Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The Welfare State, 1942-2013, obituary (Guardian)

After decades of public illness, Beveridge's most famous offspring has died, writes Aditya Chakrabortty.

2. Forward, say Cameron and Clegg. But to where? (Independent)

Their confidence belies the fact they are the most trapped governing leaders since those that tried to rule in the late 1970s, says Steve Richards.

3. The myth of the imperial presidency (Financial Times)

Obama’s critics forget that he is stymied by his foes in Congress, writes Gideon Rachman.

4. Labour must challenge the Ronseal coalition (Times) (£)

The austerity government’s pledge to do what it says on the tin beyond 2015 shifts the centre of political gravity, writes Rachel Sylvester.

5. We need a dose of Thatcher-style privatisation (Daily Telegraph)

Wasteful public services need to be sold off, but today’s Tories don’t have the will to do it, says Philip Johnston.

6. Britain’s two gambles in welfare reform (Financial Times)

Prospects for the planned reshaping of benefits do not look rosy, says Janan Ganesh.

7. UKIP are not as odd as the Odd Couple (Sun)

The wisest thing Cameron can do right now is to avoid driving even more of his own supporters into Farage’s camp, says Trevor Kavanagh.

8. This renewal of coalition vows does nothing for families (Daily Telegraph)

Other than attempting to refresh their own vows, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have done little for married couples, says a Telegraph editorial.

9. Only bold Tory ideas will win the election (Daily Mail)

At yesterday's Mid-Term review there was a gaping void where policies on migration, Europe and law and order should have been, says a Daily Mail leader.

10. Yes, lead poisoning could really be a cause of violent crime (Guardian)

It seems crazy, but the evidence about lead is stacking up, writes George Monbiot. Behind crimes that have destroyed so many lives, is there a much greater crime?

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What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

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.