Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. It should've been clear deposing Gaddafi was the easy bit (Guardian)

The west has once again started a fire it cannot extinguish, says Simon Tisdall.

2. Not Ofqual? Not Gove? Is no one responsible for the exam fiasco? (Independent)

It’s not that ministers wield too much power over our education system – but rather that they don’t wield enough, says Steve Richards

3. Mere abuse won’t silence us on assisted dying (Times) (£)

The Health Minister ’s critics don’t have any evidence — only trumped-up platitudes, says Terry Pratchett.

4. Russia begins its slow pivot to Asia (Financial Times)

Moscow is looking to the east but has a lot of catching up to do, writes David Pilling.

5. The victims of a prejudice against my city (Independent)

Deep-seated prejudices about "wallowing" Scousers have kept the Hillsborough injustice in the dark for too long, writes Jane Merrick.

6. Infighting could scupper welfare reform (Daily Telegraph)

David Cameron needs to get a grip before the universal credit scheme fails, warns Sue Camer

7. A Burberry-style profits warning is nothing to envy (Guardian)

The rich think their luxury lifestyles are coveted, writes Zoe Williams. But that's not the feeling that immodest spending evinces these days.

8. The euro’s demise may be the final chapter of the ERM debacle (Daily Telegraph)

The drama of 1992 showed why Germany cannot lead Europe out of a monetary crisis, says Jeremy Warner.

9. Psychodrama hears Conservative voices (Financial Times)

Voters are doomed to endless performances in which rightwing MPs invoke the spirit of Thatcher, says Robert Shrimsley.

10. Boris Johnson is no laughing matter (Guardian)

The mayor of London did not deliver the Olympics but is sucking up the credit for them, writes Suzanne Moore.


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Geoffrey Howe dies, aged 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.