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  1. Newsnight Live…analysis of the day’s political events
  2. FIFA, Prime Minister’s Questions, the Greek debt crisis

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

  1. So...who is Jeremy Corbyn?

    Lewis Goodall

    Newsnight producer


    The Labour leadership race just got redder. And beard-ier.

    Jeremy Corbyn has thrown his hat into the ring,

    He's been an MP for 32 years, exactly the same number of years as his longest serving rivals (Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham) put together. Elected as he was in the drubbing of 1983. 

    MP for Islington North, he's a avowed socialist, a writer for the Morning Star and great friend of the late Tony Benn. 

    There has been some disquiet in the more radical reaches of the PLP that there was no clear candidate of the left. Corbyn would definitely satisfy that requirement. He's an ardent nationaliser, opponent of foreign intervention (including Iraq), a long standing ally of Sinn Fein and the cause of a united Ireland and a Palestinian state. He's also one of the party's serial rebels, especially in Tony Blair's time.

    So leftyness=check. But he might have left it a little late in the day to be their standard bearer with Andy Burnham already hoovering up much union support. He may well find himself dependent on Burnham's support in lending him MPs. This might suit Burnham, not wanting to be portrayed as the most left-wing candidate. Or he might choose not to take the risk. Either way, given there are only 232 Labour MPs and nearly half committed already, the race is getting pretty crowded. 

    But at least two prominent members from two very different wings of the party seem to want him on the ballot:


    Maybe he is the unity candidate, after all.

  2. FIFA, the FBI, and the FA?

    Laura Kuenssberg

    Newsnight Chief Correspondent

    Watching FIFA's mess unfold has been an unedifying spectacle. We know now that the FBI is not just investigating marketing deals involving more than a hundred million dollars, but that they are looking at details of the awards of the World Cup to Russia and Qatar. 

    For English football the whole thing has been a painful mess, those disappointed by the loss of the bid for 2018 in the first place, when hopes had been so high. As we reported last week, there were suspicions even then, that something was not right with the whole process. 

    It seems that it didn't take long for the FBI to act on its own suspicions. I now understand that the FBI approached the UK government for permission to talk to sports executives here about what had happened, in 2011 after the English bid failed. After approaching the Foreign Office, American investigators spoke to at least one FA executive in London in the first half of 2011. The conversations were informal and exploratory. But they took place at the time when the FBI was investigating Chuck Blazer, the FIFA delegate who became an informant. It's his testimony, which we still expect to be made public later today, that has been the source of so many of FIFA's woes. 

  3. Lib Dem leadership ballot closes

    Zach Brown, Newsnight producer

    Lib Dems gather in the chamber
    Image caption: Nick Clegg pays tribute to Charles Kennedy today

    That's it. Too late. If you haven't joined the Liberal Democrats already you've missed your chance to vote. This afternoon nominations closed on the Lib Dem leadership race, a few hours after the party's eight remaining MPs joined the House in paying tribute to their departed colleague, Charles Kennedy. 

    Cumbria's Tim Farron faces off against Norfolk's Norman Lamb. One of the quirks of a party so depleted by their general election shellacking was that in order to secure the 10% of the parliamentary party vote, each man technically needed the nomination of slightly less than one MP. Both men were spurred into political action by a sense of social conscience. As a young man Lamb encouraged into the Liberal way by Shirley Williams, after a year working as a researcher for Greville Janner. 

    And both men, it transpires, have a musical hinterland. Pictures emerged this week of a young Tim Farron, replete with sunglasses and wide-brimmed hat during his New Romantic phase posing around Preston. His band, variously called "Fred the Girl" and "The Voyeurs" was even nearly signed to Island Records he says. 

    Tim Farron
    Image caption: A young Tim Farron

    Norman Lamb on the other hand is more of a Svengali figure, remortgaging his house to fund the fledgling career of rapper Tinchy Stryder, who is managed by his son Archie. It seems likely it was Lamb junior that extracted this ringing endorsement for Lib Dem leadership from NDubz' Dappy. 

    Time will tell which one of these impresarios will have the Lib Dems dancing to their tune by mid-July.  

  4. Post update

    Duncan Weldon

    Economics correspondent

    Reporting from Athens.

  5. Sorting out school turnaround

    What will come of Nicky Morgan's new bill?

    Chris Cook

    Newsnight Policy Editor

    Nicky Morgan

    Today, the Education Secretary has made good on her promise of rapid legislation to make school turnaround faster. They think their plans will keep the number of schools taken in hand at around 200 schools a year.

    Nicky Morgan says that a new bill will tackle "campaigners [who] could delay or overrule failing schools being improved by education experts by obstructing the process by which academy sponsors take over running schools."

    The need to make it easier to convert weak local authority schools to academy status is not obviously apparent. The press release cites a high-profile campaign to "save" Downhills School in Tottenham from being shifted to academy status. 

    That campaign sought to keep the management in place at a weakly led school. It culminated in a baffling sit-in protest at a local carpet shop. In due course, it failed and the school is now run (well) by the Harris Federation, a charity. 

    These campaigns fail. As a rule, in any English education fight, the Department for Education always wins and the big teaching unions always lose. 

    Indeed, in this arena, the DfE's own behaviour and competence is a bigger problem in the academy process than its opponents'. The department is a weak body, and its culture of secrecy encourages opposition and suspicion. 

    The criteria for action against a school by the "Regional School Commissioners", the DfE's local viceroys, are a mystery.The process by which the new school management is selected is a black box. They only reveal faits accomplis.

    More transparency, combined with a better process for officials to explain concerns and by which parents can make their views known, would make everything easier and, probably, lead to better, easier, quicker decisions.

