Nurses decide — Pentagon leaks in court — Waiting for LOTO – POLITICO

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Good Friday morning. This is Dan Bloom. Rosa Prince returns Monday.


D-DAY: Nurses are about to decide whether to reject the government’s pay deal — and there’s dramatic late speculation that they’ll say no, setting off yet another wave of NHS strikes. With doctors walking out for a bitterer-than-ever fourth day, and teachers in limbo after rejecting their own offer, all the hope from a few weeks ago that the winter of discontent was blossoming into spring suddenly feels far away.

Fri-yay! The Royal College of Nursing’s consultative ballot of members closes at 9 a.m. with a result “as soon as possible” after that, and General Secretary Pat Cullen addressing members at 6 p.m. UNISON’s ballot shuts at 3 p.m. with results likely this evening or possibly over the weekend. Unite and GMB are balloting until April 28.

Emergency call: A fire was lit under the RCN vote’s final hours by the Times’ Chris Smyth, who said NHS chiefs expected members to vote against the pay offer by a “narrow” margin. ITV’s Anushka Asthana hears similar and is told new strikes could be timed on the same day as junior doctors. Sources tell the Guardian strikes could in theory resume in weeks. 

High stakes: If an NHS pay deal crumbles it will derail the emerging narrative of a government calmly solving Britain’s problems one by one. It will also expose bitter splits between officials across the union movement, some of whom are exasperated at the grassroots campaign to vote no. 

But but but … If both the RCN and UNISON — who represent a significant chunk of England’s 1.2 million NHS Agenda for Change staff — accept today, it will be a massive relief for Rishi Sunak and pave the way for the deal to sail through to a rubber-stamp. And everyone’s stories are caveated with the possibility that this could still happen. A senior union official told your author late on Thursday: “It really could go either way.”

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MARK YOUR DIARIES: Playbook tried to answer the question of what happens if one big union, such as the RCN, rejects the pay deal while others accept it. There were differences of opinion among union officials we spoke to, but a meeting on May 2 is key.

Showdown: The NHS Staff Council — including all six unions with strike mandates — is due to meet two days before the local elections to decide on the pay offer. A senior official with knowledge of the process tells Playbook each member of the council gets a weighted vote corresponding to the size of their membership. After weighting, an official says the deal would only need a simple majority to pass — meaning it could in theory be introduced even if not everyone is in favor.

MEANWHILE IN DOCTOR LAND: The longest-ever junior doctors’ strike stops at 7 a.m. on Saturday but shows no sign of resolution thanks to a bitter standoff between the British Medical Association and the government. There is little prospect so far that ministers will accept talks through the mediator ACAS, with one government official saying the sides are just too far apart. Ministers say the BMA’s call for a 35 percent pay rise is too high a starting point for them to make a serious counter-offer, and won’t sit down unless strikes are suspended.

No bedside manner: To understand the depth of hostility, check out the Telegraph splash saying death rates rose during the last doctors’ strike, with a government source accusing medics of “putting politics above patient safety” … or medics’ enraged replies to the Department of Health’s tweet on average junior doctor pay, which the small print says “includes additional hours and shift work.”

G-Peeved: Papers including the Independent splash go in on BMA official Rob Laurenson’s “I hope you can forgive me” message to fellow members after he took the week off to go to a wedding. Playbook hears reporters have been trying to track down where he is.

It’s bad news, I’m afraid: Chancellor Jeremy Hunt dug in, telling reporters in Washington that an inflationary pay rise would be “a terrible mistake” and he’s willing to accept “a short-term impact” instead. (Via the Telegraph).

SCHOOL’S OUT: Millions of pupils will return to schools on Monday to the threat of their teachers walking out after all four main unions resoundingly rejected a pay offer. Playbook hears the National Education Union is “gearing up for the long haul,” including reballoting in July if needed. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has made clear that “the pay review body will not reopen pay for this year.” 

NEWS LOOMS: The Communication Workers’ Union has promised to “fully update” its members by mid-morning after a “pivotal day” in its marathon dispute with Royal Mail. (H/t NationalWorld).

ALSO STRIKING TODAY: Passport Office staff in Belfast, Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport, Peterborough and Southport, and workers at the Environment Agency.


