Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

  1. David Cameron won't prosper by trying to outkip the Kippers (Observer)
    Both the Tories and Labour have several reasons to be troubled by the Ukip surge – and one to be grateful for it, writes Andrew Rawnsley.
  2. Has the Conservative Party learnt any lessons from Ukip's success? (Sunday Telegraph)
    There has been a groundswell in the big world – the neglected majority of conservative voters has moved on, writes Janet Daley
  3. They’re all now making plans for Nigel (Sunday Times)
    UKIP has staked out its territory and it won’t be dislodged easily. Who is the joke on, asks Adam Boulton, and who are the pretenders now?
  4. When Nigel Farage's dream fades, it will be Dave who smiles (Independent on Sunday)
    The Tories will be also-rans in next year's European elections, but once reality dawns in 2015, it is Labour who will have most to worry about, writes John Rentoul.
  5. Fashion still doesn't give a damn about the deaths of garment workers (Observer)
    Lucy Siegle reports on a campaign launched this week aiming to ensure the tragedy in Bangladesh is a tipping point for both the industry and consumers.
  6. A decade that hushed up horror (Sunday Telegraph)
    We don't feel so nostalgic for the Seventies in the wake of these scandals, writes Jenny McCartney.
  7. Brutal Obama is shackled by his Guantanamo gulag (Sunday Times)
    Obama is now more brutal in his treatment of prisoners in a terrorist war than Thatcher, writes Andrew Sullivan.
  8. Our disbelief is the sexual predator's great asset (Independent on Sunday)
    The problem was not tolerance of abuse but disbelief of anyone who dared complain, writes Joan Smith
  9. Fruitcakes and closet racists? Cameron's talking about YOU! (**)
    It is now just a matter of time before the Tory Party dies, asserts Peter Hitchens.
  10. Worker Safety in Bangladesh and Beyond (New York Times)
    Lawmakers began improving industrial safety in earnest after the 1911 fire at New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist factory, which killed 146 workers and horrified the country. The collapse of Rana Plaza should play a similarly galvanizing role now, write the New York Times' editors.

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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David Cameron’s starter homes: poor policy, but good politics

David Cameron's electoral coalition of buy-to-let retirees and dual-earner couples remains intact: for now.

The only working age demographic to do better under the Coalition was dual-earner couples – without children. They were the main beneficiaries of the threshold raise – which may “take the poorest out of tax” in theory but in practice hands a sizeable tax cut to peope earning above average. They will reap the fruits of the government’s Help to Buy ISAs. And, not having children, they were insulated from cuts to child tax credits, reductions in public services, and the rising cost of childcare. (Childcare costs now mean a couple on average income, working full-time, find that the extra earnings from both remaining in work are wiped out by the costs of care)

And they were a vital part of the Conservatives’ electoral coalition. Voters who lived in new housing estates on the edges of seats like Amber Valley and throughout the Midlands overwhelmingly backed the Conservatives.

That’s the political backdrop to David Cameron’s announcement later today to change planning to unlock new housing units – what the government dubs “Starter Homes”. The government will redefine “affordable housing”  to up to £250,000 outside of London and £450,000 and under within it, while reducing the ability of councils to insist on certain types of buildings. He’ll describe it as part of the drive to make the next ten years “the turnaround decade”: years in which people will feel more in control of their lives, more affluent, and more successful.

The end result: a proliferation of one and two bedroom flats and homes, available to the highly-paid: and to that vital component of Cameron’s coalition: the dual-earner, childless couple, particularly in the Midlands, where the housing market is not yet in a state of crisis. (And it's not bad for that other pillar of the Conservative majority: well-heeled pensioners using buy-to-let as a pension plan.)

The policy may well be junk-rated but the politics has a triple A rating: along with affluent retirees, if the Conservatives can keep those dual-earner couples in the Tory column, they will remain in office for the forseeable future.

Just one problem, really: what happens if they decide they want room for kids? Cameron’s “turnaround decade” might end up in entirely the wrong sort of turnaround for Conservative prospects.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.