Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Alex Salmond's wish is for a home rule option for Scotland -- and he'll get it (Guardian)

Martin Kettle warns that the now imminent date for the Scottish referendum leaves little time for the consideration of its impact on the rest of the UK.

2. If the benefit cap doesn't fit, don't wear it (Times) (£)

The limit of £26,000 is easy to understand but is largely symbolic, says David Aaronovitch. The trouble is, it's unfair on too many people.

3. Meddle with the market at your peril (Financial Times)

No other system, from Fabian socialism to Soviet-style communism, has met its people's needs, writes Alan Greenspan.

4. Hayek helped us to find capitalism's flaws (Financial Times)

We work more like a market than business does, write Occupy London.

5. In a sombre year Davos worries about greater equality (Independent)

Hamish McRae notes that on the difficulty of delivering equity, though, developed and emerging economies are alike.

6. Fear may well save the euro. Now for the politics of hope (Guardian)

We must recognise that stability of the eurozone is no substitute for the larger project it was designed to usher in, says Timothy Garton Ash.

7. Europe: rumours of its demise are exaggerated (Times) (£)

At Christmas catastrophe seemed inevitable, says Camilla Cavendish. Now, thanks to the two Marios, the outlook is far brighter.

8. Hester and Huhne are symbols of a country in moral freefall (Daily Telegraph)

Small wonder young people are becoming less honest, given the example they are set, writes Peter Oborne.

9. Human rights: Cameron's message to Europe (Guardian)

The European court of human rights is not all David Cameron has his sights on, says Francesca Klug.

10, The State of the Contest (Times) (£)

President Obama's address to Congress set the election agenda, says this leading article.

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Why the Labour rebels have delayed their leadership challenge

MPs hope that Jeremy Corbyn may yet resign, while Owen Smith is competing with Angela Eagle to be the candidate.

The Eagle has hovered but not yet landed. Yesterday evening Angela Eagle's team briefed that she would launch her leadership challenge at 3pm today. A senior MP told me: "the overwhelming view of the PLP is that she is the one to unite Labour." But by this lunchtime it had become clear that Eagle wouldn't declare today.

The delay is partly due to the hope that Jeremy Corbyn may yet be persuaded to resign. Four members of his shadow cabinet - Clive Lewis, Rachel Maskell, Cat Smith and Andy McDonald - were said by sources to want the Labour leader to stand down. When they denied that this was the case, I was told: "Then they're lying to their colleagues". There is also increasing speculation that Corbyn has come close to departing. "JC was five minutes away from resigning yesterday," an insider said. "But Seumas [Milne] torpedoed the discussions he was having with Tom Watson." 

Some speak of a potential deal under which Corbyn would resign in return for a guarantee that an ally, such as John McDonnell or Lewis, would make the ballot. But others say there is not now, never has there ever been, any prospect of Corbyn departing. "The obligation he feels to his supporters is what sustains him," a senior ally told me. Corbyn's supporters, who are confident they can win a new leadership contest, were cheered by Eagle's delay. "The fact even Angela isn't sure she should be leader is telling, JC hasn't wavered once," a source said. But her supporters say she is merely waiting for him to "do the decent thing". 

Another reason for the postponement is a rival bid by Owen Smith. Like Eagle, the former shadow work and pensions secrtary is said to have collected the 51 MP/MEP nominations required to stand. Smith, who first revealed his leadership ambitions to me in an interview in January, is regarded by some as the stronger candidate. His supporters fear that Eagle's votes in favour of the Iraq war and Syria air strikes (which Smith opposed) would be fatal to her bid. 

On one point Labour MPs are agreed: there must be just one "unity candidate". But after today's delay, a challenger may not be agreed until Monday. In the meantime, the rebels' faint hope that Corbyn may depart endures. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.