LONG GOODBYE: Joe Biden closes his three-day Irish family history tour tonight with a speech to an estimated 20,000 people after 7 p.m. It will be at Ballina’s St Muredach’s Cathedral — built with 27,000 bricks sold by his great-great-great grandfather. Unionists have taken the visit, replete with a gaffe about Black and Tans and a chirpy selfie with Gerry Adams, as proof that Biden is more interested in his Irish roots than settling their concerns.

What a love-in: Biden enjoyed himself so much he ran two hours late, from his 31-minute love serenade to Ireland’s parliament (“I wish I could stay longer” … “this is one of the great honors of my career”) to the crab cakes and roast lamb he ate at a Dublin Castle banquet, writes my colleague Shawn Pogatchnik. He dined in St. Patrick’s Hall, a cathedral-height room with rich royal blue carpets and gold ornamentation that hosted Kennedy in 1963.

Tiny violins at the ready: Shawn says the Irish government still hadn’t completed the invites for the banquet with hours to go — with Cabinet ministers lobbying for seats for themselves, partners and children. “It may well be a liquid dinner tonight,” sighed one former minister.

Today’s agenda: The U.S. president will travel to County Mayo where he will tour the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock … He visits the North Mayo Heritage and Genealogical Centre’s Family History Research Unit … then closes the day addressing a crowd at the cathedral before boarding Air Force One back to Delaware.

Last look back: Biden used his address in Dublin to say the U.K. “should be working closer with Ireland” to protect the Good Friday Agreement. The Telegraph calls it a “rebuke” to Sunak.


WE CAUSED A GLOBAL SECURITY CRISIS BY MISTAKE: A 21-year-old airman for the Massachusetts National Guard will appear in a Boston court today charged under the Espionage Act after one of the most extraordinary classified document leaks in recent memory. Pentagon papers (large parts of which the U.K. insists are “untrue, manipulated or both”) caused a diplomatic meltdown on both sides of the Atlantic and warnings of a risk to Brits’ lives after surfacing in an obscure gaming forum.

Now read this: The New York Times, which named Jack Teixeira as the suspect 90 minutes before his arrest by the FBI on Thursday, has a gripping read on the saga of how a user called O.G. started sharing documents on a Discord channel called Thug Shaker Central (are you keeping up at the back?). He was then horrified when one of the closed group’s teenage members posted them more widely, where they were picked up by Russian-language Telegram channels, and then identified by a kitchen countertop that appeared to match one on his social media.

Seems legit: A 17-year-old fellow member suggests O.G. was not a whistleblower like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning … he “just wanted to inform some of his friends about what’s going on.” They tell the paper: “This isn’t something like an ‘oopsie-daisy — I’m going to be reprimanded.’ This is life-in-prison type stuff.”

In the UK: The Mail’s shorthand for Teixeira is “a part-time airman who lives with his parents,” the BBC has footage of his arrest while the Guardian attempts to answer, who is he? My colleagues Cristina Gallardo and Jacopo Barigazzi have a good roundup of what we’ve learned from the Ukraine intel leaks, including a “near shoot-down” of a British aircraft by a Russian pilot. Meanwhile, Jamie Dettmer writes that Ukrainian officials are furious at the revelations of U.S. pessimism regarding Kyiv’s chances of capturing significant amounts of territory when it launches its expected counteroffensive.


UNDER FIRE: Several papers run Declassified UK’s story that Keir Starmer billed £160,000 for a chauffeur-driven car as director of public prosecutions, despite living four miles from his HQ, plus tens of thousands more on first or business class flights. His successor’s travel expenses bill was less than a third of the size, says the site. Labour defends his “frequent travel” as part of his job while a Tory source tells the Express Labour is “treating taxpayers with contempt and wasting money.”

NEW GIG: Sue Gray is still in limbo, but at least another ex-civil servant has managed to start a senior role in the Labour Party. Nick Williams began work Thursday as Labour’s head of economic policy — a job that has been vacant since December when Ravinder Athwal moved to head up the party’s manifesto planning. Williams’ departure from the Treasury after six years was first revealed by the Mail on Sunday.

WAITING FOR LOTO: Speaking of Sue Gray, a decision on her job as Keir Starmer’s chief of staff is very much not imminent, Playbook hears. More than a month into her application, the Cabinet Office and Leveling Up Department are still to-ing and fro-ing with the revolving door watchdog ACOBA, which has — of course — also been questioning Gray herself.

