Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Bombing Iran is the way to make sure it gets the bomb (Financial Times)

There has never been a better time for the US to properly test Tehran’s intentions by suggesting everything-on-the-table bilateral negotiations, writes Philip Stephens.

2. Jeremy Hunt's in-tray will wipe that smile off his face (Guardian)

His job is to schmooze the public into accepting NHS changes, but the turmoil he inherits will make that nearly impossible, says Polly Toynbee.

3. Eds won't split – they know there's too much at stake (Independent)

There will be no repeat of the Blair/Brown rivalry that still traumatises Labour, says Steve Richards.

4. Shale - the hidden treasure that could transform our economy (Daily Telegraph)

Cameron’s U-turn on the environment has the greens howling, but should delight voters, says Fraser Nelson.

5. Draghi’s plan is a bold one, but who will bite? (Times) (£)

Spain may look at the European Central Bank’s plans, look at Greece and say "no thank you", writes Stephen King.

6. Don't blame the countryside for our lack of housing (Guardian)

Britain is desperately inefficient in its land use, and there are still no measures to bring empty property back on the market, writes Simon Jenkins.

7. An extensions free-for-all? It’ll be war (Daily Telegraph)

The coalition’s looser planning rules will spark chaos in the nation’s back yards and won't get building going, writes Clive Aslet.

8. Castro v Rubio – fight for the Latino vote (Financial Times)

Hispanics could determine the election and will only become more vital, says Jacob Weisberg.

9. Flirting Labour party is bankrupt of ideas (Daily Mail)

There was no acknowledgement of the need to shrink the bloated state, says a Daily Mail editorial.

10. More can still be done to get Britain growing (Daily Telegraph)

The government's response is a pragmatic one, but it's only the beginning, says a Telegraph leader.

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn bids for the NHS to rescue Labour

Ahead of tomorrow's by-elections, Corbyn damned Theresa May for putting the service in a "state of emergency".

Whenever Labour leaders are in trouble, they seek political refuge in the NHS. Jeremy Corbyn, whose party faces potential defeat in tomorrow’s Copeland and Stoke by-elections, upheld this iron law today. In the case of the former, Labour has already warned that “babies will die” as a result of the downgrading of the hospital. It is crude but it may yet prove effective (it worked for No to AV, after all).

In the chamber, Corbyn assailed May for cutting the number of hospital beds, worsening waiting times, under-funding social care and abolishing nursing bursaries. The Labour leader rose to a crescendo, damning the Prime Minister for putting the service in a “a state of emergency”. But his scattergun attack was too unfocused to much trouble May.

The Prime Minister came armed with attack lines, brandishing a quote from former health secretary Andy Burnham on cutting hospital beds and reminding Corbyn that Labour promised to spend less on the NHS at the last election (only Nixon can go to China). May was able to boast that the Tories were providing “more money” for the service (this is not, of course, the same as “enough”). Just as Corbyn echoed his predecessors, so the Prime Minister sounded like David Cameron circa 2013, declaring that she would not “take lessons” from the party that presided over the Mid-Staffs scandal and warning that Labour would “borrow and bankrupt” the economy.

It was a dubious charge from the party that has racked up ever-higher debt but a reliably potent one. Labour, however, will be satisfied that May was more comfortable debating the economy or attacking the Brown government, than she was defending the state of the NHS. In Copeland and Stoke, where Corbyn’s party has held power since 1935 and 1950, Labour must hope that the electorate are as respectful of tradition as its leader.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.