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.

Read the CommentPlus summary.

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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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn prompts Tory outrage as he blames Grenfell Tower fire on austerity

To Conservative cries of "shame on you!", the Labour leader warned that "we all pay a price in public safety" for spending cuts.

A fortnight after the Grenfell Tower fire erupted, the tragedy continues to cast a shadow over British politics. Rather than probing Theresa May on the DUP deal, Jeremy Corbyn asked a series of forensic questions on the incident, in which at least 79 people are confirmed to have died.

In the first PMQs of the new parliament, May revealed that the number of buildings that had failed fire safety tests had risen to 120 (a 100 per cent failure rate) and that the cladding used on Grenfell Tower was "non-compliant" with building regulations (Corbyn had asked whether it was "legal").

After several factual questions, the Labour leader rose to his political argument. To cries of "shame on you!" from Tory MPs, he warned that local authority cuts of 40 per cent meant "we all pay a price in public safety". Corbyn added: “What the tragedy of Grenfell Tower has exposed is the disastrous effects of austerity. The disregard for working-class communities, the terrible consequences of deregulation and cutting corners." Corbyn noted that 11,000 firefighters had been cut and that the public sector pay cap (which Labour has tabled a Queen's Speech amendment against) was hindering recruitment. "This disaster must be a wake-up call," he concluded.

But May, who fared better than many expected, had a ready retort. "The cladding of tower blocks did not start under this government, it did not start under the previous coalition governments, the cladding of tower blocks began under the Blair government," she said. “In 2005 it was a Labour government that introduced the regulatory reform fire safety order which changed the requirements to inspect a building on fire safety from the local fire authority to a 'responsible person'." In this regard, however, Corbyn's lack of frontbench experience is a virtue – no action by the last Labour government can be pinned on him. 

Whether or not the Conservatives accept the link between Grenfell and austerity, their reluctance to defend continued cuts shows an awareness of how politically vulnerable they have become (No10 has announced that the public sector pay cap is under review).

Though Tory MP Philip Davies accused May of having an "aversion" to policies "that might be popular with the public" (he demanded the abolition of the 0.7 per cent foreign aid target), there was little dissent from the backbenches – reflecting the new consensus that the Prime Minister is safe (in the absence of an attractive alternative).

And May, whose jokes sometimes fall painfully flat, was able to accuse Corbyn of saying "one thing to the many and another thing to the few" in reference to his alleged Trident comments to Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis. But the Labour leader, no longer looking fearfully over his shoulder, displayed his increased authority today. Though the Conservatives may jeer him, the lingering fear in Tory minds is that they and the country are on divergent paths. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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