Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Now it’s David Cameron’s turn to display his one-nation credentials (Daily Telegraph)

It’s a simple choice for the Tories: face defeat or rekindle the high hopes of two years ago, says Peter Oborne.

2. Miliband and Blair have more in common than those stuck in the past can allow (Guardian)

Like Eric Hobsbawn, Miliband and Blair recognise the Labour party has to transcend old failed labourism to win and govern, says Martin Kettle.

3. Innovation drives America’s reinvention (Financial Times)

From looking lost in telecoms and energy, the US has recovered and raced ahead of competition, writes John Gapper.

4. Savile’s time was different. We’ve grown up (Times) (£)

Today, rumours of sex with under-age girls bring instant investigation, writes David Aaronovitch. Forty years ago people looked the other way.

5. Maria Miller, the abortion limit and a case of ideology masquerading as science (Independent)

The minister should hold back on her lifestyle advice, says Mary Ann Sieghart.

6. Tweaking it all for the telly is infantilising our party conferences (Guardian)

The accent is on clarity, repetition and brevity; delegates are reduced to meat, writes Zoe Williams. There hardly seems room for politics.

7. Whitehall's West Coast railway disaster (Daily Telegraph)

Ministers and mandarins must work together to avoid repeating the West Coast rail franchise fiasco, says Sue Cameron.

8. David Cameron has lost his chance to redefine the Tories (Guardian)

He has abandoned the vision of one-nation conservatism that so inspired me, and retoxified his party, says Philip Blond.

9. One nation? Hypocritical Red Ed is the most divisive Labour leader for decades (Daily Mail)

Miliband attempts to conceal his own privileged background, while stoking up the politics of envy, says Stephen Glover.

10. Demographics ignite China’s factory riots (Financial Times)

The country can no longer rely on an endless stream of pliant migrant workers, says David Pilling.

Photo: André Spicer
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“It’s scary to do it again”: the five-year-old fined £150 for running a lemonade stand

Enforcement officers penalised a child selling home-made lemonade in the street. Her father tells the full story. 

It was a lively Saturday afternoon in east London’s Mile End. Groups of people streamed through residential streets on their way to a music festival in the local park; booming bass could be heard from the surrounding houses.

One five-year-old girl who lived in the area had an idea. She had been to her school’s summer fête recently and looked longingly at the stalls. She loved the idea of setting up her own stall, and today was a good day for it.

“She eventually came round to the idea of selling lemonade,” her father André Spicer tells me. So he and his daughter went to their local shop to buy some lemons. They mixed a few jugs of lemonade, the girl made a fetching A4 sign with some lemons drawn on it – 50p for a small cup, £1 for a large – and they carried a table from home to the end of their road. 

“People suddenly started coming up and buying stuff, pretty quickly, and they were very happy,” Spicer recalls. “People looked overjoyed at this cute little girl on the side of the road – community feel and all that sort of stuff.”

But the heart-warming scene was soon interrupted. After about half an hour of what Spicer describes as “brisk” trade – his daughter’s recipe secret was some mint and a little bit of cucumber, for a “bit of a British touch” – four enforcement officers came striding up to the stand.

Three were in uniform, and one was in plain clothes. One uniformed officer turned the camera on his vest on, and began reciting a legal script at the weeping five-year-old.

“You’re trading without a licence, pursuant to x, y, z act and blah dah dah dah, really going through a script,” Spicer tells me, saying they showed no compassion for his daughter. “This is my job, I’m doing it and that’s it, basically.”

The girl burst into tears the moment they arrived.

“Officials have some degree of intimidation. I’m a grown adult, so I wasn’t super intimidated, but I was a bit shocked,” says Spicer. “But my daughter was intimidated. She started crying straight away.”

As they continued to recite their legalese, her father picked her up to try to comfort her – but that didn’t stop the officers giving her stall a £150 fine and handing them a penalty notice. “TRADING WITHOUT LICENCE,” it screamed.


Picture: André Spicer

“She was crying and repeating, ‘I’ve done a bad thing’,” says Spicer. “As we walked home, I had to try and convince her that it wasn’t her, it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t her who had done something bad.”

She cried all the way home, and it wasn’t until she watched her favourite film, Brave, that she calmed down. It was then that Spicer suggested next time they would “do it all correctly”, get a permit, and set up another stand.

“No, I don’t want to, it’s a bit scary to do it again,” she replied. Her father hopes that “she’ll be able to get over it”, and that her enterprising spirit will return.

The Council has since apologised and cancelled the fine, and called on its officials to “show common sense and to use their powers sensibly”.

But Spicer felt “there’s a bigger principle here”, and wrote a piece for the Telegraph arguing that children in modern Britain are too restricted.

He would “absolutely” encourage his daughter to set up another stall, and “I’d encourage other people to go and do it as well. It’s a great way to spend a bit of time with the kids in the holidays, and they might learn something.”

A fitting reminder of the great life lesson: when life gives you a fixed penalty notice, make lemonade.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.