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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What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.