Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Cameron mustn't give in to the Tory grumblers (Times) (£)

The disaffected right has focused its wrath on the EU Bill, says Daniel Finkelstein – but its arguments are absurd or baffling.

2. The state's pedlars of fear must be brought to account (Guardian)

Why has a private firm run police to spy on a few greens? asks Simon Jenkins. The Ratcliffe Six case is a cautionary tale of securocrats out of control.

3. University is for the brightest, whichever school they went to (Daily Telegraph)

Simon Hughes's quota plan for private school pupils will destroy further education, argues Simon Heffer.

4. Drawing the poison from America's politics (Financial Times)

The shooting in Arizona provides Barack Obama with an opportunity to reclaim the middle ground, writes Jacob Weisberg.

5. Sarah Palin's presidential hopes surely can't survive this assassin's bullet (Guardian)

She didn't pull the trigger, and she's not the first to use the language of combat. But, says Jonathan Freedland, the Alaskan's career will certainly suffer.

6. Unity is not always the answer for divided nations (Independent)

A leading article discusses the stand-off in Côte d'Ivoire. Unity governments – the compromise reached in Kenya and Zimbabwe – make voters feel that real change will never come.

7. My bank pays too much. But don't stop it (Times) (£)

Pressure over bonuses will work long term. But, David Wighton argues, headline-grabbing gestures will only harm investment.

8. Only global action can curb bonuses (Financial Times)

The real problem is the universal banking model, writes Philip Augar. The financial services industry has little choice but to follow the US.

9. Medical science will benefit from the research of crowds (Guardian)

Sharing data will change the way medical science works and speed up discovery of new cures, says Elizabeth Pisani.

10. Let's hope Alan Johnson doesn't get asked about stamp duty (Independent)

The mood music at which Johnners excels is important, says Matthew Norman. But you can't make music of any kind without knowing the individual notes.

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You may call me a monster – but I'm glad that girl's lemonade stall got shut down

What's wrong with hard-working public servants enforcing perfectly sensible regulations?

Who could fail to be moved by the widely shared tears of a five year old whose innocent lemonade stall was brutally shut down by evil bureaucrats? What sort of monster would not have their heartstrings tugged by the plaintive “I've done a bad thing” from a girl whose father tells us she “just wanted to put a smile on people's faces”?

Well me, actually.

There are half a million cases of food poisoning each year in the UK, and one of the reasons we have stringent controls on who can sell food and drink, especially in unsealed containers, is to try to cut those figures down. And street stalls in general are regulated because we have a system of taxation, rights and responsibilities in this country which underpins our functioning society. Regulation is a social and economic good.

It’s also pretty unfair to criticise the hard-working public servants who acted in this case for doing the job they are no doubt underpaid to do. For the council to say “we expect our enforcement officers to show common sense” as they cancelled the fine is all very well, but I’m willing to bet they are given precious little leeway in their training when it comes to who gets fined and who doesn’t. If the council is handing out apologies, it likely should be issuing one to its officers as well.

“But these are decent folk being persecuted by a nanny state,” I hear you cry. And I stand impervious, I’m afraid. Because I’ve heard that line a lot recently and it’s beginning to grate.

It’s the same argument used against speed cameras and parking fines. How often have you heard those caught out proclaim themselves as “law-abiding citizens” and bemoan the infringement of their freedom? I have news for you: if you break the speed limit, or park illegally, or indeed break health and safety or trading regulations, you are not a law-abiding citizen. You’re actually the one who’s in the wrong.

And rarely is ignorance an excuse. Speed limits and parking regulations are posted clearly. In the case of the now famous lemonade stand, the father in question is even quoted as saying “I thought that they would just tell us to pack up and go home.” So he knew he was breaking the rules. He just didn’t think the consequences should apply to him.

A culture of entitlement, and a belief that rules are for other people but not us, is a disease gripping middle Britain. It is demonstrated in many different ways, from the driver telling the cyclist that she has no right to be on the road because she doesn’t pay road tax (I know), to the father holding up his daughter’s tears to get out of a fine.

I know, I’m a monster. But hooray for the enforcers, I say.

Duncan Hothersall is the editor of Labour Hame