Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1. Michael Foot, the most misunderstood of men (Times)

Roy Hattersley says that Michael Foot was the most misunderstood politician of his lifetime. Cast as a fey Robespierre, he was in fact a kingly and humorous man.

2. Don't be afraid of a hung parliament (Guardian)

It is nonsense to suggest that a hung parliament would produce a weak government incapable of tackling the deficit, writes Timothy Garton Ash. Most of the largest fiscal consolidations have happened under coalition governments.

3. Foot symbolises a lost world (Independent)

Democratic politics may never see the likes of Michael Foot again, writes his biographer Kenneth O Morgan. An inspirational and civilising force, he symbolised a world we have lost.

4. Labour's Foot mythology has finally run out of time (Guardian)

Elsewhere, the Guardian's Seumas Milne argues that New Labour can no longer use Foot's leadership to claim that the party cannot be elected on a left-of-centre platform.

5. The BBC's retreat may yet turn into a rout (Times)

The looming BBC cuts will not end the political debate over the licence fee, writes David Elstein. A new government is likely to conclude that at least some of the £600m saved should be used to reduce it.

6. The Tories are on a rocky road towards their sunlit uplands (Daily Telegraph)

David Cameron may have asked us to "vote for change" but he has yet to persuade us that change is necessary, argues Benedict Brogan. He must do so, or risk seeing Brown persuade us to stick with the government.

7. In government America must trust (Financial Times)

Trust in government is most important when citizens are asked to make sacrifices for a brighter future, writes William Galston. Barack Obama must hope that trust increases as the economy returns to growth.

8. We have to learn from Japan's lost years (Daily Telegraph)

The behaviour of the pound this week was a reminder that the time for borrowing is over, and that the time to pay our debts has come, writes Edmund Conway.

9. Greece is right -- Britain and Europe are letting it down (Independent)

Greece and Europe need an EU-wide economic package that stays the gathering momentum for savage budget cuts, says Adrian Hamilton.

10. Cut the arts at your peril (Guardian)

Charlotte Higgins argues that the Tories are wrong to claim that US-style philanthropy can make up for slashed spending on the arts.

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Recess confidential: Labour's liquid party

Sniffing out the best stories from Westminster, including Showsec, soames, and Smith-side splits.

If you are celebrating in a brewery, don’t ask Labour to provide the drinks. Because of the party’s continuing failure to secure a security contractor for its Liverpool conference, it is still uncertain whether the gathering will take place at all. Since boycotting G4S, the usual supplier, over its links with Israeli prisons, Labour has struggled to find an alternative. Of the five firms approached, only one – Showsec – offered its services. But the company’s non-union-recognition policy is inhibiting an agreement. The GMB, the firm’s antagonist, has threatened to picket the conference if Showsec is awarded the contract. In lieu of a breakthrough, sources suggest two alternatives: the police (at a cost of £59.65 per constable per hour), or the suspension of the G4S boycott. “We’ll soon find out which the Corbynites dislike the least,” an MP jested. Another feared that the Tories’ attack lines will write themselves: “How can Labour be trusted with national security if it can’t organise its own?”

Farewell, then, to Respect. The left-wing party founded in 2004 and joined by George Galloway after his expulsion from Labour has officially deregistered itself.

“We support Corbyn’s Labour Party,” the former MP explained, urging his 522,000 Facebook followers to sign up. “The Labour Party does not belong to one man,” replied Jess Phillips MP, who also pointed out in the same tweet that Respect had “massively failed”. Galloway, who won 1.4 per cent of the vote in this year’s London mayoral election, insists that he is not seeking to return to Labour. But he would surely be welcomed by Jeremy Corbyn’s director of communications, Seumas Milne, whom he once described as his “closest friend”. “We have spoken almost daily for 30 years,” Galloway boasted.

After Young Labour’s national committee voted to endorse Corbyn, its members were aggrieved to learn that they would not be permitted to promote his candidacy unless Owen Smith was given equal treatment. The leader’s supporters curse more “dirty tricks” from the Smith-sympathetic party machine.

Word reaches your mole of a Smith-side split between the ex-shadow cabinet ministers Lisa Nandy and Lucy Powell. The former is said to be encouraging the challenger’s left-wing platform, while the latter believes that he should make a more centrist pitch. If, as expected, Smith is beaten by Corbyn, it’s not only the divisions between the leader and his opponents that will be worth watching.

Nicholas Soames, the Tory grandee, has been slimming down – so much so, that he was congratulated by Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, on his weight loss. “Soon I’ll be able to give you my old suits!” Soames told the similarly rotund Watson. 

Kevin Maguire is away

I'm a mole, innit.

This article first appeared in the 25 August 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Cameron: the legacy of a loser