Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1. In the red corner: Labour's answer to Ashcroft (Times)

Labour's increasingly effective campaign in the marginals is being run by Unite's Charlie Whelan, reveals Rachel Sylvester. Gordon Brown's former spin doctor is in and out of No 10 and still has the ear of the Prime Minister.

2. Living proof of the Armenian genocide (Independent)

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who are opposed to the US Congress recognising the Turkish massacre of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide, should visit the Lebanese orphanage where up to 300 children are buried, writes Robert Fisk.

3. Venables proves vengeance doesn't work (Daily Telegraph)

Mary Riddell argues that the case of Jon Venables must not be used to dismiss rehabilitation as a worthless option.

4. Labour's cult of official secrecy is an insult to all of us (Daily Mail)

But elsewhere, Max Hastings argues that the government's refusal to disclose why Venables has been returned to prison reflects Labour's dangerous obsession with secrecy.

5. Japan edges from America towards China (Financial Times)

Tokyo faces an uncomfortable strategic choice as China's power continues to grow, says Gideon Rachman. It could either cultivate a much warmer relationship with Beijing or hug Washington even closer.

6. Iraq has moved forward. It's time we did too (Times)

The success of the Iraq election was a near-miracle, writes David Aaronovitch. But the anti-war movement is too consumed with hatred for Tony Blair to recognise the birth of an important new democracy.

7. Truly Brown is the great survivor (Independent)

Gordon Brown has not survived at the top of British politics for so long without having a few great strengths, writes Steve Richards. The Tories' wobble reflects an earlier complacency about the Prime Minister.

8. The trouble with trusting complex science (Guardian)

There is no simple solution to public disbelief in man-made climate change, says George Monbiot. The more clearly you spell the problem out, the more people turn away.

9. Cut science and the brain drain starts here (Times)

Meanwhile, Mark Henderson warns that Britain cannot afford to cut its science budget while its rivals boost theirs.

10. Greece's history is defined by foreign meddling (Financial Times)

The real constant in Greek history is the extraordinary degree of foreign interference, writes Mark Mazower. Europe must avoid looking like the latest great power trying to control the country's fate.

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In your 30s? You missed out on £26,000 and you're not even protesting

The 1980s kids seem resigned to their fate - for now. 

Imagine you’re in your thirties, and you’re renting in a shared house, on roughly the same pay you earned five years ago. Now imagine you have a friend, also in their thirties. This friend owns their own home, gets pay rises every year and has a more generous pension to beat. In fact, they are twice as rich as you. 

When you try to talk about how worried you are about your financial situation, the friend shrugs and says: “I was in that situation too.”

Un-friend, right? But this is, in fact, reality. A study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that Brits in their early thirties have a median wealth of £27,000. But ten years ago, a thirty something had £53,000. In other words, that unbearable friend is just someone exactly the same as you, who is now in their forties. 

Not only do Brits born in the early 1980s have half the wealth they would have had if they were born in the 1970s, but they are the first generation to be in this position since World War II.  According to the IFS study, each cohort has got progressively richer. But then, just as the 1980s kids were reaching adulthood, a couple of things happened at once.

House prices raced ahead of wages. Employers made pensions less generous. And, at the crucial point that the 1980s kids were finding their feet in the jobs market, the recession struck. The 1980s kids didn’t manage to buy homes in time to take advantage of low mortgage rates. Instead, they are stuck paying increasing amounts of rent. 

If the wealth distribution between someone in their 30s and someone in their 40s is stark, this is only the starting point in intergenerational inequality. The IFS expects pensioners’ incomes to race ahead of workers in the coming decade. 

So why, given this unprecedented reversal in fortunes, are Brits in their early thirties not marching in the streets? Why are they not burning tyres outside the Treasury while shouting: “Give us out £26k back?” 

The obvious fact that no one is going to be protesting their granny’s good fortune aside, it seems one reason for the 1980s kids’ resignation is they are still in denial. One thirty something wrote to The Staggers that the idea of being able to buy a house had become too abstract to worry about. Instead:

“You just try and get through this month and then worry about next month, which is probably self-defeating, but I think it's quite tough to get in the mindset that you're going to put something by so maybe in 10 years you can buy a shoebox a two-hour train ride from where you actually want to be.”

Another reflected that “people keep saying ‘something will turn up’”.

The Staggers turned to our resident thirty something, Yo Zushi, for his thoughts. He agreed with the IFS analysis that the recession mattered:

"We were spoiled by an artificially inflated balloon of cheap credit and growing up was something you did… later. Then the crash came in 2007-2008, and it became something we couldn’t afford to do. 

I would have got round to becoming comfortably off, I tell myself, had I been given another ten years of amoral capitalist boom to do so. Many of those who were born in the early 1970s drifted along, took a nap and woke up in possession of a house, all mod cons and a decent-paying job. But we slightly younger Gen X-ers followed in their slipstream and somehow fell off the edge. Oh well. "

Will the inertia of the1980s kids last? Perhaps – but Zushi sees in the support for Jeremy Corbyn, a swell of feeling at last. “Our lack of access to the life we were promised in our teens has woken many of us up to why things suck. That’s a good thing. 

“And now we have Corbyn to help sort it all out. That’s not meant sarcastically – I really think he’ll do it.”