Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Miliband's big speeches raise more questions than they answer. Now is the time for policy (Independent)

The temptation to say little is immense, given his poll lead; but voters will ask what he stands for, writes Steve Richards.

2. Lib Dems are having a nervous breakdown (Daily Telegraph)

The coalition’s junior partner started well, but is now a threat to good government, says Peter Oborne.

3. Perils of supermarket cost-cutting machines (Financial Times)

The switching of horsemeat for beef is a spectacular signal that a limit has been reached, says John Gapper.

4. If you're opposed to drones, then think again (Times) (£)

The arguments against them collapse under scrutiny – and they are the most ‘democratic’ weapon ever invented, says Paddy Ashdown.

5. Why I'm standing for Labour in the Eastleigh byelection (Guardian)

Suddenly, I feel really lucky to have an outlet for the profound sense of outrage I feel about this coalition government, writes John O'Farrell.

6. Why the consensual Barack Obama is becoming confrontational (Guardian)

The president knows Republicans aren't going to compromise, but can he get Americans to back him in the coming battle, asks Martin Kettle.

7. Turkey and Europe (Financial Times)

Both sides would benefit from reviving accession talks, says an FT editorial.

8. What's the point of a food safety quango that couldn't save us from eating stallion burgers? (Daily Mail)

 The Food Standards agency is failing miserably in its job of safeguarding the integrity of our food chain, writes Leo McKinstry. 

9. The Woman's Hour list proves that there is nothing soft about real power (Guardian)

A recent rundown of the nation's most powerful women is a painful reminder of the weak state we are in, writes Suzanne Moore. 

10. A President at the very height of his power (Independent)

Obama is confident in his power and visibly liberated by the knowledge that he will never face the voters again, says an Independent editorial.

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Momentum vice chair Jackie Walker calls claims of antisemitism in Labour “a weapon of political mass destruction”

The issue was also compared to a “monstrous soufflé” during a tense and often bizarre Momentum debate at Labour party conference.

A two-hour debate hosted by Momentum – asking whether there is antisemitism in the Labour party – grew heated on Sunday evening of the Labour party’s annual conference.

The packed out room, at the campaign movement’s fringe called The World Transformed, was warned beforehand to avoid “bitter incivility of discourse”. Which, translated from the language of Labour conference, means: “Don’t say anything dreadful.”

Jackie Walker, the vice-chair of Momentum, argued that antisemitism claims have been “exaggerated for political purposes”, and “the most fundamental aim of such allegations, I suggest, is to undermine Jeremy Corbyn”, and “silence” his supporters.

She claimed that there is “little if any hard evidence” that Labour has a problem with antisemitism, and blamed a “rabidly, anxiously anti-Corbyn” media for using antisemitism claims as a “weapon of political mass destruction”.

“Being offended is not the same as experiencing racism,” Walker added. “Claims of racism have been weaponised . . . Both the chair and the vice-chair [referring to herself] of Momentum are Jewish, and many leading members of Momentum are Jewish.”

(Later an audience member picked up on this theme perhaps a little too zealously. “Trotsky the Jew? Lenin the Jew? What about Zinoviev? What about Kamenev?” he cried, concluding that therefore claims of left-wing antisemitism are “nonsense”.)

Jeremy Newmark, head of the Jewish Labour Movement, clashed with Walker, accusing her of having “perpetuated” the “antisemitic myth” of slave trade collusion (referring to a comment she made on Facebook for which she was briefly suspended from Labour).

She hit back by saying she was “disappointed” in his comment, and had “simply repeated the defamation of his friends in the Jewish Chronicle”, accusing them of racism towards her as a black woman.

Newmark lamented that, “the relationship between our community and the Labour Party has deteriorated”, and “it pains me that a once historic natural alliance [should] dissipate, dilute and disappear”.

He warned those who “want to criticise someone for over-egging” the issue of antisemitism in the party should look no further than Jeremy Corbyn, who called for Shami Chakrabarti’s inquiry into the subject. “Perhaps you should criticise him.”

It was a tense exchange, which elicited gasps and heckles from the audience. But perhaps less predictable was the description of the Labour antisemitism row as a “monstrous soufflé” by Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, an LSE academic involved in boycotting Israeli universities.

He called it “a monstrous soufflé of moral panic being whipped up”, and warned the audience: “We need to ask about this soufflé”.

“Who are the cooks? Where’s the kitchen? What are the implements?” he asked, before the killer rhetorical question: “Why has this soufflé been cooked?”

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.