Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Think again. In a few months it could be President Romney (Guardian)

Mitt Romney's lack of charm may not matter in this US election. America's economy needs this proven turnaround artist, argues Jonathan Freedland.

2. Take the bull by the horns. Leave the euro (Times) (£)

Spain is depressed, perhaps more spiritually than economically. But there is a way for Madrid to turn it around, says Matthew Parris.

3. London Metropolitan University is there to educate, not police (Guardian)

 

Since when did the survival of London Met, or any other university, depend on their ability to control the UK's borders, asks Nadine El-Enany.
 
 
Casting Mr Romney as Mister Moneybags is looking more like a mistake, writes Christopher Caldwell.
 
 
The Government's closure of so many Remploy factories is indefensible, argues Chris Bryant.
 
 
The world’s largest woman has been created in my backyard – and she shows how coal gave us room to enjoy leisure, says Matt Ridley.
 
 
New planning proposals have provoked an outcry from the public, Tory MPs and even some Cabinet ministers, argues Geoffrey Lean.
 
 
Those appointed at the bottom of the cycle tend to do well, writes John Gapper.
 
 
The gauche Nixon was elected. Twice. There’s no prohibitive reason Romney can’t do the same, says Rupert Cornwell.
 
 
Both British and US interests would be best served by a victory for Mitt Romney, writes Daniel Hannan.

 

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Ignored by the media, the Liberal Democrats are experiencing a revival

The crushed Liberals are doing particularly well in areas that voted Conservative in 2015 - and Remain in 2016. 

The Liberal Democrats had another good night last night, making big gains in by-elections. They won Adeyfield West, a seat they have never held in Dacorum, with a massive swing. They were up by close to the 20 points in the Derby seat of Allestree, beating Labour into second place. And they won a seat in the Cotswolds, which borders the vacant seat of Witney.

It’s worth noting that they also went backwards in a safe Labour ward in Blackpool and a safe Conservative seat in Northamptonshire.  But the overall pattern is clear, and it’s not merely confined to last night: the Liberal Democrats are enjoying a mini-revival, particularly in the south-east.

Of course, it doesn’t appear to be making itself felt in the Liberal Democrats’ poll share. “After Corbyn's election,” my colleague George tweeted recently, “Some predicted Lib Dems would rise like Lazarus. But poll ratings still stuck at 8 per cent.” Prior to the local elections, I was pessimistic that the so-called Liberal Democrat fightback could make itself felt at a national contest, when the party would have to fight on multiple fronts.

But the local elections – the first time since 1968 when every part of the mainland United Kingdom has had a vote on outside of a general election – proved that completely wrong. They  picked up 30 seats across England, though they had something of a nightmare in Stockport, and were reduced to just one seat in the Welsh Assembly. Their woes continued in Scotland, however, where they slipped to fifth place. They were even back to the third place had those votes been replicated on a national scale.

Polling has always been somewhat unkind to the Liberal Democrats outside of election campaigns, as the party has a low profile, particularly now it has just eight MPs. What appears to be happening at local by-elections and my expectation may be repeated at a general election is that when voters are presented with the option of a Liberal Democrat at the ballot box they find the idea surprisingly appealing.

Added to that, the Liberal Democrats’ happiest hunting grounds are clearly affluent, Conservative-leaning areas that voted for Remain in the referendum. All of which makes their hopes of a good second place in Witney – and a good night in the 2017 county councils – look rather less farfetched than you might expect. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.