London Playbook: Sewage wars — 3 years of Keir — Procurement pains

London Playbook: Sewage wars — 3 years of Keir — Procurement pains

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Good Tuesday morning. This is Eleni Courea, writing Playbook for the next couple of days.

DRIVING THE DAY

WE’LL FIGHT THEM ON THE BEACHES: Ministers are attempting to wrest control of the narrative on Britain’s sewage-strewn rivers and beaches by threatening water companies with unlimited fines.

Tune in: Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey is launching the government’s euphemistically titled “plan for cleaner and more plentiful water” in a speech at 10.20 a.m. in London.

Unusually: There is no minister on the morning media round. Instead BBC News will broadcast a pre-recorded interview with Coffey in the morning (here’s some of what she told them) … Coffey will then record a pool clip at the venue where she’s launching the plan … and take questions from journalists there.

Time elapsed since the last Defra plan to tackle sewage: 221 days (or just over seven months). On August 26, the department (under George Eustice) announced its “toughest” targets yet on polluting water companies … guess they weren’t tough enough.

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Yuck: If last year’s figures are anything to go by, you can expect raw sewage to pour into English rivers and seas 825 times during the course of today. Playbook recalls that angry constituent emails poured into Tory MPs’ inboxes in October 2021 (!) after they voted down an opposition amendment to the Environment Bill seeking to place a legal duty on companies to stop spills. Tory MPs were deeply unhappy about the backlash and it was enough to trigger a defensive social media campaign. This plan represents an attempt by the Tories to get on the front foot — but will it be enough?

Also worth noting: There are three national newspaper campaigns on this — the Telegraph’s Clean Rivers campaign, the Times’ Clean It Up campaign, and i and New Scientist’s joint Save Britain’s Rivers effort. It means there’s lots of press interest in (currently negative) stories about the problem … but also interest in touting any effective steps and signs of progress that will help these papers eventually claim victory (the Tel’s campaign has been running for over a year now). Coffey sets out today’s plans in a Telegraph op-ed.

ON THE OPPOSITION BENCHES: Labour and the Lib Dems have long been trying to pooh-pooh the government’s record. Shadow Environment Secretary Jim McMahon said today’s announcement is “nothing more than a shuffling of the deck chairs” and “a reheating of old failed measures.” The Lib Dems point out ministers have been talking about banning wet wipes containing plastic — one of today’s main announcements — for the past five years (the Mirror’s John Stevens writes it up). And the BBC notes the government decided against doing so after the last consultation. Defra aides insist the opposition’s demands for a speedy solution are impossible given the scale of the problem.  

As it happens: Lib Dem leader Ed Davey is spending the day meeting dog-walkers on the beach in Eastbourne and talking all things sewage. Lib Dem analysis suggests that 8,500 hours’ worth of sewage flowed onto supposedly uber-clean blue-flag English beaches last year — the Guardian and the Mail pick it up.

Important content: The Lib Dem press team has furnished Playbook with a list of the dogs Davey will be walking on the beach in Eastbourne: Marvin and Basil, both little Norfolk terriers … Olive the Tibetan terrier … Herby the cocker spaniel … and Pippin the lab.

IT’S ALWAYS CRIME WEEK SOMEWHERE: Keir Starmer is also on the campaign trail today, and will visit a college in East Lancashire to see how sport projects can prevent crime. After touring the premises, he’ll speak to students and staff and record a pool clip at around 10.30 a.m. — where he might be tempted to talk up his achievements in three years as Labour leader (more on that below).

TRUMP WORLD

CRIME WEEK ON STEROIDS: It’s a blockbuster day in U.S. politics, where New York prosecutors will set out the criminal charges they are bringing against former President Donald Trump. Expect wall-to-wall news coverage tonight.

Where the action is: Manhattan Criminal Court. Trump is due to appear at around 7.15 p.m. London time, and is expected to have mugshots and fingerprints taken. But New York’s ban on cameras in court (which Americans find weird and are lobbying against) means the spectacle of his court appearance won’t be broadcast live.  

ICY(somehow)MI: The show-stopping announcement that Trump would be the first U.S. president in history to face criminal charges came last week. Over the weekend the discussion has focused on what the exact charges will be … and whether this ultimately helps or hinders his bid to be the Republican candidate in the next presidential election.

