Politics Summary: Friday, December 4th

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The FT reports that Alistair Darling will next week set out a pre-Budget report that will increase taxes on the wealthy and funnel scarce resources into boosting the economy, while deferring tough new measures to cut Britain’s £175bn deficit. Mr Darling will outline the key projects, including London’s Crossrail, which he wants to protect within a sharply declining capital spending budget. Funds from tax rises – likely to include changes to inheritance tax – will be channelled into growth initiatives, including “green” technology and a £1bn “jobs guarantee” for young people. Left Foot Forward has set out their five red lines for a progressive PBR. Meanwhile, the Local Government Association predicts that councils will have to cut £11bn from their spending over the next four years.

The National Audit Office has revealed that the cost of Government support for Britain’s banks has reached a £850bn and the eventual cost to taxpayers will not be known for years. Amyas Morse, the NAO’s head, said: “The big question is what all of this will eventually cost the taxpayer. This will take time to answer.” Meanwhile, Peter Mandelson, Harriet Harman and City Minister Lord Myners have “ratcheted up the pressure” on bankers after it emerged that more than 5,000 executives were set to receive bonuses worth over £1m. Some could receive £15m each. The FT reports that RBS will succumb to pressure with pay-outs in its investment banking division “at the low, low end of the scale.” Meanwhile, City advisers called in to work on the rescue by the Treasury will be paid £107m with the Telegraph reporting that some advisers could get “success fees” of up to £5.8 million.

The climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, has launched a “ferocious attack” on Conservative politicians who have cast doubt on the science of climate change in the run-up to the Copenhagen summit: “It is profoundly irresponsible for people like Nigel Lawson, who has held high office, and David Davis to be doing what they are doing. It is very dangerous. People sabotaging the [Copenhagen] process deserve the name saboteur.” The FT says both men rejected the charge. Mr Davis said Mr Miliband appeared not to have read his article, while Lord Lawson said: “I am sorry that Mr Miliband … is seeking to suppress reasoned debate.” According to the Telegraph Gordon Brown will tell a meeting with young people at the Department for Energy and Climate Change that the world is already half way to reaching the changes needed to limit average global warming to 2C. Meanwhile, the University of East Anglia have announced that Sir Muir Russell, a physicist and former senior civil servant, will conduct an independent review into the row over the leaked emails.

The Guardian reports that the Government is scaling back its plans to cut childcare for the middle classes, after a campaign organised by the Progress pressure-group led nine former ministers to warn the prime minister that he would lose voters in marginal seats. Top-rate taxpayers will now have their benefits halved rather than removed entirely but the expansion of free nursery places to 250,000 two-year-olds will take longer to implement. Meanwhile, the Compass pressure-group have organised a 100-strong coalition of celebrities, religious leaders, campaigners and politicians urging the Chancellor Alistair Darling to axe Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system. The Independent reports that some ministers are privately sympathetic to the group’s campaign and Trident’s future could be considered in a wholesale defence review after next year’s general election.

The Guardian reports that Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, rebutted Gordon Brown’s demand that he “take out” Osama bin Laden, stating categorically that the al-Qaida leader was not in his country, a claim examined by Left Foot Forward. Gilani rejected suggestions that the US should flood Pakistan with intelligence agents to track him down. According to the Independent Mr Gilani also queried Mr Brown’s claim that three-quarters of terrorist plots aimed at the UK originated in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

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