CommentPlus: pick of the papers

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

1. Any Lib-Con team can't last. But it would be fun to watch (Guardian)

The Spectator editor, Fraser Nelson, says that while Nick Clegg's principles are flexible enough for the Tories, an alliance would spell disaster and a new election within a year.

2. Nick Clegg the kingmaker (Daily Telegraph)

Clegg's denial that he could decide the outcome of the next election is disingenuous, says Andrew Gimson, discussing the Liberal Democrat leader's speech to conference in Birmingham yesterday.

3. Don't be sniffy about personality politics (Times)

William Rees-Mogg looks at the election campaign, saying that in an age of complicated technical issues, voters are wise to set great store by a party leader's character.

Read the CommentPlus summary.

4. A frugal policy is the better solution (Financial Times)

The Tory shadow chancellor, George Osborne, and Jeffrey Sachs respond to the economists Paul Krugman, Richard Layard and Robert Skidelsky, arguing that the recovery of the financial system depends on a credible plan to re-establish sound public finances.

Read the CommentPlus summary.

5. Black presidents and women MPs do not alone mean equality and justice (Guardian)

Representation is a start, and an important one, says Gary Younge, but equal opportunities should be pursued above the photo opportunities.

Read the CommentPlus summary.

6. A welcome attempt to bring clarity to the debate on rape (Independent)

The leading article praises Baroness Stern's report for highlighting the dangers of over-reliance on conviction rates.

7. Goodbye to the bishops (Guardian)

Polly Toynbee argues that the failure to reform the House of Lords was a missed opportunity for Labour. The Lords is for people of all faiths and none: there is no space for reserved benches for the clergy.

Read the CommentPlus summary.

8. We climate scientists are not ecofanatics (Times)

If the IPCC has a fault, writes Sir John Houghton, it is that its reports have been too cautious, not alarmist. Scientists have facts on their side and must not be afraid to deploy them.

9. This lunacy about Latin makes me want to weep with rage (Daily Telegraph)

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, mounts an impassioned defence of the teaching of Latin, saying that to abolish it in state schools is evidence of elitism on the part of the Schools Secretary, Ed Balls.

10. Obama has failed to bring peace to the Middle East (Independent)

When it comes to peace terms, most Israelis are wholly unrealistic, says Bruce Anderson; they want to yoke the Palestinians at the cost of national humiliation. Both sides want peace, and this is Israel's best hope for a danger-free future.

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Theresa May’s stage-managed election campaign keeps the public at bay

Jeremy Corbyn’s approach may be chaotic, but at least it’s more authentic.

The worst part about running an election campaign for a politician? Having to meet the general public. Those ordinary folk can be a tricky lot, with their lack of regard for being on-message, and their pesky real-life concerns.

But it looks like Theresa May has decided to avoid this inconvenience altogether during this snap general election campaign, as it turns out her visit to Leeds last night was so stage-managed that she barely had to face the public.

Accusations have been whizzing around online that at a campaign event at the Shine building in Leeds, the Prime Minister spoke to a room full of guests invited by the party, rather than local people or people who work in the building’s office space.

The Telegraph’s Chris Hope tweeted a picture of the room in which May was addressing her audience yesterday evening a little before 7pm. He pointed out that, being in Leeds, she was in “Labour territory”:

But a few locals who spied this picture online claimed that the audience did not look like who you’d expect to see congregated at Shine – a grade II-listed Victorian school that has been renovated into a community project housing office space and meeting rooms.

“Ask why she didn’t meet any of the people at the business who work in that beautiful building. Everyone there was an invite-only Tory,” tweeted Rik Kendell, a Leeds-based developer and designer who says he works in the Shine building. “She didn’t arrive until we’d all left for the day. Everyone in the building past 6pm was invite-only . . . They seemed to seek out the most clinical corner for their PR photos. Such a beautiful building to work in.”

Other tweeters also found the snapshot jarring:

Shine’s founders have pointed out that they didn’t host or invite Theresa May – rather the party hired out the space for a private event: “All visitors pay for meeting space in Shine and we do not seek out, bid for, or otherwise host any political parties,” wrote managing director Dawn O'Keefe. The guestlist was not down to Shine, but to the Tory party.

The audience consisted of journalists and around 150 Tory activists, according to the Guardian. This was instead of employees from the 16 offices housed in the building. I have asked the Conservative Party for clarification of who was in the audience and whether it was invite-only and am awaiting its response.

Jeremy Corbyn accused May of “hiding from the public”, and local Labour MP Richard Burgon commented that, “like a medieval monarch, she simply briefly relocated her travelling court of admirers to town and then moved on without so much as a nod to the people she considers to be her lowly subjects”.

But it doesn’t look like the Tories’ painstaking stage-management is a fool-proof plan. Having uniform audiences of the party faithful on the campaign trail seems to be confusing the Prime Minister somewhat. During a visit to a (rather sparsely populated) factory in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, yesterday, she appeared to forget where exactly on the campaign trail she was:

The management of Corbyn’s campaign has also resulted in gaffes – but for opposite reasons. A slightly more chaotic approach has led to him facing the wrong way, with his back to the cameras.

Corbyn’s blunder is born out of his instinct to address the crowd rather than the cameras – May’s problem is the other way round. Both, however, seem far more comfortable talking to the party faithful, even if they are venturing out of safe seat territory.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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