What to expect: Trump is being arraigned in court after first surrendering at the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Appearing before a judge, he will have the indictment (or set of charges) read out to him. His lawyers have said he will plead not guilty.

After that: Trump is expected to be released on bail and head back to Florida, where he’s due to make a statement at around 1:15 a.m. U.K. time. Playbook will be up to get you the news.

What it’s about: The indictment relates to Trump’s alleged role in hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels during his first presidential campaign.

He spent last night … at Trump Tower in New York. Before his court appearance today he’ll likely be prepping with his legal team, including newly appointed lead counsel Todd Blanche, a top white-collar criminal defense lawyer (my POLITICO colleague Erica Orden has the story).

If only this were happening the UK … then Keir Starmer would have an opportunity to talk about his background as director of public prosecutions.

STOP THE BOATS

TIME TO BARGE IN: Suella Braverman is poised to unveil plans to house migrants on a barge, the Bibby Stockholm, off Dorset as soon as today. The Mirror, the Times and the Guardian have the story.

But don’t barge into my neighborhood: The catch is getting Tory MPs to house asylum seekers in their leafy and increasingly marginal constituencies, whether that’s on barges, at ex-military bases or wherever else. POLITICO’s Andrew McDonald looks at the five Tories — including two ministers, James Cleverly and Huw Merriman — offering mild-to-moderate-to-severe NIMBY-style opposition to Sunak’s latest stop the boats agenda to keep their constituents onside.

NIMBY alert: The Times’ Matt Dathan and Ali Mitib report on p1 that plans to accommodate 506 migrants on the Bibby Stockholm off Dorset will be challenged in the courts over concerns this will harm the local tourism industry. Richard Drax, the Tory MP for South Dorset (and one of the five in Andrew’s piece), tells them: “We will look at any way we can stop this.”

Also not happy: Former Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is helping her local council in Essex in its efforts to stop a military base in Wethersfield from being turned into a major migrant camp. Patel tells the paper it’s “a rural site which is unsuitable” and that ministers should “abandon these ill-thought-through plans.” The Telegraph’s Charles Hymas also has that story.

The other issue: The plan will cost more than £20,000 per day, the Times reports.   

LABOUR LAND

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: Keir Starmer marks three years as Labour leader today. To celebrate the occasion the Times has a YouGov poll suggesting people don’t really know what he stands for. In an interview with the paper, Starmer vows to be “completely ruthless” and seeks to demonstrate his capacity for that by suggesting for the first time that he forced Richard Leonard’s resignation as Scottish Labour leader.

3 years of Keir: Playbook’s ace reporter/secret weapon Noah Keate compiles the key moments of the Labour leader’s timeline …

April 4, 2020: Starmer is elected by party members in the first round of voting, with 56 percent of the vote, having made these 10 pledges.

May 4, 2020: Jennie Formby, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, steps down as general secretary, allowing Starmer to install one of his own to the top job.

June 25, 2020: Starmer sensationally sacks his former leadership opponent and Corbyn-ally Rebecca Long-Bailey from the shadow Cabinet, after she shared an article that he said contained an antisemitic conspiracy theory. It’s the first sign he is prepared to be ruthless in purging the left.

October 29, 2020: The EHRC concludes that the Labour Party discriminated against its Jewish members during Corbyn’s leadership. Corbyn is stripped of the Labour whip and suspended from the party for arguing the extent of antisemitism was “dramatically overstated for political reasons.” Corbyn’s party membership is reinstated weeks later (but he never regains the whip).

January 14, 2021: Richard Leonard quits as Scottish Labour leader (under pressure from Starmer, apparently).

May 6, 2021: Labour loses the Hartlepool by-election with a 16 percent swing to the Tories, putting pressure on Starmer over his political future.

May 9, 2021: Starmer carries out a botched shadow Cabinet reshuffle, sacking Angela Rayner as party chair (tacitly blaming her for the Hartlepool defeat). He hands her an array of other job titles to pacify her after she resists the demotion.

July 1, 2021: Labour narrowly holds Batley and Spen in a fractious by-election, helping Starmer see off the threat of a leadership challenge.

September 27, 2021: Last Corbynite standing Andy McDonald quits the shadow Cabinet, blaming policy disagreements. Starmer faces down hecklers during in his conference speech.

