Five of the Best

The top five comment pieces from today's papers and the web

In the Daily Telegraph Irwin Stelzer argues that David Cameron's plan to cut ministerial salaries will not lead to a lack of high-quality candidates.

If anyone believes such a move would so reduce the number of members as to leave ministerial posts unpersoned, he has never smelled the leather of a red box, or spent time in the back of a government-provided car.

The Guardian's Tom Clark calls on Gordon Brown to make his philosophy comprehensible to the electorate.

Binding it together . . . is a simple enough two-part programme attempt to run a market economy with ruthless efficiency; then funnel as much of the proceeds as feasible to the very poor. Together with the strategic conviction that the state is vital in both parts, that is Brownism in a nutshell.

Salon's Mike Madden explores why Senate Democrats have kowtowed to the right on health care.

[The New Mexico senator Jeff] Bingaman may be the prime example of the way some Senate Democrats seem to have approached the health-care debate this summer: count votes first, figure out what should be in the bill later. And while you're counting, take the most pessimistic view possible.

Daniel Finkelstein argues in the Times that the debate pitting the US and UK health systems against each other ignores the funding crisis that both models face.

The only meeting point is that we face a common crisis. Available treatments now outstrip our ability (never mind our willingness) to pay for them. In the US this is experienced as a crisis of cost, with health inflation rampant. In the UK it is experienced as a crisis of provision, with the State refusing to finance life-saving procedures.

Channel 4 News's Faisal Islam argues that the Bank of England's quantitative easing programme means that, pace David Cameron, there is no chance of the UK defaulting on its debt.

Remarkably we are heading towards £200bn worth of government debt being bought by the Bank of England. So what is the total issuance of UK gilts 2009-2010? £220bn.

So Cameron should not be worrying about us going bankrupt any time soon. We have a ready buyer for our government debt right now.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Inside a shaken city: "I just want to be anywhere that’s not Manchester”

The morning after the bombing of the Manchester Arena has left the city's residents jumpy.

On Tuesday morning, the streets in Manchester city centre were eerily silent.

The commuter hub of Victoria Station - which backs onto the arena - was closed as police combed the area for clues, and despite Mayor Andy Burnham’s line of "business as usual", it looked like people were staying away.

Manchester Arena is the second largest indoor concert venue in Europe. With a capacity crowd of 18,000, on Monday night the venue was packed with young people from around the country - at least 22 of whom will never come home. At around 10.33pm, a suicide bomber detonated his device near the exit. Among the dead was an eight-year-old girl. Many more victims remain in hospital. 

Those Mancunians who were not alerted by the sirens woke to the news of their city's worst terrorist attack. Still, as the day went on, the city’s hubbub soon returned and, by lunchtime, there were shoppers and workers milling around Exchange Square and the town hall.

Tourists snapped images of the Albert Square building in the sunshine, and some even asked police for photographs like any other day.

But throughout the morning there were rumours and speculation about further incidents - the Arndale Centre was closed for a period after 11.40am while swathes of police descended, shutting off the main city centre thoroughfare of Market Street.

Corporation Street - closed off at Exchange Square - was at the centre of the city’s IRA blast. A postbox which survived the 1996 bombing stood in the foreground while officers stood guard, police tape fluttering around cordoned-off spaces.

It’s true that the streets of Manchester have known horror before, but not like this.

I spoke to students Beth and Melissa who were in the bustling centre when they saw people running from two different directions.

They vanished and ducked into River Island, when an alert came over the tannoy, and a staff member herded them through the back door onto the street.

“There were so many police stood outside the Arndale, it was so frightening,” Melissa told me.

“We thought it will be fine, it’ll be safe after last night. There were police everywhere walking in, and we felt like it would be fine.”

Beth said that they had planned a day of shopping, and weren’t put off by the attack.

“We heard about the arena this morning but we decided to come into the city, we were watching it all these morning, but you can’t let this stop you.”

They remembered the 1996 Arndale bombing, but added: “we were too young to really understand”.

And even now they’re older, they still did not really understand what had happened to the city.

“Theres nowhere to go, where’s safe? I just want to go home,” Melissa said. “I just want to be anywhere that’s not Manchester.”

Manchester has seen this sort of thing before - but so long ago that the stunned city dwellers are at a loss. In a city which feels under siege, no one is quite sure how anyone can keep us safe from an unknown threat

“We saw armed police on the streets - there were loads just then," Melissa said. "I trust them to keep us safe.”

But other observers were less comforted by the sign of firearms.

Ben, who I encountered standing outside an office block on Corporation Street watching the police, was not too forthcoming, except to say “They don’t know what they’re looking for, do they?” as I passed.

The spirit of the city is often invoked, and ahead of a vigil tonight in Albert Square, there will be solidarity and strength from the capital of the North.

But the community values which Mancunians hold dear are shaken to the core by what has happened here.

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