Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from the Sunday papers.

1. The Tories couldn't deliver the goods without the Lib Dems (Sunday Telegraph)

The Conservative right is wilfully blind to the fact that it is getting pretty much what it wants from a coalition that it hates, argues Matthew d'Ancona.

2. Bringing the bankers to heel must start right here, right now (Observer)

If Britain doesn't take a lead in controlling Big Finance, says Will Hutton, outrageous bonuses will carry on being paid and there will be another crisis.

3. Ed needs business more than big wins (Independent on Sunday)

The Lib Dems lost the Old & Sad by-election but claimed success. Labour won it but it's a terrible result for them, according to John Rentoul.

4. High taxes breed clever dodgers (Sunday Times) (£)

England's footballers, who rarely troubled opposition defences in the World Cup, are proving much more adept at outflanking the taxman, says a leading article.

5. Labour can only win if voters believe they're on the money (Observer)

The British public is not going to hand Labour the keys to No 10 until it restore its economic credibility, says Andrew Rawnsley.

6. What would be the impact of the Alternative Vote? (Sunday Telegraph)

Why are we having a referendum on AV? How does the voting system work? And is it fair? Tim Montgomerie reports.

7. Books for all, not just the wealthy (Independent on Sunday)

This leading article criticises cuts to public libraries, which will have a disproportionate effect on deprived areas.

8. Now we have two kinds of elderly (Sunday Times) (£)

Minette Marrin warns that as the elderly work for longer, two classes of old people will emerge – those who employers want and those who employers don't.

9. We can transform our countryside. Put forests in the hands of the people (Observer)

Andy Wightman maintains that a campaign to stop the government selling our woodlands misses a great chance to revolutionise their ownership.

10. Barack Obama captured the mood of a nation. Can David Cameron do the same? (Sunday Telegraph)

The president's speech in Tuscon showed the transforming power of language – a power that Cameron has so far been unable to master, argues Janet Daley.

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Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

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

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