November 29, 2021: Starmer carries out a more successful reshuffle, in which he appoints Yvette Cooper shadow home secretary and David Lammy shadow foreign secretary.

January 12, 2022: Starmer calls on Boris Johnson to resign over Partygate.

July 7, 2022: Boris Johnson quits as prime minister.

July 8, 2022: Starmer and Rayner are cleared of breaking lockdown rules by Durham Police in its Beergate investigation.

September 27, 2022: Starmer closes an upbeat party conference, while the value of the pound plunges following Liz Truss’ catastrophic “mini-budget.”

October 20, 2022: Truss quits as prime minister.

February 15, 2023: Nicola Sturgeon quits as first minister of Scotland and SNP leader. Starmer rules out Corbyn standing as a Labour candidate in the next election.

March 28, 2023: Corbyn is formally blocked from running as a Labour candidate at an NEC meeting.

Scores on the doors: According to POLITICO’s Poll of Polls tracker, when Starmer took office on April 4, 2020, Labour was 22 points behind the Tories … six months later on October 4, 2020, Labour were just 1 point behind … on April 4, 2021, Labour had fallen to 8 points behind … by October 4, 2021, that had narrowed to 5 points … by April 4, 2022, Labour were 5 points ahead … on October 4, 2022, Labour had a whopping 25-point lead … and in the most recent data from March 31, Labour is 18 points ahead with 46 percent support to the Tories’ 28 percent.

3 years of Starmer slogans: “Another future is possible” (January 2020) … “Under new management” (July 2020) … “A new leadership” (September 2020) … “Secure, protect, rebuild” (January 2021) … “A new chapter for Britain” (February 2021) … “Labour’s coming home” (July 2021) … “Work, care, equality, security” (September 2021) … “Security, prosperity, respect” (January 2022) … “On your side” (March 2022) … “A fairer, greener future” (September 2022) … “Take back control” (January 2023) … “Build a better Britain” (March 2023). H/t the Times’ Patrick Maguire.

The reviews are in … from the “Stevenage women” Labour apparently needs to win over at the next election — and they are mixed. The Times’ Ali Mitib has vox pops.

Guess he’s not a fan: CCHQ’s Greg Hands (a Fulham man) says that “Sir Slippery will say anything if the politics suits him. From the economy to stopping the boats, his lack of principles and regular promise breaking shows the British people just cannot trust his word. We’ve had three years of inconsistency and opportunism from Labour.”

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CHINA CORNER

SCOOP — PROCUREMENT PAINS: Here’s a preview of the thing — OK, one of the things — that’ll be causing ministers a headache in the coming weeks. Tory China hawks have tabled a slew of amendments to toughen up the procurement bill (which Playbook is told is due back in the Commons soon after recess, in late April or early May). The bill will introduce rules for firms competing for government contracts — and strengthen ministers’ to exclude companies that are deemed a national security risk. But some MPs don’t think the legislation in its current form goes far enough.

In one corner … Alicia Kearns, Tory chair of the foreign affairs committee, has a series of amendments that would require the Cabinet Office to maintain a “high risk” list of companies that could only sell surveillance equipment to public authorities with explicit ministerial approval. They are backed by three other select committee chairs — Tobias Ellwood in defense, Darren Jones in business and Caroline Nokes in women and equalities — with more MPs considering putting their names to it over recess.

Her pitch: Kearns told Playbook: “The current proposals in the bill put all the responsibility on contracting authorities to take national security decisions. We know this approach doesn’t work — our local councils routinely install Hikvision CCTV, while police around the country operate DJI drones … This bill is a chance to protect our country from China’s techno-authoritarianism, and efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to engineer our dependence on them, to weaken us at home and abroad — to fail to act now would be to fail to defend our people.”

In another corner … Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader and co-chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, has an amendment seeking a blanket ban on Chinese companies from government supply chains of surveillance equipment. It is backed by 12 other Tories including Priti Patel, the former home secretary, so far.

His pitch: IDS told Playbook: “The amendment has very broad support across the House, and I’m pleased to say the government has been willing to engage. I am assured that the government is taking seriously the threat posed by companies subject to certain Chinese laws, particularly security laws I have good reason hope that the amendment will be accepted.”

