Politics Summary: Tuesday, December 1st

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A poll in this morning’s Independent shows a hung parliament to be the most likely outcome at the General Election, with Labour closing the gap to ten points “as economic confidence returns”. The ComRes poll sees the Conservatives down three points on 37 per cent, Labour unchanged on 27 per cent and the Liberal Democrats up two on 20 per cent. When asked about the economy in general, 56 per cent are optimistic – a figure which rises to 71 per cent when asked about their own financial outlook. Professor John Curtice, however, sounds a note of caution for the Government:

“Labour would be unwise to derive too much comfort from this poll. It still suggests Mr Cameron will lead the next government, albeit perhaps from a more precarious position than he would like. And if Lord Ashcroft’s efforts in marginal seats pay off, today’s 10-point lead might still be enough for a Tory majority.

“Even so, evidently the outcome next May is far from being a foregone conclusion.”

Cancer care on the NHS is behind the rest of Europe, reports this morning’s Telegraph. According to official figures, more than 90 per cent of NHS trusts are failing “to provide a good standard of cancer care compared with other countries” – with only one out of England’s 152 trusts, Telford and Wrekin, matching the international benchmark rate for surviving colorectal cancer, and only Kensington and Chelsea achieving the benchmark for lung cancer with a further 13 recording “good” survival rates for breast cancer. The figures also reveal a post code lottery when it comes to cancer survival rates, as the Telegraph’s Medical Editor Rebecca Smith explains:

“Someone with lung cancer in Herefordshire is three times more likely to die within a year than a patient in Kensington. A patient diagnosed with bowel cancer in Hastings is a fifth more likely to die within a year than a patient in Telford.”

Six days before Copenhagen, the Mirror has a special report on “the rising sea levels that spell disaster” for Bangladesh, home to 149 million people. “This is a nation on a knife edge, facing a one metre rise in sea levels by the end of the century that will cover 17 per cent of its land and make 20 million people homeless,” reports the paper. “The UK and Bangladesh are tied together by friendship, family and common history,” says International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander in an interview with the Mirror. “But the challenge of tackling extreme poverty there is being made harder by Bangladesh’s vulnerability to climate change. For Bangladeshis climate change is not a future threat, it is a contemporary crisis.”

The capture of five British sailors by Iran is covered by the Times, Telegraph, Guardian and Independent. The sailors, travelling to Dubai for a yacht race, were seized by an Iranian gunboat after inadvertently straying into Iranian territorial waters. Iran had already been in the news prior to the incident, with the Times and Telegraph both reporting the threat of sanctions over the regime’s plans to build ten new nuclear fuel plants, with Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warning Tehran that:

“If Iran rejects the hand that has reached out, it must expect heavier sanctions.”

And the Financial Times reports a further collapse of confidence in Dubai, the Dubai stock exchange falling a further 6.3 per cent yesterday with Abu Dhabi down 6 per cent, though the FT holds out hope for the emirate that it’s not yet the end of the road for Dubai, and that the financial crisis could even end up being good news for the environment. “Could this be a sign that Dubai will rein in the environmentally challenging projects it is famous for?” asks Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi of the Dubai School of Government in an opinion piece. “Today, a new Dubai has a chance to emerge: leaner, meaner and better.”

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