Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from today's papers.

  1. I wish I had trusted my instincts on Plebgate (Times)
    Matthew Parris examines the abuse of police authority which led to Andrew Mitchell's smearing.
  2. Cheer up. All this doom and gloom plays into the Tories' hands (Guardian)
    If the idea that we're all screwed takes hold, the Conservatives will end up exploiting the fear they've created, writes Zoe Williams.
  3. London’s ‘white flight’ deserves attention (Financial Times)
    That the city is no longer majority ‘white British’ is a remarkable development, writes David Goodhart.
  4. A huge risk we pro-Europeans must take (Guardian)
    Shaun Woodward writes that a referendum on the EU may now be the only way forward for those of us who see membership as vital to the UK's future.
  5. There’s a whiff of failure at the heart of our honours system (Telegraph)
    The PM promised to end the abuses, but there are signs of a return to the old ways, reports Peter Oborne.
  6. Britain needs to adopt a more German face (Financial Times)
    As a model of coping with sudden slowing, Berlin has achieved a better result than Tokyo, writes Chris Giles.
  7. Don’t lampoon what the NRA says. Ask why (Times)
    Guns are attractive, suicide complicated. Until we grasp the reasons behind the headlines, we remain unenlightened, argues David Aaronovitch
  8. With all the fuss over Kate Middleton's baby, have we learned nothing since Princess Diana?
    (Independent) God help us if the Royal Foetus is all we have to look forward to in 2013, writes Viv Groksop.
  9. Pensioners are about to be robbed yet again (Telegraph)
    The Chancellor is poised to alter the way inflation is calculated and interest paid, says Philip Johnston.
  10. So you think the wealth gap is growing? Wrong (Independent)
    Not only are we all in it together, but the rich are bearing and will bear a greater share of the burden of taxes than the poor. Why won't the Coalition say this more loudly, asks John Rentoul.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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How the Lib Dems learned to love all-women shortlists

Yes, the sitting Lib Dem MPs are mostly white, middle-aged middle class men. But the party's not taking any chances. 

I can’t tell you who’ll be the Lib Dem candidate in Southport on 8 June, but I do know one thing about them. As they’re replacing a sitting Lib Dem (John Pugh is retiring) - they’ll be female.

The same is true in many of our top 20 target seats, including places like Lewes (Kelly-Marie Blundell), Yeovil (Daisy Benson), Thornbury and Yate (Clare Young), and Sutton and Cheam (Amna Ahmad). There was air punching in Lib Dem offices all over the country on Tuesday when it was announced Jo Swinson was standing again in East Dunbartonshire.

And while every current Lib Dem constituency MP will get showered with love and attention in the campaign, one will get rather more attention than most - it’s no coincidence that Tim Farron’s first stop of the campaign was in Richmond Park, standing side by side with Sarah Olney.

How so?

Because the party membership took a long look at itself after the 2015 election - and a rather longer look at the eight white, middle-aged middle class men (sorry chaps) who now formed the Parliamentary party and said - "we’ve really got to sort this out".

And so after decades of prevarication, we put a policy in place to deliberately increase the diversity of candidates.

Quietly, over the last two years, the Liberal Democrats have been putting candidates into place in key target constituencies . There were more than 300 in total before this week’s general election call, and many of them have been there for a year or more. And they’ve been selected under new procedures adopted at Lib Dem Spring Conference in 2016, designed to deliberately promote the diversity of candidates in winnable seats

This includes mandating all-women shortlists when selecting candidates who are replacing sitting MPs, similar rules in our strongest electoral regions. In our top 10 per cent of constituencies, there is a requirement that at least two candidates are shortlisted from underrepresented groups on every list. We became the first party to reserve spaces on the shortlists of winnable seats for underrepresented candidates including women, BAME, LGBT+ and disabled candidates

It’s not going to be perfect - the hugely welcome return of Lib Dem grandees like Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Julian Huppert to their old stomping grounds will strengthen the party but not our gender imbalance. But excluding those former MPs coming back to the fray, every top 20 target constituency bar one has to date selected a female candidate.

Equality (together with liberty and community) is one of the three key values framed in the preamble to the Lib Dem constitution. It’s a relief that after this election, the Liberal Democratic party in the Commons will reflect that aspiration rather better than it has done in the past.

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference

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