A sweeping reform of the tax and welfare systems under which higher earners would finance more generous, universal benefits is needed, according to a new Fabian Society report covered in the Independent. Authors Tim Horton and James Gregory argue that Gordon Brown’s “quiet redistribution” of wealth now lacks public support – and declares that one of the reasons is Labour’s tough language about benefit fraud and claimants. The report says that, in the long run, Tory plans to reduce payments to the middle classes such as tax credits and target resources on the most vulnerable would undermine the attack on poverty. Meanwhile, the FT reveal that chief executives of the UK’s 100 largest companies will earn 81 times the average pay of all full-time workers in 2009, compared to 47 times more in 2000. The Telegraph reports that Labour may abandon its plan to lift the threshold at which inheritance tax is levied from £325,000 to £350,000. The Conservatives have to pledged to increase the threshold to £1,000,000 while their Treasurer Michael Spicer has told the FT that he expects “swingeing tax cuts” including to the 50p income tax rate and to corporation tax.
In a speech tomorrow night, Barack Obama will announce the immediate deployment of an additional 30,000 troops and a time frame to eventually wind down the war, reports the New York Times. Obama will offer Pakistan an expanded strategic partnership with military and economic support in order to enhance cooperation the volatile region, the Washington Post reveals. Gordon Brown will announce today that Britain will send an additional 500 troops. Brown has taken a tougher stance on Pakistan and said yesterday: “We have got to ask ourselves why, eight years after September 11, nobody has been able to spot or detain or get close to Osama bin Laden, nobody has been able to get close to Zawahiri.” Mr Brown will hold talks with Pakistani prime minister Raza Gilani on Thursday. The FT reports that the UK has earmarked around £665 million worth of aid for Pakistan over the next three years for a variety of projects.
Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General, told Tony Blair that plans to overthrow Saddam Hussein would be illegal eight months before he ordering the invasion of Iraq. The Times, FT, and Guardian all follow up on the Mail on Sunday‘s exclusive over a previously undisclosed letter. The Independent report that Ministers fear the Chilcot inquiry will harm the Labour Party’s prospects at the general election and boost the performance of the Liberal Democrats.
The leader of the BNP, Nick Griffin, is to represent the European Parliament at the UN Climate Change conference in Copenhagen next week. According to the Times, Mr Griffin and the other 14 MEPs will act as observers, with their hotel rooms and flights funded by the tax-payer. Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green Party, said: “The parliament sadly doesn’t get the right to really influence decisions at all. So this idea that Nick Griffin is going to have influence on what happens in Copenhagen is a myth.” Ed Miliband, the Climate Change Secretary, said: “Nick Griffin’s views on climate change are irresponsible and wrong. He cannot and does not represent the views of the people of the UK or of Europe.”
The Times, Guardian and Independent report that the Liberal Democrats have called on Zac Goldsmith to stand down as a parliamentary candidate after it emerged that the multi-millionaire had claimed non-domicile tax status. Matthew Oakeshott, the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, said: “He’s claimed non-dom status all his life to keep his offshore hundreds of millions free of income tax, capital gains or inheritance tax. He must pay the millions he’s dodged to the British taxman.” But Zac Goldsmith, who advises Tory leader David Cameron on green issues, insisted yesterday that he had derived “very few benefits” from his non-domiciled tax status.
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