Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. What MPs must know before they vote to wreck the NHS (Guardian)

The Tories' ideologically driven NHS bill deserves a backlash. The Lords would be well within their rights to block it, says Polly Toynbee.

2. For the good of rural life, we must build houses in the countryside (Daily Telegraph)

Planning reforms can shape the landscape to suit our needs and still maintain its beauty, insists Charles Moore.

3. No need to outsource kindness. Tories do it too (Times) (£)

It's not a coalition of Lib Dem foot-draggers and go-for-it Conservatives, writes Matthew Parris. This rightwing idea has to be killed.

4. What Ed must do to shake the Kinnock analogies (Financial Times)

The Labour leader still has much to prove, writes Matthew Taylor.

5. A few sex education lessons might benefit Ms Dorries (Independent)

The best way of cutting the number of abortions must be to cut the number of conceptions, writes Chris Bryant.

6. Famine in Somalia: a man-made crisis (Guardian)

Starvation in the Horn of Africa is not only a natural disaster - conflict rages and international aid is hampered, writes Unni Karunakara.

7. Hands off our land: The Eden that is England (Daily Telegraph)

Despite England being an urban nation, our rural self-image is fundamental to English identity, says Roy Strong.

8. Leaders of today: do crises demand craziness? (Financial Times)

If mentally healthy leaders crumble in crises, big countries in the west are in trouble, says Christopher Caldwell.

9. Guess who's become the Tories' secret weapon? (Daily Mail)

Ed Balls delights the Tories, and daily reminds us that this Labour Party is not fit for office, writes Stephen Glover.

10. The best future would be the one imagined by Doctor Who (Independent)

Doctor Who is far more than a kids' show about a time traveller, writes Laurie Penny.

Show Hide image

It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.