Worth noting: Kearns and IDS have both had discussions ministers and with the Labour frontbench, which is considering whether to support these amendments. Angela Rayner — who is leading on this as the shadow Cabinet Office minister — has tabled a few of her own.

Of course … The government may well decide to make concessions that pick off these burgeoning rebellions, as is its MO. A Cabinet Office official told Playbook: “We’ve had good meetings and we’re working closely with these MPs. As the recent decision on banning TikTok on govt phones showed, we’ll take tough action where needed.”

CHINA-RUSSIA FRIENDSHIP UPDATE: China has declared a “no-limits” partnership with Russia. But the nature of the relationship between Beijing and Moscow does actually have limits, according to former National Security Adviser Stephen Lovegrove.

Awkward Squad vs. AUKUS Squad: “It seems inconceivable to me that Russia and China will be willing to share technology in the way our nations will be” in the AUKUS alliance, Lovegrove told an invite-only audience at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Sydney Dialogue, attended by Playbook’s editor Zoya Sheftalovich. Lovegrove also pointed to the Five Eyes Alliance of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and U.S. as an example of Western nations’ willingness to pool resources and intelligence — unlikely in the more-guarded Russia-China relationship.

5G mistake: Lovegrove admitted the decision to allow Huawei equipment into the U.K.’s 5G network was a serious “mistake,” which was now being reversed at great cost. “Increasingly in liberal capitalist societies we have optimized for economic efficiency, but we have not optimized for resilience,” Lovegrove said. Eric Schmidt, the former Google CEO and China hawk who is now chairman of the U.S. Special Competitive Studies Project, told the same conference that the West is “locked in a battle with China that will define the future for the rest of our lives,” and added: “We gotta get ourselves together so that we win in the competition around strategic platforms. I don’t want to be using Chinese operating systems to do my communications. I just don’t. I don’t trust them.”

TODAY IN WESTMINSTER

PARLIAMENT: In recess until April 17.

STRIKES PRESENT AND FUTURE: National Highways staff in the National Traffic Operations Centre in Quinton are on strike until April 8 … Passport Office staff are on strike until May 5 … British Library staff are on strike until April 17 … British Museum staff plan to strike between April 6 and 13 … and junior doctors in England plan to strike between April 11 and 15.

CBI MISCONDUCT: The Guardian splashes a marmalade-dropping investigation by Anna Isaac, who has spoken to more than a dozen women claiming to have been victims of various forms of sexual misconduct by senior figures at the Confederation of British Industry. The women approached the paper with concerns about what they describe as a toxic culture at the CBI, with some of their claims corroborated by more than 10 other current and former employees. Shadow Leveling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy has withdrawn from a CBI event on April 25, Bloomberg reports.

BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS: Officials privately warned that nearly half the Defra-proposed policies announced on “green day” last week are likely to fail, the Times reports. Ben Spencer has a leaked document showing that of 44 policies, 21 were marked red or red/amber, indicating they will be hard to achieve.

REPORTS ROUND-UP: The NHS should abolish many of its national targets and focus on preventive health care, a report by former Labour Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt that’s being published today argues. The Guardian has a preview and says the report will state having too many targets makes them less effective … A “zero tolerance approach” should be taken to cases of state hostage-taking and arbitrary detention, a foreign affairs committee report argues, warning that the government has failed to learn lessons so far — the FT has a write-up … And the National Cyber Force undertakes “daily” hacking operations to support overseas military deployments, and targets terrorists, cybercrims and child pornographers, GCHQ chief Jeremy Fleming says in a new paper (FT writes it up).

TORY BACKLASH: The Mail’s Kumail Jaffer has quotes from Tory backbenchers attacking the Worker Protection Bill (a Lib Dem-proposed PMB that’s being waved through the Commons) … and in the pages of the Express, Mansfield MP Ben Bradley launches his latest broadside against the move to devolve more powers to Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester and Andy Street in the West Midlands but not other regions.

SPEEDING CASE: Home Office Minister Robert Jenrick is due to have a speeding case heard by magistrates in Northampton after he was recorded traveling at 68mph in a temporary 40mph area last August. The Evening Standard reports the case will consider possible disqualification.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Candidate nominations for the local elections close today, with voting exactly one month away. The Telegraph’s Dominic Penna and Amy Gibbons report on signs that the Tories have been struggling to find candidates to stand as councillors in their heartlands. The i reports on concerns that voter ID requirements will hamper turnout.

