Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. We are in a new era, but bankers haven't noticed (Independent)

At no point did Hester consider that he already had enough money and so would forgo his bonus, writes Steve Richards.

2. With its deadly drones, the US is fighting a coward's war (Guardian)

As technology allows machines to make their own decisions, warfare will be become bloodier - and less accountable, writes George Monbiot.

3. A shabby episode that Cameron may regret (Daily Telegraph)

The government's position over Stephen Hester's bonus has been nothing short of cowardly, argues a Daily Telegraph leader.

4. It's up to shareholders to rein in the bankers (Daily Mail)

Left to themselves, bankers will never understand it is simply wrong to stuff their pockets with money, argues a Daily Mail editorial.

5. Forget the big bonuses; a pay squeeze is coming (Financial Times)

By 2017 bank pay will look very different from how it appeared in the boom, says Gillian Tett.

6. Miliband has much bigger fish to fry than Stephen Hester (Daily Telegraph)

A Labour leader must champion the frail and failing as robustly as he topples City titans, writes Mary Riddell.

7. Can the insurgents beat the bureaucrats? (Times) (£)

Instinctive supporters of Stephen Hester and big business need to listen to those in touch with small start-ups, says Rachel Sylvester.

8. Olympian-scale wastage that was predicted - and then ignored (Independent)

A grotesque outlay was justified on the grounds that it would benefit tourism, writes Dominic Lawson. But there was no evidence for it.

9. 'Davos consensus' under siege (Financial Times)

Both the US president and the French would-be president were calling key elements of globalisation into question, writes Gideon Rachman.

10. Taxing wealth? The public mood still escapes the Tories (Guardian)

Ed Miliband's task is to point out where the blame really lies for unfairness in the system: the field is there for Labour's taking, says Polly Toynbee.

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For the Ukip press officer I slept with, the European Union was Daddy

My Ukip lover just wanted to kick against authority. I do not know how he would have coped with the reality of Brexit.

I was a journalist for a progressive newspaper.

He was the press officer for the UK Independence Party.

He was smoking a cigarette on the pavement outside the Ukip conference in Bristol.

I sat beside him. It was a scene from a terrible film. 

He wore a tweed Sherlock Holmes coat. The general impression was of a seedy-posh bat who had learned to talk like Shere Khan. He was a construct: a press officer so ridiculous that, by comparison, Ukip supporters seemed almost normal. He could have impersonated the Queen Mother, or a morris dancer, or a British bulldog. It was all bravado and I loved him for that.

He slept in my hotel room, and the next day we held hands in the public gallery while people wearing Union Jack badges ranted about the pound. This was before I learned not to choose men with my neurosis alone. If I was literally embedded in Ukip, I was oblivious, and I was no kinder to the party in print than I would have been had I not slept with its bat-like press officer. How could I be? On the last day of the conference, a young, black, female supporter was introduced to the audience with the words – after a white male had rubbed the skin on her hand – “It doesn’t come off.” Another announcement was: “The Ukip Mondeo is about to be towed away.” I didn’t take these people seriously. He laughed at me for that.

After conference, I moved into his seedy-posh 18th-century house in Totnes, which is the counterculture capital of Devon. It was filled with crystal healers and water diviners. I suspect now that his dedication to Ukip was part of his desire to thwart authority, although this may be my denial about lusting after a Brexiteer who dressed like Sherlock Holmes. But I prefer to believe that, for him, the European Union was Daddy, and this compulsion leaked into his work for Ukip – the nearest form of authority and the smaller Daddy.

He used to telephone someone called Roger from in front of a computer with a screen saver of two naked women kissing, lying about what he had done to promote Ukip. He also told me, a journalist, disgusting stories about Nigel Farage that I cannot publish because they are libellous.

When I complained about the pornographic screen saver and said it was damaging to his small son, he apologised with damp eyes and replaced it with a photo of a topless woman with her hand down her pants.

It was sex, not politics, that broke us. I arrived on Christmas Eve to find a photograph of a woman lying on our bed, on sheets I had bought for him. That was my Christmas present. He died last year and I do not know how he would have coped with the reality of Brexit, of Daddy dying, too – for what would be left to desire?

This article first appeared in the 19 January 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Trump era