Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Tax England's green and pleasant land (Financial Times)

The case for a land tax is one of the oldest and least disputed propositions in economic thought, says Samuel Brittan.

2. If the Sun on Sunday soars Rupert Murdoch will also rise again (Guardian)

What was hailed as a victory for journalism is a sign that despite it all, News Corp's boss won't get his comeuppance in the UK, writes Polly Toynbee.

3. The private sector exposes fraud where the state only lets it fester (Daily Telegraph)

The left's campaign to keep profit out of public services must not be allowed to succeed, says Fraser Nelson.

4. How to free RBS from state ownership (Financial Times)

The government must accept that it may not recover all of its £45bn investment, write Paul Myners and Manus Costello.

5. Business must start a giving revolution (Independent)

Giving back to society is a no-brainer and should be an intrinsic part of today's capitalism, says Victor Blank.

6. Adele and her ilk have mangled the ancient art of rhetoric (Guardian)

Awards ceremonies highlight the amateurism of modern public speeches - most are an exercise in tedium and torture, says Simon Jenkins.

7. Firms will hire more workers if we make it easier to fire them (Daily Telegraph)

The US is showing Britain how to create jobs - everything else we've tried has failed to stimulate economic growth, writes Jeremy Warner.

8. If we can't intervene, at least we can isolate Syria (Independent)

There is no point in talking to a regime which has lost all credibility, argues Adrian Hamilton.

9. Rewarding failure at our expense... again (Daily Mail)

The Care Quality Commission has overlooked the most glaring examples of neglect, says a Daily Mail editorial.

10. The Malvinas/Falklands: diplomacy interrupted (Guardian)

Sending Prince William to the Malvinas, or Falkland Islands, sends a message of intimidation, argues Sean Penn.

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Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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