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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Who will win the Copeland by-election?

Labour face a tricky task in holding onto the seat. 

What’s the Copeland by-election about? That’s the question that will decide who wins it.

The Conservatives want it to be about the nuclear industry, which is the seat’s biggest employer, and Jeremy Corbyn’s long history of opposition to nuclear power.

Labour want it to be about the difficulties of the NHS in Cumbria in general and the future of West Cumberland Hospital in particular.

Who’s winning? Neither party is confident of victory but both sides think it will be close. That Theresa May has visited is a sign of the confidence in Conservative headquarters that, win or lose, Labour will not increase its majority from the six-point lead it held over the Conservatives in May 2015. (It’s always more instructive to talk about vote share rather than raw numbers, in by-elections in particular.)

But her visit may have been counterproductive. Yes, she is the most popular politician in Britain according to all the polls, but in visiting she has added fuel to the fire of Labour’s message that the Conservatives are keeping an anxious eye on the outcome.

Labour strategists feared that “the oxygen” would come out of the campaign if May used her visit to offer a guarantee about West Cumberland Hospital. Instead, she refused to answer, merely hyping up the issue further.

The party is nervous that opposition to Corbyn is going to supress turnout among their voters, but on the Conservative side, there is considerable irritation that May’s visit has made their task harder, too.

Voters know the difference between a by-election and a general election and my hunch is that people will get they can have a free hit on the health question without risking the future of the nuclear factory. That Corbyn has U-Turned on nuclear power only helps.

I said last week that if I knew what the local paper would look like between now and then I would be able to call the outcome. Today the West Cumbria News & Star leads with Downing Street’s refusal to answer questions about West Cumberland Hospital. All the signs favour Labour. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.