Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Miliband's display of style and substance will worry the Tories (Independent)

Stunningly artful in positioning and projection, this speech by the Labour leader will resonate with many of the Liberal Democrats in government, says Steve Richards.

2. Not yet a Disraeli, but Miliband has taken a step closer to No 10 (Daily Telegraph)

The Labour Party conference has shown that leader Ed Miliband can talk human, writes Mary Riddell. Now can he win the bitter policy fights that lie ahead?

3. Ed Miliband's breathtaking bravura and a One Nation stroke of genius (Guardian)

This was the day Miliband took full command of his party and turned his private qualities at last into public strengths, writes Polly Toynbee.

4. Buy one political promise . . . get one free! (Times) (£)

We trust our supermarkets, writes Daniel Finkelstein. But a special offer like "Labour will make Britain one nation" turns us all into cynics.

5. Fluent, adroit... yet profoundly dishonest (Daily Mail)

Miliband's speech was markedly short on substance, but was adroitly crafted to strike chords with millions of disaffected voters, says a Daily Mail editorial.

6. Higher pay boosts economics and politics (Financial Times)

Policy to give the low-paid more money, rather than benefits, is worthy of debate, says John Kay.

7. Yes, Miliband demonstrated a new charisma. But he still needs to break from Tory austerity (Independent)

Miliband's promise to end free market experimentation in the NHS should be played on loop, writes Owen Jones.

8. British soldiers are dying in Afghanistan to win the war of Whitehall (Guardian)

Only one battle matters to the Ministry of Defence – the battle for resources, says Simon Jenkins. In this, the Taliban is not an enemy, but an ally.

9. Is unlimited growth a thing of the past? (Financial Times)

Today’s information age is full of sound and fury signifying little, writes Martin Wolf.

10. Is the coalition really giving us a freer society? (Daily Telegraph)

Smoking bans, CCTV, databanks... the crusade for liberty still has a long way to go, says Philip Johnston.

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Jeremy Corbyn's Labour conference speech shows how he's grown

The leader's confident address will have impressed even his fiercest foes. 

It is not just Jeremy Corbyn’s mandate that has been improved by his re-election. The Labour leader’s conference speech was, by some distance, the best he has delivered. He spoke with far greater confidence, clarity and energy than previously. From its self-deprecating opening onwards ("Virgin Trains assure me there are 800 empty seats") we saw a leader improved in almost every respect. 

Even Corbyn’s firecest foes will have found less to take issue with than they may have anticipated. He avoided picking a fight on Trident (unlike last year), delivered his most forceful condemnation of anti-Semitism (“an evil”) and, with the exception of the Iraq war, avoided attacks on New Labour’s record. The video which preceded his arrival, and highlighted achievements from the Blair-Brown years, was another olive branch. But deselection, which Corbyn again refused to denounce, will remain a running sore (MPs alleged that Hillsborough campaigner Sheila Coleman, who introduced Corbyn, is seeking to deselect Louise Ellman and backed the rival TUSC last May).

Corbyn is frequently charged with lacking policies. But his lengthy address contained several new ones: the removal of the cap on council borrowing (allowing an extra 60,000 houses to be built), a ban on arms sales to abusive regimes and an arts pupil premium in every primary school.

On policy, Corbyn frequently resembles Ed Miliband in his more radical moments, unrestrained by Ed Balls and other shadow cabinet members. He promised £500bn of infrastructure investment (spread over a decade with £150bn from the private sector), “a real living wage”, the renationalisation of the railways, rent controls and a ban on zero-hours contracts.

Labour’s greatest divisions are not over policy but rules, strategy and culture. Corbyn’s opponents will charge him with doing far too little to appeal to the unconverted - Conservative voters most of all. But he spoke with greater conviction than before of preparing for a general election (acknowledging that Labour faced an arithmetical “mountain”) and successfully delivered the attack lines he has often shunned.

“Even Theresa May gets it, that people want change,” he said. “That’s why she stood on the steps of Downing Street and talked about the inequalities and burning injustices in today’s Britain. She promised a country: ‘that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us’. But even if she manages to talk the talk, she can’t walk the walk. This isn’t a new government, it’s David Cameron’s government repackaged with progressive slogans but with a new harsh right-wing edge, taking the country backwards and dithering before the historic challenges of Brexit.”

After a second landslide victory, Corbyn is, for now, unassailable. Many MPs, having voted no confidence in him, will never serve on the frontbench. But an increasing number, recognising Corbyn’s immovability, speak once again of seeking to “make it work”. For all the ructions of this summer, Corbyn’s speech will have helped to persuade them that they can.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.