CommentPlus: pick of the papers

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

1. Drugs, royals and the lousy laws being rushed through

Johann Hari sets out two law changes that will harm Britain: illegalising mephedrone, which will drive the drug on to the black market, and exempting communications between Charles Windsor and goverment ministers from the Freedom of Information Act.

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2. Only drug dealers will benefit from this absurd ban on mephedrone (Guardian)

Simon Jenkins agrees that prohibition of mephedrone will only serve to drive supply underground, endanger users and make it tougher to wean addicts off harder drugs.

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3. Twelve good men no longer guarantee truth (Times)

As crime gets more sophisticated, sometimes the jury system will not be able to cope. Andy Hayman argues that it would be a good thing if trials by judge alone were more common.

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4. Honesty is the first casualty when there's an election to win (Daily Telegraph)

Jeff Randall bemoans how today's politicians are prepared to say almost anything but the truth. Substance is irrelevant; the goal is simply to nail a rival's "mistake".

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5. The battle for libel reform has only begun (Guardian)

Fresh from yesterday's ruling, Simon Singh writes in the Guardian. While he welcomes the ruling on his article, he calls for further libel reform: the law remains a huge hazard for journalists.

6. Get ready for Vince in No 11 (Independent)

There is a misconception that Nick Clegg will find it difficult to extract concessions from Gordon Brown in a hung parliament, says Sean O'Grady. In fact, a Lib-Lab coalition has the air of inevitability about it.

7. The profit motive has a place in the classroom (Times)

If businesses can help more children to learn, we should let them make money -- and hire and fire teachers, says Philip Collins.

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8. Cameron's big society is bound to become mean (Guardian)

Martin Kettle says that Blair is right to ask where the Tories are centred. Even Cameron's bold, warm vision of localism will of necessity be squeezed into something meaner because of the economic climate.

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9. Hamid Karzai is making some pretty unpleasant friends (Daily Telegraph)

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has an increasingly hostile attitude towards his western backers, writes Con Coughlin. His links to Iran and the Taliban are causing concern.

10. The Pope should reconsider his state visit to Britain (Independent)

The Pope may not be guilty of any crime, but regardless of this, he has failed in his role as pontiff. The leading article calls for him to reconsider his forthcoming visit to the UK. It is the wrong occassion, at the wrong time.

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“Brexit is based on racism”: Who is protesting outside the Supreme Court and what are they fighting for?

Movement for Justice is challenging the racist potential of Brexit, as the government appeals the High Court's Article 50 decision.

Protestors from the campaign group Movement for Justice are demonstrating outside the Supreme Court for the second day running. They are against the government triggering Article 50 without asking MPs, and are protesting against the Brexit vote in general. They plan to remain outside the Supreme Court for the duration of the case, as the government appeals the recent High Court ruling in favour of Parliament.

Their banners call to "STOP the scapgoating of immigrants", to "Build the movement against austerity & FOR equality", and to "Stop Brexit Fight Racism".

The group led Saturday’s march at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Detention Centre, where a crowd of over 2,000 people stood against the government’s immigration policy, and the management of the centre, which has long been under fire for claims of abuse against detainees.  

Movement for Justice, and its 50 campaigners, were in the company yesterday of people from all walks of pro and anti-Brexit life, including the hangers-on from former Ukip leader Nigel Farage’s postponed march on the Supreme Court.

Antonia Bright, one of the campaign’s lead figures, says: “It is in the interests of our fight for freedom of movement that the Supreme Court blocks May’s attempt to rush through an anti-immigrant deal.”

This sentiment is echoed by campaigners on both sides of the referendum, many of whom believe that Parliament should be involved.

Alongside refuting the royal prerogative, the group criticises the Brexit vote in general. Bright says:

“The bottom line is that Brexit represents an anti-immigrant movement. It is based on racism, so regardless of how people intended their vote, it will still be a decision that is an attack on immigration.”

A crucial concern for the group is that the terms of the agreement will set a precedent for anti-immigrant policies that will heighten aggression against ethnic communities.

This concern isn’t entirely unfounded. The National Police Chief’s Council recorded a 58 per cent spike in hate crimes in the week following the referendum. Over the course of the month, this averaged as a 41 per cent increase, compared with the same time the following year.

The subtext of Bright's statement is not only a dissatisfaction with the result of the EU referendum, but the process of the vote itself. It voices a concern heard many times since the vote that a referendum is far too simple a process for a desicion of such momentous consequences. She also draws on the gaping hole between people's voting intentions and the policy that is implemented.

This is particularly troubling when the competitive nature of multilateral bargaining allows the government to keep its cards close to its chest on critical issues such as freedom of movement and trade agreements. Bright insists that this, “is not a democratic process at all”.

“We want to positively say that there does need to be scrutiny and transparency, and an opening up of this question, not just a rushing through on the royal prerogative,” she adds. “There needs to be transparency in everything that is being negotiated and discussed in the public realm.”

For campaigners, the use of royal prerogative is a sinister symbol of the government deciding whatever it likes, without consulting Parliament or voters, during the future Brexit negotiations. A ruling in the Supreme Court in favour of a parliamentary vote would present a small but important reassurance against these fears.