CommentPlus: pick of the papers

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

1. We came, we saw, but what did we really learn? (Times)

The third debate showed us that we can immerse ourselves in a warm soup of personality and trivia, says David Aaronovitch. But on the big issues, the leaders won't tell us what we don't want to hear.

2. TV debate: David Cameron faced the job interview of his life. He passed (Guardian)

The political stakes last night were huge -- David Cameron faced the most important job interview of his life. You may not want to know this, says Martin Kettle, but most viewers will judge that he passed.

3. Ultimately, a question of judgement (Independent)

The leading article advises British voters to think long and hard about which party leader on display last night would have the judgement deal with this economic crisis, citing the Conservatives' past poor judgement.

4. Cameron's plans risk a postcode lottery (Financial Times)

Cameron's plans to shrink the size of the state in specific areas contradicts the principle of whereby the distribution of public services is dependent not upon geography but upon need, writes Vernon Bogdanor.

5. Greece shows just why the Celts should be grilled on the BBC (Guardian)

Why should the Scots or Welsh cut jobs if London will pay, Simon Jenkins. Locking the SNP and Plaid Cymru out of the TV debates only feeds this accountability deficit.

6. Cameron is concealing his inner Bush (Independent)

Johann Hari debunks Cameron's claims to be a "compassionate Conservative", looking at four specific policies and finding a cocktail of market fundamentalism, Europhobia, and haranguing of the vulnerable

7. Europe's economy is the sick man of the world (Times)

The eurozone will have to boost economic growth, and, Bill Emmott warns, they must also accept the need to exclude Greece from the euro, at least until it is able to meet the single currency's rules.

8. The crisis will spread without a Plan B (Financial Times)

Nouriel Roubini and Arnab Das discuss the Greek sovereign debt crisis. It might not be too late to avoid a disorderly outcome, if the right steps are taken now.

9. Censorship is in the ascendant (Independent)

The reaction across the political spectrum to the South Park saga has added to its grim comedy, says Terence Blacker. As a culture, we increasingly prefer to play safe and to avoid trouble.

10. Borderline Politics (Times)

The leading article looks at Arizona's ugly new immigration law, which Obama has rightly criticised as deeply un-American.

 

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Want to send a positive Brexit message to Europe? Back Arsene Wenger for England manager

Boris Johnson could make a gesture of goodwill. 

It is hard not to feel some sympathy for Sam Allardyce, who coveted the England job for so many years, before losing it after playing just a single match. Yet Allardyce has only himself to blame and the Football Association were right to move quickly to end his tenure.

There are many candidates for the job. The experience of Alan Pardew and the potential of Eddie Howe make them strong contenders. The FA's reported interest in Ralf Rangner sent most of us scurrying to Google to find out who the little known Leipzig manager is. But the standout contender is Arsenal's French boss Arsene Wenger, 

Would England fans accept a foreign manager? The experience of Sven Goran-Eriksson suggests so, especially when the results are good. Nobody complained about having a Swede in charge the night that England won 5-1 in Munich, though Sven's sides never won the glittering prizes, the Swede proving perhaps too rigidly English in his commitment to the 4-4-2 formation.

Fabio Capello's brief stint was less successful. He never seemed happy in the English game, preferring to give interviews in Italian. That perhaps contributed to his abrupt departure, falling out with his FA bosses after he seemed unable to understand why allegations of racial abuse by the England captain had to be taken seriously by the governing body.

Arsene Wenger could not be more different. Almost unknown when he arrived to "Arsene Who?" headlines two decades ago, he became as much part of North London folklore as all-time great Arsenal and Spurs bosses, Herbert Chapman or Bill Nicholson, his own Invicibles once dominating the premier league without losing a game all season. There has been more frustration since the move from Highbury to the Emirates, but Wenger's track record means he ranks among the greatest managers of the last hundred years - and he could surely do a job for England.

Arsene is a European Anglophile. While the media debate whether or not the FA Cup has lost its place in our hearts, Wenger has no doubt that its magic still matters, which may be why his Arsenal sides have kept on winning it so often. Wenger manages a multinational team but England's football traditions have certainly got under his skin. The Arsenal boss has changed his mind about emulating the continental innovation of a winter break. "I would cry if you changed that", he has said, citing his love of Boxing Day football as part of the popular tradition of English football.

Obviously, the FA must make this decision on football grounds. It is an important one to get right. Fifty years of hurt still haven't stopped us dreaming, but losing to Iceland this summer while watching Wales march to the semi-finals certainly tested any lingering optimism. Wenger was as gutted as anybody. "This is my second country. I was absolutely on my knees when we lost to Iceland. I couldn't believe it" he said.

The man to turn things around must clearly be chosen on merit. But I wonder if our new Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - albeit more of a rugger man himself - might be tempted to quietly  suggest in the corridors of footballing power that the appointment could play an unlikely role in helping to get the mood music in place which would help to secure the best Brexit deal for Britain, and for Europe too.

Johnson does have one serious bit of unfinished business from the referendum campaign: to persuade his new boss Theresa May that the commitments made to European nationals in Britain must be honoured in full.  The government should speed up its response and put that guarantee in place. 

Nor should that commitment to 3m of our neighbours and friends be made grudgingly.

So Boris should also come out and back Arsene for the England job, as a very good symbolic way to show that we will continue to celebrate the Europeans here who contribute so much to our society.

British negotiators will be watching the twists and turns of the battle for the Elysee Palace, to see whether Alain Juppe, Nicolas Sarkozy end up as President. It is a reminder that other countries face domestic pressures over the negotiations to come too. So the political negotiations will be tough - but we should make sure our social and cultural relations with Europe remain warm.

More than half of Britons voted to leave the political structures of the European Union in June. Most voters on both sides of the referendum had little love of the Brussels institutions, or indeed any understanding of what they do.

But how can we ensure that our European neighbours and friends understand and hear that this was no rejection of them - and that so many of the ways that we engage with our fellow Europeans rom family ties to foreign holidays, the European contributions to making our society that bit better - the baguettes and cappuccinos, cultural links and sporting heroes remain as much loved as ever.

We will see that this weekend when nobody in the golf clubs will be asking who voted Remain and who voted Leave as we cheer on our European team - seven Brits playing in the twelve-strong side, alongside their Spanish, Belgian, German, Irish and Swedish team-mates.

And now another important opportunity to get that message across suddenly presents itself.

Wenger for England. What better post-Brexit commitment to a new Entente Cordiale could we possibly make?

Sunder Katwala is director of British Future and former general secretary of the Fabian Society.