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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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.