Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The Tories just aren't patrician enough (Guardian)

Self-conscious and lacking in confidence, the Conservative party has forgotten the redeeming virtues of the old aristocracy, writes Geoffrey Wheatcroft.

2. London has turned its back on the very people it needs most (Daily Telegraph)

A home-buying scheme to aid the 'squeezed middle’ is essential to protect the economy, argues Boris Johnson.

3. My 2020 vision for a Boris Johnson Cabinet (Times) (£)

David Cameron faces a tough party conference, but what does the longer-term future hold for the Conservatives, asks Tim Montgomerie.

4. Americans deserve a better choice than the one they've got (Guardian)

US electoral system funded by the wealthy will never distribute resources equitably, whether Barack Obama is in charge or not, says Gary Younge.

5. We are ending the something for nothing culture (Daily Mail)

It is possible to reduce the welfare budget by a further £10bn, say George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith.

6. Conservatives in Birmingham: a nasty case of the blues (Guardian)

Since a brave speech by Theresa May in 2002, the momentum of the Tory reform project has slipped badly, says a Guardian editorial.

7. Relentless austerity will only deepen Greek woes (Financial Times)

In the absence of a very big change in policy, we should expect Spain to go down the same tube, writes Wolfgang Munchau.

8. We can profit from EU chaos (Sun)

Brussels needs Britain to help save the whole structure, not just the single currency, from collapsing in ruins, writes Trevor Kavanagh.

9. Cameron must modernise, not appease the reactionaries (Independent)

David Cameron needs to remind people who he is – a compassionate and modern conservative, says Ian Birrell.

10. Parallels between apartheid and Argentina (Financial Times)

Argentina is heading, and not for the first time, over an economic cliff, writes Tony Leon.

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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.