Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The BBC's real crime was to act like the Catholic Church (Guardian)

The Corporation's instincts when confronted with allegations of child abuse were all wrong, writes Jonathan Freedland.

2. Alex Salmond faces a sceptical nation (FT)

Kiran Stacey profiles the SNP leader.

3. Slowly the Tories are embracing ever looser union (Telegraph)

Charles Moore welcomes the tendency for leading Conservatives to flirt with quitting the European Union.

4. 'If the economy comes right, we'll sail home' (Telegraph)

Revealing interview with Ken Clarke, minister for giving revealing interviews.

5. No escape from energy firm bullies (Daily Mail

Mail editorial gets frothy about dysfunctional consumer energy market, without failing to note foreign ownership of companies in question.

6. Our plans for the next election (ConservativeHome)

Tory chairman Grant Shapps breaks with his past by revealing a winning strategy online under his own name.

7. The benefits of being in this together (FT)

Brisk, insightful guide to tax and benefit changes causing George Osborne a political headache, by Tim Harford

8. Too much poverty and joblessness? Blame newborn babies (Guardian)

Tory plans to limit child benefit wilfully and vindictiely miss the point, says Tanya Gold.

9. How scared should you be of President Romney (Independent)

Indie editorial generously decides that the Republican candidate might not turn out to be a monster.

10. Sadly a hung parliament has no oomph! (Independent)

Chris Bryant MP complains about the state of the legislature, among other things, not for the first time.

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Tom Watson rouses Labour's conference as he comes out fighting

The party's deputy leader exhilarated delegates with his paean to the Blair and Brown years. 

Tom Watson is down but not out. After Jeremy Corbyn's second landslide victory, and weeks of threats against his position, Labour's deputy leader could have played it safe. Instead, he came out fighting. 

With Corbyn seated directly behind him, he declared: "I don't know why we've been focusing on what was wrong with the Blair and Brown governments for the last six years. But trashing our record is not the way to enhance our brand. We won't win elections like that! And we need to win elections!" As Watson won a standing ovation from the hall and the platform, the Labour leader remained motionless. When a heckler interjected, Watson riposted: "Jeremy, I don't think she got the unity memo." Labour delegates, many of whom hail from the pre-Corbyn era, lapped it up.

Though he warned against another challenge to the leader ("we can't afford to keep doing this"), he offered a starkly different account of the party's past and its future. He reaffirmed Labour's commitment to Nato ("a socialist construct"), with Corbyn left isolated as the platform applauded. The only reference to the leader came when Watson recalled his recent PMQs victory over grammar schools. There were dissenting voices (Watson was heckled as he praised Sadiq Khan for winning an election: "Just like Jeremy Corbyn!"). But one would never have guessed that this was the party which had just re-elected Corbyn. 

There was much more to Watson's speech than this: a fine comic riff on "Saturday's result" (Ed Balls on Strictly), a spirited attack on Theresa May's "ducking and diving; humming and hahing" and a cerebral account of the automation revolution. But it was his paean to Labour history that roused the conference as no other speaker has. 

The party's deputy channelled the spirit of both Hugh Gaitskell ("fight, and fight, and fight again to save the party we love") and his mentor Gordon Brown (emulating his trademark rollcall of New Labour achivements). With his voice cracking, Watson recalled when "from the sunny uplands of increasing prosperity social democratic government started to feel normal to the people of Britain". For Labour, a party that has never been further from power in recent decades, that truly was another age. But for a brief moment, Watson's tubthumper allowed Corbyn's vanquished opponents to relive it. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.