CommentPlus: pick of the papers

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

1. We'll transform Britain by giving power away (Daily Telegraph)

David Cameron and Nick Clegg write about the aims of the coalition. Dealing with the Budget deficit is vital, but the real mission is to give people control over their lives through decentralisation.

2. From BP to the banks, Britain's delusions of grandeur have been cruelly exposed (Guardian)

We used to believe our nation punched above its weight, says Madeleine Bunting, but now it's become clear that Britain is a second-class state.

3. The eco-cause has taken a bigger hit than BP (Times)

Bill Emmott compares the University of East Anglia email scandal with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. BP will bounce back, but the fallout from scientists' distortion on climate change will linger.

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4. Mandelson's vanity came before the party interest (Independent)

Mary Ann Sieghart discusses Peter Mandelson's memoir. If he is prepared to betray Gordon Brown for money now, perhaps he should have done so for the sake of his party two years ago.

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5. Labour must now stop this self-flagellation and regroup (Guardian)

As the party prepares for a breakout of diary wars, it risks being dangerously distracted, warns Jackie Ashley, when the real fight is for its future.

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6. After the rapture how to make Africa roar (Financial Times)

Should investors see South Africa as the conduit to the next great frontier? Alec Russell on the steps the country needs to take to ensure this is so.

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7. Our trigger-happy reaction: blame the cops (Times)

There are countries where the police would not hesitate to shoot a man like Raoul Moat. Libby Purves says she is glad this is not one of them -- and we should cut the police some slack.

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8. Women bishops: what God would want (Guardian)

If Rowan Williams resolves the row over female bishops, says Una Kroll, the Church of England can teach society a lesson in coexistence.

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9. A president under business attack (Financial Times)

Barack Obama has not been unkind to business, writes Clive Crook. As far as finance is concerned, he has worked to moderate anti-business sentiment, not inflame it.

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10. Where is the help that was pledged to Haiti? (Times)

The Haiti-born singer Wyclef Jean draws attention to the continued crisis on the island. Six months after the earthquake, a million are still living in tents amid the rubble.

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Owen Smith apologises for pledge to "smash" Theresa May "back on her heels"

The Labour leader challenger has retracted his comments. 

Labour leader challenger Owen Smith has apologised for pledging to "smash" Theresa May "back on her heels", a day after vigorously defending his comments.

During a speech at a campaign event on Wednesday, Smith had declared of the prime minister, known for wearing kitten heels:

"I'll be honest with you, it pained me that we didn’t have the strength and the power and the vitality to smash her back on her heels and argue that these our values, these are our people, this is our language that they are seeking to steal.”

When pressed about his use of language, Smith told journalists he was using "robust rhetoric" and added: "I absolutely stand by those comments."

But on Thursday, a spokesman for the campaign said Smith regretted his choice of words: "It was off script and on reflection it was an inappropriate choice of phrase and he apologises for using it."

Since the murder of the MP Jo Cox in June, there has been attempt by some in politics to tone down the use of violent metaphors and imagery. 

Others though, have stuck with it - despite Jeremy Corbyn's call for a "kinder, gentler politics" his shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, described rebel MPs as a "lynch mob without the rope"

Smith's language has come under scrutiny before. In 2010, when writing about the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition, he asked: "Surely, the Liberal will file for divorce as soon as the bruises start to show through the make-up?"

After an outcry over the domestic violence metaphor, Smith edited the piece.