Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. All the policies are in place, now it's time for delivery (Sunday Telegraph)

There is concern at the highest level of government that not enough seems to be changing for the better in the lives of ordinary citizens, writes Matthew D'Ancona.

2. We need a budget for jobs to stop a bombshell for the squeezed middle (PoliticsHome)

Ed Balls highlights cuts to tax credits and child benefit as measures that hurt working families on low incomes.

3. That's all folks - for reform at No 10 (Sunday Times)

Swing voters want "fairness". Downing Street risks interpreting that as a mandate to play safe and do nothing radical, argues Martin Ivens.

4. Is £50,000 enough to defuse the child benefit time bomb? (Mail on Sunday)

The plan to cut a key entitlement for higher rate tax payers is causing angst at the highest levels, reports James Forsyth.

5. We cannot afford to indulge this madness (Sunday Telegraph)

Cardinal Keith O'Brian, Britain's most senior Catholic cleric, launches a tirade against same-sex relationships as "harmful to mental and spiritual well-being."

6. What sort of Prime Minister does David Cameron really want to be? (Observer)

Andrew Rawnsley sees the competition between cautious and bold advisors reflecting an unresolved tension in the PM himself.

7. Were those huskies hugged in vain? (Independent on Sunday)

Leading article attacks the government's environmental record ...

8. Britain needs to shape an industrial strategy (Observer)

.... while the Observer calls for more vigorous activism to promote investment, innovation and long-term growth potential.

9. It's time to hold Ken Livingstone to account (Observer)
Nick Cohen finds a catalogue of reasons why even Labour voters should steer clear of the party's London mayoral candidate.

10. The wackiness has gone from Number 10 (Independent on Sunday)
The departure of Steve Hilton from David Cameron's side will fundamentally alter the centre of government, says John Rentoul.

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn prompts Tory outrage as he blames Grenfell Tower fire on austerity

To Conservative cries of "shame on you!", the Labour leader warned that "we all pay a price in public safety" for spending cuts.

A fortnight after the Grenfell Tower fire erupted, the tragedy continues to cast a shadow over British politics. Rather than probing Theresa May on the DUP deal, Jeremy Corbyn asked a series of forensic questions on the incident, in which at least 79 people are confirmed to have died.

In the first PMQs of the new parliament, May revealed that the number of buildings that had failed fire safety tests had risen to 120 (a 100 per cent failure rate) and that the cladding used on Grenfell Tower was "non-compliant" with building regulations (Corbyn had asked whether it was "legal").

After several factual questions, the Labour leader rose to his political argument. To cries of "shame on you!" from Tory MPs, he warned that local authority cuts of 40 per cent meant "we all pay a price in public safety". Corbyn added: “What the tragedy of Grenfell Tower has exposed is the disastrous effects of austerity. The disregard for working-class communities, the terrible consequences of deregulation and cutting corners." Corbyn noted that 11,000 firefighters had been cut and that the public sector pay cap (which Labour has tabled a Queen's Speech amendment against) was hindering recruitment. "This disaster must be a wake-up call," he concluded.

But May, who fared better than many expected, had a ready retort. "The cladding of tower blocks did not start under this government, it did not start under the previous coalition governments, the cladding of tower blocks began under the Blair government," she said. “In 2005 it was a Labour government that introduced the regulatory reform fire safety order which changed the requirements to inspect a building on fire safety from the local fire authority to a 'responsible person'." In this regard, however, Corbyn's lack of frontbench experience is a virtue – no action by the last Labour government can be pinned on him. 

Whether or not the Conservatives accept the link between Grenfell and austerity, their reluctance to defend continued cuts shows an awareness of how politically vulnerable they have become (No10 has announced that the public sector pay cap is under review).

Though Tory MP Philip Davies accused May of having an "aversion" to policies "that might be popular with the public" (he demanded the abolition of the 0.7 per cent foreign aid target), there was little dissent from the backbenches – reflecting the new consensus that the Prime Minister is safe (in the absence of an attractive alternative).

And May, whose jokes sometimes fall painfully flat, was able to accuse Corbyn of saying "one thing to the many and another thing to the few" in reference to his alleged Trident comments to Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis. But the Labour leader, no longer looking fearfully over his shoulder, displayed his increased authority today. Though the Conservatives may jeer him, the lingering fear in Tory minds is that they and the country are on divergent paths. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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