CommentPlus: pick of the papers

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

1. Is it a party for middle-class rebels or lefties? (Times)

Daniel Finkelstein says that Nick Clegg has an historic dilemma to solve: whether to unite the left under its leadership, or stick resolutely to the centre, emphasising "newness".

2. A trauma in Britain's placid meadow of political concord (Guardian)

Simon Jenkins looks at the American reaction to Britain's election campaign. People are enjoying the sight of the UK discovering presidentialism, although nothing in the manifestos would turn a hair in an American election.

3. David Cameron's image-makers created the vacuum that Nick Clegg has filled (Daily Telegraph)

The Tories are suffering because they don't have enough solid policies, argues Simon Heffer. David Cameron has no convictions with which to challenge Clegg's novelty value.

4. Are we the next 'new' Europeans? (Independent)

Perhaps we have been too pessismistic about the extent of Euroscepticism among young Britons, Mary Dejevsky suggests. Having been stung by our country's 20-year flirtation with American ways, our social and economic attitudes may be turning towards Europe.

5. Knives out. It's the fatal flaw in Clegg's plan (Times)

Also looking at Britain's relationship with Europe, Anatole Kaletsky warns that the Liberal Democrats are committed to joining the euro. We need only look abroad to see that this would be catastrophic.

6. The challenge of halting the financial doomsday machine (Financial Times)

Tackling "too big to fail" is insufficient, says Martin Wolf. Halting the financial doomsday machine requires fundamental changes of policy towards, and structuring of, the financial system.

7. Cameron and the cities (Guardian)

An editorial explores the Conservative Party's drift into near-irrelevance in most of Britain's cities (excluding London). Nothing in Britain's electoral arithmetic is more striking.

8. Money spent on Trident can't go on troops (Times)

Four former senior military commanders -- Edwin Bramall, David Ramsbotham, Hugh Beach and Patrick Cordingley -- ask if our nuclear deterrent is value for money, in the face of worrying cuts to the defence budget.

9. How our leaders get to grips with a scare story (Financial Times)

John Kay looks at how governments respond to widely publicised dangers. The political incentives are either to downplay risks or exaggerate them, or to do each at different times.

10. Heaven: A fool's paradise (Independent)

Johann Hari wonders why the majority of Britons still believe in life after death. Heaven isn't a wonderful place filled with light -- it is a pernicious construct with a short and bloody history.

 

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Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader. Getty
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Can Jeremy Corbyn win the 2017 general election?

Does the Labour leader have a chance of becoming prime minister?

 

After less than two years as Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn is leading the party into a snap general election. This isn’t the first vote of national significance since his election, however, since he was in office during the 2016 EU referendum.

It’s also not his first serious challenge: after the Brexit vote, his MPs voted “no confidence” in him and Owen Smith challenged him for the leadership. Corbyn saw off that threat to his position convincingly, so can he pull out another electoral triumph and become prime minister?

Can Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister? The polls

Since May 2015, the Conservative Party has consistently led in the polls. The latest polls gives Labour ratings in the mid-20s, while the Conservatives are on the mid-40s – numbers which, if borne out at the polls, would give Labour its worst result since 1935.

But should we believe the general election polls? Glen O’Hara, professor of modern and contemporary history at Oxford Brookes University, points out that the polls have been wrong before, and could be overstating Labour’s collapse. However, a 20-point gap is far outside the margin of error. A Corbyn win would be an unprecedented upset.

Can Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister? Electoral record

At the 2016 local elections, Labour did not gain any councils and lost 18 seats and 4% of the vote. James Schneider, the co-founder of Momentum who is now Corbyn’s head of strategic communications, said this showed Labour was on the right trajectory, but it’s a disappointment for an opposition to make no gains. And at the Copeland by-election this February, Labour lost the seat to the Tories – the first government gain in a by-election since 1982.

Can  Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister? The verdict

Jeremy Corbyn’s path to power would be one of the greatest surprises in British politics. But unlikely doesn’t mean impossible. It would take some extraordinary events, but it could happen. Check out the latest odds to see how the markets rate his chances.

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