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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What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

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