Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Brass tax (The Times)
Tax avoidance harms the economy - this week's developments have been welcome, says a Times editorial

2. Cameron and Chakrabarti treat press freedom as sacred (Independent)
But aren't some things more important, asks Howard Jacobson

3. Michael Gove does not deserve to be hailed as a rising star (Guardian)
His policies are bad for children and a waste of money, says Peter Wilby

4. A lot of froth over Starbucks (Telegraph)
The row over multinational tax affairs is a distraction from reducing state spending, says a Telegraph leader

5. Pay shake-up offers hope to the regions (Mail)
There's been a step towards closing the divide between the south east and the rest of Britain, says a Daily Mail leader

6. Things can only get worse. Vote Tory. (The TImes)
If Osborne brings recovery, he'll lose the next election for his party, says Matthew Parris

7. Syria and the truth about chemical weapons (Independent)
Do you know which army was the first to use gas in the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk

8. The search for paedophiles is more carnival than witch-hunt (Guardian)
Light entertainment is being turned upside down by a raucous mob, says Hannah Betts

9. David Cameron's trouble with being modern (Telegraph)
The PM must adapt, but he risks ignoring what is important, argues Charles Moore

10. Clegg is oblivious of the damage of high taxation to growth (Daily Mail)
The Deputy Prime Minister is a disaster for Britain, says Robin Harris

Morning Call
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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.