CommentPlus: pick of the papers

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

1. Wanted: Labour leader to win future election (Times)

Take it from a man who has stood and lost, says Roy Hattersley: the party no longer loves a loser. It wants a reasonable radical.

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2. A progressive movement can still make history (Guardian)

Neal Lawson says that it is a dull race for leader of a Labour Party that has lost its purpose -- but it's up to us all to change that. The starting point is a process of truth and reconciliation.

3. Fear of the markets must not blind us to deflation's dangers (FT)

Martin Wolf questions the consensus that fiscal tightening is the way forward. What makes these policymakers sure that business and consumers will spend in response to austerity?

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4. We're running out of time to put things right (Independent)

Hamish McRae warns that there is an overwhelming probability of a double dip -- a faster-than-expected return towards balanced budgets is likely in the short term to depress demand.

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5. A dishonest campaign has given us a cynical government (Daily Telegraph)

David Cameron's claim that the finances are worse than expected continues the dishonesty of his campaign, says Simon Heffer: it was what the PR men call "expectation management". It is cynical to ask the public to fill in the blanks on cuts.

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6. Dear PM, you asked for some cost-cutting tips (Times)

Anatole Kaletsky suggests the Prime Minister should stop massaging public opinion and get on with governing. When he does, a few candidates for culling are Trident, quangos, child benefits for the rich and indiscriminate handouts.

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7. My once-in-a-generation cut? The armed forces. All of them (Guardian)

We are safer than at any time since the Norman conquest, yet £45bn is spent defending Britain against fantasy enemies. Simon Jenkins argues that we have no need for the army, the navy and the air force.

8. Is that the sound of donkeys in Whitehall? (Times)

Anthony Lloyd discusses the findings of a Times investigation. The accusation is grave: a "yes minister" culture among the generals led to failure in Helmand.

9. "No Drama, Obama" style of leadership is no match for this crisis (Independent)

Emotional words, and the gratification they bring, are not Barack Obama's preferred way, says Rupert Cornwell. However hard he tries to display public fury over BP, it shows.

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10. The brutal crackdowns only make Iran's women stronger (Guardian)

The protest movement is now a year old, says Shirin Ebadi, but the feminists at its helm can look back on decades of courageous activism.

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Why Labour's rise could threaten Nicola Sturgeon's independence dream

As the First Minister shelves plans for a second vote, does she join the list of politicians who bet on an anti-Brexit dividend that failed to materialise?

The nights are getting longer, and so are generations. The independence referendum sequel will happen after, not before the Brexit process is complete, Nicola Sturgeon announced yesterday.

It means that Scottish Remainers will not have the opportunity to seamlessly move from being part of a United Kingdom in the European Union to an independent Scotland in the European Union. Because of the ongoing drama surrounding Theresa May, we've lost sight of what a bad night the SNP had on 8 June. Not just because they lost 21 of the 56 seats they were defending, including that of their leader in Westminster, Angus Robertson, and their former leader, Alex Salmond. They also have no truly safe seats left – having gone from the average SNP MP sitting on a majority of more than 10,000 to an average of just 2,521.

As Sturgeon conceded in her statement, there is an element of referendum fatigue in Scotland, which contributed to the loss. Does she now join the list of politicians – Tim Farron being one, and Owen Smith the other – who bet on an anti-Brexit dividend that failed to materialise?

I'm not so sure. Of all the shocks on election night, what happened to the SNP was in many ways the least surprising and most long-advertised. We knew from the 2016 Holyrood elections – before the SNP had committed to a referendum by March 2019 – that No voters were getting better at voting tactically to defeat the SNP, which was helping all the Unionist parties outperform their vote share. We saw that in the local elections earlier this year, too. We knew, too, that the biggest beneficiaries of that shift were the Scottish Conservatives.

So in many ways, what happened at the election was part of a bigger trend that Sturgeon was betting on a wave of anger at the Brexit vote. If we get a bad Brexit deal, or worse, no deal at all, then it may turn out that Sturgeon's problem was simply that this election came a little too early.

The bigger problem for the Yes side isn't what happened to the SNP's MPs – they can undo that with a strong showing at the Holyrood elections in 2021 or at Westminster in 2022. The big problem is what happened to the Labour Party across the United Kingdom.

One of Better Together's big advantages in 2014 is that, regardless of whether you voted for the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats or the Labour Party, if you believed the polls, you had a pretty reasonable expectation that your type of politics would be represented in the government of Britain sometime soon.

For the last two years, the polls, local elections and by-elections have all suggested that the only people in Scotland who could have that expectation were Conservatives. Bluntly: the day after the local elections, Labour and the Liberal Democrats looked to be decades from power, and the best way to get a centre-left government looked to be a Yes vote. The day after the general election, both parties could hope to be in government within six months.

As Tommy Sheppard, the SNP MP for Edinburgh East, observed in a smart column for the Herald after the election, one of the reasons why the SNP lost votes was that Corbyn's manifesto took some of the optimistic vote that they gobbled up in 2014 and 2015.

And while Brexit may yet sour enough to make Nicola Sturgeon's second referendum more appealing on that ground, the transformation in Labour's position over the course of the election campaign is a much bigger problem for the SNP.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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