CommentPlus: pick of the papers

The ten must read pieces from the Sunday papers.

1. David Cameron's ambivalent relationship with the lady in blue (Observer)

The prime minister thinks he can be as radical as Margaret Thatcher without being as divisive, says Andrew Rawnsley. That won't be easy.

2. The row over child benefit obscures the radicalism of David Cameron's plans (Sunday Telegraph)

Matthew d'Ancona argues that we should ignore the self-interest of the rich, and focus on the true importance of David Cameron's plans.

3. It's not the unfairness you mind. It's the money (Sunday Times) (£)

Yes, the child benefit cuts are unequal, says Matthew Parris, but what are you really cross about? Or would it seem too selfish to say?

4. A power play to match Blair v Brown (Independent on Sunday)

Having alienated three key figures in his party, the new Labour leader will need every ounce of authority he can muster, says John Rentoul.

5. Vince Cable must be bold and break Murdoch's stranglehold (Observer)

Henry Porter warns that unless the business secretary intervenes, the merger of BSkyB with News International could further threaten the wellbeing of British media.

6. In it together? Not if you're above money (Sunday Times) (£)

It's not easy to tell if you're rich, says Janice Turner. But if you can buy your way out of trouble, you're not sharing the nation's pain.

7. The Conservatives' child benefit plans sent precisely the wrong signal (Sunday Telegraph)

The concept of fairness is not being applied to the middle classes, argues Janet Daley. The child benefit change shows that the Tories are swallowing the left's definition of fairness.

8. It's time the army relieved the police of their guns (Independent on Sunday)

Crispin Black argues that we should seriously consider transferring responsibility for all armed operations except basic bodyguarding to the army before it is too late.

9. Prophet with Honour (Sunday Times)

The Nobel Peace Prize this year was a good choice, says the leading article. Awarding Liu Xiaobo directs attention to the struggle of a brave man.

10. Only a sadist would inflict Dryden on our schoolchildren (Observer)

Michael Gove's plan to put the literary 'greats' back in our schools shows how far out of step he truly is, says Catherine Bennett.

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The most terrifying thing about Donald Trump's speech? What he didn't say

No politician uses official speeches to put across their most controversial ideas. But Donald Trump's are not hard to find. 

As Donald Trump took the podium on a cold Washington day to deliver his inauguration speech, the world held its breath. Viewers hunched over televisions or internet streaming services watched Trump mouth “thank you” to the camera, no doubt wondering how he could possibly live up to his deranged late-night Twitter persona. In newsrooms across America, reporters unsure when they might next get access to a president who seems to delight in denying them the right to ask questions got ready to parse his words for any clue as to what was to come. Some, deciding they couldn’t bear to watch, studiously busied themselves with other things.

But when the moment came, Trump’s speech was uncharacteristically professional – at least compared to his previous performances. The fractured, repetitive grammar that marks many of his off-the-cuff statements was missing, and so, too, were most of his most controversial policy ideas.

Trump told the crowd that his presidency would “determine the course of America, and the world, for many, many years to come” before expressing his gratefulness to President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama for their “gracious aid” during the transition. “They have been magnificent," Trump said, before leading applause of thanks from the crowd.

If this opening was innocent enough, however, it all changed in the next breath. The new president moved quickly to the “historic movement”, “the likes of which the world has never seen before”, that elected him President. Following the small-state rhetoric of his campaign, Trump promised to take power from the “establishment” and restore it to the American people. “This moment," he told them, “Is your moment. It belongs to you.”

A good deal of the speech was given over to re-iterating his nationalist positions while also making repeated references to the key issues – “Islamic terrorism” and families – that remain points of commonality within the fractured Republican GOP.

The loss of business to overseas producers was blamed for “destroying our jobs”. “Protection," Trump said, “Will lead to great strength." He promised to end what he called the “American carnage” caused by drugs and crime.

“From this day forward," Trump said, “It’s going to be only America first."

There was plenty in the speech, then, that should worry viewers, particularly if you read Trump’s promises to make America “unstoppable” so it can “win” again in light of his recent tweets about China

But it was the things Trump didn't mention that should worry us most. Trump, we know, doesn’t use official channels to communicate his most troubling ideas. From bizarre television interviews to his upsetting and offensive rallies and, of course, the infamous tweets, the new President is inclined to fling his thoughts into the world as and when he sees fit, not on the occasions when he’s required to address the nation (see, also, his anodyne acceptance speech).

It’s important to remember that Trump’s administration wins when it makes itself seem as innocent as possible. During the speech, I was reminded of my colleague Helen Lewis’ recent thoughts on the “gaslighter-in-chief”, reflecting on Trump’s lying claim that he never mocked a disabled reporter. “Now we can see," she wrote, “A false narrative being built in real time, tweet by tweet."

Saying things that are untrue isn’t the only way of lying – it is also possible to lie by omission.

There has been much discussion as to whether Trump will soften after he becomes president. All the things this speech did not mention were designed to keep us guessing about many of the President’s most controversial promises.

Trump did not mention his proposed ban on Muslims entering the US, nor the wall he insists he will erect between America and Mexico (which he maintains the latter will pay for). He maintained a polite coolness towards the former President and avoiding any discussion of alleged cuts to anti-domestic violence programs and abortion regulations. Why? Trump wanted to leave viewers unsure as to whether he actually intends to carry through on his election rhetoric.

To understand what Trump is capable of, therefore, it is best not to look to his speeches on a global stage, but to the promises he makes to his allies. So when the President’s personal website still insists he will build a wall, end catch-and-release, suspend immigration from “terror-prone regions” “where adequate screening cannot occur”; when, despite saying he understands only 3 per cent of Planned Parenthood services relate to abortion and that “millions” of women are helped by their cancer screening, he plans to defund Planned Parenthood; when the president says he will remove gun-free zones around schools “on his first day” - believe him.  

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland