Morning call: pick of the comment

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

1. The Greeks must be rueing the day they whacked the drachma (Daily Telegraph)

Boris Johnson says that Greece relinquished its independence when it joined the euro. When the EU steps in to help, we will see a further erosion of democracy.

2. Compared to Europe, the US can at least make a pretence of democracy (Guardian)

Gary Younge agrees that nation states have been superseded by greater forces. The people of Greece are now seeing the naked disregard for their will, as their leaders are dictated to on economic policy by unelected officials and foreign leaders.

3. The political constraints of the eurozone (Financial Times)

Over at the FT, Wolfgang Münchau is certain that Germany will show solidarity with eurozone members if they are subject to attack -- but not much more, due to past rulings by the German constitutional court.

4. A match made in heaven will end an unholy rift (Times)

Methodism's merger with Anglicanism is inevitable, says Roy Hattersley. It would have John Wesley's blessing: he sought reform, not schism.

5. Ms Tymoshenko's unwise move (Independent)

The leading article argues that Ukraine's prime minister and disappointed presidential run-off candidate, Yulia Tymoshenko, is wrong to challenge the result of the election in court.

6. Mandarins in the margins (Guardian)

The Chilcot inquiry has shown that the advice of worldly, well-educated Foreign Office diplomats is simply being ignored, says Peter Preston.

7. A new watchdog would guard us from debt (Times)

The economists Tim Besley and Andrew Scott argue that, with the Budget deficit soaring, an independent committee should test government credibility.

8. Gordon Brown deserves our sympathy, not our vote (Daily Telegraph)

Matthew d'Ancona discusses Gordon Brown's TV interview with Piers Morgan, concluding that the pain he expressed is real, but Brown makes for a rather desperate romantic.

9. A true apology to Aboriginal people means action as well (Guardian)

Australia's prime minister was right to say sorry, says Kate Grenville, but, two years on, little has changed for the better in indigenous communities.

10. We ignore the lessons of history at our peril (Times)

William Rees-Mogg criticises Sussex University's decision to shrink its history faculty, saying it is dangerous to use such a sacrifice as a bargaining tool over swingeing education cuts.

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Who will win in Manchester Gorton?

Will Labour lose in Manchester Gorton?

The death of Gerald Kaufman will trigger a by-election in his Manchester Gorton seat, which has been Labour-held since 1935.

Coming so soon after the disappointing results in Copeland – where the seat was lost to the Tories – and Stoke – where the party lost vote share – some overly excitable commentators are talking up the possibility of an upset in the Manchester seat.

But Gorton is very different to Stoke-on-Trent and to Copeland. The Labour lead is 56 points, compared to 16.5 points in Stoke-on-Trent and 6.5 points in Copeland. (As I’ve written before and will doubtless write again, it’s much more instructive to talk about vote share rather than vote numbers in British elections. Most of the country tends to vote in the same way even if they vote at different volumes.)

That 47 per cent of the seat's residents come from a non-white background and that the Labour party holds every council seat in the constituency only adds to the party's strong position here. 

But that doesn’t mean that there is no interest to be had in the contest at all. That the seat voted heavily to remain in the European Union – around 65 per cent according to Chris Hanretty’s estimates – will provide a glimmer of hope to the Liberal Democrats that they can finish a strong second, as they did consistently from 1992 to 2010, before slumping to fifth in 2015.

How they do in second place will inform how jittery Labour MPs with smaller majorities and a history of Liberal Democrat activity are about Labour’s embrace of Brexit.

They also have a narrow chance of becoming competitive should Labour’s selection turn acrimonious. The seat has been in special measures since 2004, which means the selection will be run by the party’s national executive committee, though several local candidates are tipped to run, with Afzal Khan,  a local MEP, and Julie Reid, a local councillor, both expected to run for the vacant seats.

It’s highly unlikely but if the selection occurs in a way that irritates the local party or provokes serious local in-fighting, you can just about see how the Liberal Democrats give everyone a surprise. But it’s about as likely as the United States men landing on Mars any time soon – plausible, but far-fetched. 

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