Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Ed Miliband is a man with the makings of a brave and visionary leader (Guardian)

Bagging mansion tax and the 10p rate for Labour was good politics, but the scale of his economic ambition was better still, says Polly Toynbee.

2. Slavery, not horse meat, is the real scandal (Daily Telegraph)

Long business supply chains are corruptible and can hide a multitude of crimes, says Fraser Nelson.

3. A dark morning in Pretoria has shattered the faith of a nation (Independent)

This Paralympic champion was a hero when South Africa needed one, a sex symbol and celebrity at the same time, but now a different Oscar is beginning to emerge, writes Ivan Fallon.

4. Not such a distinctive Labour vision, after all (Independent)

Ed Miliband's "working people"  sound very much like the Tories' "strivers", notes an Independent editorial.

5. Leave London and you'll find fantasy island (Times) (£)

Labour’s vision of a banker-free economy already exists, writes Philip Collins. It’s in the regions, it’s poorer and it’s not the future.

6. On the teaching of history, Michael Gove is right (Guardian)

Why do critics feel obliged to defend a status quo that so many teachers, parents and pupils agree is indefensible, asks Niall Ferguson. 

7. Transatlantic pact promises bigger prize (Financial Times)

The real reward of a US-EU free trade area would be geopolitical, writes Philip Stephens.

8. A new press regulator (Daily Telegraph)

The Conservatives' ideas for control of the press offer the least worst option, says a Telegraph editorial.

9. Iran’s intransigence (Financial Times)

There is time for a nuclear deal – but Tehran must budge, says an FT editorial.  

10. Why should Harold have to pipe down? (Daily Mail)

For the Labour prime minister's pipe to be downplayed in last night's BBC special on his life is more than just an over-reach of delicate sensibilities, writes Martin Samuel.

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How the shadow cabinet forced Jeremy Corbyn not to change Labour policy on Syria air strikes

Frontbenchers made it clear that they "would not leave the room" until the leader backed down. 

Jeremy Corbyn had been forced to back down once before the start of today's shadow cabinet meeting on Syria, offering Labour MPs a free vote on air strikes against Isis. By the end of the two-hour gathering, he had backed down twice.

At the start of the meeting, Corbyn's office briefed the Guardian that while a free would be held, party policy would be changed to oppose military action - an attempt to claim partial victory. But shadow cabinet members, led by Andy Burnham, argued that this was "unacceptable" and an attempt to divide MPs from members. Burnham, who is not persuaded by the case for air strikes, warned that colleagues who voted against the party's proposed position would become targets for abuse, undermining the principle of a free vote.

Jon Ashworth, the shadow minister without portfolio and NEC member, said that Labour's policy remained the motion passed by this year's conference, which was open to competing interpretations (though most believe the tests it set for military action have been met). Party policy could not be changed without going through a similarly formal process, he argued. In advance of the meeting, Labour released a poll of members (based on an "initial sample" of 1,900) showing that 75 per cent opposed intervention. 

When Corbyn's team suggested that the issue be resolved after the meeting, those present made it clear that they "would not leave the room" until the Labour leader had backed down. By the end, only Corbyn allies Diane Abbott and Jon Trickett argued that party policy should be changed to oppose military action. John McDonnell, who has long argued for a free vote, took a more "conciliatory" approach, I'm told. It was when Hilary Benn said that he would be prepared to speak from the backbenches in the Syria debate, in order to avoid opposing party policy, that Corbyn realised he would have to give way. The Labour leader and the shadow foreign secretary will now advocate opposing positions from the frontbench when MPs meet, with Corbyn opening and Benn closing. 

The meeting had begun with members, including some who reject military action, complaining about the "discorteous" and "deplorable" manner in which the issue had been handled. As I reported last week, there was outrage when Corbyn wrote to MPs opposing air strikes without first informing the shadow cabinet (I'm told that my account of that meeting was also raised). There was anger today when, at 2:07pm, seven minutes after the meeting began, some members received an update on their phones from the Guardian revealing that a free vote would be held but that party policy would be changed to oppose military action. This "farcical moment", in the words of one present (Corbyn is said to have been unaware of the briefing), only hardened shadow cabinet members' resolve to force their leader to back down - and he did. 

In a statement released following the meeting, a Corbyn spokesperson confirmed that a free vote would be held but made no reference to party policy: 

"Today's Shadow Cabinet agreed to back Jeremy Corbyn's recommendation of a free vote on the Government's proposal to authorise UK bombing in Syria.   

"The Shadow Cabinet decided to support the call for David Cameron to step back from the rush to war and hold a full two day debate in the House of Commons on such a crucial national decision.  

"Shadow Cabinet members agreed to call David Cameron to account on the unanswered questions raised by his case for bombing: including how it would accelerate a negotiated settlement of the Syrian civil war; what ground troops would take territory evacuated by ISIS; military co-ordination and strategy; the refugee crisis and the imperative to cut-off of supplies to ISIS."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.