Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1. Suddenly, grumpy old Gordon Brown doesn't look such a lost cause (Daily Telegraph)

The PM is an unlikely trump card for his party, says Mary Riddell, looking at recent polls. There is no way that Labour could win the next election, but David Cameron should be wary.

2. Mock this campaign if you like, but how else can Blair be held to account? (Guardian)

George Monbiot defends his campaign to pay a bounty to anyone who arrests Tony Blair. He says that with the limits of power in Britain so ill-defined, the only way a reckoning for Iraq will ever come is through a citizen's arrest.

3. A misreading of Iran that risks a fatal replay of Iraq (Independent)

Mary Dejevsky takes issue with Tony Blair's take on Iran, and US action in the area, as there is no sign that Tehran harbours malign or expansionist intentions, or even that a nuclear Iran would pose a global threat.

4. Tories should be most afraid of their own fear (Times)

David Cameron is at his best when he is at his boldest, argues Rachel Sylvester. But as the election approaches, a dangerous timidity is taking over.

5. Leaderless Nigeria could spin out of control (Financial Times)

Louise Arbour and Ayo Obe discuss the mounting political crisis in Nigeria in the absence of President Umaru Yar'Adua.

6. Afflictions of liberty (Guardian)

Tristram Riley-Smith notes that the word "liberty" was absent from Barack Obama's first State of the Union address -- he may have grasped that the ideal of freedom Americans cling to so fiercely is fracturing their society.

7. The peculiar urge to sack the England captain (Times)

Is adultery sufficient reason for sacking John Terry, asks David Aaronovitch? We are blasé about adultery; perhaps Terry's real crime is betraying a team-mate.

8. The Tories have had it easy too long (Independent)

Steve Richards says that he cannot recall an opposition that has changed its approach to tax/spend so often, and welcomes a new period of intense scrutiny of Conservative policy.

9. Companies need to recruit the older woman (Financial Times)

Women are now more educated than men in every age group up to 45, so why are there so few of them in the boardroom? Michael Skapinker looks at gender discrimination, and says older women should be reintegrated into the corporate world once their children are grown.

10. Free care sounds nice, but why redistribute to the rich? (Guardian)

Polly Toynbee discusses the personal care at home bill, saying that in pursuit of a gripping headline, Brown has scuppered a fair, sensible and long-term plan for care of the elderly.

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When Donald Trump talks, remember that Donald Trump almost always lies

Anyone getting excited about a trade deal between the United States and the United Kingdom should pay more attention to what Trump does, not what he says. 

Celebrations all round at the Times, which has bagged the first British newspaper interview with President-Elect Donald Trump.

Here are the headlines: he’s said that the EU has become a “vehicle for Germany”, that Nato is “obsolete” as it hasn’t focused on the big issue of the time (tackling Islamic terrorism), and that he expects that other countries will join the United Kingdom in leaving the European Union.

But what will trigger celebrations outside of the News Building is that Trump has this to say about a US-UK trade deal: his administration will ““work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly”. Time for champagne at Downing Street?

When reading or listening to an interview with Donald Trump, don’t forget that this is the man who has lied about, among other things, who really paid for gifts to charity on Celebrity Apprentice, being named Michigan’s Man of the Year in 2011, and making Mexico pay for a border wall between it and the United States. So take everything he promises with an ocean’s worth of salt, and instead look at what he does.   

Remember that in the same interview, the President-Elect threatened to hit BMW with sanctions over its decision to put a factory in Mexico, not the United States. More importantly, look at the people he is appointing to fill key trade posts: they are not free traders or anything like it. Anyone waiting for a Trump-backed trade deal that is “good for the UK” will wait a long time.

And as chess champion turned Putin-critic-in-chief Garry Kasparov notes on Twitter, it’s worth noting that Trump’s remarks on foreign affairs are near-identical to Putin’s. The idea that Nato’s traditional purpose is obsolete and that the focus should be on Islamic terrorism, meanwhile, will come as a shock to the Baltic states, and indeed, to the 650 British soldiers who have been sent to Estonia and Poland as part of a Nato deployment to deter Russian aggression against those countries.

All in all, I wouldn’t start declaring the new President is good news for the UK just yet.

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