Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. From Jessica Ennis to Joey Barton. Could a contrast be more ghastly?, Guardian

The Olympic spirit we've just rejoiced in makes the return of football's greed, cheating and racism all the more depressing, writes Geoffrey Wheatcroft.

2. A-level students must be told the whole truth about the value of a degree, Telegraph

Mis-selling of higher education is one of the least remarked upon scandals of our time, argues Fraser Nelson.

3. There should be no immunity for Assange from these allegations, Independent

Owen Jones writes that Ecuador is wrong to describe the charges against the WikiLeaks founder as 'laughable'.

4. Corporate cash power is holding the state hostage Financial Times (£)

John Plender exposes the shift in relations between the public and private sectors, and asks how to combat capture.

5. Cameron must cultivate his little acorns, Times (£)

Bring back the Pre-Coalition Dave of optimism and wonder to inspire us with graphene and Raspberry Pi, begs Peter Hoskin.

6. Girls deserve top marks for catching up so quickly, Telegraph

Three cheers – girls will be more successful than boys in the latest A-level results, writes Rachel Johnson.

7. There's still (a slim) hope for the eurozone yet, Independent

You wouldn't know it from the coverage over here, but the Eurozone crisis has actually eased quite a lot of late, Adrian Hamilton explains.

8. We must clean up our act on money laundering, Financial Times (£)

Following a spate of high-profile money laundering scandals, John Cassara asks what more we can do?

9. This is not some celeb balaclava bandwagon, Times (£)

Pussy Riot are bravely risking their freedom to take on a gangster state. We can’t stay silent, says Peter Gabriel.

10. Would you be happy to live like Tony Nicklinson?

The court had no choice but to rule against Nicklinson's right to die. The law must be changed to end such brutal suffering, argues Polly Toynbee.

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Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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