CommentPlus: pick of the papers

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

1. Ed Miliband has to crack the whip to secure change (Guardian)

A Blairite sense of grievance could yet hobble Ed Miliband's attempt to lead Labour in a new direction, warns Seumas Milne.

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2. Forget Red Ed, it's Optimistic Ed whom David Cameron must confront (Daily Telegraph)

To confront and defeat Optimistic Ed, David Cameron must rediscover the hope that guides him, says Benedict Brogan.

3. Dramas that expose a Miliband myth (Independent)

In ruthlessly highlighting Labour's mistakes, Ed makes possible a realignment of the centre-left, writes Steve Richards.

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4. David Miliband has done the right thing (Guardian)

David Miliband's decision not to run for the shadow cabinet is the best for his family, party and country, says Alastair Campbell.

5. How the Republicans can still fail to triumph (Financial Times)

The Republican Party must not allow social conservatives to distract it from the issue of spending, says Grover Norquist.

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6. Here's a chance to reshape Britain's defences (Times) (£)

Britain now has a chance to break with an antiquated Cold War-era approach, argues Bernard Gray.

7. The strategic defence and security review must not be rushed (Daily Telegraph)

Elsewhere, a Telegraph editorial says that the strategic defence review must be decoupled from the spending review.

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8. This is not Paris 1968, and it is probably self-defeating (Independent)

The waves of strikes across Europe are self-defeating but could yet be replicated in Britain, says Sean O'Grady.

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9. US politics is angry, polarised, and gridlocked. Can it be reformed? (Guardian)

US politics is both polarised and gridlocked, writes Timothy Garton Ash. Washington needs to be more like Silicon Valley if it is to compete with China.

10. Republic of Intolerance (Times) (£)

Tehran's draconian punishment of a blogger will choke off Iran's vitality, says a Times leader.

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Jeremy Corbyn's Labour conference speech shows how he's grown

The leader's confident address will have impressed even his fiercest foes. 

It is not just Jeremy Corbyn’s mandate that has been improved by his re-election. The Labour leader’s conference speech was, by some distance, the best he has delivered. He spoke with far greater confidence, clarity and energy than previously. From its self-deprecating opening onwards ("Virgin Trains assure me there are 800 empty seats") we saw a leader improved in almost every respect. 

Even Corbyn’s firecest foes will have found less to take issue with than they may have anticipated. He avoided picking a fight on Trident (unlike last year), delivered his most forceful condemnation of anti-Semitism (“an evil”) and, with the exception of the Iraq war, avoided attacks on New Labour’s record. The video which preceded his arrival, and highlighted achievements from the Blair-Brown years, was another olive branch. But deselection, which Corbyn again refused to denounce, will remain a running sore (MPs alleged that Hillsborough campaigner Sheila Coleman, who introduced Corbyn, is seeking to deselect Louise Ellman and backed the rival TUSC last May).

Corbyn is frequently charged with lacking policies. But his lengthy address contained several new ones: the removal of the cap on council borrowing (allowing an extra 60,000 houses to be built), a ban on arms sales to abusive regimes and an arts pupil premium in every primary school.

On policy, Corbyn frequently resembles Ed Miliband in his more radical moments, unrestrained by Ed Balls and other shadow cabinet members. He promised £500bn of infrastructure investment (spread over a decade with £150bn from the private sector), “a real living wage”, the renationalisation of the railways, rent controls and a ban on zero-hours contracts.

Labour’s greatest divisions are not over policy but rules, strategy and culture. Corbyn’s opponents will charge him with doing far too little to appeal to the unconverted - Conservative voters most of all. But he spoke with greater conviction than before of preparing for a general election (acknowledging that Labour faced an arithmetical “mountain”) and successfully delivered the attack lines he has often shunned.

“Even Theresa May gets it, that people want change,” he said. “That’s why she stood on the steps of Downing Street and talked about the inequalities and burning injustices in today’s Britain. She promised a country: ‘that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us’. But even if she manages to talk the talk, she can’t walk the walk. This isn’t a new government, it’s David Cameron’s government repackaged with progressive slogans but with a new harsh right-wing edge, taking the country backwards and dithering before the historic challenges of Brexit.”

After a second landslide victory, Corbyn is, for now, unassailable. Many MPs, having voted no confidence in him, will never serve on the frontbench. But an increasing number, recognising Corbyn’s immovability, speak once again of seeking to “make it work”. For all the ructions of this summer, Corbyn’s speech will have helped to persuade them that they can.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.