Politics Summary: Wednesday, February 10th

The New York Times reports that a global tax on banks’ financial transactions, known as a “Robin Hood tax,” should be introduced to fight poverty, protect public services and tackle climate change, a group of nearly 50 organisations said in a letter to political leaders. Supportive groups including Oxfam, the TUC, Barnardo’s, ActionAid, and the Salvation Army. The Guardian writes that, “Britain’s most successful comedy writer, Richard Curtis, is aiming to tap into the public’s fury at how bankers are scooping huge bonuses while the rest of us suffer pay freezes.” In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the question “Do you want to be part of the world’s biggest bank job?” was projected onto the Bank of England. Campaigners will ask people on Facebook to don green Robin Hood style facemasks as a show of support.

The Guardian reports that, “The Conservatives’ long-standing defence of their deputy chairman and ­multimillionaire donor Lord Ashcroft was in chaos tonight as the party ­struggled to explain fresh revelations about his tax status.” On Monday night, Sir George Young told Newsnight that Ashcroft was “non-domiciled” but a senior source said Young had “mis-spoken”. Earlier this week, Cameron said: “For years all parties have taken the same view that someone’s tax status is a matter between them and the Inland Revenue. That needs to change.” Lord Oakeshott, a Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, said “This makes a mockery of David Cameron’s claim to be a reformer in favour of cleaning up the political system.” The Mirror says “David Cameron yesterday refused to answer questions about Lord Ashcroft.”

A committee of peers has concluded that Britain must veto new European Union rules to regulate the hedge fund and private equity industries, according to the FT. The House of Lords European Union committee says if the rules are not changed substantially to bring them into line with the global regulatory framework, the UK and EU economies would be “seriously damaged”. Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, the Danish MEP and a leading left-wing MEP, has accused the Commission repeatedly of bowing to pressures to water down the regulations, which, he has said, have “more holes than Swiss cheese”. The paper reports that the European Commission has been under pressure to listen to sentiment in the European parliament because of the need to secure reappointment, which was only approved last week.

The Guardian and Independent cover a Commons vote last night to ensure a referendum on changing the way MPs are elected will be held by October next year. Despite strong opposition from the Tories and vocal criticism from some Labour backbenchers, MPs voted 365 to 187 to ask the public to decide whether the traditional first-past-the-post system should be scrapped. But the government faces an uphill battle to force the changes through parliament with the prospect of stiff resistance in the Lords and time running out before the general election. The expected rebellion by 20 to 40 Labour MPs failed to materialise. Meanwhile, as advocated by Left Foot Forward, Harriet Harman has set aside a day – provisionally March 4th – for debates and votes on Parliamentary reforms. David Miliband used a speech to the Parliamentary press gallery to trail a “reset referendum” on the whole political system early in the next parliament.

The Telegraph writes that, “Joanne Cash will stay as Tory candidate after 24 hours of confusion“. The Times reports that, “The Tory leadership spent yesterday frantically trying to broker a peace deal between Ms Cash — who was using her Twitter page to declare “RIP Dinosaurs” — and her Westminster North Conservative Association.” Karen Buck, the Labour MP defending a majority of 3,000 , said: “I’m not sure how the ordinary voter fits in with all this Tory back-biting but, as David Cameron likes to say, ‘We can’t go on like this’, can we.” Yesterday evening, Cash tweeted, “I did resign. Assoc did not accept. CCHQ has resolved specific issue so I am not leaving. It’s official DC has changed the party!!!!!!!!” Paul Waugh, who broke the story yesterday, updates with an account of how, “The farcical scenes at the plush Commander gastropub in the heart of Westbourne Park appeared to expose the fracture points in the Tory leader’s modernising project.” On Next Left, Sunder Katwala writes, “many observers will think the scale of the leadership intervention not unconnected to the web of connections linking Cash to Tory high command.”

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