Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. America has supersized inequality. Political gridlock was bound to follow (Guardian)

US voters are split along an ever-widening faultline of wealth and poverty, so it's no wonder there's little hope of moderation in politics, writes Aditya Chakrabortty.

2. Support for Obama: the Tories’ guilty secret (Times) (£)

Ministers lean more towards the socially liberal Democrats than the ‘fiscally mad’ and ‘extreme’ Republicans, writes Rachel Sylvester.

3. Clegg’s tit-for-tat retaliation could bring about the coalition’s end (Daily Telegraph)

The Prime Minister will have to hit back if his deputy deliberately kills off the boundary review, says Benedict Brogan.

4. A Romney presidency would be just fine (Financial Times)

The GOP candidate is more likely a moderate than a Tea Party radical, says Gideon Rachman.

5. Obama and Romney remain silent on climate change, the biggest issue of all (Guardian)

Despite hurricane Sandy, neither Obama nor Romney will speak about global warming, writes George Monbiot. The danger this poses is huge.

6. Britain and Germany are growing apart (Financial Times)

Berlin is losing patience with what it views as London’s intransigence on Europe, writes Janan Ganesh.

7. Obama or Romney - neither should expect to get much done in the Congress (Daily Telegraph)

America’s broken and hostile political system will seriously impede the actions of whoever is elected president, says Tim Stanley.

8. We need nothing less than a revolution to make the EU serve democracy and working people again (Independent)

Why isn't the left kicking off about an institution that is clearly damaging the interest of workers across the continent, asks Owen Jones.

9. The living wage tide is turning, but it's not enough (Guardian)

Paying the minimum required for survival is only part of the cure for Britain's dangerous levels of inequality, says Polly Toynbee.

10. Where materialism now rules, ‘Marxist morality’ might not find a place (Independent)

As Americans go to the poll today, China is going through its own transition, but by any impartial assessment, democracy remains a long way off, writes Jonathan Fenby.

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By refusing to stand down, Jeremy Corbyn has betrayed the British working classes

The most successful Labour politicians of the last decades brought to politics not only a burning desire to improve the lot of the working classes but also an understanding of how free market economies work.

Jeremy Corbyn has defended his refusal to resign the leadership of the Labour Party on the grounds that to do so would be betraying all his supporters in the country at large. But by staying on as leader of the party and hence dooming it to heavy defeat in the next general election he would be betraying the interests of the working classes this country. More years of Tory rule means more years of austerity, further cuts in public services, and perpetuation of the gross inequality of incomes. The former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Seema Malhotra, made the same point when she told Newsnight that “We have an unelectable leader, and if we lose elections then the price of our failure is paid by the working people of this country and their families who do not have a government to stand up for them.”

Of course, in different ways, many leading figures in the Labour movement, particularly in the trade unions, have betrayed the interests of the working classes for several decades. For example, in contrast with their union counterparts in the Scandinavian countries who pressurised governments to help move workers out of declining industries into expanding sectors of the economy, many British trade union leaders adopted the opposite policy. More generally, the trade unions have played a big part in the election of Labour party leaders, like Corbyn, who were unlikely to win a parliamentary election, thereby perpetuating the rule of Tory governments dedicated to promoting the interests of the richer sections of society.

And worse still, even in opposition Corbyn failed to protect the interests of the working classes. He did this by his abysmal failure to understand the significance of Tory economic policies. For example, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer had finished presenting the last budget, in which taxes were reduced for the rich at the expense of public services that benefit everybody, especially the poor, the best John McConnell could do – presumably in agreement with Corbyn – was to stand up and mock the Chancellor for having failed to fulfill his party’s old promise to balance the budget by this year! Obviously neither he nor Corbyn understood that had the government done so the effects on working class standards of living would have been even worse. Neither of them seems to have learnt that the object of fiscal policy is to balance the economy, not the budget.

Instead, they have gone along with Tory myth about the importance of not leaving future generations with the burden of debt. They have never asked “To whom would future generations owe this debt?” To their dead ancestors? To Martians? When Cameron and his accomplices banged on about how important it was to cut public expenditures because the average household in Britain owed about £3,000, they never pointed out that this meant that the average household in Britain was a creditor to the tune of about the same amount (after allowing for net overseas lending). Instead they went along with all this balanced budget nonsense. They did not understand that balancing the budget was just the excuse needed to justify the prime objective of the Tory Party, namely to reduce public expenditures in order to be able to reduce taxes on the rich. For Corbyn and his allies to go along with an overriding objective of balancing the budget is breathtaking economic illiteracy. And the working classes have paid the price.

One left-wing member of the panel on Question Time last week complained that the interests of the working classes were ignored by “the elite”. But it is members of the elite who have been most successful in promoting the interests of the working classes. The most successful pro-working class governments since the war have all been led mainly by politicians who would be castigated for being part of the elite, such as Clement Atlee, Harold Wilson, Tony Crosland, Barbara Castle, Richard Crossman, Roy Jenkins, Denis Healey, Tony Blair, and many others too numerous to list. They brought to politics not only a burning desire to improve the lot of the working classes (from which some of them, like me, had emerged) and reduce inequality in society but also an understanding of how free market economies work and how to deal with its deficiencies. This happens to be more effective than ignorant rhetoric that can only stroke the egos and satisfy the vanity of demagogues

People of stature like those I have singled out above seem to be much more rare in politics these days. But there is surely no need to go to other extreme and persist with leaders like Jeremy Corbyn, a certain election loser, however pure his motives and principled his ambitions.

Wilfred Beckerman is an Emeritus Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, and was, for several years in the 1970s, the economics correspondent for the New Statesman