Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. On fracking and wind we are having the wrong debates (Guardian)

Discussion of climate change and the wider public interest has been jettisoned in the rush to lobby against alternatives, says Zoe Williams.

2. The heat is on. We need decisions on energy (Times) (£)

Britain must urgently replace its generating capacity, says John Cridland. But ministers are sitting on their hands.

3. The right-wing agitators out to get David Cameron (Daily Telegraph)

The Prime Minister is besieged by Conservative critics oblivious to the man on the street, says Peter Oborne.

4. It's no accident that the wheels have come off the government (Independent)

Steve Richards says that the problem is not that Cameron does too little but that his government does too much.

5. Argentina’s oil raid can only end badly (Financial Times)

John Gapper says that the seizure is extreme, badly timed and unlikely to address the country’s key complaint.

6. Does tax make us slaves or good citizens? (Times) (£)

Many want the freedom to spend more of their own money, says David Aaronovitch. But they still want the police if they are robbed.

7. Cheer for François Hollande in France. But he won't change Europe (Guardian)

If the Socialists win in France it will create a new pole of influence. But their options will be severely limited, says Martin Kettle.

8. France must set aside the spirit of Asterix (Financial Times)

Sovereigntist obsessions have resurfaced in the presidential race, writes Sylvie Goulard.

9. UK officials must come clean about rendition (Independent)

Abdel Hakim Belhaj's lawsuit could mean that light is finally cast on this still-murky subject, says this leading article.

10. Justice Delayed (Times) (£)

The European Court of Human Rights is too often a brake on justice. This leading article argues that it needs urgent reform if Britain is to respect it.

 

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Tom Watson rouses Labour's conference as he comes out fighting

The party's deputy leader exhilarated delegates with his paean to the Blair and Brown years. 

Tom Watson is down but not out. After Jeremy Corbyn's second landslide victory, and weeks of threats against his position, Labour's deputy leader could have played it safe. Instead, he came out fighting. 

With Corbyn seated directly behind him, he declared: "I don't know why we've been focusing on what was wrong with the Blair and Brown governments for the last six years. But trashing our record is not the way to enhance our brand. We won't win elections like that! And we need to win elections!" As Watson won a standing ovation from the hall and the platform, the Labour leader remained motionless. When a heckler interjected, Watson riposted: "Jeremy, I don't think she got the unity memo." Labour delegates, many of whom hail from the pre-Corbyn era, lapped it up.

Though he warned against another challenge to the leader ("we can't afford to keep doing this"), he offered a starkly different account of the party's past and its future. He reaffirmed Labour's commitment to Nato ("a socialist construct"), with Corbyn left isolated as the platform applauded. The only reference to the leader came when Watson recalled his recent PMQs victory over grammar schools. There were dissenting voices (Watson was heckled as he praised Sadiq Khan for winning an election: "Just like Jeremy Corbyn!"). But one would never have guessed that this was the party which had just re-elected Corbyn. 

There was much more to Watson's speech than this: a fine comic riff on "Saturday's result" (Ed Balls on Strictly), a spirited attack on Theresa May's "ducking and diving; humming and hahing" and a cerebral account of the automation revolution. But it was his paean to Labour history that roused the conference as no other speaker has. 

The party's deputy channelled the spirit of both Hugh Gaitskell ("fight, and fight, and fight again to save the party we love") and his mentor Gordon Brown (emulating his trademark rollcall of New Labour achivements). With his voice cracking, Watson recalled when "from the sunny uplands of increasing prosperity social democratic government started to feel normal to the people of Britain". For Labour, a party that has never been further from power in recent decades, that truly was another age. But for a brief moment, Watson's tubthumper allowed Corbyn's vanquished opponents to relive it. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.