Politics Summary: Monday, March 1st

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The front pages are dominated with reaction to David Cameron’s big speech yesterday, which Politics Home describes as “positive but muted”. The Times concludes, “David Cameron has shown us repeatedly that he could be prime minister. He has yet to show us why he wants to be.” Matthew Engel in the Financial Times writes, “If he had spent less intellectual energy on memorising the speech, he might have remembered to say something fresh and inspiring.” In the Guardian, Jon Cruddas and Jonathan Rutherford opine that, “Cameron has no political economy to enact his pro-social politics and his rhetoric of social justice.” William Rees-Mogg in the Times, however, sees Cameron’s speech as being “rather reminiscent of Tony Blair or Barack Obama. ‘Let’s get things moving again … we can achieve it.'”

The Guardian have seen a confidential German foreign ministry document which they claim concludes that Britain has grabbed an “excessive” and “over-proportionate” role over the EU’s new diplomatic service – the European External Action Service – which is headed up by Baroness Ashton. The Germans and the French apparently point to the predominance of British figures in many of the pivotal positions in the new service including one-in-three of her own staff. But an official said: “What are the French really complaining about? Everything comes back to the British, that it’s all a British plot.”

The Daily Mail reports that the Roman Catholic Church is expected to steer its followers towards supporting the Tories in the election: “Leaders of the Church in England and Wales are preparing a pre-election statement demanding state support for marriage and ‘respectful’ treatment for churches from politicians … [which] amounts to an invitation for [sic] vote for David Cameron’s policy of providing tax support for married couples.” The paper says that the “Tories WILL reward marriage” but, writing for Labour List, Tim Horton says, “Over half of all children in single parent families are in poverty, yet they would get nothing from it. That the Government should not pick and choose which children to support depending on the marital status of their parents is an important principle of fairness.”

The Guardian reveals that the Government will today publish a ten point plan for councils to help them cut spending while protecting frontline services. A forthcoming BBC survey is likely to reveal that arts and leisure services will be most vulnerable to cuts while homelessness, children’s social services and planning are likely to be more protected. But the paper appears to get their headline from a spurious percentage. The story is dramatically titled “Councils consider plans to shed 170,000 public sector jobs” but goes on “With staff forming the biggest chunk of their spending, many believe that up to 10% of the wage bill must be cut amounting to up to 170,000 of the 1.7m public sector workers employed by councils.”

The New York Times reports that President Obama is preparing to permanently reduce America’s nuclear arsenal by thousands of weapons. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will present Mr. Obama with several options today to address unresolved issues in the Nuclear Posture Review, which all presidents undertake. His new strategy will focus on arms control and nonproliferation agreements, which were largely dismissed by the Bush administration.

Picture credit: Political Betting

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