Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Leveson inquiry: in search of a smoking gun (Guardian)

Lord Justice Leveson could soon discover why David Cameron failed to give Andy Coulson full security vetting, says Ian Katz.

2. Too clever by half just isn’t clever enough (Times) (£)

Rachel Sylvester writes that the coalition is in danger of failing the "hang on a minute" test. Voters want common sense, not smart wheezes.

3. Ed’s got talent, but he has to win over the toughest crowd of all (Daily Telegraph)

The electorate needs more than a Labour love-in if it is to trust the party with power, says Mary Riddell.

4. Greece’s exit may become the euro’s envy (Financial Times)

History shows that there is life after financial crises, writes Arvind Subramanian.

5. Never take your foot off the reform pedal (Times) (£)

Filling the MoD black hole meant fighting inertia and a culture of resistance, says Liam Fox. It worked.

6. Moral decay? Family life's the best it's been for 1,000 years (Guardian)

George Monbiot says that Conservatives' concerns about marriage seem to be based on a past that is fabricated from their own anxieties and obsessions.

7. One bullseye cannot rescue Obama’s global record (Financial Times)

The US president’s real problem is that he has over-promised and under-delivered, says Gideon Rachman.

8. It’s bullying, Mitt. How can you not recall it? (Times) (£)

You’re a perpetrator, a victim or a bystander. Ben Macintyre says that the playground incident tells us much about the presidential hopeful.

9. Clegg and Cameron's cruellest day (Guardian)

From business to the disabled, Polly Toynbee says that Monday was special even for a cabinet whose dogmatic bungling is unrivalled in modern Britain.

10. What to expect from François Hollande (Financial Times)

The new French president has a clear three-point economic strategy, writes Philippe Aghion.



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Vince Cable will need something snappier than a graduate tax to escape tuition fees

Perhaps he's placing his hopes in the “Anti Brexit People’s Liberation Front.” 

“We took power, and we got crushed,” Tim Farron said in what would turn out to be his final Autumn conference as Liberal Democrat leader, before hastening on to talk about Brexit and the need for a strong opposition.

A year and a snap election later, Vince Cable, the Lib Dem warhorse-turned-leader and the former Coalition business secretary, had plenty of cracks about Brexit.

He called for a second referendum – or what he dubbed a “first referendum on the facts” – and joked that he was “half prepared for a spell in a cell with Supreme Court judges, Gina Miller, Ken Clarke, and the governors of the BBC” for suggesting it".

Lib Dems, he suggested, were the “political adults” in the room, while Labour sat on the fence. Unlike Farron, however, he did not rule out the idea of working with Jeremy Corbyn, and urged "grown ups" in other parties to put aside their differences. “Jeremy – join us in the Anti Brexit People’s Liberation Front,” he said. The Lib Dems had been right on Iraq, and would be proved right on Brexit, he added. 

But unlike Farron, Cable revisited his party’s time in power.

“In government, we did a lot of good and we stopped a lot of bad,” he told conference. “Don’t let the Tories tell you that they lifted millions of low-earners out of income tax. We did… But we have paid a very high political price.”

Cable paid the price himself, when he lost his Twickenham seat in 2015, and saw his former Coalition colleague Nick Clegg turfed out of student-heavy Sheffield Hallam. However much the Lib Dems might wish it away, the tuition fees debate is here to stay, aided by some canny Labour manoeuvring, and no amount of opposition to Brexit will hide it.

“There is an elephant in the room,” the newly re-established MP for Twickenham said in his speech. “Debt – specifically student debt.” He defended the policy (he chose to vote for it in 2010, rather than abstain) for making sure universities were properly funded, but added: “Just because the system operates like a tax, we cannot escape the fact it isn’t seen as one.” He is reviewing options for the future, including a graduate tax. But students are unlikely to be cheering for a graduate tax when Labour is pledging to scrap tuition fees altogether.

There lies Cable’s challenge. Farron may have stepped down a week after the election declaring himself “torn” between religion and party, but if he had stayed, he would have had to face the fact that voters were happier to nibble Labour’s Brexit fudge (with lashings of free tuition fees), than choose a party on pure Remain principles alone.

“We are not a single-issue party…we’re not Ukip in reverse,” Cable said. “I see our future as a party of government.” In which case, the onus is on him to come up with something more inspiring than a graduate tax.

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