Politics Summary: Wednesday, April 21st

In an exclusive interview covered on the Independent‘s front page, Gordon Brown calls for a “progressive alliance” of natural Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters. In what is dubbed a change of strategy, the Prime Minster said, “We have to show people we are in the business of the new politics and we have a plan for that as well as the economy.” Mr Brown went on to say: “We are going for a majority. I am a fighter. People have written me off many, many times. I don’t think I would be here unless I was prepared to fight for everything I have got.”

Meanwhile, in a front Telegraph interview, Nick Clegg says, “Brown systematically blocked, and personally blocked, political reform. I think he is a desperate politician and I just do not believe him.” Mr Clegg said politicians should be “open” and talk to each other in the event of a hung parliament: “I would be open about the fact that, clearly, politicians should be able to speak to each other. David Cameron doesn’t seem to accept this.” The Times front page suggests that “Labour [is] at odds over reform deal”. The paper claims that Ed Balls has contradicted Alan Johnson by saying, “Coalition politics is not the British way of doing government.” The Guardian suggests, “There is also concern in some [Labour] circles that the campaign is not highlighting fairness, families or women’s issues, and is instead dominated by men over 50 warning about the risk to the economic recovery from the Conservatives.”

The Guardian‘s front page hails a new global ‘financial activities tax’ to “cut the world’s biggest banks down to size by taxing their profits and pay”. The Financial Times front page covers more of the detail: “The IMF suggested each country would want to raise between 2 per cent to 4 per cent of its gross domestic product over the long term. The IMF suggested the G20 nations start first with a flat tax on all institutions for simplicity, but that the rate could then be adjusted to reflect risk.” The IMF said: “International co-operation would be beneficial, particularly in the context of cross-border financial institutions.” All three parties welcomed the report but Labour suggested that the deal was a snub to George Osborne’s go-it-alone approach.

The Times front page reports that, “Generals add fire to Clegg on Trident”. Their intervention offers timely support for Nick Clegg, as the only party leader arguing against a like-for-like replacement. In the paper four former senior military personnel write, “it is of deep concern that the question of the Trident replacement programme is at present excluded from [a comprehensive strategic defence review after the election].” They go on to say, “Should the review determine that there is still a need for a nuclear deterrent, a number of options may be more affordable than a like-for-like replacement of the Trident system, which has been described as a ‘Rolls-Royce’ solution.”

The Guardian reports that David Cameron is “under fire” after he claimed he knew nothing about a controversial Tory youth group, the Young Britons’ Foundation. Several members of Cameron’s team, including shadow defence secretary Liam Fox, addressed a YBF rally last month and at least 11 prospective Tory candidates have been delegates or speakers at training conferences run by the YBF. The leadership of the YBF has described the NHS as “the biggest waste of money in the UK”, claimed global warming is “a scam”, and suggested that the waterboarding of prisoners can be justified. The Conservative party’s link to the YBF was front page news last month leading a Labour source to say Mr Cameron’s denial was “unbelievable”.

The right-wing press keeps up its attacks on the Liberal Democrats with The Sun running a front page “Lib-Dumb Exclusive” as “Clegg’s secret election dossier found in cab”. According to the paper, “The dossier [with notes on the first leaders’ debate] … was left in the back of a cab on Thursday at about 10.30pm, soon after the end of the first election debate.” The note includes advice including “Avoid unilateral disarmament implication.” Last night the driver, who picked up the Lib Dem man from Parliament and drove him to North West London, said: “It’s extraordinary that someone like him could just leave this stuff in a taxi.”

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