Five of the Best

The top five comment pieces from today's papers.

Roy Hattersley explains how the new Speaker can stop Prime Minister's Questions "sounding like a bad afternoon in an infant school playground."

The Guardian's Gary Younge on why a Conservative victory "would improve nothing".

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown argues that in these straitened times the left should consider means-testing for child benefit and transport for the retired.

In the Telegraph, Nick Squires examines whether Silvio Berlusconi can ride out the sex scandals developing around him.

Sash Tusa
argues that abandoning Trident would relegate Britain to the "second rank of European countries".

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Gordon Brown contemplated making Alastair Campbell a minister

The move is revealed in Ed Balls' new book.

Gordon Brown contemplated making Alastair Campbell, a sports minister. Campbell had served as Tony Blair’s press chief from 1994 to 2003, Ed Balls has revealed.

Although the move fell through, Campbell would have been one of a number of high-profile ministerial appointments, usually through the Lords, made by Brown during his tenure at 10 Downing Street.

Other unusual appointments included the so-called “Goats” appointed in 2007, part of what Brown dubbed “the government of all the talents”, in which Ara Darzi, a respected surgeon, Mark Malloch-Brown, formerly a United Nations diplomat,  Alan West, a former admiral, Paul Myners, a  successful businessman, and Digby Jones, former director-general of the CBI, took ministerial posts and seats in the Lords. While Darzi, West and Myners were seen as successes on Whitehall, Jones quit the government after a year and became a vocal critic of both Brown’s successors as Labour leader, Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn.

The story is revealed in Ed Balls’ new book, Speaking Out, a record of his time as a backroom adviser and later Cabinet and shadow cabinet minister until the loss of his seat in May 2015. It is published 6 September.