Politics Summary: Wednesday, September 23rd

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The papers all report that Gordon Brown intends Britain to build only three replacement Trident nuclear submarines rather than four. The Independent reports that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council will endorse a resolution by Barack Obama, “to seek a safer world for all and to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapon.” The Guardian cites an exclusive poll for Left Foot Forward, which showed only 23 per cent supporta like-for-like replacement of Trident. Industry sources told The Times that scrapping one nuclear submarine would not save a significant amount of money.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly Chinese president, Hu ­Jintao, promised a “notable” decrease in the carbon intensity of China’s economy by 2020. Early reaction by observers was muted but diplomats have been kinder. Ban Ki Moon said, “I am convinced that something missing from the last few months has returned.” Ed Miliband, the climate change ­secretary, said the move was “quite a big deal.” The Telegraph says Hu’s address overshadowed Barack Obama’s, who “offered no new proposals.”

The Liberal Democrat conference has become overshadowed by “mutinyat leadership proposals to introduce a ‘mansion tax’ and scrap the party’s commitment to free higher education. On the latter, 18 of the party’s 29-strong federal policy committee said they would effectively vote down the party leaders if they tried to go ahead. Steve Webb MP warned his leader that the party ran the risk of “alienating voters” by preaching the “audacity of gloom.”

David Cameron has attempted to distance his party from its Thatcherite past, saying they would avoid a 1980s-style confrontational approach in cutting back the public sector. But writing in the Independent Ed Balls says, “Labour will take the difficult decisions on tax and spend, but we will do so in a fair and balanced way. We will not slash vital frontline services, put tax cuts for the wealthy few above the needs of the many or do anything that risks the recovery.”

In response to the worsening situation on the ground in Afghanistan, Barack Obama is considering a variety of strategy shifts including a plan to reduce the overall American military presence in the country and refocusing its efforts and resources on undermining Al Qaeda in Pakistan.
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