Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1. The change we need now is a rougher, more radical Barack Obama (Guardian)

Jonathan Freedland says it would be disastrous for Obama to conclude he must rush to the centre to win back independent voters. Instead, he needs to make himself the leader of a radical movement again.

2. Irrespective of Chilcot, Blair will always remain a pariah (Independent)

Matthew Norman predicts that Tony Blair's appearance at the Chilcot inquiry will change little. He can never escape the verdict of the court of public opinion.

3. How political ideology found a new world (Financial Times)

Ideologies now play a larger role in US politics than in Europe, says John Kay. European parties seek office by emphasising their competence rather than their beliefs. By contrast, US politics is more aggressively, even destructively, partisan.

4. This recession was no accident, and we know who's to blame (Daily Telegraph)

Simon Heffer argues that the government cannot evade responsibility for the recession; it was the Treasury that gave banks access to huge amounts of cheap money. Worse, the Tories followed Labour and took growth for granted.

5. This time let's not waste growth (Independent)

Hamish McRae says that as growth returns we need to consider how to use it more wisely. Even during the boom, it was not clear that added wealth was making us happier.

6. Tories must talk about the next generation (Times)

Daniel Finkelstein discusses David Willetts's new book, The Pinch, and says it provides the Tories with something they have been missing -- a Conservative explanation of fairness.

7. France's attack on the veil is a huge blunder (Guardian)

Raphaël Liogier argues that France's attempt to ban the niqab and the burqa is a huge blunder. Women who wear the full veil are not against modernity.

8. Credit rating (Times)

A leader says that the memory of the recession is too recent for the government to seek electoral reward. No credible politician can claim that the downswing is an accident but the upswing is all his doing.

9. Volcker's axe is not enough to cut banks to size (Financial Times)

Martin Wolf argues that Paul Volcker's plan to tame the US financial sector is, in important respects, unworkable, undesirable and irrelevant to the task at hand.

10. Yemen's greatest enemy is sitting across its border (Independent)

Victoria Clark says that Yemen dreads becoming dependent on aid from Saudi Arabia.

 

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Tom Watson rouses Labour's conference as he comes out fighting

The party's deputy leader exhilarated delegates with his paean to the Blair and Brown years. 

Tom Watson is down but not out. After Jeremy Corbyn's second landslide victory, and weeks of threats against his position, Labour's deputy leader could have played it safe. Instead, he came out fighting. 

With Corbyn seated directly behind him, he declared: "I don't know why we've been focusing on what was wrong with the Blair and Brown governments for the last six years. But trashing our record is not the way to enhance our brand. We won't win elections like that! And we need to win elections!" As Watson won a standing ovation from the hall and the platform, the Labour leader remained motionless. When a heckler interjected, Watson riposted: "Jeremy, I don't think she got the unity memo." Labour delegates, many of whom hail from the pre-Corbyn era, lapped it up.

Though he warned against another challenge to the leader ("we can't afford to keep doing this"), he offered a starkly different account of the party's past and its future. He reaffirmed Labour's commitment to Nato ("a socialist construct"), with Corbyn left isolated as the platform applauded. The only reference to the leader came when Watson recalled his recent PMQs victory over grammar schools. There were dissenting voices (Watson was heckled as he praised Sadiq Khan for winning an election: "Just like Jeremy Corbyn!"). But one would never have guessed that this was the party which had just re-elected Corbyn. 

There was much more to Watson's speech than this: a fine comic riff on "Saturday's result" (Ed Balls on Strictly), a spirited attack on Theresa May's "ducking and diving; humming and hahing" and a cerebral account of the automation revolution. But it was his paean to Labour history that roused the conference as no other speaker has. 

The party's deputy channelled the spirit of both Hugh Gaitskell ("fight, and fight, and fight again to save the party we love") and his mentor Gordon Brown (emulating his trademark rollcall of New Labour achivements). With his voice cracking, Watson recalled when "from the sunny uplands of increasing prosperity social democratic government started to feel normal to the people of Britain". For Labour, a party that has never been further from power in recent decades, that truly was another age. But for a brief moment, Watson's tubthumper allowed Corbyn's vanquished opponents to relive it. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.