Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. If Scotland does secede, I won't be alone in mourning my country (Observer)

Those of us who count ourselves as British fear that Scottish independence would tear the nation apart, writes David Mitchell.

2. Bahrain is trying to drown the protests in Shia blood (Independent on Sunday)

Claiming that the opposition is being orchestrated by Iran, the al-Khalifa regime has unleashed a vicious sectarian clampdown, writes Patrick Cockburn.

3. To have a hope of power, Labour must turn from dull into dynamic (Observer)

Ed Miliband's party needs to forget complacent assumptions and remember that the task is both big and urgent, says Andrew Rawnsley.

4. Europe and immigration are vital issues, so let's discuss them (Sunday Telegraph)

The voters want a debate on Europe's influence, says this leading article, and the government should let them have it.

5. Live up to your own slogan, Dave (Independent on Sunday)

"All in this together" must count as one of the worst slogans dreamt up by supposedly intelligent people, says a leading article. More effectively than any lines devised by the Labour Party, it invites cynicism – so David Cameron must address social inequality if he has any chance of making it believable.

6. Cameron has the makings of a truly great prime minister (Sunday Telegraph)

Many of those in No 10 end up as essentially irrelevant figures, but a small few attain truly heroic status, says Peter Oborne.

7. Twitter is home to the dull and dysfunctional – I'll never join (Independent on Sunday)

This is the age of the ego, says Janet Street-Porter authoritatively. If celebrities want privacy, they must give up sending press releases and posing for Hello!.

8. Stop punishing the McCanns (Sunday Times) (£)

As I sat welling up in my kitchen listening to Kate McCann tell her distressing story, hundreds of people logged on to Twitter to type out poison about her in real time, says India Knight.

9. So their dossier was sexed up. No wonder the cabal want "closure" (Mail on Sunday)

Major General Michael Laurie has now admitted to the Chilcot inquiry that he was pressured to make the case for war in Iraq, writes Suzanne Moore. Eight years on, it still matters – because our lack of clarity about Libya stems from our embarrassment about Iraq.

10. The press must put its house in order (Observer)

Lies, bullying and kiss-and-tell profiteering do, sadly, go unpunished too often in newsrooms, says a leading article. But much investigative energy is spent unearthing grave abuses of power – so self-regulation is better than legislation.

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn bids for the NHS to rescue Labour

Ahead of tomorrow's by-elections, Corbyn damned Theresa May for putting the service in a "state of emergency".

Whenever Labour leaders are in trouble, they seek political refuge in the NHS. Jeremy Corbyn, whose party faces potential defeat in tomorrow’s Copeland and Stoke by-elections, upheld this iron law today. In the case of the former, Labour has already warned that “babies will die” as a result of the downgrading of the hospital. It is crude but it may yet prove effective (it worked for No to AV, after all).

In the chamber, Corbyn assailed May for cutting the number of hospital beds, worsening waiting times, under-funding social care and abolishing nursing bursaries. The Labour leader rose to a crescendo, damning the Prime Minister for putting the service in a “a state of emergency”. But his scattergun attack was too unfocused to much trouble May.

The Prime Minister came armed with attack lines, brandishing a quote from former health secretary Andy Burnham on cutting hospital beds and reminding Corbyn that Labour promised to spend less on the NHS at the last election (only Nixon can go to China). May was able to boast that the Tories were providing “more money” for the service (this is not, of course, the same as “enough”). Just as Corbyn echoed his predecessors, so the Prime Minister sounded like David Cameron circa 2013, declaring that she would not “take lessons” from the party that presided over the Mid-Staffs scandal and warning that Labour would “borrow and bankrupt” the economy.

It was a dubious charge from the party that has racked up ever-higher debt but a reliably potent one. Labour, however, will be satisfied that May was more comfortable debating the economy or attacking the Brown government, than she was defending the state of the NHS. In Copeland and Stoke, where Corbyn’s party has held power since 1935 and 1950, Labour must hope that the electorate are as respectful of tradition as its leader.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.