Now bookmark this: The Local Government Information Unit has published an extremely useful report on the councils to watch on the night of the locals.

TODAY IN BRUSSELS

NATO MOMENT: Foreign Secretary James Cleverly arrives in Brussels at around noon for the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting, taking place 74 years since the alliance was founded. There will be a flag ceremony to mark Finland’s accession as NATO’s 31st member (a legacy of the outgoing Finnish PM Sanna Marin). Sweden — which wants to join but is being blocked by Turkey — will also attend. Ukraine will top the agenda.

HOPE ON THE HORIZON: Science and Tech Secretary Michelle Donelan is also in Brussels, and will meet European Commissioner for Innovation Mariya Gabriel to discuss the possibility of the U.K. rejoining the Horizon research funding program. It is Donelan’s first foreign trip in the role, my POLITICO colleague Tom Bristow reports.

Recap: Horizon funds European researchers to the tune of almost €100 billion, but we are already two years into the seven-year scheme, meaning if the U.K. wants in, it needs to agree with the EU what amount it should contribute. A government official said terms will have to “reflect value for the U.K., especially having lost out on two important years’ worth of membership.”

Donelan said: “I look forward to this introductory meeting with the EU and discussing possible future association with Horizon Europe. But we can only do so on the right terms.” The U.K. is also expected to publish its Plan B if it can’t associate with Horizon soon — which would involve setting up its own research scheme with other countries. On Monday PolHome’s Adam Payne had a letter from business leaders warning that the U.K. can’t recreate Horizon benefits.

ELSEWHERE BEYOND THE M25

DO LOOK BACK IN ANGER: Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham voiced support for the Scott Trust, the owner of the Guardian, committing more than £10 million to a restorative program, saying it “is something we want to be part of.” Writing in the Guardian, Burnham said: “More needs to be done to tell the story of how slavery shaped the city [Manchester] as well as spotlight more recent black Mancunian history.”

UPDATE FROM MOSCOW: Jailed Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich is “cheerful” and doing well in pre-trial detention, according to a Russian prison watchdog. POLITICO reports that Alexei Melnikov, a member of the Moscow Public Monitoring Commission said: “At the time of my visit, he was cheerful, there were a lot of jokes during our conversation.”

FRIDMAN LATEST: The U.K. is no longer investigating two of the three initial allegations against sanctioned Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman, the FT reports. The National Crime Agency has dropped its probes into suspicion of conspiracy to defraud the Home Office and conspiracy to commit perjury, but is still investigating suspected money-laundering, report Daniel Thomas in London and Max Seddon in Riga.

SAFETY FIRST: The Finnish electorate has played it safe by endorsing center-right National Coalition Party leader Petteri Orpo, writes POLITICO’s Charlie Duxbury in a new profile of the man who could succeed Sanna Marin. Charlie highlights that Orpo has a trusted track record in party politics stretching back decades, enabling him to convince voters he was the steady hand the country required.

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MEDIA ROUND

Shadow Policing Minister Sarah Jones broadcast round: Times Radio (7.50 a.m.) … Sky News (8.05 a.m.) … LBC News (8.50 a.m.) … GB News (9.05 a.m.).

Also on Today program: Foreign affairs committee Chair Alicia Kearns (6.10 a.m.) … Margaret Thatcher biographer Charles Moore (7.09 a.m.) … Director of Strategic Communications for Trump’s campaign in 2020 Marc Lotter (7.14 a.m.) … Director of Policy at Water UK Stuart Colville (7.50 a.m.) … Wendy Joseph, former Old Bailey judge (8.10 a.m.) … Richard Barrons, former commander of Joint Forces Command (8.35 a.m.).

Also on Times Radio Breakfast: Alicia Kearns (7.20 a.m.) … Tory MP David Davis (8.05 a.m.) … Labour peer George Robertson (8.35 a.m.) … Former Tory leader William Hague and former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale (both 9.10 a.m.) … Former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt (9.35 a.m.).

Also on Kay Burley: Crossbench peer Richard Dannatt (7.20 a.m.) … Former U.K. Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch (8.30 a.m.) … Finland’s Ambassador to the U.K. Jukka Siukosaari (9.30 a.m.).