Ruh-roh: At the same time as ACOBA, there’s a parallel review by the Cabinet Office into the “circumstances” of Gray’s resignation. Tory aides are still spitting tacks in private about her departure, and Minister Jeremy Quin is leaning heavily on the directory of civil service guidance, which says “contacts between senior civil servants and leading members of the Opposition parties … should always be cleared with ministers.” But it’s very unclear when his reporting back to the Commons will actually happen.

Popcorn — or not: One thing ACOBA will look at is whether the perception of civil service impartiality was upheld. It could ask Gray outright when she was first approached by Labour, a fact Starmer has refused to give away. But Gray is not interviewed by the committee as standard, though she can ask to be heard (in private) if she disagrees with its findings. 

Can she really be blocked? No, ACOBA is only advisory. But ministers could bump up the recommended waiting period, which by default would be at least until June and can stretch as long as two years. Some government officials are expecting a hefty waiting time.

RED BLUES: Now that the initial row has subsided, not all senior Labour people are delighted with the appointment. One shadow Cabinet minister told Playbook they thought it could backfire if red wall voters see Gray as “the person who helped bring down Boris Johnson” (despite her Partygate report being branded a damp squib at the time). A second would have preferred a street-fighting election-winner. “She’s not the right person for that job,” they argued. “She could be director of transition, rather than chief of staff.”

But but but … A supporter of the appointment says the plan is for a “division of labor” where Gray works on civil service transition, while Campaign Director Morgan McSweeney is the political fighter. The dilemma with that is Labour officials hope to start pre-election talks with the civil service well before polling day. That could get tricky if Gray is slapped with a lengthy waiting period. On top of that, Labour of course doesn’t know for sure when the election will be.

MEANWHILE IN THE POLLS: Savanta’s Chris Hopkins tells the i the prospects of a hung parliament are rising and “gone are the days of the 20-plus point Labour lead.” POLITICO’s Poll of Polls has the gap at 16 points, down from 22 on New Year’s Day. “Our lead is soft and we still don’t have much of an agenda,” a concerned shadow Cabinet minister tells Fraser Nelson in his Telegraph column.

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NOT WESTMINSTER BUT: Jeremy Hunt has told reporters in Washington that “future pensioners are not getting the returns that they could expect” and he is looking at “big reform” — which could involve funds taking on more risk. More on the Telegraph.

Job well done! The chancellor flies home from the IMF Spring Meetings tonight after passing the admittedly low bar of not getting sacked — so far. He is recording sit-downs this afternoon (U.K. time) with the BBC’s Faisal Islam and Sky’s Ed Conway, followed by a possible stint on MSNBC.

RUBBISH STORY: Long-awaited plans to make England’s bin collections more consistent have been delayed until after the local elections due to Tory fears of a backlash, industry sources tell the Telegraph.

Trash talking: A frustrated lobbyist who works with councils tells Playbook: “Everyone’s panicking about it because local authorities are supposed to be implementing it effectively, they will have to explain changes to residents and they have 10-year outsourcing contracts for recycling — but don’t know what’s going to happen.” A consultation closed in May 2021.

Dance of the seven bins: The Tel says the plans could “in theory” lead to seven bins per household — for food, garden waste, glass, paper and card, metal, plastic, and general waste. A government official rubbish-dumps on this, insisting councils can use exemptions.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY … to the Rwanda deportations policy, announced by Boris Johnson a year ago, which has so far sent zero small boat passengers to Rwanda. With a Court of Appeal hearing starting on April 24, the Times tries to tot up the £140 million-plus cost so far — while the Mirror says the “government has repeatedly refused” to say how much it has spent on the “grubby cash-for-humans” policy. But the Sun points out £2 billion has been spent on asylum costs since.

Don’t stop the boats: After Rishi Sunak declined to say he’d “stop the boats” by the next election, a poll in the Times finds 48 percent think the Rwanda plan won’t change the numbers. An Iraqi migrant tells the Independent he’s still determined to cross: “Why is it OK for them to mess up my country but not for me to live in peace?”

Stop everything: A council in Lincolnshire has won extra legal protections for RAF Scampton that could thwart Home Office plans to turn it into a migrant camp, the Telegraph’s Charles Hymas reports.

SEEING BLUE: After Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi’s slapdowns, the Guardian splashes on mostly anonymous “Tory MPs, peers and activists” who accuse Suella Braverman of inflaming racial tensions, and fear she will repel swing voters. A former minister under Johnson brands the home secretary a “real racist bigot,” saying Sunak’s “inaction shows how insecure he is in his own ability.”

