Politics Summary: Tuesday, October 13th

The papers are dominated by the return of the expenses crisis. Gordon Brown was forced to pay back more than £12,000 with Nick Clegg and David Cameron returning smaller amounts. Jacqui Smith apologised to the House of Commons but insisted, “I have never flipped my designation and I only own one home.” But the Independent reports that the prospects of her holding a 2,716 majority “received a heavy blow with the publication of the inquiry’s conclusions.” The Times report that the right of MPs to spend taxpayers’ money on mortgages for second homes or employing family members is expected to end. The blogosphere united in disgust to the day’s developments while Peter Oborne in the Mail writes, “With the connivance of this wretched new Speaker, MPs are trying to destroy an honest man [Sir Peter Legg] for daring to expose their greed.”

The Financial Times is alone in reporting a growing row over the Government’s policy of quantitative easing. Gordon Brown yesterday defended the policy against accusations last week by David Cameron that, “right now the government is simply printing [money]. Sometime soon that will have to stop because in the end printing money leads to inflation.” Peter Dixon, economist at Commerzbank said, “Cameron has completely misunderstood what quantitative easing is designed to do.”

An under-reported Populus poll in the Times shows that, “the Conservatives have failed to get any boost from their party conference last week.” The Tories have slipped one percentage point since mid-September to 40 per cent, while Labour is up three points at 30 per cent. This is the highest Labour rating since April and the smallest gap between the parties since last January. Anthony Wells at UK Polling Report says, “This poll suggests that Labour have come out on top from the conference season.”

Chris Bryant and Baroness Glenys Kinnock have swapped jobs with the former becoming Europe Minister and Kinnock taking up the reins as Minister for Africa. The Independent report that, “Brown allies believe Mr Cameron is vulnerable on Europe.” Meanwhile, Chris Bryant’s 378 Twitter followers will have known at 7.40am that he had a new job when he tweeted, “Off to work with a new job – minister for Europe.” The Guardian calls it the “first such announcement” of its kind.

In an unannounced and largely unnoticed move, President Barack Obama has authorised at least 13,000 support troops to Afghanistan to build upon the 21,000 additional troops he announced in March. The Washington Post reports that the supplementary force, which will provide support for medical, intelligence, and policing efforts, will raise the total number of troops in Afghanistan to 34,000.
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