Five of the Best

The top five comment pieces from today's papers

In the Times the former army officer Patrick Hennessey warns the military to be wary of criticising journalists such as the freed New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell:

That Mr Farrell was investigating the sort of collateral damage incident that is undermining the progress being made by Nato forces is admirable. Those within the Armed Forces who would seek to criticise or restrict journalists such as him would do well to remember that those same journalists, reporting on kit shortages and under-resourcing, put a public pressure on the Government that the MoD has been unable to do.

The Independent's Andreas Whittam Smith writes that David Cameron's plan to cut ministerial pay ignores the extraordinary growth of the payroll vote:

Actually the figure to look at is not what ministers are paid but how many there are. Way back in 1900, the government consisted of 60 ministers. By 1970, after two world wars, the development of the welfare state and greater involvement by government in every area of life, the number had risen to just above 100. What has subsequently driven the total to 170 is not the requirements of governing but the desire to control the House of Commons.

The Guardian's Martin Kettle argues that the illiberalism of British society prevents the Liberal Democrats doing as well as they deserve:

The truth is simply that most Tory and Labour voters are not instinctively liberals.

Being liberal, the writer-turned-politician Michael Ignatieff said in a lecture in London in July, is a habit of the heart. A liberal has a generous heart and an open mind. A liberal puts freedom first, is optimistic about human nature but sceptical about power. Ignatieff's definitions seem about right to me. But I do not think a majority of people share them, and certainly not in either the Tory or the Labour party.

In the Independent, Steve Richards writes that Labour's problems are too entrenched and complex for a change of leader to help:

The harsh reality for Labour is that the influential right-wing newspapers that once gave Blair a fair hearing have made up their mind that they want Cameron and Osborne in power. Almost certainly they would report a sudden switch of leader as a symptom of Labour's crisis and not as a successful resolution of internal traumas. What is more, if [Alan] Johnson as a new prime minister were to make one slip as he outlined economic policy for the first time in his political career, they would slaughter him and his party.

The Economist's Bagehot column says that the malaise in Afghanistan could mark the end of Britain's "era of war":

For fear of seeming unpatriotic, no prominent politician is calling for withdrawal -- yet. Nevertheless, the momentum of the war and opinion about it seem to be heading that way. As Mr Blair learned, making predictions in such a volatile world can be hazardous.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Supreme Court Article 50 winner demands white paper on Brexit

The Supreme Court ruled Parliament must be consulted before triggering Article 50. Grahame Pigney, of the People's Challenge, plans to build on the victory. 

A crowd-funded campaign that has forced the government to consult Parliament on Article 50 is now calling for a white paper on Brexit.

The People's Challenge worked alongside Gina Miller and other interested parties to force the government to back down over its plan to trigger Article 50 without prior parliamentary approval. 

On Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court ruled 8-3 that the government must first be authorised by an act of Parliament.

Grahame Pigney, the founder of the campaign, said: "It is absolutely great we have now got Parliament back in control, rather than decisions taken in some secret room in Whitehall.

"If this had been overturned it would have taken us back to 1687, before the Bill of Rights."

Pigney, whose campaign has raised more than £100,000, is now plannign a second campaign. He said: "The first step should be for a white paper to be brought before Parliament for debate." The demand has also been made by the Exiting the European Union select committee

The "Second People's Challenge" aims to pool legal knowledge with like-minded campaigners and protect MPs "against bullying and populist rhetoric". 

The white paper should state "what the Brexit objectives are, how (factually) they would benefit the UK, and what must happen if they are not achieved". 

The campaign will also aim to fund a Europe-facing charm offensive, with "a major effort" to ensure politicians in EU countries understand that public opinion is "not universally in favour of ‘Brexit at any price’".

Pigney, like Miller, has always maintained that he is motivated by the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, rather than a bid to stop Brexit per se.

In an interview with The Staggers, he said: "One of the things that has characterised this government is they want to keep everything secret.”

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.