Politics Summary: Monday, July 5th

A detailed audit of last month's Budget has shown that women will shoulder nearly three-quarters of the burden of cuts and tax increases.

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A detailed audit of last month’s Budget has shown that women will shoulder nearly three-quarters of the burden of cuts and tax increases. An independent analysis carried out by the House of Commons library describes the Budget as the “worst for women since the creation of the welfare state”, showing that more than 70 per cent of the revenue raised from direct tax and benefit changes will come from female taxpayers: of the nearly £8 billion net revenue to be raised by the financial year 2014-15, nearly £6bn will be from women and just over £2bn from men.

Shadow welfare secretary Yvette Cooper, who commissioned the study, told The Guardian: “Women are bearing nearly three-quarters of the Tory-Liberal plans, while men are bearing just a quarter. This is despite the fact that women’s income and wealth is still considerably lower than men’s. Even more significant, this doesn’t include the impact of public spending cuts. As women make up more of the public sector workforce they will be more heavily hit by the public sector pay freeze and the projected 600,000 net public sector job losses.” She added: “David Cameron promised the most family-friendly government ever. Yet they have just launched the fiercest attack on family support in the history of the welfare state… Women are more affected by the cuts in things like housing benefit, cuts in upratings to the additional pension, public sector pensions or attendance allowances, and they benefit less than men from the increases in the income tax allowances. Even putting children aside, they are hitting women hardest.” The figures do not include the impact of the abolition of the child trust fund, the rise in VAT and the cutting of the health in pregnancy grant and the Sure Start maternity grant.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski has conceded defeat to Bronislaw Komorowski in the Polish presidential elections. Kaczynski, whose twin brother Lech’s death in a plane crash in August April triggered the poll, said: “I congratulate the winner. I congratulate Bronislaw Komorowski.” He told his supporters “there will be other elections to fight” and that “we have to mobilise” for them, reports the Telegraph. Komorowski, meanwhile, told his supporters late last night: “This is a victory for Polish democracy… The ballots are being counted. We’re opening a small bottle of champagne today, and we’ll open a big one tomorrow.” The Independent reports that official results from the state electoral commission show that, with 95 per cent of polling stations reporting in, Komorowski won 52.63 per cent and Kaczynski 47.37 per cent. Prime minister Donald Tusk said: “If this result is confirmed, this will be one of the happiest days of my life.” The Indy adds: “Mr Komorowski, the scion of an aristocratic family, has a traditional Catholic background but he favours a greater separation of church and state and stressed the need to look to the future and modernise Poland, the largest of the ex-communist countries to join the European Union in recent years. Poland’s president has many ceremonial duties, but he can also veto laws, and as commander in chief has influence on foreign military operations.”

The Guardian reports that ‘climategate’ was a “game-changer” in science reporting, prompting scientists to become “more upfront, open and explicit about their uncertainties”. On Wednesday, the Muir Russell report into the conduct of scientists from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit will be published, with senior climate scientists saying their world has been “dramatically changed” by the affair. Mick Hume, professor of climate change at the UEA, says: “The release of the emails was a turning point, a game-changer… The community has been brought up short by the row over their science. Already there is a new tone. Researchers are more upfront, open and explicit about their uncertainties, for instance.” Bob Watson, former chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, agrees: “It is clear that the scientific community will have to respond by being more open and transparent in allowing access to raw data in order that their scientific findings can be checked.” The report adds: “The veteran Oxford science philosopher Jerome Ravetz says the role of the blogosphere in revealing the important issues buried in the emails means it will assume an increasing role in scientific discourse. ‘The radical implications of the blogosphere need to be better understood.’ [Judith] Curry [of the Georgia Institute of Technology] too applauds the rise of the ‘citizen scientist’ triggered by climategate, and urges scientists to embrace them.”

The Telegraph reports that Conservative ministers are plotting to curb union strike powers “to avoid a second winter of discontent”. It says: “Ministers have held secret meetings to block nationwide strikes this autumn as departments enforce spending cuts of up to 40 per cent and the loss of up to a million public sector jobs… Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, held a meeting with Boris Johnson 10 days ago to discuss the need for new rules on industrial action supported by only a small proportion of the workforce. The Mayor of London was sounded out and asked for advice because of his experience in dealing with unions during two years in office, including the RMT rail union’s strikes affecting the London Underground last year.” A Tory source told the Telegraph the Cabinet is “feeling inclined to be very bullish and aggressive” about confronting any strikes. The reports adds that the government is “under pressure from senior business figures to change the rules to allow striking workers to be replaced with agency employees” and that unions “could also be made legally liable for the consequences of strikes”.

And the Financial Times reports General David Petraeus’s warning Sunday that the coalition was facing a “critical moment” in Afghanistan. Gen Petraeus was speaking at a change-of-command ceremony at the Kabul headquarters of Isaf, the Nato-led force in Afghanistan as he assumed command of the 130,000-strong force. He said: “We are in this to win… We have arrived at a critical moment.” He added: “As you and our Afghan partners on the ground get into tough situations, we must employ all assets to ensure your safety, keeping in mind, again, the importance of avoiding civilian casualties.” Former presidential candidate John McCain, however, said that having a “date certain” for starting to withdraw troops from Afghanistan “sounds an uncertain trumpet”. McCain told ABC News from Kabul: “I’m all for dates of withdrawal, but that’s after the strategy succeeds, not before. That’s a dramatic difference… I know enough about warfare… I know enough about what strategy and tactics are about. If you tell the enemy that you’re leaving on a date certain, unequivocally, then that enemy will wait until you leave.”

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