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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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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