Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Ed Miliband's big test is to make voters see him as prime minister The Observer

He can't do anything about the way he looks, but he can do something about the way he talks to the country, writes Andrew Rawnsley.

2. 'Likeability’ is the bane of modern politics The Sunday Telegraph

Clowning around on a chat show, or even being a devoted Dad, may count for less than having a serious grasp of economic reality, writes Janet Daley.

3. Casual vacancy for gloomy snob: would suit JK Rowling The Sunday Times (£)

The first Harry Potter story was astonishing in its minor public-school wannabe snobbery, argues Minette Marrin.

4. Israel and the Occupied Territories are much changed - yet peace seems more distant than ever The Independent on Sunday

As Donald Macintyre, the Sindy's Jerusalem correspondent, remembers eight years reporting from the region, he reflects on what has changed and what changes must still come.

5. What’s the point of Labour when the coffers are empty? The Sunday Telegraph

Ed Miliband’s answer to this question will help to decide the outcome of the next election, writes Matthew d'Ancona.

6. Wonkish? Yes, but Miliband could be PM in 2015 The Independent on Sunday

The Labour brand is strong because voters think Labour will protect their jobs, argues John Rentoul.

7. Is this the death knell for the Lib Dems? The Observer

At a time when the country needs them, the party seems intent on self-destruction, writes Nick Cohen.

8. Ed's set to bare his soul... and his inner geek The Mail on Sunday

One of Miliband’s closest allies admits the Labour leader is "not yet seen an alternative Prime Minister. He needs to be by the Election". The test of this conference is whether he is halfway to being there by the end of it, writes James Forsyth.

9. Stay vague, Ed — too red and you’re dead The Sunday Times (£)

If Miliband is wise, he will keep this stuff about responsible capitalism vague. Better Fuzzy Ed than Red Ed, writes Martin Ivens.

10. We need a revolution in how our companies are owned and run The Observer

Will Hutton calls for a culture dedicated to long-term, ethical goals.

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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The Women's March against Trump matters – but only if we keep fighting

We won’t win the battle for progressive ideas if we don’t battle in the first place.

Arron Banks, UKIP-funder, Brexit cheerleader and Gibraltar-based insurance salesman, took time out from Trump's inauguration to tweet me about my role in tomorrow's Women’s March Conservative values are in the ascendancy worldwide. Thankfully your values are finished. . . good”.

Just what about the idea of women and men marching for human rights causes such ill will? The sense it is somehow cheeky to say we will champion equality whoever is in office in America or around the world. After all, if progressives like me have lost the battle of ideas, what difference does it make whether we are marching, holding meetings or just moaning on the internet?

The only anti-democratic perspective is to argue that when someone has lost the argument they have to stop making one. When political parties lose elections they reflect, they listen, they learn but if they stand for something, they don’t disband. The same is true, now, for the broader context. We should not dismiss the necessity to learn, to listen, to reflect on the rise of Trump – or indeed reflect on the rise of the right in the UK  but reject the idea that we have to take a vow of silence if we want to win power again.

To march is not to ignore the challenges progressives face. It is to start to ask what are we prepared to do about it.

Historically, conservatives have had no such qualms about regrouping and remaining steadfast in the confidence they have something worth saying. In contrast, the left has always been good at absolving itself of the need to renew.

We spend our time seeking the perfect candidates, the perfect policy, the perfect campaign, as a precondition for action. It justifies doing nothing except sitting on the sidelines bemoaning the state of society.

We also seem to think that changing the world should be easier than reality suggests. The backlash we are now seeing against progressive policies was inevitable once we appeared to take these gains for granted and became arrogant and exclusive about the inevitability of our worldview. Our values demand the rebalancing of power, whether economic, social or cultural, and that means challenging those who currently have it. We may believe that a more equal world is one in which more will thrive, but that doesn’t mean those with entrenched privilege will give up their favoured status without a fight or that the public should express perpetual gratitude for our efforts via the ballot box either.  

Amongst the conferences, tweets and general rumblings there seem three schools of thought about what to do next. The first is Marxist  as in Groucho revisionism: to rise again we must water down our principles to accommodate where we believe the centre ground of politics to now be. Tone down our ideals in the hope that by such acquiescence we can eventually win back public support for our brand – if not our purpose. The very essence of a hollow victory.

The second is to stick to our guns and stick our heads in the sand, believing that eventually, when World War Three breaks out, the public will come grovelling back to us. To luxuriate in an unwillingness to see we are losing not just elected offices but the fight for our shared future.

But what if there really was a third way? It's not going to be easy, and it requires more than a hashtag or funny t-shirt. It’s about picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves down and starting to renew our call to arms in a way that makes sense for the modern world.

For the avoidance of doubt, if we march tomorrow and then go home satisfied we have made our point then we may as well not have marched at all. But if we march and continue to organise out of the networks we make, well, then that’s worth a Saturday in the cold. After all, we won’t win the battle of ideas, if we don’t battle.

We do have to change the way we work. We do have to have the courage not to live in our echo chambers alone. To go with respect and humility to debate and discuss the future of our communities and of our country.

And we have to come together to show there is a willingness not to ask a few brave souls to do that on their own. Not just at election times, but every day and in every corner of Britain, no matter how difficult it may feel.

Saturday is one part of that process of finding others willing not just to walk a mile with a placard, but to put in the hard yards to win the argument again for progressive values and vision. Maybe no one will show up. Maybe not many will keep going. But whilst there are folk with faith in each other, and in that alternative future, they’ll find a friend in me ready to work with them and will them on  and then Mr Banks really should be worried.