CommentPlus: pick of the papers

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

1. There's a good idea in Cameron's "big society" screaming to get out (Guardian)

Jonathan Freedland argues that Labour must seize this flawed initiative from the Tories, reclaim its Labour origins and then set about improving it.

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2. The next Labour leader could be prime minister within a year (Daily Telegraph)

Whoever wins the leadership battle will present a real challenge to the coalition, Simon Heffer points out. A leader with box-office appeal could exploit the stumbling block of the government's planned constitutional reforms.

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3. Do us a favour. Let us wear what we like (Times)

Women put up with restrictions such as the burqa because they find it liberating, says Daniel Finkelstein. Illiberalism disguised as liberalism is more frightening than the burqa.

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4. Dictators around the world must feel vindicated by Parliament Square eviction (Independent)

It is healthy that the powerful be confronted with the victims of their failed policies as they were in Democracy Village, argues Johann Hari. Now citizens cannot pressure their government for justice in the same way.

5. Western policy in Afghanistan is at a crossroads (Financial Times)

It is time to decide which course to take in Afghanistan: change things for good, or get out. Greg Mills runs through the options.

6. Taliban put to the test (Guardian)

In Kabul, reconciliation is on the agenda, says Richard Barrett, co-ordinator of the United Nations al-Qaeda-Taliban monitoring team for Afghanistan. A political deal is doable -- and so it could be time to talk.

7. Death by appointment degrades the disabled (Times)

Ilora Finlay mounts an argument against legalising assisted suicide. In a country celebrated for its care, it would be heartless to make the sick think they should opt for death.

8. Is there room for art in the big society? (Independent)

There isn't much philanthropy in Britain, says Christina Patterson. Without consistent state funding at a realistic level, the arts -- the most unequivocal success story of the past 13 years -- will be destroyed.

9. Ignore this howl of protest -- the police are ripe for cuts (Guardian)

Spending has doubled, and yet the number of officers on the beat has fallen. Simon Jenkins suggests that something is seriously awry.

10. A sunlit Keynesian paradise awaits our grandchildren (Financial Times)

Tim Harford looks back at Keynes's essay "Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren", which looked at what would happen when the Great Depression was over. We must remember to come back to this long-run forecast when the current crisis ends.

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Jeremy Corbyn secures big victory on Labour's national executive committee

The NEC has approved rule changes which all-but-guarantee the presence of a Corbynite candidate on the ballot. 

Jeremy Corbyn has secured a major victory after Labour’s ruling executive voted approve a series of rule changes, including lowering the parliamentary threshold for nominating a leader of the Labour party from 15 per cent to 10 per cent. That means that in the event of a leadership election occurring before March 2019, the number of MPs and MEPs required to support a candidate’s bid would drop to 28. After March 2019, there will no longer be any Labour MEPs and the threshold would therefore drop to 26.

As far as the balance of power within the Labour Party goes, it is a further example of Corbyn’s transformed position after the electoral advance of June 2017. In practice, the 28 MP and MEP threshold is marginally easier to clear for the left than the lower threshold post-March 2019, as the party’s European contingent is slightly to the left of its Westminster counterpart. However, either number should be easily within the grasp of a Corbynite successor.

In addition, a review of the party’s democratic structures, likely to recommend a sweeping increase in the power of Labour activists, has been approved by the NEC, and both trade unions and ordinary members will be granted additional seats on the committee. Although the plans face ratification at conference, it is highly likely they will pass.

Participants described the meeting as a largely low-key affair, though Peter Willsman, a Corbynite, turned heads by saying that some of the party’s MPs “deserve to be attacked”. Willsman, a longtime representative of the membership, is usually a combative presence on the party’s executive, with one fellow Corbynite referring to him as an “embarrassment and a bore”. 

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.