Unsurprisingly: Team Braverman are not happy bunnies. A government official tells Playbook in response to the story: “They should start focusing on the issues voters care about, which is what the home secretary does.”

HOT AIR: The government’s flagship grants to homeowners who install heat pumps has been branded an “embarrassment” and a “taxpayer handout to those who don’t need it” by an industry body. The Times has more.

LIFT-OFF (IN 2035): The defense ministry has handed £656 million to manufacturers of the Tempest sixth-generation fighter jet, in a joint project with Italy and Japan — more in the Guardian. My colleague Cristina Gallardo emails to say the program is running in parallel with a European consortium, leading to industry skepticism that there’ll be room in the market for both.

NO WELFARE: Disability benefit assessments should be recorded by default to combat a “profound lack of trust in the system,” says a Work and Pensions Committee report — which adds MPs are “deeply concerned” that errors have been found to contribute to some claimants’ deaths.

NO BENEFIT: Perturbed Tory MP Nigel Mills tells the i that ministers “have to explain” why they are toughening up benefit sanctions, despite a long-hidden report (caveated to the moon and back) admitting they have a “negative impact on claimant finances.”

PIGGY BANK LOCKED: The i splashes on a Kafkaesque-sounding issue with Child Trust Funds — launched under Gordon Brown — that means some disabled children’s parents have to apply to the Court of Protection if they want their kids to get the money upon turning 18.

SECOND POOL MONEY: The Guardian calculates that Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty is in line for a £6.7 million dividend this summer from her father’s firm Infosys.

WINDFALL: Tory MP Lee Anderson says he has been awarded £1,500 in a libel case and donated it to a men’s mental health charity. Anderson, who according to reports was himself facing libel proceedings in February, gives details here.

PARLIAMENT: Yes, still in recess until Monday.

NORMAL ISLAND: Parliament’s staff face “corporate manslaughter” charges if masonry falls off the crumbling palace and kills someone, Ruth Fox of the Hansard Society has told PoliticsHome (in its podcast the Rundown). Speaking of masonry — plenty of banging and crashing behind the hoardings in Portcullis House during recess, as workers lay new Portland stone where the fig trees used to be. But it’s only due for completion in June or July.

BINGE WATCH BOOMS: The DCMS is delighted with an evaluation of the Restart Scheme, which provided insurance to U.K. TV and film productions delayed or interrupted by COVID-19. It says the benefits outweighed the costs by 115 to 1.

NO BYLINE: Byline Times says the National Conservatism Conference, due to take place in London next month, has refused to let it cover Suella Braverman’s appearance as a keynote speaker. It says previous guests include Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis.

WHAT CORBYN ALLIES WANT TO TALK ABOUT: This BBC clarification of a claim on Newsnight that the ex-Labour leader has “refus[ed] to offer up any kind of apology” for antisemitism.

COMMITMENT TO THE BIT: Not content with tweeting *that* “no money” letter around the clock, Tory Chairman Greg Hands has started photo-montaging it too. Playbook is reminded of this.

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WHAT CONSERVATIVES WANT TO TALK ABOUT: After being humiliated by the Sun (the pothole Sunak pointed at is now filled, btw), CCHQ is claiming Tory councils repaired 16,250 potholes “on average” in 2021-22 while Labour councils repaired 5,417. Erm, they do tend to have more rural roads …

AND FOR LABOUR: The party issued a release saying its plan to insulate homes would cut bills by £500 for millions — and would have already saved them £1 billion if implemented when it was first suggested. Another Tory attack briefing said: “Labour’s insulation plan is to stick £28 billion a year on the Government’s credit card.” 

Speaking of Labour: The Telegraph quotes pensions experts rinsing the party’s Thursday claim that the average worker would need to toil for 400 years to benefit from the lifetime allowance on pensions being scrapped. The experts point out, er, the existence of compound interest.

HAT TIP: Fly-tipping has been “effectively legalized,” according to the Lib Dems, whose analysis says fewer than 1 in 500 incidents last year led to a prosecution. It’s even prompted CCHQ to issue a rare Lib Dem rebuttal, saying “they charge more in council tax than Conservatives.” Tim Farron has just been on 5 Live (6.50 a.m.).