Also on GB News Breakfast: Professor of international politics at University College Dublin Scott Lucas (7 a.m. and 8 a.m.).

TalkTV Breakfast: Kim Darroch (8.05 a.m.) … Alicia Kearns (8.30 a.m.) … Tory MP Bob Seely (9.30 a.m.).

Nick Ferrari at Breakfast: Former Gavin Williamson SpAd Angus Walker (8.10 a.m.) … Tory peer Michael Dobbs (8.20 a.m.).

TODAY’S FRONT PAGES

(Click on the publication’s name to see its front page):

POLITICO UK: These Tory MPs wanted an asylum clampdown. Just not in their own backyard.

Daily Express: 42 years — life for Olivia’s life.

Daily Mail: ‘I keep thinking I have forgotten to pick Olivia up from school … I just miss hearing her voice.’

Daily Mirror: Mum’s bravery and the cowardice of a killer.

Daily Star: Queen’s corgis are no longer grieving.

Financial Times: EY banned from German audit work for two years after Wirecard scandal.

i: U.K. summer holidays hit by passport delays after new strikes.

Metro: Gutless.

The Daily Telegraph: Nigel Lawson, Thatcher’s tax slasher, dies at 91.

The Guardian: Revealed — CBI in turmoil following new claims of sexual misconduct.

The Independent: ‘How could he keep shooting after hearing her terrified screams?’

The Sun: Phil — I no longer have a brother.

The Times: Almost half of voters say Starmer still lacks vision.

LONDON CALLING

WESTMINSTER WEATHER: Sunshine continues with light winds and highs of 13C (don’t put away your winter coat yet).

IN MEMORIAM: Former Chancellor Nigel Lawson, a towering figure in the Conservative Party, has died at the age of 91. He was in charge of the Treasury from 1983 to 1989, playing a key role in Margaret Thatcher’s privatization policies with a commitment to free market economics. His final interview was with the Telegraph’s “Planet Normal” podcast last month. Here’s the Times obit.

Tributes poured in overnight from Tory prime ministers past and present. Rishi Sunak said Lawson was “a transformational Chancellor and an inspiration to me and many others” … Former PM Liz Truss said his “time at the helm of the Treasury was transformational” … Boris Johnson said Lawson was “a tax-cutter and simplifier who helped transform the economic landscape and helped millions of British people achieve their dreams” … David Cameron said Lawson was “a giant of British politics, right in the heart of the engine room of Margaret Thatcher’s great reforms — and providing so much of the intellectual backing for what needed to be done at the end of the 1970s.”

In the media: Telegraph columnist and Margaret Thatcher’s biographer Charles Moore says Lawson “was indeed a brilliant man, with a mastery of his subject greater than any chancellor since Gladstone” … and the editor of the Spectator (which Lawson himself edited) Fraser Nelson said he “was driven by principles which he brilliantly articulated as a journalist and then enacted as a politician — transforming the country in the process.”

Climate legacy: In 2009, Lawson founded the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a think tank promoting skepticism about climate change which has recently rebranded its campaigning wing as Net Zero Watch.

NEW GIG: Ex Bloomberg journo Laura Wright has joined the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology as Michelle Donelan’s media SpAd.

II: Sam Woolven is joining the strategy unit of the gender and equalities department in the Foreign Office.

CULTURE FIX: The Guardian’s Ireland correspondent Rory Carroll’s book “Killing Thatcher: The IRA, the Manhunt and the Long War on the Crown,” about the IRA’s plot to kill Margaret Thatcher, is published today by Mudlark … and Danny Shaw investigates whether the Probation Service is meeting its remit to protect the public in “File on 4” at 8 p.m. on Radio 4.

JOB AD: LBC is hiring a head of newsgathering.

BIRTHDAYS: DUP Commons Chief Whip Sammy Wilson turns 70 … East Yorkshire MP Greg Knight … Gloucester MP Richard Graham … Former Farming minister Jim Fitzpatrick … Tory peer Karren Brady … Crossbench peer Donald Curry … Labour staffer Matthew Torbitt.

PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editor Zoya Sheftalovich, reporter Noah Keate and producer Grace Stranger.

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