Thursday, 14 May 2015

Morning briefing..

Labour pains

As Labour decides on how its next leader will be elected, the unions are flexing their muscles, with our front page today reporting: "National rail strike threatens chaos as Tories target unions". Millions face a commuting nightmare after 10,000 of the RMT union's members working for Network Rail voted to strike. 

The RMT may no longer be linked to Labour, after its disaffiliation in 2004, but its strike won't help trade unions' reputation at large. Those that are still close to Labour are threatening to block Chuka Umunna's leadership bid as they want contenders to back a raft of policies like renationalising the railways, pay increases for all public sector workers and legislation to force businesses to pay the living wage.

Will angry unions thwart Chuka's ambition? The shadow business secretary announced he would run with an amateurish video on Facebook. His clunky launch seems to have been a way to temper his "slick" image, built up by stories about his search for places to go clubbing where there isn't any "trash", and his £1m villa in Ibiza, that could deter blue-collar voters. "No one who sees his launch video will be able to accuse Umunna of being all style, and no substance," wrote Dan Hodges.

If Labour want a leader the Tories will be most afraid of, they may have already missed out. Dan Jarvis was attracting serious interest, with five Labour big beasts lining up to him back him, but he isn't running. Conservative MPs are already breathing a sigh of relief that the former army officer won't be taking charge soon. "I was terrified of Jarvis," one Tory MP told me. "But now I'm most worried about Chuka - he's a class act." Yvette Cooper is expected to enter the race soon, if her aides registering the website "" hasn't already given it away. But the shadow home secretary may need to work on her people skills. "Yvette can be a bit uppity," an MP recently mused to me, "she talks to some of us like she's chewing on a pine cone".

The last Labour leadership election saw Ed Miliband beat his brother thanks to union support. He later brought in a new "one member, one vote" system. However, it turns out the unions could still hold sway, as they are busy using their organising muscle to sign people up as "affiliates", enjoying the same voting rights as normal members. Labour is expected to prolong its leadership contest after pressure from union leaders, who admitted they need more time to register people. All this could help candidates who've gone out of their way to court the unions, like Andy Burnham.



David Cameron has secured an early boost in Europe after Jean-Claude Juncker made clear Britain would not be forced to accept boat migrants. EU sources said there would be "no consequences" for Britain after the Home Office said it would was not prepared to accept quotas of migrants under a new plan. Meanwhile, David Barrett reports on new data showing Britain accepted more asylum seekers last year than 17 other European Union countries put together. 


MPs who were only elected last week are set to receive a backdated an 10 per cent pay rise worth £7,000 within months, Chris Hope has found. Parliament's expenses watchdog is planning to a statutory review of MP's pay in the next few weeks, which will report in the Autumn.


Jim Murphy is under growing pressure to step down as Scottish Labour leader after two MSPs and a leading trade union urged him to go, Ben Riley-Smith reports. Alex Rowley and Elaine Smith said they no longer have confidence in Mr Murphy after he oversaw Scottish Labour's worst general election result since 1918.


Almost every public poll suggested for weeks up to the election campaing that the Tories and Labour would tie. But the Conservatives knew three weeks before election day that they were heading for victory, Jim Messina, President Obama's campaign guru, has revealed. 

"It was amusing to see all these polls saying, 'Oh, Labour's talking to more people', and I kept thinking to myself, 'That's great, because we are talking to the right people, over and over and over again," he told the Times. Meanwhile, speaking to the Spectator, Messina said he hoped pollsters would try to learn from their mistakes at this election "rather than just trying to cover your own butts".


Farage's apparent "unresignation" after Ukip's ruling national executive committee (NEC) begged him to stay as leader may not be what it seems. Breitbart's Andre Walker reports that forced officials to refuse his resignation despite opposition to the plan, and considered reneging on his pledge to resign before he made the announcement on Friday. He also reportedly sat in the room as the NEC discussed whether he should stay on, and the vote itself to see which way members voted.

Ukip chairman Steve Crowther insists that the NEC was "unanimous in its wish for Nigel" to stay on, and he had left the room "while it was further discussed". However, he did not say if Farage was there as they voted.


