says that he did "not want the EU without Britain", and that "competences" can be recovered by Westminster, if "the others agree". The concern is that actions speaks louder than words; the Times reports that, when hearing from a Labour MEP about their efforts to defeat the PM, M Juncker responded with a thumbs up.RAIL AGAINST MILIBAND
"Banking and rail chiefs united in attack on Miliband business plans" is the splash to the Telegraph's business section today. Anthony Browne, chief executive of the British Bankers Association, queries Ed Miliband's plan to split up the banks and increase lending. Why, Mr Browne wonders, would smaller banks be more inclined to lend to riskier ventures? He suggests that the plan might have the reverse effect: "a measure aimed at promoting competition will instead stifle it". Martin Griffiths, the chief executive of Stagecoach, speaking in his role as chairman of the Rail Delivery Group, is concerned by Mr Miliband's mooted plans to renationalise the railways. Mr Griffiths points out that British rail provision has grown faster than its nationalised equivalents on the Continent, despite the recession.
Migrants from the European Union have made a £22 billion net contribution to the country's public finances,  a report by the Migration Advisory Council has found; including those from Eastern Europe who have proved politically contentious in recent years. The majority of unskilled migrants still come from outside the EU, the FT reports. Despite the economic benefit, the MAC warns, the concentration of low-skilled migrants in some areas does put undue pressure on health, education, transport and housing services.
Mark Sedwill, the Home Office's top mandarin, has told MPs that he is "concerned" by the disappearance of 114 files from the department, but that the department had found no evidence that the files had been destroyed. (Highlights of his testimony are available here.) Michael Deacon finds the whole thing troubling.
Dave can't fail; he's on a mission from God. That's Lynton Crosby's verdict anyway, recorded in this morning's Mandrake.

The Morning Briefing is written by Stephen Bush, who tweets as@stephenkb. Our cartoon is the work of the Telegraph's excellent cartoonist Christian Adams; you can view sketches and recent Telegraph cartoons on his Instagram
@Jeremy_Browne: Germany came to bury Cesar, not to praise him. Ha! That is the most disorientating result I have ever seen. Remarkable
Poll of polls 2nd to 9th July (ComRes-Opinium-Populus-YouGov) Labour lead by three points
In the Telegraph

Cathy Newman - We need brave MPs to share their personal tales of woe

Dan Hodges - Strikes and state ownership - is this really Labour's fresh vision?
Arsen Ostrovsky - Where is the outrage over the bombardment of civilians in Israel? 
Robbie Collin - Our shrunken Speaker is lucky not to hit my heightsBest of the Rest
Daniel Finkelstein - How hysteria can cheat us all out of justice

Adam Tomkins - If Scotland votes No, what next?
AGENDA0930 LONDON: Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling gives evidence to Commons Justice Committee. 
0930 LONDON: Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw to give evidence to the Commons education select committee on extremism in schools.
1030 LONDON: Justice minister Simon Hughes gives evidence to Lords Home Affairs Committee on "the right to be forgotten".
1200 LONDON: Prime Minister's Questions.
1330 LONDON: Defence Secretary Philip Hammond speech to RUSI air power conference.
1430 LONDON: Energy Secretary Ed Davey gives evidence to Lords Committee.
1445 LONDON: Philip Hammond gives evidence to Commons Defence Committee on next defence review.
1500 BOURNEMOUTH: Chief Executive, NHS England Simon Stevens speech to Local Government Association conference.
1545 LONDON: House of Lords Communications Committee takes evidence from Director of Public Prosecutions on offences committed on social media
1830 LONDON: Education Reform Summit. Hosted by the Department for Education and the Education Foundation think tank. Education Secretary Michael Gove, Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt and Mayor of London among those due to speak.