Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

  1. Twitter's inadequate action over rape threats is itself an abuse (Guardian)
    Social media users should act to take back Twitter, writes Labour MP Stella Creasy.
  2. Europe ought to let its hopeless causes go bankrupt (Financial Times)
    The cure for the crisis is a dose of American-style tough love, writes Martin Sandbu
  3. I'm proud of our welfare reforms (Guardian)
    I don't apologise for trying to make the welfare state fair – it's something only this government can do, writes the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith.
  4. Mo’s breaking records, but other migrants are breaking the law (Telegraph)
    Immigrants have a lot to offer Britain, but those here illegally have no right to remain, writes Boris Johnson.
  5. Trolls, Caroline Criado-Perez, and how to tackle the dark side of Twitter (Independent)
    The site should make it easier for users to report rape and death threats, writes Owen Jones.
  6. Europe’s 'recovery’ is a conjuring trick (Telegraph)
    The eurozone has had a good year – on paper. But it is crippled by too much debt to survive intact, says Jeff Randall
  7. At last internet trolls must face the real world (Times)
    Fury over Twitter abuse of the Jane Austen banknote campaigner shows how online behaviour is having to change, writes Libby Purves.
  8. There has been no good news for Britain’s army of underemployed workers (Independent)
    The underemployment rate rose more quickly than the unemployment rate in Q1 2013, writes David Blanchflower
  9. Five ways to widen the Tory appeal and win (Times)
    Victory in 2015 is possible if the party can rediscover its popular touch with these pledges to lower-income voters, says Tim Montgomerie
  10. West needs to criticise Putin – but not support his rivals (Financial Times)
    It is not our business to pick sides in Russia’s political battles, writes Anatol Lieven.

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

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Who will win the Copeland by-election?

Labour face a tricky task in holding onto the seat. 

What’s the Copeland by-election about? That’s the question that will decide who wins it.

The Conservatives want it to be about the nuclear industry, which is the seat’s biggest employer, and Jeremy Corbyn’s long history of opposition to nuclear power.

Labour want it to be about the difficulties of the NHS in Cumbria in general and the future of West Cumberland Hospital in particular.

Who’s winning? Neither party is confident of victory but both sides think it will be close. That Theresa May has visited is a sign of the confidence in Conservative headquarters that, win or lose, Labour will not increase its majority from the six-point lead it held over the Conservatives in May 2015. (It’s always more instructive to talk about vote share rather than raw numbers, in by-elections in particular.)

But her visit may have been counterproductive. Yes, she is the most popular politician in Britain according to all the polls, but in visiting she has added fuel to the fire of Labour’s message that the Conservatives are keeping an anxious eye on the outcome.

Labour strategists feared that “the oxygen” would come out of the campaign if May used her visit to offer a guarantee about West Cumberland Hospital. Instead, she refused to answer, merely hyping up the issue further.

The party is nervous that opposition to Corbyn is going to supress turnout among their voters, but on the Conservative side, there is considerable irritation that May’s visit has made their task harder, too.

Voters know the difference between a by-election and a general election and my hunch is that people will get they can have a free hit on the health question without risking the future of the nuclear factory. That Corbyn has U-Turned on nuclear power only helps.

I said last week that if I knew what the local paper would look like between now and then I would be able to call the outcome. Today the West Cumbria News & Star leads with Downing Street’s refusal to answer questions about West Cumberland Hospital. All the signs favour Labour. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.