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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Labour's establishment suspects a Momentum conspiracy - they're right

Bernie Sanders-style organisers are determined to rewire the party's machine.  

If you wanted to understand the basic dynamics of this year’s Labour leadership contest, Brighton and Hove District Labour Party is a good microcosm. On Saturday 9 July, a day before Angela Eagle was to announce her leadership bid, hundreds of members flooded into its AGM. Despite the room having a capacity of over 250, the meeting had to be held in three batches, with members forming an orderly queue. The result of the massive turnout was clear in political terms – pro-Corbyn candidates won every position on the local executive committee. 

Many in the room hailed the turnout and the result. But others claimed that some in the crowd had engaged in abuse and harassment.The national party decided that, rather than first investigate individuals, it would suspend Brighton and Hove. Add this to the national ban on local meetings and events during the leadership election, and it is easy to see why Labour seems to have an uneasy relationship with mass politics. To put it a less neutral way, the party machine is in a state of open warfare against Corbyn and his supporters.

Brighton and Hove illustrates how local activists have continued to organise – in an even more innovative and effective way than before. On Thursday 21 July, the week following the CLP’s suspension, the local Momentum group organised a mass meeting. More than 200 people showed up, with the mood defiant and pumped up.  Rather than listen to speeches, the room then became a road test for a new "campaign meetup", a more modestly titled version of the "barnstorms" used by the Bernie Sanders campaign. Activists broke up into small groups to discuss the strategy of the campaign and then even smaller groups to organise action on a very local level. By the end of the night, 20 phonebanking sessions had been planned at a branch level over the following week. 

In the past, organising inside the Labour Party was seen as a slightly cloak and dagger affair. When the Labour Party bureaucracy expelled leftwing activists in past decades, many on went further underground, organising in semi-secrecy. Now, Momentum is doing the exact opposite. 

The emphasis of the Corbyn campaign is on making its strategy, volunteer hubs and events listings as open and accessible as possible. Interactive maps will allow local activists to advertise hundreds of events, and then contact people in their area. When they gather to phonebank in they will be using a custom-built web app which will enable tens of thousands of callers to ring hundreds of thousands of numbers, from wherever they are.

As Momentum has learned to its cost, there is a trade-off between a campaign’s openness and its ability to stage manage events. But in the new politics of the Labour party, in which both the numbers of interested people and the capacity to connect with them directly are increasing exponentially, there is simply no contest. In order to win the next general election, Labour will have to master these tactics on a much bigger scale. The leadership election is the road test. 

Even many moderates seem to accept that the days of simply triangulating towards the centre and getting cozy with the Murdoch press are over. Labour needs to reach people and communities directly with an ambitious digital strategy and an army of self-organising activists. It is this kind of mass politics that delivered a "no" vote in Greece’s referendum on the terms of the Eurozone bailout last summer – defying pretty much the whole of the media, business and political establishment. 

The problem for Corbyn's challenger, Owen Smith, is that many of his backers have an open problem with this type of mass politics. Rather than investigate allegations of abuse, they have supported the suspension of CLPs. Rather than seeing the heightened emotions that come with mass mobilisations as side-effects which needs to be controlled, they have sought to joins unconnected acts of harassment, in order to smear Jeremy Corbyn. The MP Ben Bradshaw has even seemed to accuse Momentum of organising a conspiracy to physically attack Labour MPs.

The real conspiracy is much bigger than that. Hundreds of thousands of people are arriving, enthusiastic and determined, into the Labour party. These people, and their ability to convince the communities of which they are a part, threaten Britain’s political equilibrium, both the Conservatives and the Labour establishment. When the greatest hope for Labour becomes your greatest nightmare, you have good call to feel alarmed.