    There are, however, bigger problems that Ms Morgan needs to overcome to make any of this work. 

    First, this process will pile more stress on the DfE. Academies are overseen by the Whitehall department, rather than the local authority. But this joist in the education system is already crumpling under its current workload. 

    Second, the approach will only work if academy chains exist who can raise the performance of weak schools. As I have written before, this is an increasingly doubtful proposition. Only three big, established academy chains have managed to get better-than-average results for their pupils, once you account for intake.

    Finally, I am not clear that you will get more from pushing schools harder. At the risk of referring you to yet another item in my extensive one-note oeuvre, heads already know what is at stake and are already hammering hard. 

    You can believe league tables and academy takeovers worked in the past without believing that performance will rise if we just crank up the pressure ad infinitum. I think it is plausible to argue we are at that point.

    Indeed, I am struck by this blogpost by Sam Freedman, formerly one of Michael Gove's advisers, on "capacity building". Plenty of teachers work themselves to the bone, but the results don't come. So how do we help them get better? That might be a productive way to take the discussion on school quality. 

    And, hopefully, it won't lead to more inexplicable singalongs in lino shops.

  6. Coasting schools

    How to define them?

    Chris Cook

    Newsnight Policy Editor

    One question for the government's proposals to deal with "coasting" schools is how they define these "must try harder" schools. 

    Helpfully, the nerds at Schools Week have found the relevant passage in the new education bill. I have to say, it's not overly helpful.

  7. Plus ça change with PMQs

    The more things change, the more they stay the same

    Lewis Goodall

    Newsnight producer


    Pretty much the only thing which is fresh about PMQs are the new cameras. Well that's not entirely fair. The Lib Dems have gone (this may be the first PMQs for several decades where there were no questions from a Lib Dem MP). There are lots of new faces, not least the SNP legions from the north have arrived. Yet already, have they gone native? No more clapping, no more cheeky Mhairi Black peeping behind Harriet Harman's shoulders on the opposition benches? Even Dennis Skinner remained on his throne, unscathed. 

    Most substantially, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls are gone but not forgotten. Indeed, the Prime Minister seems determined to keep their memories alive and well: "The messengers have gone but the messages are still the same." 

    Indeed, had a person emerged from a long sleep and missed the election they might have missed the fact it had happened at all. The contours of political debate remain more or less the same. Harriet Harman tried to move it on with a new line that, with the Lib Dems gone and the last Labour government seeming as distant as the last time the X-Factor was any good, the PM had no-one to blame but himself. Cameron was having none of it, he reminded a grateful nation that the Conservatives were still "clearing up the mess Labour left us." Players of PMQs bingo let out a collective cheer. 

    If the government keeps this up, it can surely only bolster Liz Kendall's candidacy. The PM would struggle to continue to play that card with an MP only elected in 2010. Yet he took an early swipe at her and the other candidates too, mocking Labour's new obsession with "aspiration", apparently Labour MPs can't even spell it (wouldn't happen if they'd gone to Free Schools, presumably).

    Clearly, David Cameron still has a post-election swing in his step. After he left office, John Major wrote that in the first eighteen months of his premiership, before he won his own mandate he felt he was "living in sin with the electorate". Now, with a majority all of his own, the PM simply commanded the House.

  8. All change at PMQs

    Robert Morgan, Assistant Editor, BBC Newsnight

    Prime Ministers Questions
    Image caption: Prime Minister's Questions

    It will be all change at the first Prime Minister's Questions of the new parliament today. With the Conservatives now governing alone and a large number of new SNP MPs following their landslide in Scotland it will certainly look and feel different. 

    Labour's acting leader, Harriet Harman is expected to have only four questions and there will be two for the SNP's leader in the Commons, Angus Robertson. The Lib Dems, with just eight MPs following their election rout, will only be allowed one question every few weeks.

    Not long to wait. PMQs starts at 12 noon.

  9. Greece is the word

    Duncan Weldon in Athens

    Duncan Weldon

    Economics correspondent

    Euros and Drachma

    There have been two developments in the stand off between Greece and its creditors. First, Prime Minister Tsipras is heading to Brussels for face to face talks with Jean Claude Juncker. This tells us two things - that the Greeks still have reservations about the deal that is now on the table and that there may now be a move to a "political solution". The aim on the Greek side has been for a top level agreement between politicians, with the technical details to follow. But for the creditors the devil is in those details, they've been reluctant to agree anything which doesn't pin down the specifics. Second, Greece is now making more positive noises about making the IMF payment due on Friday. The deal that seems to be on the table is that Greece agrees to stick to economic reforms and big budget surpluses but gets the carrots of an offer of some form of debt relief (probably some way down the line) and crucially immediate funding (maybe from the old bank recapitalisation fund) to meet payments this summer. It remains to be seen whether this will be enough to satisfy both sides.

  10. A new era for football?

    Emily Maitlis

    Newsnight Presenter

    The World Cup trophy

    Yes yes yes we know about Blatter going. But here's a sign of more change to come which in its own way may prove no less radical. Match of the Day magazine (required breakfast reading ) tells me that when FIFA16 drops this Autumn it will include 12 women's national teams for the first time. To spell that out: Women who play football for their country will be on it. FIFA16 - for those in search of a little background- is what we Eighties kids used to call "a video game" and what - to my huge relief - kids who play today still appear to call " a video game". But - and here's the point - it is for any football fan between the ages of six and 16 all devouring, all consuming, and constantly updated. It is a language, a bond, a League of Nations uniting children from all different cultures countries and backgrounds. It unifies and it dictates - where FIFA16 leads, the Xbox generation follow. And this doesn't seem such a bad place to be going. Next year, it may even be considered normal to have female players starring in one of the best selling games of all time.