Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. For failed asylum seekers, life on section 4 is a nightmare worse than Kafka (Guardian)

Britain's ability to offer sanctuary is being stifled by a home secretary eager to back up her tough talk on human rights, says Zoe Williams. 

2. We must shine a light into our secret state's dark corners (Daily Telegraph)

Britain's complicity in torture must be disguised by the new Justice and Security Bill, says Peter Oborne.

3. The guilty secret behind a private education (Times) (£)

Why do public school heads feel hated? Because they offer an immoral advantage that is getting ever more exclusive, says David Aaronovitch.

4. Mali could make France governable (Financial Times)

Intervention may benefit the beleaguered François Hollande, writes Dominique Moisi.

5. Why fixed terms parliaments are a nightmare for leaders and a gift for rebel MPs (Independent)

Conservative MPs can plot and stir because the next election is still years away, writes Steve Richards.

6. Dangerous mission creep in Mali (Independent)

With barely a blink and certainly no debate in Parliament – nearly 400 British military personnel are to be sent to the region, notes an Independent leader.

7. The SAS: a very special force (Daily Telegraph)

Cameron has promised to increase rather than cut defence spending after 2015, writes Con Coughlin. That’s just as well, because he needs his special forces more than ever.

8. Theresa May has simply got on with the job of police reform (Guardian)

The home secretary has seen through serious reforms of the police that others dodged, says Martin Kettle. If her luck holds the rewards could be great.

9. Yes, Poles are wonderful, but for Tony Blair to be feted for letting them flood into Britain is a sick joke (Daily Mail)

Blair should receive a badge of dishonour for undermining British workers, weakening public services and ignoring the interests of his own people, says Stephen Glover.

10. Corporate tax posturing should stop (Financial Times)

Companies are complying with laws that governments could change if they wished, writes John Gapper.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Who will win the Copeland by-election?

Labour face a tricky task in holding onto the seat. 

What’s the Copeland by-election about? That’s the question that will decide who wins it.

The Conservatives want it to be about the nuclear industry, which is the seat’s biggest employer, and Jeremy Corbyn’s long history of opposition to nuclear power.

Labour want it to be about the difficulties of the NHS in Cumbria in general and the future of West Cumberland Hospital in particular.

Who’s winning? Neither party is confident of victory but both sides think it will be close. That Theresa May has visited is a sign of the confidence in Conservative headquarters that, win or lose, Labour will not increase its majority from the six-point lead it held over the Conservatives in May 2015. (It’s always more instructive to talk about vote share rather than raw numbers, in by-elections in particular.)

But her visit may have been counterproductive. Yes, she is the most popular politician in Britain according to all the polls, but in visiting she has added fuel to the fire of Labour’s message that the Conservatives are keeping an anxious eye on the outcome.

Labour strategists feared that “the oxygen” would come out of the campaign if May used her visit to offer a guarantee about West Cumberland Hospital. Instead, she refused to answer, merely hyping up the issue further.

The party is nervous that opposition to Corbyn is going to supress turnout among their voters, but on the Conservative side, there is considerable irritation that May’s visit has made their task harder, too.

Voters know the difference between a by-election and a general election and my hunch is that people will get they can have a free hit on the health question without risking the future of the nuclear factory. That Corbyn has U-Turned on nuclear power only helps.

I said last week that if I knew what the local paper would look like between now and then I would be able to call the outcome. Today the West Cumbria News & Star leads with Downing Street’s refusal to answer questions about West Cumberland Hospital. All the signs favour Labour. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.