The five things you need to know on Friday September 11, 2015...
1) FORWARD, NOT BACK?
It was Jeremy Corbyn’s 99th rally last night and for his supporters it didn’t disappoint. As with many of his speeches, Corbyn’s appeal seems to be that he underwhelms rather than overwhelms his audience.
John McDonnell (his oldest pal in Parliament and likely to be a key figure) told the crowd ‘we’ve delivered the victory already’. He also had a neat line summing up Corbyn’s unassuming nature: 'This is the sort of leader you want when you force them to become leaders.'
Len McCluskey told the BBC that Corbyn had ‘already won’ in his eyes because he had ‘lit up’ the Labour movement. But the Unite boss at the rally last night also gave a withering verdict on Corbyn’s rivals: “I was listening to Liz and Yvette and Andy and I reached for the nearest, sharpest object so that I could slit my wrists.”
His most interesting line was that he’s ‘looking forward’ to the result, but for many the big question is whether he will take the party ‘forward, not back’, to cite Alastair Campbell’s famous 2005 general election slogan.
And the next battle royal will be over policy. Indy reports on the plotting that’s already begun to stop Corbyn taking policy leftwards. Jo Cox and Stephen Kinnock are among those wanting an alternative to the Blairite Labour for the Common Good group.
The Sun splashes on claims that Andy Burnham’s team took £5k to give a man posing as a donor ‘access’. Team Burnham insist no cheque was cashed. But perhaps the more embarassing bit for Burnham is his verdict on Corbyn: ‘Publicly, he is a nice man, a nice individual...Privately, it is a disaster for the Labour party.’ Given he’s keen on a job under Corbyn (Shadow Home Sec is the latest intel), will that quote haunt him?
It’s worth asking how much impact Corbyn will have on most people’s daily lives, even if they don’t know who he is. In the Tel, James Kirkup points out that ministers are divided on whether to attack him, ignore him or deride-and-then-steal his ideas, just as Osborne did on the living wage. As James points out, your morning coffee will soon cost more thanks to the NLW, without Ed Miliband ever having achieved office.
For Labour moderates, their best hope is victory for Tessa Jowell when the London Mayoral candidacy result is revealed at noon today. If she does win, we could see a curious reversal of the 2000 scenario: a Blairite and a lefty at odds, only this time one is leader and one wants to run London. Sadiq Khan had a big gap to close: did Corbynmania help him sneak it?
2) GAME OF DRONES, NEW SEASON
Now here’s a development. On Monday, David Cameron stuns the Commons with news that the UK now has a policy of targeted assassinations of British terror suspects on foreign soil, and says it is all justified under UN charter of self defence.
Last night, our man in New York, UN ambassador Matthew Rycroft (us old hands remember his role in Blair’s Iraq intervention) formally wrote to the Security Council saying that the strikes were justified because of the ‘collective self defence of Iraq’. Yes, Iraq.
Now this may well be a belt-and-braces approach, not least if legal experts think Cameron is on shakier ground to claim the self defence of the UK can be invoked. Reprieve are not impressed by the shifting argument - and MPs won’t be happy that this wasn’t mentioned in any of the debates this week.
3) DYING SHAME
The Assisted Dying Bill’s Second Reading today will offer a chance for MPs to show they can rise to the challenge of a complex moral argument. Archbishop Welby has again been vocal, this time with a Today prog interview warning of the dangers posed to the vulnerable (Charlie Falconer strongly disagreed).
It’s a free vote and the Telegraph reports bill sponsor Rob Marris saying at least ‘two or three’ ministers will vote for it. Anna Soubry is one of them, and Amber Rudd is wavering. Greg Hands, Rob Halfon, Stephen Crabb, Greg Hands, Jeremy Hunt and Chris Grayling are Cabinet ministers all against. Dominic Grieve is also opposed, predicting today that 1,500 assisted suicides a year would result.
Campaigners say the bill is tightly drafted to affect only the terminally ill with six months left to live. Keir Starmer (for) and Sarah Wollaston (against) have blogged for HuffPost.
As for the bigger issue of suicide, new figures this week from the ONS confirmed the male suicide rate is three times higher than that of women. And often mental health issues are involved. My colleague Poorna Bell writes movingly today about the suicide of her husband this year and the question that dogs loved ones: ‘Could I have prevented it?’ Health minister Alistair Burt blogs too, that talking is the first step to helping.
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR...
Lots of Labour party members are just relieved that the phone calls and emails have stopped. But in case you missed it, here’s Stella Creasy’s excellent video reading out the trolling emails she gets most days.
4) STUDENT RANT
The Times has an exclusive that three Cabinet ministers are urging Theresa May to remove students from her net migration target. It reports that Philip Hammond has written to the Home Secretary arguing for the change. And he’s backed by George Osborne and Sajid Javid.
If there was still a Coalition, we’d be calling the trio Lib Dem allies, because Vince Cable long argued the inclusion of students risked damaging not just our reputation overseas but deterring a valuable source of cash and influence for UK higher education.
But David Willetts too tried his best to oppose the student targets. And now Jo Johnson is in the unis job, I’d be amazed if he too wasn’t worried by the Times’ line that the Home Office plans a new ‘autumn push’ to make the UK less attractive to non-EU students. With May arguing that many students overstay their visas, it’s going to be down to the PM to decide who wins.
5) INSPECTOR SANDS TO THE CONTROL ROOM
The FT has a scoop that former StandardChartered bank chief Sands will become a policy adviser to Downing Street. Sands main focus will be on how the UK should respond to global labour market changes.
Sands’s record in the City is mixed, and critics may focus on the way his bank was fined by the US for breaching sanctions on Iran. But Labour may not be able to carp too much: Sands was last in No.10 in 2008, when he was part of a secret group advising Brown on the recapitalisation of the banks in the wake of the crash.
More widely David Cameron wants more private sector savvy in Goverment. The PM’s speech today isn’t just an attack on Jeremy Corbyn. It’s also a statement of intent about running public services more like businesses, using commercial techniques to help achieve his £20bn of cuts.
Children in care and prisons represent ‘state failure’ and need ‘new providers’, he says. A clear hint of reform to come. Today, the Indy reports. controversial US firm Concentrix is to get a Ministry of Justice contract for collecting fines. The Tel says lots more public land will be put up for sale.
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