Round up of the week’s politics news from around Westminster and the wider world.
The Week in Politics
• The Copenhagen summit looked like petering out into a damp squib this week, with all the optimism in the run up to and at the start of the climate change conference evaporating after violence-marred protests, arrests, rows, setbacks and intransigence threatened to derail the entire gathering.
Today, President Obama spoke, but, regrets the Guardian, his address disappointed delegates and fuelled frustration, offering “no further commitment on reducing emissions or on finance to poor countries”. Earlier in the week Gordon Brown had been at the forefront of negotiations, leading the push for a deal, as Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd explained on Sky News:
“We’re still nowhere near an agreement yet, but I’ve gotta say without his intervention I doubt that we would be as close as we are at present to both a short term and longer term financial arrangement; I talk to Gordon several times a day, there’s always a whirr of activity around the British Prime Minister. He’s well known and well respected in these negotiations.”
• On Tuesday, the Defence Secratary came under fire after announcing widescale cuts in the defence budget. These include the closure of RAF Cottesmore, the scrapping of a fleet of 11 Nimrod MRA4s, a Harrier squadron, a Tornado GF4 squadron, a Royal Navy minehunter and one survey ship, with a delay in the replacement of Nimrod MRA4s and the reassignment of 1600 personnel at RAF Kinloss.
The savings will help pay for a £900 million boost to the Afghanistan campaign. Troops will be equipped with improved “close combat equipment package” with “state of the art” body armour and night vision goggles being made available to 50 per cent more soldiers, more Bowman tactical radios in the field and £80 million for special forces communications, and a doubling of the number of Reaper drones – part of a package of increased funding to improve intelligence and surveillance.
• The High Court rode to the rescue of millions of holidaymakers yesterday, ruling the planned British Airways cabin crew strike illegal. In her judgement, Mrs Justice Cox agreed with BA that the ballot was invalid because it included workers that had already accepted voluntary redundancy – a verdict that incensed Unite boss Derek Simpson. He called it “a disgraceful day for democracy”, adding:
“The disappointment in law is this: when they imposed their terms we sought an injunction. What we got wasn’t a prevention of BA from doing it, a delayed legal case. When we sought industrial action to defend ourselves what we get is stopped. Now there’s something wrong with the law that allows an employer to impose changes and prevents a union from fighting back.”
Progressive of the week
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose barnstorming speech to the Copenhagen conference on Tuesday included a pledge to host a UN climate summit in California. Then, to cement his place in all our hearts, he snubbed the bumbling Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, leaving him with a series of lesser known figures for company. Salmond was also refused access to the summit’s main conference hall and failed to meet any of the heads of state involved in the negotiations.
Regressive of the week
Conservative backbencher Douglas Carswell, who on Wednesday sought to turn back the clock half a century by demanding a referendum on the Treaty of Rome, putting him firmly at odds with the party leadership and even more firmly in agreement with UKIP. Mr Carswell is exposed by Left Foot Forward today as one of 100 reasons why “vote blue, go green” won’t work. Bafflingly, he also has an hysterical hatred of wind farms:
“Another victory for big government and big corporations against local people … 410 foot-high monster turbines will now be erected less than a thousand yards from people’s homes … The industrialisation of the English countryside continues despite the opposition of those who live in it.”
Evidence of the week
Research, revealed by the Independent on Monday, which showed that sunspots do not cause climate change – debunking definitively one of the biggest myths peddled by the global warming sceptics, that there is a link between global temperatures and solar activity, that global warming is “natural”. Praise also to the New Scientist, who published a point-by-point rebuttal of the Daily Express front page which listed “100
LIES REASONS WHY GLOBAL WARMING IS NATURAL”.
What’s trending on Twitter
With the Copenhagen summit seemingly grinding to a shuddering halt, here’s a selection of what the world’s tweeters make of it all:
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