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Summary

  1. Newsnight Live…analysis of the day’s political events
  2. Labour leadership, welfare cuts, and the state of Parliament

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

  1. Don't cry for me Australia

    I'll be talking to Julia Gillard tonight

    Kirsty Wark

    Newsnight Presenter

    Julia Gillard
    Image caption: "I was not going to give any bastard the satisfaction"

    I’m very much looking forward to interviewing the former Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, tonight on the programme – she may be from Wales, but she is forthright in a way that I would suggest is very Australian. 

    At the beginning of her book “My Story” she writes about being voted out of the premiership: “While Prime Minister I head shed tears of sadness for the suffering of Australians hurt by natural disaster, tears of grief at the loss of my father...But I was not going to stand before the nation as Prime Minister and cry for myself. I was not going to let anyone conclude that a woman could not take it. I was not going to give any bastard the satisfaction.”

    What does she make of Australia’s latest policy on migrant boat people? It’s been an issue for the country for many years – but not in such numbers.

    And was Australia, where as Gillard writes, no national paper is edited by a woman, just not ready for a female head? Or was the real problem the sexism of her fellow cabinet members who then ousted her?  

    And is America ready for a woman president?

  2. 28 MPs who didn't nominate for the Labour leadership

    Ed Brown

    Newsnight producer

    Mary Creagh and Ed Miliband
    Image caption: Neither Creagh nor Miliband are nominating a leadership candidate. Although that's possibly not why they look sad in this picture.

    I've yet to see a definitive list of the Labour MPs that didn't nominate one of their peers for the Labour leadership today - so I've created one.

    Now, some of them can be fairly easily accounted for. Several of them (for example Tom Watson) are running for Deputy Leadership, and thus presumably don't want to tie themselves to one leader in case the party comes up with the "wrong" one. Lindsay Hoyle is the Deputy Speaker and so may have felt his position of neutrality in the house would be compromised by nominating.

    Nonetheless, it's interesting to see those MPs that have self disenfranchised. Why, for example, has Sir Gerald Kaufman, the Father of the House, not nominated a leadership candidate, despite having nominated Caroline Flint for Deputy Leadership? 

    Once you strip out those with an obvious "excuse" one wonders whether there are a couple in here who simply think none of them are up to it.*

    *Although, in fairness, a similar number opted not to nominate in the last leadership election in 2010.

    Alan Campbell Alan Johnson Angela Eagle Barry Gardiner Ben Bradshaw Caroline Flint David Winnick Edward Miliband Gerald Kaufman Graham Allen Graham Stringer Harriet Harman Helen Hayes Ian C. Lucas John Cryer Keith Vaz Lindsay Hoyle Mark Tami Mary Creagh Meg Hillier Natascha Engel Rob Marris Roger Godsiff Rosie Cooper Rosie Winterton Stella Creasy Susan Elan Jones Tom Watson         

    Source: List of MPs from Parliament site, nominators sourced from list published on the Labour website

  3. Purdah rules meeting in Downing Street

    James Clayton, Newsnight political producer

  4. How long has Greece got?

    Duncan Weldon

    Economics correspondent

    a clock

    If a Greek deal is going to be done, then past experience suggests it won't come until the eleventh hour. But in this crisis, the eleventh hour has a habit of slipping backwards. 

    There are two potential deadlines that are being widely discussed at the moment - the first comes this Thursday on the 18th June. That's when the next meeting of European finance ministers is happening in Luxembourg. There has been talk amongst  the creditors that this represents the "last chance" for a deal. But then an additional meeting is always possible. 

    So, the 18th isn't necessarily a hard deadline.

    By contrast the 30th June is when Greece is due to make a payment to the IMF. It simply doesn't have the means to make that payment and so, without a deal by then, a default will occur. A default doesn't necessarily mean that Greece is leaving the Euro but it would move the crisis into a new and uncharted phase.

    Alongside these "knowable" deadlines there is a an "unknowable" one. 

    If the deposit outflow from Greek banks picks up, then that could force the Greek government's hand. They may need to impose capital controls (all the talk has been of Greece leaving the Euro but before that the government may have to take steps to stop Euros leaving Greece), which again would take the crisis in a new direction.

    It isn't hard to see a situation where the failure to to reach a deal this Thursday, leads to a heavy pick up in deposit outflows.  

    Given all the moving parts in the current stand off - deposit outflows, payment dates, public opinion in Greece and how they all interact - it is almost impossible to predict exactly when a decisive point will be reached. The best that can be said with confidence is: "at some point before the end of the month".

  5. The courting of Crosby

    James Clayton, Newsnight political producer

  6. Why do MPs reject their hinterland?

    James Clayton, Newsnight political producer

    Sitting with Alan Mak, the UK's first ethnically Chinese MP, the conversation turns to what areas he wants to specialise in over the next 5 years. Alan's had Chinese media approach him regularly for comment since being elected - with an interest in foreign affairs and China. But, he doesn't want to focus on China at all.

    It's not uncommon for MPs to reject areas that they have a personal interest in when they arrive in Parliament. Dan Jarvis for example has no intention of becoming a shadow defence secretary, despite doing three tours of Afghanistan.

    For Alan Mak it's an issue of typecasting. He doesn't want to to simply be the go-to man for Chinese issues, just because of his ethnic heritage.

