CommentPlus: pick of the papers

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

1. Mandelson: the little men's history (Guardian)

New Labour-era memoirs reveal smaller-than-life individuals for whom world events play second fiddle to petty obsessions, writes Gary Younge.

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2. So that's OK then. It's fine to abuse young girls, as long as you're a great film director (Independent)

The campaign in defence of Roman Polanski has ensured that a bragging child-rapist won't face his day in court, says Johann Hari.

3. Can the coalition triumph on the battlefield where Tony Blair was beaten? (Daily Telegraph)

Fraser Nelson asks whether the coalition can defeat the quangos, unions and bureaucracies that blocked public service reform during the Blair years.

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4. An authentic voice will end this psychodrama (Times)

The fracturing at the top of New Labour mirrored insecurity throughout, writes Rachel Sylvester. If the party is to succeed, it must rediscover its voice.

5. Cameron must make the case for talks with the Taliban (Guardian)

David Cameron should come out publicly for Washington to open contacts with the Taliban and make the case strongly at the White House next week, argues Jonathan Steele.

6. Political squalls before the cuts get serious (Financial Times)

Ministers would be wise not to sound quite so enthusiastic about making ferocious spending cuts, says Philip Stephens.

7. Church unmilitant (Times)

Rather than prioritising Anglican unity, Rowan Williams should show leadership by insisting on the validity of women bishops, argues a leader in the Times.

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8. Andrew Lansley's £80bn adventure (Guardian)

Lansley's NHS reforms hand the bulk of the health budget to GPs who have shown little interest in embracing that responsibility, says Michael White.

9. American business sours on China (Financial Times)

Corporate America is showing increasing signs of disillusionment with China, writes Gideon Rachman.

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10. Somalia projects a message of violence (Independent)

The latest terrorist atrocity proves that treating Somalia as just another part of the international war on terror and al-Qaeda is self-defeating, warns a leading article in the Independent.

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It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.