Politics Summary: Thursday, September 17th

Health Secretary Andy Burnham will today announce plans to give patients the right to choose their GP but doctors’ leaders have flagged a range of problems including provision in remote areas. Meanwhile US academics are proposing a ‘fat tax’ on fizzy drinks of “one per cent per ounce for any beverages that have any added caloric sweetener.”

David Cameron labelled Gordon Brown “dishonest” after leaked Treasury documents showed Government plans to cut spending by 9.3 per cent over three years as social security and interest payment costs rise. But the Financial Times suggests that Cameron risks the leak “backfiring” while the Guardian show that, “the Tories will have to cut departmental spending by 14% from 2011-14” to maintain commitments on NHS and overseas aid spending. Seamus Milne writes, “Cameron and Osborne have executed a startling sleight of hand, persuading a large section of the public that the real crisis facing the country isn’t the havoc wreaked on jobs and living standards by the breakdown of the free-market model — but the increase in government debt incurred to pay for it.”

A British oil trading giant, Tragigura, has agreed to a multimillion-pound payout to 30,000 people from Ivory Coast who fell ill from tonnes of toxic waste dumped illegally in one of the worst pollution incidents in decades. The Guardian report that the disgraced company has, “high-level connections in the Conservative party.”

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg writes that, “the Liberal Democrats now offer a new rallying point for a resurgent progressive movement in Britain, replacing Labour as the dominant force of progressive politics.” The Times regard this as a “major shift.”

Former President Jimmy Carter has suggested that animosity levelled at Barack Obama – such as protests in Washington, D.C. at the weekend – is “based on the fact that he is a black man.” The New York Times suggest that the President continues to try and move beyond the issue.

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