On November 4, 2014, Amnesty International published a scathing report on Israeli “war crimes” in Gaza during the war between Hamas and Israel last year. Entitled, “Families under the rubble: Israeli attacks on inhabited homes,” the report accuses Israel of displaying “callous indifference” in launching attacks on family homes in the densely populated coastal strip, and argued that in some cases the conduct amounted to war crimes. The report makes difficult reading. The toll of human tragedy in the conflict was enormous. Over 2,100 Palestinians were killed, about 1000 of them civilians. But did Israel commit war crimes? And is Amnesty reading war crimes legislation in a balanced way?
Everyone’s stealing everyone’s clothes today. David Cameron will hail Britain’s recovery and say it’s time for wage rises now that company balance sheets are in good order and dividends are starting to flow. “Give staff a pay rise, Cameron tells bosses” is our splash, “Pay workers more, says PM” says the Times. The cross-dressing is taken up a notch in the Sun, where the story is illustrated with a mock-up of the PM as Richard and George Osborne as Judy. “We Say Say You Pay” is the headline.
Also at the British Chambers of Commerce, Chuka Umunna and Ed Balls will make raid on Tory territory with glowing words about the role of British business and spine-tingling warnings about the risks of an In/Out referendum under David Cameron. (No Ed Miliband this year as he and Ed Balls do alternate appearances) Both Mr Balls and the PM will make the same big argument: only rising wages can see off the threat of dangerous populists (with the minor quirk, of course, that the Shadow Chancellor means Nigel Farage while Mr Cameron means the Labour leader.)
Not content with staking out Tory territory Chuka Umunna will become the second Labour heavyweight to pinch the Liberal line about “stronger economy, fairer society” after Rachel Reeves appropriated it last week. “We will work every day, strain every sinew, to make your lives that bit easier: easier to do business; easier to export; easier to create jobs; easier to succeed,” Mr Umunna will say.
But the Opposition’s big argument to business – that only their party can see off the threat of an In/Out referendum – is starting to look a little shaky. BCC head John Longworth’s calls for an early referendum in the FT puts in the public domain what many in business are saying privately.
We’ll have uncertainty either way, Mr Longworth told the Today programme. A Labour party in possession of a comfortable majority might be a better bet for those businesses who fear Brexit, but as we all know, that doesn’t look likely. A weak Labour government, dependent on the votes of Eurosceptic Labour MPs like Kate Hoey or Frank Field – and perhaps a handful of Ukip MPs from time to time – is probably just as likely to cause Euro-uncertainty as a re-elected David Cameron. Little wonder that increasingly, both In and Out are starting to plan for an In-Out referendum, regardless of who ends up in Downing Street.
GREXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR (MARKET)
“The risk to the British economy of this standoff between the Eurozone and Greece is growing each day,” George Osborne says, with neither the Troika – the EU, the ECB and the IMF – or Syriza looking likely to back down. Representatives of the Treasury, the Bank, the FCO and BIS were at Number 10 yesterday discussing contingencies should Greece leave the Euro. Analysts say that Britain is better insulated from the consequences of Grexit due to stronger controls within the Eurozone than in previous years, however. Matt Holehouse and Pete Spence have the story.
SIGNS OF LIFE IN SCOTTISH LABOUR?
A new TNS poll finds the SNP on 41% to 31%, which, while still a mullering for the Scottish Labour party is some way short of the wholesale apocalypse suggested by the recent Ashcroft poll. There is some hope within Labour that the swing will be less acute outside of those areas that heavily endorsed Scottish independence, while others are hopeful that poor SNP candidates will allow A-List incumbents to keep their posts. “Are voters really going to change the Shadow Foreign Secretary for a 20-year-old who says they want to headbutt people?” one muses.
FOR THE BOB THE BUILDER ENTHUSIAST WHO HAS EVERYTHING
The Conservatives’ glittering Black and White Ball is widely reported. “PM parties with the kings (and queens) of sleaze” is the Mail’s somewhat Scrooge-ish take. The auction was, as ever, overseen ably by Hugo Swire and BuzzFeed’s Siraj Datoo has got hold of the complete list of lots. Among the items under the hammer: a charcoal sketch of Baroness Thatcher, shoe shopping with Theresa May, a pheasant shoot for eight people, a chicken dinner with Michael Gove, and a JCB digger, which went for a cool £50,000, the Times’ Lucy Fisher reports.
THE RUB OF THE GREEN
Lord Green, a Conservative peer and a former trade minister, is under pressure to explain what he knew aboiut allegations relating to malpractice at HSBC, Britain’s largest bank. A leaked report, unearthed by the BBC, the Guardian and variety of international news outlets, discloses that the bank’s Swiss arm helped wealthy Britons avoid millions of pounds in tax.
BRYANT CRITICISES BLACK-OUT
Shadow arts minister Chris Bryant has criticised the “disturbing” lack of diversity in British film-making after no ethnic minority performers were honoured at the Baftas. It feels like “an insulting throwback to a bygone era”, Mr Bryant says. In an article for the Indy, he argues that by shutting out BME performers, the arts is losing out on BME audiences.
I FEEL LIKE SQUIRREL TONIGHT
Grey squirrel is now available to eat at the Cinnamon Club, a favoured haunt of MPs. The meat, which has little in the way of flat and is free-range, has a great, gamey flavour, according to reports. Mark Field is one of the first parliamentarians to try the dish, which he describes “a cross between rabbit and pigeon”. The dish is available until February 21st.
Lord Ashcroft’s focus groups turn to the tricky question of which beverage each party leader would be. The PM is a good red wine, a G&T or a martini, while Nick Clegg would be a Babycham or a WooW0oo. As for Ed Miliband, he would be either a non-alcholic beer, a glass of tomato juice, or, in the words of one participant: “the sort of drink nobody would order”.
When it comes to your child, most parents would do just about anything to make sure they have everything they need.
Many times, parents struggle to make all those dreams a reality.
In a touching commercial, a little girl reveals all the lies her father tells to make her happy.