Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Ed Miliband has got answers, so stop asking the wrong questions (Guardian)

The leader's biggest task will be to tackle the despairing belief most British people have that nothing will ever really change, writes Jackie Ashley.

2. Tories still have a trump card: Ed Miliband (Financial Times)

Leader ratings are not always decisive but they matter, says Paul Goodman.

3. The PM can rise above the battle of the tiddlers (Times) (£)

Both Labour and the Tories are in trouble, writes Tim Montgomerie. Much will depend on staving off the Lib Dems and UKIP respectively.

4. Whatever happened to the Labour Party? (Independent)

The party must offer a coherent alternative that defends those it was founded to represent, says Owen Jones.

5. Obama will need more than luck (Financial Times)

If he returns to the White House, the president will face a daunting second term, writes Edward Luce.

6. Why Andrew Mitchell shouldn't be too confident (Daily Mail)

Cameron may have given the chief whip the kiss of death, writes Andrew Pierce.

7. Cardboard man is dead. Now let's redefine masculinity (Guardian)

A new book is right to highlight the identity crisis caused by economic change, writes John Harris. But where's the manifesto for a new man?

8. Unions have a gun to his head (Sun)

As long as union dinosaurs such as McCluskey call the tune, Labour is irrelevant, pointless and doomed, says Trevor Kavanagh.

9. How the public lost its appetite for breakfast telly (Independent)

It used to set the rhythm of the daily news cycle, writes Ian Burrell. But now lifestyles have changed, and with them the way we consume our media.

10. What China could learn from Romney and Obama (Guardian)

The rise and fall of Bo Xilai shows that the country's approach to leadership change is still lacking, says Jonathan Fenby.

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Beware, hard Brexiteers - Ruth Davidson is coming for you

The Scottish Conservative leader is well-positioned to fight. 

Wanted: Charismatic leader with working-class roots and a populist touch who can take on the Brexiteers, including some in the government, and do so convincingly.

Enter Ruth Davidson. 

While many Tory MPs quietly share her opposition to a hard Brexit, those who dare to be loud tend to be backbenchers like Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan. 

By contrast, the Scottish Conservative leader already has huge credibility for rebuilding her party north of the border. Her appearances in the last days of the EU referendum campaign made her a star in the south as well. And she has no qualms about making a joke at Boris Johnson’s expense

Speaking at the Institute of Directors on Monday, Davidson said Brexiteers like Nigel Farage should stop “needling” European leaders.

“I say to the Ukip politicians, when they chuckle and bray about the result in June, grow up,” she declared. “Let us show a bit more respect for these European neighbours and allies.”

Davidson is particularly concerned that Brexiteers underestimate the deeply emotional and political response of other EU nations. 

The negotiations will be 27 to 1, she pointed out: “I would suggest that macho, beer swilling, posturing at the golf club bar isn’t going to get us anywhere.”

At a time when free trade is increasingly a dirty word, Davidson is also striking in her defence of the single market. As a child, she recalls, every plate of food on the table was there because her father, a self-made businessman, had "made stuff and sold it abroad". 

She attacked the Daily Mail for its front cover branding the judges who ruled against the government’s bid to trigger Article 50 “enemies of the people”. 

When the headline was published, Theresa May and Cabinet ministers stressed the freedom of the press. By contrast, Davidson, a former journalist, said that to undermine “the guardians of our democracy” in this way was “an utter disgrace”. 

Davidson might have chosen Ukip and the Daily Mail to skewer, but her attacks could apply to certain Brexiteers in her party as well. 

When The Staggers enquired whether this included the Italy-baiting Foreign Secretary Johnson, she launched a somewhat muted defence.

Saying she was “surprised by the way Boris has taken to the job”, she added: “To be honest, when you have got such a big thing happening and when you have a team in place that has been doing the preparatory work, it doesn’t make sense to reshuffle the benches."

Nevertheless, despite her outsider role, the team matters to Davidson. Part of her electoral success in Scotland is down the way she has capitalised on the anti-independence feeling after the Scottish referendum. If the UK heads for a hard Brexit, she too will have to fend off accusations that her party is the party of division. 

Indeed, for all her jibes at the Brexiteers, Davidson has a serious message. Since the EU referendum, she is “beginning to see embryos of where Scotland has gone post-referendum”. And, she warned: “I do not think we want that division.”

 

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.