Morning Call: Pick of the papers

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

  1. NSA and GCHQ – too close for comfort (Guardian)
    It makes sense for the US and UK to co-operate and share, but payments between the two agencies must mean influence, writes Nick Hopkins.
  2. Britain is slamming its doors against the world (Financial Times)
    A champion of the liberal, open international system is redefining itself as a resentful victim, writes Philip Stephens.
  3. One thing Ryanair got right - charging extra for needless hand luggage (Independent)
    We know what a trip on Ryanair means: cheap and not very cheerful. But why do people now take huge bags on the flight instead of checking them in, asks Simon Kelner.
  4. Thatcher and Reagan may have seemed like equals. His invasion of Grenada shows they were not (Independent)
    The embarrassment and humiliation have in fact been known for years. But only now do we see how carefully Washington kept its supposedly close ally in the dark, writes Peter Popham.
  5. Parking fines rocket because of the centre's addiction to power (Guardian)
    Conservatives like Eric Pickles espouse freedom for local councils, but they have done nothing to show they mean it, writes Simon Jenkins.
  6. Children die when social workers stop feeling (Times)
    We need more raw revulsion at tragedies like Daniel Pelka’s, not administrative change, writes Camila Batmanghelidjh.
  7. So which anniversary will sway the Scots? (Telegraph)
    Both Bannockburn and the Great War will loom large when Scotland votes on independence, one year from now, Sunder Katwala points out.
  8. Moral objections to the case for dishing Wonga (Financial Times)
    There are better ways for the Archbishop of Canterbury to help the poor, says Jonathan Ford.
  9. It’s no wonder none of my friends are teenage Tories (Telegraph)
    Left-wing propaganda on A-level Politics syllabuses strongly influences 18-year-olds' opinions, argues Carola Binney.
  10. Why we can’t see the risks of monkey business (Times)
    Gaby Hinscliff offers a lesson from Longleat for Anthony Weiner.

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

No, William Hague, there's nothing anti-democratic about opposing Brexit

The former Tory leader appears to be suffering from a bout of amnesia. 

William Hague just made an eyecatching claim in the House of Lords during the debate over Article 50. He attacked those Remainers still seeking to restore Britain’s European Union membership in general and Tony Blair in particular, saying that if he had called on voters to “rise up” against New Labour after he lost the election, Blair would have told him to listen to the voters.

To be fair to Hague, it has been sixteen years since he went down to crushing defeat to Blair, so he may have forgotten some of the details. Happily, the full text of his resignation speech the morning after is still online.

Here’s Hague, 2001:

"The people have spoken. And just as it is vital to encourage everyone to participate in our democracy, so it is important to understand and respect the result. The Labour party have won the election and I have already congratulated them on doing so. But they have done so without great public enthusiasm….It is therefore a vital task for the Conservative party in the coming parliament to hold the government to account for the promises they have made and the trust people have placed in it.”

And here’s Blair, 2017:

“I want to be explicit. Yes, the British people voted to leave Europe. And I agree the will of the people should prevail. I accept right now there is no widespread appetite to re-think. But the people voted without knowledge of the terms of Brexit. As these terms become clear, it is their right to change their mind. Our mission is to persuade them to do so.”

And here’s Blair’s last line which has so offended William Hague:

“This is not the time for retreat, indifference or despair; but the time to rise up in defence of what we believe – calmly, patiently, winning the argument by the force of argument; but without fear and with the conviction we act in the true interests of Britain.”

This is funny, because here’s William Hague’s last line in 2001:

"I wish I could have led you to victory but now we must all work for our victories in the future.”

 Here’s what the “you lost, get over it” crowd have to explain: what is the difference between these two speeches? Both acknowledge a defeat, acknowledge the mountain to climb for the defeated side, but resolve to work harder to secure a better result next time.

It’s particularly galling when you remember that taking Britain back in would not require a second referendum but a third: because the Brexiteers, far from losing in 1975 and getting over it, spent four decades gearing up to take Britain out of the European Union.

There’s a more valid criticism to be had of the value of a continuity Remain campaign which appears to hold many of the people who voted to Leave in distaste. Certainly, at present, the various pro-Remain forces look more like the unattractive fringe that lost in 1975 than the well-disciplined machine that won the replay in 2016. But the fact there was a replay in the first place shows that there’s nothing anti-democratic about continuing to hold on to your beliefs after a defeat. What is anti-democratic is trying to claim that the result of any electoral contest, however narrow or how large, means that everyone who disagreed with you has to shut up and pretend you were right all along. 

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