Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1. Campbell may be a true believer, but Iraq has poisoned our faith in politics (Guardian)

The corrosive sense of powerlessness felt by the public today was born in the spin doctor's dossier, says Jonathan Freedland. We need a reckoning, although the gentle questioning at the Chilcot inquiry implies that we might not find it there.

2. I am haunted by the Dodgy Dossier (Times)

Ibrahim al-Marashi, whose PhD was lifted from the internet to justify the Iraq war, describes his experience and his regrets after Alastair Campbell's appearance at the Chilcot inquiry yesterday.

3. It will take more than Chilcot to nail Campbell (Independent)

Matthew Norman argues that Campbell was perfect as the warm-up man for Tony Blair, trotting out his lines with ease despite the odd show of nerves.

4. Campbell on the stand: fascinating signs that the inquiry wasn't buying it (Telegraph)

Andrew Gilligan (who branded the dossier "sexed-up") says that the Chilcot panel met the former Chief Persuader's evidence with noticeably more scepticism than it has shown towards any other witness.

5. The most brazen disdain for democracy in modern times (Guardian)

Bumper banker bonuses are back. And what is it, really, asks Simon Jenkins, if not grand-scale theft . . . from treasuries, customers and taxpayers?

6. Why Obama must take on Wall Street (Financial Times)

Robert Reich at the FT agrees that things must not continue as they are -- it has been more than a year since hell broke loose on Wall Street and, remarkably, almost nothing has been done to prevent all hell from breaking loose again.

7. The same old row. But with one big difference (Times)

This Labour split is not about style or strategy, but about spending cuts, says Daniel Finkelstein, looking back at past public battles on the subject. And this time Gordon Brown is on the wrong side.

8. Enjoy the cheap money while it lasts (Indepedent)

Hamish McRae explores the troubling possibility that rising interest rates will choke off the recovery.

9. Welcome judgment on stop-and-search (Guardian)

Henry Porter says that the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights against the use of Section 44 stop-and-search powers is hugely important for civil liberties in the UK.

10. Google's drive to put books online needs a wider debate (Financial Times)

The underlying issues of intellectual property and how copyright should be interpreted in a technological context are too important for the current US court case, which focuses narrowly on competing economic interests, says John Kay.

Follow the New Statesman team on Twitter.

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Four times Owen Smith has made sexist comments

The Labour MP for Pontypridd and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership rival has been accused of misogynist remarks. Again.

2016

Wanting to “smash” Theresa May “back on her heels”

During a speech at a campaign event, Owen Smith blithely deployed some aggressive imagery about attacking the new Prime Minister. In doing so, he included the tired sexist trope beloved of the right wing press about Theresa May’s shoes – her “kitten heels” have long been a fascination of certain tabloids:

“I’ll be honest with you, it pained me that we didn’t have the strength and the power and the vitality to smash her back on her heels and argue that these our values, these are our people, this is our language that they are seeking to steal.”

When called out on his comments by Sky’s Sophy Ridge, Smith doubled down:

“They love a bit of rhetoric, don’t they? We need a bit more robust rhetoric in our politics, I’m very much in favour of that. You’ll be getting that from me, and I absolutely stand by those comments. It’s rhetoric, of course. I don’t literally want to smash Theresa May back, just to be clear. I’m not advocating violence in any way, shape or form.”

Your mole dug around to see whether this is a common phrase, but all it could find was “set back on one’s heels”, which simply means to be shocked by something. Nothing to do with “smashing”, and anyway, Smith, or somebody on his team, should be aware that invoking May’s “heels” is lazy sexism at best, and calling on your party to “smash” a woman (particularly when you’ve been in trouble for comments about violence against women before – see below) is more than casual misogyny.

Arguing that misogyny in Labour didn’t exist before Jeremy Corbyn

Smith recently told BBC News that the party’s nastier side only appeared nine months ago:

“I think Jeremy should take a little more responsibility for what’s going on in the Labour party. After all, we didn’t have this sort of abuse and intolerance, misogyny, antisemitism in the Labour party before Jeremy Corbyn became the leader.”

Luckily for Smith, he had never experienced misogyny in his party until the moment it became politically useful to him… Or perhaps, not being the prime target, he simply wasn’t paying enough attention before then?

2015

Telling Leanne Wood she was only invited on TV because of her “gender”

Before a general election TV debate for ITV Wales last year, Smith was caught on camera telling the Plaid Cymru leader that she only appeared on Question Time because she is a woman:

Wood: “Have you ever done Question Time, Owen?”

Smith: “Nope, they keep putting you on instead.”

Wood: “I think with party balance there’d be other people they’d be putting on instead of you, wouldn’t they, rather than me?”

Smith: “I think it helps. I think your gender helps as well.”

Wood: “Yeah.”

2010

Comparing the Lib Dems’ experience of coalition to domestic violence

In a tasteless analogy, Smith wrote this for WalesHome in the first year of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition:

“The Lib Dem dowry of a maybe-referendum on AV [the alternative vote system] will seem neither adequate reward nor sufficient defence when the Tories confess their taste for domestic violence on our schools, hospitals and welfare provision.

“Surely, the Liberals will file for divorce as soon as the bruises start to show through the make-up?”

But never fear! He did eventually issue a non-apology for his offensive comments, with the classic use of “if”:

“I apologise if anyone has been offended by the metaphorical reference in this article, which I will now be editing. The reference was in a phrase describing today's Tory and Liberal cuts to domestic spending on schools and welfare as metaphorical ‘domestic violence’.”

***

A one-off sexist gaffe is bad enough in a wannabe future Labour leader. But your mole sniffs a worrying pattern in this list that suggests Smith doesn’t have a huge amount of respect for women, when it comes to political rhetoric at least. And it won’t do him any electoral favours either – it makes his condemnation of Corbynite nastiness ring rather hollow.

I'm a mole, innit.