Extremists have been able to operate in Britain because "we have been a passively tolerant society", David Cameron will say, as he fast-tracks plans to crackdown on hate preachers and radical mosques, Peter Dominiczak reports. The Prime Minister will on Wednesday hold the first meeting of the new National Security Council and will say that the Queen's Speech at the end of the month will now include a series of measures designed to confront "poisonous Islamist extremist ideology".


It was 'lazy Labour' that lost it, Matthew Holehouse reports. Ed Miliband lost the election in part because left-wing voters failed to turn out to vote, according to an analysis by Ipsos MORI, the pollsters. This contradicts earlier theories that the Tories won because of "shy Tories" swung towards the Conservative party at the last minute, having previously declared an intention to vote Labour.

Meanwhile, Labour's Michael Dugher, who served as vice-chair of the party in Ed Miliband's top team, has spoken bluntly to the New Statesman's Anoosh Chakelian about why the party lost, and how it "totally f**ked up" the Scottish referendum campaign.


The Conservatives will push ahead with plans to decriminalise the licence fee saving 300,000 people a year from a criminal record, David Cameron has suggested. The Prime Minister's Official spokesman yesterday confirmed that the government will push ahead with the plans amid concerns that the enforcement of the licence fee is too heavy-handed. Steven Swinford has more


Ukip has descended into open warfare as the party's only MP was accused of trying to get himself sacked in a row with Nigel Farage about the leadership of the party, Chris Hope reportsThe row centres on Carswell's refusal to accept in full more than £3million of "Short Money" which it is entitled to under House of Commons rules. A serious split threatens the party, with three Ukip MEPs, including the party's general election campaign chief Patrick O'Flynn, backing Carswell in the row.


The Prince of Wales is "calm" about the publication today of his so-called "black spider memos" to Government ministers, believing they contain nothing that will embarrass him, sources have told Gordon Rayner. The Cabinet Office will this afternoon publish 27 letters between the Prince and seven Government departments which were written between 2004 and 2005 and have been the subject of a 10-year legal battle.


European leaders must not "underestimate our determination" to win treaty change, George Osborne said today, as he vowed to be "resolute" in rewriting the terms of Britain's membership, Matthew Holehouse reports. The Chancellor, who will play a leading role in negotiations, said last week's election victory had given the government a "very clear mandate" to win fundamental reforms.


Some of David Cameron's most outspoken critics have been given jobs in his Government in a bid to ensure they do not cause any trouble for his Government. Dominic Raab, Rory Stewart and Tracey Crouch have all been handed ministerial roles, preventing them rebelling and threatening the Conservatives' slim majority. Here are more details


The Royal Academy of Arts has asked Britain's wealthy to donate millions to the arts, saying they will have cash to spare after avoiding Labour's punitive taxation plans, Anita Singh reports. Charles Saumarez-Smith, chief executive of the Royal Academy, said he was seeking a lead donor to give £5 million.


@RoryBremner: Oh Lord, please, not Chuka Umunna. He's so vain, he probably thinks this Tweet is about him.


From The Telegraph

Mary Riddell - Labour is doomed without a leader who appeals to England

Jeremy Warner - Nevermind the bias; the way things are going, the BBC will be obsolete within a generation

From elsewhere

Janan Ganesh - David Cameron has to make sense of an unclear mandate

Fleet Street Fox - Dear Lefties, stop whining - you lost the election and gave us a Conservative government


09:30 UK monthly unemployment figures to be published by ONS

10:30 The EU, France and Germany to announce first estimates for GDP growth in Q1 2015

11:00 The Bank of England's latest quarterly Inflation Report to be published

'European agenda on migration' to be adopted amid the Mediterranean crisis

A new Deputy Mayor of London is to take over as Boris Johnson, the Mayor, enters Parliament

The Labour Party's National Executive Committee meets to discuss the party's leadership and deputy leadership election

Lib Dem leadership nominations to open. Norman Lamb and Tim Farron have confirmed that they will stand

Nato Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting to open in Antalya, Turkey. Foreign Secretary Michael Fallon is expected to attend

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond attends a NATO meeting of foreign ministers in Turkey


No business