Politics Summary: Friday, January 12th

The Telegraph reports that “Goldman Sachs is investigating claims that one of its computers was used to rig a public vote on the introduction of a so-called “Robin Hood tax” on bankers.” Technical staff for the Robinhoodtax.org.uk website said the “no” counter increased at a “dramatic rate” from 3.41pm. The number of “no” votes jumped from 1,400 to 6,000 before campaigners – who are calling for the introduction of 0.05 per cent tax on banking transactions – tightened the site’s security. By 8pm on Thursday the “yes” vote had a substantial lead on the “no” camp, with 21,300 votes compared with 2,600. The Guardian reports that, according to Gordon Brown, “Global support for a tax on banks is growing” with a financial deal anticipated by the G20 in June. An Editorial in the FT says, “While a Tobin tax-like transaction levy is a non-starter, insurance has something going for it … Levying it on a global basis would limit the scope for arbitrage. Meanwhile, clawing back some money from the banks might help address the financial sector’s lack of public legitimacy.”

The Guardian claims that MI5 faces “an unprecedented and damaging crisis … after one of the country’s most senior judges found that the Security Service had failed to respect human rights, deliberately misled parliament, and had a ‘culture of suppression’ that undermined government assurances about its conduct.” The revelation formed part of a draft verdict by Lord Neuberger, the master of the rolls, which was removed, according to the paper, after the Foreign Office QC’s wrote that it was “an exceptionally damaging criticism of the good faith of the Security Service as a whole.” The original draft has come to light following Wednesday’s court ruling on the Binyam Mohamed case and may be released today. David Miliband told MPs that the ruling was leading to a “great deal of concern” in the US. The Foreign Office claimed last night  the criticisms in the draft judgment had been “unsubstantiated”. In today’s Telegraph, MI5 Director General Jonathan Evans writes, “we would do well to maintain a fair and balanced view of events as they unfold and avoid falling into conspiracy theory and caricature.”

The Times outlines that the Conservatives have been accused of “threatening the Northern Ireland peace process by backing changes that could give the Ulster Unionists a stranglehold on power.” Under the 2006 St Andrews agreement the job of Deputy First Minister is automatically handed to the second-largest party. The Tories say that, over time, they would want to see a move to a more normal form of government with an official opposition. The party is also prepared to intervene if Sinn Féin becomes the largest party after next year’s elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly. It would consider downgrading the post of the Province’s First Minister, which normally goes to the largest party, to prevent a walkout by Unionists — a move that would effectively prevent Martin McGuinness, the former IRA commander, from holding the position.

The Independent reports that a pledge to raise the minimum wage “may be included in Labour’s general election manifesto as part of a drive to tackle inequality.” The TUC has proposed a 3.5 per cent rise in the minimum wage to £6 an hour from October, saying this is “both sensible and affordable”. The paper reports that the Labour manifesto is also likely to include measures to boost social mobility. The paper also mentions Compass’ campaign for the creation of a High Pay Commission, which is now supported by around 130 MPs.

The Times front page, Independent, Guardian, Mail and Mirror all cover Gordon Brown’s ITV interview where he spoke “movingly about the moment he realised his first child Jennifer Jane was going to die, days after she was born.” Brown described the occasion as the “most grief-stricken time” of his life. The Telegraph take a different angle on the interview and cover Brown’s admission of “tensions” and “fights” with Tony Blair. Their headline reads: “Brown: I should have been PM not Blair.” They devote just one sentence to the Brown’s personal tragedy.

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