The Conservatives’ lead over Labour has been reduced to 9 points, according to a Guardian/ICM poll. One projection suggests a Cameron government would be returned with an overall majority of four. Left Foot Forward showed last night how the Conservative lead in ICM polls has fallen from 19 points in October. It is the first ICM poll to give the Tories less than a double-digit lead. The Conservatives lead on the economy has fallen by 11 points in two months. Meanwhile, Charles Clarke, the former home secretary, is again making headlines by attacking Gordon Brown. He describes the popular supertax on bankers’ bonuses as “theatrical.” But Alistair Darling has warned banks that he will not water down the tax.
The Guardian reports a “fraught day” in Copenhagen yesterday as five hours of negotiating time was lost. Africa countries and others accused the UN chair of the conference of trying to “kill” the Kyoto protocol, which is the only legal treaty compelling rich nations to slash their greenhouse gas emissions. But rich states complain that Kyoto makes no demand on developing countries, particularly China and India. The lost time was “very regrettable”, said climate change secretary, Ed Miliband. The US administration promised a $350m (£215m) developing world fund for clean energy technologies. Meanwhile, the Telegraph covers warnings by Environment Secretary Hillary Benn that pollution is having a particularly damaging effect on the two thirds of the world covered by oceans, which could leave more than 1 billion hungry. The Daily Express‘ contribution is a headline reading: “100 reasons why global warming is natural: ‘No proof that human activity to blame’.”
The Guardian, Times and Independent cover action taken by David Miliband’s lawyers to suppress evidence about what UK agencies knew of unlawful CIA activities. Jonathan Sumption QC accused two high court judges – Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones – of views that were “in many respects, unnecessary and profoundly damaging to the interests of this country”. The Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokesman, Ed Davey, said: “The Foreign Secretary does not seem to realise that his own opposition to transparency on torture is damaging Britain far more than these judges. The political debate on torture in the US has changed with President Obama.” Left Foot Forward has more details on Britain’s collusion.
Several papers cover National Audit Office warnings of a £6 billion to £36 billion “black hole” in military spending over the next ten years if there is no increase in the defence budget. Edward Leigh, chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee said, “Today’s report reveals the unpalatable truth that the current defence programme is unaffordable.” The Guardian warns that some Tornado and Harrier aircraft and small navy surface vessels are likely to face cuts. Meanwhile, the FT says that Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth will announce today that a Royal Air Force base will be closed and more than 10,000 jobs lost across the armed forces and Ministry of Defence.