Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers

1. Argentina's oil grab is timely retort to rampaging capitalism (Observer)

Cristina Fernández's actions, however clumsy, are part of a worldwide reaction to exploitation by business and the rich, writes Will Hutton

2. The cool Mrs Theresa May is acting like a hothead (Sunday Telegraph)

Peter Oborne writes that Theresa May has not displayed "the cool, calm deliberation one would expect from a Home Secretary"

3. The midterm elections are now crucial thanks to omnishambles (Observer)

The outcome of these contests will make a huge difference to the morale and momentum of the rival parties, writes Andrew Rawnsley

4. Ask politicians about FGM, and lo, they are against it (Independent on Sunday)

Joan Smith writes on the disconnect between words and actions on FGM.

5. Abolishing the Lords would be political vandalism (Observer)

Nadhim Zahawi argues that an elected Lords would fatally injure the Commons

6. We're British, which means Abu Qatada should stay (Independent on Sunday)

John Rentoul writes that respect for "innocent until proven guilty" should extent to Qatada, or it doesn't really exist at all.

7. Forget Ukip, David Cameron and explain what the Government is up to (Sunday Telegraph)

Matthew D'Ancona has some advice for the PM in the lead up to the local elections.

8. Breivik is right — he is not getting true justice (Sunday Times)

Dominic Lawson argues that far from being a sign of the superiority of the Norwegian legal system, the lenience extended to Breivik is deeply flawed.

9. On extracting gas from rock, or putting it in there, the greens are equally confused (Sunday Telegraph)

Christopher Booker doesn't much like low-carbon technologies.

10. Fracking is a highly explosive issue (Independent on Sunday)

DJ Taylor argues that fracking just postpones the inevitable: fossil fuels will run out someday.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn prompts Tory outrage as he blames Grenfell Tower fire on austerity

To Conservative cries of "shame on you!", the Labour leader warned that "we all pay a price in public safety" for spending cuts.

A fortnight after the Grenfell Tower fire erupted, the tragedy continues to cast a shadow over British politics. Rather than probing Theresa May on the DUP deal, Jeremy Corbyn asked a series of forensic questions on the incident, in which at least 79 people are confirmed to have died.

In the first PMQs of the new parliament, May revealed that the number of buildings that had failed fire safety tests had risen to 120 (a 100 per cent failure rate) and that the cladding used on Grenfell Tower was "non-compliant" with building regulations (Corbyn had asked whether it was "legal").

After several factual questions, the Labour leader rose to his political argument. To cries of "shame on you!" from Tory MPs, he warned that local authority cuts of 40 per cent meant "we all pay a price in public safety". Corbyn added: “What the tragedy of Grenfell Tower has exposed is the disastrous effects of austerity. The disregard for working-class communities, the terrible consequences of deregulation and cutting corners." Corbyn noted that 11,000 firefighters had been cut and that the public sector pay cap (which Labour has tabled a Queen's Speech amendment against) was hindering recruitment. "This disaster must be a wake-up call," he concluded.

But May, who fared better than many expected, had a ready retort. "The cladding of tower blocks did not start under this government, it did not start under the previous coalition governments, the cladding of tower blocks began under the Blair government," she said. “In 2005 it was a Labour government that introduced the regulatory reform fire safety order which changed the requirements to inspect a building on fire safety from the local fire authority to a 'responsible person'." In this regard, however, Corbyn's lack of frontbench experience is a virtue – no action by the last Labour government can be pinned on him. 

Whether or not the Conservatives accept the link between Grenfell and austerity, their reluctance to defend continued cuts shows an awareness of how politically vulnerable they have become (No10 has announced that the public sector pay cap is under review).

Though Tory MP Philip Davies accused May of having an "aversion" to policies "that might be popular with the public" (he demanded the abolition of the 0.7 per cent foreign aid target), there was little dissent from the backbenches – reflecting the new consensus that the Prime Minister is safe (in the absence of an attractive alternative).

And May, whose jokes sometimes fall painfully flat, was able to accuse Corbyn of saying "one thing to the many and another thing to the few" in reference to his alleged Trident comments to Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis. But the Labour leader, no longer looking fearfully over his shoulder, displayed his increased authority today. Though the Conservatives may jeer him, the lingering fear in Tory minds is that they and the country are on divergent paths. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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