Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Osama Bin Laden's death: the US patriot reflex (Guardian)

Given 9/11, a desire for vengeance is a legitimate emotional response, says Gary Younge. But it is not a foreign policy.

2. Bin Laden is more dangerous dead than alive (Times) (£)

Ed Husain says that it was right to remove this enemy. But it would be wrong to think that his demise has weakened the jihadists.

3. Security chiefs must end Pakistan's duplicity (Financial Times)

Osama Bin Laden's death gives Islamabad an opportunity to fix much that is wrong, writes Mansoor Ijaz.

4. Pakistan and Osama Bin Laden: how the west was conned (Daily Telegraph)

The ISI and its covert support for Islamist terrorism must be confronted, argues Praveen Swami.

5. For ten years Osama Bin Laden filled a gap left by the Soviet Union. Who will be the baddie now? (Guardian)

Adam Curtis says that neoconservatives, "terror journalists" and Osama Bin Laden himself all had their own reasons to create a simple story of looming apocalypse.

6. There has been pain but we were right to fight (Times) (£)

What is happening across the Arab world shows that al-Qaeda has failed spectacularly, says Jack Straw.

7. Just say Yes to voting reform (Independent)

As the polls point to a substantial lead for the No campaign, says this editorial, there are still 24 hours left to change the system.

8. Nick Clegg is out of his depth – and David Cameron should let him sink (Daily Telegraph)

The Tories' bargaining power in the coalition will increase after tomorrow's elections, Simon Heffer predicts.

9. Ian Tomlinson verdict: the people defer no more (Guardian)

The Tomlinson jury showed how completely public views of the police have changed, says Duncan Campbell.

10. Chances are better now of the US fixing its deficit (Independent)

There is, after any memorable event, an immediate instinct to look for economic and financial consequences, says Hamish McRae.

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Leader: Corbyn’s second act

Left-wing populism is not enough – Labour must provide a real alternative.

Since Jeremy Corbyn first stood for the Labour leadership he has been fortunate in his opponents. His rivals for leader ran lacklustre campaigns in 2015 and failed to inspire members and activists who longed to escape the tortured triangulations of the Ed Miliband era. Later, at the 2017 general election, Mr Corbyn was confronted by a dismal Conservative campaign that invited the electorate’s contempt. Theresa May’s complacency – as well as Mr Corbyn’s dynamic campaign –has helped propel the Labour leader to a position from which he could become prime minister.

With greater power, however, comes greater responsibility. Mr Corbyn’s opponents have for too long preferred to insult him or interrogate his past rather than to scrutinise his policies. They have played the man not the ball. Now, as he is a contender for power rather than merely a serial protester, Mr Corbyn’s programme will be more rigorously assessed, as it should be. Over the months ahead, he faces the political equivalent of the “difficult second album”. 

Labour’s most electorally successful – and expensive – election policy was its pledge to abolish university tuition fees. Young voters were not only attracted by this promise but also by Mr Corbyn’s vow, in an interview with the free music paper NME, to “deal with” the issue of graduate debt. The Labour leader has since been accused of a betrayal after clarifying that the phrase “to deal with” did not amount to a “commitment” to wipe out student debt. In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr, he explained that he had been “unaware of the size of it [graduate debt] at the time”. (The cost of clearing all outstanding student debt is estimated at £100bn.)

In fairness to Mr Corbyn, Labour’s manifesto said nothing on the subject of existing student debt (perhaps it should have) and his language in the NME interview was ambiguous. “I’m looking at ways that we could reduce that [graduate debt], ameliorate that, lengthen the period of paying it off,” he said. There is no comparison with the Liberal Democrats, who explicitly vowed not to raise tuition fees before trebling them to £9,000 after entering coalition with the Conservatives in 2010. Yet the confusion demonstrates why Mr Corbyn must be more precise in his policy formulations. In a hyperactive media age, a single stray sentence will be seized upon.

At the general election, Labour also thrived by attracting the support of many of those who voted to remain in the European Union (enjoying a 28-point lead over the Conservatives among this group). Here, again, ambiguity served a purpose. Mr Corbyn has since been charged with a second betrayal by opposing continued UK membership of the single market. On this, there should be no surprise. Mr Corbyn is an ardent Eurosceptic: he voted against the single market’s creation in 1986 and, from the back benches, he continually opposed further European integration.

However, his position on the single market puts him into conflict with prominent Labour politicians, such as Chuka Umunna and the Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones, as well as the party membership (66 per cent of whom support single market membership) and, increasingly, public opinion. As the economic costs of Brexit become clearer (the UK is now the slowest-growing G7 country), voters are less willing to support a disruptive exit. Nor should they. 

The worse that Britain fares in the Brexit negotiations (the early signs are not promising), the greater the desire for an alternative will be. As a reinvigorated opposition, it falls to the Labour Party to provide it. Left-wing populism is not enough. 

The glory game

In an ideal world, the role of sport should be to entertain, inspire and uplift. Seldom does a sporting contest achieve all three. But the women’s cricket World Cup final, on 23 July at Lord’s, did just that. In a thrilling match, England overcame India by nine runs to lift the trophy. Few of the 26,500 spectators present will forget the match. For this may well have been the moment that women’s cricket (which has for so long existed in the shadow of the men’s game) finally broke through.

England have twice before hosted women’s World Cups. In 1973 matches were played at small club grounds. Twenty years later, when England won the final at Lord’s, the ground was nearly empty, the players wore skirts and women were banned from the members’ pavilion. This time, the players were professionals, every ticket was sold, and the match was shown live around the world. At the end, girls and boys pressed against the advertising hoardings in an attempt to get their heroes’ autographs. Heather Knight, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Tammy Beaumont, and the rest of the team: women, role models, world champions. 

This article first appeared in the 27 July 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Summer double issue