The papers mark a particularly political PMQs which the Independent described as “one of Gordon Brown’s most effective performances”. The Times reveal that “Although [Alastair] Campbell did not take part in yesterday morning’s preparations at No 10 for Question Time, some of his ideas undoubtedly fed into Mr Brown’s display.” The Guardian says, “Brown was at his most fluent when he raised the Tory leader’s background.” But Brown was criticised for claiming that Spain was in the G20. Meanwhile, the FT outlines that Tory donors are being offered access to David Cameron’s inner circle of advisers in return for a minimum £25,000 annual gift to the party. “Linking cash to access is not something that ends happily for anyone involved,” said Jon McLeod, chairman UK public affairs at the lobbyists Weber Shandwick.
A tape leaked to the Times reveals that Ken Clarke warned George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, against “getting too adventurous” in plans for public spending cuts before the next general election. Mr Clarke told a private meeting of the centrist Bow Group: “I don’t think you can handle a public spending round as a kind of open debate through the media and the newspapers. I would not draw up a public spending round, any more than I would draw up a budget generally, against a background of open public debate … I think George has been very bold, and I wouldn’t personally go much farther in speculating about what he might have to do.” The Guardian suggests that Gordon Brown anticipated the leak as he mocked Clarke in the Commons as the “shadow shadow chancellor”.
David Cameron’s ally Tim Yeo has claimed Conservative climate change sceptics are “eccentrics” and dismissed David Davis as having “no authority on this subject”. The Independent outlines links, first revealed by Left Foot Forward, between Tory grandees Lord Lawson and Peter Lilley and big oil. Further revelations on the blog outline the scepticism of the Tory’s EU partners. Meanwhile, James Hansen, the world’s pre-eminent climate scientist, has told the Guardian that any Copenhagen agreement would be so deeply flawed that it would be better to start again from scratch. But the talks achieved a boost when India revealed a target to curb its carbon emissions. The Government wants to see 47 million smart meters installed in 26 million properties by 2020. It is estimated the scheme may help people save £28 a yearbut cost about £340 per household to install. Outgoing First Minister Rhodri Morgan revealed that the Welsh Assembly had become the first regional government to sign up to the 10:10 campaign.
Several papers cover an annual report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showing that 2004-05 marked a “key turning point”, with poverty, unemployment and repossessions on the increase. The number of people living in low-income households earning less than 60 per cent of the national average is at the same level as 2000. The report also found that nearly one in eight people of working age are out of work – the highest proportion since Labour came to power in 1997. Peter Kenway, the report’s co-author said, “There is much in the government’s record that is positive, but on the core subjects of low income and employment the picture is bleak.”
City Minister Lord Myners said that, between them, senior executives and traders would earn at least £5 billion in salary and bonuses – 12 months after the near-collapse of the financial system. But the FT reports that the Treasury has warned top bankers at RBS not to expect bumper bonuses. Alistair Darling is said to accept the need for bonuses to preserve the competitiveness of a bank that is 70 per cent owned by the taxpayer, but knows that big payouts in the run-up to a general election would be controversial.
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