POO HULLABALOO: Labour has analysis in the Guardian saying more than 7,500 days’ worth of raw sewage was dumped in Cabinet ministers’, er, seats last year. CCHQ … yes, you’re probably seeing a pattern by now … emailed hacks with a “senior Conservative Party source” quote calling it “another dire attempt from the pound shop boffins in Labour HQ,” as one of the top 10 is in Labour-run Wales.

HOUSEKEEPING: Neither Sunak, Starmer nor Lib Dem leader Ed Davey are on the campaign trail today, though the PM is expected to be on Saturday.


DO YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE SING: France’s Constitutional Council will today decide whether President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms should be accepted, modified or rejected, my colleagues Giorgio Leali and Pauline de Saint Remy report from Paris. The reforms increased the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a parliamentary vote, prompting a wave of strikes and marches. The Times says the judges have been placed under police protection.

COLD WAR — THE RETURN: IMF head Kristalina Georgieva has warned the economy fragmenting into rival trading blocs risks prompting a new cold war, the Guardian reports.

PUTIN’S PLEASURE: The Russian government welcomed Boris Johnson’s appointment of Evgeny Lebedev to the House of Lords in 2020, according to a letter obtained by Byline Times.

ONCE MORE WITH FEELING: The European Space Agency will attempt to launch the Juice spacecraft this afternoon after Thursday’s launch was postponed because of a lightning risk.

AT LAST: The Conservatives suspended a councillor accused of saying white men should have Black slaves. The BBC reports Andrew Edwards, who sits on Pembrokeshire County Council, had his voice identified on a recording by political opponents.

MONEY MONEY MONEY: Challenging Westminster’s decision to block the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill could cost the Scottish government £500,000, says the Scotsman, after First Minister Humza Yousaf said the cost will not be made public until after the case. Meanwhile in England, the Mail splashes with Sunak’s comment in his ConHome Q&A that 100 percent of women don’t have a penis — unlike Starmer’s 99.9 percent.

NO LIKEY: Pro-SNP paper the National splashes on David Waddell, a senior producer and reporter for BBC World Business, “liking” a series of political posts on social media, including one from someone saying they “can’t stand” Humza Yousaf.

But the real media snub: The Times listed Yousaf as an “international” coronation guest. Perhaps independence supporters have finally got their wish.

REFORM ON TOUR: Reform U.K. heads to Derby on Saturday for its first ever spring conference from 11.30 a.m. — speakers include leader Richard Tice and former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe.

AND FINALLY: Passengers on Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s “The Big One” — the U.K.’s tallest rollercoaster — were forced to walk down the ride after it stopped suddenly on Thursday. Perhaps party conferences should return there after all.

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Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury James Murray broadcast round: Sky News (8.05 a.m.) … LBC News (8.20 a.m.) … Times Radio Breakfast (8.35 a.m.) … TalkTV (8.45 a.m.) … GB News (9.10 a.m.).

Today program: Electoral Commission Director of Communications and Research Craig Westwood (7.30 a.m.) … United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen David Gressly (7.50 a.m.) … James Jeffrey, former U.S. special representative for Syria engagement, and former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker (8.10 a.m.).

Also on Sky News Breakfast: Former U.K. National Security Adviser Mark Lyall Grant (7.20 a.m.) … Joe Biden’s fourth cousin Joe Blewitt (8.30 a.m.).

Also on Times Radio Breakfast: Mayor of Ballina Mark Duffy (7.35 a.m.) … NHS Providers Director of Communications Adam Brimelow (8.05 a.m.).

Also on LBC News: NHS Confederation Chief Executive Matthew Taylor (7.10 a.m.) … Patients’ Association Chief Executive Rachel Power (8.45 a.m.).

Also on GB News Breakfast: Former Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Mellor (8.10 a.m.).

Nick Ferrari at Breakfast: Former Boris Johnson SpAd Caroline Newton (7.40 a.m.) … Tory peer Maurice Saatchi (7.50 a.m.).


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

POLITICO UK: What we’ve learned from the Ukraine intel leaks.

Daily Express: No appetite to make peace with Harry.

Daily Mail: At last, a leader who knows what a woman is.

Daily Mirror: Rapist gets his hands on £7 million lotto jackpot.

Daily Star: It’s the pits.

Financial Times: EY warns U.K. arm of fresh cutbacks after failure to split.

i: Families plead for disabled children to get access to their own savings.

Metro: Farewell, Ms Miniskirt.

The Daily Telegraph: Deaths rise as junior doctors go on strike.