    But for others it's about more than stereotyping. Being an expert in a certain field can both help and hinder your political decision making. Anne Milton was a nurse for 25 years before becoming health minister in 2010 and says:

    "You come with preconceived ideas on priorities, problems and solutions. The point of a minister is to receive all the info and evidence, ask the right questions and then make decisions based on that alone - it can be better not to have a bias before you start."

    Picture of Alan Mak MP
    Image caption: Alan Mak MP
  7. Is £12bn just the start of welfare cuts?

    Allegra Stratton

    Newsnight Political Editor

    HM Treasury sign

    The hardest policy question inside Whitehall at the moment is how to find the £12bn in welfare cuts. The narrative taking hold had been that Tories felt they couldn't actually do the £12bn and that they would prefer to do something lower. But maybe the government could actually go further? 

    I understand they could. I am told Treasury officials have actually asked the Department for Work and Pensions to deliver information on £15bn worth of cuts, not just £12bn. Of course this might just be a scoping exercise. But it does suggest that the Chancellor still means business.

    We have reported on Newsnight that £5bn of cuts to tax credits are in the mix. One source now tells me the pot of money in the firing line might be £8bn and affect both child tax credits and working tax credits. There is also a growing view that one way to address the debate about EU migrants coming to Britain and getting in work benefits... Is just to limit in work benefits. That way there would be no discrimination against non-Brits because the Brits would be restricted too. 

    Another idea being looked at is to take the benefit cap down from the £23,000 it is headed for right now, to below £20,000. If you could get £15bn out of welfare, then you would be softening the impact of cuts on other government departments. 

    Going for big welfare programmes is attractive to Tories not just because they think the system needs reform. It's where the big programmes are and many of them point out that big cuts are more attractive than lots of small cuts. You can get huge amounts of political grief from a small cut... The pasty tax being the most glorious example. So it might be better to take the heat from a smaller number of big cuts.

    Elsewhere across Whitehall, adult education is vulnerable, alongside cuts to grants for the poorest university students as reported last week by my colleague Laura Kuennsberg. 

  8. Groomed for terror

    Richard Watson, Newsnight correspondent

    Talha Asmal
    Image caption: Talha Asmal

    The news that a British teenager seems to have blown himself – and others – up in a suicide bombing attack in Iraq on behalf of the murderous group calling itself Islamic State says much about the UK’s fight against extremism.

    For the residents of the north Yorkshire town of Dewsbury it is incomprehensible that one of their own, 17-year old Talha Asmal, was fighting for IS let alone volunteering for such an act.

    His family has issued an unequivocal statement making it crystal clear that he must have been groomed online and his actions have no place in Islam. Assuming Talha’s identity is confirmed – and his family appear convinced – then he was a child, yes a child, who was convinced that he was fighting on the side of good and that conducting a "martyrdom" operation would be his guarantee of entry to paradise.

    People have been quick to blame online grooming rather than any physical radicalization. And it is right that radicalization is not going on in mainstream Islamic centres like mosques. However, that is not the same as saying there are no ideological supporters underground in Britain.

    In my experience of investigating this terrain over many years, some teens do not simply go online, read a few radical sermons or fatwas and decide to travel to a theatre of war for jihad. It’s not as simple as that. Usually, there will be  supporters or even facilitators here in the UK offering encouragement, even help with the journey and, crucially, the psychological preparation.

    Counter-terrorism officials say there are push and pull factors. The major pull factor - the allure of the so called Islamic State’s brave new world – is susceptible from a more nuanced interpretation of fundamentalist Islam. But that is both a global and long-term project…and we have the internet which means western society does not have time to wait.

    Then there are the push factors…the fact that some teens don’t feel they have a stake in British society – so much so that signing-up for a body like Islamic State is even conceivable. I’ve reported from Savile Town in Dewsbury and places like High Wycombe and they are worryingly segregated environments. You can sense the anger and disillusionment on some streets where many young British Muslims feel left behind. This is a major problem.

    Stopping access to online information about radical Islam is not practical. What really needs to be done is to give teens like Talha Asmal the tools to put vehement and dangerous religious certainty into context.  In the jargon, these are called "counter-narratives".

    So what’s to be done? With 700 plus Brits choosing Islamic State, the risk is now so great that parents should control their children’s passports. This is a straightforward practical step that parents must consider if the state is unable or unwilling to do the same.

  9. Corbyn makes it onto leadership ballot

    Laura Kuenssberg

    Newsnight Chief Correspondent

    So, he has made it. Labour MP, Jeremy Corbyn, has made it, just onto the ballot paper for the Labour leadership contest. So there will be four candidates on there – Corbyn, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.

    There are two ways of looking at his, as Corbyn nudged it with the help of nominations from MPs who have no intention whatsoever of actually voting for him in the end. The charitable view, is that Corbyn represents a strand of left wing opinion in the party that deserves an airing in the leadership contest.

    The less kind view, is that only the Labour party is as indulgent, and wrongheaded as to engineer a situation deliberately, so that a candidate with no chance of winning a contest gets the right to take part. Former aide to Ed Balls, Alex Bellardinelli has just tweeted:

    John Mann MP has just written: 

  10. Parliamentary reform

    Laura Kuenssberg

    Newsnight Chief Correspondent

    What to do about the crumbling Houses of Parliament? Last year Newsnight revealed not just the extent of the damage to the building, but that the restoration bill could be more than three billion pounds.

    The official report into the potential cost is out on Wednesday this week, but the conversation about how to preserve this beautiful, important, yet unpopular institution is just getting going. And Building work is not expected to start until 2020!