Morning Call: pick of the papers

Ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

  1. What a difference an A makes to Osborne (Sunday Times)
    No wonder the chancellor’s pallor was even more evident than usual, writes Dominic Lawson.
  2. The BBC rot starts at the top, with the elusive Lord Patten (Sunday Telegraph)
    The chairman emerges smelling of roses, even as he sticks the knife into his juniors, says Peter Oborne.
  3. Revealed: George Osborne's master plan for reviving the UK economy (Observer)
    Tory MPs are agitating for a dramatic budget to transform their party's fortunes. They will be disappointed, writes Andrew Rawnsley.
  4. Only the Tories have a grip on energy (Sunday Telegraph)
    The voters of Eastleigh have a splendid opportunity to send a message that green fundamentalism is unaffordable, says the Sunday Telegraph in a leader column.
  5. In Italy, Illusion Is the Only Reality (New York Times)
    What is never countenanced in Italy is the notion that one has made very serious mistakes, writes Tim Parks.
  6. The harsh lives of the forgotten rural poor (Observer)
    Urban poverty is well documented, but those suffering in the countryside are almost invisible, says Tobias Jones.
  7. Don’t hang the jury, even if it’s hopeless (Sunday Times)
    Any who think the criminal law would be better off without juries should visit countries that have never had them, writes Geoffrey Roberston.
  8. Forget the triple A: It's the NUM (National Union of Ministers) that terrifies George (Mail on Sunday)
    Osborne's main enemy are Tory Ministers who don’t have an ideological objection to more cuts, but simply don’t want to have to make them to their own budgets, writes James Forsythe.
  9. The BBC must hack away the slack (Independent on Sunday)
    After the ghastly revelations of the past months, it's hard to believe the BBC still hasn't learnt the basic rules of PR, says Janet Street Porter.
  10. Libel law of diminishing returns (Sunday Times)
    The unamended Defamation Bill must be passed tomorrow, writes the Sunday Times in a leader article.
Photograph: Getty Images

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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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.