Politics Summary: Tuesday, November 24th

The Guardian splash that the Chilcot inquiry is “incapable of addressing … whether the invasion of Iraq was legal” because it does not include a single judge or lawyer. The claim was dismissed as “rubbish” by Lord Falconer on the Today programme. Dame Rosalyn Higgins, former judge and president of the international court of justice, is to be a legal adviser to the panel. Military commanders are expected to say that the invasion was ill-conceived but senior officials – due to give evidence today – fear, according to the FT, that the inquiry will once again shine an unflattering light on the secretive and unvarnished workings of the diplomatic, military and intelligence establishment. The Independent reports that Iraqis who claim to have been tortured and abused and their family members murdered believe the inquiry must include the treatment of prisoners and detainees. The paper also features a photograph which claims to show Iraqi civilians captured in southern Iraq being mistreated by British soldiers in breach of international law and the Geneva Conventions.

The FT report that “Gordon Brown and David Cameron clashed over plans to tackle Britain’s budget deficit” at a CBI conference. Cameron announced £5 billion of business tax cuts to be “paid for by scrapping complex reliefs and allowance”. The Mirror reports that “David Cameron was left embarrassed last night after his plans for cutting Britain’s debt were savaged by the International Monetary Fund.” Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said, “We recommend erring on the side of caution, as exiting [from stimulus plans] too early is costlier than exiting too late.” But Richard Lambert of the CBI said there was little difference between Labour and Tory plans. Meanwhile, Polly Toynbee highlights a new report by Compass which calls for popular new measures to raise £46.8 billion in additional tax revenue – primarily from the wealthy. George Osborne is expected to make a speech today on creating “green recovery.”

The Independent reports that Gordon Brown is facing a backbench rebellion by Labour MPs who are demanding an exit strategy from Afghanistan is announced by January. Seventeen MPs, including nine Labour members, have taken the unusual step of tabling an amendment to the Queen’s Speech to force a vote on the need for a timetable for handing over security to the Afghan army and police. Frank Field said: “This would strengthen the hand of the British Government. It cannot hold the line while President Obama decides on his strategy.”

Prosecutors have been asked to consider charging four parliamentarians in relation to expenses abuses. The politicians could face charges of fraud or false accounting, with maximum penalties of 10 or seven years. The Independent lists the politicians believed to have been investigated by detectives as Labour MPs Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine, Labour peers Baroness Uddin and Lord Clarke of Hampstead and the Tory peer Lord Hanningfield. Richard Spring, Conservative MP for West Suffolk, became the latest to announce he would step down at the general election. More than 100 MPs will not be defending their seats.

The NY Times and Washington Post announce that the US will set an emissions target before the Copenhagen climate talks. An official said that Mr. Obama would have had a stronger hand at Copenhagen if Congress had already acted on climate change legislation, but that the debate on health care had blocked it. Senator John Kerry said that a credible target could be 17 to 20 percent below 2005 levels. The Guardian reports that the US is the only major industrialised country that has yet to reveal its emissions reduction plan.

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