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Quickfire goals from Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud sent Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 win at Aston Villa. Wilshere put Arsenal ahead in the 34th minute at Villa Park and then provided the pass for Giroud to double …

David Cameron has launched an inquiry into trade union tactics after the dispute which almost led to the closure of the Grangemouth oil refinery.

The review, headed by Bruce Carr QC, will examine whether the law needs to be tightened up to prevent “intimidation” and “harassment”.

It follows claims the Unite union sent a “mob” to the home of a refinery manager during the recent dispute.

Unite said it would not co-operate with the inquiry as it was a “Tory stunt”.

The union has defended its use of so-called leverage tactics, where managers are directly targeted as part of a protest, and argued that bad employers should have “nowhere to hide”.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said such tactics had no place in industrial relations – but denied that the inquiry was politically-motivated.

Francis Maude: “We need to know, is the law is sufficient as it stands at the moment?”

“It’s not about politics, this is about the national interest,”

He said “protest is fine” but it should not be allowed to move over “into intimidation and clearly inappropriate activity,” with the management being treated as “the enemy”.

I was Ralph Miliband’s research assistant, and this is what he was like, writes Ann Carlton in the Spectator.

‘You can work as research assistant to Ralph Miliband.’ Thus my tutor at the London School of Economics gave me the news that he had found a way for me to finance my first year of study for an intended PhD on the Labour party’s housing policy between the world wars.

The idea was that for twelve months between 1964 and 1965 I would help analyse the changing occupational structure of the British workforce by comparing statistics contained in the 1851 census with those in the 1951 census. As a first step, my new boss took me for a drink in the coffee bar next door to the main entrance of the LSE.

Injuries and a break from the relentless cycle of cricket leave England and Australia below full strength for the sides’ 12th to 13th contest of the 26 games scheduled for the two over the 8 months between June and February. For Australia, it’s a chance to avenge an Ashes scoreline that they will feel flattered their opponents. For many of England’s players it’s a final bid for a ticket with the first team this winter. Speculation is rife around the world.

England will be justified in thinking their batting is still strong. Pietersen’s return to one day cricket for the first time in a red England shirt, despite niggles over his fitness through the Test series, should make England confident. Together he, the ever reliable Trott, Root, Morgan and Bopara will be expected to do the bulk of the scoring. All have fantastic records and recent form suggests they won’t not disappoint.

The GMB union is to cut the affiliation funds it gives Labour from £1.2m to £150,000 in the wake of a row over reforms, it has announced.

The union said there would also be cuts in spending on Labour campaigns.

The changes will take effect from the start of next year.

It comes ahead of Ed Miliband’s move to reform union funding so individual union members have to opt in to support the party, rather than being automatically affiliated.

Currently unions are easily Labour’s biggest donors. Of the £3.14m the party received in the three months from April to June, the GMB gave £486,000.

Letting Assad of Syria attack his own people with chemicals is not viable. But attacking Assad with a full-on assault risks British security at home.

There was an article in the Times (below) back in February which clarifies this threat – of Assad’s ally Hezbollah loooking to take revenge in the only way it knows how. In short, attack Assad and risk switching on hundreds of Hezbollah cells across the West.

A precise removal of Assad’s chemical capabilities seems possible but difficult.

When the House of Commons debates an attack on Syria on Thursday it should think first of Britons and only second about the Middle East, which, frankly, seems set for many more generations of violent struggle which is best kept secluded there; drawing unsavoury Islamist elements from the UK towards it rather than kept busy here.

There will be some kind of attack this week. Frankly it centres more around a war of PR and not around saving lives. Both Assad and Obama will claim their own victories whatever happens.

Ed Miliband should “kick out” the Shadow Cabinet’s poor performers in a ruthless reshuffle, John Prescott warns.

The former Deputy Prime Minister is the most senior Labour figure yet to attack the party’s lack of activity over the summer.

He said in his Sunday Mirror column the party “missed open goals” and did not pull its weight.

And he blasts Labour for fielding a ­“second team” while Mr ­Miliband was on holiday.

But he reserves his strongest criticism for the Shadow Cabinet and calls on the Labour boss to use tactics made famous by Alex Ferguson at Man United.

Mr Prescott writes: “If people aren’t pulling their weight, give them the hairdryer and kick ’em out.

A UKIP politician filmed saying British aid should not be sent to “bongo bongo land” has stood by his comments. In film obtained by the Guardian, MEP Godfrey Bloom was recorded telling a meeting of supporters aid was spent on items like sunglasses and Ferraris.

He also claimed British aid was spent on fighter planes in Pakistan, which he called “treason” by the UK government.

Mr Bloom, MEP for Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire, tol

In yet another huge embarrassment for Ed Miliband, union hothead Len McCluskey this week launched a blistering attack on Labour — and demanded even more say on policies.

The Unite boss blasted the party’s probe into claims the union tried to fix the Falkirk candidate elections — calling it a “disgrace”, a “shoddy farce” and a “witch-hunt”.

He also lashed out at the Murdoch Empire for daring to expose vote-rigging allegations aimed at his organisation. And the Loony Left leader was cheered by a bunch of anoraks as he told activists that Labour and the unions had reached a “turning point”.

David Cameron’s appointment of election strategist Lynton Crosby has proven itself to be a master stroke. Labour are fraught with division and in-fighting and now facing a funding crisis as a result of its ongoing union crisis. Tory messages – about a protected NHS, improving economy and the dire mismanagement of all government departments by Labour’s Brown rabble – are coming through crystal clear and the Tory party is in buoyant mood this summer break.

The fact that Mr Crosby’s company told a group of private healthcare providers how to exploit perceived “failings” in the NHS does not interest the public one iota.

Labour frontbencher Andy Burnham called it a “shocking conflict of interest”.

A Conservative spokesman said Mr Crosby had never lobbied the prime minister.

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