Morning Call: pick of the comment:

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

1. There's real hope from Haiti and it's not what you expect (Independent)

Johann Hari writes that the good news from Haiti is that the IMF backed down and agreed to work to cancel the country's entire debt. This is the first sign that exposing and opposing the body's agenda works.

2. Between the bomb and the barricades (Financial Times)

It's a relief that Iran's uranium centrifuges keep breaking down, says Philip Stephens. No one in the west knows how to punish Iran for its nuclear programme without playing into the hands of the regime.

3. My heart refuses to race to this cross-Channel love-in (Guardian)

Martin Kettle argues that while logic supports an Anglo-French defence partnership, a combination of cultural mistrust and divergent national interests means it isn't going to happen.

4. 1997 revisited (Economist)

The Economist's Bagehot writes that Gordon Brown's deathbed conversion to electoral reform reflects his nostalgia for 1997. It is an attempt to turn back the clock -- to a time when Labour seemed capable of being a force for change

5. The smell from Westminster hasn't gone away (Times)

Martin Bell writes that although most of the worst offenders of the expenses scandal will be gone after the next election, it is vital that voters watch the class of 2010 with an eagle eye.

6. The public sector could save the economy -- if only politicians let it (Daily Telegraph)

Andrew Haldenby claims that public-sector managers know that spending can be cut by 20 per cent without harming actual services; it's just the government that is holding them back.

7. The market has failed over bankers' pay (Times)

The City minister, Paul Myners, argues that it's time for fund managers to come out of the shadows. They have invited public scrutiny of their failures.

8. Scientists, you are fallible. Get off the pedestal and join the common herd (Guardian)

Simon Jenkins says that climate scientists need to rediscover the virtue of self-criticism -- or others will continue to question their evidence.

9. Stench that will linger long after stables are swept (Independent)

Andrew Grice predicts that the expenses scandal will play a prominent role at the general election, not least because candidates are bound to milk it at local level.

10. Britain has been hit harder than you think (Financial Times)

Samuel Brittan argues that anyone who bases their vote on the latest GDP figures should be disenfranchised. These initial estimates are not exact enough even to say where in a range of plus or minus 1 per cent the change occurred.

 

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Meet Anne Marie Waters - the Ukip politician too extreme for Nigel Farage

In January 2016, Waters launched Pegida UK with former EDL frontman Steven Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson). 

There are few people in British political life who can be attacked from the left by Nigel Farage. Yet that is where Anne Marie Waters has found herself. And by the end of September she could well be the new leader of Ukip, a party almost synonymous with its beer-swilling, chain-smoking former leader.

Waters’s political journey is a curious one. She started out on the political left, but like Oswald Mosley before her, has since veered dramatically to the right. That, however, is where the similarities end. Waters is Irish, agnostic, a lesbian and a self-proclaimed feminist.

But it is her politics – rather than who she is – that have caused a stir among Ukip’s old guard. Former leader Paul Nuttall has said that her views make him “uncomfortable” while Farage has claimed Ukip is “finished” if, under her leadership, it becomes an anti-Islam party.

In her rhetoric, Waters echoes groups such as the English Defence League (EDL) and Britain First. She has called Islam “evil” and her leadership manifesto claims that the religion has turned Britain into a “fearful and censorious society”. Waters wants the banning of the burqa, the closure of all sharia councils and a temporary freeze on all immigration.

She started life in Dublin before moving to Germany in her teens to work as an au pair. Waters also lived in the Netherlands before returning to Britain to study journalism at Nottingham Trent University, graduating in 2003. She subsequently gained a second degree in law. It was then, she says, that she first learnt about Islam, which she claims treats women “like absolute dirt”. Now 39, Waters is a full-time campaigner who lives in Essex with her two dogs and her partner who is an accountant.

Waters’s first spell of serious activism was with the campaign group One Law for All, a secularist organisation fronted by the Iranian feminist and human rights activist Maryam Namazie. Waters resigned in November 2013 after four years with the organisation. According to Namazie, Waters left due to political disagreements over whether the group should collaborate with members of far-right groups.

In April 2014, Waters founded Sharia Watch UK and, in January 2016, she launched Pegida UK with former EDL frontman Steven Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson). The group was established as a British chapter of the German-based organisation and was set up to counter what it called the “Islamisation of our countries”. By the summer of 2016, it had petered out.

Waters twice stood unsuccessfully to become a Labour parliamentary candidate. Today, she says she could not back Labour due to its “betrayal of women” and “betrayal of the country” over Islam. After joining Ukip in 2014, she first ran for political office in the Lambeth council election, where she finished in ninth place. At the 2015 general election, Waters stood as the party’s candidate in Lewisham East, finishing third with 9.1 per cent of the vote. She was chosen to stand again in the 2016 London Assembly elections but was deselected after her role in Pegida UK became public. Waters was also prevented from standing in Lewisham East at the 2017 general election after Ukip’s then-leader Nuttall publicly intervened.

The current favourite of the 11 candidates standing to succeed Nuttall is deputy leader Peter Whittle, with Waters in second. Some had hoped the party’s top brass would ban her from standing but last week its national executive approved her campaign.

Due to an expected low turnout, the leadership contest is unpredictable. Last November, Nuttall was elected with just 9,622 votes. More than 1,000 new members reportedly joined Ukip in a two-week period earlier this year, prompting fears of far-right entryism.

Mike Hookem MEP has resigned as Ukip’s deputy whip over Waters’ candidacy, saying he would not “turn a blind eye” to extremism. By contrast, chief whip, MEP Stuart Agnew, is a supporter and has likened her to Joan of Arc. Waters is also working closely on her campaign with Jack Buckby, a former BNP activist and one of the few candidates to run against Labour in the by-election for Jo Cox’s former seat of Batley and Spen. Robinson is another backer.

Peculiarly for someone running to be the leader of a party, Waters does not appear to relish public attention. “I’m not a limelight person,” she recently told the Times. “I don’t like being phoned all the time.”

The journalist Jamie Bartlett, who was invited to the initial launch of Pegida UK in Luton in 2015, said of Waters: “She failed to remember the date of the demo. Her head lolled, her words were slurred, and she appeared to almost fall asleep while Tommy [Robinson] was speaking. After 10 minutes it all ground to an uneasy halt.”

In an age when authenticity is everything, it would be a mistake to underestimate yet another unconventional politician. But perhaps British Muslims shouldn’t panic about Anne Marie Waters just yet.

James Bloodworth is editor of Left Foot Forward

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear