Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1. David Cameron's Tories are a one-man band that's playing out of tune (Daily Telegraph)

Simon Heffer doubts whether Cameron's shadow cabinet will stand up to the scrutiny of an election campaign.

2. The election of a lifetime: maybe not. But the stakes are too high to tune out (Guardian)

Jonathan Freedland argues that the election will be a far more ideological contest than most commentators suggest. Labour and the Tories have utterly different conceptions of the role of government.

3. Labour has no cure for its binge hangover (Times)

Alice Thomson says that the government's latest action plan will again fail to reverse the damage done by 24-hour drinking.

4. Naval nostalgia and edgy kit are no basis for sane defence (Guardian)

Simon Jenkins argues that the head of the army, Sir David Richards, is right to dismiss the navy and air force as strategically obsolete.

5. Objections I never heard in 2003 (Independent)

The Labour MP Denis MacShane says that many of those who now excoriate Tony Blair over Iraq nevertheless supported the invasion at the time.

6. Kraft's takeover leaves a bitter taste in the mouth (Daily Telegraph)

Tracy Corrigan predicts that investors in both companies -- and the British economy -- will lose out in the US food giant's takeover of Cadbury.

7. How smoking shines a light on pack loyalty (Times)

Daniel Finkelstein says that group identity is just as important as economic incentive to the way we behave.

8. Beijing has seen the future and knows it must be green (Guardian)

Isabel Hilton argues that while China is investing in clean technology, debate on climate change in the US remains stuck in the 1950s.

9. Muslims know a fatwa can support peace rather than terrorism (Independent)

Shahid Mursaleen says that the latest edict against terrorism proves that suicide bombing is unequivocally un-Islamic.

10. A simpler protest than Billy Bragg's wheeze: switch banks (Guardian)

John Harris suggests that opening a Co-operative account is a far better way of taking action against the banks than withholding your taxes.

 

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Benn vs McDonnell: how Brexit has exposed the fight over Labour's party machine

In the wake of Brexit, should Labour MPs listen more closely to voters, or their own party members?

Two Labour MPs on primetime TV. Two prominent politicians ruling themselves out of a Labour leadership contest. But that was as far as the similarity went.

Hilary Benn was speaking hours after he resigned - or was sacked - from the Shadow Cabinet. He described Jeremy Corbyn as a "good and decent man" but not a leader.

Framing his overnight removal as a matter of conscience, Benn told the BBC's Andrew Marr: "I no longer have confidence in him [Corbyn] and I think the right thing to do would be for him to take that decision."

In Benn's view, diehard leftie pin ups do not go down well in the real world, or on the ballot papers of middle England. 

But while Benn may be drawing on a New Labour truism, this in turn rests on the assumption that voters matter more than the party members when it comes to winning elections.

That assumption was contested moments later by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

Dismissive of the personal appeal of Shadow Cabinet ministers - "we can replace them" - McDonnell's message was that Labour under Corbyn had rejuvenated its electoral machine.

Pointing to success in by-elections and the London mayoral election, McDonnell warned would-be rebels: "Who is sovereign in our party? The people who are soverign are the party members. 

"I'm saying respect the party members. And in that way we can hold together and win the next election."

Indeed, nearly a year on from Corbyn's surprise election to the Labour leadership, it is worth remembering he captured nearly 60% of the 400,000 votes cast. Momentum, the grassroots organisation formed in the wake of his success, now has more than 50 branches around the country.

Come the next election, it will be these grassroots members who will knock on doors, hand out leaflets and perhaps even threaten to deselect MPs.

The question for wavering Labour MPs will be whether what they trust more - their own connection with voters, or this potentially unbiddable party machine.