Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Forget Ken's cronies. Now it's Boris's buddies (Guardian)

Boris Johnson's choice of Andrew Gilligan as London's cycling tsar increases the whiff of cronyism around the London mayor, writes Sonia Purnell.

2. Cameron can prove de Gaulle was right about us all along (Daily Telegraph)

Eurosceptics should not barrack the PM’s speech when it comes: they should bank it, says Charles Moore.

3. Cuba’s ideals failed. But at least it had them (Times) (£)

A Tory isn’t supposed to think this, writes Matthew Parris. But Havana’s revolutionaries had something that is missing in Britain.

4. A load of Thunderballs: James Bond is fiction, not a police instruction manual (Guardian)

A shocking ruling (let's call it the 007 standard) gives undercover police licence to break hearts, writes Jonathan Freedland. It's the hacking of people's lives.

5. This week has looked like an obscene remake of earlier western interventions (Independent)

We are outraged not by the massacre of the innocents, but because the hostages killed were largely white, blue-eyed chaps rather than darker, brown-eyed chaps, says Robert Fisk.

6. Barack Obama’s second term (Financial Times)

The US president must recapture the promise of a better politics, says an FT editorial.

7. Both Labour and the Lib Dems are guilty of gross hypocrisy and confusion over the EU (Daily Mail)

The two centre-left parties are in denial about the state of public opinion on the issue, and their utter failure to respond to it, writes Simon Heffer.

8. Unthinkable? Paul Krugman for shadow chancellor (Guardian)

If Barack Obama doesn't want the Nobel laureate as his treasury secretary then Labour should snap him up, says a Guardian editorial.

9. Life in the high street yet (Daily Telegraph)

To save our town centres, we must make them places for meeting and recreation – and why not have people living there, says a Telegraph leader.

10. Armstrong took his countrymen for a ride (Financial Times)

The American self-image of resilience, hard work, charity and ‘dreams has its dark side, writes Christopher Caldwell.

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Geoffrey Howe dies, aged 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.