The Guardian: Senior Tories turn against Braverman’s ‘racist rhetoric.’

The Independent: Humiliation of the strike doctor.

The Sun: Ferget it! Duchess not getting invite to Coronation.

The Times: Unions look set to reject final deal on nurses’ pay.


The Economist: Riding high — The lessons of America’s astonishing economy.


Six of the best political podcasts to listen to this weekend:

Mugshots with Michael Crick: Crick profiles Labour leader Keir Starmer, interviewing Labour peer Helena Kennedy and barrister Bill Bowring.

Politics Weekly UK: The Guardian’s John Harris interviews academic Tim Bale about his new book on the Tory Party.

Rock & Roll Politics with Steve Richards: Richards speaks to the Guardian’s Rory Carroll about Margaret Thatcher, Northern Ireland and the IRA.

The Political Party: Matt Forde speaks to POLITICO’s Rosa Prince about her career in journalism and editing some newsletter thingy. What’s it called again?

The Prospect Podcast: Former Treasury chief Nick Macpherson and economist Ann Pettifor debate whether austerity was necessary.

Whitehall Sources: Calum Macdonald is joined by Liz Truss’ former speechwriter Asa Bennett and Ed Miliband’s former adviser Tom Baldwin.


WESTMINSTER WEATHER: Light rain with a gentle breeze. Highs of 11C.

MOVING ON: Leigh Jones bids farewell to the Northern Echo, having previously written for the i.

REMEMBER HIM: Former Labour, Change U.K., Independent and Lib Dem MP Chuka Umunna spent Thursday in Brussels meeting senior members of the European Commission.

IT’S A HARD LIFE: The Adam Smith Institute think tank is currently out of Westminster for its annual staff away weekend … in Nice, Monaco and Italy.

CULTURE FIX: The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain performs at the Royal Festival Hall in the Southbank Centre at 7.30 p.m. on Saturday … The play “Dixon and Daughters” opens from Saturday at the Dorfman Theatre in the National Theatre … and Chilean artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña’s artwork “Brain Forest Quipu” is no longer on display at the Tate Modern after Sunday.

TRADE IN YOUR MORTGAGE: Hampton Court Palace’s Tulip Festival begins at 10 a.m. today, with 110,000 tulip bulbs erupting in color. Talk about tulip fever …

DON’T MISS: “Have I Got News for You” returns for its 65th series (yes, really) tonight at 9 p.m. on BBC One — Satirist Charlie Brooker hosts with comedian Miles Jupp and Times Radio’s Charlotte Ivers as guest panelists.

LEST WE FORGET: Channel 4 broadcasts a documentary film — “Lyra” — about the late Lyra McKee, a journalist murdered in Northern Ireland in 2019, at 9.25 p.m. on Saturday.

THE F WORD: Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland explores what the word fascism means in the 2020s in Radio 4’s “Archive on 4” on Saturday at 8 p.m.

JOB ADS: The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change is hiring a social media executive … The Onward think tank would like a senior researcher … Parliament is looking for a retail publishing manager and a social media manager … and the News Movement wants a video producer.

NOW READ THIS: FT columnist Simon Kuper analyzes what the mainstream media gets right and where its own biases lay … and the Economist has a fun look at how, while Sunak has “technocrat” tendencies like being able to use a Bloomberg terminal and (checks notes) actually reading his red box, he also “shows an appetite for gimmicks” that won’t work.

BECAUSE IT’S FRIDAY: Here’s a potato that looks like a seal. 

BIRTHDAYS: Labour peer Elizabeth Symons … Labour peer Anthony Young … England’s Chief Scientific Officer Sue Hill … Former BBC Chief Political Correspondent John Sergeant.

Celebrating over the weekend: Scotland Minister John Lamont … Shadow FCDO Minister Stephen Doughty … Kingston upon Hull East MP Karl Turner … Unaffiliated peer and author Jeffrey Archer … Senedd Chief Executive Manon Antoniazzi … Incoming Governor of the Cayman Islands Jane Owen turns 60 … POLITICO’s Chief Brussels Correspondent Suzanne Lynch … French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire … Atticus Partners co-founder Charlie Napier … Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine … Labour peer Joan Bakewell turns 90 … Former Labour MP Paula Sherriff … UUP deputy leader Robbie Butler … DUP peer Willie Hay … Welsh government SpAd Owen Alun John.

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

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