Morning call: the pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from the morning papers.

1. Our parties must rid themselves of this stench of nepotism (Guardian)

This week's low turnouts show that the public is losing interest in politics. Westminster has to stop keeping it in the family, writes John Harris.

2. There’s nothing hip about avoiding your taxes (Times) (£)

Cool capitalists think they are sticking it to the Man. But doing your share is a timeless mark of good citizenship, argues Janice Turner. 

3. Police and crime commissioners are good politics, so why didn’t the Tories say so? (Telegraph)

Despite the fiasco of the low turnout, the public have at last got power over the police, says Charles Moore.

4. Patten should defy his Tory foes and stay as chairman (Independent)

Lord McAlpine, like some Tory MPs, is gunning for his old foe to be ousted from the BBC, writes Andrew Grice.

5. Green Tories were never sustainable (Financial Times) (£)

Economic gloom has encouraged the government to shelve environmental concerns, says Janan Ganesh.

6. We’ve never had it so bad. Rejoice, rejoice! (Times) (£)

If you can keep your head while all around are losing theirs and blaming it on you ... you must be British, my son, says Matthew Parris. 

7. Twilight is not feminist: it's female masochism (Guardian)

This saga is a teen version of Fifty Shades of Grey and illustrates the growth of the loving-slave fantasy in popular fiction, writes Tanya Gold. 

8. In the Tower of Babel that is Twitter, silence descends (Independent)

Tweeters used to shrug and say, "Well that's just the internet", but Lord McAlpine's solicitors may have just changed Twitter for ever, writes Grace Dent.

9. Saving Britain's universities: The brains go into battle (Telegraph)

Some of the country’s most brilliant and brightest minds set course this week to save our universities from the dead hand of interfering politicians and bureaucrats, says Melvyn Bragg.

10. X marks the clot: David Cameron couldn't organise a vote in a polling booth (Mirror)

David Cameron goes down in history as the Tory leader who replaced democracy with empty ballot boxes, writes Kevin Maguire.
 

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Theresa May is paying the price for mismanaging Boris Johnson

The Foreign Secretary's bruised ego may end up destroying Theresa May. 

And to think that Theresa May scheduled her big speech for this Friday to make sure that Conservative party conference wouldn’t be dominated by the matter of Brexit. Now, thanks to Boris Johnson, it won’t just be her conference, but Labour’s, which is overshadowed by Brexit in general and Tory in-fighting in particular. (One imagines that the Labour leadership will find a way to cope somehow.)

May is paying the price for mismanaging Johnson during her period of political hegemony after she became leader. After he was betrayed by Michael Gove and lacking any particular faction in the parliamentary party, she brought him back from the brink of political death by making him Foreign Secretary, but also used her strength and his weakness to shrink his empire.

The Foreign Office had its responsibility for negotiating Brexit hived off to the newly-created Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu) and for navigating post-Brexit trade deals to the Department of International Trade. Johnson was given control of one of the great offices of state, but with no responsibility at all for the greatest foreign policy challenge since the Second World War.

Adding to his discomfort, the new Foreign Secretary was regularly the subject of jokes from the Prime Minister and cabinet colleagues. May likened him to a dog that had to be put down. Philip Hammond quipped about him during his joke-fuelled 2017 Budget. All of which gave Johnson’s allies the impression that Johnson-hunting was a licensed sport as far as Downing Street was concerned. He was then shut out of the election campaign and has continued to be a marginalised figure even as the disappointing election result forced May to involve the wider cabinet in policymaking.

His sense of exclusion from the discussions around May’s Florence speech only added to his sense of isolation. May forgot that if you aren’t going to kill, don’t wound: now, thanks to her lost majority, she can’t afford to put any of the Brexiteers out in the cold, and Johnson is once again where he wants to be: centre-stage. 

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