Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. International Coming Out Day: The jokes are widespread, but there is a reality behind it Independent

My ex couldn't manage to come out to her parents while we were together, and it hurt, writes Rosie Wilby.

2. Trade unions and Tories march to the same beat Times (£)

They think they’re opponents but really they need each other, writes Matthew Parris.

3. David Cameron has shown why the Tories are the truly moral party Telegraph

The Prime Minister made a compelling case for his great social reforms at the Conservative Party conference, writes Peter Oborne

4. David Cameron's Conservatives are living a lie and he can't speak up Guardian

Cameron's conference speech held out the promise that Britain can go it alone, without Europe or the US. It's an illusion, says Martin Kettle.

5. Only by coming together can students and trade unions fight the Coalition's failing austerity Independent

Our writer, a student activist, argues that though we are about to see another wave of protests across Britain, it needs to be more co-ordinated if it is to be effective, writes Matthew Brett.

6. But what if Europe follows a different map? Times (£)

The Cameron-Hague plan for a new relationship with the EU forgets only one thing — all the other members, says David Aaronovitch.

7. Boris Johnson: brilliant, warm, funny – and totally unfit to be PM Guardian

For 20 years I've known London's mayor is a gold-medal egomaniac. If he gets into No 10, I'm on the first plane out, writes Max Hastings.

8. Cash upfront for the road to serfdom Financial Times (£)

Robert Shrimsley walks an employee through the fire-at-will policy.

9. David Cameron won’t win an election by adopting the politics of fear Telegraph

The Prime Minister must distil from a mish-mash of Tory policies a vision to unite the country, writes Mary Riddell

10. The Cost of Protecting Greece’s Public Sector New York Times (£)

Calls to slash a massive bureaucracy give way to the reality of the public sector’s political clout, writes John Sfakianakis.

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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No, Jeremy Corbyn did not refuse to condemn the IRA. Please stop saying he did

Guys, seriously.

Okay, I’ll bite. Someone’s gotta say it, so really might as well be me:

No, Jeremy Corbyn did not, this weekend, refuse to condemn the IRA. And no, his choice of words was not just “and all other forms of racism” all over again.

Can’t wait to read my mentions after this one.

Let’s take the two contentions there in order. The claim that Corbyn refused to condem the IRA relates to his appearance on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme yesterday. (For those who haven’t had the pleasure, it’s a weekly political programme, hosted by Sophy Ridge and broadcast on a Sunday. Don’t say I never teach you anything.)

Here’s how Sky’s website reported that interview:

 

The first paragraph of that story reads:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised after he refused five times to directly condemn the IRA in an interview with Sky News.

The funny thing is, though, that the third paragraph of that story is this:

He said: “I condemn all the bombing by both the loyalists and the IRA.”

Apparently Jeremy Corbyn has been so widely criticised for refusing to condemn the IRA that people didn’t notice the bit where he specifically said that he condemned the IRA.

Hasn’t he done this before, though? Corbyn’s inability to say he that opposed anti-semitism without appending “and all other forms of racism” was widely – and, to my mind, rightly – criticised. These were weasel words, people argued: an attempt to deflect from a narrow subject where the hard left has often been in the wrong, to a broader one where it wasn’t.

Well, that pissed me off too: an inability to say simply “I oppose anti-semitism” made it look like he did not really think anti-semitism was that big a problem, an impression not relieved by, well, take your pick.

But no, to my mind, this....

“I condemn all the bombing by both the loyalists and the IRA.”

...is, despite its obvious structural similarities, not the same thing.

That’s because the “all other forms of racism thing” is an attempt to distract by bringing in something un-related. It implies that you can’t possibly be soft on anti-semitism if you were tough on Islamophobia or apartheid, and experience shows that simply isn’t true.

But loyalist bombing were not unrelated to IRA ones: they’re very related indeed. There really were atrocities committed on both sides of the Troubles, and while the fatalities were not numerically balanced, neither were they orders of magnitude apart.

As a result, specifically condemning both sides as Corbyn did seems like an entirely reasonable position to take. Far creepier, indeed, is to minimise one set of atrocities to score political points about something else entirely.

The point I’m making here isn’t really about Corbyn at all. Historically, his position on Northern Ireland has been pro-Republican, rather than pro-peace, and I’d be lying if I said I was entirely comfortable with that.

No, the point I’m making is about the media, and its bias against Labour. Whatever he may have said in the past, whatever may be written on his heart, yesterday morning Jeremy Corbyn condemned IRA bombings. This was the correct thing to do. His words were nonetheless reported as “Jeremy Corbyn refuses to condemn IRA”.

I mean, I don’t generally hold with blaming the mainstream media for politicians’ failures, but it’s a bit rum isn’t it?

Jonn Elledge edits the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric, and writes for the NS about subjects including politics, history and Daniel Hannan. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.

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