Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1. The Liberal Democrats are not for sale (Times)

The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, joins in the pre-election cacophony, hitting back at speculation to say that if there is a hung parliament there will be no under-the-counter deal with either big party.

2. And the first-round winner is . . . Clegg (Independent)

Meanwhile, at the Independent, Steve Richards says that, as the election fight opens, Clegg is finally being taken seriously by David Cameron and Gordon Brown.

3. Come off it, Dr Cameron (Guardian)

Productivity matters more than cutting bureaucracy, says John Appleby, discussing the Conservatives' NHS plans. And there's a problem with the changes the Tories have pledged: they've happened already.

4. America is losing the free world (Financial Times)

Gideon Rachman argues that developing democracies such as India and Brazil may be alienated by US foreign policy, and be more likely to line up with authoritarian powers such as China and Iran.

5. For Caesar and Cicero, read Ed Balls and Peter Mandelson (Times)

Rachel Sylvester discusses the power struggle between Ed Balls and Peter Mandelson on how best to approach Labour's election campaign, and the resulting incoherence.

6. David Cameron's lone-star strategy gives Gordon Brown a glimmer of hope (Daily Telegraph)

Yesterday's poster of David Cameron confirms the Tories' emphasis on a lone political hero, says Mary Riddell. But political times could be changing -- is this a risky strategy?

7. Help Yemen, not its government (Guardian)

Al-Qaeda is the least of Yemen's problems, says Brian Whitaker. The country needs aid, but propping up its ailing regime will only perpetuate the situation.

8. Profiling air passengers could make terrorist attacks easier (Independent)

Talal Rajab explains that Islam is not ethnically or geographically centred, and nor is terrorism. This, and the fact that many converts have been involved in terrorist plots, makes it impossible to profile people by religion accurately.

9. Refocus the regulatory debate on essentials (Financial Times)

Regulations and laws to stabilise the financial system must deal with the root causes of today's critical difficulties, says Nicholas Brady.

10. After this 60-year feeding frenzy, Earth itself has become disposable (Guardian)

George Monbiot discusses consumerism, saying that it has, as Huxley feared, changed all of us -- we'd rather hop to a brave new world than rein in our spending.

 

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Unite stewards urge members to back Owen Smith

In a letter to Unite members, the officials have called for a vote for the longshot candidate.

29 Unite officials have broken ranks and thrown their weight behind Owen Smith’s longshot bid for the Labour leadership in an open letter to their members.

The officials serve as stewards, conveners and negotiators in Britain’s aerospace and shipbuilding industries, and are believed in part to be driven by Jeremy Corbyn’s longstanding opposition to the nuclear deterrent and defence spending more generally.

In the letter to Unite members, who are believed to have been signed up in large numbers to vote in the Labour leadership race, the stewards highlight Smith’s support for extra funding in the NHS and his vision for an industrial strategy.

Corbyn was endorsed by Unite, Labour's largest affliated union and the largest trades union in the country, following votes by Unite's ruling executive committee and policy conference. 

Although few expect the intervention to have a decisive role in the Labour leadership, regarded as a formality for Corbyn, the opposition of Unite workers in these industries may prove significant in Len McCluskey’s bid to be re-elected as general secretary of Unite.

 

The full letter is below:

Britain needs a Labour Government to defend jobs, industry and skills and to promote strong trade unions. As convenors and shop stewards in the manufacturing, defence, aerospace and energy sectors we believe that Owen Smith is the best candidate to lead the Labour Party in opposition and in government.

Owen has made clear his support for the industries we work in. He has spelt out his vision for an industrial strategy which supports great British businesses: investing in infrastructure, research and development, skills and training. He has set out ways to back British industry with new procurement rules to protect jobs and contracts from being outsourced to the lowest bidder. He has demanded a seat at the table during the Brexit negotiations to defend trade union and workers’ rights. Defending manufacturing jobs threatened by Brexit must be at the forefront of the negotiations. He has called for the final deal to be put to the British people via a second referendum or at a general election.

But Owen has also talked about the issues which affect our families and our communities. Investing £60 billion extra over 5 years in the NHS funded through new taxes on the wealthiest. Building 300,000 new homes a year over 5 years, half of which should be social housing. Investing in Sure Start schemes by scrapping the charitable status of private schools. That’s why we are backing Owen.

The Labour Party is at a crossroads. We cannot ignore reality – we need to be radical but we also need to be credible – capable of winning the support of the British people. We need an effective Opposition and we need a Labour Government to put policies into practice that will defend our members’ and their families’ interests. That’s why we are backing Owen.

Steve Hibbert, Convenor Rolls Royce, Derby
Howard Turner, Senior Steward, Walter Frank & Sons Limited
Danny Coleman, Branch Secretary, GE Aviation, Wales
Karl Daly, Deputy Convenor, Rolls Royce, Derby
Nigel Stott, Convenor, BASSA, British Airways
John Brough, Works Convenor, Rolls Royce, Barnoldswick
John Bennett, Site Convenor, Babcock Marine, Devonport, Plymouth
Kevin Langford, Mechanical Convenor, Babcock, Devonport, Plymouth
John McAllister, Convenor, Vector Aerospace Helicopter Services
Garry Andrews, Works Convenor, Rolls Royce, Sunderland
Steve Froggatt, Deputy Convenor, Rolls Royce, Derby
Jim McGivern, Convenor, Rolls Royce, Derby
Alan Bird, Chairman & Senior Rep, Rolls Royce, Derby
Raymond Duguid, Convenor, Babcock, Rosyth
Steve Duke, Senior Staff Rep, Rolls Royce, Barnoldswick
Paul Welsh, Works Convenor, Brush Electrical Machines, Loughborough
Bob Holmes, Manual Convenor, BAE Systems, Warton, Lancs
Simon Hemmings, Staff Convenor, Rolls Royce, Derby
Mick Forbes, Works Convenor, GKN, Birmingham
Ian Bestwick, Chief Negotiator, Rolls Royce Submarines, Derby
Mark Barron, Senior Staff Rep, Pallion, Sunderland
Ian Hodgkison, Chief Negotiator, PCO, Rolls Royce
Joe O’Gorman, Convenor, BAE Systems, Maritime Services, Portsmouth
Azza Samms, Manual Workers Convenor, BAE Systems Submarines, Barrow
Dave Thompson, Staff Convenor, BAE Systems Submarines, Barrow
Tim Griffiths, Convenor, BAE Systems Submarines, Barrow
Paul Blake, Convenor, Princess Yachts, Plymouth
Steve Jones, Convenor, Rolls Royce, Bristol
Colin Gosling, Senior Rep, Siemens Traffic Solutions, Poole

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.