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.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

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.

0800 7318496