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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Harriet Harman: “Theresa May is a woman, but she is no sister”

The former deputy leader of the Labour Party urged women to unite across the divided party.

The day-long women's conference is usually the friendliest place at Labour party conference. Not only does it have a creche and a very clear emphasis on accessibility, but everybody who attends starts from a place of fundamental agreement before the sessions have even begun. For that reason, it's often ignored by political hacks in search of a juicy splits story (especially since it takes place on Saturday, before the "real" conference action really gets underway). But with the party divided and the abuse of women on and off social media a big concern, there was a lot to say.

This year, kick off was delayed because of the announcement of Jeremy Corbyn's victory in the leadership election. The cheer for the renewed leader in the packed women's conference hall was far bigger than that in the main hall, although not everybody was clapping. After a sombre tribute to the murdered Labour MP and former chair of the Labour Women's Network Jo Cox, Harriet Harman took to the stage.

As a long-time campaigner for women's rights, veteran MP and former deputy leader of the Labour Party, Harman is always popular with women's conference - even if her position on the current leadership and her status as a former Blairite minister places her out of sync with some of the audience. Rather than merely introducing the first speaker as the agenda suggested, Harman took the opportunity to make a coded dig at Corbyn by doing a little opposition of her own.

"Theresa May is a woman, but she is no sister," she declared, going on to describe the way that May, as shadow spokesperson for women and equalities under William Hague, had been a "drag anchor" on Harman's own efforts to enact pro-women reforms while Labour were in government. The Thatcher comparison for May is ubiquitous already, but Harman made it specific, saying that like Thatcher, Theresa May is a woman prime minister who is no friend to women.

Harman then turned her attention to internal Labour party affairs, reassuring the assembled women that a divided party didn't have to mean that no advances could be made. She gestured towards the turmoil in Labour in the 1980s, saying that "no matter what positions women were taking elsewhere in the party, we worked together for progress". Her intervention chimes with the recent moves by high profile former frontbenchers like Chuka Umunna and Yvette Cooper to seek select committee positions, and Andy Burnham's campaign to become mayor of Greater Manchester.

Harman's message to women's conference was clear: the time for opposition to Corbyn is over now - we have to live with this leadership, but we can't let the equalities legacy of the Blair years be subsumed in the meantime. She ended by saying that "we have many leaders in the Labour party," pointing to Jess Phillips, the chair of the women's PLP, and Angela Rayner, shadow minister for education, women and equalities. Like Burnham, Cooper et al, Harman has clearly decided that Corbyn can't be unseated, so ways must be found to work around him.

Rayner followed Harman onto the stage. As one of Corbyn's shadow ministerial team, Rayner is far from in agreement with Harman on everything, and rather than speak about any specific policy aims, she addressed women's conference on the subject of her personal journey to the front bench. She described how her mother was "born on the largest council estate in Europe and was one of twelve children" and "never felt loved and didn’t know how to love, because hugs, cuddles and any signs of affection just wasn’t the norm". She went on to say "mum won't mind me saying this - to this day she cannot read and write". Her mother was in the audience, attending her first Labour conference.

As a former care worker who became a mother herself when she was just 16, Rayner is a rarity at the top of Labour politics. She told the Guardian in 2012 that she is used to being underestimated because of her youth, her gender and her northern accent: "I'm a pretty young woman, lots of red hair, and everyone expects me to be stupid when I walk into a meeting for the first time. I'm not stupid and most people know that now, but I still like to be underestimated because it gives me an edge. It gives me a bit of stealth."

The mass shadow cabinet resignations in June propelled Rayner to the top sooner than an MP only elected in 2015 might have expected, and she has yet to really prove her mettle on the grind of parliamentary opposition and policy detail. But if Labour is ever to win back the seats in the north where Ukip and Brexit are now strong, it's the likes of Rayner that will do it. As Harriet Harman herself shows, the women and equalities brief is a good place to start - for even in turbulent, divided times for Labour, women's conference is still a place where people can find common ground.

Caroline Crampton is assistant editor of the New Statesman.