Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten best comment pieces from today's papers.

1. Mali needs more than a call to arms (Guardian)

West Africa's al-Qaida clones are neither religious nor political. The world is facing viral mutations of the human psyche, writes Wole Soyinka.

2. Britain in knots over infrastructure (Financial Times)

Big projects need clear plans and honesty about who pays, writes Dieter Helm.

3. Vote ‘no’ and you will blush to remember it (Times)

MPs who opposed civil partnerships are now all for them. The Right will soon embrace same-sex marriage too, writes Matthew Parris.

4. Man made our landscape. He can change it (Times)

Those who bemoan the arrival of HS2 should remember there is nothing primeval left in the British countryside, writes Alan Garner.

5.  The one thing plotters hate more than coalition is the PM (Independent)

Cameron lacks the authority that an outright win in 2010 would have given him, writes Andrew Grice.

6. Can you succeed if you go to a comp? (Times

So much for social mobility: 80 per cent of Britain’s leaders went to an elite school, writes Janice Turner.

7. Hilary Mantel: author in tune with the times (Financial Times)

The novelist brings a modern sensibility to a pivotal point in history, writes Peter Aspden.

8. The Lib Dems abandon a founding father of voting reform (Telegraph)

When Nick Clegg opposed a Bill for fair votes, he cut all political ties to an illustrious predecessor, says Graeme Archer.

9. I don’t envy the Rebecca Adlingtons of sport – they peak too soon (Telegraph)

Never mind jobs for life - athletes barely have their jobs for a quarter of their lives, writes Bryony Gordon.

10.  If the Chinese dragon is so mighty, why is it trembling inside? (Guardian)

 Beijing's alleged hacking of the New York Times is a sign of both the regime's huge power – and its fear of a Chinese spring, writes Jonathan Freedland.

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Responding to George Osborne's tax credit U-turn should have been Labour's victory lap

He changed the forecast, we changed the weather. But still it rains.

The Labour Party should have rested on its laurels in the Autumn Statement. While Gideon name checked his Tory colleagues for their successful lobbying, he should have been reading out the names of Labour members who changed his position.  I'll let the Tories have the potholes, (even though it was in Labour manifesto) but everything else was us. 

He stopped his assault on tax credits. Not because he woke up in his mansion in a cold sweat, the ghost of Christmas Future at the foot of his bed, ringing out the names of the thousands and thousands of children he would plunge into poverty. Nah, it's not that. It's as my sons might say "no way George, you got told!" The constant pressure of the Labour Party and a variety of Lords in a range of shades, supported by that media we are all meant to hate, did for him. It's the thousands of brilliant people who kept the pressure up by emailing politicians constantly that did it. Bravo us, boo nasty George!

As Baron Osborne thanked the Tory male MP for his brilliant idea, to spend the Tampax tax on women's services, I wanted to launch a tampon at his head. Not a used one you understand, I have some boundaries. He should have credited Paula Sheriff, the Labour MP for making this change. He should have credited all the brilliant women's groups, Yvette Cooper, Stella Creasy, Caroline Lucas and even little old me, for our constant, regular and persistent pestering on the subject of funding for refuges and women's services. 

On police cuts, his side should not have cheered him at all. We are now in a position when loud cheers are heard when nothing changes. So happy was his side that he was not cutting it, one can only conclude they really hate all the cutting they do. He should not have taken a ridiculous side swipe at Andy Burnham, but instead he should have credited the years and years of constant campaigning by Jack Dromey. 

I tell you what Georgie boy can take credit for, the many tax increases he chalked up. Increases in council tax to pay for huge deficit in care costs left by his cuts. Increases in the bit of council tax that pays for Police. Even though nothing changed remember. When he says levy or precept it's like when people say I'm curvy when they mean fat. It's a tax. 

He can take credit for making student nurses pay to work for free in the NHS. That's got his little privileged fingers all over it. My babies were both delivered by student midwives. The first time my sons life was saved, and on the second occasion my life was saved. The women who saved us were on placement hours as part of their training, working towards their qualifications. Now those same women, will be paying for the pleasure of working for free and saving lives. Paying to work for free! On reflection throwing a tampon at him is too good, this change makes me want to lob my sons placenta in his face.

Elsewhere in Parliament on Autumn Statement day Jeremy Hunt, capitulated and agreed to negotiate with Student Doctors. Thanks to the brilliant pressure built by junior doctors and in no small part Heidi Alexander. Labour chalks up another win in the disasters averted league.

I could go on and on with thanks to charities, think tanks, individual constituents and other opposition MPs who should have got the autumn cheers. We did it, we were a great and powerful opposition, we balanced the pain with reality. We made Lord sorry the first Lord of the Treasury and his stormtroopers move from the dark side. We should have got the cheers, but all we got was a black eye, when a little red book smacked us right in the face.