Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1. The only certainty about this plot: it will damage Labour (Independent)

Steve Richards argues that Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt have shown "colossal misjudgement" and have made Labour's task suddenly much harder than it already was.

2. A last opportunity (Times)

But a Times leader says that Labour MPs must finally have the courage to act and remove Gordon Brown -- or the electorate will do it for them.

3. Mandelson will save Brown until he can be properly sacrificed (Daily Telegraph)

Benedict Brogan argues that Peter Mandelson is saving Brown now in order to ensure that, come election day, both he his henchmen are destroyed. Mandelson's aim is to ensure the survival of New Labour centrism.

4. These protests should shame the west into a change of policy on Iran (Guardian)

Timothy Garton Ash calls on Europe to use its economic leverage in Iran to aid dissidents.

5. Google's open battle with Apple (Financial Times)

John Gapper says that Google's insistence on not doing "evil" obscures a simple fact: it fights for its own interests as hard as Apple does.

6. It's not the economy -- and voters aren't stupid (Times)

Anatole Kaletsky argues that voters are instinctively opposed to high state borrowing and will punish Labour for the deficit.

7. With US support, a brighter future beckons for the Kurds (Independent)

Gareth Stansfield says that the Kurds can make progress while their alignment with American interests lasts.

8. This warning shot against Gordon Brown matters, despite its probable failure (Times)

Peter Riddell says that history shows divided parties are always unpopular with the electorate.

9. A breakdown in our values (Guardian)

Klaus Schwab argues that extortionate bonuses are symbolic of business's eroded sense of duty.

10. Nagging your husband is not a crime (Daily Telegraph)

Ceri Radford says that a French bill banning "psychological violence" between couples will do little for those who really need help.


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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.