Gordon Brown's scorched earth policy continued apace this morning. A week ago he found £800m to spend on helping developing nations combat climate change. Today he doubled that, announcing that Britain will be committing £1.5bn to the same ends. By the time the Copenhagen circus has ended who knows how much he will have pledged.
Will this money be new money and therefore be added to Britain's £178bn deficit? Or will it be money taken from the existing aid budget and therefore denied to anti-malaria and other more urgent programmes? This paper put together by Bjorn Lomborg recommends a far-reaching programme to tackle malnutrition in Africa. It is transformational in its reach and that is the kind of project that UK aid money should be funding.
The Tories are waiting to announce their policy on this issue until Copenhagen is concluded but speaking on the phone to Andrew Mitchell a few moments ago the Tory aid spokesman accused Brown of "fiscal incontinence" in the way he was spraying around figures from one week to the next without explaining either from where the money would come or for what specifically it would be used.
> Watch a BBC report on Brown's announcement.
3.35pm: This statement, just landed in the in box, from Greg Clark MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change is discouraging: “It is important to have agreed that adaptation funding is necessary, but it is vital that participants at Copenhagen now agree on an international financial mechanism that can dependably result in the necessary flow of funds.”
Speculation is growing that Gordon Brown might go to the country earlier than expected, on 25th March next year.
In this morning's Yorkshire Post Tom Richmond notes one of the key factors that may influence Gordon Brown's choice: "The reason is simple. It would mean Labour having to put off the Budget until after polling day."
"Almost 200 senior party officials have been ordered not to take holidays after January," says The Sun: "Leader David Cameron wants all his top advisers at the party HQ to be available at a minute's notice - including policy, research and campaign team staff. Shadow ministers will also step up talks with senior civil servants, who will brief them on what to expect if they win."
"Gordon Brown now finds himself in a similar position to John Major. He, too, faces election defeat. But there is no sign of the magnanimity and sense of public duty shown by either Jim Callaghan or John Major. Very much the opposite: it now looks very much as if he has launched what some Whitehall officials describe a 'scorched-earth policy'.
Rather than do the right thing by Britain, he seems to want to make sure that David Cameron will face the worst possible inheritance if he wins the election next spring. For instance, Brown has been appointing Labour cronies to key posts. Recently, the job of High Commissioner to Australia became vacant. Instead of choosing a highranking Foreign Office diplomat for the post, Brown rewarded a failed Labour politician, Baroness Amos. Similarly, Lady Ashton (Labour's former leader in the Lords and a figure of little consequence) has been appointed to the vital post of trade commissioner in Europe. Narrow considerations of Labour Party control of the levers of power dictated these appointments and certainly not the national interest.
But Gordon Brown's most palpable act of political selfishness concerns his economic policy. Next year the national deficit is set to rise towards £200billion, a figure without precedent in our history..."
Peter Oborne is at his best today. Read him here.