Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Mohamed Morsi and the fight for Egypt (Guardian)

President Morsi says his power grab is temporary, writes Magdi Abdelhadi. But history shows that such measures have a habit of becoming permanent.

2. Will Cameron slot in the missing piece of Beveridge’s jigsaw? (Daily Telegraph)

At last, the coalition is poised to end the dithering over properly funded social care, writes Mary Riddell.

3. Obama must do more than raise taxes (Financial Times)

The president should be bold and aim for true fiscal stability, writes Sebastian Mallaby.

4. Bullies and the need for a free press (Daily Mail)

Statutory regulation would mean we lose the best characteristics of the press — but keep the worst, says David Davis.

5. The elite's fear of a vote on Europe feeds a populist right (Guardian)

Rotherham's race rows may be a taste of toxicity to come, says Seumas Milne. Labour support for a referendum would help draw the poison.

6. Don’t sack the manager. Think of Ken Clarke (Times) (£)

Political form, like footballing form, doesn’t really exist, writes Daniel Finkelstein. What matters is long-term class.

7. Japan’s nationalism is a sign of weakness (Financial Times)

If the country looks inward, both it and the world will be worse off, writes Joseph Nye.

8. This bid to force all schools into line will end in failure (Guardian)

The craving for uniformity in public services has become a frenzy, but Michael Gove cannot run every classroom, writes Simon Jenkins.

9. Mark Carney: A Canadian we can bank on (Daily Telegraph)

There is much the Chancellor can learn from the Bank of England’s new Governor – if he’ll listen, writes Allister Heath.

10. For all the misery and nuisance they cause, league tables are a necessary part of public service (Independent)

There’s nothing like doing badly in a league table to make bosses want to make things better, writes Christina Patterson.

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Four times Owen Smith has made sexist comments

The Labour MP for Pontypridd and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership rival has been accused of misogynist remarks. Again.

2016

Wanting to “smash” Theresa May “back on her heels”

During a speech at a campaign event, Owen Smith blithely deployed some aggressive imagery about attacking the new Prime Minister. In doing so, he included the tired sexist trope beloved of the right wing press about Theresa May’s shoes – her “kitten heels” have long been a fascination of certain tabloids:

“I’ll be honest with you, it pained me that we didn’t have the strength and the power and the vitality to smash her back on her heels and argue that these our values, these are our people, this is our language that they are seeking to steal.”

When called out on his comments by Sky’s Sophy Ridge, Smith doubled down:

“They love a bit of rhetoric, don’t they? We need a bit more robust rhetoric in our politics, I’m very much in favour of that. You’ll be getting that from me, and I absolutely stand by those comments. It’s rhetoric, of course. I don’t literally want to smash Theresa May back, just to be clear. I’m not advocating violence in any way, shape or form.”

Your mole dug around to see whether this is a common phrase, but all it could find was “set back on one’s heels”, which simply means to be shocked by something. Nothing to do with “smashing”, and anyway, Smith, or somebody on his team, should be aware that invoking May’s “heels” is lazy sexism at best, and calling on your party to “smash” a woman (particularly when you’ve been in trouble for comments about violence against women before – see below) is more than casual misogyny.

Arguing that misogyny in Labour didn’t exist before Jeremy Corbyn

Smith recently told BBC News that the party’s nastier side only appeared nine months ago:

“I think Jeremy should take a little more responsibility for what’s going on in the Labour party. After all, we didn’t have this sort of abuse and intolerance, misogyny, antisemitism in the Labour party before Jeremy Corbyn became the leader.”

Luckily for Smith, he had never experienced misogyny in his party until the moment it became politically useful to him… Or perhaps, not being the prime target, he simply wasn’t paying enough attention before then?

2015

Telling Leanne Wood she was only invited on TV because of her “gender”

Before a general election TV debate for ITV Wales last year, Smith was caught on camera telling the Plaid Cymru leader that she only appeared on Question Time because she is a woman:

Wood: “Have you ever done Question Time, Owen?”

Smith: “Nope, they keep putting you on instead.”

Wood: “I think with party balance there’d be other people they’d be putting on instead of you, wouldn’t they, rather than me?”

Smith: “I think it helps. I think your gender helps as well.”

Wood: “Yeah.”

2010

Comparing the Lib Dems’ experience of coalition to domestic violence

In a tasteless analogy, Smith wrote this for WalesHome in the first year of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition:

“The Lib Dem dowry of a maybe-referendum on AV [the alternative vote system] will seem neither adequate reward nor sufficient defence when the Tories confess their taste for domestic violence on our schools, hospitals and welfare provision.

“Surely, the Liberals will file for divorce as soon as the bruises start to show through the make-up?”

But never fear! He did eventually issue a non-apology for his offensive comments, with the classic use of “if”:

“I apologise if anyone has been offended by the metaphorical reference in this article, which I will now be editing. The reference was in a phrase describing today's Tory and Liberal cuts to domestic spending on schools and welfare as metaphorical ‘domestic violence’.”

***

A one-off sexist gaffe is bad enough in a wannabe future Labour leader. But your mole sniffs a worrying pattern in this list that suggests Smith doesn’t have a huge amount of respect for women, when it comes to political rhetoric at least. And it won’t do him any electoral favours either – it makes his condemnation of Corbynite nastiness ring rather hollow.

I'm a mole, innit.