The five things you need to know on Tuesday July 7, 2015...
1) TERROR REMEMBERED
It’s 10 years since 7/7 and a minute’s silence will be held at 11.30am. Wreaths will be laid at the Hyde Park memorial to the 52 victims at 8.50am, the time the bombs went off. The PM will lead the tributes.
HuffPost UK has been running a special Beyond the Bombings series of interviews, reports and blogs and today we’re delighted to host a piece from Boris Johnson on just what the anniversary means to him.
“I have to admit that I feel a renewed sense of anger," he writes. "I cannot fight it. I feel again that mixture of bafflement and outrage at the sheer callousness and narcissism and cruelty of the killers.” But Boris says that the task of combatting the Islamist radicals continues in London. “We cannot let them win, and the battle begins in the minds of the young.”
And if you haven't read it yet, do have a look at this very moving interview with survivor Gill Hicks, who lost her legs in the bombings.
Tony Blair is back, with a BBC interview in which he again suggests that boots on the ground, not necessarily British boots (though he doesn’t rule that out) are ultimately the only way to combat terror at its source. The ex-PM refutes claims that Western intervention fuels radicalisation, and he has a point (which many forget) that 9/11 took place before the US-UK action in Afghanistan and Iraq, not after it.
Blair also says that Syria - where no Western intervention took place - proves that terror can feed off much more complex roots. "I think it's very important to understand that the probable leader of the 7/7 attacks was someone who was first in a training camp in the middle of 2001, before 9/11, never mind before the invasion of Afghanistan or the invasion of Iraq and the difficulty is that there will always be reason and excuses that people use for terrorism.”
The Mail and BBC report that MI5 chief Andrew Parker has used the spooks’ own website to warn that ‘a tiny fraction of the population..presents a serious security challenge’.
The Sun splashes on an extraordinary video of HSBC workers carrying out an ISIS-style mock-execution on a bonding away-day. All the men have been sacked.
2) EVERY DAY IS LIKE SUNDAY
Headlines about a big Budget announcement on liberalised Sunday trading hours are proof in spades today that George Osborne’s hire of the Mail’s James Chapman is already paying dividends. It’s a great consumer story, and even the Mirror joins in with a splash on its front page (as do the Times, Telegraph and others).
The Times points out there will be a fight with religious leaders and unions. It’s worth noting that USDAW, which has long argued against the changes, is the fastest growing union in the UK in the private sector.
But despite the Sunday trading headlines, the crunchy stuff on welfare cuts still looms. There’s an Opposition day debate (delayed three hours by the EVEL emergency debate) today on tax credits cuts. And campaign group 38 Degrees delivers to Downing Street a petition from 280,000 people urging the Chancellor not to cut child tax credits. HuffPost has an interview with one single mother on £11,000 a year, who is pleading with Osborne not to target her child support. Word is the child element of tax credits are safe, but campaigners want to make extra certain.
The Sun reports another Budget snippet, saying the Chancellor will give £3.2m to women’s refuges.
3) EUCLID’S ELEMENT IN THE ROOM
Eurozone ministers meet today in one last attempt to find a deal on the Greek crisis. Angela Merkel and the ECB made clear last night that they aren’t keen on letting Athens off the hook. Tsipras raised the stakes by phoning Vladimir Putin. But will some calmer talking take place today? If so, that could be down to the more conciliatory approach of the new Greek finance minister, the wonderfully named Euclid Tsakalotos. Brought up in a right-of-centre family, he attended the same school as George Osborne, St. Paul’s, before studying PPE at Oxford. Tsakalotos has been credited with trying behind the scenes to be more pragmatic than some of his Syriza colleagues.
He may shun ties and be an academic but Euclid couldn’t be more different temperamentally than Yanis Varoufakis, who was collared by SkyNews at his leaving party last night. Varoufakis was asked if he’d stood down as an act of self-sacrifice and replied ‘No mate, this is politics’. Suspicions that he was ordered to quit were fuelled when he gave a Francis Urquhart reply when asked if he’d resigned to preserve the unity of the movement: “You may well this, I couldn’t comment”.
Full marks to Matt in the Telegraph.He has a couple packing for their holidays, with one saying: "I'm taking the monopoly money on holiday to Greece - just in case."
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR...
Watch this postie go bananas as he discovers his route has been blocked by a Tour de France road closure in Holland. Everyone has described him as Dutch but he sounds pretty British to me (check out that accent), so there’s an even better story if any journalist tracks him down.
4) THE JOY OF SIX
The long-awaited Competition and Market Authority report into the Big Six energy firms reports today. And while it concludes that we’ve all been ripped off to the tune of £1.2bn a year in overcharging, there is no need to ‘break up’ the cosy club of British Gas, E-On, Npower, EDF Energy, Scottish Power and SSE. We could see a transitional price cap. It’s all ancient history now but Ed Miliband’s price freeze plan could get a reheat as various sides say ‘we told you so’. Caroline Flint always believed that plans to break up the big boys’ dominance was more important than the gimmick of an energy bill freeze. Will she be proved right?
5) BBC CUTS
Is the BBC deal with the Government over the licence fee a sensible bit of Realpolitik or a Faustian pact? Tony Hall has been on the Today programme trying to defend what Chris Bryant yesterday called a ‘shabby backroom deal’. Hall and his fellow execs agreed a deal that critics say makes the Beeb effectively an arm of the Department for Work and Pensions, agreeing to take on the £600m cost of free TV licences for the over-75s.
Hall did a better job than Danny Cohen, the BBC the Director of TV, on Newsnight last night. Making Chloe Smith look like Mandelson, Cohen had a ‘mare as Evan Davies repeatedly tackled him on just how much of a hit the Beeb would take. Cohen kept saying that with a CPI-linked rise in the licence fee, broadband relaxation and iPlayer changes, the deal was ‘cash flat’. But not even a junior minister for paper clips gets away with ‘cash flat’ defences. Could we see 10% cuts in real terms?
Ex BBC Trust member Michael Lyons said that when the Coalition came up with a similar plan in 2010, the threat of resignations was enough to force Osborne to retreat. The BBC offered to take the World Service costs instead. Cohen made clear last night no resignations were threatened this time.
In the Lords yesterday even arch modernising ex-BBC chief John Birt was unhappy, saying there was ‘no public discussion of any kind’ and “this Government and the last Government have set a very dangerous precedent”.
ONES TO WATCH
The Daily Record has a Survation poll which went back to voters contacted before May 7 and finds that Labour, Lib Dem and even UKIP voters had a late swing to the Tories to keep out the SNP. This will one be pored over by all sides.
Alistair Carmichael’s emergency 3-hour debate on EVEL takes place at 12.30pm.
The Telegraph have picked up on a Tweet by Luke Akehurst suggesting Jeremy Corbyn could come second in the Labour leader race. Mandelson told Newsnight last night that Labour had ‘gone to sleep’ since its election defeat.
The Daily Mail splashes on an investigation into cold calling firms and has found that leading charities have been hounding the vulnerable by using loopholes in the official ‘no call’ list.
There was a hint, just a hint, from David Mundell in the Commons last night that abortion controls could be devolved to Holyrood.
The Guardian reports that ministers are considering shelving the promised introduction of a cap on personal liability for the cost of long-term care, after the newly Tory-led LGA council leaders asked for the funding set aside.
Jeremy Hunt has Health Questions at 11.30am
The Architects Journal has an FoI scoop that George Osborne forced Boris Johnson to provide £30m of TfL funds for the Garden Bridget, warning that a loan would not be enough.
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