Politics Summary: Monday, December 7th

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Many of this morning’s papers lead on the Chancellor’s plans to impose a “super tax” on bankers’ bonuses. The Times, Telegraph, Mail and Financial Times all report the plans for a windfall tax on “City fat cats” – one of a series of measures set to be announced in the pre-budget report on Wednesday. Patrick Hosking in the Times, however, warns that such a tax may prove “impossible” to implement.
He writes:

“It may win votes in the short term, but the obstacles to a tax which is fair, doesn’t contravene European legislation and has no nasty unseen consequences are considerable. City folk have always been ingenious in helping clients legally dodge tax; how much smarter will they be in devising loopholes to sidestep one on themselves?”

The Guardian leads on the start of the Copenhagen summit, warning that: “Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security.” In a joint editorial with 56 other newspapers around the world, they add:

“The facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year’s inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage – yet so far the world’s response has been feeble and half-hearted.”

The Independent, meanwhile, reports that cuts in greenhouse gases will just be “token gestures” which “won’t prevent disaster”.

Also in today’s Independent, David Cameron’s BBC interview yesterday in which he said that Lord Ashcroft’s taxes are “nothing to do with me”. “Lord Ashcroft’s tax status is a matter between him and the Inland Revenue,” said the Tory leader, before offering his support to Zac Goldsmith, claiming he had “done the right thing”. “I understand that he’s backdating it [taxes avoided by virtue of being a non-dom] to this year and that’s absolutely right as well,” he added.

The Telegraph reports John McCain’s warning that President Obama’s 2011 Afghanistan departure date is threatening the war effort, and diluting Pakistan’s commitment to fighting the Taliban. Sen. McCain, runner-up in the US Presidential election, said:

“The most important point being missed here is what will be the commitment of the Pakistani military who we all now is very much divided right now? What does it say to a general that works for Kiyani [the Pakistan army chief] in the ISI [the security agency] who is now saying ‘they [Americans] may well be out of the neighbourhood again and we have to stay in the neighbourhood so we have to accommodate’.”

And the Times reports that White House security has been breached “91 times since 1980”. Of these, they say that “one third of the intruders had cased their targets beforehand, more than four in 10 were previously known to federal agencies, eight had announced their intent, and three were subjects of Secret Service investigations”. In a “gatecrashers’ guide” they add:

“Leave with grace. Keep your radar on. If you think you’ve been rumbled, head for the door. Better to get out than be chucked out. Then it’s time for the next party.”

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