CommentPlus: pick of the papers

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

1. Ed is the only Miliband who offers a genuine alternative (Guardian)

Seumas Milne endorses Ed Miliband and argues that while he represents a progressive alternative, David would return Labour to a failed Blairite yesterday.

2. MiliD is Labour's future, MiliE is just its past (Times)

But elsewhere, David Aaronovitch backs the elder Miliband and argues that he alone can lead Labour successfully.

3. Fairness should never be a numbers game (Financial Times)

Nick Clegg delivers a critical response to the Institute for Fiscal Studies report and argues that fairness cannot be based on income distribution alone.

4. A brand of austerity about as progressive as Thatcher's (Guardian)

But elsewhere, the Guardian's economics editor, Larry Elliott, says that Liberal greats such as Beveridge and Keynes would have shuddered at the coalition's regressive Budget.

5. Big Eric Pickles may not be beautiful, but he's the Tories' action man (Daily Telegraph)

The Communities Secretary is proving to be the unexpected star of the coalition, says Paul Goodman.

6. Blair's journey is Labour's problem (Independent)

As Tony Blair prepares to return to the political stage, Steve Richards says he has left his party a bewildering inheritance.

7. We mustn't talk Britain's economy down (Daily Telegraph)

The coalition needs to highlight the opportunities as well as the perils that lie ahead for the country, writes Richard Lambert.

8. Violence breeds violence. The only thing drug gangs fear is legalisation (Independent)

It is time to take the drugs trade back from murderous criminal gangs, argues Johann Hari.

9. Kyrgyzstan: the void in Asia's heart (Guardian)

The world paid little heed to the Kyrgyz pogroms, but the chaos of this failed state will spread, warns Louise Arbour.

10. MPs' expenses: abuse of power (Daily Telegraph)

Those MPs responsible for the abuse of expenses staff should be named and shamed, argues a Telegraph leader.

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Commons Confidential: Dave's picnic with Dacre

Revenge is a dish best served cold from a wicker hamper.

Sulking David Cameron can’t forgive the Daily Mail editor, Paul Dacre, for his role in his downfall. The unrelenting hostility of the self-appointed voice of Middle England to the Remain cause felt pivotal to the defeat. So, what a glorious coincidence it was that they found themselves picnicking a couple of motors apart before England beat Scotland at Twickenham. My snout recalled Cameron studiously peering in the opposite direction. On Dacre’s face was the smile of an assassin. Revenge is a dish best served cold from a wicker hamper.

The good news is that since Jeremy Corbyn let Theresa May off the Budget hook at Prime Minister’s Questions, most of his MPs no longer hate him. The bad news is that many now openly express their pity. It is whispered that Corbyn’s office made it clear that he didn’t wish to sit next to Tony Blair at the unveiling of the Iraq and Afghanistan war memorial in London. His desire for distance was probably reciprocated, as Comrade Corbyn wanted Brigadier Blair to be charged with war crimes. Fighting old battles is easier than beating the Tories.

Brexit is a ticket to travel. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is lifting its three-trip cap on funded journeys to Europe for MPs. The idea of paying for as many cross-Channel visits as a politician can enjoy reminds me of Denis MacShane. Under the old limits, he ended up in the clink for fiddling accounts to fund his Continental missionary work. If the new rule was applied retrospectively, perhaps the former Labour minister should be entitled to get his seat back and compensation?

The word in Ukip is that Paul Nuttall, OBE VC KG – the ridiculed former Premier League professional footballer and England 1966 World Cup winner – has cold feet after his Stoke mauling about standing in a by-election in Leigh (assuming that Andy Burnham is elected mayor of Greater Manchester in May). The electorate already knows his Walter Mitty act too well.

A senior Labour MP, who demanded anonymity, revealed that she had received a letter after Leicester’s Keith Vaz paid men to entertain him. Vaz had posed as Jim the washing machine man. Why, asked the complainant, wasn’t this second job listed in the register of members’ interests? She’s avoiding writing a reply.

Years ago, this column unearthed and ridiculed the early journalism of George Osborne, who must be the least qualified newspaper editor in history. The cabinet lackey Ben “Selwyn” Gummer’s feeble intervention in the Osborne debate has put him on our radar. We are now watching him and will be reporting back. My snouts are already unearthing interesting information.

Kevin Maguire is the associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 23 March 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump's permanent revolution