Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. It's not the names that matter but the policies (Independent)

Only two reshuffles in 30 years have made a big difference to the fate of a government, writes Steve Richards.

2. Now Obama must build the case for government (Financial Times)

The president will have to avoid treading on the American dream, writes Gideon Rachman.

3. The cracks between the two Eds could swallow Labour’s hopes (Daily Telegraph)

Like Midas, the Labour leader appears to have it all – but he must show where the power lies, says Mary Riddell.

4. Free schools are a disaster (Guardian)

Michael Gove's flagship policy is a huge waste of money, socially divisive and won't raise educational standards, argues Francis Gilbert.

5. We deserve better than this yoni-centric claptrap (Independent)

Claims that the vagina is 'part of the female soul' are, frankly, insulting, says Laurie Penny.

6. These angry Tories can't see what 'no alternative' means (Guardian)

So blinded by dogma are they that the reality of the cuts to come has not yet hit home with Cameron's critics, writes Polly Toynbee. But it soon will.

7. The US economy may surprise us all (Financial Times)

Five factors suggest a coming surge in growth, writes Roger Altman.

8. Game changer? No, more an echo chamber (Times) (£)

David Cameron’s reshuffle today will be secateurs in the Rose Garden rather than a Night of the Long Knives, says Rachel Sylvester.

9. We must shift science out of the geek ghetto (Daily Telegraph)

Britain’s future rests on taking numbers seriously, says Liz Truss.

10. The Gentle Tory is alive and well – on television (Guardian)

Period dramas like Parade's End reveal a yearning for a conservative type that politics has left behind, says David Priestland.

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Grandpa was ill and wasn’t keen on climbing the volcano – but we forced him up all the same

I squinted. Apart from a gleam of turquoise, the view was of one big cloud. Slowly the words started to form in my head. Just. Like. Scotland.

At first, Grandpa was sceptical about the volcano. “I used to be into that kind of thing,” he said, “but not now.” He did not mention that he was 88.

The guidebook to Indonesia – which he disdained – described how, once you got to the crater, the mist would rise to reveal a shimmering lake. His fellow travellers, my sister and I, often joked about our family’s tendency to declare everything to be “just like Scotland”. This was a living, breathing volcano. It would be nothing like Scotland.

But as Grandpa reminisced about his childhood in the Dutch East Indies, he began to warm to the idea. We set off at 7am and drove past villages with muddled terracotta roofs and rice paddies spread across the valleys like glimmering tables. We talked excitedly about our adventure. Then it began to rain. “Perhaps it will blow over,” I said to my sister, as the view from the windows turned into smears.

Our driver stopped at a car park. With remarkable efficiency, he opened the doors for us and drove away. The rain was like gunfire.

To get to the crater, we had to climb into an open-sided minibus where we sat shivering in our wet summer clothes. Grandpa coughed. It was a nasty cough, which seemed to be getting worse; we had been trying to persuade him to go to a pharmacy for days. Instead, we had persuaded him up a cold and wet mountain.

Five minutes passed, and the minibus didn’t budge. Then another bedraggled family squeezed in. I thought of all the would-be volcano tourists curled up in their hotels.

“Look,” I said to the attendant. “My grandfather is not well. Can we please start?”

He shook his head. “Not till all seats are full.” We exchanged a glance with the other family and paid for the empty seats. The driver set off immediately.

The minibus charged up a road through the jungle, bouncing from puddle to puddle. Grandpa pulled out his iPhone and took a selfie.

The summit was even colder, wetter, rainier and more unpleasant. We paid a small fortune to borrow an umbrella and splashed towards the lake. My sister stopped by a fence.

“Where is it?” I said.

“I think . . . this is it,” she replied.

I squinted. Apart from a gleam of turquoise, the view was of one big cloud. Slowly the words started to form in my head. Just. Like. Scotland.

I thought remorsefully of the guidebook, how I’d put my sightseeing greed before my grandfather’s health. Then I noticed the sign: “Danger! Do not approach the sulphur if you have breathing problems.”

Grandpa, still coughing, was holding the umbrella. He beckoned me to join him. I didn’t know it then, but when we made it back to the car, he would be the first to warm up and spend the journey back telling us stories of surviving the war.

But at that moment, in the dreich rain, he gave me some advice I won’t forget.

“If anyone tells you to go and see a volcano,” he said, “you can tell them to fuck off.” 

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

This article first appeared in the 23 March 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump's permanent revolution