Politics Summary: Wednesday, January 20th

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The Guardian reports that, “Lord Mandelson has washed his hands of responsibility for Cadbury’s £11.9bn takeover by the American conglomerate Kraft, insisting it was a decision for shareholders.” The FT quotes Mandelson saying he hoped Kraft would continue to make “perfectly formed Creme Eggs.” The paper quotes Barry Fletcher a former Cadbury worker: “There will be mass redundancies and then they will sell the site.” Unite, the trade union representing Cadbury’s workers called for regulations to be changed to allow ministers to intervene in high-profile deals where the national interest is at stake. Left Foot Forward said yesterday: “we should stop companies picking up British businesses when there is a risk that the terms of the acquisition could lead to job losses.”

The Financial Times reports that Bank of England Governor, Mervyn King, is “optimistic on inflation target” after the consumer price index rose from 1.9 per cent in November to 2.9 per cent in December, far above both the City and the Bank of England’s expectations. Mr King said the rise was “temporary” and “do[es] not constitute a continuing source of inflation”. The Guardian focuses on King’s warnings about trade and current account imbalances between countries – King urged the G20 to tackle the issue. The Times reports King saying that the patience of Britons was likely to be “sorely tried” over the coming years, with pay stagnating.

All the papers report Geoff Hoon’s evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry. He said that the Treasury under Gordon Brown forced military planners to cut their budget, depriving British troops of much-needed helicopters, and that defence chiefs were prevented from ordering equipment for troops deployed to Iraq because Tony Blair did not want to signal to the UN that Britain was preparing for war. The Guardian also reports that Hoon had opposed Blair’s decision in July 2004 to commit British troops to southern Afghanistan while they were still committed to Iraq. The Telegraph reports that Mr Hoon warned Mr Blair a year before the invasion of Iraq that Iran posed a greater threat to the UK than Saddam Hussein’s regime. The Independent reveals that separate documents published yesterday reveal that former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, rebuked Mr Hoon for suggesting that an invasion of Iraq would be legal without “specific” permission from the United Nations. The Times documents that a public ballot for tickets to see Mr Blair give evidence to the inquiry on Friday next week attracted 3,041 applications for 80 places.

The Guardian reports that Nick Clegg will today make “a pitch to younger voters by making an announcement on a new youth training policy via Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.” Clegg said, “Many young people feel cheated by this recession and let down by politicians. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter play just as important a role as TV or newspapers in their lives. Politicians can’t ignore new and social media if they want to connect with the next generation of voters.”

The Republicans have won Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts, traditionally one of the safest Democratic states in the country. The Guardian details how Scott Brown, a truck-driving National Guardsman, beat Martha Coakley, the state attorney general, by 52 per cent to 47 per cent. The win robs the Democrats of their filibuster-proof 60-40 majority in the Senate and throws into doubt the future of Obama’s health reform plan. The FT reports Democratic congressmen Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Anthony Weiner of New York warning that a loss for Ms Coakley would “kill” hopes of passing their healthcare reform bill.

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