Politics Summary: Friday, January 22nd

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said yesterday there was a good chance that the deficit for the full year would come in below Alistair Darling’s £178bn forecast in the pre-budget report. Gemma Tetlow, a senior research economist at the IFS, told the Guardian: “In December, [tax] receipts fell less and spending rose less than last month’s pre-budget report forecast for the remainder of this financial year.” The FT reports that Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling have, “struck a deal where money released by falling jobless rates [which could be worth £4 billion] can be used to fund more spending.” The Times headline wrongly claims that “Public debt soars to record at 61.7% of GDP” It was last at this level as recently as the 1960s. The Wall Street Journal reports that there was solid demand for the latest gilt auction – dampening concerns about the rising cost of Government debt. Meanwhile, Steve Bundred, head of the Audit Commission, told MPs on the Commons public administration committee that it was “absurd” to shield schools and hospitals from spending cuts when they have been “most generously funded for 10 years.”

The Independent reveals that David Cameron will “rush through a 10 per cent cut in the number of MPs if he wins power this year in an attempt to boost the Conservative Party’s prospects of a second victory at the following general election.” Previous reviews have taken up to seven years. His plans may be scuppered since new research at the University of Plymouth concludes: “The geography of each party’s support base is much more important, so changes in the redistribution procedure are unlikely to have a substantial impact and remove the significant disadvantage currently suffered by the Conservative Party.” In the Times, Jonathan Isaby writes that the next generation of Tory MPs are female or gay, state-educated, socially liberal but warns, “while they are generally socially liberal, sympathetic to localism and in favour of reversing Labour’s erosion of civil liberties, they are Thatcherite on Europe, tax, enterprise and defence. They are not, in the main, especially moved by the green agenda that Mr Cameron has so personally embraced.” The Indy also reports that George Osborne will repay £1,666 to the Commons authorities after being found guilty of overclaiming for his mortgage under the MPs’ expenses system.

President Obama has launched a new “fight” on the banks saying, “Never again will American taxpayers be held hostage by a bank that is too big to fail,” prompting shares in banks to fall on both sides of the Atlantic, according to the Telegraph. The Tories have jumped on the bandwagon with the FT reporting that George Osborne “fired a warning shot across the bows of financial institutions including Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and UBS, saying the Obama crackdown on proprietary trading was ‘definitely something we think needs to be done’.” The Guardian outlines that Britain’s City minister, Lord Myners, will talk to US officials on Monday as part of a meeting with G7 countries to discuss ways to impose a financial levy on a banking system that has already bounced back to profit barely a year after a multibillion pound taxpayer bailout.

All the papers have a different angle on Jack Straw’s appearance at the Chilcot Inquiry. The Independent focus on his statement that he told his officials a year before the invasion that regime change was ‘off the agenda’ as it would not have been legal. The Times says, “Jack Straw supported the Iraq war only ‘very reluctantly'” while the Daily Mail says “Jack Straw turns up the heat on Blair by telling inquiry: I could have stopped Iraq war.” The Guardian go with, “Jack Straw: I drew up secret plan to keep Britain out of Iraq war.” The papers also cover the news that Gordon Brown will give evidence to the inquiry before the general election after writing to Sir John Chilcot.

The FT reports that the government is planning to push to get new rights for 1.3m temporary workers into law before the election. The paper’s agenda is clear describing the rights as “controversial” and a “threat” to job creation. Brendan Barber, TUC general-secretary, said the rights were “good news” for agency workers but he was disappointed they would not start earlier.

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6 Responses to “Politics Summary: Friday, January 22nd”

  1. Kurt

    Politics Summary: Friday, January 22nd | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/4CMfvt

  2. Billy Blofeld


    I welcome your comments in the recent article in the Standard:

    “Gordon Brown and Tony Blair have been a huge disappointment and let down the Labour Party,” he believes. “I am especially deeply angry with Blair for being duplicitous about his reasons for taking us to war with Iraq, hiding behind WMDs when he was content to prosecute a war for regime change. And also,” he takes a sharp intake of breath, “for the unbelievably shoddy way he betrayed my father, demoting him from Foreign Secretary to Leader of the House, especially after my dad had been so loyal.”

    Unfortunately your dad’s loyalty to Blair went too far. He should have pulled the plug on an illegal war.

    Also – given you anger towards Blair and Brown and presumably other idiotic self serving politicians like Ed Balls….. and also your dislike of Cameron and Osborne……… is it not time to see the light and reject the notion of ‘party politics’ as part of the problem?

    There are alternatives……….

  3. Will Straw

    Thanks, Billy, It may disappoint you but the remarks about Gordon Brown were taken out of context. See here: http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/01/evening-standard-interview-a-clarification/

    But I stand by the comments on Iraq and by my support for the Labour party as the best, but not only, vehicle for advancing progressive policies.

  4. arthur

    Will – I too read your self regarding article in the Standard. see comments section on the internet.

    Just noted the following reportage in the Guardian:

    In a collection of evidence that intensifies the pressure on Tony Blair, who is due to give evidence to the Iraq inquiry on Friday, the panel also released a memo written by Wood that refers to a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) cable detailing a meeting between Straw and Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, in which the foreign secretary reassured his American counterpart a year before the invasion that he was “entirely comfortable” making the case for war.

  5. Shamik Das

    We have just had to remove a sentence from Arthur’s comment containing a personal attack on the author.

    Here is a reminder of our comments policy:

    We welcome discussion and debate but keep it nice. Comments should stick to the topic, any containing offensive language or personal attacks will be removed. And if we have to moderate a specific commenter three times, we’ll block them. We hope that’s clear.

  6. alex

    Shamik – I saw the comment before you edited it; not sure requesting that Will Straw do us all a favour, quits playing politics and gets a proper job constitutes a ‘personal attack’; more a request really. Most people would suggest it constitutes sound career advice. As for the other point, suggesting that Jack Straw has been rather economical with the truth and rather duplicitous to boot – were you watching Chilcott today – the evidence from today backs this statement up.

    What an odd thing for you to have done Shamik.

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