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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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.